Supplements + Nutrition + Sleep

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I wanted to dedicate a separate post on what I am doing – and have been doing – over the last three months – that have helped me start to feel better.

**Please keep in mind that I am not a health professional. I am not trained in nutrition or supplement-use. This post is merely from my experience with trying to get some of my levels back up so I could feel normal again!

My diet while I felt lousy wasn’t as great as it normally is. When my stomach hurts, I feel tired or am cranky, I turn to comfort foods. For me that means chocolate, ice cream, milkshakes and sugary candy (Swedish fish and hot tamales are my favorites). I knew that in the long-term these would actually make me feel worse rather than better, but I also felt like now was the time to eat what I wanted, when I wanted. I pride myself on eating very healthy when I am knee-deep in marathon training. This was my window to live a little and satisfy all those cravings that I have. And so I’m sure that my diet was adding to my not feeling as good as I normally do.

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    When Your Mind + Body Are Not On the Same Page

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    After each marathon training cycle, I find that my mind needs a break. Of course my body needs one, but I often find that my mind needs a longer one. A break from following a plan, figuring out how to rearrange all the puzzle pieces so I can fit in the necessary runs and from setting early AM alarms. I have found that it’s usually about 3-4 weeks of downtime. I am still running – but often, it’s a very “fly by the seat of your pants” kind of running. No set paces or distance – more just running what I feel up to running that day. More rest days.

    And then when my mind and heart decide it’s time to resume training, my body immediately gets on board and training picks up. It’s been this way for the last 3 or 4 marathon training cycles.

    This past April was completely different. My mind definitely need the normal break, but when I felt like I was ready to get back into things and resume training, my body was not ready – not even close to being ready.

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      Current State of Running + Why I Run Marathons

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      Check out Instagram for a fun summer giveaway by Nathan Sports!——-

      I drafted so many posts the last 4-5 weeks with updates on running, but each time, I was hesitant to share the progress I had been feeling because I didn’t know if it was permanent. I didn’t want to come here and shout that I was feeling great to only feel like garbage two or three days later.

      Even now, I’m cautiously optimistic that I’m finally on the road to recovery. It’s two full months since Boston – 60 days. Almost 9 weeks. I had what I guess you can call my best week of running post-Boston last week. 44 miles with a whooping 13 mile long run. I know it doesn’t sound like much, especially when Timehop reminded me this morning that I ran a 63+ mile week one year ago. BUT, it is a huge improvement for me – given how I have been feeling the last two months.

      To be completely honest, I’m still not 100% sure what caused me to feel the way I did (and still do to a lesser degree). I think it was a combination of a whole lot of things – nutrition, lack of sleep, back-to-back-to-back tough, breakthrough cycles. And so I’ve been working hard to get those things back in check. Vitamins every day. More sleep at night. Naps on the weekend. Lots of rest and recovery.

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        First Speedwork in 7 Weeks + Some Exciting News!

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        Happy Friday!! I am pumped to be working from home today. We had a big release yesterday evening and unfortunately, I had to do some testing from 11pm-2am. But I was able to sleep in a bit and not worry about commuting into the city!

        I have a few exciting updates to share:

        First, I am taking over Women’s Running Instagram account on Monday. Memorial Day means a lot to my husband and I – we’ve lost a lot of friends due to the war on terror and so Monday is always a tough day for us. I’m racing a 4 miler with “racing” being a loose term since I’m just getting my legs back after weeks of little to no running and zero speed. BUT, I’m going to give it my best shot – and at the very least, it will give me a starting point for the rest of the summer.

        Anyway, make sure you follow Women’s Running (and me while you are at it!) on Instagram so you can follow along on Memorial Day.

        PS. I mentioned this last year, but wanted to share again: If you are planning on running this weekend, consider participating in the Wear Blue: Run to Remember.

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          Knowledge is Power

          I don’t post here every day but I share my running, training and life happenings on Instagram daily!

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          They say knowledge is power. And it’s incredibly true in this case. I am grateful that I finally know what has been causing me to feel so incredibly awful the last 4-5 weeks.

          Four weeks where every single run felt like a struggle. Where an 8:00 pace felt like sub-7. Where my legs were as wobbly and tired after 2 miles as they used to feel after 22 miles.

          I love the feeling of being tired on a run – when it’s expected. Those day-after-hard workouts runs where everything hurts and you are running slow. But, this was different. It was week after week of feeling wiped out and not having any answers or explanations why.

          It’s been a hard few weeks for me. Both physically and mentally. More than anything, I missed the feeling of enjoying a run. I felt drained. And running felt more like a chore. So I stopped. I’ve run enough to know when my body is sending signals to slow down. I ran 27 miles two weeks ago. The week before was 29. Took more rest days than run days.

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            Nutrition + Fueling for Marathons

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            Last week I talked about my training for Wineglass. One of the questions I was asked was about nutrition – if I changed anything, how I fueled on runs, etc. You can have the perfect training plan, but if your diet is not meeting the needs of your body, you can get injured, sick or not make it to the start line as trained or healthy as you could be.

            For many years, I had a general rule of thumb that I fueled on any run over 90 minutes. Even when I was running long in Iraq and didn’t have access to gels (during my 2nd deployment), I still found ways to fuel. I carried little packets of peanut butter or handfuls of peanuts/trail mix in bags in my sports bra.

            I’m a big believer in making training harder than races. So less fuel, water, carb-intake, etc during the training cycle and during each run than I would give myself on race day. I want my body to be able to run longer miles with less fuel so that on race days, it will feel easier (or at least provide a mental advantage) when I have consistent calories and water coming in.

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              Homemade Tomato Sauce

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              I’ve never been one to eat out constantly – it’s not that I don’t enjoy the food or the “time-off” from cooking – but I much prefer to know what’s in the food I am eating. I find that I feel much more bloated and just “blah” after a meal out at a restaurant than I would if I ate a similar meal at home.

              But I also really love cooking. I credit most of that to my mom who cooked six nights a week for us when we were growing up. Dinner was always a time to sit down at the table, as a family of six and talk about the day. I’m thankful that the boys are such great eaters – I don’t ever have to make them something special when we eat – I cook one thing and we all eat it.

              One of my go-tos is a made-from-scratch tomato sauce that takes ~30 minutes. There’s nothing fancy about it – but it’s a meal that my little guys LOVE – and it’s light and easy enough on my stomach to eat the night before long runs. I can also use it on a variety of main dishes – whole wheat pasta, black bean pasta, broccoli, chicken (for chicken parmigiana), salmon (baked in the oven with the sauce).

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                Race Week Tips

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                Marathon training plans range can range from 12-18 weeks long (or more). But in my opinion, the most important week of training is the week with the least amount of training – race week. Occasionally missing a run during a training cycle or having an off week in training will likely have minimal impact on your race performance. But running too fast or too long, not getting enough sleep or not focusing on things like nutrition and hydration can have a huge effect on your performance on race day.

                We just entered the window for spring marathons (check out Daily Burn’s article on the Top 15 Spring Marathons in the US). With that comes some peak mileage, the taper and then race week. Race week always means several key things for me. Nutrition, Hydration, Sleep, Rest, Trust. I try to focus on just these five things – otherwise I feel overwhelmed, confused and unorganized.

                – Nutrition: Think plain, simple, lightPlan your meals this way and your stomach will thank you. I typically aim for carb-dense foods in the days leading up to the race and then add some protein the night before. But everything is very plain – nothing loaded with cheese or spices. Plain pasta (or pasta with coconut oil), bagels or bread with coconut oil or almond butter, pretzels and chicken are my go-tos during this time.

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                  Running Links and Highlights

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                  If you are in the path of Juno, hoping you and your loved ones are staying safe and warm! We woke up this morning to 7+ inches of snow and howling winds outside – but not nearly as bad as they were predicting!

                  I read so many great running-related stories and posts throughout the week – and wanted to do a roundup of some of the highlights I found!

                  If there is one that I missed or one that really stood out to you, let me know in the comments or with an email (nycrunningmama@gmail.com) and I’ll include it in next week’s roundup!

                  Fallen Runner Saved Near Finish Line: Amazing story of a runner who collapsed (and was clinically dead) at the finish line of the Naples Half Marathon before onlookers and medical personnel saved his life!

                  You Know You Are Screwed At The Start Line When...: I can relate to many of these! Definitely worth a read if you need a good chuckle!

                  Study: Women Are Better At Marathon Pacing Than MenAccording to a recent study, women are better than men at pacing themselves during marathons…no definitive reason why but the article has a couple of possibilities.

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                    Staten Island Advance News + Race Week Checklist

                    Wearing my sparkly soul headband at the 2011 NYC Marathon!
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                    I’m really excited to share that I have teamed up with my hometown newspaper, the Staten Island Advance, to talk about all things related to the NYC Marathon. I’ll be writing a few posts/articles that will be shared here, on their website and in print a few times over the next 10 days.

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                    Race day is just 9 days away…which means we are about to enter race week. It’s that time in training when you are running less miles than you have the last 12-18 weeks. Race week is always filled with a lot of free time. And if you are like me, the decrease in running and increase in extra time goes hand-in-hand with elevated stress levels and thinking about next Sunday.

                    But rather than sit around and stress about race day, I try to plan ahead and ensure that everything is ready for the days and hours leading up to the race. Having a detailed checklist keeps me on track and focused and makes race week feel less stressful.

                    Below is what goes on my list:

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                      NYC Marathon Hydration Tips

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                      The start of the 2011 NYC Marathon

                      The start of the 2011 NYC Marathon

                      The NYC Marathon is rapidly approaching – can you believe we are down to single digits already?

                      I’m incredibly excited to be running the NYC Marathon for the 3rd time this year. There’s something so special about running through the streets of my hometown, having family and friends scattered throughout the course and finishing up in Central Park, the place I ran every day while I lived in the city.

                      As the Official Bottled Water of the 2014 TCS New York City Marathon, this fall, Poland Spring® brand 100% natural spring water kicked off their “Poland Spring Cheers” campaign in an effort to thank the millions of New Yorkers who helped make local spring water from Maine the #1 beverage brand in New York City.

                      I’ve partnered up with Poland Springs to share some of my hydration tips for the days leading up to a marathon.

                      1. Keep water with you. I do this on a regular basis but I pay even more attention to it during race week. I always have a bottle of water with me regardless of where I’m going or how long I will be gone – places like the store, the marathon expo or commuting to work can take a lot more time than you anticipate. Keep it close by and have a few sips a couple of times an hour.

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                        Marathon Training Favorites

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                        It’s been a while since I highlighted some of the things that are helping me get through training – lots go into 70+ mile weeks – recovery and nutrition are the two big ones but it also helps to have things that make me smile through the whole process.

                        – Stroller Running: I never thought I would actually love stroller running as much as I currently am. Stroller running is hard. Even a 5 or 6 “easy” run is not easy. It’s a full body workout and I feel it in my abs and upper body the next day. I know running with the stroller makes me a fitter, stronger runner – maybe not necessarily in the paces I can run but more in my endurance and overall shape. I think what has made the last few months even more enjoyable is that both boys are loving it just as much, if not more than, me – it’s that little extra bit of motivation I need to make it a double stroller run instead of a treadmill run.

                        Saucony Kinvara 5: I am in completely love with this shoe. I started wearing them on short recovery runs (or switching them out halfway through) and have gradually built up the mileage and frequency I am running in them. I wore them this past week for my 6×1600 workout (11 total miles) and may wear them this weekend for the SI Half Marathon.

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                          The New Meta

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                          Have you ever looked at various aspects of your life and felt overwhelmed with all the things you’ve wanted to change or improve upon? I’ve learned that it’s best for me to start with something small. When I focus on improving one small area of my life it seems to have a snowball effect – the rest of my life starts to fall into place as well.

                          For example, once I make it a habit to go to bed earlier, I begin to get up earlier (so my runs happen in the early AM), which means I have more time during the day to spend with the boys. I also have more energy throughout the day, I eat healthier and I end up drinking more water. All from shutting my eyes even 30 minutes earlier each night.

                          Meta, the new line of products launched by Metamucil®, is based on the same principle – one small change can lead to good things – also known as the Meta Effect.

                          Meta offers a new line of health products to support wellness with MultiHealth benefits to help keep you healthy from the inside out. The products featured in the Meta Line are:

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                            Healthy Snacking for Marathon Training

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                            I’ve written several posts the last couple of years on my fueling/nutrition for marathon and Ironman training. I feel like I’m always tweaking or changing something to try to find what works best for me, what’s going on in my life (pregnant, nursing) and what I am training for. I’ve gone from a non-restrictive diet (Ironman training) to one that was pretty close to being vegan/vegetarian (last fall for Philly).

                            For the past six or seven months, my husband and I have settled into a diet that gives us the energy we need to train while not feeling restrictive. The staples in our diet have returned to things like greens, raw veggies, beans and quinoa – similar to how we were eating in the fall. But we are also eating meat and dairy more frequently these days.  Most importantly, however, are my smaller meals throughout the day – something that I have not been the best with.

                            As I’m sure anyone who has their hands full with work, kids or a combo of both know, if you don’t plan ahead for your meals and snacks throughout the day, you’ll end up eating something unhealthy and/or not getting the nutrients that your body needs. That was the routine I found myself in at the start of the summer. My main meals were healthy and packed with the good fats, nutrients and calories I needed. But the smaller meals throughout the day were empty calories, high in fat (not the good kind) and often whatever was easiest and quickest.

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                              Vitamix S30 Review and Giveaway

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                              Source: Vitamix.com

                              Over the holidays, our blender broke (totally my fault since I put the glass container within reach of the boys). My husband and I used the blender on a fairly regular basis to make smoothies and shakes and were looking for a good sale on a new one. About the same time, I was asked if I wanted to test out the new Vitamix S30, the personal blender, and obviously jumped at the opportunity. Perfect timing!

                              So first, let’s talk about the Vitamix S30:

                              • First personal-sized blender created by Vitamix
                              • Allows you to create individual servings and small family meals
                              • 20-oz container (fits in most cup holders) turns into a travel cup with a flip-top lid and handle
                              • 40-oz container blends small batches of soups, sauces, frozen deserts and more
                              • Small size (20.3 x 8 x 9 in – h x w x h) takes up little room on your counter
                              • Variable Speed Control to achieve textures from coarse to smooth
                              • Pulse Feature – chops quickly for easy ingredient prep
                              • Dishwasher safe (containers, lids, and blade)
                              • Comes with a cookbook FULL of recipes for beverages, dips/spreads, dressings, soups, sauces and desserts
                              • 5 year warranty

                              I’ve tried a few of the recipes from the book (they do not disappoint) including the Frozen Strawberry Daiquiri – easy to make and SO delicious!

                              I’ve also started making my recovery/protein shakes again (I was doing this a lot last summer during Ironman training).

                              It’s incredibly easy to use and clean and I love that the small container doubles as an individual to-go container which means less to clean!

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                              So now for the fun part!! Vitamix will be giving away one S30 Personal Blender which retails for $400+! There are multiple ways to enter – see below!

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                                It’s More Than Just Running

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                                Two quick things. First, check back on Monday – I am super excited to be hosting a VITAMIX giveaway!! One person will win a Vitamix S30 (retails for $500).

                                Second, the boys and I are in the May 2014 issue of Fitness Magazine!! It was a special Mother’s Day edition of #motivationmoment!!

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                                Each marathon teaches me a ton about myself and my approach to the distance. A PR or great finish time is exciting and kind of the point of a dedicated training cycle, but I’d argue that it’s not the the most important thing. If you are like me, there will mostly likely be another marathon in the next season. And so the real key is figuring out what worked and didn’t work so that the next training cycle can be stronger and more successful.

                                In the week following any race, I try to replay it in my mind so that I can pinpoint things to improve upon. I made some changes after the 2013 NJ Marathon and then made more tweaks after Philly and again after LA (including some things I did differently during the taper which I already discussed in Wednesday’s post).

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                                  Triathlon #2: Mighty Moss Half Ironman

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                                  This weekend will bring me one step closer to Ironman Lake Placid (which is ONE month away today – aghh!). My second triathlon will be the Mighty Moss Half Ironman. I am surprisingly calm – and actually, even really, really excited!

                                  This race is important for a number of reasons. First, it will be my longest triathlon {to date} and it fits perfectly into my trainup for IMLP. I lucked out that I was able to find the right distances at the right time based on what my training plan has called for. Second, I’m anxious to see how I do with the transitions and the other trouble areas I had for the Rev 3 Olympic a few weeks ago.  Practice makes perfect, right? Third, I’m testing out my nutrition plan for IMLP.  Fingers are crossed that things go smoothly. I’m replicating what I did for my 100 miler last weekend (I had no stomach issues albeit I think I need to consume a bit more calories/hour).

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                                    Two Weeks Off From Running + Scotland 10k this weekend

                                    First ride in the wagon!

                                    I loved reading all your comments on yesterday’s post – glad to know that my husband and I are not the only ones who struggle with both fitting in working out daily.

                                    Ever have a day where everything seems to go your way?  Yesterday was one of those days for me.  Started with an amazing ~20 miles of the Lake Placid Ironman Course  on the trainer.

                                    This DVD is amazing.  I am so thankful that Amanda recommended it to me.  My plan is to use parts of the DVD for at least one bike ride a week so that I can become intimately familiar with the course.  The bike course at LP is 2 56-mile loops.  This DVD takes you through one complete loop with Coach Troy with pointers and tips for the course along the way.

                                    Both boys slept later than usual (6am for the oldest and 8am for the youngest) AND had joint naps (for a little bit) which allowed me to shower, work on training plans, respond to some emails, do  laundry, and clean the house.

                                    Then I had a few deliveries.  First Fedex dropped two huge boxes off containing this:

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                                      Long Run Fail

                                      Don’t forget to enter the Ava and Liam Giveaway!

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                                      I like my marathon training cycles to be on the longer side – at least 16-18 weeks with my long runs beginning at 12-14 miles.  One of the reasons is because it gives me a few extra buffer weeks in case I have to miss a long run.  Being a mom to two little ones (with one that’s exclusively breastfed) means that a good night’s sleep is totally out of my hands and despite my best efforts, a long run (or successful long run) is sometimes not in the cards.

                                      I’ve being extremely satisfied with my long runs this training cycle.  Until this weekend.  This weekend’s did NOT go as planned (and it had nothing to do with the little ones).

                                      I intended to run 16 miles early Friday morning (5:30am) following a similar route as last weekend’s 22 miler.  I knew from the first few steps that it was going to be a tough run.  I was working harder than I should have been to maintain a pace that last weekend felt so easyI wasn’t out of breath – instead, my body felt fatigued, exhausted, and unable to move any faster than what it was already running.

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                                        Menu Planning for Ironman Training

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                                        Don’t forget to enter my Motivational Sign Giveaway!!

                                        After my first week of swimming for Ironman training (coupled with marathon training), I realized I needed to make some major changes with my daily routine.  One area I knew I needed to focus on was my family’s meals – especially dinner.  They had become boring, sometimes very unhealthy, and often lacking in the nutrition that I would need to swim + bike + run.

                                        The last two weeks I have been meal / menu planning throughout the week for our weekend supermarket trip.  I’ve tried to include 2-3 new recipes each week while also ensuring a few are crockpot recipes.  I have found that trying to cook past 5pm is often difficult with the two little ones – they are much more self-entertained in the early afternoon hours.

                                        Some of these recipes have come from cookbooks, websites, blogs (check out The Lean Green Bean and Making Good Choices for some yummy recipes), Instagram photos…

                                        I’ve been posting some of the dinners on Instagram and have been asked to share the recipes.  Let me preface this all by saying a few things:

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