Last Run in January (Mid-week Long Run!)

My running schedule is a bit off (because of the weather), so I had a long run scheduled for today.  I’ve been feeling a bit out of whack the last couple of days – achy feet and trouble staying hydrated – so I was a little nervous for the workout.  After drinking my Nuun (my favorite way to hydrate before/during workouts), having a good dynamic warm-up, and doing a bit of foam rolling, I headed out.

It. Was. Glorious.  Seriously, it was tough, but it felt SO good.  The weather was wacky – unseasonably warm, but kind of stormy.  It rained a couple times, and was VERY windy.  I think Wendy was a little alarmed when the wind picked up, but she did a great job sticking with me.  With a good audiobook playing, the time flew by and I finished my run – 8.2 miles.  I always shoot for a little farther than I am supposed to go (according to my plan) because I’m worried about reaching my house again before I finish the distance – that’s why my runs are always an odd number (8.2, 4.36, etc.).  Today’s goal was 8 miles.

Also, today’s run was my last one in January!  I can’t believe how quickly the month went by, and how close we are to spring!  This month, I ran 52.52 miles (13 runs with an average distance of 4 miles).  Not bad, and definitely my highest mileage since I returned to running after my injury.  For reference, I ran 33.88 in December, 25.9 in November, and 26.61 in October (but one of those was the NWM 13.1).

Oh, and for all the endorphins and whatnot from my run, the VERY long, hot shower after I got home was pretty amazing too.

Advertisements

Another Snowy Run

The weather continues to be slightly warmer here, though it snowed for most of the day.  Not wanting to miss another workout, I headed out for a 2.25 mile loop around my neighborhood.  I am not normally a fan of the winter (in fact, I’m sure I’ll be cranky about it tomorrow when I’m walking around campus), but there is something so peaceful about running outside in the snow.  Granted, the running is a little more challenging, but we take our time and are very careful to be aware of cars.

I’m learning a lot about winter running this year, and what I need to do to keep my workouts successful in any weather.  One thing that helped today was…. I got those shoes I wanted!  It was perfect timing, really.  I ordered them from L.L. Bean a few weeks ago (I had a couple coupons), but they were back-ordered.  Luckily, they arrived just as I was getting ready to go running, and I couldn’t resist wearing them!  For the first time, I ran in snow without getting my feet wet.  Awesome.

Brrrrr…

Well, I got out there for a quick (but cold) run.  Despite every local forecaster’s prediction that the weather would start to warm up, it was still only about 15º F.  I bundled up and, honestly, when the wind wasn’t blowing, it wasn’t TOO bad.  Unfortunately, the wind was blowing about 75% of the time.

I was also really worried about Wendy getting too cold.  She wore her coat, and I put a thin layer of vaseline on the edges of her ears.  Apparently, that can help prevent frostbite, and it made me feel better to do anything I can to keep her comfortable.  Even still, her feet definitely got cold, so we came home early.  I washed her feet, covered her in a blanket, and she is sleeping soundly now.  I think the short workout was as good for her as it was for me!

Either way, we covered a nice, quick 2.25 miles and, despite the cold, it felt great to get back out there.  Now, to enjoy one of my last Saturdays before I get swamped with work again!

Yoga Friday

Wendy likes to help with Yoga Fridays… sometimes. Today, she napped on the couch.

 

I don’t know why, but it seems like I always do yoga on Fridays.  My workouts have been kind of wacky this week (on account of the weather) so it was good to do something familiar.  One benefit of being stuck inside, though, is that it forced me to get in a couple good cross-training sessions.  I’ve also been very diligent with my foam rolling and mobility work.  Of course, the cross-training made me a little sore, so the yoga helped with that too.

Tomorrow, the weather is supposed to warm up a bit (like 10 degrees warmer than today!).  I can’t wait to go running.

 

So, apparently Panera has a HIDDEN menu…

I just heard – Panera has healthier, low-calorie menu options!  From what I can tell, there are options that are gluten-free, dairy-free, etc.   Oh, but they are on a secret menu…

For the new year, Panera started serving a “hidden menu” that has lower calorie paleo-ish items.  This is great… in theory.  Panera’s made-to-order business model certainly allows for enough customization of the menu for just about anyone to stick to their chosen diet.  However, so many of their soups and sandwiches are sneakily caloric.  Even the salads have piles of nuts and cheese, which certainly pack on the calories (they are calorie-dense, even if they ARE delicious and have some nutritional value).  I was pretty excited to learn that they are now offering these newer items – things like a Mediterranean Chicken (or turkey) Salad, Chicken Hummus Bowl, or Steak Lettuce Wraps.  Nice.

Here’s my problem with this – WHY is it a hidden menu?  At this time of year, when everyone is thinking about healthier lifestyles (whether a New Year’s Resolution or just getting back on track after the holidays), they could probably draw in a lot of business with these options.  Plus, without advertising the menu, people might not hear about it, and it won’t be profitable.  If it isn’t profitable, it won’t last.  This is sad – there aren’t many quick, healthy options out there, and I think people would embrace these items if they were on the regular menu.

So, if you want to try it (and you are in the U.S.), you have to tell the cashier that you are ordering from the hidden menu… and try not to feel silly doing so!  Next time I go to Panera, I plan to give it a whirl.  If anything, I will be voting with my wallet.

Isn’t the whole thing kind of strange, though?  Why develop a new menu concept, but then not do everything possible to make it succeed?

Keeping Calm… or at least I’m trying!

I missed my run today.  It was extremely cold (below zero with the wind chill), and when my face started to hurt after a 5 minute walk across campus, I decided the risk of frostbite was too great.  Plus, it turns out that dogs can get frostbite – especially dogs with long, floppy ears.  I couldn’t take that risk with Wendy.

It is frustrating, though.  This was the first run I have missed since NOVEMBER.  I had quite a streak going!  Plus, Wendy is very used to her every-other-day runs, and she gets a bit of cabin fever if she misses one.  (Yes, I consider how these things affect my dog – but it also helps me get out the door when I’m not motivated.  It’s hard to let her down!)  Also, I’m really starting to feel the pressure of my goal race in April.  I know I have plenty of time, and I’m not even a little bit worried about having to cover the distance.  I’m worried about my speed.  I need to get my pace faster… and not get injured.  I’m trying not to stress about it, especially since everything I read says that winter running is about building a base (endurance), not speed.  Still, I thought my pace would be faster by now.  I improved pretty quickly after the NWM in October (by roughly 2 min/mile), but I walked most of that race.  Now that I’m running more, it is concerning to me that my pace isn’t continuing to increase at that rate.

So, this is my plan (because I always have a plan):

  1. Relax!  Stressing about it isn’t going to help.
  2. Finish my half-marathon training plan, as written.  That means no speedwork.  I’m on week 8, and should finish in early March (weather permitting).
  3. Remind myself that I have to be a bit more flexible with my running because it is winter, and I live in New England!
  4. Continue adding in cross-training whenever possible.
  5. Research ways to gradually improve speed.  Implement them as appropriate, but plan to do a speed-focused plan for March and early-April.
  6. Tighten up my nutrition.  Weight loss can only help with speed.
  7. Oh – and relax.  I have to remember to relax.  I have 95 days to figure this out.

Red Lentil Soup

lentil soup

I love soups this time of year.  Not only are they a great way to get some veggies, but they are so warm and filling.  This recipe, which I first made after a long run, is everything that is good about soup!  It is hearty and creamy – and the red lentils give it some heft without the addition of actual cream (or other dairy).  Like most soup, it doesn’t photograph well (seriously, doesn’t it look gloppy??), but it tastes amazing.  The addition of cumin and chili flakes lend just a bit of heat, and the sweet potatoes give it just a bit of chew.

This makes a large batch, and was just what I needed after a long run on a chilly day.  It only takes about 20-30 minutes of actual prep time, so can even be a weeknight meal (if you have time for it to simmer).

Red Lentil Soup
adapted from The Chew

Ingredients:

Olive Oil (for bottom of pan)
1 large onion
7 large carrots (or a couple handfuls of baby carrots), sliced
2 celery ribs (chopped)
4-6 garlic gloves, minced (we love garlic, and actually used 8 cloves)
2 cups of red lentils (rinsed)
2 teaspoons of ground Cumin
1 teaspoon of ground Coriander
1 teaspoon of Red Pepper Flakes
1 teaspoon of Turmeric
6-8 cups of low-sodium chicken broth (depending on how wet you like it – you could also use vegetable broth)
1 sweet potato, diced
1 bunch of kale, chopped with thin stems removed

How to make it:

  1. Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large dutch oven, and add onion.  Cook until onion is soft.
  2. Add carrots and celery, and cook for 3-5 minutes.  Add garlic, and cook for one minute.
  3. Stir in the rinsed red lentils.  Cook for a couple minutes, until the lentils are well-coated with oil and slightly toasted.
  4. Add cumin, coriander, red pepper flakes, and turmeric, and continue to toast until spices are fragrant.
  5. Add the stock, and bring to a boil.  Reduce to low, and simmer for 10 minutes.
  6. Add the sweet potato and kale, and cook for about 10-15 minutes (or until sweet potato is cooked through).
  7. Adjust seasoning to taste, and serve.