How to: fuel your runs and races

Man, this has been such a busy week! It was my first week back to school after spring break and I couldn’t seem to find time to sit down and write a new blog post…but I finally found some time today:)

Anything to do with running excites me, so writing a post all about how I fuel for my everyday runs and races sounded like a great idea! I run 6 days a week most of the year, and I have run for about 6 years now, so I’ve definitely got this fueling thing down. Once I switched to a gluten-free diet a few weeks ago, I tweaked my pre-race meals a bit, but overall I have eaten the same way for a few years now.

Pre-Run Fueling:

I usually run in the morning at around 7AM, so I don’t eat much. I stick to a half a banana, but almost always have a GU (I’m slightly addicted…I want to try to make my own healthy version. I like the caffeine and quick carbs.)

Banana in slices     Bananas seem to work perfect for me because they digest well and I can eat them 15-20 minutes before a run and still feel great. The potassium also prevents cramping. Some people can’t eat anything solid before they run, but I’m always hungry when I wake up, so I have to have something small like a half a banana.

IMG_1890   GU energy gels have worked wonders for me over the years…I know loads of people who don’t like them or can’t stomach them, but they help my energy level greatly. I take the tri-berry w/ caffeine on easy days and the expresso love w/ 2x caffeine on hard workout days or races. I take them 10-20 minutes before my runs. Sometimes I get sick of  the flavors, so I switch off between other GU flavors such as the vanilla, chocolate, plain, or roctane island nectar.

I occasionally need more food when I’m running longer (probably anything over 8 miles), so lately I have been grabbing a rice cake with a little sunflower butter, agave nectar, and cinnamon. You can also add a few slices of banana to amp up the carbs!

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Pre-Race Fueling:

Two hours before a race, I usually always eat a gluten-free waffle sandwich with almond butter, raisins, agave nectar, and cinnamon. (So tasty!)

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The waffle sandwich has become my perfect pre-race meal because it has just the right amount of carbohydrates and also fills me up and leaves me feeling satisfied. I have never felt sick or heavy after eating one of these!

I also eat a half a banana about 20-30 minutes before my races if I feel the need to. Don’t forget to drink lots of water as well! (But not too much, my dad’s friend almost died of overconsumption of water!)

Expresso love flavored GU is also taken 15 minutes before my races with a few gulps of water.

Pre-Race Fueling (The night or morning before):

I try to eat a meal rich in carbohydrates two nights before and the night before a race. If you are running a half marathon or longer, you should start carbo loading 72 hours before your race, but if you usually run shorter races like me, you don’t need to overdo it.

A typical meal for me might be chicken, quinoa, and salad; chicken, brown rice, and salad; turkey, kale, and a large sweet potato; turkey, kale, and a baked potato; or a pasta dish with chicken and a salad (not pictured).

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If I have an afternoon race, I eat a carbohydrate rich breakfast such as oatmeal or kefir with berries, gluten-free granola, agave nectar, and cinnamon.

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I hope you enjoyed my fueling post!

What do you eat before your runs and races? 

Are you a GU fanatic like me?

When’s your next race?

Jenny (:

Runner Girl’s Guide to Staying Motivation

Most of us runners have no problem setting goals for ourselves or dreaming of becoming speed demons. I don’t know about you, but when I watch fast runners racing, it always entices me to become better and to push harder in workouts. I gain motivation from those who are better than me, but sometimes I can get distracted from my goals.

It’s natural for humans to lose motivation at times – I mean who can be on their A game 24/7?! (Okay well it seems to me Usain Bolt is, but we aren’t going to talk about the outliers)

The problem is, just because you set a goal for yourself and write up a schedule to complete for an upcoming race doesn’t mean you will follow that plan. We all want to be better (or at least the vast majority of us do), but we need some motivation and inspiration to keep us on our path towards success.

The following are my tips for staying motivated:

1. Make a vision board: gather up old magazines from around your house or pick up a few from the store that spark your interest and cut out words and pictures to glue on your vision board. Select clippings that motivate you and entice you to led a better life for yourself. You can even glue pictures of your role models or race banners to your vision board…the possibilities are endless! After making your vision board, post it somewhere you can view daily, such as your bedroom.

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2. Pick up a yearly planner from your local office supply store or Target. At the beginning of each month there is usually an empty page to jot down some notes, so I write monthly goals for myself. Big or small, write any goals you have for yourself. Then on the daily calendar section I write down my workout for the day, how I felt, anything exciting that happened, and sometimes future workouts. I started a workout/goal journal at the start of 2013, and I’m loving it! It is also a great way to keep track of my weekly mileage.

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3. Post colored sticky notes on the back of your door, on your ceiling, or on your bathroom mirror with your goals and things you need to work on. I like putting them on the back of my door because I’m usually the only person who is in my room with the door closed, so the sticky notes are private. If you achieve a goal posted, take the note off and post a new goal for yourself. It’s really motivating to see these notes everyday before I workout because I always have something to work towards.

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4. Read a motivational running book (or any sports book). There are many great running books out there; just look in the running/sports section at your local bookstore or online, and you will find many inspiring options.

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You can also watch inspirational movies…those are my favorite!

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5. Put your racing bibs on your wall or somewhere you can see them! Seeing the bibs on a daily basis reminds me of all the great races I’ve had and drives me to run even better in my next race.

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6. Post anything else on your walls, on your car, on your water bottle, or on your computer screen that motivates you to become faster. Passing boys motivates me because I run with the boys at my school at practice and push myself to stay with or beat them. Any motivating quotes, posters, or pictures help keep me on track.

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7. Follow blogs, Instagram, Pinterest, or Twitter accounts, and any other websites that inspire and motivate you to be your best.

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8. Make yourself a workout playlist that pumps you up. You can either listen to it while you workout or before you go. (Also, change up your music after you get sick of it)

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9. Find a workout buddy or group! I run and workout SO MUCH BETTER when I have people to work hard with. I feed off other peoples’ energy and push myself harder when they are sweating alongside me.

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10. Stay consistent and work hard, and you will stay motivated! When I see results and improvements in my fitness, I’m so motivated I almost do too much! Just make sure you don’t overtrain and fuel yourself well throughout the day (:

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I hope you enjoyed my motivation post…

How do you keep yourself motivated?

Go out there and crush those goals of yours!

Jenny:)

Recovery for the Long Run

Today I ran my weekly long run. When I first started running I used to despise long runs because I thought they were boring, but over the years I have learned to love them. I even look forward to them now! My longest run ever was 15.3 miles this past December, and it was surprisingly easier than I expected. You must have a certain mentality when running long or you will be miserable and won’t stop checking your watch.

Today I ran 10.15 miles with some guys from the Gilbert Gazelles running group; here are my stats for the run:

Split
Time
Moving Time
Distance
Elevation Gain
Elevation Loss
Avg Pace
Avg Moving Pace
Best Pace
Calories
Summary 1:11:55.3 1:11:49.0 10.15 774 817 7:05 7:05 5:19 976
1 9:01.2 8:58 1.00 56 108 9:01 8:58 7:19 95
2 7:31.9 7:31 1.00 56 56 7:32 7:31 6:47 97
3 6:57.7 6:58 1.00 154 56 6:58 6:58 5:48 96
4 7:06.3 7:03 1.00 157 144 7:06 7:03 5:50 96
5 6:57.9 6:59 1.00 115 105 6:58 6:59 6:19 97
6 6:43.5 6:43 1.00 52 79 6:43 6:43 5:42 97
7 6:38.8 6:39 1.00 98 75 6:39 6:39 5:30 96
8 6:48.4 6:48 1.00 23 125 6:48 6:48 5:52 97
9 6:45.1 6:45 1.00 39 33 6:45 6:45 5:57 96
10 6:35.6 6:37 1.00 23 30 6:36 6:37 5:52 96
11 :48.9 :48 0.15 0 7 5:31 5:25 5:19 13

My average pace is always a bit faster when I run with the Gazelles, but it helps my endurance tremendously. After 10 miles I need to make sure I recover well, so I thought I would share the tools I use to help my legs feel fresh for my hard workout on Monday.

1. Stretch very well and use a foam roller after completing 6 strides, form drills, and foot drills (you can foam roll at home if you don’t have one available right after your run)

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2. Eat or drink something as soon as possible after my run (preferably within 30 minutes of the run, I usually drink a recovery/protein smoothie – recipe in future post)

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3. When I get home about an hour or so after my run, I eat something more substantial (such as oatmeal or eggs)

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4. I try to take an ice bath after a long run as often as possible. I find that ice baths help my muscles recover much faster than without them

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5. About 30 minutes after the ice bath, I take a hot shower and stretch a little more

6. Finally, I pull my hot pink compression socks on! And also make sure to eat and hydrate well the rest of the day (:

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That’s everything I do to recover after my long runs! I hope you enjoyed the post and recover well after your next double digit endeavor.

What’s your favorite recovery method? Is there anything I don’t do that helps you recover from your long or hard runs?

Jenny

Overcoming Challenges

Everyone encounters challenges in their lives that may lead to setbacks or failures. Many countries’ citizens face far greater challenges than those of us in the United States, and I’m so thankful for the opportunity to grow up in place with such endless possibilities. Helping others overcome their barriers and live a fulfilling and happy life is one of the most rewarding feelings imaginable. I hope to one day make a difference in the world and impact many peoples’ lives by helping them overcome their challenges. 

Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.” – Joshua J. Marine

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I chose to write about challenges today because I had a mile track race last night and tied my PR of 5:20.3. Yes, I should have been happy that I tied my PR and ran 6 seconds faster than last week, but I was angry and upset instead. The reason? Breaking 5:20 has been a challenge I have been trying to overcome for over a year now, and I have worked my butt off in training for months on end. I compare myself to all these other girls who are faster than me and think, “why can’t I be like them?” I used to be better than a large number of them, so I get discouraged when they run faster than me. But in reality, I should not compare myself with others and should accept my race for what it was. I have plenty of time to beat my record, and I’m still not back in my best shape yet after recovering from the flu and an injury in January. 

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Comparing ourselves with others is one of the greatest human flaws – it creates havoc and despair in our lives. So many people could be happier with themselves if they accepted themselves for who there are and released the perfect image society has engrained in our heads. Tan skin, white teeth, toned bodies, nice hair, pretty eyes, flawless skin, tons of money, good at everything…who really has all that and can say they are truthfully happy? Not many people. 

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I have decided to take a new perspective on life because I only have one life to live and I might as well make it flippin’ awesome. I will set goals for myself and work hard to achieve them, but also enjoy myself and have fun with my friends and family. I will stop comparing myself to others and try to be the best person I can be. I believe things happen for a reason, and I know all the setbacks I’ve had in my life are there to teach me a lesson. The lessons I’ve learned have molded me into the individual I am today, and I don’t regret anything that has happened in my life.

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As long as you trust in your abilities and work hard to achieve your goals, you can reach them! Nothing is impossible if you believe in yourself and take the plunge into uncertainty. Even if you are afraid of your goals, don’t let them hover over you and tease you. You can and WILL overcome the challenges you face. If you can’t do it alone, get help from friends and family or even strangers. We are all in this together!

I hope this post somewhat inspired you and didn’t seem cliche or rambly. 

What is a challenge you want to overcome? What is stopping you from overcoming this challenge?

Do you find yourself constantly comparing yourself to others?

Jenny :)

Thursday’s Thirteen Favorites (Snack edition)

Everyone has those foods they love and eat almost every day…personally, I am a health nut so most of my favorite foods are nutritious (yet also delicious). Reading about other bloggers’ must haves always sparks a light bulb in my brain, so I decided to share some of my favorites as well :)

This will be the snack addition to my thursday favorites. Boy do I love snacks! I usually have one snack mid-morning and one in the afternoon, and sometimes I look forward to my snacks more than any of my other meals. You’ll learn if you haven’t already that I LOVE food and am fascinated with new healthy recipes and anything that tastes good.

Favorite snack type foods (in no particular order):

Sunflower seed butter - I discovered this last year and have loved it ever since. It's great with rice cakes, carrots, bananas, and apples. MaraNatha is my favorite brand because there is no added sugar!

Sunflower seed butter – I discovered this last year and have loved it ever since. It’s great with rice cakes, carrots, bananas, and apples. MaraNatha is my favorite brand because there is no added sugar!

Carrots - I am literally obsessed with these babies. I wouldn't be surprised if my skin tone started to look orange because I sometimes eat these 3 times a day! I have them with hummus or a nut butter.

Carrots – I am literally obsessed with these babies. I wouldn’t be surprised if my skin tone started to look orange because I sometimes eat these 3 times a day! I have them with hummus or a nut butter.

Hummus - oh how I love this stuff. This brand (Grandma's) is the best hummus I have ever tasted, and I eat it with carrots, cucumbers, peppers, and on my wraps.

Hummus – oh how I love this stuff. This brand (Grandma’s) is the best hummus I have ever tasted, and I eat it with carrots, cucumbers, peppers, and on my wraps.

Almond butter - this almond butter is homemade! I love making my own almond butter and pairing it with rice cakes, carrots, apples, bananas, or in a smoothie. I will have a future post about how I make my own almond butter.

Almond butter – this almond butter is homemade! I love making my own almond butter and pairing it with rice cakes, carrots, apples, bananas, or in a smoothie. I will have a future post about how I make my own almond butter.

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This is my new favorite snack...my own concoction! It contains a cup of kefir, one apple, cinnamon, 4 drops of stevia, and gluten-free granola. SO good.

This is my new favorite snack…my own concoction! It contains a cup of kefir, one apple, cinnamon, 4 drops of stevia, and gluten-free granola. SO good.

Kefir - this snack goes along with my previous favorite, but I also love to use kefir in smoothies and as a snack with any type of fruit.

Kefir – this snack goes along with my previous favorite, but I also love to use kefir in smoothies and as a snack with any type of fruit.

Cottage cheese - I love to eat my cottage cheese with apples or beans, and this is the best brand because there is no added thickener and it is gluten-free. It also has 11g of protein per 1/2 cup!

Cottage cheese – I love to eat my cottage cheese with apples or beans, and this is the best brand because there is no added thickener and it is gluten-free. It also has 11g of protein per 1/2 cup!

Greek yogurt - this stuff packs in the protein (23 grams per cup!) and tastes great with fruit, cinnamon, granola, and agave/stevia. I also sometimes use it as sour cream on sweet potatoes or in smoothies.

Greek yogurt – this stuff packs in the protein (23 grams per cup!) and tastes great with fruit, cinnamon, granola, and agave/stevia. I also sometimes use it as sour cream on sweet potatoes or in smoothies.

Chai spice decaf tea - although this is technically a drink, I always have it near snack time. I love tea in the afternoon or mid-morning on the weekends to warm my insides. This tea is great with a bit of almond coconut milk and 5 drops of stevia.

Chai spice decaf tea – although this is technically a drink, I always have it near snack time. I love tea in the afternoon or mid-morning on the weekends to warm my insides. This tea is great with a bit of almond coconut milk and 5 drops of stevia.

Almond coconut milk - I never drink this by itself, but I love to use it in my smoothies or oatmeal because it gives off a great almond/coconut flavor.

Almond coconut milk – I never drink this by itself, but I love to use it in my smoothies or oatmeal because it gives off a great almond/coconut flavor.

Protein powder - the perfect snack for after a workout because it contains 20g of protein per scoop. I add it to smoothies and various other recipes to up my protein intake. Designer Whey Vanilla is my favorite by far.

Protein powder – the perfect snack for after a workout because it contains 20g of protein per scoop. I add it to smoothies and various other recipes to up my protein intake. Designer Whey Vanilla is my favorite by far.

Stevia drops - another snack staple because I use it in my teas, yogurt, homemade lemonade (will share recipe in future post!), and various other recipes. I love this stuff because it lasts forever and is a natural substitute for sugar.

Stevia drops – another snack staple because I use it in my teas, yogurt, homemade lemonade (will share recipe in future post!), and various other recipes. I love this stuff because it lasts forever and is a natural substitute for sugar.

Larabars - these are my favorite snacks for school or when I'm on the go because they are quick and easy. My favorite kinds are cherry and apple pie.

Larabars – these are my favorite snacks for school or when I’m on the go because they are quick and easy. My favorite kinds are cherry and apple pie.

What are your favorite snacks? Comment below and let me know what you like to eat on a regular basis!

Thanks for reading :)

Jenny

The Gluten-Free Challenge

Gluten-free or not gluten-free, that is the question. Recently many people have discovered they have gluten sensitivities and after reading numerous articles about the topic, I’ve decided to take a gluten-free challenge myself. It’s not exactly out of the blue because I have been having some stomach problems lately that may be related to gluten.

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I’ve decided to go gluten-free for 2 weeks and then reassess how I’m feeling without wheat in my diet. Yes I do love bread, pasta, etc., but I have found tons of great substitutes for white flour favorites. (No I do not like all the packaged gluten-free snacks that are probably even more unhealthy then things that contain the grain)

Another reason to do the challenge? I’ve read multiple articles that say gluten and flour products are hard to digest and most products containing gluten are super processed anyways.

The bottom line is humans should try to eat the least amount of processed foods possible and stick to whole foods instead. I’ve been trying to up my vegetable intake lately because I know that is what’s best for my body.

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I think Scott Jurek is definitely onto something folks. (Except I can’t be vegan and compete at a high level, it is virtual impossible for my body type)

Want to join my challenge but don’t know what foods to eat? Here is a list of the carbs I have been eating to fuel my training:

-Quinoa

-Sweet Potatoes

-Gluten-free oats

-Rice and corn tortillas (I’m not a huge fan of rice bread though)

IMG_1869    This is a wrap I made with a brown rice tortilla, hummus, turkey, cheddar, and spinach

-Brown rice

-Fruits and vegetables (bananas are great for carbs!)

-Gluten-free granola (KIND makes a good one that’s low in sugar)

-Rice cakes

-Beans/Lentils

There are other options, but these are just the things I have been enjoying at the moment!

If you have any suggestions for me or are gluten-free yourself, comment below! I’d loved to hear how your life changed after you made the switch. 

Jenny :)

I Hope You Like Eggs

If you are vegan or don’t enjoy eggs, then these recipes aren’t for you. Otherwise, they are great breakfast ideas for after a hard workout or run! Or just if you want a yummy and nutritious breakfast. These recipes contain a nice balance of carbs, fats, and protein to fuel you for your next workout and help your body recover.

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If you are like me, you love oatmeal but you also want to include protein in your first meal of the day. The solution? Egg white oatmeal of course!

EGG WHITE OATMEAL

-1 cup of water

-1/3 cup steel cut or old fashioned oats

1/3 cup egg whites (or 2 egg whites)

-Pinch of salt

-Cinnamon to taste

-1 tablespoon of flaxseeds

-Optional (but highly recommended) toppings: fruit or raisins, granola, nut butter of choice (I used homemade pecan butter), and shredded unsweetened coconut

Directions:

-Bring water to a boil and then add the oats and salt and bring oatmeal to a medium heat

-Let oatmeal cook for 7-9 minutes or until oats are soft but some water still remains

-Mix egg whites in a separate bowl with fork or whisk until they are fluffy and bubbly (do this while the oatmeal is cooking)

-Turn down to low and add egg whites slowly; stir continuously for 2-3 minutes or until the oatmeal is creamy

-Add the cinnamon and flax seeds and take it off the stove

-Add additional toppings and enjoy! :)

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(recipe modified from gethealthywithheather.wordpress.com)

Next up is another egg recipe that I cooked for my dad this morning…an easy and simple omelet!

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Omelets are perfect for athletes because they contain healthy fats and protein along with Vitamin K and healthy cholesterol. They’re also great because you can add veggies and extra protein to them to make them an even better option after a workout. Eating an omelet with some fruit or sprouted grain toast would enhance the carb content of your meal.

SPINACH AND TURKEY OMELET

-2-3 eggs (depending on egg size, 2 large or 3 small/medium)

-1 cup of spinach, ripped up into pieces

-1 slice of oven roasted turkey, chopped into pieces

-Parmesan or Romano cheese to taste (about 2 tablespoons)

-Garlic powder to taste

Directions:

-Combine eggs, spinach, turkey, cheese, and garlic powder in a bowl and mix well

-Turn stove top on medium high and spray lightly with olive oil

-After heated, add the egg mixture and let it cook for 3-4 minutes

-Using a large spatula, fold the egg in half and flip it over

-Let the egg cook for 2-3 more minutes and then it is done!

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Feel free to add more cheese if you like (my dad LOVES cheese) and a little paprika on top as well.

(modified from a Runner’s World recipe)

Enjoy and have a great day!

Jenny

We Must Begin Somewhere

My first blog post ever. It’s weird to think all those successful bloggers out there started at the same point where I am now; beginning from scratch.

I should probably start off by telling you why I want to start a blog in the first place. Running is my passion in life, along with reading about new information and becoming the healthiest, happiest person I can be. (And hopefully helping others to be their best too!) I have many other passions too, but those are the ones that persuaded me to start a blog.

If you are a runner, you probably already know the importance of taking care of your body and fueling it optimally to perform your best. I want to share with fellow bloggers and readers my journey to find the foods and tools that allow my body to compete successfully and live happily. There are many problems runners can encounter when training for long distances or just training hard in general. I would like to help others learn from my experiences and share useful information with anyone who wants to listen.

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I love interacting with people so starting a blog seemed like the perfect idea. I have been reading blogs for a few years now, and I have become hooked :) I’m so excited to share information about running with you including recipes, recovery methods, training techniques, and thoughts about the topic in general. I also have been really into strength training lately, so there will be posts about the importance of strength training for runners and how to gain muscle quickly.

I will also fill you in with things happening in my life if you are interested. Feel free to skip to the valuable information if you don’t want to hear about a soon to be college freshman’s life!

Thank you for reading and hope to see you back here soon.

Jenny :)