Update

Today I did something I rarely do – a lunchtime workout. I wanted to do a swim workout and usually that means hitting the pool after work and getting home late, or going at 6 AM and having breakfast at work. I finally figured out option 3: go during my lunch break. And take advantage of our amazing weather (clear blue skies and in the 50s) for a nice 15 minute walk each way. I am usually stuck in my building from dark til dark these days.

Winter came on Saturday but was gone 4 hours later.

Winter came on Saturday but was gone 4 hours later.

 

Plus I swam 1 mile for the first time – although with a couple of breaks – but I am almost done with my 6 week zero to 1 (continuous) mile swim program. And I could spy the new cardio equipment and 50m pool in the new gym that will be opening in January 2015.

Shiny new gym.

Shiny new gym.

I could get used to three day weeks! No races for me tomorrow. My body (or more specifically – my right foot) just isn’t ready – and I know that I cannot take it easy in a race situation. I’ve managed two 3 mile treadmill runs in the last week. Running is pain free but my hypochondriac injury detector has gone into overdrive.

When I started back with my 1 mile runs I was feeling little aches in weird places (shins for the first time ever and calves as usual) but these went away pretty quickly. I think that my body was just getting used to running again. So one part of me now thinks that I just need to be brave and push myself a little. To toughen up a little. But (there is always a but) I still don’t feel right. It’s hard to explain: I’m not in pain (and certainly not the rapid onset that made me make an emergency appointment with a doctor) but my foot doesn’t feel normal. I’m not sure if this is actual or imagined weakness in my foot, but I think it isn’t doing any harm to be hyper-vigilante as I start to add back the miles. So vigilant that I’m wearing my compression socks today.

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I kinda feel like a superhero – wearing my superhero socks under my regular clothes!

So, like I said no race but tomorrow is a big day. I’m planning to try a short run OUTSIDE on one of my favorite trails with J and my running buddy A. I haven’t run outside since October 16th and I am so excited, especially because the weather here is meant to be unseasonably warm. Thank you Thanksgiving gods!

Seriously, if I ever move back to Ireland or the UK I am bringing Thanksgiving with me. It is just the best holiday ever. Like Christmas without all the pressure of buying gifts. I also like to think of it as practice for eating Christmas dinner which is a huge deal in Ireland (we do turkey AND ham). We will be eating delicious food and hanging out with our awesome friends.

Speaking of delicious foods……….I think enchiladas are my favorite thing ever.

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These ones are black bean and sweet potato (and you know I need to have avocado and jalapenos). But I’ve been making my own sauce for a while and thought I’d share because it is ridiculously easy.

8 oz can of tomato sauce

1/2 tsp cumin

1/4 tsp chilli powder

1-2 cloves of garlic chopped

1 chili in adobo sauce chopped (these are in cans in the Mexican section of the supermarket)

Mix everything in a small pot. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat. Cover and simmer for 10 mins and it’s ready to pour over. I think I could happily eat this everyday.

Workout summary: 11/17 – 11/26

Mon: 2 mile run + leg strength/stretching

Tues: AM: Yoga

PM: 1600 yds (40 mins)

Wed: 2 mile run + leg strength/stretching

Thurs: AM Yoga

PM 1600 yds (40 mins)

Fri: 2 mile run + leg strength/stretching

Sat: 1600 yds (40 mins)

Sun: 3 mile + full body strength

Mon: Rest!

Tues: 3 mile + leg strength/stretching

Wed: 1650 yds (1 mile!)

Happy Thanksgiving y’all! And if you live in the UK or Ireland I recommend that you take the day off work and have an early Christmas dinner!

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Why taking a break from running can be awesome

If you’ve been reading my blog you might know that I am on a doctor-advised break from running. A couple of weeks after my marathon I was experiencing some pain in my left foot exactly where a stress fracture would show up. I freaked out, hightailed in to the doctor’s office and was diagnosed with a stress response, which is basically the beginnings of a stress fracture. She recommended taking a two week break from running and giving my metatarsals some time to regenerate (that sounds amazingly science-fictiony). This happened exactly two weeks ago so tomorrow I’m going to go for a 10 mile run.

Joke! I will not be doing that – I have spent most of this year trying to wean myself off my crazy no-rest ever ways. What I plan on doing is trying to run for 1 mile on the treadmill and stopping immediately if I experience any pain. I’m lucky in that I caught this pretty early and I have no races coming up so there is no rush to get back to high mileage any time soon. And I also (unfortunately) experience coming back from injury. Last year after a 6 week break I started with a 5:1 interval – 5 mins walking 1 min running x 6 – and yes it was as much fun as you could imagine. BUT it worked and I got back in shape enough to get a half marathon PR in April of this year.

Looking back (and the lesson I learned from this) was that I should have taken 2 complete weeks off from running straight after the marathon. I that’s what I’ll be doing in May after marathon #2. I guess I thought my body could handle more and it found a way for me to take an enforced break. So you might think that I’ve been going crazy not being able to run. And you would be 100% WRONG! I’ve had the most amazing 2 weeks and this is what I’ve enjoyed about it.

1. Sleep! Getting up at 5.45 AM to run 9 miles before work is hard. When I see it on my training schedule I get up and do it. But if I have a choice – I’m going to pick that extra hour in bed.

2. Energy. I was tired during my marathon training. Early mornings. 40+ mile weeks. It was all new and I wanted to train as well as I could. But I was tired a lot – in work I had to struggle to get things done. I was dozing off in seminars. I did not make plans for weeknights that involved me leaving my house. Now – I have so much energy. I don’t know if this is something that comes with the territory – marathon training is a big commitment – but I’m hoping it gets more manageable on training cycle #2.

3. The runger is gone. It feels so good to not be a raging hungry maniac during the day. I’ve settled back into my routine and feel normal again.

4. I kinda like biking. My doctor told me I was OK to bike, swim, or ellipticise. One of those things I really hate (like I’ve said before I’ve yet to find a blog about someone who is crazy about their elliptical machine). My work is just under 4 miles from my house. Four uphill miles but still close enough. Plus we have really secure bike storage and I don’t have to live my life according to bus timetables. The first time biking in was awful – it was hard and I wanted to die (in a teenage girl – my life is over kinda way). But it’s gotten better. It takes a little over 35 minutes and for the most part is safe and pleasant. We’ve also been having great fall weather. What I’ve learned is that I like to have 30ish minutes of ‘me’ time in the morning to think about whatever randomly pops into my head. Biking lets me zone out and just have my thoughts. I also get to be OUTSIDE! > than the treadmill. Now I just have to get a real commuter bike.

5. I can set other fitness goals. So biking is fun. And swimming? Well the first couple of times – not so much. But I’m currently following this (http://ruthkazez.com/swimming/ZeroTo1mile.html) program. It’s kinda like the C25K program for running and aims to build your swim workout so that eventually (after 6 weeks) you can swim one mile non-stop. By doing this swimming program and biking to work (which I was absolutely too tired to do after my morning training runs during the summer) I’ve realized that I’m all about endurance. I LIKE to get in the zone (sorry awful cliche but very true) and just get stuck in. Turnover my legs. Inhabit my body and work.

6. Running is not my everything. I like running and I am excited to get back out there but it’s not the end of the world if I can’t do it for a while. My recovery from my injury last year went pretty well and I got back to speed relatively quickly. I like to think I’ve become a little more pragmatic and gained some perspective this year and that has made this non-running period a lot easier to deal with.

So to sum up – I’m feeling recharged and back to myself. This is great because at the time I didn’t even realize how much training for the marathon was taking out of me.

And the good eats have been continuing. On Sunday I made this smoked salmon risotto – which is surprisingly straightforward and totally delicious. Then from the Skinnytaste cookbook – potato and chickpea curry. It was amazing – and really easy. The best combination. Here’s a lovely photo of my leftovers.

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Last night we had some fish tacos – lots of jalapeno and extra lime juice.

Mexican food + cast iron.

Mexican food + cast iron.

And I’ve finally bought some KIND bars. Those things are good.

You had me at chocolate and salt.

You had me at chocolate and salt.

Happy weekend!

Recipes! – What I’ve been eating this week!

I am not a fun person to be around at 6PM – that is my hangry time. When I get home from work I want to eat as quickly as possible. But, I want to keep my meals interesting and relatively healthy. This week I’ve made two of my favorites that are easy to make and pretty versatile so I thought I’d share them with you guys.

Thai vegetable and noodle soup

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This recipe is so easy and is a great way to use up whatever vegetables you have in your fridge.

1 tbsp Thai red curry paste

1/2 can coconut milk (regular or light)

1 cup broth or water

1 package noodles (I prefer egg but rice works too – as long as it cooks in 10 mins or less it should work)

1 tsp brown sugar (leave out if you don’t like sweeter curries)

 

Vegetables (I usually use 1 carrot cut into sticks, broccoli florets, sliced mushrooms, shredded green cabbage)

6 large campari tomatoes halved (bigger than cherry tomatoes but smaller than regular sized)

1 tbsp fish sauce

juice of 1 lime

1 green onion sliced

bunch of cilantro chopped

unsalted peanuts chopped

1. In a wok, heat red curry paste in a small amount of oil until fragrant – about 3-4 mins.

2. Add coconut milk and mix. Add broth/water and brown sugar and bring to a simmer.

3. Add vegetables. If you want to add protein you can add a salmon fillet at this stage to poach. Sometimes I add small cubes of tofu. I cook these for 10 mins.

4. Add noodles. The noodles that I use require 4 mins cooking time.

5. Once everything is cooked I add my tomatoes and let them soften for 1 minute.

6. Take off the heat and add the fish sauce and lime juice.

7. Spoon into bowls and garnish. In my opinion the garnish really makes this dish. I love to add chopped green onion, cilantro and peanuts.

Serves 2. Done in 20 mins!

Pasta bake

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This is what I’ll be having for dinner tonight! I prepped it last night so all I’ll have to do is stick it in the oven at 350F for 25 mins while I take a shower after working out. This is adapted from a couple of recipes on Skinnytaste.

8 oz pasta

1-2 spicy Italian chicken sausage (use vegan/vegetarian alternative if you avoid meat)

1/2 onion diced

sliced mushrooms (I use half a pack)

1/2 bottle of Dave’s Gourmet Butternut Squash pasta sauce (this is the quick and easy way)

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1/2 butternut squash – chopped, boiled and pureed

1/4 cup grated Parmesan

1 cup broth

4ish sage leaves sliced

Handful of baby spinach

mozzarella

parmesan

1. Boil pasta – usually I cook it for 1-2 mins less than indicated

2. Squeeze sausage meat out of casing and fry in olive oil for a 4-5 mins.  Remove from pan.

3. Cook onions until soft 3-4 mins. Add mushrooms for 2-3 minutes.

4. Add butternut squash sauce/puree. Also add broth, Parmesan, cooked sausage and sage leaves. Mix well. Bring to the boil and simmer for 10 mins. Keep an eye on it and add more broth/water if it looks to dry.

5. Remove from heat. Add cooked pasta and spinach. Mix well until spinach wilts. Empty into oiled 9×9 baking dish.

6. Top with mozzarella – the amount is up to you. Finish with grated Parmesan.

7. Cook for 25 mins at 350F or until cheese becomes bubbly and slightly browned.

Serves 4. Enjoy!

My first 5K race!

No, this isn’t a flashback Friday where I recount my first ever race experience and how the 5K was a launchpad that set me on my path as a runner. My first race was a half marathon (!) and since then I’ve complete two more halfs, two 10Ks (one road and one trail) and a trail 15K. But I’ve never run a 5K race. Ever.

And it’s not like they are a rare event out here in SLC. Every Saturday I run past a 5K in one of our two local parks. So why haven’t I run one yet? Well, I’m a little cheap and I like more bang for my buck – at my last 10K you could pay $30 to run 6.2 miles or $25 to run 3.1 miles. That’s a no-brainer right there! Plus, 5Ks hurt! When I do tempo runs at 5K pace they are not fun. I seriously question what I am doing. At least in a half marathon you can ease yourself into the HURTZONE, and have a couple (or more) miles at a comfortable pace. But, 3.1 miles – they are all going to hurt.

This summer I signed up for a trail race series – 5, 10 and 15K. Tomorrow is race number 1: the 5K! And that means I’m guaranteed a PR! Woohoo! I’m kinda hoping for a 24 min time but we’ll see – there’s about 250 ft of elevation gain (almost half of which is in the first mile). These races are super fun and have a great raffle so you are almost guaranteed to come away with some kind of running goodie. Race recap on Monday!

The half marathon was only last weekend but seems so long ago. I did just find out that we’ll be getting all of our race photos for free – this is the first race I’ve done that has that option. I haven’t seen them yet but hopefully there’s not too much running-bitchface going on.

I spent an hour on both Sunday and Monday stretching and rolling. My calves are incredibly tight and are causing me foot issues – tight achilles, random pain at the bottom of my foot. I did manage a  2 mile recovery run on Sunday and have been diligently rolling and stretching all week.

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I even packed my stick to bring to work today. Lucky I’m wearing long pants so nobody can see the one-legged calve sleeve that I’m rocking.

Monday: 1 hour stretching/rolling

Tuesday: 3.5 mile run at 8.28 min/mile pace

Wednesday: 5.5 miles at 8.35 min/mile pace

Thursday: 4.2 mile on ellipitcal (equivalent to one whole episode of Scandal)

Friday: 50 min strength workout

By Wednesday my foot was feeling pretty crappy so I swapped out running for cross-training on Thursday and am feeling a gazillion (that’s a number, right?) better.

I’ve also had some pretty good eats. Orange chicken (low in calories but tastes so good).

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And this quinoa tabbouleh recipe which was amazing. Still not happy with the falafel.

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Two race weekends in a row! What was I thinking?

 

 

 

There’s always something……….

It’s been a whole year since my first half marathon. And looking back I can’t help but feel jealous of my first 6 months of running – so many firsts (first double digit run, first sub-8 min mile), a new love of sport and fitness (did not see that coming) and most importantly injury free running. No aches, no pains. How did that happen? Beginner’s luck is the most obvious (and unsatisfying) answer.

After 4 full days of rest I headed to the gym on Saturday for an hour of strength training. Sunday was 6.5 miles on the elliptical followed by one mile on the treadmill. It was amazing! I had missed running so much. Monday 3 more treadmill miles + 1.5 miles on the elliptical. Tuesday morning more strength training.

And the good news – my foot feels so much better. A couple of aches and twinges yesterday but completely fine today. I am planning on doing a mixture of running + elliptical this week to ease back in to it.

But there’s always something……..and with me it’s my right knee. I’ve been having some kind of knee pain since the end of January (4 months!). My physiotherapist seems to think it’s due to weak glute muscles and should be ok to run through. But it’s still painful after taking complete rest days. So frustrating!

My current thought is that since my left foot was all tendonitis-y that I was overcompensating with my right knee and aggravating it. So now that my foot is better the knee pain should subside. Right, right………please tell me I’m right. I’m going to see how it goes and arrange a physio appointment for next week. Somebody told me yesterday (at a very strange personal training appointment that I’ll fill you in on later) that I need to be an advocate for my body.

Four months after my first physiotherapist appointment I am feeling worse than ever despite following all her advice and religiously doing all the prescribed exercises. Maybe it’s not me……….maybe I need to try someone new. Someone new who accepts my insurance!

It’s pretty quiet around our place right now. That’s what happens when one person is nursing injuries and the other is doing the last set of long runs for his marathon. We did get a bunch of (much delayed) spring cleaning done including spring comforter. One of my absolute favorite things in the world is getting into a freshly made bed. And we grilled like there was no tomorrow. Eating dinner outside makes everything taste awesome-r.

BBQ pork. J is the man behind the grill. Check out those impressive grill marks. My job is to make the sides. Healthy potato salad and a carrot salad with pine nuts, raisins, cilantro and a cumin-garlic dressing.

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Mexican salad (I think lime and cilantro are my two favorite ingredients). Plus this cool new beer from one of our local breweries. A benefit of having a home-brewer in the house is a constant supply of new beer to try out.

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Paprika potatoes and tequila-glazed chicken thighs. All of our grill recipes come from this amazing book we found at Costco. I think it’s a Cooking Light BBQ book. Everything in it is amazing.

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If you live with me and run 17 miles in one go I will make you pancakes. That is the deal. I hope J reciprocates in 4ish months.

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I also made a trip to REI and picked up a Spibelt ($15 using my coupon). It’ll be holding my phone and Gu s (99 cent each right now at REI) for my next half marathon. I’m hoping to try it out as soon as I can.

Smoked salmon risotto

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Recipe time! This is adapted from Jamie Oliver’s original Naked Chef book. This is my go-to basic risotto recipe and almost foolproof.

I make this much for two very hungry runners:

1 pint fish stock (I used a whole carton of fish stock)

1/2 tbsp olive oil

1 medium onion chopped

3-4 stalks of celery finely chopped

1 clove of garlic finely chopped

7 oz arborio rice

1/4 cup dry white wine (sauvignon blanc or riesling works best in my experience)

2.5 tbsp butter (you can get away with less if you want to make it a little healthier)

1/3 to 1/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese (you can really add as much as you like)

1/2 bunch of asparagus (cut into half inch pieces)

1/3 cup frozen peas

4 oz smoked salmon (I used half a packet of Trader Joe’s smoked salmon)

Directions:

1. Warm the stock in a pot. Keep warm (not hot) for the duration of cooking.

2. Heat the oil in a large pot (I usually use a stock pot).  Add onion, celery and a pinch of salt. Cook on a medium heat for 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook for another two minutes.

3. Add the rice. Turn up the heat – medium-high. Stir the rice constantly for 2 minutes.  Add the wine. Turn down the heat.

The rice will now begin to absorb any liquid that you add. The trick is to add enough so that the rice is cooked but does not turn mushy. This might take a while to figure out but usually takes about 25 minutes. At the start the rice is translucent. This usually means the rice isn’t cooked. Once this translucency  is completely gone the rice is done. Make sure to taste as you go. If it is chewy keep going.

4. Once the wine has been absorbed you can begin to add the stock. Add a ladle full at a time. Once each ladleful has been absorbed, add  more stock. This should be done on a lowish heat – not boiling but a gentle bubble. I used almost all of the fish stock.

5. Once you think the rice is almost done add the asparagus and frozen peas. I cooked them for 7ish minutes. You can always cook them separately and add them at the end.

6. Keep tasting the rice. When you think it is done take the post off the heat. Add the smoked salmon, butter and Parmesan. Allow the butter and cheese to melt and you are ready to serve. I like to garnish with more cheese and black pepper, I also added a little bit of lemon juice for this recipe. I usually serve it with some crusty Italian bread. You can never have too many carbs, right?