Taking a Break

joyofrunningThis past October, I ran my second Chicago marathon. After months of early morning training runs, hours spent away from home, and in bed early on Friday nights, I was able to shave off over 24 minutes from last year’s race. Thrilled to say the very least!

everymileismagnificentComing off of a good training cycle and race, all I wanted to do was keep running, but I knew that I had to (and deserved to) take a break. My body needed it both mentally and physically. My goal was to take at least a week off from any type of strenuous exercise, but naturally I lasted 4 days. My race was on Sunday and by Thursday I was back to taking class at The Barre Code. Two weeks later I was back on the treadmill logging miles and doing speedwork.

Something happened in November. I’m not sure if it was the cold snap and the fact that I dislike the treadmill or if I jumped back into it too quickly, but I lost my motivation and my will to run. November’s mileage total equaled a measly 10. That’s quite a decline coming from a month where I logged almost 60 miles. Last month, running became something I dreaded, not anything I looked forward to and it was then that I decided to take a little break. I think I even let my Garmin die for the first time in years.

So what did I do instead?

-I attended more classes barre classes. I took class whenever my schedule would allow it, which averaged 3 times a week. Not running gave me time to do a workout that I love just as much as running.

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-I enjoyed many glasses of vino, craft beer and late nights on the couch with my husband and early mornings making pumpkin pancakes with my daughter.

-I celebrated turning 30. (heading to NYC at the end of this month!)

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Overall, it was a great month. The thought of running was always on my mind. I walked past my Garmin every morning, wondering if I should plug it in but the desire just wasn’t there. Physically, I was there, but mentally I was just burned out.

I think taking a month off from logging miles, aiming to beat last run’s time, and having a regimented schedule did some good. Last week, I finally had the urge to charge my Garmin back up, put on my running shoes and headed to the lakefront for a 3 mile run. It was a cool, early evening run–it was starting to get dark outside. I ran without headphones for safety reasons. It was actually very calming to listen to my own breathing pattern. It was then that I knew the break was a good thing because I instantly missed that post-run high you get after a good run. I had no expectations for this run. I had no time goals. Even with taking a month long break, I was back to my normal comfortable pace and had negative splits.

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The quote listed above (run often, run long, but never outrun your joy of running) couldn’t be more true. When a hobby you once loved stops being fun and becomes more of a chore, what’s the point? I LOVE the feeling that comes along with completing a marathon. It’s a feeling I’ve never experienced with any other race distance, but it can be time consuming and sacrificial, especially with a family and a full-time job.

At the end of the month, I set a list of goals for myself of things I’d like to accomplish for the upcoming year. There will be a running goal on there for sure, but I don’t foresee a marathon in my future next year. I do want to do another one but in 2015 I’d like to work on getting faster and maintaining it over a longer distance as well as fueling for a longer race (half marathons). I want to get back to running because I love it, not because I have to.

Runners out there, have you ever taken a break? How long and for what reason? I believe last time I took a long break was during my pregnancy with Madelyn.

Zero Week

Recovering from a marathon is just as important as training for one. It can take weeks for your body to fully recover from the strain of running that 26.2 miles.

Of course by the next day, I was wondering when I’d be able to run again. After coming off of months of training and completing a successful race, the last thing I wanted to do was sit still but I knew that I would have to (and deserved to!) if I wanted to get back to running without any problems. So rather than sit and pout about not running, I enjoyed in a little overindulgence, something that I did not do during marathon training. Here’s what zero week looked like for me after this last training cycle.

Monday
The day after. Lower body is extremely sore. Right hamstring is a little more painful than the rest of my body. My stomach was finally feeling back to normal and I ate a cupcake for breakfast. We set out to get my medal engraved at Fleet Feet Old Town and while we were waiting, we ventured down the street to a local restaurant and I ate a delicious burger with bacon and horseradish sauce with a bloody mary. I ate everything. It was amazing. That night we came back home and ate leftover Lou Malnati’s and I’m pretty certain I ate another cupcake.

sprinklesTuesday
Back to work. Started the morning off with a cupcake and coffee ;-) Took a half day to spend the morning with Madelyn’s class. It was her first official field trip and they were going to the pumpkin farm so I volunteered to chaperone. Seeing her on the yellow school bus for the first time was so cute and exciting yet sad at the same time. Our baby is officially gone and she now a big girl…

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On the way into work that afternoon, I scheduled myself an hour long massage that evening and finally used that gift card from Valentine’s Day…After I get a massage, I always tell myself that I need to do it more often. The therapist said that my shoulders and back were especially tight and could use more work. Just an excuse for me to go back, no one wants tight shoulders and back.

Wednesday
Alright, time to stop eating cupcakes for breakfast. My legs feel back to normal again, maybe it’s time to do something productive, I’m feeling restless. Got into work and rode the bike for 5 miles + did some very light weights to workout my arms. Had a protein shake for breakfast followed by a salad for lunch. There ends my no working out for the week…came home and started drafting my post for the marathon recap and had a little treat :-)

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Thursday
Couldn’t hold out any longer. Back to barre I go. Ate a veggie burger from Trader Joe’s for dinner and I was surprised at how good it was. Starting to like myself again after days of endless indulging…

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Friday
No working out today. Instead I took time for myself to get a haircut since my last one was in June! People with curly hair who wear it up most of the time can get away with that. Ate Chinese takeout for dinner and it was amazing. Crab Rangoon for the win.

Saturday
Started our morning off with fluffy, cooked to perfection trader joe’s pumpkin pancakes! Seriously, the gluten-free mix is so good! After breakfast I spent the rest of the day catching up on housework that’s been neglected over the past few months and I started potty training Madelyn. She was ready, she just needed that extra push. So far so good. I wasn’t feeling great on Saturday. I was supposed to go to a retirement party with Larry but I was just feeling a bit under the weather. So after Madelyn went to bed, I enjoyed a nice bubble bath with a glass of this delicious red wine. My favorite red table blend.

itheeredSunday
Feeling better a ton better. One week after the marathon. Went to barre with my mom and then out for a coffee and breakfast. After breakfast I enjoyed some shopping at the mall. We had family pictures the next day (Monday), and I had to find clothes for all of us to wear. It was a lot of fun! Madelyn was the hardest one to shop for. I had in my mind what I wanted her wear, but I had a very hard time finding it. I think I pulled it off without having us looking too matchy match. You’ll just have to wait for the pictures ;-) 

So now that zero week is officially over, it’s time to kick it up a notch. I started adding cardio classes at The Barre Code back into my routine (TBC & Brawl so far this week). They’re just as challenging as I remember. I THINK I may try running later today. If the weather is nice, I plan on taking my little peanut out in the jogger for a leisurely run and a workout in the park. Fingers crossed the weather is in our favor.

It was nice to give my body a little break from running and working out in general. I could’ve used some more sleep in there, but there’s always something to be done. I’m looking forward to getting back into my fitness routine and trying out some new classes in the Milwaukee area. A new spin studio just opened up nearby and I can’t wait to try it out. I’m also looking forward to taking my husband to Orange Theory for a mini “date night”! ;-)

Those of you coming off of a long training cycle, what do you look forward to most the week after? Sleep. Always sleep.

Women Rock Chicago 1/2 Marathon

On Saturday, I completed my last double digit run before the Chicago Marathon. My training schedule had me running 12 miles. Instead, I headed down to Chicago with my mom and two of her friends to participate in the Chicago Women Rock 1/2 marathon, making it my 7th half marathon. Continue reading

Marathon Training Recap Week 15-Peak Week

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We are less than 3 weeks away from The Chicago Marathon. I can’t believe the day is almost here and that summer is officially gone. Our weekend involved hanging out, yard work, and lots of napping…always a requirement during these last few weeks of training. Last weekend I felt like I was back in my first trimester of pregnancy. Seriously, so extremely tired. But I’m getting lots of z’s during the week and feeling a little bit more energized this week. Here’s how training went down last week:

MondayBarre class @ The Barre Code

TuesdayRun was cut short because Madelyn had a Dr’s appointment. Managed to squeeze in 3.3 mi @ 10:09 pace. Was also having problems with my earbuds. I finally unplugged them and finished my run music-less. It was kind of nice.

WednesdayMidweek long run. 10 mi @ 9:37 pace. Best Wednesday run I’ve had in a while.

Thursday5 mi @ 8:31 pace. On fire. First time all summer achieving negative splits. It was beautiful: 9:13, 8:46, 8:20, 8:19, 7:59. I’m going to try to ignore the pace on my watch for the rest of training and see how that goes. So far it seems to be working out well for me. Core & upper body strength work after my run.

FridayRest day. Stretching and lots of foam rolling.

Saturday18.53 mi @ 10:19 pace. Miscalculated 20 miles and run was cut short because of pure lack of motivation. Still feeling good about the marathon.

SundayCore work and this yoga for runners video on youtube. Youtube is a great resource for post run stretching videos. I’ve been using them a lot this training cycle and my legs felt normal after my long run on Saturday.

Onto week 16! Time to taper and to look into getting new shoes :-) Always a plus! I’ve been switching between Saucony Guide 7 & Newton’s Lady Issac. Not sure what I want to wear for the marathon.

Question of the day: What’s your favorite thing about Fall? What shoes are you currently running in? 

Getting Through The Long Run

Happy Monday guys! We are three weeks away from The Chicago Marathon and that means TAPER TIME! I thought this would be a good time to share what has helped me get through those long build-up runs the past 15 weeks. Here are 10 tips that make running long distance a bit more bearable.

1. Have your route planned before you head out.

18.53It’s so much easier to run long distance if you have a good idea of where you’re going. I’m usually pretty good about this, but I failed on Saturday when I set out for my 20 mile training run. My first loop was 14.9 miles (which was preplanned and routed using MapMyRun). The second loop, I underestimated and by the time I got to my starting, point, saw my watch and then my car, I decided to call it quits. I know that if I had planned that second loop better, 20 miles would’ve happened.

2. Create a killer playlist. Last weekend, I thought I forgot my headphones at home. I was just about to get in my car and drive back and I saw them laying under my seat. I couldn’t fathom running 18 miles in the cold without some sort of distraction. I use Spotify for all my running music and used it to create my Chicago Marathon playlist last year. When I’m not training, I use the free version. I can usually get through a decent run with very little commercials. I found that with some of my training runs, my wireless data would cut out and leave me without music for a little bit. This annoyed me and so I figured if I’m training for a marathon, I might as well treat myself to uninterrupted music. You can download music and play it offline from your mobile device with the premium version. You can also find me *here* if you’re looking for more spotify friends.

3. Run with Friends. Don’t have friends that run? Find new friends! ;-) Or join a running group and make new friends there. I have done most of my build up runs with Badgerland Striders and I have met some fellow Chicago marathoners in the process. Running with people that share a common interest helps pass time and keeps you on track. When you’re running with a friend, no one wants to be the first person to stop and start walking. It’s a great way to challenge yourself and each other.

treatspostrace4. Get inspired. Confession time: some days, running is the last thing I want to do. As much as I LOVE to run, there are days, like Wednesdays after work, where running 10 miles is the last thing I want to be doing. Sometimes those midweek longer runs really take some mental preparation. When I need a little extra inspiration, I will read some of my favorite running blogs (Hungry Runner Girl, Run Eat Repeat, Chic Runner) or scroll through  my Instagram feed for inspirational pics. This usually does the trick and gets me a little bit more excited for my run.

5. Treat yo self! Training for a marathon is no joke. It takes a toll on your body, your mind and your overall well-being. Reward yourself for setting your alarm( on a weekend) to run what some would call a crazy amount of miles.

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6. Find a GU that excites you! Because if you’re not running, when else is it acceptable to eat salted carmel GU?

7. Get some fun toys. I would be lost without my Garmin and now add in my bluetooth headphones to running gear I can’t live without. I love uploading my runs and seeing how I’ve improved from last year, where I struggled in my run etc. It’s definitely  more than just a GPS watch.

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8. Have a support system.  Marathon training & sometimes running in general would not be possible if it weren’t for my wonderful husband, mom and sister who have helped to keep an eye on Madelyn while I’ve spent all morning running. This also involves them waking up early on weekends (or staying up after working all night) when they really didn’t have to. It’s nice to be surrounded by loved ones who understand why you want to be in bed by 9pm on a Friday night…

9. Get properly fitted gear. I cannot stress enough the importance of going to get professionally fitted for every pair of shoes you wear. After I had Madelyn, I got fitted at a local running store and they put me in a very stable Brooks’ shoe. I continued to run in this same version of shoe throughout my first marathon training and after. I couldn’t figure out why, later on, my feet were hurting me so badly. They were a great shoe! Turns out, after a while I didn’t need that much stability and I had been running in the wrong shoe. They were right for me after I had a baby, but as I got more strength back in my core, the shoes were a wrong fit for me. Shorts are also a big one for me. Ill-fitting shorts have the power to break your run. My favorites are my Lululemon tracker short. I haven’t really tried any other brand. When you find one that works for you, you stick with it. And sports bras ladies!!! Definitely find a great fitting sports bra. I know that I will NOT be wearing my black Nike one for the marathon. If ever.

10. Recover. Ice baths and foam rolling is where it’s at if you want to walk like a normal person the next day.

iceicebabyAnd sleep. Allow yourself a nap if needed over the weekend of a long run. It will make you feel better. I promise.

Question of the day:  Tell me! What gets you through a long run or a grueling workout? 

Pumpkin Season!

Happy Wednesday! I hope everyone’s week is off to a great start! I just finished up week 14 of marathon training for Chicago and I’m well into week 15-PEAK WEEK! After this week is over, the mileage starts to decrease before the big day is here. I’m very excited and only a little bit nervous ;-)
Here’s how week 14 went down:
Monday: Barre Class
Tuesday: 5 miles @ 9:10 + core work
Wednesday: 9 miles @ 9:50. Had some Garmin issues along with rainy & windy weather, but I powered through and figured out what went wrong at the end.
Thursday: 5 miles @ 9:10 + core & stretching
Friday: Barre class/stretch
Saturday: 18 miles @ 10:05. Played around with my pace for the marathon. Ended the last mile going uphill. Muy mal planning on my part. Weather was slightly cooler than what is normal for this time of year, but I refused to put away the shorts just yet.
photoSunday: Brunch with the family/rest day/took lots of naps and it was glorious.
On Sunday, I was feeling domestic. With last week’s cooler temps, I thought it would be the perfect time to whip up some baked goods. I had a counter full of zucchini and a cupboard full of canned pumpkin. Put the two together and I present to you, Paleo Pumpkin Zucchini Bread. It turned out so good (and made our house smell like Fall), that the whole loaf pan was gone with in two days. Oopsy whoopsy. I will be making another batch, experimenting with another type of almond flour. Maybe it will be done in time for a special house guest next weekend? ;-)  I’d like to find an almond flour that works well in baked goods and doesn’t make my bread/muffins too “soggy”. It was good, but a little bit more “soggy” (as I hate the word moist!) than I would’ve liked. The pumpkin could’ve been the culprit too.
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Pumpkin Zucchini Bread

Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 cup blanched almond flour
  • 3 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 eggs beaten
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup shredded & zucchini
Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Mix dry ingredients (first 4) in a small bowl. Set aside
3. Shred unpeeled zucchini and blot with a paper towel to squeeze out excess moisture
4. Beat 3 eggs in a larger bowl. Place the remaining ingredients (except zucchini) in the bowl, then mix on medium for about 2 minutes until all ingredients are combined. Add the zucchini and beat again just enough to incorporate.
5. Slowly add the dry ingredients with the mixer running, until all of the flour mixture has been mixed in.
6. Spoon the batter into a loaf pan. You can also make muffins.
7. Bake for about 50-60 minutes until the middle is set and a toothpick comes out clean.
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Question of the day: What is your favorite pumpkin flavored thing to eat/drink/make? I also love pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheese frosting :-) My fave!

The Family that plays Together

Happy Packer Day! Madelyn clearly knows what’s up. 

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I hope everyone’s week is going well. One day closer to the weekend and to my little cousin’s wedding! I’m thrilled to watch her get married, and I can still remember when she was born…how’s that for feeling old?! 

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Al & her fiance at our wedding

We definitely started our week off with a bang. On Monday, Madelyn spent some quality time with her great grandparents and my mom, while hubs and I hopped on the Amtrak and ventured down to Chicago for the Cubs vs. Brewers game. I can’t remember the last time I was at Wrigley Field for a game, but it felt good to be back in familiar territory :-) 

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When we got into the city, we ventured into Old Town and visited the Fleet Feet there. Of all the stores to visit in Chicago…clearly I have a problem. I think I love this store so much because it’s my first experience with running stores. I remember calling my mom after my first visit there and saying, “They just have so much stuff for running!” I also participated in a few of their fun runs during my Chicago days. As we left Fleet Feet, it started to pour. We didn’t really have an agenda until the game, so we kind of ducked out from the rain and then decided to head toward Wrigley.

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We ate at Mo’s Cantina before heading to the game. The day turned out to be perfect. Great weather and an awesome date, what more could a girl ask for? 

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After the game we met up with Kristine for a few drinks and before we knew it, it was time to catch the late train back to Milwaukee. But not before stopping for some Lou’s. Of all the Chicago style pizza the city has to offer, Lou Malnati’s is my absolute favorite. That crust tho! Unbelievably delicious. Hubs ordered our pizza to go because he didn’t think we’d have enough time to eat there. His plan was just to have us eat it at on the train. I had a better idea. Instead, we sat in the park near our old apartment, shared some pizza and talked about the old times. This is the same park where we took Oliver on his first walk and where we had our engagement pictures taken. By far my favorite place in Chicago.  

IMG_00671Today, I met my mom for lunch at Sven’s Cafe. I haven’t been here in a while, but I stuck with my usual. Mixed greens salad with goat cheese, chicken, walnuts, grapes and balsamic. It never fails me. I also had an Italian soda with pumpkin. It was good, but just a tad bit too sweet for me. My mom had the coconut Italian soda and that tasted much better.  

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I also decided that today would be my last day of work for the week. I have so much to get done before this weekend and I want to spend some time with Madelyn before she heads down to Chicago (for the first time ever without us!!!!) to spend time with her grandparents for the weekend. I know she will have a blast, it’s me that I’m concerned about ;-) 

Tonight, I was really feeling a bike ride. The last two runs (the only runs this week!) I’ve had have not been the greatest. My legs have felt heavy and I’m left feeling defeated. I don’t know if it was the humidity or the fact that I ate like crap this weekend (or both) but I haven’t been on my A game. So I decided it would be best to give my leggies a little break and head out for a bike ride with my entourage in tow. 

IMG_00811It felt really good to work my legs but in a different way. We rode up to Leff’s Luckytown for some food before the Packer game, and then rode our bikes back. The best way to consume “not so healthy” food. I told hubs it felt great to work off the food we just ate as opposed to just sitting there and letting it sit in our stomachs.

Tomorrow, I have a barre class on the workout schedule and then taking the day to chase Madelyn around while trying to smuggle her with hugs & kisses. it’s funny, I’ve spent a whole month away from her so you’d think a weekend would be no problem, but it never gets easier. 

What’s on your workout agenda for the weekend? Any other fun plans? I’m also headed to a marathon Q & A session at PRO this weekend! I’m thrilled for that!