Thursday, March 31, 2011

Guilt-Free Rest Days

It seems that wherever I look, there’s info on how to motivate yourself to exercise, how to run that extra mile, how to get faster. I know now that I need a weekly long run, speed intervals, track workouts, hill repeats, easy runs and recovery runs. I should probably start doing some barefoot runs too. I guess I can’t forget the strength training I need for the upper and lower body, core workouts, stretching, yoga for flexibility, foam rolling, cross training....

Wait, how many days do you guys have in your weeks?

Yes, of course all those things (and more) can contribute to making us better runners--better athletes. This bombardment of information can sometimes make me forget one of the most important workouts of all. REST DAY!
This article on the importance of rest for runners talks about a guy who has been on a running streak every day for, wait for it....
26 YEARS!!!!!!!

Way to go on the motivation and all, but he ran the day after he broke his sternum. No thank you, buddy. Too far. In his honor, today is my rest day. No worrying about mileage, speed, splits, sets, weights, nothing. And the best part? I’ll come back stronger tomorrow. So no guilt! 
Since I’m feeling so good, I’ll share with you all the amazing dessert from last night. Two Greek Yogurts, a few sliced strawberries, 1 cup of chocolate puffed cereal, and 6 mini-eggs. Let’s just say they were for decoration. This combination is uh-mazing. If it seems ginormous it’s because I split it with the hubby. Which means I got 60%, he got 40%. He should be grateful. 
Heaven in a dish

Do you ever feel guilty taking a rest day?

Which days each week are your rest days? 

What is your favorite guilt-free dessert?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Foam-Rolling Wednesday

I was a little worried about today’s “recovery run” after a 12-miler yesterday (which is my long run) but Woo-Hoo it was great! Managed the 5 miles at a teensy incline in just under 47 minutes (9:19 pace). Some foam-rolling was definitely in order though. 

Seriously, this is the best invention ever. So simple. So awesome. I’m in love with my foam roller. <3

I have a pretty basic cheap one from Wal-Mart:
But I'm thinking about upgrading to a more "serious" looking one...with more bumps and grips.

Those of you who foam roll--do you think it will make any difference, or should I just save my moolah? Any recommendations? I'm pretty happy with mine right now, but I do sometimes wish it would work out the knots just a little bit more, you know?

Dinner was a tofu stir fry with brown rice frozen meal. I added some extra veggies to bulk it up a bit. Delish. 
Amy's Organic Teriyaki Bowl w/ extra Kale

No Oven? No Problem!

Since the title of this blog is Gourmet Runner, you might be asking yourself when exactly that side of the equation would show itself. The truth is, I love cooking food, reading about food, and learning how to make good food great by upping the nutritional benefits. Living in a motel, however...not conducive to gourmet anything. Since I have a good 4 weeks (minimum!) left until I can dream of my new lovely kitchen in our yet-to-be-built home, I thought a post on how to make nutritious food without a traditional kitchen might be beneficial to me AND to anyone curious about how to make it work.
At my disposal, I have a mini-fridge, a microwave, and um...yeah, that’s it. 
My "kitchen". Oh, and a cat. 

Here are some essentials that I eat regularly:
  1. Healthy Microwave Meals---Yes, these are often laden with sodium, small, and can be expensive. So, I take advantage of sales whenever possible, and try to add something into every meal. Sometimes it’s a side of raw fruit or veggies. Last night I mixed in some kale before microwaving my stir-fry chicken. Turned out to be delicious!
  2. Bags of Frozen Veggies (to steam)---These bags are usually cheap, and contain 4 or more servings of vegetables. Since the vegetables are picked at the height of freshness and flash-frozen, they are just as nutritious as fresh ones. 
  3. Quick Brown/Wild Rice---I found some small containers of wild and brown rice that are super quick--one minute in the microwave is all. They are often a base for meals, I’ll add a veggie, a canned soup, etc.
  4. Sweet Potatoes---Hands-down favorite for me. Cheap and easy. I’ll microwave one to mix with just about anything. Sometimes just cooked and sliced up is perfect!
  5. Sandwiches--- Maybe not the most revolutionary idea, but they’re simple and quick. I’m on a PB&J kick right now, big time. Using whole wheat bread, natural PB and sugar-free jelly upgrades this kids sandwich. 
  6. Oatmeal---Besides being an everyday breakfast for me, add-ins can make oatmeal take on a whole new dimension. I add a whole sweet potato (mashed) into oatmeal with some peanut butter--voila! Lunch! For a late-night snack, a spoonful of nutella into oatmeal with some fresh strawberries is amazing. I’ve read about some people turning oatmeal savory. Great idea too, but my sweet tooth is too powerful :)
  7. Greek Yogurt/Protein Bars---By far the hardest thing to get enough of is protein. Not having a way to cook meat, tofu, eggs, etc. is challenging. Pre-cooked chicken breast is available in the supermarket, but at a big expense (for my wallet AND my sodium intake). I include a greek yogurt in my diet nearly daily, and often a protein bar as a snack after the gym. I also try to get protein from sources like soymilk, peanut butter, almonds, and the occasional protein powder. 
Any suggestions for ways to increase the quality of my food? Or any simple recipes that don’t require an oven? Thanks!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

12-Miler and Fuel Reviews

After the normal oatmeal breakfast (with almonds, flax, dried cranberries, and fresh strawberries mixed in) I  got ready for this week's long run. No, Tuesday is not a typical long run day, but lately it has been for me. I managed 12 miles in 1:56 (9:40 pace) which was right on target as far as I am concerned! I have to really remember to run my long runs sloooowly, otherwise I burnout half-way through.
I'm always a little unsure about what to do for fueling during long runs. Often I just stick with water, but as my long runs increase in distance I know I need to play around with what will keep me going. A trip this weekend to Rock/Creek meant a chance to buy some new goodies to try out.
Today, I tried 2 new things:
1. GU Chomps (Cranberry Apple w/Caffeine)
2. Nuun electrolyte tablets
Cran-Apple Flavor

The GU Chomps I really loved! I'm wary of the normal gels because the consistency kind of grosses me out. Plus, these look like gummy candies so I was excited! I ended up eating half the pack (4 gummies--90 calories) during the run. I ate them at mile 4, 6.5, 8.5, and 11. It wasn't hard for me to chew these and run, although I can imagine if you are running a lot faster it would be tough. 

Nuun--Lemon+Lime Flavor

These tablets were great! They are basically calorie-free (6 per tablet) so I guess they don't technically count as "fuel". But they are chock full of electrolytes and really hydrated me better than water. The tablets fizz up in water and keep it semi-carbonated, which sounds weird for a run but somehow works nicely. The hubster actually had one with his lunch, just as a soft-drink replacement and liked the flavor too. 

I'm pretty happy that this combination worked, I felt like I drank a bit less water than normal but felt just a hydrated, which is a good thing. I also avoided any, um..."G.I. issues". Let's just leave it at that. 

How/when do you fuel for long runs?

Monday, March 28, 2011

Tired Legs and Mini Eggs

Wowza! I could really feel yesterday's speed work in my legs today. It took me a good 30 minutes to really feel good in my run this morning. I ended up doing 6.5 on the treadmill in 60 minutes. I had to sprint at the end of the hour so I could end exactly on the 6.5 miles. Does anyone else do that? I feel like I have to finish on the mile, 0.25, 05, or .75. Yes, I am officially weird like that. As evidenced by this sweaty gym locker room photo.

Wait, you're supposed to put flattering pictures of yourself on your blog? Whoops. 
P.S. How colorful is this locker room? A little much, no?

Dinner tonight was mix of grains (bulgar wheat, quinoa, rice) some delicious kale and a bit of turkey. Dessert was mini eggs. And then some mini eggs. There is actually some left in the bag, so...let's just say that between Tim and I we can probably make them disappear by bedtime. 

Any good workouts today? :)

Ugh to Strength Training

Anyone else have a hard time getting motivated for strength training? I get to the point where I mentally and physically crave a run, but lifting something heavy? Meh. I can take it or leave it. One of my goals since getting to America and getting certified as a PT was to work on the guns spaghetti arms. So far I have just been using resistance bands and body weight exercises, but one thing in particular has been kicking my butt.
Check out my soon-to-be-guns!

The 100 Push-up Challenge is so tough! I've just finished Week 5--sort of. I may have had to repeat a week. And I may have been slightly unable to finish the last workout. The idea is that after 6 weeks of following the basic schedule, you'll be able to do 100 push-ups in one go. I have modified that plan to be a little more "Vanessa friendly" but my goal is to be able to do 50 push-ups at once after 8 weeks. I would be pleased with that, considering I started out with about 12!

Yummy breakfast of oatmeal, flax seed, almonds, and dried cranberries. Hopefully will be at the gym soon with Tim in tow. I'll let you know how the workout goes!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Tales of a Motel

As if a healthy lifestyle isn't hard enough in any situation, right now my husband and I are, get this--living in a motel! 8 weeks down, 4 (?) more to go. To rewind and explain, we got married in July 2010 in Hong Kong where we were both living. 
That's us. Isn't he handsome?

Living in Hong Kong was wonderful, and we both have our families living there. We decided that we wanted something a little different, however, so we made the crazy decision to completely relocate. We made some rough plans, flew out to see some land, applied for an American Visa (Tim is a Brit passport holder) and a few months later we were Georgian residents! We are building a home on a beautiful piece of land. In the meantime however...the motel. 
On the plus side, it's actually a bit bigger than our most recent shoebox of a flat in Hong Kong. On the downside, the cooking facilities, to say the least. Limited, as in--there's a microwave. And a mini-fridge. Throw in the fact that I'm unused to shopping in American grocery stores, and we have a problem. Lots of trial and error (you can cook what in a microwave?) but we're learning. 
Exercise wise, I'm so lucky to have a hubby who knows how important being active is to me! As soon as we arrived in America, he encouraged me to pursue something I had been thinking about for a while--getting certified as a personal trainer. And now, I can proudly say that I am! We are also members of a great gym in the area, are close to some beautiful areas for hiking, and have a 2-mile loop that's perfect for running nearly right outside our (motel) door. Am I excited to eventually have a completed home, complete with treadmill (pretty please Tim?!) --you betcha! But in the meantime, I feel so lucky to have so many great resources at my disposal and we're definitely doing the best we can. Wish me luck!

Sunday is Speed Day!

My first attempt at proper intervals was today. I DREAD speed days and would rather run 10 miles slowly than sprint for even one. The more I research though, the more I come to terms with the fact that I have to do it if I want to get any faster! So intervals it is. Todays treadmill run looked something like this:

Obviously, running at 8.6 mph is crazy tough for me. Overall I'm pretty pleased with the fact that I managed 6 intervals, each (nearly!) 2 minutes each. Stopping a run after 50 minutes is new for me, I usually try to make the workout at least one hour but 50 minutes took it out of me big time. Following my run was a Clif Builder's Bar, wolfed down in the car in the gym parking lot. If you haven't tried the Chocolate Mint flavor, you must! Yum. These bad boys are a little pricey but so delicious. Nothing makes me run as fast as when I know I have one of these waiting for me after my workout. Twenty grams of protein isn't too shabby either! The rest of this Sunday afternoon will likely be spent doing what lazy days are made for --stalking your blogs and watching some guilty pleasure TV. Happy weekend!

My very first post!

To most people, starting a blog might not seem like an intimidating task--but to me, it really is! After months of obsessively stalking my favorite blogs (and countless urges from my husband to start one already!) I decided to take the plunge and start one of my own. I hope to detail my runs and workouts, and well as my attempts at healthy eating. Wish me luck!