Thursday, April 21, 2016

Five Ways Runners Can Celebrate Earth Day

It's Earth Day! Since its first celebration in 1970, Earth Day is a symbol of how important it is to live life simply and respectfully for our health, the health of our communities and the health of our planet. There are several ways we runners can celebrate Earth Day and by starting today, perhaps we can make every day Earth Day.

Before I get started, I'm linking up with the Friday Five link up hosted by Courtney at Eat Pray Run DC, Cynthia at You Signed Up for What and Mar at Mar on the Run. Be sure to show them some love!

Here are the best ways we runners can do our part on Earth Day and every day!

1. Run your errands

Instead of hopping in the car to go to the bank, the post office or the grocery store, put on a backpack and running shoes and run those errands. You'll most likely save time, you'll definitely save money on gas (not to mention reduce your contribution to smog) and get a great workout.

2. Pick up the trash while on the run

Bring a trash bag with you on your run and pick up the trash you see along your route. Picking up the trash you see along a short 3-mile run can make a huge difference in how your neighborhood looks. And you never know who is watching: your actions may lead to someone else picking up trash along their run or not dropping the trash on the ground in the first place. Just pop the full bag in a trash can as you finish your run and you'll be feeling good all day, inside and out.

3. Recycle your old running shoes

Old, beat up shoes are being recycled into new shoes, tracks at schools and so much more. Running stores often have bins in their stores to collect old running shoes. In addition, you can donate your shoes to non-profit organizations that send shoes to those in need all over the world, like Soles 4 Souls.

4. Walk (or run) your kids to school

Take this Earth Day as your opportunity to walk your child to school. Not only will you get a nice workout, but you'll be setting a great example of how you can easily be active without making a big deal out of it. And you may start a new routine!

5. Take your run to the trails

This one is my favorite! Take your run to the trails this Earth Day and take in the beauty of our beautiful planet. Trails offer a ton of benefits for your running, but more than that, they offer a chance for a peaceful and beautiful run.

How do you plan to celebrate Earth Day?

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Checking in on our goals for 2016

With April coming to a close next week, we're already through a third of the year! Can you believe that? I know I can't. And since time is flying by so quickly, now is the perfect time to check in on those goals we set at the beginning of the year. It's early enough in the year that we can revisit those goals, reassess our plans and make changes if necessary. Pressing the reset button on our goals doesn't mean we've failed. It means we're making the changes necessary to ensure success!!

Before I continue, this post is part of the Tuesday on the Run blog link up with My No-Guilt LifeMCM Mama Runs and Marcia's Healthy Slice. When you're done reading here, go check them out!

I never formally outlined my goals for 2016 here on the blog. I mentioned what I was going to do very nonchalantly in my look back on 2015 post. I said I would be doing a 50-miler in January, another in May and then most likely a 100K in the fall. And I did that 50-miler in January and I'm about to do another in less than a month. This will be my third 50-miler in a year. I'm nervous about it but I'm also not nervous about it. I feel stronger than I have for the other two races. I have experience on my side, which is always helpful. But I also don't feel 100% comfortable with the distance. I hit the wall big time in both races, right around the 40-mile mark. In the first race I thought it was nutrition-related so I made sure to adjust my nutrition throughout my training. That was a great adjustment. But during the second 50-miler, I am not really sure what happened. I just didn't feel great for much of the race. I was tired and just not feeling it. By the time mile 40 arrived, I was mad at the world. My stomach was bothering me, I was tired and just hating life. Granted, I made it through and finished the race but I wasn't happy about my performance. And now with how things have been going lately (tired, stressed), I'm afraid I'm going to be in the same place for the PCT 50 next month. But I have 4 weeks left until race day, so I hoping with the taper beginning and mileage decreasing, I'll be able to relax and feel strong before the race. That's the plan, anyway.

Which leaves me with the big goal for 2016: run the Cuyamaca 100K in October. Well, the first step in reaching that goal is registering and I can check that one off the list! Special registration for members of the San Diego Ultra Running Friends (the trail running group I belong to) opened April 1 and I secured my spot, bypassing the lottery for the remaining spots not filled. There are only 200 participants allowed, so I feel pretty special to be among the participants. I'll be running with Vanessa and Jenny, so I'm really looking forward to reaching this huge goal with them. I know there will be plenty of laughs along the way and definitely tears of joy as we finish.

And I'll be sure to share my training along the way!

How are your goals coming along so far in 2016?

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Five Reasons You Should Try Freshly

Preparing your meals in advance of cooking them (aka meal prep) is one of the best ways to eat well and stay on track with your nutrition goals. Many of us prepare a large meal or several meals at once and then package them into individual containers for lunches or dinners for the week ahead. This can save time and money, all while providing healthy, nutritious meals. But, let's face it, this still requires time to find recipes, shop for groceries and then to cook the meals. There has to be a better way. Thankfully, there is. Enter Freshly. Most food-preparation companies will ship healthy meals for you to cook and eat at home, but Freshly takes it one step further by sending you already prepared meals that just require you to heat and eat! There's no chopping, no boiling and definitely no roasting. It's all done for you! I recently had the opportunity to try Freshly out at home and I want to share my 5 reasons why you should try Freshly too!*

Before I get started, I'm linking up with the Friday Five link up hosted by Courtney at Eat Pray Run DC, Cynthia at You Signed Up for What and Mar at Mar on the Run. Be sure to show them some love!

Just to tell you a little bit about Freshly, they're based in New York City but prepare and ship their meals from a facility in Phoenix, AZ. They currently serve states in the West and Southwest, as well as some Mid-western states (you can see where they serve here). But, they're in the process of building another facility in New Jersey, which will expand their service area tremendously!

Without any further ado, here are the 5 reasons you should try Freshly:

1. All meals are prepared and shipped directly to your door and you don't have to be present to receive them. You'll get notified when your meals are on their way so you can be sure you'll be home at some point to put them in the fridge. It's really a simple process.

2. Freshly offers different meal plans based on how many prepared meals you want per week. You can get as few as 6 meals per week or as many as 21 meals per week. The meals from the larger meal plans will arrive in 2 shipments to make sure your meals are fresh when they arrive.

3. According to Freshly's diet philosophy on their website, their meals are all-natural and gluten-free with a focus on high-quality protein, healthy fats, nutrient-dense vegetables and no artificial sweeteners. These meals are good and good for you!

4. They offer breakfasts, lunches and dinners. The meals are single-serve, which are perfect for making sure you a healthy breakfast when crunched for time, bringing a healthy lunch with you to work or providing you with a healthy dinner when you don't feel like cooking. I opted for all lunch/dinners so my whole family could try each of the meals. We ate our meals somewhat family-style where we could all try some of each meal. This way I got lots of opinions on each meal :) Here are the meals I received:
  • Chicken Livorno with White Beans and Kale
  • Lebanese Style Meatballs with Sautéed Spinach and Chickpeas
  • Beef Provencal with Polenta and Roasted Vegetables
  • Grilled Flat Iron Steak with Potato Hash and Creamed Spinach
  • Sicilian Style Chicken Parmigiana with Penne Marinara
  • Chicken Rustica with Roasted Cauliflower
We enjoyed all the meals. Everything was so fresh and tasted great. We ate everything as our lunch and the meals were so filling, we didn't need much in the way of snacks in between lunch and dinner (typically I will have at least 2 snacks but didn't feel the need to with these lunches). My favorite was the Chicken Parm because that's my idea of comfort food. But because this is a healthy gluten-free version, I didn't feel guilty eating it.

Chicken Parm 

My husband loved the Lebanese meatballs and when I asked if I could have some, he actually got mad at me!

Lebanese Meatballs

The Chicken Rustica was good but it has mushrooms, which I don't love and only eat because they're good for me. I did love the side of roasted cauliflower. It was seasoned really well.

Chicken Rustica 

If I had to pick one item I didn't completely love, it was the creamed spinach that accompanied the Grilled Flat Iron Steak. I just didn't like the seasoning but I still ate it :) The steak and potato hash were really great. The steak was cooked perfectly at a medium-well and very tender.

Grilled Flat Iron Steak

5. As mentioned above, all the meals come completely prepared. All you do is heat your meal for 2 minutes in the microwave and eat it. And, while you're waiting, the inside of the package has "Nutrition for the Mind" to read. There are stories and info for you to read while waiting for your yummy food to cook.

If you've been looking for a way to meet your nutrition goals but don't have the time and don't want to be be cooking all weekend, check out Freshly. Their meals are healthy, affordable and won't require a ton of hands-on time. Unless you count the time it takes for you to savor every bite ;)

Have you tried a prepared meal service? What are your thoughts?

*Freshly provided a package of meals for me to try and photos to use here in the blog but all opinions and experiences are my own.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

It I only knew then what I know now...

The past few days have been kinda strange for me. After Ragnar, I was feeling pumped because my hamstrings were feeling good after running over 30 miles during our relay. I was concerned the time between runs, etc., would be aggravating to my poor hamstrings but it wasn't bad and I was feeling strong. I even wrote a blog post about it for the Tuesday on the Run link up last week. But then things kind of went to crap.

Before I continue, this post is part of the Tuesday on the Run blog link up with My No-Guilt LifeMCM Mama Runs and Marcia's Healthy Slice. When you're done reading here, go check them out!

My week just kind of got crazy with work and the kids and trying to fit my running in between everything. Nothing earth shattering happened, I just had a couple of really late night runs and then really early mornings the following day. I think my body is not really able to sustain that any more and I need to make some changes. By the time I got to my long run on Saturday, I was spent. It was awful and I don't even know how I managed to get through other than with pure grit. I'm not saying I'm giving up my early morning clients and group fitness classes because I love them, but I think I need to change when I'm running and when I'm going to bed. Sometimes, though, I can't get to my run until after the kids are in bed. But I think I need to make some concessions and compromises as to how much mileage I can do during the week and when I do it. I just may not be able to run as much during the week right now. This makes me nervous as I'm in the thickest part of my training before tapering for PCT 50 in May but if I don't get rest now, I won't make it to race day.

This leads me to this week's Tuesday on the Run topic, which is: if you had the chance to talk to your new runner self, what words of wisdom would you share? I think the new runner self I'd like to talk to would be the runner I was when I first started running marathons and ultramarathons. I would tell myself to be patient as much as possible. I think it's really hard to remember that progress takes time. Whether you're just starting out, trying something new or coming off an injury, it's going to take time to see progress or changes. We runners are impatient and we need to trust the process and know that meaningful changes take time. And right now, I need to make changes to what I'm doing or I'm going to self-combust. And seeing which changes will help me to reach my goals will take time.

What would you tell your new runner self? What wisdom have you learned along the way that you wish you knew when you got started?

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

My Running...In One Word

If I had to describe my current running in one word, what would it be?

This is the topic for this week's Tuesday on the Run blog link up with My No-Guilt LifeMCM Mama Runs and Marcia's Healthy Slice. When you're done reading here, go check them out!

This is so hard because I really want to be positive about it but not sound like a conceited a-hole. But I realized, in looking over some of my recent blog posts, I've been kind of negative lately. I've been complaining a lot and I don't want to do that anymore. At least I'm going to try not to be so negative. While I know I'm human and I'm allowed to complain, I also don't want to constantly complain!! Running and training is supposed to be fun and I want to get back to a place where it is fun.

With that said, the word I'm going to use right now is STRONG. I'm not trying to be boastful or anything. I'm super excited to say that my hamstring issue seems to be much better. It's still a little tight but with all the starting and stopping of Ragnar, I expected much different. This is making me feel strong and dare-I-say ready for the races ahead of me. When only last week I was feeling like I needed a break. I think I was just down and tired and worried about my hamstring. But the reduction in mileage and care I took to rehab it really helped and now I'm feeling recharged. Yahoo!! I'm so happy! I just needed to hoot for a second. I spend so much of my days planning others' successes and right now I'm taking a moment to celebrate my own success :) Now I'm ready to tackle the next few weeks of build up before the PCT 50-miler next month! But I know that if I need to back off a bit because my hamstrings are feeling tight, I will still be ok! That's a good feeling.

What one word would you use to describe your running right now?