The Weekly Wrap Up-Rock CF Half Marathon training Week 5

Hey friends–happy 1st day of February!  One month into the new year, it went by quick, am I right?  It doesn’t really feel like February with the temps in the 50’s today, but I will take it!  I just checked my mileage log and I logged 79 miles last month (which is a lot for me as of late!)  I am looking forward to seeing how this month shakes out as my training continues to increase!

So, last week I spent Monday-Thursday in a work summit which meant very early mornings and even later nights, so I am really happy that I managed to work out every morning like usual–it was a miracle really! HA!  I just finished week 5 of my Rock CF half marathon training, so let’s see how it went with the Weekly Wrap Up!

Week of 1/25-1/31

Monday: I had 4 miles on the books, I only made it 2. It was a terrible run, I stopped and stretched but nothing helped loosen my calves. At 2 miles, I threw in the towel. There is no use hurting myself or beating myself up over it…some runs are good, some aren’t.  This clearly wasn’t a good one.

mon run

 

Tuesday: I did a full body strength training circuit and managed to lift between 5 and 10 lbs heavier than usual on certain body parts which made me really happy, I’m hoping that all the strength training I am incorporating not only makes me stronger and able to lift heavier, but makes me a stronger runner too!

tues strength

 

Wednesday: Speed work day-total of 5 miles.  I warmed up for 1/2 a mile, then did 7x400m at a 7:30 pace with 400m of slow running recovery in between each set and did a mile cool down.  During the recovery a few times I had to stop and quickly stretch out my calves, but overall I felt pretty good. It does surprise me though at how I used to be able to do repeats at this speed and it felt a heck of a lot easier than it does right now, but I’m getting there, baby steps right?

5 mile speed work wed

Thursday: After a really late night out at work that included too much dancing and a few drinks (which is very unusual for me) I was happy that I made it to the gym in the morning. I was exhausted but once I got going with my strength training circuit I felt a million times better. I did a full body circuit and then foam rolled my calves and IT bands.

thus strenth training

Friday:  I think the week of being away at a work summit took its toll on me because when I woke up in the morning, I felt like I was going to vomit I was so tired.  By the time I made it into work, I was still super tired, but not so sick so I did my “easy” 2 miles and foam rolled in prep for my long run on Saturday.  I did both miles in my Altras and felt pretty good!

friday run

Saturday: I had 10 miles on my training plan (my longest run since 2014.)  I was up at 5 am and needed to get my miles in before a super busy day with my boys, so I quickly got dressed and grabbed my water and Nuun and headed downstairs to get it done!  I had saved up a few episodes of  Jane the Virgin (don’t judge, I love that show) and watched the last 2 episodes so I was all caught up.  I ran the first 3 miles with my Altras and they felt great. I really wanted to keep going in them but played it smart and switched my shoes out to finish the last 7 miles.  I ate a piece of an orange around mile 5 and then at every mile took another slice or two throughout the rest of my run.  I really was unprepared with fuel for this run, but I actually felt fine with the Nuun and the orange, so I went with it.

All in all, I surprisingly felt great, maybe it was my body repaying me for my terrible run on Monday?? I was anticipating this to be much harder, but it looks like I just had a great running day!  I did the 10 miles at a 9:24 pace, which felt very comfortable for me and then did a short .3 mile walking cool down.

sat 10 miler

I finished up my run, had some breakfast, showered and did my hair before Ashton woke up, which was perfect timing!  We had a really busy day ahead of us with hair cuts, birthday parties, friends coming over the house, etc so I was really happy I got my run out of the way early so I didn’t have it hanging over my head all day.  Plus, this was a huge confidence booster for me as 10 miles just felt so long to me since it had been so long since I ran that long.  I have three 10 milers and one 12 miler on the books for this training cycle so I was happy this one went so well!

Sunday: A day of rest!!!  Robyn tweaked his back late Saturday night 🙁 so he was down for the count for the day, which meant Ashton and I went grocery shopping, cooked, cleaned and did laundry while he rested. It was actually a perfect day (minus Robyn’s back) and we all napped, played games and generally just relaxed, which was much needed!

So, there you have it my friends, the Weekly Wrap Up!  Overall, it was a good week of training, I’m feelings stronger and hoping this week is just as good!

Have a great Monday–I will see you later this week!

—————————————————————

Question of the day

How was your weekend? Do anything fun?

The Weekly Wrap Up-Rock CF Half Marathon training Week 4

Happy Monday my friends!  How did everyone fare with the storm this weekend?  Thankfully, we didn’t get hit badly (which is very unusual) so I am really happy!  We probably got 6-8 inches, but for those of us in MA/New England, is really just a dusting. All the roads were plowed down to the pavement and it was a breeze getting into work this morning!

So, as most people were still waking up and/or getting ready to go to work, I was sitting down to type up this post and I couldn’t believe how quickly time was flying by–I just finished week 4 of my Rock CF half marathon training, so let’s see how it went with the Weekly Wrap Up!

Week of 1/18-1/24

Monday: I hit the streets early and since it was a holiday for most people (not for me), and it was ridiculously quiet. I passed one runner at about mile 2 of my run, and that was it.  Usually I pass 15-20 runners, but I guess with the snow and the holiday, people were sleeping in.  It was actually a really peaceful run. It wasn’t as easy navigating the docks and planks as usual but it was dark and quiet and nice.

monday run in snow

Tuesday: My body was pretty sore in the morning but I pushed through and did my full body strength training circuit workout but didn’t do as many leg exercises as usual to give my lower half a little break. Once I got moving and warm, I felt good.  Afterwards I foam rolled. Nothing exciting about this workout.

Wednesday: Hills-total of 4 miles.  1 mile warm up at 8:57 pace, 2 miles of 1/4 mile hill repeats at 7% incline at a 6.0 pace, 1 mile cool down at a variable pace (8:30-8:57)

wed hill

Robyn had his quarterly work meeting so that means he doesn’t get home until late, so I got to take advantage of the one on one time with Ashton and we went out for dinner at his favorite place and of course, followed dinner with some ice cream. He has sitting on my lap and we were doing some drawing and then he asked to take a pic, but each time I snapped it, he would make a funny face–I just love this kid, he is so goofy and fun loving. We were laughing so hard in between takes and he kept saying, “I’ll be serious Mama, I will, I promise!”

wed night w ash

Thursday: Strength training again. I did a full body circuit including legs and felt pretty good, but I need to write down a more focused plan for my strength training days and may even pull out some strength videos and write down the moves.  I am feeling a bit stale in this area right now. Afterwards I did some much needed foam rolling.

thurs strength

Friday: I like Fridays because they are my easy day.  I had 2 miles on the schedule and a lot of foam rolling. I wore my Altras for the entire run and they felt pretty good!

fri run

Saturday: Ashton woke up uncharacteristically early (7:00 a.m.), which means I was up too.  He had a play date at 9 with is old daycare provider (she is amazing and we keep in close contact with her), so we played for a bit and then dropped him off of her house for a few hours so he could play with her family.  We went home and I decided to get in my long run in the morning instead of waiting until the afternoon. I much prefer to run in the morning vs. the afternoon, that’s for sure!  I put on the new episode of Arrow and got started.  I wore my Altras for the first 2.5 miles and then switched them out and felt pretty good.

sat 8 miler

This has been my longest run since running Boston in 2014 so I was unsure on how I would feel, but I felt really good, thankfully!

Sunday: My day of rest.  We got up, ate a lazy breakfast, played, went grocery shopping and I did laundry and packed as I will be gone most of the week for our annual Sales and Marketing conference. Since we didn’t get slammed with snow and it was fairly good temperature wise (30 degrees) we took Ashton outside for some sledding.

ashton sledding

And of course, some ninja training!

So, there you have it my friends, the Weekly Wrap Up!  Overall, it was a good week of training with my longest “long” run in a very long time, a great weekend with my boys…and now I am off this week for a work training!

Have a great Monday–I hope to see you later this week!

—————————————————————

Question of the day

How was your weather this weekend? Get in any good runs?

 

Hydrapak E-Lite Vest and SoftFlask review

Hey friends! I am really excited to tell you about two new products I have been using and have fallen in love with.  This is going to get kind of long, so sit back and relax for a bit, will ya! 🙂 So, as you all know by now (mainly because I don’t shut up about it) I am training for a marathon.  In the past, I have always fueled while running with my handheld water bottle or my fuel belt.  Now don’t get me wrong, both are great options for fueling, but since I have been spending my time running in negative degree temps, that means that I am layering up on my clothes to keep warm, which means holding a handheld bottle with gloves on or wearing a fuel belt over a few tops and a jacket just wasn’t working for me anymore.  I started to investigate some alternative options and came across a lot of positive reviews for hydration vests.  After spending the better part of a few days pouring over different options and reviews, I settled on the Hydrapak E-lite vest.

hydrpak stockI quickly ordered it and in just a few days, my new vest was sitting at my door when I got home from work.  I quickly opened it up and noticed how light it was (only 9.9 oz empty.)  It comes with a 1 liter (32 oz) bladder with a plug-n-play connector that was really easy to fill and then fit into the back soft mesh pouch.  It has tons of storage with 2  expandable front pockets with zippers that were able to easily hold my EnergyBits, chomps and 3 GUs and additional pouches.  Lastly, it comes with a magnetic clip for the drinking tube.

I didn’t get a good picture of the front of the vest (I was too focused on getting out on my long run) but here is a pic from Hydrapak of the same model I have in a different color.hydrapak_e_lite_vest_feature-600x369I felt there was PLENTY of room to store a phone too if you like to run with your phone.  The storage is also long, so if you like to run with Shot Blocks, those would fit in well, without having to crush the packet to get it in a tight space.

I was heading out on an 18 mile run and was a bit nervous to try out a new fueling option on such a long run, but I bit the bullet and am REALLY glad I did.  I will say, I have a smaller frame, so it took a few pulls to get the right fit, but once I did, it felt very secure.  The bladder was super easy to fill and attach and I was off.  One of my biggest worries with a vest is that I would feel the extra weight, that my shoulders would get annoyed with having something on my back or that I would feel the vest bouncing all over.  I have to say, none of these things happened.  At one point in my run (I was likely dazed) I had to remind myself that I was wearing the vest.  It’s so lightweight and comfortable I am kinda mad at myself for not thinking about this option sooner.  The back panel is mesh, so I think in the warmer weather it would be super breathable, but clearly, hot weather is not something I have been running in lately so I can’t speak to that aspect of the design.  The bite valve works really well and was so nice to have a hands free option.  Just having to turn my head slightly to get some water and not have to worry about pulling a bottle out of a belt or using my teeth to open the top of my handheld bottle was awesome.  My only complaint and it’s of no fault of Hydrapak was that when I hit 17 miles, I was out of water, so the 32 ounce bladder just wasn’t enough to cover my entire run that day, but I also know, some days I drink more than others while running, so again, not Hydrapak’s fault.  I did have my soft flask 350 tucked into my vest as backup, so I was taken care of.

Overall, I have to say I am really impressed with the design and function of the e-lite vest.  I think that coupled with a fair price point, which was $59.99, I think I made a great buy and I will definitely be using it on my long runs moving forward and even while hiking once the weather gets warmer here in MA!

hydrpak

This was me post 18 mile run with a semi-smile on my face. It was only in the low 20’s outside, so my face was a bit cold and red, but you get the idea 🙂

So, as I mentioned above, during my research phase of my hydration options I had asked via Twitter a few questions about Hydrapak to see if anyone had personal experience with the e-lite vest.  A short while later, Spencer, a very nice guy who oversees Hydrapak’s PR reached out to me via email and asked if I was interested in testing out Hydrapa’s new SoftFlasks.  I had never heard of SoftFlasks before, so of course, I jumped online and did a bit of research.  While I clearly wasn’t looking for another hand-held hydration option, the fact that these were soft and could collapse and fit into the new vest I bought intrigued me, so I told Spencer I’d be happy to try them out.  A few days later, I received the 750mL ($20.99 retail) and 500mL ($19.99 retail)  SoftFlasks in the mail along with a nice sampling of fuel and socks!

soft flasks

The first thing I noticed it how lightweight the flasks were unfilled and they collapse down to smaller than a crushed soda can.  Some of the cool features in addition to the collapsible body is that it has a high-flow silicone bite valve with twit shut-off which was really handy when I took it to spin class with me, it is dishwasher and freezer safe (who wants to hand wash anything these days?), it has a molded top and bottom (to keep it sturdy), it is BPA free (I will only drink from things that are BPA free) and it comes with a carrying loop.

In the past few weeks, I have used my SoftFlasks while running (they fit perfectly in my new running vest,) to spin class and to yoga. I have really liked the sturdy construction of the bottles and that they mold to my hand comfortably while drinking from them.  I also really liked that the flasks didn’t feel lopsided as I drank from them.  I was worried as I started to drink, the water would move all around and it would be difficult to hold the bottles, but that wasn’t the case at all.  Another cool attribute is that the flask collapses in on itself as you drink from it, making it easier to drink from and store when you are done.  I also really liked that the flow of the water from the nipple , it was really easy to drink from, unlike some other bottles I have tried previously.  Overall, I am impressed with Hydrapak as a company overall.  This is my first experience with them and both the E-lite vest and the SoftFlasks are two new and already loved accessories in my running arsenal.

***I paid for the Hydrapak E-lite vest but was given the two SoftFlasks to test and provide a review.  As always, all opinions are  honest and 100% mine***

DNF’ing a long run

I alluded to the fact that I cut my long run on Sunday short (from 15 miles to 6.3.)  I have never once in my almost 4 years of running cut a run short,  I always find a way to push through.  I’m a numbers girl and someone who lives by a plan (type A to the extreme.)  When I have a target distance on my plan, I have always hit it.  However, I am learning to train smarter and intellectually I know that sometimes it’s better to cut a workout short when things just aren’t feeling right and Sunday was one of those days.

DNF

I woke up around 6:20 a.m. on Sunday am and got ready like I do every other weekend for my long run.  It was about 30 degrees out, which was a very welcome warm up in temps and I was excited to not have to bundle up as much as I have been over the past few weeks.  I got in my usual pre-run nutrition, I set up the podcast I wanted to listen to, did some quick stretching, told my husband my planned route and left the house.  My body was already feeling tired when I started, but it wasn’t the first time I have felt this way and usually I can push through it.  I knew after the first mile this run was going to be a struggle but I thought I would be fine once I really warmed up.  I had to stop 3 times in the first mile to stretch my calves, they were so tight I couldn’t even walk to warm them up.  I pushed on and kept having an internal negotiation with myself, just trying to get to the next mile before I could stop and stretch again.  The longest stretch I was able to go unbroken was 1/2 a mile.  It was brutal.  It usually takes me 4-5 miles to hit my groove so I told myself I just needed to get there and everything would be alright.  I lost count of how many times I had to stop and stretch my calves.

I kept telling myself over and over again to just focus on my podcast, go slow, that it didn’t matter how long the run took me, just keep putting one foot in front of the other and I could finish this run.  I took a turn and started a slight descent on a hill that was about 1/2 a mile long and when I hit the bottom of that hill, it was clear to me that I was not going to be able to finish this run.  My calves were cramping up and were so hard (and painful) to the touch that no amount of stretching could help me at that point.  I could barely walk without feeling like I had to stop.  It took such an immense amount of effort to get back up that hill and start heading home.  To say that I was mad was an understatement.  I immediately had a mental struggle telling myself there is no way I can run this marathon if I can get in a measly 15 mile run.  I mean, come on, I just ran 14 the week before last and was fine.  I know my thoughts were totally irrational, and I was being emotional but that is how I was feeling at that moment.

I walked to the top of that hill, a hill I have run every single weekend for over a month and was discouraged.  I stopped at the top of the hill, stretched for a few minutes and tried to remind myself that faster I went, the faster I would get home.  At this point, I hid my watch under my shirt and jacket as my pace was even more of a disappointment to me.  I had to stop and walk a few times on the way home and by the time I walked in the door, I was in tears.  Not because of how tight my calves were, but because I was really disappointed in myself.  This was the first time I didn’t meet my training goals.

My husband was playing with my son in his bedroom and was confused as to why I was home so early.  I told him I was okay, I just needed to get into the shower and regroup.  I didn’t want to project my bad mood on him and especially not on my son.  I gave them both a kiss and I took a really long, hot shower and stretched, still in a lot of discomfort.  I went through my training earlier in the week, two 8 mile runs, two 4 mile runs, a Group Power class, yoga, ab work, all went fine.  I did my trigger point exercises religiously.  I didn’t eat much the day before, maybe nutrition was part of the problem?  Maybe my legs are just really tired and this is the way of them telling me I needed a little break?  The analytical part of me kept going through all the potential problems and how I could fix them.

I decided that I am going to try a few new things next weekend that may help (I hope.) First, I usually roll out of bed, go through the motions to get ready for my long run and get out the door as fast as I can (usually in 20-30 mins). I do this because I want to get my run in and finished quickly so I am not out running for long while my son is awake.  I don’t get a ton of time with him during the week, so I try to spend as much time as possible with him on the weekend.  I would happily get up even earlier and run, but the sun isn’t up and even with a head light, I don’t feel safe running on the roads I run on in the dark with no sidewalks and very little shoulders to navigate on, so I am limited in my options.  I want to get my long runs down outside because I spend the rest of my week on the treadmill.

I think I need to spend more time dynamically warming up and using my roller before I head out to run.  My calves have always been a problem, but the looser I am before I start running, the better my outcome is.  I also need to get better about fueling.  I don’t have a problem when I am out on the run, it’s before and after that I need to focus on.  I am going to try to do my long run during my son’s afternoon nap next weekend and see if pushing my run to the afternoon when I have more time to eat, stretch, etc will help.

This was by far, the single hardest run I have done in my running career.  Typically, the 15-18 mile range in my favorite to run.   Even as I am sitting here writing this post, my calves are still pretty sore.  I spent a lot of time doing trigger point on them and I am hoping that this week, with my new training plan in full swing, that the extra non-running days will help my recovery.  I am trying to be positive, but I’d be lying if there was not some doubt in myself moving forward in this training, that it still doesn’t hurt me emotionally just a little bit that I didn’t finish my run on Sunday.  I am just hoping that my decision to cut my run short was the smartest one, because if I continued and hurt myself, it could have set me back in the future.

 

—————————————————————

Question of the day

Anyone else ever DNF a run?  How did you recover mentally/physically?

Surviving the treadmill…

My training plan said to do 7 miles, so that is exactly what I did this morning.   While I was running, I was thinking about a few of you who gave me high fives for doing so many miles on the treadmill.  A few years ago, I actually preferred the treadmill to running outside, unless I was running with friends.  However, this past summer when I decided to train for my first race sans running team, I forced myself to run outside alone and after a few months and a lot of self talk, I actually enjoyed it.  Now, I prefer to run outside, but I still don’t really mind the treadmill.  I think it’s great for speed work when you don’t have access to a track.  I think it serves it purpose for a lot of runners.

I work out super early in the morning (when most people are still sleeping) and it is still very dark outside at that time.  Since my company recently moved its headquarters, I don’t have the beautiful Charles River to run along anymore. There are always tons of runners out along the Charles in the wee hours of the morning, so I never felt unsafe.  Since our new location is still foreign to me,  I don’t feel safe running in the dark in an unknown area alone so early in the morning. Also, sometimes the Winter’s here in MA can be brutal and it’s just not safe to be out on the roads, so the treadmill is my only option to get my weekday mileage in.  You have to do what you have to do, right?

relationships-are-complicated

So, I was thinking, what do I do to help me pass the time when I have a 7 mile (or more) run on the treadmill in front of me.  Here are some of my ways to keep from looking at the time every other minute:

  • Entertainment: This is one of the more obvious.  I have been watching a lot of Netflix lately and also listening to audiobooks which I am really loving, but you can watch a movie, your favorite tv show, listen to talk radio, your ipod, whatever you enjoy that entertains you!
  • Create a new playlist:  I recently updated my playlist and it’s like Christmas. Every time a new song comes on, I get really excited and it motivates me to work a little harder.
  • Have a plan: If you haven’t noticed yet, I am kind of a control freak and I always love to have a plan.  I am not someone who can “wing” a workout, so when I have a concrete plan, I don’t stop until I finish it.
  • Realize your goal: I’m going to assume everyone here has a goal, whether it’s a PR, finishing a new distance, weight loss, etc.  I often remind myself of what my current goal is while I am on the treadmill and remind myself that the only way I am going to get to that goal successfully is if I put in the work.
  • Play with the pace: It is very rare that I keep a run at a constant pace, playing around with the speed and incline keeps not only my body from getting bored, but my mind too since I have to be much more engaged in my run.  I love to mix it up with running workouts like this one, this one, and this one!
  • Be Grateful:  There is rarely a day that goes by that I don’t remind myself to be grateful.  Grateful for my family, my health, my job, friends, etc.  I am so grateful that I am able to run every day.  I have a choice in this, and for that, I am grateful.

 

—————————————————————

Question of the day

What do YOU do to beat the treadmill boredom?

ENERGYbits review and GIVEAWAY!

Hi all! I have a really exciting review and giveaway for you!!  A few weeks ago, Jonathan, an ENERGYbits brand manager contacted me on Twitter and after exchanging a few emails, asked if I would be interested in a sample of ENERGYbits to review.  I had been hearing a lot about ENERGYbits and I had done enough research on them to know that they were all natural and had the highest concentration of protein in the world.  Since I struggle with getting protein in my diet, I knew I would love to try them out. I also absolutely loved that they were a Boston based company.  What can I say? I like to support local companies whenever possible.

So, you may be asking, what are ENERGYbits.  Well, here is a much better description than I could write, from the ENERGYbits website:

Made from 100% organicallly grown spirulina algae and loaded with 40 nutrients, ENERGYbits® algae tabs have the highest concentration of protein in the world (64%) all for just one calorie per tab. Endorsed by the United Nations as the most nutritious food on earth, spirulina algae has been a favorite of Olympic gold medalists for decades and is a super food in every sense of the word, delivering instant and enduring energy to your brain and body.

How many GUs, energy drinks or shot blot like products only contain one ingredient?  These are 100% Spirulina, which according to the ENERGYbits site is:

Spirulina is a fresh water blue green algae that was the first plant life on earth (along with chlorella) billions of years ago. It is so concentrated with nutrition that forty years ago, the World Bank and United Nations declared it to be the healthiest food in the world. Its nutritional profile is so impressive that the scientific, nutrition, sports and medical communities have conducted over 100,000 scientific studies about its health benefits (along with chlorella).Spirulina provides the highest concentration of protein in the world, all in the form of essential amino acids for muscle, health and cellular growth. It also has over 40 nutrients for full spectrum health and its natural nitric oxide provides immediate and enduring physical and mental energy.

An all natural fuel source that is 100% algae with no additives, preservatives, fillers or binders.  How awesome is that? Here is the ENERGYbits nutritional data from their website:

energybits

I was shocked at all the vitamins, minerals and amino acids in these, with only having one ingredient!  Take a look at how they compare to other common fuel sources:

Nutritional Comparison Chart

Armed with all of this information and my sample, I was excited to test out the ENERGYbits on my long run.  So, last Saturday I woke up, got dressed, laced up my sneakers and headed out the door about 15-20 mins after I swallowed the recommended 30 tabs.

energybits collage

As you can see, the tablets are small so it was easy to down them all fairly quickly.  While they say you can chew the tablets (but they will temporarily make your teeth green,) they recommend swallowing them as they do have an acquired taste to them.  I’m not a fan of green teeth, no matter how temporary, so I opted to swallow them and I don’t think they really tasted like anything different than a multi-vitamin. Also, because ENERGYbits are food and NOT a supplement, I didn’t eat anything prior to going out on my run like I usually would to see if I really could feel a difference.

I started my music and I was off.  It was early in the morning so it usually takes me a few miles to really get into a groove when I’m running, but from the minute I started my run my head felt clear.  It was like I was more alert and awake than I normally am when I’m running early in the morning, but I didn’t feel jittery, just rejuvenated.  I did 8.5 miles and the entire time I felt like I had a lot of energy.  I had an extremely hilly course that I was running and I felt like I was able to easily run up the hills, when the week before I did the same course and struggled with some of the hills I faced.   I felt great the entire run and since the only thing in my normal routine that changed was the addition of ENERGYbits, I thought they definitely helped me.  

After my runs, I am not usually hungry, but I always force down a small protein shake for recovery and then about an hour-90 mins post run, I am ALWAYS ravenous.  But, not this run. I actually wasn’t hungry at all until about 2 p.m. Even with all the errands we went out to run, and of course, chasing after my toddler, I felt great.

However, I am not one to try something just once and believe it works (placebo effect and all) so I tried them again later in the week for a 5 mile run after a VERY exhausting day of running around with my son and I felt all the same things I did during my first experience, mental clarity, energy and a general awesome feeling.  After two separate experiences, I truly believe these helped me during my runs.

Since my day to day life is pretty demanding (commuting almost 3 hours a day, having a busy job,  training for a marathon, and coming home after a long day to a high energy toddler) anything that will provide me with extra energy that is all natural is a huge selling point for me.  I liked ENERGYbits enough to place an order for a full bag (1000 bits!) The only real con I could find with these bits are the price, which are definitely NOT cheap at $115 for a bag.   However, 1000 bits will last me over 30 runs, which will get me well past my Boston Marathon training, as I plan to use them for all my longer runs.  Since they worked so well in my testing, I thought they would be worth giving them a shot.  I spend $2+ on each GU, shot block and a multitude of other kinds of fuel while I am training, so I think in the end, the cost will be worth it, in addition to putting something much healthier into my body.  I’ll be using ENERGYbits throughout my training and will let you know how it goes!

So now, onto the exciting part….the Giveaway!

ENERGYbits has agreed to send a sample of these awesome bits to a reader of my blog!

To enter follow my Rafflecopter giveaway. Giveaway closes Wednesday night at 11:59 p.m. Eastern time. Winner will be announced Thursday!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Since ENERGYbits are only available at ENERGYbits.com, Jonathan (their Brand Manager) has shared with me that he’d be happy to connect anyone with a current ambassador to share a discount on a bag of bits – you can email him at jlevitt@energybits.com.

If you want to just try out a sample bag first, Kristy over at pghrunner.com has a sample program where you can buy a single serving sample of ENERGYbits for $3 a bag.

Disclaimer: I am not sponsored by ENERGYbits and while I received a free sample to review, I received no other compensation for this post and my review is 100% my own, honest opinion.

 

—————————————————————

Questions of the day

What do you currently use to fuel while training?  Why do you want to try ENERGYbits?

Getting my Swirl on!

A few weeks ago I became a Swirlgear Brand Ambassador.  If you haven’t heard of Swirlgear before, go check them out, their gear is beautiful and so functional.  I was really excited when my first shipment arrived that immediately opened the box (with the help of my son) and tried them on.  I ordered the Long Sleeve Allover Spray Dye shirt and the Long Sleeve Sunny Yellow shirt in size small.

First, let’s start with the Allover Spray Dye shirt.  This is  Swirlgear’s signature spray dye look and the shirt looks so much better in person than it did on the website (and I really liked it on the website!)  I put this shirt on and immediately said “Ahhh!”  It was just so comfortable.  I love that it is made of moisture wicking technical fabric (which is critical for long runs in the cold weather) but it also has flat stitching, so you don’t feel itchy and annoyed when a seam is rubbing against your skin!  I also really liked the longer length, as a lot of my running shirts have the tendency to ride up when I’m running but this length looks like it will be perfect!  It also features a reflective logo on the back, an added safety feature when outdoors–how cool is that?

tie dye

Next up is the Sunny yellow long sleeve shirt.  I have to say, this color just made me smile.  How can you not smile when you see bright, happy colors?  This shirt was so soft and comfortable that I actually left it on for the rest of the day.  Like the spray dye shirt, it has flat seams, moisture wicking fabric, the longer cut in the arms and torso and the reflective logo on the back.  The only thing that could make me love these shirts even more than I already do is if they had thumb holes, which I have professed my undying love for many times before.

yellow shirt

With my official marathon training starting this Monday and the cold temps here in MA, these two tops are going to be perfect to wear outside when I am running the cold, snowy streets of Boston!  I actually wore the yellow one this morning on my long run and it was perfect over my base layer and under my running jacket.  I did an easy 8.5 miles and it was 28 degrees outside and beautiful.  I felt totally comfortable in it the entire run, the material didn’t bunch up or chafe and it wicked away the sweat perfectly.  I am more than impressed with this shirt and can’t wait to wear the tie dye one on my next run!  I however, was less than impressed with myself as I forgot to charge my Garmin and it died 4.6 miles into my run, thankfully I had the course mapped and I knew the distance, otherwise it would have totally thrown me off!

sat run

Now that you have seen how beautiful and functional these pieces are, if you want to try Swirlgear for yourself, you can drop on by their site, shop around and then enter the coupon code swirlon at checkout to receive FREE SHIPPING on your entire purchase. Then, wait patiently at your door for your package to arrive and get ready to get your swirl on too!

—————————————————————

Question of the day

What are some of your favorite workout clothing brands that aren’t the big giants like Nike, UA, etc?

Going long

I set my alarm to wake me up at 5:30 a.m., which is significantly later than my normal wake up time during the week, but significantly earlier than when I like to be up on the weekends.  With my full marathon training about to start in just a few weeks, I need to get back into the habit of waking up early so I can get my long runs in before Ashton wakes up.  I don’t want my training to take away from the time I spend with him, so early Saturday wake up calls will be on the agenda for the next few months!  EEK!

On Friday night I mapped my run out, making sure I incorporated some hills since my marathon will have some killer hills in it and I need to get used to running on them again. I bought new cold weather running tights last night after work, as well as restocked my GU reserves so I would be all set to head out this morning.

I quickly ate one piece of bread with some PB on it and walked out the door to snowy conditions.  We didn’t have a ton of snow, but we definitely had some accumulation and it was in the high 20’s for temps.  It wasn’t super slippery, but I was really cautious as I did not want to have an accident.  Here is a view about 2 miles into my run.

12-7-13 run

As tough as it is to get up early on the weekends to run, it’s also when it’s the quietest out on the roads and the scenery is the most beautiful.  I felt okay the first 3 or so miles, only stopping once quickly to stretch my tight calves.  I took some chomps at mile 4.5 and that is when the serious hill climbing started.  I would no sooner finish a hill and regain my breath and another one was staring right back at me.  Thankfully after about a 1-1.5 miles of this, I had a nice stretch of close to 2 miles of a slight downgrade, so I could recover.  However, I knew that meant I would have to climb hills to get back home again.  I was feeling great from miles 5-8ish and then at 9.5 I took the last 4 chomps and set out to finish my run. Miles 9-11 were tough, climbing steady hills and mentally, just wanting to be done. I had to stop a few times to stretch my calves and after I finished one wicked hill, stopped for about 10 seconds to catch my breath.  I haven’t run more than 7 miles in one stretch since my half marathon at the end of October.

I was REALLY happy to see my street as I turned the last corner and knew I had another hill to battle before I made it to my house.  I powered up that hill as fast as my legs would take me and finished in 1:56:20 (8:56 pace), which all in all, I was pretty happy about.

20131207_run

I also felt that the tights I bought kept my legs warm and I was dressed perfectly to keep me comfortable, which is definitely a score in my book!  I mentioned before that I am testing out a new marathon training plan.  With my marathon time goal, it calls for a 13 mile long run in week 1 done at a 9:39 pace.  I typically can run and maintain a pace that is faster than this at this distance, but I have been really trying to test this plan exactly as it’s laid out.  I was able to do it during the week right on pace, but clearly I failed with this morning’s run.  I need to remind myself that I am not racing my long runs, that isn’t the purpose of a long run.  Why is that so hard to remember and actually adhere to? Ugh!

After my run, I stretched while drinking my protein shake, showered, put on my compression calf sleeves and we were headed to swim lessons with my son.  I am now off to tackle reorganizing my closet..wish me luck! 🙂

Have an awesome Saturday!

—————————————————————

Questions of the day

Anyone have a good way to remember to slow down and keep a consistent pace during long runs? PLEASE let me know your secrets!

Who is working out this weekend?  What do your workouts look like?

Rewarding hard work

A while back I started thinking about how easy it is to become complacent.  Right now, I am not formally training for anything, as my marathon training doesn’t begin until the end of December.  With the weather getting really cold and the daylight getting shorter, it’s easy to slack a bit on workouts.  I have been trying to combat that by setting little goals like participating in the Runner’s World 2013 Running Streak, where I will run at least 1 mile every single day from Thanksgiving through New Years.  Simple enough, right?

run streak

Well, I wanted to take it a step further. I don’t remember where I heard about a motivation jar, but the idea stuck with me.  While it isn’t a ground breaking new concept, I believe that it is helpful in reinforcing healthy habits through a reward system.  It’s a pretty simple activity.  For each mile I run (or bike) and for every other type of workout I complete, I will put $0.25 into this jar.

reward jar

While I wanted to use a mason jar, I knew it wouldn’t be able to accommodate the change I would accumulate, so I washed out  a protein powder jar I had recently finished and figured the was the perfect size for this activity, plus, this is what I drink after every run/workout, so I hope it will act as a reminder so I won’t forget to add my reward.  I am going to be adding to this jar from Thanksgiving through April 21st when I cross the finish line at the Boston Marathon.  I have no idea how much I will end up with, but I know that seeing the change add up will provide me with a lot of motivation to keep running and working out hard. I have no idea what I will reward myself with after I have finished this challenge, but I know that setting small goals like this and following through are the key to making long-lasting positive changes!

 

—————————————————————

Question of the day

How do you reward yourself for meeting your goals?  

Anyone else participating in the RW Streak?  Let me know and we can keep each other motivated!

 

 

 

29 degrees and coming a long way

GOOD MORNING!  It’s almost the weekend and that means I am on vacation all next week!  Can you tell I am a little excited?? 🙂  It was really cold out this morning.  When I started my run, it was only 29 degrees!  When I first got outside, I was FREEZING, but surprisingly by the time I hit the 1/2 mile mark, I felt pretty warm.  I think I may have figured out the right layering system for my winter runs.  My goal this morning was to run at a comfortable pace, nothing too crazy since my hamstrings were a little tight and I have to teach Group Power tonight.  I was able to quickly hit a nice groove and was able to keep all my miles in the 8’s.  I never thought I would say that I went out for an easy run and was running in the 8’s.

nov 21 runI covered a little over 5 miles at an 8:38 pace.  Not too shabby.  I’ve only been running for 3 years, but when I started running, I was running at a 10 minute pace and that felt HARD.  So, for me to be running in the 8’s and feeling good is amazing to me.  It just goes to show you that consistency is the key to improvements.

successWhile I know I will never be super speedy or crush race records, I am REALLY proud of how far I have come in such a small amount of time and that is good enough for me.  The most important thing for me is to always try to improve myself, in fitness and in all aspects of my life.  If I can do that, than I will be happy and feel successful!

 

—————————————————————

Question of the day

How have you improved yourself (physically or otherwise) over the past few months/years?