The “Less Is More” Running Plan

Happy happy Wednesday! We’ve been finally getting warmer temperatures in Vermont and we’re loving it.

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Post race I wasn’t feeling great. My legs were alright by Tuesday morning and my appetite finally came back Tuesday afternoon. I think I may have either pushed it really hard or was a bit under the weather with something going around, but either way I’m still off to run 7 miles of hills tonight and feeling back to my normal self! The race over the weekend has left me feeling confident and ready to tackle more training, however I’m going to be taking a different approach for my upcoming races.

When it comes to running, it can be hard to get out of the mindset that more mileage is better, but sometimes less can be more when it comes to training. The key to a “less is more” training plan is having very intentional running and cross training workouts. After talking with my physical therapist for my final follow-up appointment, we tossed some ideas back and forth about how less running clearly works better for my body so I have decided to try training differently for my upcoming races.

I’ve developed a new plan with very intentional workouts, but less of the crazy high mileage weeks. I’ll be running 4 days a week (1 easy pace run, 1 hill workout, 1 speed workout, and 1 long run) and cross training 2 days a week (rowing, yoga, and strength training). 4 day running weeks seem to work best for my body so I’m going to see how it goes over my next couple races, but I have good feelings about it.

Finn on the other hand is still skeptical of the concept of running.

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Sunday Funday

Oh my goodness, is there anything nature can’t cure? Sunday funday was absolutely the best.

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We spent half the day on a winter hike with the sun shining on us and spectacular views.

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Finn bounced around, wagging his cute little nub of a tail, and having a blast listening to all the sounds in nature.

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One thing I know I can count on when I’m sad or stressed is the fact that nature makes me feel like me again. It brings me back to a calm, centered, and mindful state. This Sunday wasn’t necessarily a “No Phone Sunday” which we’ve done in the past, but it was a Sunday Funday for sure – only thinking happy good thoughts and staying in the moment instead of focusing on work, school, and everything else.

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It’s the last few weeks before my first race of the year. As you may know my training has been all over the place with the winter weather and long work days, but I’m going into it to have fun and get back into my groove with racing. I’m officially signed up for 2 other races after this, but that will likely turn to 3..maybe 4 or 5… You know how it goes if you’re a runner! Here’s the training plan for this week!

Fitness Plan

Now that Spring is officially here and it’s lighter in the evenings, it feels a little easier to have running goals in mind. Sunshine is a magical thing, is it not?

 

 

Quinoa Cakes with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

Back over the summer, I had quinoa cakes with a roasted red pepper sauce at a restaurant and knew I wanted to recreate them. It took me awhile to get around to it, but I made these last weekend and they were a big hit at our house! I made an avocado salsa on the side in addition to sautéed spinach.

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Ingredients:

Roasted Red Pepper Sauce:

  • 2 Red Bell Peppers
  • 1 cup almond milk (I bet this would be great with coconut milk)
  • 1 Tablespoon corn starch
  • 2 Scallions, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 2 Tablespoons nutritional yeast

Quinoa Cakes:

  • 1 cup quinoa cooked
  • 1/2 zucchini shredded
  • 1/2 carrot shredded
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • handful of parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4-1/2 cup almond flour
  • salt and pepper to taste

Avocado Salsa:

  • 1 avocado, diced
  • handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • handful of cilantro, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

For the Roasted Red Pepper Sauce:

  1. Preheat oven to 500.
  2. Cook red peppers whole for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and wrap in foil for 10 minutes to soften.
  3. While the red peppers are cooking, saute the shallots and garlic together until golden brown. Add to a blender.
  4. Remove the skin and seeds from the red peppers and add to blender with the shallots and garlic. Add in 1 cup of almond milk, corn starch, nutritional yeast, and salt and pepper. Blend until smooth. Then pour into a sauce pan and heat until thickened.

For the Quinoa Cakes:

  1. Add together all the ingredients (cooked quinoa, zucchini, carrot, parsley, eggs, almond flour, garlic, and salt and pepper) into a bowl and stir until everything is well mixed.
  2. Heat up oil in a large frying pan. There should be enough oil in the pan to fry the quinoa cakes.
  3. Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, scoop out the mixture and drop it into the frying pan. Cook about 5 minutes on each side.

For the Avocado Salsa

  1. Mix together the avocado, cherry tomatoes, lime juice, salt, pepper, and cilantro.

 

To serve, spoon the roasted red pepper sauce on top of the quinoa cakes and add the avocado salsa on the side. I added sautéed spinach to my meal for added veggies!

Enjoy!

To Work or Play

Can we all just agree that adulting is a little ridiculous sometimes…most of the time? I’m constantly in go-go-go mode so it’s really hard to break free from that. I accept that because of all the extra things I’ve taken on in my life, I will be busy more often than not, but that doesn’t mean I can’t and shouldn’t designate time for fun.

So when Tuesday was a holiday off from work, I knew that it needed to be fun day despite the rainy gloominess. I started off with a relaxing morning drinking coffee in my pajamas before taking Finn pup for a looooooooooong walk. He had a blast running around and wore himself out – so proud of this pup for working on his off-leash skills. We weren’t sure he’d ever get to this point when we first rescued him, but as always – he surprised us with his mad skillz.

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He also has mad napping skillz.

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Then after stopping quickly at my friend’s apartment to take care of her plants, I did a long yoga session.  I generally just have time for 10 minutes of yoga here and there, but it felt so good to take an hour and a half to really stretch out and then do some meditation on top of that.

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After spending some time signing up for two of three certifications I’m working toward this year, it was time for a run in the rain. It actually was kind of nice despite the crazy wind and rain along the lake.

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After that, Finn pup was up and ready for another walk so we headed out again for a second hike. I’m so lucky to live in such an incredibly beautiful place.

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I decided to relax a little under an electric blanket while I ate a chocolate peanut butter smoothie bowl with homemade granola on top and worked on school work.

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And then after a couple hours, I made dinner (Spaghetti Squash Pad Thai).

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Unfortunately on Tuesdays, I don’t see Damir until 9 at night so I put his dinner in the fridge, packed my breakfast/lunch/snacks for tomorrow, and cuddled up on the couch with the pup while doing some more school work. Then when Damir got home we all cuddled up together until I crashed into bed. The perfect way to end an active, relaxing, and fun day.

It’s so easy to get caught up in everything we “have” to do. Both my work and home to-do lists are miles long and never-ending, but that makes it even more important to take time to yourself. Sunday is designated as fun day in our house and sometimes no-phone Sunday which is incredible. Then when I have a random holiday or day off from work, I often just work through it, but taking the time to just enjoy the day was the right call. I highly recommend it!

Happy Wednesday!

 

Being Comfortable With Being Uncomfortable

Remember how I threw out my running plan last week? Yeah I still don’t have one and I’m okay with that. This Vermont winter has been unforgiving with the snow, ice, and negative temperatures and while I run in it as much as possible, I also recognize when it’s not safe for my health to be out for extended periods of time. This has meant it’s been really hard to follow the running plan I designed for this first race of the year.

My training has been all over the place, but that’s okay. It’s the first race of the year and the first race helps you get back in the swing of things and remember what’s it like to race 13.1 rather than just run it leisurely.

Once the warm weather hits, it’s going to feel great to train again. Until then, I have a solid base of mileage that I’ve been maintaining. This week will be a 45 mile week! Crazy! Here’s the plan for the week that I literally decided two minutes ago (I had to move last Saturday’s 14 miler to the beginning of the week due to a wind chill advisory over the weekend).

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Sure, I’m going to want a PR in this first race of the year, but let’s be real… If you want to race at a certain time you have to train at that time too and I have not been until the past couple weeks. Recently, I pushed myself for about 5-6 miles of an 8 mile run to go at a fast pace I haven’t done since last year before my knee injury. It DRAINED me (shh don’t tell the fast people in my running group that… because you know… runner’s ego).

It felt great at the same time though. I miss speed work and pushing beyond my comfort zone with my running. The greatest lesson I’ve ever learned with running is to become comfortable with being uncomfortable. As soon as I embraced that (and it took me quite awhile to embrace it), my times started dropping considerably. If you don’t push yourself to that point, you’ll never know what you’re capable of in a race.

Of course, that being said. You should never push yourself through injury, sickness, or if something just doesn’t feel right. There are limitations and taking care of yourself is more important than a PR.

Happy happy Monday!

Stress Relief at Work

Let’s face it… Work can be stressful and being an adult can also be stressful. I’m prone to feeling physical and emotional symptoms of stress when my schedule is overbooked. So I take steps to prevent stress whenever I can throughout my day. This often starts the night before. Any night I’ve packed my breakfast/lunch/snacks for work and packed my running clothes/set out my work clothes, my morning feels like it goes smoothly. I even prep Finn pup’s snacks and treats for the day and put his peanut butter Kong’s in the freezer.

This means in the morning, if I get up at 4:30, I can do a little schoolwork, walk and take care of Finn, make coffee, and then get ready to go. If I have to add in prepping meals and snacks for the entire day, I’m already stressed before I head out the door.

My commute is another source of stress. I check the weather always and make sure I know the road conditions, I put podcasts and upbeat music on my phone to help me get through the long drives, and I use the time to try to relax (easier said than done, but I’m working on it).

At work, there’s a lot you can do to reduce stress. Some great things I’ve discovered are:

1.) Write out to-do lists: I’m a big fan of handwritten lists that I can cross things off. Though some people use their computers or phones, I still enjoy physically checking things off a to-do list. Plus, writing things out helps me stay focused and organized throughout the day when there’s 500 things going on.

2.) Take your breaks: I am so bad about this one. I just don’t take the breaks that I should. Many days I find myself in a meeting, health coaching, or something comes up and then suddenly it’s 3pm. Getting away from your desk makes a world of difference. Bonus points if you walk in nature and get some fresh air. Or go get yourself a nice cup of coffee or tea from that coffee shop you’ve been meaning to try. Treat yourself!

3.) Take deep breaths. If you can’t get away from your desk and you can feel the tension from your head all the way down your shoulders. Close your eyes and take deep breaths for a minute. Really focus on breathing and letting go of the tension.

4.) Aromatherapy. I keep a stress relief stick at my desk. I don’t know that it does all that much, but the scent is very soothing and relaxing to me and because the scent is so comforting, I calm down instantly.

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5.) Stay Hydrated. Dehydration can make it difficult to concentrate and be productive. It can also give you physical and emotional symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, and irritability. Keep a water bottle by your side throughout the day. If you’re bored with plain water, add fruit to it!

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6.) Add personal touches to your desk or office. I work at a cubicle so I don’t have much space. That being said, I have a plant that doesn’t need much care (since I travel a lot for my job), photos of my wonderful partner and our rescue pup, art from Haiti, and some art work my students in Japan made me. Just looking at the photos of my adventure family instantly makes me smile.

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Next time you’re feeling stressed, try out some of these tips and see if they help you. Happy Wednesday folks!

A Spring Weekend

40 degree weather two days in a row this weekend? Oh my goodness, running was such a blast in the warm weather. After feeling frustrated with winter training that’s exactly what I needed to feel confident again with my training. Annnnnd then today it was back to the cold and ice. 🙂 Oh Vermont….

This week is looking promising weather wise and I’m feeling good about the training plan this week. My first race of the year is always a hit or miss. Sometimes I’m unstoppable and sometimes it’s a learning experience and a way to ease into racing season. I think once I get closer to the race, I’ll have a better idea of realistic time goals, but for now I’m just enjoying getting the miles in.

Here’s the training plan for this week!

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As for the rest of the weekend, I’d love to say I was productive. I cleaned the house quite a bit, ran errands, made some yummy food, and tried to catch up on mountains of school work. To be honest my long run left me exhausted and once I sat on the couch it was game over. Once I start getting to 12+ milers after taking a break from those distances, it takes awhile for my body to adjust and it takes me awhile to remember how to fuel and refuel properly. Finn loved the cuddle couch time though so all is good!

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I’m hoping to catch up today OR maybe just enjoy the sunshine and forget about being an adult for awhile. 🙂

Happy Monday. If you have it off go enjoy it! The sunshine is definitely calling my name.

Just Do the Best You Can

I had every intention of getting up at 4 am to run, strength train, and do some yoga before work yesterday. I even got myself to bed before 9 pm. Then life happened. Our rescue pup decided he didn’t want to sleep through the night or sleep in his crate and he let it be known. So when that 4 am alarm went off, it was mostly definitely shut off. Let’s just say I got to work without those happy running endorphins and looking almost as lost and confused as Finn does during the 5 am hour.

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Mornings are rough.

 

The point of this story is that life happens and sometimes plans needs to change. If I got upset over every time my schedule didn’t play out according to plan, that would be crazy because it happens several times a week. Instead, I just get creative with it and do the best I can.

Did strength training and yoga happen today? Absolutely not. Did I throw my running gear in my bag and do speed work during lunch? Yes. So I’m going to call that a win.

Some days yoga and strength training happen in 5-10 minute increments. Some days I sleep 5 hours instead of 7 or 8 and skip morning workouts.Some days my running clothes are the most ridiculously mismatched colors because I put the outfit together at 4 am (Green, teal, neon running shoes, and purple polka dot socks totally go together, right?). Some days I get so busy at work trying to help others that I forget to hydrate, eat, and take care of myself. I accept those moments, try to figure out a solution to the situation, and alter my plan accordingly.

 

If you’re not a professional athlete who can dedicate their life to training, then don’t beat yourself up that you can’t pull out the same mileage or fitness routine as them. Do the best you can.

Happy Wednesday!

No Phone. Just Breathe.

Last weekend, we took off for a snowy beautiful winter hike with the pup. As photographers we were pretty excited to immerse ourselves in the beautiful Vermont winter and as dog owners we were excited to let the pup run off a ton of energy.

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It was pretty special for us, because we decided to not be attached to our phones during this hike. It was a few hours of nothing, but the beautiful sounds in nature. You could hear the snow crunching beneath our boots and the wind blowing through the trees. I was able to breathe in the crisp mountain air. There were no sounds of traffic. My to-do list was long forgotten at home. I had this beautiful opportunity to just feel connected to nature, enjoy time with my wonderful partner, and watch our rescue pup turn into the most playful silly dog in the snow.

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I got back home and it had me thinking… Why not turn off my phone for part of a day every week and purposely cut myself off from the hustle and bustle of life to truly be present in the moment? The more I thought about it the more I liked that idea so I’ve made a rule in my life where there will be at least part of a day every weekend where I don’t feel attached to technology. This time is me time and I get to disconnect from the stress of work, to-do lists, being an adult, responsibilities, etc. I just get to focus on things that are relaxing and that I want to do.

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I highly recommend you try disconnecting for awhile. Take the time to recenter, refocus, relieve tension and stress, and just take the time for you! It’s so so SO important.

Happy Wednesday folks!

 

Starting New After a Tough Week

Happy happy Monday. It’s a new week! Can we just hit the refresh button on last week and start new? I had a pretty difficult week with training, life-balance, and just feeling healthy in general, so I’m looking forward to a fresh start this week.

I felt really sluggish in training all last week. It could be numerous things so I’m trying harder this week to get a full nights sleep, fuel properly for training, and reduce stress so that I can focus on feeling stronger. My pace was really all over the place and my knee was irritated almost every run so I’ve decided now that Sunday absolutely needs to be a rest day after my long runs on Saturdays. If the knee keeps hurting then I’m going to cut down to a 4 day running/3 day cross training plan temporarily. For now, this is what the fitness plan looks like:

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As for sleeping – I just need to stop staying up to do schoolwork, photography work, wellness work, etc and accept that things will get done at a later time. So my goal for this week is to get enough sleep in hopes that sluggish feeling will go away. I’ll also be meal prepping for the week (check out a meal prep post later this week) so that will allow me to fuel properly and not skip snacks and meals.

The great thing about having a tough week is it really allows you to take an honest look at what happened and how you can make it better. I let myself get too overly stressed and overbooked. My work schedule had me out of the office and I skipped meals. My school work was very intense this week and had me working past my bed time. In the end my running definitely suffered and I didn’t get around to the strength training, yoga, or rowing. Now I know what I need to do this week to get myself back on track!

I’m feeling great about the week ahead though – it’s going to be a good one! What’s your method for getting back on track after a tough week?