Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Book Review: Running Strong

Recently Runner's World Magazine reached out and asked if I would be interested in reviewing Dr. Metzl's new book, Running Strong.





Dr. Metzl is a runner and Ironman. You know this guy "gets us." He knows the ups and downs of running, the issues we face, the health rumors we've heard and concerns we might have.

This book came to me at exactly the right time.

I have just been accepted thru lottery into the NYC Marathon (Yay!) but have begun feeling the effects of running. After long runs, my knees get a little achey, my hamstrings a little sore... you know the drill. Dr. Metzl addresses each potentially creaky part of the runner's body in a section called "Uh Oh What's That Pain?" He explains the mechanics of each body part, why the pain may be happening and how to correct it. And by the way, he does this all in a very interesting way.

Dr. Metzl recommends strength training (he has a whole slew of specific strength exercises recommended for us runners) and daily foam rolling. I've begun doing both. I know that both of those things are paramount for me but Dr. Metzl was able to give me the tools to actually do those things instead of think, "I need to do something" but not know where or how to start.

The book has a cool feature, an app. You can download an app called Blippar and when you scan certain icons in the book, the app will take you to videos shot with Dr. Metzl right in his office! These little "Blippar" opportunities are all over the book and another great way to get useful information.



Dr. Metzl covers EVERYTHING in his book and truly prepares you to run strong whether you are a beginner trying to figure out the right running shoe to a seasoned marathoner. There is tons of great information and take away. It's the kind of book you devour cover to cover the first time you get it and then keep on your shelf forever for reference.

Here are some useful links for you if you want to learn more about Dr. Metzl and Running Strong:
Here is where you can buy Running Strong. And find Dr. Metzl on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. You can also visit his website to learn more.

Check the book out! It also would make a great gift to a fellow running buddy!

XO
Jen


Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Does Running Make You Fat? Information Overload

Foiled again.

So I lose all that weight, I give up lots of favorite foods along the way, make all these (what I think are) positive changes and then I get smacked in the face with this annoying article:


Now I would've just chuckled this off if it hadn't been for the battling of the bulge I've been dealing with lately, despite my kicking up the mileage, so I decide to click and read the article.

Aaarrrrrrgh. 



So the article says that not only will running make you fat but can kill you too. Terrific. I thought that mayonnaise was going to make me fat and kill me but apparently if you follow a paleo or Whole30 diet, mayo is your friend and now according to 'research' running the enemy.

My head is about to explode.

Somedays I miss the simple old days. I know some of the rules were wrong but for the most part everyone was on the same page. Eat less calories (even if it meant using a sweet and low or some other fraken food) and the more cardio the better. So simple. Not so much to wrap your head around. Not so much information to digest. It's just too much now-a-days. 

My addiction to reading health articles on line is ruining my life.

Here's just a few of the million thoughts I've had recently:

I want to eat more broccoli, but crap I didn't buy organic so the toxins will keep me fat.
I thought I would try agave but then I learned from 2 out of 4 sources that it's no better than sugar.
I tried Whole30 because that camp says it's great and I have a few friends who've benefitted - it was  just OK for me but maybe I need to try again but what about all that fat?
Oh, maybe I should go plant-based because...
Should I just go back to Weight Watchers and point counting? Or maybe stick to the Simply Filling plan?
Then there's Isagenix - nah don't think I could do that and give up coffee
But research says coffee is good for you!
But this research says coffee is bad... 
Ugh. Maybe I should switch to green tea - Yes! I'll have some green tea. Oh, but this isn't organic green tea. Wonder if it's OK? 
I want to do strength training because muscle eats fat (or something like that.) 
Oh I have to do core and hip strengthening because then my running will get better but...
I shouldn't run because it's going to back fire - and make me fat.

So there's the madness... It's just not simple.

For now I'm going to keep drinking coffee, loosely follow Weight Watchers, skip the mayo and keep the running because I'm happy there. Yeah, I'll add some strength training too. The broccoli may or may not be organic depending on my budget and the week. 

Does your head want to explode with all the 'research' too? 

XO
Jen 

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

TCS New York City Marathon Drawing Day

The day of the 2014 NYC marathon lottery drawing started like it had for the last 3 prior years before. A feeling of hope, excited anticipation and desperate want filled my soul and getting that elusive golden ticket occupied my thoughts.

It's a day where I will obsessively check my email, NYRR account status and credit card statement dozens of times (I now know my AMEX number by heart) like a crack addict waiting to find out the location of my next hit and then the sinking, sickening feeling of getting no update, no obscene credit card charge to my credit card and the slow realization that this, again, would not be my year. The feeling of despair and (I hate to admit) envy as I saw people celebrating online like this:

"Wow! I'm so lucky!! Got in the lottery for the third time to run NYC!" 
"My credit card is charged! I'm in!"
"Who's running NYC with me!?"

And then the final, 'you're not in' nail was in the coffin upon seeing this message on the TCS NYC Marathon Twitter and Facebook page


Well. There was no charge on my credit card, so no dice. I was crushed. Truly crushed. My fourth year trying to get in and I just knew I was getting in. But I was wrong. I was literally in tears and took to social media for a little consoling from my friends.




But then, somehow, a miracle happened.  A big fat, "Miracle on 34th Street" and the rest of the city type miracle because just as I was giving up my dreams this popped up in my email:

Wait. What!!?


Best. Email. Ever.

And then to be sure I rushed to my NYRR account and there was this:


So start spreading the news... I'm running NYC, baby, and I couldn't be happier.




XO,
Jen 



Saturday, January 31, 2015

What I love about marathon training and other things

Hello!

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, Happy Ground Hogs Day.

I know it's been a while. I'm a terrible blogger but I'm going to work on that.

Things have been going pretty good. It's been a great start to the year for me even though I fricken hate winter and cold. 

I've been marathon training and things are going well. I'm not doing anything crazy long yet (Last week and this week's long run is 10 miles) but it's been going good.

And dare I say I've even enjoyed the many miles... and those many miles have been on a treadmill! I've been able to manage treadmill boredom by really digging into stuff on Netflix.  My longest run on the treadmill was last week's 10 miler and I've been doing just about every other distance on there.  I'm actually learning to really like the treadmill. I don't have to worry about the elements or where to carry all my stuff. I just have to hop on and go. 

Ten Treadmill miles thanks to watching Dirty Dancing
#NoOnePutsMyTreadmillInTheCorner
Here's what I love about marathon training - once you start building those miles it becomes almost like a "light workout" to run 4 or 5 miles. There's something very cool about that.  I'm also loving the feeling of accomplishment as I check off these workouts. 

And I'm super proud of the miles adding up - this month I managed to run 84.27 miles WOW!! 100 miles!! - the most I've run possibly ever in one month. 

the first few days of the year wasn't included in this graph
so I actually ran a solid 100 miles this month on the nose! 
I am now just 'loosely' following the simply filling plan for Weight Watchers. I am still keeping an eye on portion but am just concentrating on eating as healthy as possible. I feel like that is working out for me. I've lost a few pounds over the last few weeks but I'm trying not to be scale obsessed. I had to lighten up, i was making myself nuts worrying about the scale. I'm running lots and eating well. This is enough for me right now and I'm at peace with it.

Other good stuff this month included getting a rough cut of the From Fat To Finish Line film done! The finish line on that is in sight and we are excited! :) I also got to have a little reunion time with my good friend Linda from Fricken' Fabulous At 40

And I tossed my hat into the ring for the NYC marathon lottery again. We'll see and fingers crossed. 

And finally I happened upon a pair of compression running pants from Old Navy on the clearance rack.  They are a little loud for me since I'm a 'stick to basic black' type of gal (OK once in a while I get crazy and wear grey) but at just $9.99 on clearance had to give them a shot.

actual legging purchased
I have to say these are great running leggings (even though both my hubby and son kind of looked at them funny as I left for my run today). They didn't fall down when I ran and the compression feels great. They are on the Old Navy website in black or grey for $29.99 (but there's a 20% off code right now - you type in SAVE at checkout).  I'm definitely going to pick another pair up. This actual turquoise-striped color pair is on sale for $19.99 on the website so I really got lucky finding them for $9.99!

How is your winter going? Find anything good that's running or training related lately?

XO
Jen

PS: The legging review is my own entirely, Old Navy has no idea that I bought them or reviewed them - however, Mr. or Mrs. Old Navy - if you are reading this, feel free to send me an old navy gift card or a free pair of black compression running tights in a large. That would be fab. Thanks!! ;) lol




Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Palm Springs Triathlon Race Recap

It's been a few weeks since my last post and thought I would take a little time on this Christmas Eve morning to catch up with you all.

A few weeks ago I participated in the H.I.T.S Palm Springs Triathlon. I was signed up for the OLY but I didn't train as hard as I should have and still new to a road bike, decided it best to drop to the sprint level.

Funny, I always feel the need to say "just the sprint." I have a lot of friends who might be able to do a sprint triathlon with their eyes closed but it's still really challenging to me - and around 2 hours of exercise. There's nothing 'just' about it.

Anyway - Palm Springs itself was interesting. I had never been there. There were some really gorgeous areas and some sketchy ones. I got to spend some time with friends Angela, her boyfriend Dave and our good friend Scott - all who were signed up for the half distance. On day one I volunteered the bike course and Angela and Scott headed out for their race (half and full distance was on Saturday and sprint / OLY on Sunday). That was an interesting experience. You have to run along side bikers as they are coming by to hand off water, an electrolyte drink or gels. The bikers generally shout at you what they need and you try to make the handoff. It was a little tricky at first but it was fun. In the few hours that I volunteered I had racked up over 10,000 steps on my fitbit!

Me in blue and the rest of the bike volunteer crew
Unfortunately, towards the end of my shift I got a call from Scott saying that he was unable to finish his race. He had a head-on collision in the water and suffered a concussion. He tried to press on through the bike and eventually had to call it a day - I headed back to hang out with him and wait for Angela and Dave. Thankfully he was woozy but OK.  Angela and Dave both finished. Angela loved her first experience with the half.

So I was up next.

half ready to TRI half ready to go back to sleep


Nice sunrise
THE SWIM
Sunday morning and an early rise time came and I was nervous but excited. I had to go through the worse part of my day which is the struggle into my wetsuit. Ugh. It takes a village and a lot of trislide to accomplish this feat. It's never pretty. The water was very cold so I was appreciative of that fricken wetsuit and luckily Angela had lent me some booties and a neoprene swim cap which really helped. The first part of the swim was weird. You could literally walk all the way out to the turn around. I would try to swim and my hand would hit the bottom or I would swim into someone who was just walking. Oh well. I worked it out. And then all of a sudden, when you round the buoy to come back it got really deep! I struggled a little bit in the water - I really have to figure out how to swim more efficiently. But all in all it was OK and I wasn't the last out of the water. In fact I think there was a bunch of people after me.

I look crazy - this pic is so funny to me
Look Ma - no hands! I made it! 
Then it was on to the bike. I really took my time in transition. I had no illusions of winning anything (more on that later) so I figured I'd dry off, have a snack, and just get it together. I think my t1 was absurd like nearly 10 minutes! I'm going to work on this in the future. It's a dumb way to burn time in a race. 

THE BIKE


I just got my first road bike a few months ago but never had the chance to really ride it outside. Just a half a block to the park to screw around with my seven year old, so I was a little nervous about the bike. Angela brought me hers to use for the race so I wouldn't have to haul my bike across the country. I am still not comfortable in clipless pedals so I used flat. It's a flat course so it wasn't an issue really. I'm a little slow and I do think that if I can get over my fear of the clipless pedals it would be better. I was happy that I didn't crash and it was a good experience over-all. Along with swimming I definitely have to work on a lot when it comes to biking if I want to continue to TRI.

The good news about not having bike shoes is that my T2 was considerably faster :) Nothing makes me happier in a tri than getting to the run part. I am almost home!

THE RUN
It's getting hot but I'm psyched for the run. Angela got a good picture of me heading out that I'm going to have to try to get from her at some point because I was looking strong! (Probably more relieved that I didn't crash on the bike but whatever.) I felt good. I wasn't running super fast but I did manage to pass a lot of people on the run. Since I was still at the back of the pack at this point, I figured that a lot of the people I was passing might've been stronger than me on the bike or swim but just not great runners. Since running is what I feel most comfortable at, I passed up the walkers and the walk/runners. I managed to run the entire distance (which turned out to only be about 2.7 of a mile according to my garmin... not the 5K as advertised. I was bummed at the shorter distance.)

Smiling as I'm heading for the finish! 
So I finish and wouldn't you know it that despite taking a lunch break during T1 I actually did win something. I came in SECOND PLACE in the Athena 40+ division! (The chubby older ladies division). WHHHHHHAAAT!? I've never received an athletic award in my life. I grabbed my plaque and ran away before the other chubby middle-aged ladies could demand a recount. :) 

yes, I have the whitest legs in the world
All in all it was a fun day. My swim was about 20 mins for 750 yards, bike was just under an hour for about 13 miles and run was around 29 mins for 2.7 miles. Not fast but not last and good enough for 2nd place. I have a lot of places I can improve on! 

BTW Angela placed in her division too! 


All in all the triathlon was a fun experience. I'm looking forward to doing it again.

The rest of the month has been a little up and down struggle in sticking to the WW plan. I went into that weekend pretty strong but since coming back it's been touch and go. I've decided not to really sweat it through the holidays. I'm keeping an eye on it, making good choices most of the time, getting in some exercise and not flipping out. 

Hope you're having a wonderful holiday!!! How are things with you?

XOXO 
Jen





Monday, December 1, 2014

Monday Musings and Making a Comeback

So I'm three and a half weeks back on Weight Watchers and into Marathon training and things are clicking and feeling good. I feel like I'm on a comeback after a long stretch of nothing feeling like it was working.

This past Friday I had my weigh-in and I was down something small like .2 pounds. ALL GOOD. I wasn't even the slightest upset with the mini loss. First, I had lost a combined loss of about 7 pounds in the first two weeks which is a lot for me. Secondly the day before was Thanksgiving and I'm pretty sure that the extra sodium and wine wasn't helping my cause at the scale. As long as that scale is moving in the right direction I will take those .2 pounds proudly. :)

At this point even if I only lose .2 a week for the rest of my journey (annoying as that would be) I would be at peace with that. I'm feeling good. I'm exercising and moving often, eating right (for the most part), watching my portion size and doing a better job at hydrating. 

Starting line at Turkey Trot

On Thanksgiving I kicked the day off with a turkey trot. It was a great day. I ran it with a bunch of girls from the running club I belong to and it was great to see those friends. I planned for this race to be pretty much incorporated in as just a general training day. I didn't 'race' per se but I found myself pushing the pace more than usual. It's a tough little 5K because it is very hilly and it's also pretty congested for the first half of mile or so. Lots of little kids and walkers 5 across. This would not be the race to try to PR at. However, even with all that said, I wound up running it faster than I've done a 5K in a long time.  I've been training at around 11'50 - 12'00 min. mile. My hope was to be around 11'30 in this race. I wound up doing better - an overall average of 10'31! I didn't expect that.  It was a beautiful run. A little chilly (but felt great once running) big fluffy snow flakes falling and in a beautiful upscale, Bergen county neighborhood. 

And talking about beautiful - check out these sexy splits: 

9'56!? Wow. Haven't seen that time for a mile in a loooong time! Woo!

After the race we went up to my parent's house for festivities. I did well. I 'counted' my points for all the indulgences and between my weekly points and the points I earned through activity had plenty to cover. I'm happy about how I handled things.

Of course, the irony is that I did well on Thanksgiving and then while visiting a friend on Saturday afternoon wound up falling face first into a bowl of chips, dip and a few glasses of wine. :/

Partially responsible for that empty dish of french onion dip
Ooops. The good news is that I had the points to cover the damage thanks to a six mile run that morning and I had just got all my weekly bonus points back. The bad news is it's not the way I wanted to uses those points. Oh well. Crappy food happens every once in a while and the fact that I was aware of what I was doing is the key. It's important that I acknowledge it so I can learn from it and also adjust my eating the rest of the week to compensate for the slip. 

This Friday I'm heading to Palm Springs to participate in a Triathlon. I am signed up for the OLY distance but I'm going to drop down to the sprint. I'm not trained for the OLY distance - I have been exercising but focusing on running. I just haven't been motivated lately to work on my swim or bike. I don't know what my problem is. Part of me really wants to love triathlon but the other part of me just feels overwhelmed by the idea of breaking my training up into three different things. Just running is so much easier for me to wrap my head around. I'm not giving up on it yet (I just bought that bike!) and I'm already signed up for the Pococnos OLY next year but triathlon definitely continues to be a challenge for me. 

How was your Thanksgiving?

Thanks to you all for your comments and to those who've sent me notes I appreciate it!

XO
Jen



Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Talking Turkey, Weight Watchers and Running

Happy Thanksgiving!

So I'm into week three of marathon training already. It's a long-a$$ training program (24 weeks or something!) So far the runs have been manageable - a few 3 mile runs, a few 5 mile runs and I've been getting them all in - which feels great.

Beautiful park for running and eclectic collection of music getting me through the miles!

I'm aiming to run the New Jersey Marathon on April 26th. In case you didn't know, the New Jersey half marathon is what kicked off my whole "From Fat To Finish Line Journey" back in 2010. It was my first half marathon ever and what started me running.  I've run the half every year since and it's a very nostalgic and special race for me. 

I'm already signed up for it. To be honest with how crazy work has been I can't even guarantee I'll be in New Jersey to run the race! But the journey of training for a race is important so instead of not going for it, "just in case" I won't be here, I'm training. If I can't do that one I might find an alternate race around that time. We'll see. I am just finding a need to have a big goal and challenge right now. 

I'm also well into week 3 of doing the Simply Filling Program (a weight watchers plan) and it's been awesome. My first week I lost 5 pounds and last week I lost 1.6 - almost 7 pounds in two weeks! That's really solid for me. It's been a period of making some changes. The biggest sacrifice has been giving up my nightly cocktail. There's been a few cases of, "I could really use a glass of wine" that I have passed up. I'm pretty sure that the alcohol was a big part of my weight gain and weight loss stalls. I am trying to adhere to a "drink only on a holiday or Friday/Saturday" rule and limit it to one or two tops.  I've also been writing down what I eat and keeping an eye on portions - even of healthy foods. 

However, I also eat when I'm hungry. And that's what I like about the program. Not only can you eat but it doesn't have to be limited to just fruits or veggies. You could grab a bowl of black bean soup or have a little chicken breast with some sweet potato. Tons of whole, good for you foods are options. That makes me happy.

I am proud of myself because I've been striving to make good choices. Yesterday I conquered a challenge. I occasionally work as a freelance producer for a YouTube cooking show. During the course of the day we make 6 - 8 recipes and usually they are pig-out days. Not only do we eat what we make but the company also brings in a really impressive spread of food for lunch. Yesterday I didn't eat the food from the shows and for lunch I had a salad along with something I brought from home. I didn't feel deprived like I thought I might. I felt accomplished. If I felt hungry I took out one of my snacks (like yogurt or a banana). This was a major victory for me. 

On the cooking show set - all smiles no over-eating! 
I weigh in on Friday morning (which is the day after Thanksgiving this week.) And I'm not sweating it.

I've been eating good and exercising consistently. I'm doing it right. My plan for Thanksgiving is to eat moderately and indulge a little bit in seasonal foods that are worth it to me. I have saved some points and earned some activity points so I should be covered. Realistically I know that when I step on the scale on Friday that it might be artificially up simply because of the sodium and foods I eat (and the wine that I will be drinking) on Thanksgiving. I'm going to weigh in and not put too much stock in it - if I happen to show a loss, well, that would be awesome but I'm not going to be disappointed if I don't show one. I know I just have to keep eating well and exercising. 

For as rocky and tough it's been the last year or so weight-wise, I'm at peace with it right now. I don't want to sound like a spokesperson for Weight Watchers (I am not. Though if they'd like to throw me a few bucks we can talk ;) ) but this Simply Filling Program is so good for me mentally. It just brings me back to common-sense eating with a good balanced approach - with a little wiggle room for treats. So far so good. We'll see.

Tomorrow I'm running my very first 5k Turkey Trot. I'm kind of looking forward to it and kind of not. It looks like it's gonna be cold and today it's snowing but I am excited to start the day off right with a good run with friends. 

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! How are you doing? Are you doing a turkey trot? 

XO
Jen