Thursday, January 21, 2010

Running update

Quick running update:

I have been sticking with the Couch to 5K plan, and it's been great! 

I told you about Week 4, and it's been going well.  I have been trying to add a little bit of incline or speed up for a while just to get some variety in, but right now I'm just happy that the current runs feel totally manageable.  I've done two of the three runs so far, and the next one is tomorrow morning.

Next week will be Week 5, and I'll be at Disney for two of the runs.  I'll be trying to get them in outside - gotta enjoy the nice weather while I can!  The plan is:

W5D1: warmup, run 5 min, walk 3 min, run 5 min, walk 3 min, run 5 min, cooldown
W5D2: warmup, run 8 min, walk 5 min, run 8 min
  (note - I may try doing 8/4/9 instead of 8/5/8, since this is where I tend to get tripped up a bit)
W5D3: warmup, run 20 min straight (!) - this one will be in Philly, and probably on the treadmill

Week 6 goes back to run/walk intervals for the first two days, which I think is a great idea - I need to ease into this whole "running a 5K without walking" thing :)

The two runs at Disney will be my first two of the plan running outside - hopefully that will be refreshing and not too hard.  More updates to come as my training progresses!

Working out on vacation

Typically, when I think of vacations I think of indulging.  Vacations are a time for good food, time in the sun, and relaxing - not diets and the gym, right?  In the last few years, though, as I've begun to live a healthier lifestyle I have also started to think of vacations as times to be more active.  Most of us - myself included - don't get enough time during the work week to really be active in ways that are fun.  Lately, when I go home for holidays or get a chance to go somewhere else for vacation, I've made sure to spend some time being more active and doing things I don't have time for normally.

On Saturday, I'm headed out for a week vacation at Walt Disney World.  I haven't been there since I was 16, and I'm super excited!  My boyfriend's never even been there, so I'm all the more psyched about the trip since I get to show him all of my favorite things to do and see.  Plus, it's my first "real" vacation (not counting weekends away or trips home) since college, and I couldn't be more happy to take some time off and just think about nothing.


Of course, we'll be hitting up the usual - all of the Disney parks, most of them multiple days, and Universal Studios for a day or two.  We'll be walking a LOT, so we should definitely be getting in some activity that way, even if we are balancing it out with eating lots of greasy delicious food.  But I plan to add in a bit more, too - with my training for the half marathon, and maybe for Broad Street even earlier, I need to get a few runs in, and I'd like to do a couple fun things too.

Here's where the hotel comes in.  We will be staying at Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort, and I think it was a great choice:


The hotel has a pretty big layout, with multiple buildings spread out over a complex around a lagoon.  This makes for the perfect workout situation - the path around the lagoon is 1.4 miles total, and with a bridge right through the middle of the lagoon, I can do right around 2 miles (the distance on both of my training days while I'm there) with no problem.  They also have several pools, which means I can do laps in one of the more secluded pools or burn off calories playing in the big pool.  And with volleyball and watersports like peddle boats, sail boats, and jet skis in the lagoon area, I should have no problem finding something fun AND athletic to do.

The biggest problem for the whole plan is going to be finding time.  The boyfriend doesn't love the pool like I do, so talking him into swimming may be a bit difficult.  Running should be the easiest - I just need to wake up early a few days and head out for a quick run before he wakes up, and I'll have the run under my belt before we even start the day together.  Since the runs are the most important things I need to do exercise-wise, I think I'll be ok!

Of course, the plan only makes sense if I try to keep some control over what I eat, too.  I have no intention of being so restrictive that I don't enjoy myself - but if I can buy a few healthy snacks at the grocery store to bring along instead of buying french fries every time I'm hungry,  I'll be headed in the right direction.  We have a few big dinners planned, and there are several places I really want to eat at while we're there, but beyond that I'll be sticking to healthier options and bringing things along to snack on.

My favorite tips for keeping active on vacation are:

- Schedule it in.  Whenever you make plans for vacation, consider your goals for exercise and activity.  For example, I know I want to go on two training runs while I'm there, so I scheduled my runs into the morning for two of the days.  That way I know ahead of time that I need to wake up early and get my run in, so there's less time for excuses and deciding I'm too tired.

- Make it fun.  There'll be time for the treadmill, or the weight machines, when you return from vacation - make it all about enjoying the resources you have at your disposal.  Go on a walk or run to see some nice scenery or enjoy the weather, and do anything unique that you can't do at home (like watersports, skiing, whatever).  Unless you're staying at a hotel with a spectacular gym or the weather or schedule don't permit you to go outside, skip the broken-down '70s treadmill in the dark hotel basement.

- Consider the rest of the vacation your "reward."  If you have trouble finding the motivation to work out, consider that you're spending the rest of your time relaxing, doing fun things, and eating yummy food.  If you would usually let yourself have a cookie after the gym when you aren't feeling like workout out, put on your workout clothes and think of the rest of the day as your reward for working out hard.

Hopefully I can remember these tips when I'm in Orlando!  Can't wait for vacation :)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Bake Sale for Haiti

The Chic Life is hosting an online bake sale for Haiti - all proceeds go to the Red Cross Relief Fund for Haiti.

I went back and forth a bit on what to donate, but finally decided on:

- Milk Chocolate Walnut Fudge (1 pound) - donated by my mom, from her Etsy shop

- Margarita bars - made by me, recipe to come when I make them for the sale!  They're like lemon bars, but made with margarita mix - super yummy!

The sale will be held on January 27 - see The Chic Life for details!

Treadmill Time!

Most people, even committed runners, dislike the treadmill.  It's tedious, for sure, and the fact that you're running to nowhere is less than motivating.  When it comes to running on the treadmill, though, I take a different tack: I really enjoy it.  Maybe it's the fact that I'm a total nerd, and I really like being able to see my distance, pace, and calories burned.  Maybe it's the ability to control my pace precisely, since as a beginner I still have a hard time sticking to a pace outdoors.  Maybe it's the ability to stay out of the rain and watch TV while I run.  Whatever it is, the treadmill and I are good buddies.

I hit up the treadmill today for my first Couch to 5K Week 4 run.

The plan:
Walk 3 min warmup
Run 3 min (5.0mph)
Walk 90 sec (3.3)
Run 5 min
Walk 2.5 min
Run 3 min (1% incline)
Walk 90 sec (1% incline)
Run 5 min (no incline)
Walk 2.5 min cooldown

The stats:

Distance: 1.92 miles
Time: 27:00
Pace: 14:03/mi

It felt great - I wanted to keep going forever!  I stuck to the plan, though, since I know that overtraining at the beginning is how a lot of new runners get injured.  I finished up my workout with strength training for legs from the Fitnessista - which totally made my legs feel like jelly!

The boredom of the treadmill hasn't quite set in yet - I'm still rocking out to my favorite songs, trying not to pay too much attention to how long I'm running.  The TV helped today - watching the Vikings play helped me totally forget what I was doing and just enjoy moving.  Music, TV, and magazines definitely help with treadmill boredom!  Pretty soon, though, I'll be tackling longer runs and will either have to hit the streets or find new ways to keep myself busy (hill intervals, anyone?)

I'm off to finish watching the Vikings, and try out my new foam roller - hopefully it won't hurt too much and will loosen up my aching legs!

Update: Go Vikings!!  Awesome game :)

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Carrot-Covered Muffins!

One of my favorite bloggers, Chocolate-Covered Katie, is hosting a Vita-Mix giveaway!  To qualify for extra entries for the giveaway, you have to make a recipe from her archive - which isn't too difficult, since she has so many delicious ones!

I flipped through her recipes and found one that sounded especially delicious - 24-Carrot Cake Muffins.  This one was especially good since I'm leaving for vacation in less than a week and I had half a bag of carrots left in the fridge.  The recipe can be found on her blog - I only made a few substitutions, since as a non-vegan I don't have egg substitute or non-dairy milk.  I would have liked to stay true to the vegan-ness of the recipe, but I just didn't have time to go pick up the ingredients.

The results - they were not only gorgeous, they were delicious!  Sweet and very cake-like, and you could never tell that they're made with all whole-wheat flour, applesauce, and carrots.  They're much more nutritious than they taste :)

I made a dozen of these and froze them, so I'm looking forward to having these around for quite a while!

I'm Back! Plus an announcement

After quite an extended break, I'm back!  Life just got the best of me over the holidays - with my projects in lab, TAing, Christmas presents and visiting family, there simply wasn't time for anything extra.  I have a sneaking suspension that life will get crazy again....but for now, I'm going to try to keep up and we'll see how it goes :)

With that, the announcement:
I'm running a half marathon!

Finally, I got up the nerve to do what I've been wanting to do for a while.  Last year, I played around with the idea of running the Broad Street Run (10M) or a half, but I didn't feel comfortable enough with running to do it.  After all, I'd just started running seriously in February of that year, and I ran my first 5K in April - I didn't know if I could do longer distances.

Since I started running last year, I've run or walked 210 miles, and I have gotten much stronger at running.  I've gotten faster, too - my average running speed used to be about 12:45/mi, and now 11:45 is a comfortable pace, and 11:15-11:30 is ok on good days.  I know I'm still not fast - but I probably won't ever be running 7-minute miles.  I hope to shave a little more time off my average pace - maybe down to 11:00/mi by half-marathon time.  I know my pace will probably be a little slower for the race - that type of distance usually calls for running a little slower - but if my shorter training runs have me running 11:00/mi by the end, I'll be happy!

I signed up for the "13.1 Marathon" race series half marathon in Boston, on June 27.  There are a few reasons for this choice.  First and foremost, the race benefits the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America, a cause which is close to my heart since my friend, Megan, and her mother both struggle with Crohn's Disease.  I would like to raise some money for the cause, and I can't think of a better way to keep me motivated to stick to my training.  Second, the race has a limit of 6,000 entries, which is small - the Boston Marathon, by contrast, has around 20,000.  It's meant to be a good race for first-timers, and advertises itself as walker-friendly - the course closes 3 1/2 hours after the race starts, which is a minimum 16:00/mile time, or a brisk walk.  If I try to run the whole thing, but need to walk sometimes, I should have no trouble keeping that pace.

That said, this training will certainly not be easy.  The longest distance I've done a training run is 5 miles, last May, and that one tired me out a LOT.  I've struggled with plantar fasciitis, I have asthma, and I tend to get headaches when I run a long distance out in the sun.  I don't know for sure that I can run 13.1 miles without stopping - but I'm certainly going to try!

My main goals for this half are:
- Finish!
- Get faster during training - from 11:45/mi to 11:00/mi, at least
- Minimize the amount of time I need to walk during training runs and the race
- Lose some weight and get stronger during training (no specific goal, since I don't know how the training will affect my body!)

I've taken measurements as a starting point, and I'll be comparing back to those measurements every month or so to see how things are going fitness-wise.  I'm not sharing them now, but I promise to share them later - it's so much easier to share those things when you can do it from a "look how much healthier I am now!" perspective.

So far, the plan is to follow the "Couch to 5K" workout, something that's worked for me in the past, for the first few weeks.  I started with week 3 last week - running 90 seconds, walking 90 seconds, running 3 minutes, walking 3 minutes.  I'm hoping that by starting off slow, I'll build up my ability to run constantly without walking, before working on speed.  The next few weeks will be walk/run, and then I'll (hopefully!) be running for 20-30 minutes straight.  Once I get to that point, I'm going to start serious training - I plan to follow the Runner's World training plan.  They have a nifty little tool that lets you input a past 5K time, a goal distance, and a time frame, and it spits out a plan for you.  I actually set up the training plan using Broad Street as a goal - if I'm coming along in the first few weeks of that plan, I'll sign up for the race.  If I can get in shape in time for Broad Street, it's just a matter of maintenance for the half!

With that, I'm off - I've got a vacation coming up next weekend, and it's time to get everything in order so that I can maintain my sanity during the week!