Sunday, January 29, 2012

Healthy Nutrition Guidelines

Last night I woke up around 2am due to symptoms of the cold that's been pestering me this week.  Typically, I read or watch documentaries to get back to sleep, and last night I watched (part) of a documentary, "Ingredients", to lull me back to la la land.  While the film was primarily about the benefits of eating locally grown foods, it also summarized some points I've collected from other, similar documentaries and nutrition/endurance athlete books about the value of a diet based on whole foods.

I think an 80/20, or even 90/10, rule of following simple guidelines to health eating makes sense for me and for the average, imperfect, human.  I mean, come on, there are days when a hamburger is just necessary.  And when chips and salsa are imperative.  And there are days (often, during sporting events) when of course we're going to have more than two drinks.  The goal is to make sure that most of the stuff we put in our bodies is good for us.  So, below are some basic guidelines that I have started following and want to make a concerted effort to follow in greater depth in life moving forward.  And, perhaps more importantly, these are guidelines that I want to instill in my boys to ensure they feed their bodies with healthy foods throughout their lives.

My general guidelines:

  • No high fructose corn syrup
  • Fresh, not packaged
  • Load up on fruits and veggies
  • Eat locally grown, not mass farmed/shipped/chemically-preserved produce
  • Shop at local farmer's markets
  • Whole grains, not bleached flour products
  • Lean proteins
  • Legumes/beans, including soy
  • Water, water, water
  • Eat bulk of calories early in day (breakfast/lunch), not dinner (also helps with sleep)
  • Take the time to make homemade meals, not packaged
  • Find healthy alternatives for sweet fixes -- fruit smoothie, homemade (healthy) baked goods, healthy (no sugar, no additives) frozen yogurt
  • Dark chocolate is understandably medicinal and should be consumed in small quantities
  • Pack healthy snacks every time you leave the house (fruit, organic nutrition bars)
  • Teach kids to embrace the same healthy guidelines, and why it's important
  • If you're going to indulge, do it in moderation: one piece of pizza, half a hamburger, small serving of ice cream, etc.
  • Eat meals at the table and savor, not inhale, food
  • Have a list of go-to healthy recipes for all meals of the day. Experiment until you find what works for you.
  • Consume alcohol in moderation: 1-2 drinks, 1-2 times per week

In addition to these guidelines, below are some thoughts regarding healthy habits as a means of supporting desired running/triathlon performance.

From the athlete's perspective:

  • Food is fuel. Peak performance requires top-notch fuel.
  • Make sure to consume more calories earlier in the day, not in the evening
  • Feed the body with healthy fuel before and after workouts. Before: easily-processed carbs (bananas); after, balanced protein/carb
  • Get carbs from produce and whole grains, not sugar

So, again, my goal is somewhere between 80/20 and 90/10. I'm human and have off days, and I plan to enjoy life.


Below is a list of some of the resources that have influenced my goal of eating a whole foods diet:

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Swamp House, here I come!

Registered for the Swamp House Half Marathon, first foot race of the season. Love that the race cost just $38.60 -- this is drastically less than any half marathon I've ever run.  One of the advantages of small races!

I am considering entering the Clermont Challenge (March 3, one week before the Swamp House Half), as my first tri of the season.  The race is supposed to attract triathletes slated to participate in the 2012 Olympics, so the star factor alone is enticing.  However, the biggest draw is that it's close to home.  I was planning on Club Med Tri #1 in Port St. Lucie (February 26) as my first tri of the year, but since it's further away it'd require an overnight stay (and, consequently, a lot more planning).  So, the Clermont Challenge is probably going to be the one...

Heading out for a 6-8 mile run before getting ready for MJ's birthday party today.  Lots of cupcakes and pizza to work off!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Stellar Day!

Wow, what a stellar day. Between nurturing multiple professional opportunities, meeting with my dissertation committee chair and getting very positive feedback, and then completing a mega workout, it's been one of the best days I've had in a long time. I'm ramped up about each of these blessings, and now I get to go home (I'm sitting in my car, post workout, blogging while the thoughts are fresh!) to the best husband and father on the planet, and my two amazing boys. Yup, today was a great day, and I am a blessed woman!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Laura's Training Summary: Week of 1/15/2012

Click here for individual workout details


# workouts: 2
Distance (yards): 2600
Distance (meters): 2377.44
Distance (miles) 1.477
Total time: 1:03:13
Avg. pace per 100 yards: 2:25
Avg. pace per 100 meters: 2:39
Avg. speed: 1.40 miles per hour


# workouts: 2
Distance (miles): 45.27
Total time: 2:52:30
Avg. pace per mile: 0:03:48


# workouts: 5
Distance (miles): 27.67
Total time: 5:09:38
Avg. pace per mile: 0:11:11


# workouts: 1
Distance (miles): 2.25
Avg. pace per mile: 0:13:20
Total time: 0:30:00


# workouts: 10
Distance (miles): 76.74
Total time: 9:35:21

Triathlon conversion calculator
Length conversion

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Laura: meet the pool. Pool: meet Laura.

I have made friends with the pool. In fact, I think I like swimming.

In the last few days I've gotten in two swims, and both were great.  Here's a recap, and a revelation the link between swimming and meditation.

Thursday (first swim in a looooooong time): I surprised myself by covering 1k in 24:14 with an easy to moderate level of exertion.  Pace ranged from was 2:20 - 2:30 per 100m.  Not having spent a lot of time in the pool, I really didn't know what my pace would be like.  I was shooting for something around 3 minutes per 100m to make the 70 minute cutoff time for the swim in half-iron races.  When I swim laps, I don't do wall flips -- I've always figured it's best to simulate open-water swimming as much as possible.  However, feeling good about my swim, I practiced some wall flips.

Sunday (second swim): Mike and I took MJ out in the stroller for a run. Mike ran 6, and I ran 10 miles. Later, we went for a swim.  We both swam 1.2k (.75 miles), me with a total time of 28:58. Average pace was 2:20 - 2:25 per 100m -- slightly faster than my Thursday swim.  Practiced some more wall flips afterward, and creeped on some guy by spying on him underwater when he did his flips.

During my Thursday swim I got a bit bored, so I later researched what people think about when they swim.  I came across a really great website, Swim Well and Live Well, that links the act of swimming to meditation.  This website was exactly what I needed as it gave me the idea of coming up with a mantra to keep my brain occupied and help me really get into a good swimming groove.  I came up with a couple of four-word mantras to repeat with each swim cycle (I breathe every fourth stroke, so each stroke equates to one word).  I tried this on my Sunday swim, and the effect was phenomenal.  I got into a meditative zone that made the laps fly by and that made me aware of each stroke I took.  One of my variations is "power, strength, smooth, breath", and the other is "power, reach, core, breath".  I'm so excited about the peace that I found through this practice that I can't wait for my next swim!

Given the positive experiences of these two swims, I feel a lot more confident about the swim leg of Miami 70.3, and, for that matter, triathlon in general.  The swim has always been my mental hurdle in really latching on to the sport.  I tanked the swim in the Olympic tri (my only tri so far) that I did in 2007.  I did not practice.  At all.  Not a single lap.  I figured, "what's a few hundred meters in a lake?"  Ha.  Ruined the rest of the race, and kept me away from triathlon for a while.  I finished, but it wasn't pretty.

Assuming that, as I gradually increase distance and endurance, that I will be able to maintain a similar pace, I should be able to finish the swim leg of a half-iron race in about 50 minutes, well within the cutoff time.  With my current capabilities in mind, my new goal is not to finish within the cutoff time, but to maintain an average pace of 2:15 per 100m, resulting in a 43:28 swim time.  This seems like a conservative, realistic goal.

Monday, January 16, 2012

First Pool Workout

Yesterday was a big day for Laura and I.  Not only did we get out and run in some fantastic weather (she did ten, and I did six), but we also got in a swim as well - oh, and we also made it to Outback (to refuel our glycogen stores), as well as to our favorite pub:  St Anthony's.  It's been a while since we made it there, so it was nice to hang out in a dingy, smokey (child free) environment.

The swim was a relatively new experience for me.  I've done a very, very minimal amount of training in the pool.  Enough to say that I've really done none at all.  So, getting my 1200 meters in was a bit of a struggle.  It was a great workout, but it's somewhat akin to the first time you go run.  I had no idea how fast or how slow I should be going.  I wasn't sure if I should breathe on my left or right (or both).  It's going to take several more sessions before I will even start to feel comfortable in the pool.  I figure about the time that happens, I'll be ready to move into some open water work outs, and start the whole process all over again.

Suffice to say, though, the pool workout was a success.  Fat floats, which definitely works to my advantage.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Back in the saddle - with no Glide

My goal, with this blog was to make regular, timely posts with regard to my training. I hoped that by keeping a public listing of what I do, I'd be motivated to get out there and not disappoint everyone by missing a workout.

That does not appear to have happened.

Well, starting today (actually, yesterday). I'm recommitting myself to not only working our regularly, but to also post here so that my fans will know what's happening.

Ok, 'fan'.

Ok, my wife.

In any case, with the recent, and unexpected (by me), drop in temperature over the past couple of days, we've had some of the greatest running weather we've seen in the past several months. For me, being a native Floridian, it's not just about temperature, and humidity, but it's also about sunlight. So, even with the temperature topping out at about 60 degrees, and a super-nice 40% humidity level, it's got to be sunny for me to be truly motivated to run. Picky, yes, but it's the way I'm wired. I like to say that I'm solar powered.

So, when I got out yesterday, and there wasn't a cloud in the sky, and the air was crisp and dry. I knew it was going to be a great run.

My plan was to get out, do a quick three, and get back so Laura could get out and go to the gym for a swim workout (and some non-three-year-old time), but the weather got the better of me, and I ended up doing four. I think because I rushed to get out the door, however, or maybe because I'm out of practice with my running, I missed a vital step in preparation: the ever important "Glide application".

Body glide, like tech shirts, is a wonderful, wonderful thing. It's one of those things that you only really, REALLY notice when you don't have it. Yesterday proved to be one of those days for me. I was about 2 1/2 or 3 miles when I realized I had some chub-rub issues. So, being nearly done with my run, I pushed through it, and figured that I'd just deal with the consequences. In the end, it wasn't as bad as I thought it might be (not as bad as when I forgot it for the Disney 1/2 marathon). Though, it was a painful reminder to make sure you don't miss any steps of the pre-run process. You may be missing something important.

New Garmin Forerunner 410

Following up on last night's post, I decided to go for an upgrade and bought the Garmin Forerunner 410.  I like that it's smaller than the 305 and has an ANT+ USB stick, which means the watch doesn't have to be physically connected to the computer to transfer workout data.  The 410 is supposed to be an improvement on the 405, the original bevel control watch introduced by Garmin. It also works with my existing Garmin cadence sensor for my bike.  I had to get a new bike mount though -- the quick release mount I had before doesn't work with the 410. Amazon says it'll be here Wednesday Jan. 18, so I'll have to continue improvising until then.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

RIP Garmin Forerunner 305..hello, something new

My Garmin Forerunner 305 disappeared at the bottom of a horse water trough (for real) and I have been sharing Mike's prehistoric Garmin 201 for a few months.  Sharing time is over.  I want my own.

Here's the story.  I was running the trails at Wekiwa Springs State Park last fall with Coco, my pampered muddy buddy.  We were nearing the campground where I typically stop for her to hose down and catch a drink.  As usual, she knew we were close and, being a water-loving pup, she bolted ahead.  When I got to the campground, I found her *in* the horse water trough, swimming around, having a grand time. Then, she realized she couldn't get out. From the outside it looked like the trough is a fairly shallow barrel -- maybe 24 inches deep -- and that she should be able to get out on her own.  However, as I discovered, it's actually much deeper -- it is buried at least another foot in the ground.  Coco couldn't get out, so I tried scooping her up.  The first time I tried, she slipped, and my hand/wrist banged against the side of the barrel.  The second time I got a better grip on her torso and was able to get her out.

I'd been using the Garmin Forerunner Quick Release Kit for some time to enable easy snap-in/snap-out from my bike to the running wristband.  This was a pretty cool doo-hickey -- very simple, and let me use my Garmin as my bike computer and running watch.  I was really pleased with it.

I first realized there might be an issue with the release feature of this kit when I was walking across the Fayette Street bridge in West Conshohoken, PA with Mike.  We were strolling along, and I hit my wrist on the bridge guard rail and the business part of the watch popped out of the quick release wristband, falling on the bridge, inches from going into the river.  Mental note made to be more careful.

Well, when it came to rescuing my pup, being careful went out the window.  When I bumped my wrist on the water trough, it fell into the contained murky abyss.  When my pup was safely out, I got a long branch and poked around the bottom.  It was...gooey.  I scraped around, trying to find the watch.  No luck.  I realized that I could probably reach the sludge with my hand if I leaned somewhat into the barrel.  After mustering up significant courage, I tried.  I moved my fingers through the sludge, trying to find the watch.  It was, after all, water resistant, and probably still functioning.  After a few passes through the sludge, visions of snakes and alligators started coming to mind.  The barrel was contained and, at most, there would be snakes, but once the thought was there I couldn't get past it.  I let go of the seemingly futile effort and walked away.  I hosed off my pup, and walked back to the car with my tail between my legs.  Hrumph.

So, I've now suffered enough.  It's time for a new watch.  Not sure what, yet, except that it needs to be ANT compatible to work with my bike.  This time, I won't be using the quick release kit.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Motivation Gradient

On a scale of couch to Yoda, my motivation to train this week has hovered between getting off the couch and buttering toast.

Level 1: Not motivated.

Level 2: Motivated enough to put bread in the toaster, but not to retrieve the toast.

Level 3: Motivated by machine.
Level 4: Motivated by carrot headwear.

Level 5: Motivated by sticky notes.

Level 6: Motivated by numbers.

Level 7: Motivated by finisher's medals.

Level 8: Motivated by an unwillingness to accept the alternative.
Level 9: Motivated by amazing people.

Level 10: Motivated by Yoga's genius.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

My central Florida running haven

As often as possible, I take Coco, my chocolate lab and tireless running partner, to run in Wekiwa Springs State Park.  On New Year's Day she covered her longest run yet -- 12 miles -- and still had energy to spare.

The park offers a great network of running and biking trails in the Wekiwa River basin.  Some of the trails consist entirely of sugar sand and some are laden with so many tree roots that you have to take caution with every step to avoid twisting an ankle.  However, once you get past some of the more challenging trail segments, there are blissful pine needle-covered trails that are perfect for running.

While the terrain can make for a slow run, hitting the trails gives my legs a break from the asphalt roads that are the site of roughly half of my running workouts. Equally important, I have found that trail running, and being encapsulated in nature, refreshes my mind. When I'm running in the woods and sub-tropical swamps of WSSP, the pressures of the world seem to disappear.

Running at WSSP can be a muddy adventure, especially in low-lying areas closer to the Wekiwa River and its tributaries and during the rainy summer season.  My pup loves the mud pits -- she knows where they are, and as soon as we get close to them she bolts ahead to roll in them until I catch up with her.  Thankfully, there are clear, spring water pools and a camp site spigot available to clean her up before we load up in the car.

The dirt aftermath of my WSSP run on January 1, 2012

Wekiwa Springs State Park trail map. See full-sized image.