Running Nutrition Review

As you all have heard, I am running my first half marathon on Feb. 15 (wow…that is so soon). When I first started my training, I was really unsure about using gels and if they’d work for me in the race. So, I started trying a bunch of stuff out. I typically have a very weak stomach. I get sick from really sugary things like soda and candy, which was one reason I was so hesitant about the gels. During my long runs, I would try something new and see how I liked it. I probably shouldn’t have tried so much stuff, but you know, new things are fun. But, I have settled on a winner, and I’ll let you know how it does in the race in my recap. For now, I’m going to go ahead and tell you what I’ve learned, what I liked and what I didn’t about each product.

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 Citrus Flavored Cliff Shot BlocksI really like gummy bears, so I figured that I’d really like gummy blocks. I picked them up at my local running store, and they were a little on the pricey side. I assumed I could use the pack for two uses, so that didn’t bother me too much. I took them on a 7 mile trail run, and honestly, I wasn’t too into them. I took them at around mile 3 to try them out, but I didn’t feel any more energized. They were really just OK. The chewy-ness was a little difficult while I was on the run, and I noticed that they really stuck to my teeth. Needless to say, they were not my favs. The citrus taste was pretty good though, even if I wasn’t a fan of the consistency. I think they are good for backpackers or long hikes, but I didn’t like them for my runs.

Rating (1-5): 3

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Citrus Flavored Clif Shot GelAs I was saying before, I liked the citrus taste of the Clif Blocks, so I figured I’d like the taste of the citrus Clif Gels. I was also looking for something with caffeine, since I do get a really big boost from coffee before my runs. I took this gel on an 8 mile trail run and I definitely felt the boost after eating it. However, I was not really a big fan of the taste. It was really overly sweet and tasted almost like icing, which made me gag a little while I ran. I drank a ton of water with it (after a running partner warned me that I could get stomach cramps with the gels if I don’t drink enough water), but really, I needed the water to wash out the taste. I thought the gel worked great and did exactly what it was supposed to do. I just needed something a little less sweet.

Rating (1-5): 4

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Albanese Gummi Bears: I really do like gummy bears a lot. So much so that my husband brought me to a gummy bear factory for my birthday. My roommate took these with her when running the Dawn of the Dunes Marathon (this is her race recap for that) and they seemed to work. I decided to try them out. I took them on a 7 mile run. I figured they would be fine since I sometimes eat a hand full of them before I leave for a run. The results were not too good. These really upset my stomach a lot and kinda derailed my run a little. They are also rather big and bulky. They taste really really good though!!

Rating (1-5): 2

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Gu Salted Watermelon GelYou know, I never would have thought to pair salt and watermelon, but the good people at GU seriously know where it’s at. This flavor rocked. When I’m on a long run, I generally feel like I need some salt and I crave it. Because of this, the sugary flavors tend to taste a little over-the-top to me. However, I doubt I would actually want a gu that tasted super salty. This one had the perfect amount of both. I took it on a 9 mile run and had it at the half way point with some water. I certainly felt the effects of the carbs on my way back home and I was less hungry than usual when I got there (I don’t know about you, but I get crazy hungry on long runs). I was pretty happy with this flavor and have decided to stick with this for my race.

Rating (1-5): 5

So I have settled on a winner. I’ll be bringing a pack of salted watermelon for my race on Feb. 15. Before the race I’ll also be eating a luna bar, which are my go to energy bar.

What are your go to race foods? Have you tried this awesome salted watermelon? 

The Ups and Downs of Training

I am officially less than three weeks out from the A1A Half Marathon, and I have no idea what to expect. This week was full of ups and downs. On the up, I seemed to have beaten the flu. On the down, well, I had a flare up of my IT band syndrome on Wednesday’s run. However, I rested it, and my long run on sunday went great. So, go figure. I did change a few things, and I hope maybe I can get to the bottom of this once and for all.

Over Christmas, I went to the Delray Running Company to check out their shoes and see how they fitted me. I had come in with my Brooks Ravenas, and the owner of the store swore that I was in a shoe that had too much of a drop. She convinced me to come back in and get fitted by showing me her awesome setup where they record your running gate on video and slow it down to see your weird running tendencies. When we looked at mine, I was horrified. I am a super duper crazy pronator and I do this really strange kick out thing with my right foot. To improve my form, they fitted me into a pair of Newton Pop 1‘s. These shoes were really weird (they have these strange things on the bottom called lugs that force you to mid-foot strike) and ridiculously expensive. So, long story short, I took the info from my gate analysis, and didn’t buy the shoes. However, after my flare up on Wednesday, I decided to try and attack my form a little and go back to some of what I learned from my analysis. I also bought a compression sleeve for my knee and that seemed to help a ton. On my long run sunday, I concentrated on not kicking my foot out and trying to not over-stride, which seemed to be causing at least some of the over pronation. Hopefully, these adjustments help and I can forge ahead in my training without too much trouble.

Aren't these the weirdest shoes? I just can't commit to something so different for $175.
Aren’t these the weirdest shoes? I just can’t commit to something so different for $175.

My training last week:

Monday: Rest
Tuesday: 5 mile run outside at ~9:30 pace
Wednesday: Tried for 3 miles, but only did 2.5 because of the IT band + yoga
Thursday: yoga + rested my leg
Friday: More Yoga
Saturday: Hiked 6 miles + Biked 50 min + Yoga
Sunday: Ran 9 miles at ~9:30-10:00 pace for my long run + Yoga

Total: Ran 16.5, Hiked 6, Biked 50 min and a ton of yoga

My one picture on my long run before my phone died. It was snowing the whole time and my face felt like it was being pelted by tiny razor blades, but besides that, it went great!
My one picture on my long run before my phone died. It was snowing the whole time and my face felt like it was being pelted by tiny razor blades, but besides that, it went great!

As you see…this is a pretty all over the place week. My long run went great and gave me a ton of confidence for my training ahead and the A1A Half coming up. However, Wednesday had me pretty worried since I had so much pain. Hopefully this week goes a little smoother. I have my longest run of my training cycle and this week will likely be my hardest week.

My training this week:

Monday: Yin Yoga + Rest
Tuesday: 6 miles chill pace
Wednesday: 3 miles with Fleet Feet run group + yoga
Thursday: Yoga + Bike
Friday: 5 miles with 3 miles at 8:45 pace + yoga
Saturday: Hiking
Sunday: Hiking + 11 mile long run

Total: 25 miles

Finally Back to the Training

Apparently the A1A Marathon and Half Marathon has a race poster.
Apparently the A1A Marathon and Half Marathon has a race poster. This runner is a real heal striker.

Here we are, less than one month from my first Half Marathon. I am starting to get a little nervous about the whole thing, especially since my training got pretty messed up after having the flu. But with two weeks of illness behind me, I am back in the game and ready to take the A1A Half Marathon on. Having the layoff gave my legs some nice time off, but also forced me to reevaluate my goals a little. I went into this thinking that I’d kick some butt and break two hours, and that’s still what I want to do, however, I am realizing that I will have to be happy with simply finishing. Northern Indiana is still deep in winter’s grips, so my runs will be a mix of indoors and outdoors to accommodate for weather. Here is my training for the rest of the week:

Monday: Rest

Tuesday: 5 miles indoors slow + yoga

Wednesday: 3-4 miles with run group + yoga

Thursday: Biking + yoga

Friday: 5 Miles + yoga

Saturday: Biking + yoga

Sunday: 8 miles

Total: ~22 miles

It’s also important to remember that I am 10 weeks out from the Holy Half. With the kinks worked out at the A1A Half, I should be ready to go come March. To increase speed a bit, next week I am going to start incorporating some speed work into my training schedule.

training update with very little training

The A1A Half Marathon is 33 days away and for the past week, I have not been training. I came down with the flu and was too sick to be awake, no less to run. This certainly causes some hiccups in the training plan, but I am more concerned about getting over the flu than breaking 2 hours on my first half marathon. I am not sure when I’ll be back to my usual intensity, but if all goes well, I’ll try for a (slow) 30 minute run on wednesday to kind of shake it all out. Send me lots of positive and healthy vibes while my immune system finishes up this battle.

Pretty excited for my half marathon line up!
I am committed to the Holy Half in March. Pretty excited for my half marathon line up! Isn’t their logo cute?

In the mean time, I signed up for my next half marathon of the season, the Holy Half at the University of Notre Dame. This is where I go to grad school and many of my friends have ran the race. It is student run, and isn’t particularly fast (there are a lot of turns to keep it on campus), but it is the race that goes through my usual running grounds, so I gotta do it! I am not sure what my goals will be, which will likely be very dependent on how well the A1A half goes. As we get closer, I’ll update you on all of that.

Last summer, I participated in a race series called DINO (Do INdiana Outdoors), which has trail races, triathlons and mountain bike races. This year, I am hoping to do a few more of their races. March 14th kicks off their series with a 15K trail run not too far from my house. They have a few other trail races that I have my eye on. Here is my plan for races over the next few months.

Feb 15 – A1A Half Marathon

March 14 – DINO Mounds State Park Trail 15K

March 28 – Holy Half Marathon

April 25 – DINO Town Trail Run 15K

So, as I try to get better, I am signing up for races. It is a good motivator to eat well and sleep a lot so that I am ready to kick some serious butt. I’ll keep you updated on how my training goes over these next few weeks, but any advice on getting back after you’ve been pretty sick is very much appreciated!

Run in the Sun… and back to the snow!

Sorry about being MIA over the holidays. It is always craziness down south. My husband and I are both only children, so we are showered with attention when we visit. I spent a lot of time with my family and catching up on my yoga practice. My mom, who is also a yoga teacher, and I went to a class every day that I was home and had a great time experiencing some new instructors. Taking new classes reminds me to step outside the box when I teach and is a great way to jumpstart a more challenging practice. AND…while at home, my mom and I cooked up some fun plans for this Valentine’s Day (the day before the A1A Half). Check it out…

This is a workshop I will be teaching in South Florida at Juliana's Art of Yoga. If you are in town, you should check it out!
This is a workshop I will be teaching in South Florida at Juliana’s Art of Yoga. If you are in town, you should check it out!

I figured that this would be a wonderful way for me to curb the nerves for the race and it is a fun thing to do with my mom!

So, you may be wondering how I did for my holiday training. …It was pretty bad. I spent most of my time doing yoga and hanging with family, and not too much time running (although I did get a few runs in). Despite my lack of training, I think I needed some time to check out and concentrate on lowering my stress levels and practice mildfulness. However, now I am back in Indiana and ready to get back to the roads, at least with a little bit more consistency. My training this week will be with an intention of going slow and long. My husband promised to join me for a few runs, so I’ll have some company.

Monday: Much needed rest!

Tuesday: 5 miles slow and yoga

Wednesday: 5 miles and yoga

Thursday: Hike along Knobstone trail

Friday: Trail run 4 miles

Saturday: Hike along Knobstone trail

Sunday: Hike and run 8 miles

Total: 22 miles

How is your training going? Have the holidays made it a little harder to get it done? Don’t beat yourself up about it, just make it a priority in the next few weeks. Happy New Year everyone!

Race Week Training Update!

We are now 68 days away from the A1A Half Marathon and I couldn’t feel better about that! Last week was great! I ran my long run (7 miles) with the Fleet Feet Trail Runners, which was awesome and the rest of my runs went pretty well, too. I did my long run on trail in a local county park to prepare me a little for my trail race next Saturday. This next week brings more snow and a busy schedule as the semester ends, so I’ll be squeezing my runs between tons of work.

The trail running group from this morning. We all had an awesome time!
The trail running group from this morning. We all had an awesome time! Photo was taken by one of the other runners named Erin.

In the past, I have had a considerable amount of trouble with my race day routine. My stomach will start to bother me, I don’t sleep well the night before or I feel compelled to drink way too much water (as if aid stations don’t exist). My goals for this race are to nail down a good morning race routine and to (hopefully) break one hour. My plan is to eat a piece of bread, an Luna energy bar, some coffee and some cliff gummies for breakfast. I’ll have to remind myself not to fill up too much on liquids.

Training this week:

Monday: 4 miles (nice and slow)

Tuesday: Yoga

Wednesday: Yoga + 5 miles (3 miles at half marathon pace)

Thursday: Yoga + 4 miles

Friday: Lots and lots of rest!!

Saturday: 6.2 Race!

Sunday: 2-3 mile slow recovery run

Total: 21 miles

So there you have it, another week in the books. Hopefully my training next week goes as well as this past week. Wish me luck on my race saturday, and as always, feel free to give any advice for race day nutrition. I’ll post an update after the race to let you know how I did!

Happy Late Thanksgiving!!!

How was your Thanksgiving? Mine was AWESOME! For the first time in my life, I did a rather untraditional Thanksgiving Day. Instead of eating tons of Turkey (I’m vegetarian, so tofurkey in my case), I spent my day hiking through the backcountry of Great Smokey Mountains National Park with my husband and favorite hiking partner. In total for the holiday weekend, we hiked over 50 miles through rolling hills and difficult terrain. I’m pretty sure my legs were ready to fall off, but you know, that comes with the territory. Our animal count was a live turkey (on Thanksgiving Day), a bobcat, a wolf (we also heard them too while we were hiking back to our car) and an armadillo. Pretty good for late fall.

My view on Thanksgiving Day. Jealous much? :)
My view on Thanksgiving Day. Jealous much? 🙂

So now that I’m back to town, it is back to my training. I am 76 days from the A1A Half Marathon! It sounds like a lot, but that time is going to fly by. I also have a 10k trail run in 2 weeks and I am looking for a 5k in Florida to run when I am home for Christmas.

Training for the week:

Monday: 5 miles slow and easy – yoga afterwards

Tuesday: Yoga

Wednesday: 4 miles with running group + yoga

Thursday: 4 miles + yoga

Friday: REST!

Saturday: 7 mile long run pace (try strawberry cliff energy gel + race day breakfast)

Sunday: yoga

Total: 20 miles

These next few weeks I am going to be trying out my race nutrition strategies. I have a rather sensitive stomach, so I am a little worried about what will happen during my half marathon. I usually have to be careful about what I eat before I run and I am new to energy gels. Honestly, I haven’t really decided if I want to use them for my race. Any thoughts? I’d love to hear what works for you.

A Suffer Run

This weekend I had the pleasure to be in South Florida for the Yoga Journal Conference, which was awesome! I snuck out for my long run Sunday between yoga classes. It was hot out. When I say hot, I mean really really hot. My body hurt so much. The run was only 6 miles, but it could have been 100 for the amount that I suffered. I grew up in South Florida, and when I lived there, my body was acclimated to the hot and humid days. However, after five years in the freezing temps of South Bend, Indiana, my body has forgotten how hot 85 F with 70% humidity can be (arguably, that is cold in Florida for the middle of the day).

Isn't it beautiful? Too bad I was on a suffer run. Haha.
Isn’t it beautiful? Too bad I was on a suffer run. Haha.

It was beautiful scenery but when I got dehydrated, I knew I was going to have to find water or I’d be in trouble. Running along the beach is not only hot, but kind of salty, which makes you thirstier than normal (and of course, I didn’t bring any water with me). About 30 minutes into my run, I was considering going up to a restaurant to ask for some water and then I remembered the showers along the beach. After people get all sandy, they like to rinse off before heading into their cars. This was a life saver. I ran over to the shower, drank some water and rinsed my face off a little. Suddenly, I had new life in me. I was running faster and with so much less effort. I even finished with negative splits! This run got me thinking… Am I in over my head for the A1A Half Marathon? I will be training in South Bend, in the coldest part of the year. I figured (actually hoped), that my Florida upbringing would protect me from the crazy change in temperature I would experience between my training and the race. I also kind of figured hot yoga could keep me slightly more acclimated to high temps and humidity. I don’t know though. I had a vision of finishing in under 2 hours, but now I’m just hoping to finish.

Training Update!

I woke up to tons of snow today. Am I really going to run in it? YES!
I woke up to tons of snow today. Am I really going to run in it? YES!

Winter has started but that doesn’t mean my training stops. I am running my first half marathon in mid-February in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, my home town. The course runs along the beach and should be pretty fun!

Monday: rest day
Tuesday: 4 miles easy + yoga
Wednesday: 3.1 miles + yoga
Thursday: yoga
Friday: 5 miles
Saturday: yoga all day! (Yoga journal conference)
Sunday: 6 miles + yoga all day
Tot: 18 miles & lots of yoga!!

I head down to Florida for the Yoga Journal Conference tomorrow. I am pretty excited to be there and have an opportunity to run in the hot weather. I’m a little worried about going from the freezing cold temperatures in South Bend, IN to the tropics in Florida for my race in February. I’m hoping this weekend will be a good test.