Monday, January 31, 2011

How many calories do you eat!?

Hello blog, it's been a busy few weeks!
For those few of you out there reading away--or not, because I haven't posted, I'm back with a quick check-in!

I am back with some questions:
1) How do you know how many calories you should be eating?
2) If you are or in the past were eating too few calories, how did you bump up those calories?

So for example did you...
A) Just start eating larger portions?
B) Eat more snacks?
C) Have more delicious cookies and ice cream?

Did you bump up your calories over a period of time? How long?

Did you just realize you needed to eat more--and so you started having two dinners instead of one?

Here's the thing of it:

Right now I am running 40+ miles a week, on the way to 50. I just realized through a series of events that I am probably eating not enough calories--as in--today I ate 1300 and then ran off 450 of those.

How many calories are appropriate for a woman running this amount? Yes. I realize this makes me sound somewhat dumb, but is it--2500? 3000? 1700? I mean how do I find out the "Optimal amount?"

I'm curious to get some other perspectives on these questions..yes, I'm googling around ;D

Monday, January 10, 2011

Solo artist or Group performer?

Do you prefer to train alone or with some friends? What do you think the benefits or drawbacks are to either style? I read this article from a couple years ago about some of the pros, including...if I do say so, my (not so secret now) running crush Dathan ::Swoon::
::cough:: anyways. The benefits and drawbacks of running with a group or as a loner.
I. Am a loner. Generally speaking I train with just me and the coach, but this got me thinking about the benefits...and wondering what other people do--and think.

The article is from the New York Times, enjoy!
September 17, 2009

Personal Best

To Train Harder, Consider a Crowd


DATHAN RITZENHEIN, one of America’s most talented runners, was in a slump.
He had been a national star since high school but, starting several years
ago, he felt as if he had reached a plateau. He wasn’t improving the way
he’d hoped, and had been suffering stress fractures, repeatedly breaking a
small bone in his left foot.

He and his coach tried to figure out what was wrong and seized upon the idea
that perhaps it was the altitude training. He had been living and training
in Boulder, Colo., hoping to take advantage of the thin air, which can
increase the red blood cells that help deliver more oxygen to muscles. But
maybe, Mr. Ritzenhein and his coach reasoned, training at Boulder’s
elevation (about 5,430 feet) was putting too much stress on Mr. Ritzenhein’s

So Mr. Ritzenhein, his coach and his family moved to Eugene, Ore. (430
feet). “It didn’t work,” Mr. Ritzenhein said. He did not improve and, to his
dismay, suffered another stress fracture.

In June, Mr. Ritzenhein joined a running group, a team of elite runners
coached by Alberto Salazar, winner of three consecutive New York City
marathons in the early 1980s. It made all the difference, Mr. Ritzenhein
said. He was re-energized, excited about running again. And, he said, most
important, he trained with fast runners who pushed him to work harder than
he ever could alone.

At a track meet in Zurich on Aug. 28, Mr. Ritzenhein, 27, broke the American
record for a 5,000-meter race, finishing in 12 minutes 56.27 seconds — a
pace of 4:09 a mile in a race that is 3.1 miles long. The American record
before that, 12:58.21, had stood for 13 years.

Mr. Ritzenhein is convinced his success is because of running and training
with a group. Running alone, he said, “You can’t push yourself as hard — you
feed off the energy of other people.”

Mr. Salazar said in an e-mail message that he is a firm believer in group
training. He had trained with a group himself, he said, and group training
“helped develop our great runners of the ’70s and ’80s.”

Group training is an aspect of performance that has never been
scientifically studied. Exercise physiologists say it can be impossible to
demonstrate its value because usually too many things change simultaneously
when people start to run in groups: the coach, the location, the training
regimen. To do a proper study, it would be necessary to assign athletes at
random to train alone or with a group, assessing their performances after a
period of time — something that would be extremely hard, if not impossible.

But despite the lack of solid evidence that group training helps, more and
more athletes are starting to think it does. And, they say, there are
lessons for amateurs who want to run or swim or cycle faster. The right
workout companions, they say, can make all the difference.

“In sports, you need to train at race pace,” said Edward Coyle, an exercise
physiologist at the University of Texas at Austin. “To do that, you need a
coach and you need teammates to push you.”

Recreational athletes can benefit, too, Dr. Coyle said. Many run by
themselves or without a specific program. “They probably underestimate their
ability,” he said. Group runs “would help them tremendously.”

Many amateurs already train with groups — masters swimmers, competitive road
cyclists and runners who join clubs or groups that run together regularly.

And there can be drawbacks. Slower athletes may try to push themselves
beyond their abilities, and faster ones may not be challenged enough.

Michael Berry, an exercise physiologist at Wake Forest University and a
competitive cyclist, said he just can’t ride with his group on his recovery
days, when a workout should be easy. He always finds himself riding too

Before he started cycling, he was a runner, and he had the same problem.
“Say Monday would be a recovery day, an easy five-mile run,” said Dr. Berry,
53. “Someone would show up who hadn’t run all weekend. My competitive urge
was such that I said to myself that I didn’t need to recover.” But, he
added, “As I get older I realize that, yes, I do need to recover.”

Yet the power of groups easily outweighs their drawbacks, says Kevin Hanson.
He and his brother Keith start running groups that draw hundreds in
Rochester, Mich., and in 1999 started a team of elite runners, the
Hansons-Brooks Distance Project.

Kevin Hanson said he and his brother got the idea for the elite team when
they began asking why American performances had declined so much in the
1990s from the golden days of the ’70s and ’80s.

“Frank Shorter, Bill Rodgers, Greg Meyer,” who, in 1983, was the last
American man to with the Boston Marathon, “all trained in groups,” Mr.
Hanson said.

But in the 1990s, distance runners began training on their own, with the
guidance of a coach. And Americans were no longer among the best in the

“We started to see a decline in the sport,” Mr. Hanson said. The countries
whose distance runners were the best — Ethiopia, Kenya and Japan — all
emphasized training in groups, he noted.

“You say: ‘Wait a minute. We were most successful in the U.S. when we
trained in groups. The three most successful countries in the world are
doing group training,’ ” Mr. Hanson said. There must be a message there.

So he and his brother started recruiting runners for their elite group. Its
advantages, he said, are that athletes have “shared motivation, a shared
sense of ideas.” And they encourage one another.

“So often it may be hard to drag yourself outdoors,” to go for a training
run, Mr. Hanson said. “But when you have 8 or 10 or whatever number of
teammates counting on you, then you’re there.”

That’s also what Kara Goucher says. She ran her first marathon last year, in
New York, and came in third among women. Her time, 2:25:53, was the fastest
ever for an American woman running her first marathon. Ms. Goucher
attributes her success to group training.

She graduated from college in 2001 and ran on her own, coached by her
college coach, for three years.

“I really struggled,” Ms. Goucher said. “I kept getting injured.” She had
multiple stress fractures, a knee injury and shin splints. Her husband, Adam
Goucher, was also running alone, coached by his college coach, and was also
struggling, she said.

In the fall of 2004, the Gouchers moved to Oregon and joined Mr. Salazar’s
team. It made all the difference, Ms. Goucher said.

“I think it’s possible to train on your own, but I do think it is better in
a group,” she said. “You see success in each other. Everything seems more in

“And it holds you accountable,” she continued. “Instead of waiting all day
to do my run, I have to go out and meet the girls.”

Kevin Hanson adds that when one person in a group has an outstanding
performance, others gain confidence that they might be able to do it, too.
They know how hard everyone works, they know they can run with that person
in practice. If that person did it, if they ran that fast, then, team
members think, why not me?

That happened this year when Desiree Davila, one of his team’s members, ran
the Berlin marathon in 2:27:53, finishing 11th. She was 26 years old; Mr.
Hanson said the only other American woman to run a marathon that fast that
young was Joan Benoit Samuelson in 1983.

“It was a huge motivating factor for all of our women,” Mr. Hanson said.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: September 24, 2009
The Personal Best column last Thursday, about the benefits for runners who
train in groups, misstated Kara Goucher’s time in the 2008 New York City
Marathon. It was 2 hours 25 minutes 53 seconds — not 2:32:25, which was her
time in this year’s Boston Marathon.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The thin line between dedicated and crazy?

Today I ran 35 minutes outside.
No biggie you say.
It was 45 degrees and I ran at 3:30.
Oh, it might have been chilly for a few people.
The wind was blowing at 45 MPH.
If you have ever wanted to be a human kite, you should have run with me today. At a certain point I was "running" along, leaning into the wind, and also cursing out loud but you couldn't hear anything I was saying b/c the wind was howling by
Why did I do this?
Well, I really needed to get in some miles. I knew it was "windy," but a mini hurricane wasn't on my radar (tee hee) but I was also asking myself what the thin line was between being crazy and being dedicated. Was I being dedicated by going out despite the wind or crazy by running despite the wind--and not choosing some other alternative? Not many people would be out running in that wind. I'm pretty sure about that. I had to look like a nutter. The weird thing is, I probably would have gotten about the same sort of workout inside on the dreadmill. Mentally it would have sucked the same and honestly, I think the effort level outside gave me more bang for my buck.

What do you think? Is running in adverse weather crazy or crazy dedicated?
What are the benefits to running when it's not "perfect?" What are the drawbacks?
At what point do you say "ENOUGH!" and take a weather day off OR go to the gym?

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Acting "as if..."

I'm reading this book, "Thinking Body, Dancing Mind," by Chungliang Al Huang and Jerry Lynch. It approaches mental skills from what they call the TaoSports point of view, which I think of as basically integrating concepts from the Tao into sports and other areas of life like business or school. I'm enjoying this more Eastern Philosophy approach to mental skills.

Right now I'm reading about Beliefs...
Well okay let's backtrack. In the Tao, there is the fundamental belief of the Beginner's Mind. It is open and receptive. Willing to invite many new attitudes in one's approach to life. When you are using the Beginner's Mind, you can see things in a new and refreshing way and become award of many alternative avenues that lead to extraordinary performances or options. (Huang and Lynch, 1992).

So, Beliefs. It's sad to think that as athletes and as people in general, we can come from a place of belief that is anything less than "I can."
The Beginner's Mind gives you freedom to act as if you can accomplish something..anything: Like....becoming a doctor...
Or...the most successful female action star in the world like Angelina Jolie.

Or even...

A superhero!

All these things are possible if you act "as if" they are. Simple huh? I know that I act as if I'm an Incredible each and every day and I'm *almost* there, all due to acting "as if" and having a Beginner's Mind! Okay. So not quite, but I enjoyed the picture show thus far...

So about Beliefs, Acting as if and sports.
In all seriousness I'm trying to act "as if" more when it comes to my running. What does that mean exactly? Well for me, it means working to choose a model of what I want to act "as if" I'm like when I'm running. I know I scoffed above that I was easily achieving this above, but it's actually not that easy. Huang and Lynch have this exercise in which you act "as if" you are someone you want to be like, OR an animal you want to a symbol you are working towards, and you visualize yourself with those animal-like qualities when you perform. I just sat here for 20 minutes trying to think of what animal I wanted to visualize during my runs, and I came up with the following, along with the following NON-Beginner's Mind thoughts...

Gazelle (Gazelles are cool, and pretty, but they are prey I want to be prey? No I want to be the badass leading the pack, duh.)

Cheetahs (Trite. How many runners don't wanna be a cheetah on some level? Be honest, you know you've thought of it.)

a pronghorn (again a prey animal, but North America's fastest land animal isn't bad....)

courtesy of

Mountain lion (not known for endurance especially, but composure under pressure, definitely. Smart hunter...)

My conclusion: I didn't pick one...wah wah.

The next step after even selecting your symbol to act "as if," is to visualize that symbol during visualizations (which the authors recommend practicing at least a few times a week, practice makes perfect), I'm not sure I'm past getting to a Beginner's Mind.

So here are two questions...

1) Have you ever done anything like this?

2) Is this something you would think about to enhance your belief in yourself?

3) What symbol would you use to "act as if?" It could be a word, ("act as if you are a champion"), an animal, someone you look up to.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Ah school...

Last night I set my alarm for a bright and early 6 am. I wake up to the radio in the morning, and I guess I didn't have the radio turned up loud enough, because at my normal 7 am, I popped out of bed, and had a mini heart attack!

Fortunately (unfortunately?) for me, I don't wake up to my iphone, which apparently is having some alarm issues

It happened to one of my friends at school, and it was a nice, ready made excuse you know. Although I also heard people were getting fired over their alarms. What kind of boss can't be understanding when there is an iPhone glitch? Okay, so that surgeon was late for that heart transplant...things happen! I kid, I kid. Thank goodness my friend was just late for the first day of class, and missed the syllabus.

Anyways, so yeah. I overslept. Thankfully, I had Mr. Snow to help out. I gently asked him to wake up and help out. Feed the cat, walk the dog, and be my morning barista.

Here is Mr. Snow, creating cappuccino art:

The Breville hard at work, making coffee and foaming milk
The yummy end product that skyrocketed me to school.

This afternoon I ran about 5 miles with my coach, and three running friends. I also got to run with a cattledog Mr. Snow and I took care of last year. It was really the highlight of the run, getting to see him again. I'd add a photo but I don't have one. Oh well, use your imagination.

After running, I learned the strength training I'm supposed to be doing that will help propel me from my average of 45-50 miles per week to an eventual 65 miles per week.

Wall sits
Hilarious skips (2 different sets)
Sit ups
Foot pushers
These are the technical terms for these exercises. I'll make it a goal to take some photos for my anxious readers who want to know what a 'Hilarious skip' looks like.

Technically it's also a goal to do these exercises 2 times a week. There is another set of exercises I'm supposed to do 2 other days a week. I'm still building up to that moment! It's one step at a time to excellence.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Last day of freedom

I'm relaxing on the couch enjoying the last few hours of freedom before it's back to school tomorrow. Imagine me quietly singing like "Billy Madison, "Back to school. Back to school.... I got my lunch packed up, my boots tied tight...ohh back to school."
I think this picture sums up the excitement I'm feeling as of this moment. Don't get me wrong, I love school, time off is always nice and it feels like it went by way too fast!

So, in honor of it being the last day of winter break, today the husband and I enjoyed blueberry pancakes, homemade cappuccinos made with our Breville Espresso Machine. Mr. Snow is becoming quite the barista...

We went to see the Social Network. You know, that one about Time Magazine's person of the year..that guy who started Facebook, Mark Zukerburg
And then, we ended the day with...wait for it..A trip to the gym! I busted out 7 miles on the dreadmill, while watching "Executive Decision," with Kurt Russell. What a classic. I love the part where he and Halle Berry save the airplane. The final 16 minutes of my run I busted out a mini fartlek, 4 minutes at level 9, 4 min at 8 x 2. If you are ever wondering how to make time on the treadmill go faster, try a fartlek. In any form it helps move the time along.

Tomorrow, class, and shocking my body of what it feels like to get up at 6 am. I wonder if I can convince my barista...I mean Mr. snow of the benefits of waking up that early too?

How many of you are facing the grind tomorrow?

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Hello 2011!

What did you do to kick off your 1/1/11?

This morning I joined my parents for a cappuccino and coffee cake at the Boulder Brewing Market close to our house, and then this afternoon when it had warmed up past 20 degrees I went for a lovely 6 mile run husband! He rarely joins for runs--usually coming on the bike or waving me on so it was a nice surprise.

Running on a trail that has about 4 inches of snow on it is definitely an adventure! I felt myself somewhere between running and snowshoeing, all the effort of trudging along but without the benefit of the shoes! It was a gorgeous day. I love the snow. It's finally feeling like winter.

What about you? Was anyone battling a hangover today? Did you ring in the year with fun run? Substitute a run with something else interesting?