Strong Mind – Strong Breath

I have to admit it…it was a tough run out there tonight. Our normal Tuesday night 5 miler wasn’t as crowded. A handful of ‘regulars’ back out tonight and I don’t believe it was because they were coming off of a holiday weekend either. We were three ladies strong but we even had our tough spots.

The hot, humid, dead air tonight was more reminiscent of July and August rather than May so our bodies aren’t quite used to it. We haven’t built up that tolerance yet and the Canal path kicked our butts. But we pushed on despite the obstacles nature threw at us and finished our run. We finished it because of one main factor. No it’s not our training or just because it’s Tuesday night routine or because of a race plan that we’ve held ourselves to…all of those things absolutely help you stay on track. But it’s because of a strong mind that you can overcome the discomfort that running sometimes brings.

When you’re getting to the point when you’re in the middle of your workout (whatever it is) and you think that you can’t go any further or you’re struggling to finish, you need to reach inside – beyond any physical capabilities you may have – and mentally tell yourself to keep going.

Some runners have mantras. My coach always said “loose lips, loose legs”. I’ve heard some other pretty good ones over the years too. I personally focus inward and concentrate on my breathing. This has always had the biggest positive effect on me because I am able to block out all other external factors when I focus on my breathing…in through the nose and out through the mouth, nice and steady. It’s amazing how when I get my breathing under control I can calm the rest of me down, focus on my form that may have gone out of whack due to fatigue, ignore what everyone else is doing around me, and even ignore mother nature (to the best extent possible). Calming your mind and focusing on your breathing also allows your body to get the oxygen to where it needs it most. Some of us forget to breath when we’re exercising! They we get tight and crampy and then we get cranky and sometimes stop.

My mind and my breathing got me through my workout tonight and allowed me to finish the 5 miles I set out to do. Strong mind & Strong Breath.


Race Review – Sesame Classic

The Sesame Classic was held this past Sunday in Levittown, Pa. You had your choice of a 5K run or 1 mile walk and it was a typical Sunday morning local 5K with good water stations and post race munchies. The on site registration was very unorganized but a pre-registered person didn’t seem to have any wait time. Since I was not pre-registered, I had to wait and there was no T-Shirt for me 🙂 It was definitely a family event with a DJ, a visit from Elmo & Cookie Monster, and a kids race that rewarded future track stars with medals upon completion of a about a 25 meter dash. The local fire departments were there with the trucks kicking off the race with their sirens.

The 5K course was laid out to loop around the high school grounds. This was a move from previous years in which you started and finished at Sesame Place. It was fast and mostly flat…one small incline that you had to do twice. Everything was laid out nicely and the roads blocked off where appropriate. It was good enough that I got a PR (Personal Record) as did my running companion…albeit they were PR’s for our more recent running resumes as opposed to our younger days.

On of the nice things about this race is that it’s mainly sponsored by Sesame Place in Langhorne and your bib number gains you one free admission to the part. Only downside of that is that it needs to be used by the end of May, which only really gives you Memorial Day weekend to make it over there.

Overall I give it 3 out of 5 stars – good local race that’s fun for the family but I would strongly advise pre-registering

Blackberries for Health

I was at the farmer’s market this morning picking up my weekly stash of fresh fruits & veggies and the very first thing I put in my basket were blackberries. And then I had to move them because they would have been squished by the cantaloupe :-). Blackberries are one of summers best fruits because they are not only convenient, but they do triple duty for your health!

They are sometimes a little pricer that strawberries or blueberries but they are well worth the splurge. The better known benefits are they the are high in Vitamins A & C but did you know they are stocked with fiber, folic acid, and potassium too? They battle free radicals which helps against cancer AND wrinkles! The fiber in them helps keep you fuller for longer. And there’s yet another benefit – the same compound that reduces these free radicals is linked to reducing the effect if histamine. How timely that these little berries are ripening around the same time that allergy season hits. Hmm…nature’s way of telling us something?

So, by eating these little powerful jewels you can get all these benefits with fewer calories. Eat them fresh and within 2-3 days of purchase for maximum freshness & nutrition. You can also get them frozen or freeze them yourself. I love to save a few of them in the freezer to add to yogurt to make a smoothie – perfect for a spring/summer afternoon snack. Yum! You can also put them in your cereal, pancakes or salad.

Do you have any good ways to make blackberries part of your diet?

References: Jerry Baker’s Kitchen Counter Cures

It’s OK to splurge…sometimes

I’ve just ended my recovery week from the Philadelphia Broad Street run and I consider myself officially in Triathlon training mode now. I’ll gradually increase the bike & swim workouts over the next few weeks to bring them up to par with my running. As much as I love running I really enjoy training for a Triathlon because it adds variety to my workout routines. More on that later…

So, given that I’m over the 10 miler and in between training modes at this moment, I gave myself permission to splurge on dinner tonight – Chick-Fil-A – dinner of champions. Yum!

I know it sounds silly but I have a point to prove. When you allow yourself the temporary splurges you’re signaling to your brain & your body that it’s OK to have a treat once in a while. It’s not forbidden and in the words of the more modern Cookie Monster “It’s a sometimes food”. If you take the time to enjoy your ‘treat’ and savor it, it’s all the more satisfying and may minimize the need to have it more frequently. Many times the problem we have with our treats is quantity. We want it too often or maybe we have too much of it. Some of us repent by over doing at the gym and others will skip the workout all together because they don’t feel good after the binge.

The mind-set that I strive for is that the treat is my reward for a job well done. It’s not the other way around so that I feel I have to pay my penance at the gym for what I’ve put in my body. A change in paradigm my be all you need to keep the junk food habit in check. I am happy that I don’t refuse myself what I’m craving and eat what I want to, in moderation of course, but I save it for when I feel I’ve earned it most.

What do you treat yourself with?

Twas the night before Broad Street

My quick checklist before I hit the sack early… I’m all set for tomorrow. I think.

– I have my breakfast prepped and ready to go – cereal and my usual coffee (only 1 cup though)
– My clothing and gear are laid out and ready to go
– My watch & iPod are fully charged and in my race bag
– My race pad is packed & I have extra pins
– My bib # is pinned on my shirt
– I’ve eaten my carbs over the last 2 days & am properly hydrated
– My GU (pure sugar in little pouches for energy) is in my racebelt which I plan to have around mile 7
– I have extra water and a banana in case I need something in my stomach before or after the race

I think that’s everything! It’s funny how preparing for a large race has all these things you have to consider on top of your training. While every race takes proper preparing and planning, anything over 5 miles can add an extra set of complexities to it. You need some fuel during your run because you will deplete your body’s stores as you progress through each mile. Ideally the race director will have strategically placed water stations for you so you don’t have to worry about it on your own. Hence the GU referenced above. There are other things you can use – some runners use jelly beans, some use gummies. These are the kind of candy you find in the supermarket but ones geared toward giving you a quick boost during exercise. For even longer runs I’ll sometimes pack an Advil in my belt 🙂

The Broad Street 10 Miler should be interesting tomorrow. I’m excited since I haven’t been a part of this particular race yet. Now I just hope it doesn’t raid…there’s not much you can do to prepare for that!

Preparing for Broad Street 2012

The Blue Cross Broad Street Run of 2012 is this Sunday in Philadelphia and I am a first-timer for this 10 mile run from one end of the city to the other. While I’m excited and I feel mostly prepared for this race I think I might be taking it lighter than I should be. I’m thinking that if I can conquer a full marathon I should be OK, right?

Actually they are very different races and I’m not going to compare them with each other. I think what makes this one interesting is that it’s not your weekend warrior 5K but it’s not a half marathon either so you have to apply a different strategy. Mine is to finish!

In all seriousness, I have trained for this race. I’ve put in my intended mileage, my speed workouts at the track after the kid’s practice, and my strength training at the gym. I’ve run this distance before, although never in a race. I know that an area I need to work on is my flexibility and that is an ongoing challenge for me. Note to self – stretch after posting. Another task that I need to get better at is drinking enough water.

What I’m really worried about is the weather. There have been close to record-breaking temperatures the last two years that I’m aware of. I don’t mind running in the heat but it’s the humidity that gets me. And it’s not something you can really train for. You can acclimatize yourself if the weather is consistent, but early May is anything but consistent.

So, I will run this fast and flat course as best I can on Sunday morning. I will finish. I will PR (Personal Record) because that’s what you can say when you do a race for the first time :-). I will add another awesome race to my running resume. I will also update my playlist so that I can strategically place songs when I know I’ll hit the wall.

How about you? Are you running Broad Street on Sunday?
Happy Training!