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Introducing Tuesdays With Tina!

18 Mar

Some of you who have been following me for awhile know that I run every race with my mom (maybe with the exception of 1 or 2 in the past few years).

I wanted to tell you our story, but also introduce my mom because she will be contributing some posts from time to time. Hence this post’s name! It won’t be every Tuesday, but check back on Tuesdays to see if she has written something 😉

Our Story

When I was a senior in college, I decided to start getting active and eating healthier. I gained about 10 lbs. from junior-senior year, mainly because I was eating out a lot more, and taking advantage of the buffet style eating in the dining halls.

My mom and I decided to start doing Jillian Michaels’ 30 Day Shred, and would call each other to check in and talk about our progress.

In April of 2010, we decided to run our first 5K! I had ran cross country in high school, but this was my first organized race since that time (2006). It was my first public road race too. You can tell how much of noobs we were by this picture:

We got to the start line like, 20 minutes early because we wanted to be the first ones there. Little did we know, only the fast people go in the front! 😛

Isn’t it funny how you can look back at early race pictures and tell you were new to it based on your clothing and gear? We were wearing the race shirt, and I don’t even know what shorts and sneakers I was wearing.

We finished in around 29 minutes. After that, we started running more and more races. At this point, the thought of running a half-marathon or marathon had not even crossed our minds.

Remember Soffe shorts?

Around this time was when we got my dad more into active living too. He started running a couple races with us as well.

Then I told my mom we should run a half-marathon, and she thought I was crazy. Eventually I convinced her though, and the Long Branch Half Marathon was our first!

long branch half marathon

After that…I told my mom we should run a marathon. Then she really thought I was crazy. But I somehow convinced her to do that too. We decided to fundraise for the Christoper Reeve Foundation, and entered the New York City Marathon. Here’s my recap of our first NYC Marathon…we both couldn’t believe we did it!

nyc marathon 2011

There were a couple half-marathons in between as well. But yeah, 2011 was the year we truly fell in love with running. This past year, we ran the New York City Marathon again (<-recap), and using Hansons Marathon Method, PRed by 33 minutes! Here’s our video recap if you like those…I like to think it captures both us running, but the amazing spectators and spirit of the marathon!

What’s Next?

Currently, we haven’t really been running or training for anything. But we gotta get our butt in gear because we want to do the NYRR 9+1 program to get in for the 2015 NYC Marathon! We also have a half-marathon in July while we are away in Paraguay. I’d also like to break my 5K PR.

So what was the point of this post? I wanted to share with you all how special running is for me and my mom. We have gone through it all with running, and it’s amazing to have someone to motivate you, as well as someone to listen to you talk about running all the time 😉

I also wanted to introduce you guys to my mom. She has played an instrumental role in my fitness life, and I know she will have some great things to share with you as well.

So without further ado…say hello to my mom! Please leave a comment with any questions that you may have for her! She’s a mom, runner, lifter…she may be able to provide some insight and experience that I cant. The next post will be her words and not mine!

Do you exercise with loved ones?

If you’re a runner, when was your first race?

Did you ever wear soffe shorts? 😛

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Interview With Olympian Jenny Simpson!

4 Mar

I am so excited for this post! I reached out to Jenny after we had shared some tweets back and forth about running related things, and she agreed to do an interview through email for my readers!

For those of you who may not know Jenny Simpson, here’s a quick bio from her website:

Two-time Olympian Jenny (Barringer) Simpson has returned to CU to train with Mark Wetmore and Heather Burroughs and will serve as a volunteer assistant with the Buffs for her second year.

Simpson won the 2011 IAAF World Championship in the 1,500, winning in 4:05.40 to become the first American since another former Buff, Mary Decker Slaney, won in 1983. In 2013, she narrowly missed defending her world title as she finished second overall.

Here’s a great pic from that World Championship race:

I had met her in 2012 after the 5th Avenue Mile…she is so nice and down to earth!

This past year, she won the 5th Avenue Mile in around 4:18 I believe…Can I be that fast?

Okay, without further ado, here is her interview:

What race/s are you currently training for? Do you have a goal race in sight?

I’m currently training for the outdoor season. Most of my season will consist of Diamond League races which is the highest level competition circuit for professionals. I can’t wait to get started! I’m really focusing on trying to lower some of my PRs this year. After all these years, I am still looking for ways to improve and get a little bit faster.

How many miles per week are you currently running?

The winter is when I do the bulk of my mileage. I’m not racing on the weekends yet and I’m building up a solid aerobic foundation before the intense track sessions begin. So I’m running about 70 miles per week right now.

What would you say is the most important thing for recovery? (stretching, foam rolling, icing, etc.)

SLEEP!!!!

What does your daily nutrition look like? Do you count calories to make sure you’re eating enough given how much you train?

I don’t count calories and I don’t follow a specific or strict diet. I do make decisions about my meals and food in order to maximize nutrition but at the foundation, this can be as simple as choosing an orange for a snack instead of Oreos. We all know the basics of what food will fuel us and often those foods are excellent at filling us! My basic recipe is to eat when I’m hungry, choose good foods, cook for myself as often as I can, and at the end of the day, end on a sweet note.

How often do you strength train? Could you give us insight as to how many sets and reps you typically do? Is it with heavier weight or lighter weight? Total body or mostly focused on core work?

I am in the weight room two times a week and most of the work I do in there is body weight, lower reps. There are certainly some weighted exercises but they’re not high weight. The emphasis for me in the weight room is to supplement and strengthen my running. That means a focus on injury prevention, range of motion, flexibility, and balance.

Favorite core exercises?

I don’t think you can beat planks! They are the perfect core workout in my opinion because everyone can start out at their own level of difficulty and advance from there. The important thing to remember is that your body only adapts when it’s being challenged. So if you can hold a front plank for five minutes, congratulations but now you need to change it up so it’s more challenging. Try side planks, single leg planks, or add some weight, and always remember to have perfect form. No cheating 🙂

What advice would you give to someone who has been running for a few years (and does speed work/hill work etc.) and wants to get faster?

First, I would warn them that I don’t coach people, so my advice is worth what they’re paying for it! But from my own experience I would first advise someone stuck in a rut to either join a running group or get together with a coach. Motivation and guidance has been such a huge key to my success and even meeting people for runs can be such a fun lift during the week and I’m always getting good ideas from my training partners and coaches. It’s also useful to have people to push you on days that you need to challenge yourself and people to slow you down and chat with on recovery days. Half of the fun in running is the social side!

What was your worst injury/how long were you out/ how did you deal with it?

I’ve struggled with stress reactions in my femur. I’m not sure why that seems to by my weak link but I sat out my Freshman indoor season in college because of it and in 2010 ended my first professional season early because of the same issue. I have found that the best way to deal with a major injury is to own it and immediately work on getting 100% healthy. I could have limped on in “training through my injury” in both cases but as a college runner and pro, I was surrounded by wise people who encouraged me to put my heath first. Due to that wisdom and not dragging out the attempt to train while injured, in both cases I bounced back quickly and more successfully. My Freshman outdoor season, five months after my injury, I won my first NCAA championship in the steeplechase and 2011 I won the World Championships in South Korea.

Going along with that, do you cross train to avoid injury? Or only cross train if you’re injured?

I don’t cross train on a regular basis. Mostly that’s because I train full time and when I’m not running, I’m recovering. I think cross training can be an excellent supplement though and I wouldn’t advise others to rule it out. I have just found a good running/recovery balance for my own career that doesn’t incorporate the bike or pool.

How do you motivate yourself on days where you really don’t feel like running?

This happens more than you would think. I absolutely love to race and I live for the days that I’m in great shape and I head out on a sunny day and everything in the universe feels right. But those kinds of days are special. On a day when I’m sore from the previous workout, have a busy day ahead, and the weather is lousy, I need motivation like everyone else! The easiest way for me to get out the door is meeting my teammates. If we wake up to snow its a guarantee my teammate’s phones are gonna ring with me on the other end! My other solid motivation is just feeling accountable to the team of people that support my running career and the blessing that I get to race for a living! There are so many people that support me that never get the spotlight. I owe it to my them to muster up a few hours of training even on lousy days.

In a race, do you have any mantras that you go to when your legs and lungs are getting tired? How do you fight through the pain?

Especially when I’m deep into a race and I start to doubt I always think to myself “you’ve come so far, don’t throw out that hard work now!” Every race you invest so much throughout the whole distance. You never know what could happen and why throw away 4000 meters of work when you only have 1000 meters to go! Just keep pressing and see what happens!

Favorite post-race meal?

The first thing in sight! haha. I’m fortunate that I’m not a picky eater. When I finish a race it is often not about wanting a lot of food or specific food, it is about getting to a meal as soon as possible! If I could have anything though, I would probably go for mexican (but again, maybe that’s because they bring out tortilla chips right away!)

Do you get black toenails? 😛

This winter has been a bear and so I’ve had to wear snow cleats on my shoes. They’re kind of tight and they have given me so many back toenails! Pedicures are a must. But usually, no, I don’t get black toenails. If you do, consider trying a half size larger shoe or going to your local running store to get a professional shoe fitting. You might be able to end those black toenails and try a lighter spring shade of nail polish at your next pedicure!

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I can’t believe I got to chat with a professional runner, and I’m even more excited to share it with all of you!

What questions would you want to ask an elite runner?

Do you do any of the things Jenny talks about?

If you could interview any athlete, who would it be?

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Track Workouts 101

13 Feb

Just got back in from shoveling 10 or more inches of snow…and am exhausted. I usually write 2 posts a day but this morning was hectic.

Right now I can’t even imagine running outside (too snowy, too icy, too cold), but it’s never too early to start thinking about track workouts!

trackworkouts

If you’re training for any sort of spring race, track workouts can help you increase your speed, strength and stamina. You can easily do these on the roads or treadmills too, but I do feel more hardcore doing them on a track 😉

Basics

If you’ve never run on the track before, here are some basics:

  • People usually run counter-clockwise. I’d say it’s okay to run clockwise but only in the outermost lanes. If you will be doing lots of laps, switch directions every few laps if there aren’t that many people.
  • If there are faster people, run in the 2nd or 3rd lane. If you’re one of those faster people, just yell out “On your left” as you run up behind people so they will move out of your way.
  • I’m sure everyone knows this, but each curve and each straightaway is 100 meters. A whole lap is 400 meters. 4 laps around the track is a mile.

Workouts

If you’ve never done a track workout, there’s no need to make it complicated. The great thing about the track is that it is a measured distance, so you know exactly how far you have gone. Always start with a good warm-up. I usually jog for half a mile to a mile before starting, and cool-down with half a mile to a mile.

Here’s a good workout to start with-one that I have had my dad do when he occasionally runs with us:

  • Run 100 meters (the straightaway) at a brisk pace (not necessarily a sprint, but faster than a run…should be comfortably hard).
  • Jog/walk 100 meters (curve).
  • Repeat for however long you want to run.

Or another variation of that:

  • Run 200 meters (straightaway + curve) at a brisk pace.
  • Jog/walk 100 meters
  • Repeat for however long you want to run.

Once you feel comfortable here are a few workouts you can try out, depending on your goals. Shorter distances at faster speeds will be better for 5k training, and longer distances will be better for half or full marathon training.

The Simple Workout

  • Run 400 meters (1 lap) at 5K effort.
  • Rest for however long it took you to run 1 lap. Active rest though-walk or jog.
  • Repeat 5-10 times depending on your abilities. Start with 5 and work your way up to 10.

Little Bit Longer Now

  • Run 600 meters (1.5 laps) at 5K effort.
  • Rest for however long it took you to run 1.5 laps.
  • Repeat 3-6 times depending on your abilities.

Ladder

  • Run 100 meters FAST (but not all out sprint-we want to preserve form here).
  • Rest 1 minute
  • Run 200 meters fast.
  • Rest 2 minutes
  • Run 400 meters at 5K effort.
  • Rest 3-4 minutes
  • Work your way back down

Work On That Stamina

  • Run 800 meters at 10K effort, or at a comfortable hard pace. You should be able to finish the 800 meters, and have enough in the tank to repeat it. Definitely not going all out here.
  • Rest 3-4 minutes
  • Repeat 2-3 times.

Takin’ It Back To Gym Class

  • Go to the track. Warm up with an easy mile or half mile.
  • Run 1 mile as fast as you can.
  • Cool-down. Note your time, try this next month and see if you improved.

I love track workouts and can’t wait to get back to it once it gets warmer out.

If you can’t make it to the track now, you can easily do these on the treadmill too. Just make sure not to choose a pace that is too fast for you, because that can lead to overstriding and injuries.

Which of these do you want to try?

Do you have a favorite running workout? Track? Tempo run? Fartleks?

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Should You Bandit A Race?

11 Feb

Have you heard of banditing a race? Race bandits run races but do not pay the registration fee. It’s possible they may use race support (water, etc.), but some don’t since they didn’t “pay for it.”

There are lots of reasons someone may “bandit” a race.

  • Helping to pace a friend.
  • Using the race as a training run.
  • Perhaps the race is out of their budget.
  • Race is sold out, but they want to use it as a training run or run with a friend, etc.etc.

So What’s The Big Deal?

racebandit

I honestly didn’t think much about race bandits until I started reading the controversial view points. It seems it’s like politics: everyone has an opinion, and you probably won’t change anyone’s mind about how they feel. Is it ethical? Unethical?

Below I will discuss the viewpoints I have found, and which one I tend to agree with.

It’s Bad-Never Do It

Plenty of runners are against race bandits, and believe you should never do this, no matter the circumstances. The point of a race may be to raise funds for a charity or organization, and you’re just deciding not to pay. I posted on a Facebook group and here’s what one runner had to say:

I’m opposed to Race bandits. With all the planning and costs that go into planning and executing a race and many of the race proceeds goes to a charity, I think its disrespectful to bandit a race.

Basically, if you plan on running it, you should pay for it. Or how about the fact that unknown runners on the course could be dangerous? Carey Pinkowski, the Chicago Marathon race director, pointed this out in a Runner’s World article.

He stressed that the risk to the race organizers was not one person drinking sugar water he didn’t pay for, but an unknown number of people on the course, cumulatively taking up space and resources, with no ID, no way to know their medical history, and no way to track them.

Each unregistered runner, Carey said, is an additional strain on resources, and each one on the course puts them closer to not being able to manage the event. “We forecast all our allotted resources, fluids, security, medical personnel, against a certain number of participants.”

Here’s a very sarcastic (and kinda funny) letter to bandits from Competitor. Last point that I’ve read a lot is, if one person does it, then nothing is stopping multiple people from doing it, and when does it stop?

It’s Fine-Who Cares

This is probably the least common opinion, but these people are okay with bandits. One may think, why do I need to pay 30-40 bucks for a 5K? Just for the t-shirt? I can make a donation of my choice to the organization, and run 3.1 miles if I want to! It’s not illegal to do so. If you don’t care what people think, then who cares? Plus, how much of the water or bananas and bagels get thrown out at the end anyway? Is it really a big deal if one person takes a cup of water?

I actually tried doing a Google search for “race bandit ok” and variations but couldn’t find much. If you feel this way, please leave me a comment, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

It Depends On The Situation

I would say I fall in this camp. It really depends. If I need to do a long run this Sunday, and there happens to be a half-marathon in my town, I don’t see anything wrong with jumping in for a few miles BUT not taking any support (gels, water, etc.). I’m only going to be on the course for a few miles, and certainly don’t plan on crossing the finish. I’d never jump in a race and take a medal I did not deserve.

I’m also okay with people jumping into pace their friends. Dan jumped in for the last 3 miles of the NYC Marathon in 2011 and I really needed that. My mom and I ran 1 mile of a local 4 mile race because we were out on a run, and I wanted to run for a bit with a friend. Though we did make sure to stay on the sidewalk while they were on the roads.

Here’s an opinion posted on Google+:

I think it depends. If the organizer is raising money for, let’s say, the Make-a-Wish foundation, it’s wack to jump in for free. If it’s a race sponsored by a bank, insurance company, or for any personal financial gain, you can bandit it all day long.

I don’t foresee myself ever starting and finishing an entire race without paying, but I do think there are situations where it’s not as big of a deal…but that’s just me!

Also, did you know that the Boston Marathon (begrudgingly) lets race bandits start the race in dead last and run the course? Although this year they are really discouraging it, according to this article in Runner’s World:

Do you anticipate a greater than usual number of bandits for 2014? 

D.M.: We truly hope not. We really want to discourage unregistered participants this year more than ever given lack of space and the level of security that most likely will be present. This is the year to cheer on those who have earned the right to be here. Soon we will be announcing our plans for other race weekend events, which will give others an opportunity to participate.

T.G.: We will ask for everyone’s cooperation in not diminishing the experience for those who have properly entered–as well as not overburdening our support systems–by running unofficially. We anticipate a high degree of cooperation, just as we have received an immense degree of support from everyone in so many other areas in recent months.

What do you think about race bandits? 

Which viewpoint do you agree with the most and why?

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Half-Marathon Training?

7 Feb

Okay so I mentioned in my post about possible races that I want to run the Asbury Park Half…well, try to! It’s at the end of April, so I think it’s totally feasible. I should probably start running more though…

I have done a handful of treadmill runs since November, but last weekend was the first time I ran outside. 2 miles was a struggle! So pathetic 😛

But I’m ready to get back in shape and chase a half marathon PR for this year.

I Google-ed “how to BQ” or something like that, out of curiosity. I would love to have a Boston Qualifier someday, though I know it’s a long ways off. But that doesn’t mean I can’t start working towards it now.

Can you tell I love someecards?

One of the things I found was that in order to get a faster, average pace, training for a faster 5K can help. I wish I could find the link again, but now I can’t seem to find it.

Last year was basically all marathon training, and while there were speed workouts, I doubt I would have had a 5K PR. I would like to try this methodology out this year, and see if it helps me get a 5K PR and a half marathon PR!

The training plan includes a long run, hill run and tempo run each week, along with easy runs. I would like to continue lifting regularly, so I will probably cut a run-day out for a lifting day. Since I’m not training for a marathon or anything this year, I think I have more leeway to experiment with different things.

Here are the first 2 weeks of this training plan I found by Mario Fraioli:

5k training plan

Currently, I’m just working on re-building my base because I highly doubt I can run for 60 minutes right now. I have done the hill workout though because I love doing hill workouts on the treadmill, and it makes it way less boring.

I’d like to run easy for 2-3 weeks before starting the plan. We’ll see where it takes me! I like trying out new things and seeing how they work. I was very scared to try out Hansons Marathon Method but I loved it and definitely plan on using it again the next time I’m marathon training.

Also-side note-do you guys use Daily Mile to track your mileage? Or a good ol’ fashioned notebook? If you use a notebook, how do you break you run down? I was using an excel sheet but don’t know how to reformat it for a new year, so I will have to start using something else.

What are you training for in the near future?

Do you want to BQ? Is it going to happen sooner or later for you? Hopefully I can get there one day!

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ENERGYbits Review

4 Feb

I have been meaning to write this post for a few weeks, but wanted to try Energy Bits both before a workout, and just in general when I’m in need of energy.

But first, for those of you who haven’t heard of Energy Bits, you may be wondering what the heck I’m talking about. Here’s some information that their brand manager, Jonathan, gave to me:

ENERGYbits is a new Boston based sports nutrition company. ENERGYbits have the highest concentration of protein in the world and deliver a steady stream of energy, all naturally and all without sugar, caffeine, chemicals or stomach distress. Even better, ENERGYbits are the only protein in the world that also contain natural antioxidants and Omega 3 which reduce muscle inflammation, iron which prevents fatigue, chlorophyll which builds the immune system and electrolytes which replenish mineral imbalances, all for just one calorie per tab. No other protein offers all this.

ENERGYbits are all natural too, because they are a food, not a supplement. They have just one ingredient – 100% organically grown spirulina algae. Algae has been used by Olympic athletes for over 50 years, but is still virtually unknown in the USA and Canada.

I was excited to try them out before workouts. The first time I used them before a leg workout. I was feeling tired after work, and it was the perfect time to try them. I must say, I felt consistent energy throughout the workout, and totally forgot I was tired!

The second time I used them was before the Stadium Series, when I had to be up early. I forget why I was so tired, but I didn’t get a good night’s sleep, and knew it would be a long day. While I did need a cup of coffee later (mainly because it was so cold!), I felt nice and awake for the long drive.

What I love about this product is that it’s a natural way to gain energy, as opposed to taking pre-workout supplements or drinking a lot of coffee. I’m skeptical about a lot of pre-workout drinks but I’ll save that for another post.

Here is the nutritional breakdown of ENERGYbits compared to other stuff:

energybits nutrition

One main question I had was how do you take this for long distance runs. Specifically, do you take them in conjunction with gels, or instead of gels, or before a run or during a run? Here’s the answer I got from Jonathan:

 I eat bits prior to a run (and during) instead of gels, but when going longer than 90 minutes I’ll add in another source of calories usually from a whole food based bar – I like Raw Revolution and Organic Food Bar in addition to Pocket Fuel, which is a nut-butter pouch, again with all real ingredients.

The energy gained is different than gels, in that it doesn’t give you a surge, but there’s also no crash – more of a steady boost!
I’ll have to make sure to remember this when I start training for a half marathon again!
Here are a few other things I noticed about ENERGYbits:
  • There is a greeny/fishy smell but that is expected considering it’s algae. Just don’t stick your nose in the container if it bothers you 😉
  • I have only swallowed them but you can chew them too, though the container says that it will taste pretty “green.”
  • They are really small, so I am able to swallow 2-3 at a time, which is convenient since one serving is about 30 tabs!

energybits

  • I had the serving size (30) once, and took about 15 the second time, but still noticed an increase in energy.
  • Cost is $115.00 for 1,000 tabs, but considering it is an all-natural product, I believe it’s way worth it rather than spending on pre-workout supplements and drinks.

ENERGYbits are only available at ENERGYbits.com, and Jonathan (their Brand Manager) has shared with me that he’d be happy to connect anyone with a current ambassador to share a discount on a bag of bits – you can email him at jlevitt@energybits.com.

I plan on using these once I do longer runs, so I will keep you updated on how they work for long distance fueling!

Disclaimer: I was provided a sample of ENERGYbits, but all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Have you tried ENERGYbits? What type of fuel do you use before workouts or for long runs?

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Runners And Superstitions

4 Feb

Runners, and athletes in general, can be a superstitious bunch. Many have their routines they have to follow before a race, or things they need to eat or wear. I was curious as to what people would say their superstitions were, so I did a little social media poll 😉

I don’t think I have any serious superstitions, but here are a few:

  • I need to eat the same dinner the night before a race, and breakfast the morning of. Usually dinner is chicken, veggies and a sweet potato/rice, and breakfast is oatmeal and 2 hardboiled eggs.
  • I have certain sports bras, shirts and shorts I wear for races.
  • I’ll look at my bib number and if it’s an odd number, I hate it (lol random).

Here are some superstitions people shared with me on Google+:

  • Alex H.-  I don’t shave my face for long runs,like in a week I’m doing a 50 k, I’m looking a bit like santa:-)
  • Nicole H.- I have to be chewing mint gum 🙂
  • Kevin R.- Race day breakfast is a bagel with peanut butter and honey
  • Pedro G.- I wear the same (material) shorts and shirt I train in to race…. gotta have gum… it calms me down. I also wear my dogtags that I’ve had since 1988.
  • Guiseppe M.- I don’t shave my face until the day before the race!
  • Kyoochan C.- I always wear the blue rubber band that my son gave on my right wrist.
  • Derrick J.- I pray before every run. For safety and enjoyment sake.
  • Patty W.- The type socks I train in for a race are the ones I wear @ race

And Twitter:

It’s funny how everyone has their own “superstitions” or that some runners don’t have any at all. Oh, and one of mine is that I always wear my hair in a bun to run 🙂

Do you have running superstitions? Or superstitions in general? Share them in the comments!

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