Finally Friday & My Favorites

This has been a long week. I have been house-sitting for my mother-in-law and caring for one two three four five dogs for the past two weeks (Okay, two are mine, but still) – I am ready to go home! Things just aren’t the same when you aren’t in your own place. The end is in sight, however, I am so glad it is Friday.

Since I’ve had 397 cable channels this week (we don’t and in fact, we just acquired a TV this spring), I think I have turned into a major vegetable. Moving, pretty pictures on the flat screen and I just can’t say no. Embarrassingly enough, I think I may have zones out to the point of actual drooling last night – not good – I am actually looking forward to being cable-free again. I think TV really does rot your mind. It at least is not good for being motivated to exercise.

Naturally, with 396 other cables to choose from I decided to watch Animal Planet non-stop. It was great until I got hooked on a never-ending marathon of The Monsters Inside Me where I learned about every type of parasite under the sun – ones you get from sushi (that I ate last Sunday), pork (that I ate on Monday), cats (which my dad has), sand flies (which I am sure live in my mother-in-law’s backyard since there is a sandbox), freshwater crabs (which are in my freezer), and a zillion other things which I just know I will come into contact with soon. Not. Good. It sent me into a panic, but it was like a train wreck – I couldn’t stop watching!

I did get some running in – more than I have committed to in a while, but I can’t stop feeling like I would have been more productive if I wasn’t tuned it. That’s 4 whopping miles:

At least it’s something? Which brings me to my dilemma. I don’t know if I will be able to run the Air Force Half Marathon in Dayton on September 17.

It’s been a rough spring for me. It’s been hot and miserable and I have been busy – doing nothing? I initially registered for the Air Force Full then switched to the Half after my knee injury flared up again – primarily from overuse and lack of strength training.

I’ve been struggling to train at all since then. I am tired – physically, emotionally, mentally, anyway. I have good and bad days and someday are just a struggle for me.

With nearly non-existent weekly runs, I just don’t know if I will be prepared. I’ve been doing long runs on the weekends and managing okay, but I know that is not the right way to train. I’ve run some 5K’s, had good ones and bad ones and spent as little time in the gym as possible.

I have a Quarter Marathon coming up on September 4, which I want to run and am coaching the Lucky 13’s to run the Columbus Half Marathon on October 16. I also have numerous 5K races between now and then, which are fun and support causes I believe in. It was once a goal of mine to use 5K’s to improve my speed. In January 2012, I am running The Goofy – I am registered and our trip is booked! That is a huge goal of mine.

I am thinking about not running the Air Force Half and running the Columbus Half instead. Only problem is, I missed the official transfer deadline for Air Force by a few days. I don’t know what to do with my bib (it’s a sold out race) rather than just forfeit the registration fee and call it a lesson learned. [This is where I am asking you, Blogland, for your advice]. What do you think? I’m calling on the pros here!

On a lighter note? Check out my new Friday Favorites!

I made two recipes for the first time last night that I got from THIS blog. They were delicious and not too complicated one I figured out that baking powder and baking soda are not the same things. Thank God for Facebook friends and Google. 

I made Grilled Cheesy Barbequed Chicken. It was SUPER easy and so good. The Cajun Seasoning added just enough kick to make both me and my husband smile:

And I made Hoecakes, which took a little time to practice pan-frying, but once I mastered it, they were like sweet, hearty, corn-filled pancakes that melted in your mouth. A nice counterbalance to the spice in the chicken:

Another one of my favorites? My sister! Don’t forget to check out her NEW blog HERE!

My sister Mollie & Me

And, Julia (one of my fav Bloggers, by the way) introduced me to this amazing feature to use with my blog:

Yeah! Now I can respond directly to your comments or you can respond to one another! Thanks, Julia!

What is your advice regarding the Air Force Marathon? Any Friday Favorites I just can’t live without knowing about?

Until the next mile marker, 

$100 Training Giveaway for 100 Followers!

First and foremost – this post is for YOU followers! 
When I started this blog, I didn’t honestly expect to find so much love, support, friendship and knowledge in an online community. My bog is what it is today in part because of YOU! So, as promised, a $100 Giveaway for 100 (plus!) followers!
As you may or may not know, strength training is crucial to the success of endurance athletes, including runners. At first, I was not sold on the idea myself – I was already busting my butt to run, how could I possibly add on more work?! – but now, I understand that hitting the gym to lift some weights a few days a week is one of the most beneficial things I can do as a runner. Yes, ladies, even we need to ‘pump the iron’ regularly!
The benefits of strength training for runners are astounding – in fact, I was fortunate enough to attend an MIT seminar on it just last night!
Me and the Lucky 13’s after the seminar!
Strength training can improve body composition by helping you maintain or increase your lean body mass and can decrease your percentage of body fat, helping you look leaner and burn additional calories. Benefits of strength training for runners:
  • You’ll Be Leaner: Muscle burns more calories than fat. Fat burns almost nothing at rest, whereas muscle uses oxygen so if you increase lean muscle mass, you’ll increase the body’s ability to use oxygen and burn more calories. Your body typically uses about 4.5 to seven calories per pound of muscle every day.
  • You’ll Be More Efficient: Strength training can help you run faster, longer, and more efficiently. A study published last year in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research showed that runners who add three days of resistance training exercises to their weekly program increase their leg strength and enhance their endurance. Runners with better endurance can run longer—and burn more calories. You’ll also be able to recover faster from long runs because strength training makes your body more efficient at converting metabolic waste into energy.
  • You’ll Be Less Injury-Prone: If you increase your strength, you’ll also increase your joint stability, reducing your risk of repetitive stress injuries. Incorporating moves such as squats, single-leg hops, and ab work into a workout can not only prevent lower-body injuries, but improve performance as well. Leg exercises are particularly important when it comes to reducing injury: These exercises strengthen muscles around the knees and hips two areas that often cause problems for runners.
I also know that there seem to be a thousand things stacked against us when we are looking for a strength training program. 
  • It’s too expensive to hire a personal trainer or join a gym. 
  • There aren’t enough hours in the day to train with an intensive running (and sometimes swimming and biking too!) schedule. 
  • The gym closes too early and doesn’t open early enough. It can be daunting to try to figure out your own strength training workout. 
  • We ladies don’t want to get ‘big’. 
  • It’s too intimidating to lift weights around others. 
And the list goes on and on. For me, it boiled down to expense and time. It was too much and there was not enough!
As an expression of my gratitude to those of you that have joined me on this journey as followers, I would like to help you get started on a strength training program that works for you. It’s personalized, you can do it anywhere, and best of all (since I’m giving it away) – it’s FREE! So, what are you waiting for?! You’ve really got nothing to lose and a whole lot to gain. Here are the details:
My friend and trainer (not-to-mention the nicest person you will ever meet), Rebecca Black, has graciously agreed to partner with me to offer one lucky follower a chance to win ONE FREE MONTH (that’s a $100 value!) of Strong Body by Rebecca Cyber Training!
What You Get:

The Strong Body By Rebecca Monthly Cyber Training Program consists of the following:

Rebecca Black
  • Initial Food Guide and Grocery list
  • Portion Sizes for each meal – this leaves flexibility for people to pick your own meals from the food in the guide instead of being tied to meals you won’t like
  • Resources on Healthy Eating
  • Monthly List of Rebecca’s Favorite things (newsletter)
  • Assistance with picking meals at restaurants
  • Initial Assessment Questionnaire – including weight, measurements, goals, and pictures
  • Month of workouts
  • Interval training and cardiovascular training ideas
  • Specialty ab and butt workouts
  • Functional workouts to do in parks, pools and even airports!
  • Weekly check-in with Rebecca via email on Sundays – includes questionnaire, updated measurements, weight and pictures
  • One 15-minute Skype session with Rebecca at the beginning or end of each month (your choice)
  • Encouragement and Support via email, Facebook and Twitter
What You Do:
Mandatory (One Entry each – that’s 2 entries!):
  • You must be a follower of this blog, of course! Let me know in a comment that you already are or become one (it’s not too late to get in on the fun)!
  • Tell me in a comment why you wish to make Strong Body Cyber Training a part of your endurance, weight-loss or fitness program. 

Extra Credit (That’s 10 additional entries!):
  • Follow me (@wordstorunby) and Rebecca (@StrongBodybyR) on Twitter and tell me in a comment that you are. (2 entries)
  • Tweet about this giveaway! Tell me in a comment that you did and include @wordstorunby and @StrongBodybyR in your tweet. (2 entries)
  • Blog about it in a post or on your sidebar and tell me in a comment that you did. (2 entries)
  • Sign up for the Strong Body Newsletter HERE and leave me a comment telling me that you did. (4 entries)

Please note, the contest runs from July 15th through July 22. I will announce a winner on Saturday, July 23 and get you linked with Rebecca right away to begin your free month of cyber training in August!

Still want more? Check out these blogs for inspiration, motivation and thoughts from ladies that are currently working Rebecca’s program. Way to go, girls!

That’s it, folks! Good luck to each and everyone of YOU – I can’t wait to pick a winner! 

Until the next mile marker,

Healthy Comfort Food

So, I set out to run tonight – 5 miles – and it did not go exactly as planned. Truth be told, I actually debated whether or not to go out at all. My heart rate was already up to 140 before I even left the house, which is really high for me. I ran about a mile and felt really tired. Whether it was in my head or not, I don’t know. But I, embarrassingly enough, called it quits after a mile and came home to sort out a mess with my online bill payment service and make dinner. For once, my mind was 100% committed to running, but my body was just feeling worn out. Rest tonight, back to it tomorrow.
Needles to say, I was feeling really bummed out after I ran 1 mile and walked back home – it was gorgeous out today and nearly 60 degrees – like I said, I wanted to run!  And, when I get to feeling bad, comfort food always makes me feel better…BUT……I really try to limit myself when it comes to emotional eating because then I will get out of control and not be able to stop (so I am afraid).
I love Chinese food, and tonight I decided to make a healthy stir-fry to satisfy my craving and my disappointment. Take a look at what I made!
The ingredients are simple enough and you can add or subtract ingredients to suit your tastes.
You can’t have too many vegetables – I used mushrooms, green peppers, and onions. All fresh produce:
 I chose shrimp as my protein (again, you can use what you like!). We buy it with the shell on because it is cheaper and after thawing under warm water, it is really easy to peel:
I drizzled a small amount of Canola Oil in the wok and added the mushrooms. They take the longest to cook so I would recommend starting with them:
After they were lightly browned, I added the remaining vegetables:
I let all the vegetables cook down until they were soft and fragrant. Then I added the shrimp:
When the shrimp was pink and cooked thoroughly, I added a small amount of our favorite stir fry sauce – Szechuan Spicy from House of Tsang. It is only 25 calories for an entire tablespoon and is low on fat, carbs, and sugar. I use it sparingly in the dish and my husband adds more to his own plate:
Here is the finished product. My husband likes to eat his stir fry with Basmati rice:

You can serve it with a small portion of brown rice (about 1/3 of a cup) for an even healthier dish. Or, just eat the stir-fry if you are carb-conscious (it’s still really good!):
What are some of your favorite comfort foods? Have you found a way to make them healthy and not sacrifice all of the taste? What is one thing you enjoy no matter how unhealthy it is (this would be your weakness).
My weakness would be the Cadbury Egg, which Michael brought home for desert. Thank God they only come out in the spring!
Happy Running (or eating),

Back from the Dead: How I Almost Let Cayenne Pepper Ruin My Run.

So I’m back from the dead….Or at least the stomach flu (which made me feel like I was nearing the end)!  For over a week.  No workouts. Not a whole lot of healthy food being consumed. I don’t even want to get on the scale. And no running. For over a week.  
How’s that for The Break Stops Here and the commencement of my training for the Pittsburgh Marathon.  Yeah…um…I ran 2 miles last night? On the treadmill, none the less, due to snow, ice, and ever-decreasing daylight hours. I get off work at 4:30 in the afternoon – there is no sunlight within the hour. Has. Me. Feeling. Really. Down. And not to mention discouraged.
It was a fragmented two miles – and it was horrible – I had to walk some, but it felt magnificent to run. That’s right – M.A.G.N.I.F.I.C.E.N.T.
Instead of being miserable about my apparent inability to run two miles straight right now – I am going to focus on what this run has taught me:

I came from work last night with the plan to start dinner, let it simmer for 45 minutes, and run. No excuses. Just doing. I prepped dinner – Moroccan Chicken – right down to the herb and spice “breading” when I realized we were out of Cayenne Pepper.  Now let me tell you two things (1) my husband and I are addicted to hot spice, hot sauce, hot peppers, hot anything – our refrigerator is primarily storage for hot sauce and (2) we DO NOT EVER run out of anything hot. We could supply the neighborhood for a year. We could live on it for six months. THERE IS ALWAYS EXTRA [INSERT SPICE OF YOUR CHOICE HERE]. Except for last night. WHEN THERE WAS NO CAYENNE PEPPER.

I couldn’t believe it, and I was furious. Probably a little unnecessarily so as I snapped at my unsuspecting husband and sped off to the grocery store where I bought two jumbo containers of Cayenne Pepper for $4.49 each. That’s right; I spent over ten bucks on Cayenne Pepper last night. (When I can’t afford my race entry fee in May, remind me of this incident, please).
The whole drive to the store, the whole time at the store, and the whole drive back, I was thinking about how I wanted needed to run. I was furious that Cayenne Pepper – or the lack thereof – was going to ruin my run. I started having images of myself curled into the fetal position at the base of the treadmill rocking and sobbing as the Moroccan Chicken took over my kitchen and my night. In my vision, I ran out of everything and kept going back to the store – it was never-ending.  Dramatic – I know. Ridiculous? Yes. An overreaction? Probably.
It was during my delirious dreaming that I realized I was so angry because I hadn’t been running. I was on the edge because I needed to run. And then I realized that 45 minutes to simmer was still 45 minutes to simmer whether it took me a half hour to go to the store and get an ingredient or not. I would still have 45 minutes to run when all was said and done.
And I was really mean to my husband.
I came home (with my pepper) and apologized even though he didn’t want to be anywhere near me – and I didn’t blame him.
I wanted to explain, but decided against it at the moment (read: honey, I hope you see this post) and finished my prep. Put the ingredients in the pot, set to boil, and literally jumped onto the treadmill. Half a mile – no walking. Stir the chicken, set to simmer for 45 minutes, and back on the treadmill. One mile down – I walked to catch my breath. Check the chicken and start the rice. Another half a mile with no walking. And I was done – with about 25 minutes to spare. 
I felt like a new woman. Thank God for running. I’m sorry I was mean.
I will run another two miles tonight, per my training schedule. And I will feel relieved again to have run. I know this is true, yet, I always seem to forget it in the thick of things.
Do any of you ever feel the need to run? Is running more than just something you do for fun? Do you have to run? Does the wintertime interfere with your training schedule? How do you cope with it? Leave me a note to let me know your experiences!
And please don’t forget about my 2011 Training Log Giveaway and CSN $35 Gift Card Giveaway! Enter for your chance to win today!
Happy running!