Archive for October, 2012

October 22, 2012

Harvest Smoothie (Or What to do with Leftover Pumpkin Puree)

It’s been overcast for the past few days here in LA, which means that I get to pretend that it’s fall.  In that spirit, I made these wonderful pumpkin bars from Elana’s Pantry yesterday, and as is usual with pumpkin-based baking projects, I now find myself with leftover pumpkin puree in the fridge.  Luckily, I have the perfect solution for the problem—pumpkin smoothies. 

Pumpkin is fairly low in calories and carbs and packs a healthy dose of iron and vitamins A and C, which makes this a great post-workout snack.



½ cup pumpkin puree

1 scoop vanilla whey protein powder

6 oz. coconut milk

3 drops liquid vanilla stevia

¼ cup yogurt

1 tsp. cinnamon

½ tsp. nutmeg

Pinch of cloves

¼ tsp. fresh ginger

Add all items to blender and pulse until combined.


Substitutions and variations: I’ve made this with a teaspoon or two of honey instead of stevia if I need to replenish more carbs.  I’ve also used a couple of frozen peach slices to sweeten it up a bit without affecting the pumpkin flavor much.  The fresh ginger really gives it a great warmth if you have it on hand.  If not, powdered ginger will do the trick.

October 8, 2012

Week 1 Recap

Well, I survived Week 1 of training and I learned a few things.  I should start by saying that I had laid out a very aggressive training plan for the next several months that attempted to emulate what I did prior to running my half-marathon PR two years ago.  In the time since the PR, however, a few things have changed.  I’ve gone Paleo and had to completely rework pre-run fueling strategies.  I had the SI joint/IT band injury last year. Following the injury, I added two days of strength training, which I’m currently doing on my two running off-days.  Looking back at my training log, I was also a lot faster when I started training for the PR race, having just come off a decent spring half-marathon.  I was thus left with a bit of dilemma when I laid out a training plan this time.  I wanted to be aggressive with my schedule, and didn’t want to risk re-injuring myself, but I was also committed to keeping the strength training in the mix.

My initial plan (which I knew was somewhat suicidal) ran thus:

Monday – Strength

Tuesday – Interval (5-6 miles)

Wednesday – Easy (5-6 miles)

Thursday – Tempo (5-6 miles)

Friday – Strength

Saturday – Hill (5-6 miles)

Sunday-Long (8-15 miles)

The first thing to note is that there is no rest day in the mix.  The second thing is that I’m totally violating the 75% of mileage at easy paces rule.  I had laid out my interval and tempo workouts per the pace tables in Run Less, Run Faster, which I’ve used over the years and in the process, morphed into Run More, Feel Exhausted.  That scenario pretty much played itself out as I tackled the first week of the schedule.  I took the strength training pretty easy on Monday in an attempt to not be sore for Tuesday’s speedwork.  I was worried about getting off on the wrong foot and not being able to hit my paces in my first interval workout, but I did manage to push through it.  Wednesday I already had to pull back the pace, though, because I felt like my heart rate was getting too high for an easy run.  Thursday I banged out my tempo without too much trouble and felt great.   Friday was strength training again, and then a short hill run on Saturday.

I do most of my hill training on a scenic route through Santa Monica and the Palisades and I was looking forward to quiet streets and modernist architecture.  The route starts at a slight incline (maybe 1-2%) for about a mile, then becomes rolling with some nice climbs and drops of varying length and steepness.  I had been running for about half a mile when I realized that the almost imperceptible slope was already producing that dreaded running-through-molasses feeling.  I gritted my teeth and stuck it out, but it was not a particularly commanding performance. I did my best to shake off the crappiness, though, and was still optimistic going into Sunday’s 10-miler. Rather than being tired the day after a hill workout, I usually feel strong and energized.  Sunday dawned warm and steamy, though, and I quickly realized that I was going to have to rein the pace way in if I was going to make it through 10 miles.  Again, I felt like I needed to creep along at a snail’s pace to keep my heart rate in check.  Some of this, no doubt, was due to the weather, but I was really just not feeling sharp.  All in all, I’m proud of myself for having the discipline to run slowly enough to get through it.  A few months ago I would have taken off at my goal pace, burned out in a few miles, and totally beaten myself up over it.  I am forced to admit, however, that I am going to revamp this schedule to make it workable.

Professionally, I think I’m very good at prioritizing and distilling the big picture down into the critical tasks to be completed.  It is not a skill I’ve applied to running very often.  I realized that I need to approach this problem like I would any other deadline and ask the following questions:

  1. Which workouts are getting me the most bang for my mileage?  Which ones aren’t?
  2. How can I optimize my recovery time?
  3. Am I striking the right balance in types of workouts?

More to come…








October 3, 2012

Fall Race Plans

I’ve spent the past few weeks getting organized for my triumphant (I hope) return to racing.  I’ve been thinking a lot about the way I approach training and racing, and I realized that it would be advantageous to approach the entire season with a strategy, rather than focusing on one race at a time.  That should have been obvious, I suppose, but having only run track, and not distance, competitively, periodization and peaking were never really on my radar.  Running 100 meters doesn’t take much planning ahead—you run as fast as you can every time.  One of the things I love about sprinting is that it is best executed with your brain turned off.  The chief challenge of distance running for me has been balancing the careful thought and analysis required to craft a successful training schedule with the need to not overthink the runs themselves.

My greatest strength as a runner is that I’m compelled (yes, it’s probably a bit OCD) to complete my training schedule to a T.  I’ve made an effort this past year to tune into my body more and be flexible about making adjustments when I need an extra rest day, but in general I’m by-the-book.  I’m apt to get nervous before races, or even in training runs where I’m trying to sustain a specific pace, so my mantra for this season is Trust Your Training.

With the goal of approaching the entire season as whole and creating a focused training schedule accordingly, I’ve planned three races for the next few months.  At the end of October I’ll be running the LA Cancer Challenge 10K, which I’ve been doing with a friend for the past four years.  It’s a Halloween race and we’ll be running in costume, but I plan to use it as a time-trial to gauge my fitness a month into race-training.  On December 2nd I have the Nittany Valley Half Marathon, which will be a cold and hilly race back home in Central Pennsylvania.  That race should be a good checkpoint and give me a chance to tweak the next month and a half of running in preparation for the Miami Half Marathon at the end of January.

For the next few weeks I’ll be focused on figuring out exactly where I am, speed-wise, and setting appropriate goals for the races.  It’s been annoyingly hot and humid for the past few months in LA, so it’s been hard to gauge my fitness for much cooler winter races.  The weather should be breaking, at least temporarily, this weekend, though, and I’m hoping for some faster long runs in the coming weeks.

On the Paleo side, I’m doing the October Unprocessed Challenge this year. I think it’s a great message and I love month-long experiments as a concept.  It also makes drinking my homebrew beer seem quite virtuous.  I don’t have too many processed food vices, but packaged energy bars and some of my no-brainer convenience snacks have had to go.  I’m continuing to tweak my pre- and post-workout snacks and meals, although I’m intentionally exempting my brown rice syrup-laden energy gels (it’s the arsenic that makes it good!) from the campaign.  With all the other variables and a new training schedule, I don’t want to mess too much with my nutrition while running.

Now that I’m back on the training wagon (or off it and running alongside?), I plan to post much more frequent updates on my schedule a goals.  Stay tuned!