Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Outlook for upcoming Jalapeño Half, #14

I feel pretty confident that I will be able to finish the
Jalapeño Half in Texas on Saturday. 
How I'll finish, is another story!
This week, I've been scaling back my strengthening workouts, scaling back my runs, and making sure I am drinking enough H2O, beet juice, and tart cherry juice. Of course I eat enough carbs - I'm 1/2 Italian, for goodness sakes!
Tony, aka James Gandolfini, you will be missed!
The little ice cream shop around the corner from me, where the last episode of The Sopranos was filmed has been packed for the last two weeks! Of course, the table where Tony sat was donned with flowers and reserved for their paesano!

Anyway, since my tendinosis and proximal hamstring strain diagnosis, I have been really working hard at building core and glute strength, along with improving my whole kinetic chain from shoulders to feet. Each morning, I get up about 5-5:30, drink some coffee, eat 1/2 a bar for the 10g protein and 100 cals. Just enough to get me going. On Monday, Tuesday and Friday, I train to improve my core, glute, hammy, and quad strength. Mondays, I also concentrate on planks, upper and lower back, and biceps. I think of my biceps as my vanity muscles, 'cause you don't really need them for running, but they sure make your arms look good in a short sleeve shirt! Tuesday, I work on my chest/upper body with more planks, push-up, dips, burpees, mountain climbers, abs and core. I have been doing (and loving) the wood chop and reverse wood chop exercise for core and hip strength:
These are fun! Really!
That brings me to Wednesday, today. I get in trouble if I go to the gym on track days. I wind up doing something stupid, like pistol squats, or lunges and jump lunges. By the time I get to the track, my legs aren't that fresh. I just want so badly for this tendon/hamstring pain and inflammation to go away that I have a bad habit of over training! So, I stay out of the gym on Wednesday morning. I do some sort of work out after my speed work - simple things, like karaoke, donkey kicks, pawning - front and backwards, walk on heels, jump rope, toe/feet strengthening exercises.

Thursdays, I am back in the gym for more core, some shoulders, and tri's. Planks on Thursdays usually involve weights:
Plank Rows
On Fridays, I stick to squats, pistol squats, lunges and jump lunges, hip heist and anything, I missed earlier in the week.
Ready, set, shuffle forward!
This Friday, I will not be going to the gym. 
Instead, I will be on a plane heading to Texas 
to run in the Jalapeño Half.
I'm going to finish!
After all this work, and still pain in the hammy/butt area, I will be happy if I can cross the finish line, and say,
"I prepared the best I could, 
tried the best I could, 
and ran the best I could."
Train Smart Today!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Are you a Cosmo Girl?

There it was. 
I was at the supermarket checkout.
The cover read:
"Make Sex Hotter" 
"Your sexiest summer ever!"
... Hmm, sounds interesting ...
"What Guys Don't Tell You & Why"
... Crap, if I don't know now, at almost 50, is it even worth knowing? ...
"Sofia Vergara: 'I've Never Had To Plan For Anything'"
... Freakin' Bitch! ...
No, I really do love her. She makes sexy look so easy! And she's hysterical.
"When you can't stop thinking about food"
... Okay, I'm not too old to buy Cosmo, and this last topic is right up my ally. I did just beg for some sort of volunteer position at the local hospital's bariatric center. I really love the idea that I could help obese people make a change, and live healthier lives.
Flipping through the magazine, you see so many beautiful women ...
Many very thin, but with no muscles. Perfectly flat bellies. And gosh, so young. And let's not forget the ridiculous fashions. Shoes that maybe I could wear for an hour, before my feet screamed for sneakers or my special plantar fasciitis stopping sandals. Creams, lotions, and make-up, make-up, make-up .... lip plumping, wrinkle stopping, natural glow enhancing, blah, blah blah. The cynic in me is secretly started hoping that the article on "What guys don't tell you & why" is really about how guys could care less about the wrinkles, how thin your lips, your hair, your eyelashes, or your thighs are - it's just they don't want you to know because all your trying makes them feel special.  Awwww
...but I digress.
Okay, maybe this magazine isn't for me. I mean, I really don't care what celebrity was "caught" eating ice cream, or how celebrity dads take care of their kids, or who looked SKANKY vs. SEXY. I also don't need a list of things telling me what I could do this month. I can't even read some of my favorite bloggers 'cause I just don't have the time between the laundry, the training, and the dietetics summer homework, and all the readings. And as I flipped through the pages, I begin to realize that my wardrobe is very outdated, but hey, at least I have cool work out clothes!
How did I go from an intelligent, healthy, goal oriented, 
and established women?
To feeling old, unsexy, 
and deprived 'cause I can't eat ice cream without having tummy problems?
See, Half-Crazed, this magazine is not for you. 
If I only had Bill shoving his judgmental finger
in my face before the Cosmo purchase!
Just get to the article on "When you can't stop thinking about food" to give you insight for this career your working on. Oh yeah, and as you flip your way through the magazine, ignore the article promoting the use of Slim Fast to quickly lose weight. Oh, boy. Deep breathes. Pray. 
Women don't really believe that being their fittest comes in a bottle of Slim Fast, do they?
I proceeded to read the article, "I am obsessed with food". It's a story about Mika Brzezinski, a Cosmo career columnist, who has had an eating disorder since she was a teen. She wrote a book, "Obsessed". Apparently, Mika would starve herself, binge, and then exercise for hours, starve herself, become over hungry, and binge, continuing this horrific cycle again, and again, over and over. The story is a little confusing, and I can't tell, but I think the book is about her journey with a friend, who was overweight, and also had an eating disorder. Together, they made a pact of more mindful eating, and no skipping meals. It seems that having a social network really helped these two, who both suffer from an eating disorder, even though their disorders were at two opposite ends of the spectrum. 
... See, I thought,
Cosmo, is not all that bad. It was worth buying the magazine.
Then, I turned the page ....
Startled by the image of a person in blue cloth.
I read:
... Is that a girl in there?
How does she breathe?
Hmm, Anne Hathaway, Selena Gomez, they're narrating a story? What about? ... GirlRising is a documentary about nine girls around the world struggling to go to school despite child slavery, arranged marriages, and other injustices.
I've never heard of GirlRising before, have you?
June 16th, on CNN. I ran to my TV, and ordered TIVO to record this program. I wanted to learn more.
It was Father's Day. 
I ran 13miles and went off to a BBQ. I couldn't wait to get home to watch the documentary, but still enjoyed the day - especially watching Side-Kick play tee-ball with the kids. The weather was great. Two seniors, my daughter and one other, talking about their college plans in September. 
Good for them, I thought....
Later, that night, I sat down with a cup of tea, a load of laundry that needed folding, and started watching GirlRising. 
The tears flowed, my heart ached. There was a connection. I found myself whispering out loud, "YES, girl, learn, freakin' stand up and learn." Instinctively, my inner cheerleader struck a pose, cheering life,  liberty, justice ....and education,  for all!
Gosh, who would I be as a woman if I didn't want all women, everywhere to have an opportunity to learn, to be educated? To be able to learn, see new perspectives - what a blessing. Education is a gift - one I have tried so hard to get my children to cherish. 
I am a person whose purpose is for positive change.
I must be involved.
You can get involved, too. 
I put a GirlRising icon in the upper left side of this blog.
Just click on the icon, and it will bring you to the GirlRising webpage.
Tomorrow, June 22nd, it will be on CNN, again.
After my husband was killed in the World Trade Center, 
and I was left with two young children,
one of my biggest comforts was knowing that I was educated, 
and could go back to work, earn a decent living,
and care for my babies.
Watch the film,
become educated.
Learn how we can help women, 
around the globe.
Train Smart Today!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Food Facts: Black is good!

When mini-man was 4 years old, we went to a BBQ. When my friend put a bowl of salad on the table, mini-man reached into the bowl, grabbed some nice dark lettuce leaves, and shoved them into his tiny mouth. My friend stood there with her mouth draped open. I was embarrassed, and said,
"Mini-man, you hafta wait. Get a plate, 
put some salad on your plate, 
and then eat it ...with a fork."
My friend looked at me, and said, "Did you see that?" Okay, was she gonna make a big deal about my son's awful table manners? He's four, he's learning. I stood there and smiled apologetically. She went on, "Did you see that?" Now I was really starting to feel defensive, but I just continued to smile and nodded, as if to say, "Uh-huh." Then my friend said, "I can't believe your son grabbed a bunch of dark green leaves and ate them!" (I thought, REALLY? WTF?) Then, she went on,
"That's so great. How did you get him to like salad?"
"Oooooh, yeah ..." realizing she was not judging me for my son's dreadful table manners. I laughed, and shrugged (coolly, like ice on a hot summer day, not at all like the loser Mom I thought I was seconds before), and went on, "Maybe it's 'cause I make a salad every night?"
I really don't have an answer.
If I did, I'd know how to get him to eat the tomatoes in the salad, too!
Food trends always fascinate me. We go from from grains to "SUPER" grains, fruits to "SUPER" fruits, and now, from Greens to Black.
Yup, and here's what's on the horizon: black rice, black lentils, blackberries, black beans black soybeans, black tea, and black birds (just kidding)!
And here's why...
Black rice contains lots of vitamin E and anthocyanins.
Black Rice Salad

Vitamin E can bolster the immune system, 
act as an anti-inflammatory (an endurance athlete's Got To Know) and an antioxidant to help protect your cells from free radicals (those awful boogers involved in the development of cancer, and cognitive decline), helps to prevent or delay coronary artery disease, eye problems like cataracts, inhibits LDL cholesterol (the bad kind), and prevents formation of blood clots. 
As for the anthocyanins,
their proposed health benefits include antioxidant potential too, plus the capacity to enhance memory and visual acuity, reduce cognitive decline, strengthen capillaries, reduce clot formation, and enhance nitric oxide release (another GTK for runners).

Black lentils are loaded with iron and soluble fiber.
Black Beluga Lentil Salad
I'd add cooked beets for extra Nitric Oxide power!
One cup of these lovely little black gems has 8 milligrams of iron, 
almost as much 1/2  the RDA value for women. As a runner, it's important we get enough iron to help our blood carry oxygen - and it's good to know plant sources, instead of just relying on red meat.
Soluble fiber 
has been in the news a lot lately because it can help lower cholesterol, and slows the absorption of carbohydrates - helping to control blood sugar.

Blackberries have polyphenols, Vitamin C and lots of fiber.
Blackberry & Spinach Smoothie
Polyphenols are the most abundant antioxidants in the diet.
Flavanoids are the most abundant type of polyphenols. Anthocyanin (re: black rice) is a type of flavanoid. So, you would expect that polyphenols have similar benefits like the anthocyanins, and they do. Polyphenols reduce inflammation, help prevent cardiovascular disease, cognitive decline and cancer.
One cup of blackberries provides about 1/2 RDA of Vitamin C 
(which also helps protect our immune system and lower the risk of cancer) and 8 grams of fiber, about 1/4 of the RDA. As runners, we all know what too much insoluble fiber can do, because of its known laxative effect. Some say that because insoluble fiber speeds up the passage of food through the gut, it helps rid the body of toxins. (That's where the whole colon cleanse idea originates).

Black beans contain bioflavanoids.
Black beans with rice
Like anthocyanins, bioflavanoids are a type of polyphenol, and like the other polyphenols, bioflavanoids offer antioxidant and anti inflammatory properties, help protect against atherosclerosis and cancer.

Black Soybeans provide alpha-linolenic acid, a type of Omega-3.
Mediterranean Quinoa Salad with Black Soybeans
I've only seen black soybeans in a can, but after a little looking, I found Handy Pantry Organic Black Soybeans on Amazon. Don't you love Amazon? I love how everything has a review, too. Omega-3 has been in the news so much lately for its ability to reduce inflammation and lower the risk of heart disease, cancer, and arthritis. Omega-3 has also been shown to help reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Black Tea supplies theaflavins.
PG Tips, move over!
As a Rutgers, alum,
I am proud to say that a recent study from Rutgers University showed that black tea contains theaflavins, which may help improve recovery from muscle soreness after intense exercise. Cool! I love my tea after dinner! Who'd of thought I was helping my muscles recover by sipping on some tea? Another GTK! Theaflavins, are also polyphenols, so they too have anti-inflammatory, heart protective and cancer preventative potential. There's more, theaflavins are really unique. They have been found to help reduce cholesterol, and inhibit proteins responsible for Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease.

I've heard of "eating the rainbow" to make sure there's balance in your diet, and to make sure you get a little of this nutrient, and a little of that, so you don't short yourself on any one nutrient - but never before did I ever think of adding black to my wheelehouse! Especially black soybeans!
Have you ever had black soybeans?
Do you like them?
Do you have any other recipes to share?
Always looking to add them to my Dropbox ;D
Train Smart Today!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

I love Dropbox!

Dropbox is like a filing cabinet for your computer.
You can add word documents, photos, videos, spreadsheets, PowerPoint presentations, practically any file, and they'll show up on all your computers, phones, tablets, or the Dropbox website when you log in. You can share these photos, videos, and documents with others, too. 

To get started, just download Dropbox from the website. Once you get the small icon on your computer, you can drop practically any file you want into it. Just drag and drop files, or save them to Dropbox. Dropbox directions are very easy to follow. If I can do it, anyone can do it!
Not as bad as Babs,
but I have my moments.
So, say you're working on a word document on your home computer, but have to pick up your son, daughter, elderly parent, friend, whomever, and take them somewhere. Save the document to the Dropbox folder on your computer, and when you get to where you need to be, waiting room, soccer or dance practice, work, just open the folder on your phone, tablet, or laptop and voila', and keep working.
Big deal, right?
Yeah, yeah, so what .. 
I know it might not sound like much. 
For the past four months, I've been saving documents, sharing PowerPoints, blah, blah, blah. I've saved dozens of documents, opened them on my I-Pad, and continued working on them while waiting for my son to finish wrestling practice, or meet with the orthodontist. And, finally metal mouth, I mean mini-man, will soon be getting his braces off!
But I digress...
Big deal, right? 
So Dropbox is great, and they even give you extra memory if you recommend a friend.
But, it really is a big deal,
because today, 
I found the absolute best reason for Dropbox:
You know how you go food shopping, but forget to write down the ingredients to make something? Like that new recipe for Teff pancakes with chia seeds and blueberries that you copied from the NYTimes? You saved it to your recipe folder, in hopes to make them when you have time, maybe before your long run this Sunday? After all Teff is a great super-grain, and Teff pancakes with chia and blueberries sound dreamy 'cause they're packed with antioxidants, inflammation fighting omega-3's, and will supply you with enough energy yielding carbs and muscle sparing protein to make you feel like you're flying through those miles. 
But, heck, you're in the store, 
and besides the fact that you can't remember what you went there for,
you can't for the life of you remember what you need to make those
Teff pancakes.
You can just forget about flying through those miles on Sunday...
Until now.
Enter Dropbox.
Since you cut and pasted, or copied that recipe, 
to your Dropbox icon on your desktop, 
you can open it from the Dropbox App on your smart phone!

Your long Sunday run is saved!
Train Smart Today!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Restraint & Running Style

I have signed up for three races (I know that doesn't sound like restraint):

It's so New England!
And ...
Wish me luck!
I don't know what to expect. I'm still not 100%, but that's how tendon healing is. It takes time. I remember reading that it takes something like 100 days to rebuild collagen fibers (Collagen makes up tendons). 

When I'm running, and feel discomfort, I back it off. Yesterday, at the track I was crying. I was the slowest female, out of the four of us. I felt winded at times, but most times I just backed it off because my hammies felt tight. I don't want to push so hard that I wind up getting re-injured. 
There is strength in this weakness, 
and that's what I have to focus on. 
This strength is called:
It is hard being a super A-type person, and pulling back. It's painful. My focus is my goal: Fifty Half Marathons, in 50 States. This will take me, at least, another 8 years. It has never been a race to hurry up and complete them. My goal has always been to run the best I could, but to keep running. I can't reach that goal as an injured runner. So, I must spell restraint with a capital "R".

Anyway, did you see that article in the NY Times about Barefoot/Minimalist running versus Heel Strike? I love it because I cannot get my feet into those Vibram 5-finger toe shoes. My little hammer toes on my right foot refuse entry! Looks like the University of Massachusettes Amherst showed that "heel-striking was the more physiologically economical running form, by a considerable margin." Looks like heel-strikers use less oxygen, to run the same pace as the forefoot strikers. The heel strikers also burned less carbohydrates and more fat. Forefoot strikers saved oxygen when they switched to land with a heel strike. The report also indicated that runners suffered more injuries when they switched to barefoot-style running. Overall, the report states that runners should run in a way that is most comfortable to them, because of their own personal physiology. 
Bottom line: 
Unless there are repetitive injuries, 
don't mess with your style.
Have you tried the Vibram 5-fingers or minimalist sneakers?
Did they help?
Have you obsessed about your foot strike,
but feel better now that there is an article 
that gives you permission to run as you did when you were a kid?
(I must admit, I do!)
Train Smart Today!