sneaker∙therapy

I talk to God on the road. And He talks back.


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Recent Eats: Blue Apron

AM Run

I’m always amazed at how a run can feel so crappy one day, and awesome the next (or vice versa). I struggled through an easy four mile run two days ago, and then knocked my 10 X 400 meter speedwork session out of the park yesterday. Made the 5:40 AM alarm worth it.

I do the early wakeup about 3 days a week now, and it’s still hard not to stay in bed when my alarm goes off. To make it a little easier in the morning, I do what everybody else does and have everything ready to go the night before – clothes on the dresser to grab and change in the bathroom (so I don’t wake Mike by turning on the light) and gym bag loaded with music, headphones, water and a pre-workout snack by the door.

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I also remind myself that running in the morning makes me feel awesome for the rest of the day, and that every run (even the easy ones) is improving my running form and strength and will pay off in races next year. And if that doesn’t work, I just start moving and ignore the voice in my head pleading with me to go back to bed…it usually shuts up after a mile or two ;)

First Time: Blue Apron

I signed up with Blue Apron in early November, thinking it would be a fun way to prepare meals when my sister and mom came to town. But it wasn’t going to arrive in time and we kept cancelling the weeks after, so we didn’t actually end up getting a delivery until last week. We got the Beef on Weck Sandwiches, Chicken Schnitzel, and Shrimp and Mustard Green Laing, and were really impressed with the packaging and quality of ingredients.

1204141357a 1204141643There are tons of Blue Apron reviews by other bloggers, so I’ll keep mine short with just our likes and dislikes.

Likes:

- Reasonably priced at $9.99 a serving

- Flexibility and choices – it is a subscription service, but you can cancel delivery for the weeks you don’t like the food/ can’t cook/ have other plans or whatever, and there are 6 meal options  (3 of them vegetarian) to choose your 3 meals from

- Items came very well packaged, all ingredients fresh

- Meals were easy to prepare and instructions were clear – none took longer than 45 min or so
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– Inclusion of unusual ingredients that we had never used before (like bagoong – a Philippine fermented product)
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– Meals were pretty tasty – our favorites were the Shrimp and Mustard Green Laing and Chicken Schnitzel1204141739a 1215141833
No real dislikes here, but it’s hard to find three meals that I want to make because I’ve become a strangely picky eater over the last year (in these recipes, I didn’t like the weck bread, beef, or watercress.  No explanation). It’s just easier (and cheaper!) to find one recipe I know I’ll like and make a huge batch of it in the beginning of the week.  All the same, I think we’ll be ordering the service every now and again when the menu looks good – it’s an easy way to add healthy variety to our dinner line-up.

Has anyone else become a pickier eater over time? I can’t eat much seafood or meat unless it’s “hidden” in my food now…or fried.


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{Race Recap} 12Ks of Christmas

I had every intention of posting a few more times last week and a weekend recap yesterday…but after taking my final on Thursday, I’ve been enjoying my freedom and doing very little in the evenings. I had big plans of tackling all sorts of projects between now and mid-January (start of spring semester), but it’s looking like the only thing I’m going to finish right now is The West Wing ;)

Anyway, weekend recap here – starting with my latest favorite meal, which Mike brought home after work on Friday – pho! It’s all I want to eat these days when we eat out. It was good fuel for my race on Saturday (recap later in this post).1212141753 1212141753a
Some more weekend eats – Saturday brunch after the race at Liberty Tavern in Courthouse. $20 for the buffet, and I thought the spread was pretty decent (Farmers Fishers Bakers is better though). I went for the fried chicken and pizza and several glasses of their hot mulled cider. I have a juice problem lately.1213141248a 1213141248
Sunday was cooking day – I made turkey frittata (with frozen leftover Txgiving turkey), ham soup, oatmeal jam cookies, and I also chopped up veggies for snacks and toppings for salads.1214141405aI felt exhausted all day Sunday, and ended up taking a two hour nap shortly after breakfast (this never happens!!), but recovered enough by the afternoon to go out for a run. I wasn’t sure how my legs would feel after the race, but I wanted to get in a good distance run to continue to build my mileage. The first few miles were really tough (and it was windy!), but my legs actually felt great after warming up. I ended up running 8 miles, bringing my total to 27 for the week.

12Ks of Christmas Recap

Okay, rewinding a bit now – Saturday began with my first real race since my marathon in May! I knew I wasn’t in the best running shape since I’ve only been running regularly since early November, but I really wanted to run one more race this year to motivate myself to train. The 12Ks of Christmas in DC sounded perfect- small, very low key, and an automatic PR, thanks to the unusual distance!

My goals for the race:

A – just finish! Especially after my DNF at the Rock and Stroll 10K in November

B - Maintain a 9:00 or faster pace, making the race a decent tempo run

C - Maintain an 8:42 pace, right around my 10K PR

The race had a 5K and 12K distance, so the 12K didn’t start till 9:45. I relished the late start – no 5 AM race day wake-up! I rolled out of bed around 7, ate leftover pho for breakfast, and left the house around 8:30 to get to packet pick-up.

Nothing like a holiday race to get you in the Christmas spirit!1213140921a 1213140920 1213140920a
There was also a “Miss Vietnam DC” contestant near the staging area in full running gear, complete with makeup and sash. I’m really curious as to whether she ran and what she looked like at the end of the race ;)

The race was an out and back on the C&O Canal running path. While the race was small (~400 runners?), the path was pretty narrow and it took me a while to settle into my pace. The path is unpaved, so I had to pay attention to where my feet were going to avoid stumbling on a rock or stepping in a puddle. I honestly didn’t mind the distractions – it made the miles go by faster! Pace-wise, I decided to shoot for a conservative 9:00 pace for the first mile, and then hopefully run each mile 5-10 seconds faster. Worked out just fine for the first 4 miles: 8:57, 8:49, 8:46, 8:45.

But around mile 5 after the turn-around point, I could feel myself start to flag. I refueled with a gel but my legs were getting tired and continuing to slow down. At that point, I told myself to just to hang on to sub-9 for each mile and find rabbits (slightly faster runners) to chase. My worst mile was mile 7 where I stopped to walk several times, but I managed to talk myself into running the last half mile and sprinting across the finish. Miles 5- 7.5 paces: 8:58, 8:54, 9:31, 8:54 (last half mile)

Final time: 1:06:14 (8:50 pace)

Long-sleeve tech shirts given out at the end!1213141604
I was definitely pleased that I finished and managed my B goal. The only way to chase away a bad race (my DNF in mind) is to run another one and run it well. I think I can significantly drop my 10K/12K time in the spring after a few months of regular training, but this was a great effort for my first race back. I also realized that I definitely need to build in longer pace/ tempo runs to practice maintaining that faster pace.

My favorite part about this race was the eggnog/ cider at the finish line. I snagged two cups of cider before attempting the walk to the car.1213140921
Overall, a great race. Logistics wise, parking was easy to find (lots of parking garages near Water Street in DC) but a little far away, and though I didn’t need one, there were only 3 port-o-potties (that I saw) for 400+ people. Staging area was small, bag drop was unguarded (my stuff was fine), but I really like small low-key races so I’d probably do it again.


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Recent Eats (Winter Edition)

Hey friends,

It’s been a while since I posted a meal round-up on here, so I thought I’d hop-to and post some pictures of what we’ve been eating and recipes we’ve liked for your meal inspiration.  Starting with breakfast, of course…
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{breakfast} Now that the weather is cold, I want something warm for breakfast, so I’ve been making big batches of oatmeal during the weekend and eating them throughout the week.  Recent batches have included pumpkin pie oats, sweet potato oats, apple oats, and cranberry oats (mixed in Txgiving leftover cranberry sauce after cooking). I switch up the veggie/fruit I add each week to keep from getting bored.
[2014 Nov] Food Roundup1
{lunch} This is usually a rice or noodle-based bowl these days – it’s just fast to assemble on the weekends and reheat throughout the week. One of my favorites was a (somewhat) Mexican-inspired brown rice bowl – I sautéed kale, sweet potato and black beans in a pan, added salsa and served on top of brown rice with shredded cheese on top. I’ll devour just about anything with salsa and cheese! The soba noodles (loosely followed this recipe from smitten kitchen) was excellent as well. And kale salads still occasionally make their way into the lunch rotation – kale’s still in prime growing season!
[2014 Nov] Food Roundup
{dinner} I’ve been in a soup-for-dinner mood lately, and thankfully Mike is on board. We’ve had shrimp and chorizo stew (great way to use up a bag of kale), roasted butternut squash soup (this recipe from Chow is my favorite – made it for mom and Sister J when they came in Nov), Korean seaweed soup (aka miyeok gook), and chicken matzo ball soup, which is a staple in our house when someone’s sick.

What’s one meal you’ve been making/ eating a lot lately?

What do you eat when you get sick with a cold? Soup, OJ, and lots of salty snacks for some reason…


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{Training Update} All the Compression Gear

Weekend

Mike and I enjoyed a fairly chill weekend; we both had to study for finals =\ The most exciting thing we did was check out the new Safeway that opened on King Street last Friday – I’ve been eagerly awaiting this store’s re-opening because the store looked huge! Thanks to a bunch of promos they’re running right now, the parking lot was a nightmare, but they had a ton of samples in store – I must have eaten a pound of cheese and prosciutto in the deli department. My two favorite finds:

1208140640aYep, I’m back on the jerky train and that popcorn is just as tasty as it looks.

We also had another date at the Curious Grape’s wine/ cheese bar – I think it might become a regular thing! I’m currently studying like mad for my last final on Thursday, and then I have 5 weeks off till my next semester starts! I’m brainstorming ways to use my copious free time and will probably end up bringing massive amounts of baked goods to the office and reading a book a day. Or just catching up on Scandal ;) (we’re finally on season 4!)

Training Update (Nov 23-Dec 7)

Anyway, workouts! Last two weeks have gone fairly well; I took a step-back week during Thanksgiving, followed by a solid week of training last week.

workout log 1

Tue: 3 miles on treadmill, core workout (FitnessBlender)

Wed: 8 X 400 meter speed workout (working intervals at 7:47 pace, 90 sec recovery) – my speedwork day might be my favorite workout each week; I love 400 repeats because the pain lasts less than 2 minutes! I had some arch pain during the last interval during this workout, so I cut it short – better safe than sorry. I think my Kinvaras don’t have enough support for my foot; I’ll probably use them for a few more weeks and then donate them.

Thr: 4 easy miles with Mel – I love running with Mel, but my legs were not having it today after yesterday’s speedwork. Thankfully, Mel didn’t abandon me when I asked to stop for the 50th time :)

workout log 2

Mon: 3 miles on treadmill, core workout

Tue: 4 miles on treadmill

Wed: 9 X 400 meter speed workout (working intervals at 7:47 pace, 90 sec recovery) – I broke the 9 repeats down into sets of 4, 4, and 1, and took a slightly longer break (2 min vs 90 sec) in between sets. I’ve never done more than 8 repeats of anything, so this helped make the workout feel much more manageable (“oh, just two left in the set” vs “seven more repeats to go!!”). Another core workout afterwards.

Thr/Fri: rest days

Sat: 4 miles @ 10K pace (8:45 target) – I can tell that my running fitness has vastly improved over the last couple of weeks; I couldn’t do 2 miles at 10K pace just a few weeks ago. Aside from stopping 2-3 times during the last mile, this pace run went great and was a big confidence boost for my coming 12K. Followed by my third core workout of the week #absofsteel

Sun: 11 miles @ 9:44 pace – Best run of the week. I went out on Sunday afternoon after church and ran down 4 Mile Run to the Mt Vernon Trail. A meditative run – the miles just flew by and I never turned my music on.

I’ve been dealing with some shin soreness since my interval run on Weds, which is completely new for me so I don’t know whether it’s shin splints or just muscle soreness =\ I wore compression socks for Sat and Sunday’s runs, which seemed to help me (literally) hold it together.

I’m hoping this is just a temporary thing that will go away as my legs adjust to the higher mileage, but in the meantime, I’ve been wearing compression socks at home and while running. I have two pairs of PRO marathon socks, and I ordered a pair of CEP calf sleeves on Amazon to test out on my next long run as well. We’ll see how it goes – thankfully I’m not in pain (just sore), so I think I can keep running for the present.

Have you dealt with shin splints? How did you get rid of them?


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{Run Tip} Base Building

Hey friends,

Yesterday was package day at our apartment! All the Black Friday purchases are coming home to roost, lol.  We unwrapped our first Christmas gift as well – my gift to Mike was too big to sit around unopened, and I wanted him to be able to use it right away.

I got him a new desk chair! His old one has been falling apart for years, so I had been eyeing this one for a while and snapped it up when it went on flash sale during Black Friday.  Mike loved it, but this one was actually my first choice. Yep, you can literally buy The Iron Throne for the cheap, cheap price of $30,000 (shipping extra) – which begs the question, why are so many people in Westeros fighting over it?

Anyway, today I wanted to talk about base building before starting a training cycle, which is what I’m doing now.

Base Building Tips

Every year since I started running (3 years now!), I’ve always taken a break after completing a major training cycle and finishing a big goal race.

In 2012 – took 3 months off after Oct marathon
In 2013 – took Oct off, Nov/ Dec easy after a long half marathon training cycle
In 2014 – took Jun/ Jul off, Aug – Oct easy after May marathon

I find that taking time off helps prevent running burn-out (physically and mentally) and lets me focus on other fun fitness activities like Zumba, rock-climbing, and HIIT. Then, several weeks prior to my next training cycle, I focus on building my running base again.

Base building, as you might expect from the name, is primarily about building up running mileage prior to a training cycle.  It’s important not to go into a training cycle “cold”, if you will, because you don’t want to jump from running 0 miles to 15/ 20/ 30 miles a week.  If you’re 4-8 weeks away from starting a training cycle like I am, these tips are for you! My focus below is on building mileage slowly and safely to prevent injury.

Building Mileage: If you really haven’t been running during your time “off”, start low with your weekly mileage (10 miles with 3 runs of 3-4 miles in duration is usually where I start) and increase by no more than 10% each week, which usually means adding a mile or two each week to one of the runs. I plan my mileage increases on a spreadsheet because my knees are quick to tell me if I’ve built my mileage too fast!

- The first run I start building in length is my weekend long run, usually by a mile a week. The long run is so important for improving running form and building endurance, and will help you get mentally prepared for the longer runs down the road. It’s also my favorite run of the week!

- Every couple of weeks, you can add another short run (2 miles) to increase your number of running days till you hit your sweet spot (mine is 5).

- You might be tempted to build your mileage fast – this can be a fast track to injury when your muscles and joints aren’t adapted for running yet. Add cross-training like cycling or stairmaster instead (or pool running!) if you want to train more.

- Build till your weekly mileage matches (or slightly exceeds) the first week of your training plan. For example, my training plan in early January starts at 27 miles, so I’d like to be running about 30 miles by the end of December so that I’m able to comfortably handle the early weeks of training.

Easy Running: I recommend keeping all runs really easy at first to get your body used to the motions of running again. After a few weeks, you can do some speedwork on one of your running days – I like doing faster speedwork during my base building like 400 meter repeats, which aren’t usually prescribed during marathon training.

Core/ Strength: In addition to running, this is also a great time to focus on core/ strength exercises to ensure your body is in good shape before starting the training cycle. I know that once I start marathon training, core work is the first to fall off my plate, so I’m currently doing 20-30 min of core work, 3 times a week using Fitness Blender videos.

Experiment Now: This is also the time where I try out new training techniques/ methods/ gear (like orthotics or new styles of running shoes) to see if they have a place during the training cycle. Not that I don’t try anything new later – but anything that could take some time to get used to – do it here.

Feel free to add in step-back weeks (where you decrease your mileage temporarily) to give yourself a break as necessary, and always listen to your body – the last thing you want during base-building (or ever) is an injury that will prevent you from training for your race!

Additional Resources

How to Build a Proper Running Base (Competitor) - great advice for beginning (and not beginner) runners

5 Ways to Build Your Running Base (Active)

Build Your Best Training Base (Runner’s World) - great day-by-day plan


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Black Friday “Damage” + #MondayMotivation

I can’t believe it’s December already – this year really flew by! I also can’t believe the relatively mild weather we’re enjoying here in DC; it’s hitting 67 today and will continue to be in the 50s for most of this week (with the exception of tomorrow – apparently “ice pellets” are in store, lovely).

My wallet got through Black Friday/ Cyber Monday relatively unscathed…this is the sum total of the damage:

-Christmas gifts for family members

- this mud mask from Overstock – a total impulse buy this morning; I’m still trying to get rid of a few acne spots

- Discounted race registration for the Pacers Love the Run You’re With 5K – it’s not till February, but I’ve run this race the past 2 years and found it’s a great PR course for me, plus they give out blankets as their race premium! (all Pacers races 20% off today with code GLBCYBER)

- new dishes from Corelle – long overdue.  We’re finally replacing our motley collection from Ikea, Goodwill, and friends/ family that have moved from the area.

Somehow I managed to stop myself from buying all the cute winter running clothing.  I built a good wardrobe over the last two years and really don’t need anything new right now.  We might also pick out a new bedding set from Overstock tonight because I’ve been over-heating under the comforter the last couple of weeks. Exciting stuff, I know.

Weekend Recap

We enjoyed a really quiet weekend here in DC; I had to study for finals so we left the house once on Saturday for a little date and on Sunday for church, but otherwise stayed home. I felt a little under the weather, so I decided to take a step-back week and skip my long run. I’m just base-building (not training) so after 4 solid weeks of training I was okay with that.

We went to the Curious Grape in Shirlington for our date and sat at the bar.  This was a fantastic idea – the bartender gave us several free samples of cheese! I got a glass of Gewurztraminer (a fairly sweet white, my standard) and Mike went for a glass of Sangiovese, an Italian red blend he really likes. 1129141618b
It was too early for dinner, so we ordered some light fare in the form of the Truffle Plate, which came with two types of truffle-embedded cheese, salami with truffle, and house-marinated mushrooms.  Perfect bites to go with our wine!1129141618a
We did some food shopping at Harris Teeter afterwards (what, you don’t go food shopping on your dates? lol) and spotted this in the aisle. America, our obsession with holiday-flavored everything has gone too far.1129141659
We worked on our turkey leftovers over the weekend – we have a lot since we bought a 10 lb turkey for two people, lol. I like my turkey sandwiches with cranberry, sprouts, and a spicy mustard! Might try adding pickled jalapenos or banana peppers in there next time.1130141248

#MondayMotivation

After my weekend off from working out, I was ready to get back to it this morning. Lucy woke me up at 5:30 so I fed the cats, ran 3 miles and got in a 30 min core workout before work.  It’s great to start the week off on the right foot!
motivation 2

Did you do any Black Friday/ Cyber Monday/ whatever else shopping? In person or online? You couldn’t pay me to go to the stores on Black Friday, but some coworkers said it’s a tradition for them.
What’s the weirdest “holiday-flavored” food product you’ve found? Probably the caramel apple Oreos I spotted in Target a few weeks ago.


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Thanksgiving 2014 (and some Black Friday Deals)

Hey friends, hope you all got to enjoy a great meal in the company of family and/or friends yesterday.  Mike and I celebrated a quiet and stress-free Thanksgiving together, thanks to pre-made food (including turkey!) from The Fresh Market.

Mike did a great job carving the turkey this year! 1127141230aThe cats enjoying some turkey and gravy. This is probably Lucy’s favorite holiday – she’s all about that gravy.1127141229Table set for lunch – turkey, gravy, stuffing and cranberry sauce from TFM, mashed potatoes, spinach and roasted brussel sprouts made by us.
DSC03852 DSC03854My plate at lunchtime – I didn’t go overboard because I was saving room for the peach cobbler afterwards :) Dessert will probably always be my favorite course. 1127141238We spent the rest of the day napping, watching more Scandal (I can’t stand the president btw – I spend most of the episode yelling at him to get his act together and start running the country rationally), calling family and taking walks outside together.  It was a restful Thanksgiving!

Some Black Friday Deals

My inbox has been flooded with deals for the last couple of days – here are a few that caught my eye this morning:

- Athleta is 20% off with code FIT20 (today only) – they rarely run full-site coupons!
– $15 off Rock ‘n’ Roll DC (and others, I think) with code COLORBF15 (good through 11/30)
LOFT (my new favorite store) is 50% off in stores till noon, 40% off online
Ann Taylor is also 50% off everything online
Sephora is running a bunch of $10 deals!
City Sports is running a number of discounts on Nike, Adidas, The North Face, and yurbuds (my favorite running earbuds – 40% off!)

I’ve been doing some Christmas gift shopping, but haven’t bought anything for myself yet – I was hoping to find the Garmin FR220 on sale somewhere, but no luck thus far.

What’s your favorite Thanksgiving food? Aside from dessert, probably stuffing.  This is why my Paleo experiment didn’t last that long.

Any great Black Friday deals – running gear or otherwise? Please share!

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