Time to get Serious!

14 Mar

I haven’t posted in a while and I bet you are all dying to know what I’m up to…. *crickets*…. ok , I’ll tell you anyways. My trusty workout partner and I have decided to train for a Half Marathon! After months of internal deliberation, it is now official, we even have a training plan. Fancy, I know. We are taking a slightly different approach than most people and for a couple of reasons. We are not planning on doing the race until fall or early winter of this year and we are starting now, which makes it about double the time most people train for this kind of race. One of the reasons for this is simply that we want to be as comfortable as possible with running that long of a distance, why rush into long distances when you have time to ease into them and become very familiar with them. Another reason is because we are starting with not much experience with long distance running, so even the beginer plans looked a little intimidating.

We based our modified plan off of runnersworld.com from their training program called Smart Coach. The free version doesn’t offer too much but since we were just using it to modify anyways, it served our purpose. The pay version, however, does look great if you need a solid plan with motivation from the internet. Personally, I need a little more than an email reminder to get my butt out off the couch. Aside from that, we printed out the longest plan they had which was 16 weeks and we have about 32 weeks, give or take, until the actual time we want to race. This allowed us to add in additional weeks where we felt the distance of the long increased a little too quickly. Fourty-five minutes and a cup of tea later we came up with a nice 32-is week long training program (which is subject to change). Here is the first 8 weeks of our plan:

Half Marathon Training - Microsoft Word_2013-03-14_10-51-56Half Marathon Training - Microsoft Word_2013-03-14_10-55-24

Looks easy enough… for now… These particular weeks are actually the same schedule as the one Smart Coach made for us given our information, we didn’t modify it until later in the plan (which I will post later). There are a couple of different work outs here that I will discuss: X-Training/Rest, Easy Run, Long Run, Speedwork and Tempo Run.


There is a lot of information out there on cross training for runners and a lot of different opinions. What I have taken from the information I’ve read is that on these days you need to give your body a break from the beating you’ve been giving it with all the running. Here is what the Smart Coach plan says about these days.

“Take a rest day, or do some cross-training such as walking, biking, swimming, elliptical training or strength training. Rest days are when your body recovers, and builds muscle and fitness. Some runners undermine their training plans by exercising too much on rest/recovery days; don’t be one of them.”

On our Cross Training days we usually get on the spinning machine, elliptical or swim laps. I have recently aquired a bike, so we may also add that to our routine. Also we take Sunday as a complete rest day (no planned work out) and Friday but I like to do some stretching or walking if I have time.

Easy Run:

Pretty self explainatory. The pace our calendar may be different than yours, the website takes your most recent race time and bases your training times on that. Basically, just run at a comfortable pace.

Long Run:

Also pretty self explainitory. Run at a comfortable pace but for longer than the easy run.


This is about, yes you guessed it, working on your speed. Here is what Smart Coach says about the speedwork training day (4 mile speedwork day).

“Run a total distance of 4 Mi. Your run should include: – a warm up of about 1 mile at an easy pace – 2 repeats of 1600 meters each; your time for each repeat should be 8:40 – a 800-meter recovery jog after each repeat – a cool down of about 1 mile at an easy pace

Note: Warm ups and cool downs are generally 1 mile each. But on some days, you’ll need to make them longer to reach the total distance for your run.”

Tempo Run:

I don’t know much about tempo runs but here is a quick article from Runners World that gives you the low down on what it is and why it is helpful.

 “Run a total distance of 4 Mi. Your run should include:

– a warm up of about 1 mile at an easy pace – 2 Mi at a pace of 9:09 per mile — for a total time of 18:19. – a cool down of about 1 mile at an easy pace

Note: Warm ups and cool downs are generally 1 mile each. But on some days, you’ll need to make them longer to reach the total distance for your run.”




Nutrition: Part Two

21 Feb

#2 Hitting All the Food Groups and Nutrients

This is something that we all learn in school and all we really remember is the colorful pyramid. It tells us that we need however many servings of each food group each day, but it seems like most people don’t pay attention to that or don’t do it properly. What is a serving of grains or protein really? I learned a bit about this in the nutrition course that I am taking I am implementing it into my daily routine. The USDA’s website has some really helpful resources on this topic. The USDA’s ‘Super Tracker’ page is a great resource to get an idea of the amount of different food groups and nutrients you need each day.

My Plan - Windows Internet Explorer_2013-02-20_15-12-41

The “General Plan” page with tons of helpful information on what a serving really is, what foods fit in each category and how many servings you should be having. If you make a free account with Supertracker you an get a customized plan for your individual needs as well as sample meal plans to help get all the servings you need. Which is how I have been planning my meals, which I touched on a few days ago.

My Plan - Windows Internet Explorer_2013-02-20_15-12-41

The site also has an option to track the food you eat. It’s like a lot if other calorie counting websites but it’s different because it gives a much more in depth look at all the nutrients in the food you are eating. In particular, the average calorie counting website will tell you how many calories you need to eat to lose or maintain your weight, but the ‘Food Tracker’ also tells you how many grams of carbs, protein, fat and more. And it tracks if you are hitting your recommendations for food group requirements. If you are more concerned about strict calorie counting, this isn’t the best resource because the database it pretty limited compared to sites like Lose It and My Fitness Pal, but it is great in combination with those sites.

From my experience, it seems that when we cut, cut, cut and focus all our attention on counting calories, we neglect the other nutrients that are very important for our health which may, in the long run, sabotage our efforts to lose weight and be healthy.

Bottom line, my first priority is making sure I meet the daily requirements for each food group and nutrient, above meeting a strict calorie requirement.

Day Two: Time for a Run?

21 Feb


On Wednesday’s, my workout partner and I have a pretty solid routine. Run, shower, smoothies, bible study. Emphasis on the smoothies. And the run is just a straight run. No fancy intervals or training; just run. Last week on our run we found that the gate to the local high school track that we pass is open. Not sure if it’s supposed to be, but nonetheless, we used it for our run today; that’s me in the little neon shorts. It’s not the most scenic route but the distance was accurate and we were able to go different paces without loosing eachother on the trail. The weather was great, not the usual Florida humidity and there was a little breeze. Got a solid 2 miles in and then some sprints and then lunges. Lots of lunges.

All in all, a good work out and another solid day of following my nutrition routine.

How to Breathe While Running

20 Feb

Breating While RunningThis is a very interesting article about how to improve your breathing while running from runnersworld.com. Also, if you have some time, check out the rest of this site, it has a lot of great information for runners of all levels.

“Runners think about training their heart and legs, but they rarely think about training their lungs,” says Mindy Solkin, owner and head coach of The Running Center in New York City. “A strong respiratory system can improve your running. It’s a simple equation: Better breathing equals more oxygen for your muscles, and that equals more endurance.”


Really Easy Bean and Veggie Soup

20 Feb

   I should start this with another disclaimer. I am not a professional chef but I do love to cook. So you will either think ‘Jeez, a five year old could have come up with that’ or ‘Wow, that is just delicious’. Hopefully the latter.

This is a recipe that changes every time I make it, but I do have to say this particular variation was delicious; my compliments to the chef. This recipe was born from a couple ideas; I’m pretty lazy, I need to get those veggies out of the fridge before they go bad and I have too many cans of beans. It’s one pot, one cutting board, one knife, easy. Also it’s about 170 calories, 9.9g of protein and 27.3g of carbs per cup of soup, if you are into that sort of thing. These are the ingredients but by no means do you have to follow it to a tee.

Start by heating up some olive oil and then throwing chopped onion and garlic in pot. I happened to have red onion in the fridge but yellow or white works too.photoimage

After that softens throw some veggies in there. I usually use carrots but this time I also had some zucchini in the fridge that needed to be used.Let that cook a bit and then put in the tomatoes. I usually use stewed tomatoes but I found some Rotel in the cupboard and I like spicy. If you don’t like spicy or you don’t want it super spicy (this did turn out pretty spicy with the Rotel) you can use stewed tomatoes and your own spices.


Then add the beans and chicken broth. There are some black beans and some kidney beans in there. Again I stress that you can use whatever your preference is. I use Swanson’s Reduced Sodium. If you use vegetable broth then this meal is completely vegetarian. Add your seasonings and let it come to a boil.imagephoto

Then this is the fun part. I like to use an immersion blender to make the soup a bit thicker. I like the texture of stews rather than a liquidy soup and the blender creates a happy medium. If you don’t have an immersion blender and you like it thicker, then you can mash some of the beans before you put them in the pot, also add a little less broth.photo

While that was simmering I made some croutons for the top. Yes, make them! It’s pretty simple. Just cube whatever bread you have on hand, throw some olive oil, salt, pepper and herbs on it. Then put it in the toaster oven or regular oven. I used it on broiler mode for a few minutes on each side until browned and crispy.


When the soup is at the consistency you want serve yourself a bowl with some reduced fat cheese or sour cream and homemade croutons on top!


Makes a little under 5 cups:

1-2 Tbsp. Olive Oil

1 garlic clove minced

¼ cup onion chopped

¾ cup zucchini diced

½ cup carrots diced

1 ½ cups tomatoes/Rotel

2 cups broth

1 ½ cups black beans

1 cup kidney beans

Salt, pepper, oregano to taste

Nutrition: Part One

19 Feb

I won’t bore you with my entire meal plan everyday but there are a few things that I am implementing that I hope will really improve my results. This is one of many:

#1 Multiple Small Meals

Instead of the traditional 3 meals a day, I am opting for 5 smaller meals. I have found that when I hold out for however many (endless) hours are between meals I am super hungry and tend to over eat at those meals which leaves me too full and sleepy. I now have breakfast earlier than I have in the past, a mid-morning snack, lunch, an afternoon snack and dinner, a little earlier than usual and all a little smaller than usual.

Like I said, I won’t bore you with my meal plan every day but here is a sample of a typical day:

Microsoft Excel - Meal Planning_2013-02-20_14-37-42

The colors mean nothing really. The white was just really boring. Anyways, that is essentially what I am shooting for everyday. And yes, I put the time of day I will eat that meal. Partly because of my OCD tendencies to obsessively plan everything but also because it reminds me, oh ya, I just ate an hour ago, I can wait a while before I eat again.  And the meals are not random, there is a method to the madness, which I will go into later. The main point I am trying to get across is that I am going from 3 larger meals a day to 5 smaller meals a day. This isn’t for everyone, however. I have learned from trial and error that this is probably the best way for me to eat a healthy amount and lose some weight while I’m at it.

Here is quick article about the benefits of this plan: http://www.livestrong.com/article/257130-weight-loss-benefits-of-eating-multiple-small-meals/

PS: The bean soup I had for dinner can be found here.

Day One: Again

19 Feb

I’ve probably had 10 ‘day one’s’ of a diet or exercise routine and what better way to commence my blog than with the 11th. For real though, this one of the main reasons for the existance of this blog; to keep me accountable while I work on keeping up a healthy lifestyle. So here it goes.

I started the day (the crack of dawn to be exact) with some intervals at the gym with my partner in crime/workout buddy/friend/nutrition enthuisast/personal motivator. We use the treadmill nowadays but doing them outside on a trail is just as good or better. There a bunch of great, free apps out there for interval training so you don’t have to awkwardly watch the clock for each interval. We use one that looks like this——————————————–> photo

This was today’s workout:

5 minute warm up walking at a 4.0

10 sets of 30 seconds high interval and 45 seconds low interval

First 5 sets at 8.5 high interval and 4.0 low interval and second 5 at 9.0 and 4.0 respectively

5 minute cool down at a 4.0

Some extra walking at a 4.0 speed and 4.0 incline

We finished up with some stretching and then hit the showers before we both had to go to work.


Overall, a great day. Although waking up before the sun is not usually on the top of my list of favorite things, I am much more awake and energized after I’ve woken up and worked out. This was the first day of my new ‘diet’ plan. I hesitate to call it a diet because that word has so many connotations that I don’t paticularly want to associate with what I am doing but, such is life. I will post more about that diet soon.

Thanks for reading,

Au Revoir


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