{Chester Woods 50k Race Report}

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Friday evening I headed to Rochester dreading feeling very uncertain about the 50k race the next day.  I didn’t feel prepared because I’d found a lack of motivation and fresh legs since running the Wisconsin Marathon five weeks earlier and the Med City Half Marathon two weeks earlier.  The end of the school year had me tired and stressed, too.  When I got to packet pick-up I was disappointed to find out they had packed up early.  I had arrived fifteen minutes before the end time, but left without my packet.  Next stop-the nearest grocery store for some breakfast items and snacks.  The nearest option was not my favorite…Wal-Mart.  I learned some great parenting tips for future use by the woman who yelled at her screaming kids “I told you all to shut your f8#$ing mouths.”  Awesome work, Mom!

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Snacks the night before.

From Wal-Mart I headed to my hotel.  The hotel turned my frustration around a bit as I had a room on the second floor right by an exit where I was able to park my car three feet from the door.  Then it was time lay out my race gear and have a snack and some hydration before bed.  As I snacked away watching It’s Complicated (love that movie) I was going back and forth between the live feed of the WIAA State Track and Field meet checking in on some former students of mine (they rocked their events) and reviewing the 50k course for the first time.  I didn’t have much time though as my alarm was set for 4:45 a.m.  Yippy skippy!
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The alarm went off at 4:45 a.m., and since I figured I’d be running for 5.5-6 hours I knew I needed to eat more than on a regular race day.  I ate a bagel with cream cheese and a banana, dressed and got on the road.  The race was only minutes away from my hotel and located at Chester Woods Park.

Upon arriving I didn’t have the five dollars to enter as I wasn’t aware of the entry fee, but they were friendly enough to let me in and pay after the race (thank you, thank you) which I did. Karma people.

After grabbing my race bib and chip I had time to run to the rest room and get my gear on.  I was running with my fuel belt.  Each bottle was filled with Grape Nuun.  I had four Gu’s in the pocket of my fuel belt.  My plan was to fuel for this race just like a marathon.  If I was getting hungry or the Gu’s were not enough I came prepared with Auntie Anne’s Cheddar Bunnies, a granola bar, a Snickers bar, a Bearded Brothers Bar and a Kind Bar.  Why so much?  I wanted to have what sounded good when I was twenty-some miles in.  And there really is no way to predict what would sound good so I came prepared.
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I knew the course was a three loop mix of terrains, but hadn’t really spent a ton of time researching the course. The first few miles took us through a meadow like area. Meadows are my least favorite to run on because the ground is uneven and grass can hide this. Later in the day the sun also shines bright in an open meadow. Lucky for us that the biggest section of meadow was early on. Thank you race director!  We then headed on a gravel road that led to a wood chip trail and then a packed dirt and grass trail.  The woods were so beautiful.

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After running through the woods we ran through a small meadow section before entering into my favorite wooded section of the course.  The canopy of trees engulfed the trail and it was like you were running into this other world.

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After the woods we headed out to another meadow section that included a sandy hill before heading back into the woods.  Half of it is below.  My hill strategy was to walk hills that were longer than ten feet.  Most runners were walking hills to preserve their legs, too.  In the words of a man on the course “I surrender to the hills.”  Being a new trail runner I didn’t need to run a chain of mountains; these hills were enough but doable at the same time.

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Loop 3-Mile 23-The smile hides the sharp pain in my hip flexors.

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Next up on the loop was the Big Dam Hill.  It ended at a beautiful overlook of the Chester Woods Lake reservoir.  I loved how it was significant enough to have a name and everyone who ran the race before knew about the hill.

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Still climbing the Big Dam Hill-almost to the top.

Most climbs are worth a view. This one didn’t disappoint either.  I didn’t want to stop to take a quality picture so I’m borrowing one. Credit: http://www.rochestercvb.org.  After the views of the lake from above we descended through a meadow to a small paved section of trail that joined a gravel and then dirt trail and ran along the lake.

This view of the lake was gorgeous.  All kinds of trees stood out of the water.  It was a lake of trees.

This view of the lake was gorgeous. All kinds of trees stood out of the water. It was a lake of trees.

From there we turned to repeat the loop two more time minus the first meadow section.  The first loop was 12 miles and the second and third loops were 9.5 miles for a total of 31 miles.  My Garmin registered a little short as I must have lost a half mile while in the woods at some points in the race.

During the first loop I felt good.  I was not in a fantastic mood, but it turned around as my body warmed up. The second loop felt much faster and I was feeling great, too.  Last Friday I traded a ten mile run for a 30 mile bike ride, Tuesday I ran almost six miles and I skipped my Thursday and Friday runs my training plan called for.  I just didn’t feel like running.  Most of my runs have been rough with dead leg feeling appearing during most my runs.  I just wasn’t feeling fresh. I debated running Thursday and instead chose a night out with friends. Saturday’s second loop proved to me I’d made the right choice.  My legs just needed some rest.  At mile 20 I remember saying to myself that I couldn’t believe how good I felt both for being at mile 20 and in general. I felt great.

At this point I was out of Gu’s having taken one at miles 5, 10, 14, and 18. I also didn’t want to waste time going to my car to get food as I stopped at the bathroom after the first and second loop losing four minutes or so from my time. I decided to grab food at aid stations since they had quite a selection. I grabbed Fig Newton’s and some pretzels from the friendly aid station volunteers when I was feeling low on fuel. Mention water and they grabbed your water bottle and happily filled it. They were so encouraging and helpful.  Thanks volunteers!

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As lots of you probably have experienced, runs can take a turn for the worst at any mile.  My feeling great changed soon after mile 20.  Around mile 22 my hip flexors started to scream at me.  Lifting my legs felt hard.  My actual legs were feeling strong and alive.  I seriously questioned if I was going to have to walk the rest of the course.  This is where you start to run the race with your heart.  I pushed through and felt tears coming around mile 26, but was able to pull myself together.  I don’t even know where the tears came from.  It wasn’t from pain, it was more of an emotional response to running for a long time alone in the woods.  It was theraputic.

Around mile 27 the pain in my hip flexors all but disappeared.  As I climbed the last sandy hill another guy told me “I was like a ninja.”  That boosted my morale for a while.  The last few miles I felt pretty good.  I did a lot of self-talking and encouraging myself.  I actually felt like I could run further than 31 miles.  By mile 30 though I just wanted to be done.  I’d been running for over five hours.  My longest marathon time is 4:20 and my longest trail run had been 16 miles a few weeks earlier.  I couldn’t wait for that finish line.

When I did cross the finish line the feeling I remember more than tired or sore is proud.  I was proud of myself for not only running 31 miles, but for also running on trails and with hills.  As my first 50k I say it was a success and went much better than expected.  This just proves we can do anything we set our minds out to do.

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I loved the course at Chester Woods Park.  The three loops was perfect for runners so they could restock items at their cars if they wanted.  The course was a perfect combination of beautiful views, shaded woods and a little bit of meadows.  I also loved the mix of terrains and that the hills were doable.  I’m not ready to run mountains-yet?  Or ever?  During my last loop of the 50k I thought about my husband’s feelings about running another marathon (he’s saying one and done) and if I felt the same about a 50k or further.  As of right now that is to be decided.  I always say never say never.

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The shoes and I went through some real shit out there-literally and figuratively. Some of the trails we ran were horse trails. Those horses had been there before us runners had. 😉

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Chester Woods 50k
Time: 5:25:32
Pace: 10:30
Overall: 36/91
Gender: 7/33
Age Group: 4/15

{Friday Fab 5-Easter Baskets for Runners, Run This Town, NYC Marathon, Apple Cheddar Chicken, }

Today’s post is later than usual due to a relaxing pancake breakfast made by the husband followed by some a.m. reading in bed with coffee.

{#1-Apple Cheddar Chicken}

Another great recipe from Iowa Girl Eats. I seriously love so many of her eats. From dinners to treats they are all delicious. Check her out if you haven’t!

{#2-Run This Town}
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I have had the opportunity to run in some great cities over the past few years. When planning upcoming trips one of the first things I plan is the routes I hope to run. I often struggle to find information on running routes in specific cities in advance and usually wish there was a resource I could use when planning my next vacation. I’ve decided to create my own resource, found under the Run This Town tab, that will highlight favorite running routes in specific cities. The posts about each city will include descriptions about sights on the run, terrain of routes, distances, where to park, and of course photos. Hopefully this will benefit other runners the next time they have a chance to travel

{#3-New York City Marathon}
20140418-092704.jpgI’ve always dreamed of one day running the NYC Marathon.  Don’t get too excited…I don’t have a surprise announcement about running this dream race.  This past week while grading papers I found Run For Your Life was on Netflix streaming along with other great running movies like Spirit of the Marathon.  Run For Your Life is a documentary about the NYC Marathon.  The documentary follows the race’s director from its first year with hardly any runners to the grand race it has become.  Of course watching the history and nostalgia of the race that runs through all five boroughs made me want to run it even more, so I decided to look up the race online and was really disappointed to see that they are changing how you can receive guaranteed entry.

The NYC Marathon is currently a lottery system unless you run for charity, qualify at specific local races, have run 15 consecutive NYC Marathons, or have applied for the lottery three years in a row and have not been accepted.  I had been counting on the last option as the charities require you to raise signficant dollars that I’m just not sure I could.  Unfortunately, I won’t be able to count on that option as this is the last year they are guaranteeing entry for runners who were denied entry after applying to the lottery for three consecutive years.  Also ending next year is guaranteed entry for runners who have run the NYC Marathon the last 15 years or more in a row.  I’m bummed for those people, too.

Now I’m curious about what future entry options will look like (qualifying times like Boston?), or if it will solely rely on lottery entry and if you don’t ever get in, then you don’t get in.   The Houston Marathon has had a lottery system for a couple of years now, but also has a guaranteed option if you run a qualifying time that allows you to register before the lottery opens to other runners.  Since this is bucket list race for me and the race I plan on running for my New York state race, I will definitely be keeping an eye on this.  Some of you NY readers, do you know any other details?

{#4-My poor husband}

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I do this to my husband ALL the time!  Usually it goes something like I don’t want to pick where we eat, you pick.   Well, I don’t really want to eat there.  I’m not feeling there either.  And so on!

{#5-Happy Easter}

20140418-102905.jpg Have a runner in your life?  Want to send some Easter love their way?  Make a runner basket for them!  I filled this basket with some of my favorite running gear items.  You could go big or choose just a few items to include in their runner basket.  Starting from the top left items include-1. Runner’s World Magazine, 2. My Life On the Run by Bart Yasso, 3. Spirit of the Marathon DVD,  4. Bic Bands headband, 5. Body Glide, 6. Nuun, 7. GU, 8. Bearded Brothers bar, and 8. Pro Compression compression socks.

Happy weekend everyone!

 

{Wisconsin Marathon Training-Week 13}

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This week I rested most the week but ended this training week with a bam! Ryan had a solid week and ran his first 20 miler-such a huge feat in marathon training.

Monday-8 miles (Ryan)

Wednesday-lifted (Ryan)

Thursday-5 miles (Ryan)

Saturday-5 miles (Ryan)

Sunday-15 miles (Sarah) and 20 miles (Ryan)
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We ran the first 15 miles of this run together and each mile felt difficult. Despite sunshine, temps in the 60’s, and busting out one of my favorite running skirts (similar-Target) it was a challenge. We never felt like a mile was easy or flying by. We were both dehydrated. It was my first run in 11 days and if I’m being honest-it sucked! The thing about running is that even when it sucks is still feels good after or later on. You still feel proud and glad you ran even if the actual miles weren’t awesome.

It was Ryan’s first 20 miler and he took a GU every five miles and drank Nuun at the same time. I stocked up on both GU and Nuun this weekend. Both are cheaper on Amazon and you get free shipping when your order is more than $35.00. I have no ideas why both are cheaper on Amazon than on their own websites, but I’m always looking for a deal so I will always look on Amazon first from now on.
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To be close to GU and water we broke our run into five mile loops. This made the run mentally smaller and more manageable. Despite trying mental strategies to make the run seem shorter, it was a difficult run for both of us, but neither of us quit. We did stretch when we felt we needed to and didn’t put any time pressure or expectations other than to finish it. I went out saying 15 was my max as I wanted to see how the foot held up and didn’t want to injure myself in another way. Ryan planned to follow the training plan and run 20.

When Ryan got back from his extra five miles I asked him how he felt. He said it sucked. He was glad to have taken my ipod with for the last miles because they were rough. In his words: the whole thing sucked! All my muscles wanted to let go.

This is the hard part with running. A few weeks ago we ran a 17 mile run and felt great. We both felt we could have kept going and perhaps ran a marathon that day. Today we struggled. Some runs are great and others are not. The important thing is to keep going. Every mile makes you stronger.

Tip of the Week: Be proactive in injury prevention. Since I’m recovering from a foot injury I thought it perfect to mention some tips to prevent injury. Even though my injury was not caused by running directly, running made it worse. Some of the most common injuries for runners are runner’s knee, plantar fasciitis, IT Band, pulled muscles, blisters, and shin splints. If you take care of yourself, then you can decrease your chance of these common runner injuries. Here are some tips to follow in being proactive against injury.

1) Warm up with dynamic stretches and movements. Ten minutes of these before your next run increases your strength and flexibility and warms muscles up so they are ready to run.

2) Run with good form. I am a total hypocrite for saying this, but I do believe some of my hip pain is because I’ve never done anything to improve my form other than focusing on holding it together on long runs.

3) Choose a training plan for your current level of fitness. It’s easy to want to run a certain time or mileage, but be honest with yourself, your current level of fitness, past experiences, and past injuries. Choosing the right training plan can keep you running healthy and strong all the way to race day.
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4) Set a realistic race goal and train accordingly. Running every run really fast will not help you on race day. Neither will training on all flat terrain for a hilly course. Know your race course and fitness level, and choose an appropriate goal. If it is your first time running a specific distance I recommend running to finish not to compete. You will automatically have a PR!

5) Stay hydrated and eat healthy. Both will help speed recovery and fuel runs. The better the things you put in your body, the better your body will operate.

6) Save static stretching and yoga for after your warm up or runs. Some studies say static stretching (holding a stretch in place) before a run can actually increase your chance of injury and decrease performance. Save it for after your run when it is most beneficial.

7) Pay attention to trouble spots and past injuries. Since spraining my ankle last year I am doing extra exercises to strengthen my ankles before my upcoming trail races.

8) Know when pain is pain and not soreness. If something really hurts and feels more than sore, then you should consider cross training and/or sitting out a few runs. If the pain goes away then resume your training plan. If it doesn’t, you know you have more than muscles soreness.

Injury prevention is so much easier than injury recovery…trust me! I’m so looking forward to resuming my training plan this week.

Total Miles: 38 miles (Ryan) and 15 miles (Sarah)

Happy Training!
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Sneaks & Stilettos

{Fueling for the Long Run or How not to have stomach cramps, want to die of hunger, or crap your pants on a run…yes, I just said that}

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After far too many stomachaches post-long runs and sometimes feeling sluggish after certain runs, I started to do some research. I bought the book, Performance Nutrition for Runners by Matt Fitzgerald, and learned so much about fueling my body for running. If you’ve had issues with fueling I strongly recommend you purchase this book. He breaks fueling for running down into easy to follow ideas that you can take home to your kitchen and use on the run.

One of his first chapters breaks running down into his four principles of healthy eating.

1) Eat Natural Foods-think more fruits and veggies, less processed grains, more organic and phytonutrients.
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This was a hard one for me in the beginning. I felt like I relied on carbs so much to get through my runs and before and after runs. While runners do need carbs, we also need real carbs and real food. Last summer I was having one of the best training cycles and even managed to lose a few pounds by eating more natural foods. Ryan and I had started to really cut out processed foods. I felt better on my runs, before my runs, and after my runs. Initially I felt I needed those processed carbs (crackers, granola bars that weren’t so healthy, etc.), but as my eating improved so did my desire for more real foods and my running.

Natural foods should include eating lots of phytonutrients. Phytonutrients are foods with the most antioxidants in them. Fitzgerald includes the following list of top antioxidant foods in his book (ranking means nothing-they are all highest foods in antioxidants-according to USDA)
1. small red beans
2. wild blueberries
3. red kidney beans
4. pinto beans
5. cranberries
6. artichokes
7. blackberries
8. prunes
9. raspberries
10. strawberries
11. red delicious apples
12. granny smith apples
13. pecans
14. sweet cherries
15. black plums
16. russet potatoes
17. black beans (dried)
18. plums
19. Gala apples
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2) Eat A Balance and Variety of Foods

Eat a wide range of fruits and veggies, protein, carbs, etc. Don’t eat the same meals all the time. Change things up; don’t always eat one type of meat or wheat.

3) Balance Your Energy Intake With Your Energy Needs

This means taking in calories you burn and not more than you burn. The key is balance for runners who are training for performance. Your body needs a certain amount of fuel to perform. Depriving yourself of what your body needs will do little to help you be successful in a race or in losing weight, but at the same time a three mile run doesn’t earn you a hamburger and french fries or a pint of Ben & Jerry’s.  Overeating/compensating for miles ran is a top rule runners break.  Yes, running burns more calories than nearly all other forms of exercise.  No, you cannot eat whatever you want, whenever you want, no matter how far you run.  If you can, we can’t be friends, and you should still consider your health not just the number on a scale…so there.

4) Customize Your Diet to Your Needs
Maybe you are lactose intolerant (me), maybe you have an allergy or intolerance to gluten, etc. Tailor your diet to get the nutrients you miss from certain foods from other places. Fitzgerald recommends keeping a food and workout journal to help build the connection between what foods might be hindering your running or workout performance, and to help see how healthy fueling (real food and balance) can improve the quality of your workouts and how you feel.

In chapter 2, Fitzgerald goes into detail about the right balance of carbohydrates, fats, and protein for runners while also emphasizing what I said in week 5’s training-we are all unique and may have special dietary needs as runners. We have to play with these levels and balances until we find what works best for us. He suggests runners get 40-70% of their calories from carbs or 3-5g/lb, 20-40% of their calories from fat or 0.7-1.4g/lb, and 15-25% of their calories from protein or 0.6-0.9g/lb. Again, this may seem like quite a range, but we are each different in our training levels, abilities, and metabolic processes.

This is where the food/exercise journal comes in handy. Studying your food/exercise journal can reveal issues with your diet. For example, bonking during workouts may mean you are not eating enough carbs. Lingering muscles soreness (I guess I need to read my own advice) could be a sign of too few proteins and/or fats in your diet. Frequent injuries signal you may be short on protein in your diet. Once you find the right balance for yourself, you wouldn’t need to keep the journal going all the time if it felt overwhelming. I don’t keep a food/exercise journal anymore, but it did help me figure out some fueling issues when training for my 2nd and 3rd marathons.

For morning runs I eat either an english muffin with peanut butter or a small bowl of oatmeal pre-run with fruit. For afternoon runs, I eat a sandwich, leftovers, whatever I like, BUT I consider my portion size in relation to how far away my run is planned. Running sooner=smaller portion. Running later=larger portion. Running on a full stomach will simply make your muscles and stomach compete for much needed blood giving you a stomachache and making you feel like junk. In the beginning, I stuck to bland and simple foods as I didn’t know how my body would handle the food. For long runs of 20 miles or more I switch to a bagel for breakfast to get some extra carbs in my system. This is also my go to pre-race meal for the extra calories and carbs. I don’t eat bagels on regular days as I don’t need all those calories or carbs to function throughout a regular day or run.

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Before an afternoon run I reach for a Bearded Brother Energy Bar or Picky Bar with fruit, or if I’m not too hungry just fruit.

Fitzgerald also goes into detail about good carbs for runners versus bad carbs for runners, what fats to eat more and less of, as well as foods with quality proteins in them. He also devotes an entire chapter to improving your body composition (i.e. lose weight) in a healthy way for active people.  Strength moves are included that will not only make you more lean, but stronger as a runner, too.
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The book devotes an entire chapter to hydration including more reasons why Gatorade may not be the best choice of drink for some runners, how to use GU properly (there is a good way and a bad way-hint: don’t mix GU’s and sports drinks within 20-30 minutes of each other; way too much sugar for the digestive system to handle), and charts of information on all types of electrolyte drinks on the market.

As for my hydration needs I usually stick with water (adding fruit for flavor and extra phytonutrients often), and over the past year have started drinking Nuun before, during, or after SOME runs in addition to Ultima for its convenience and fizz. I try to drink one to two liters of water on most days regardless of my runs or workouts. For runs less than 90 minutes I stick to water. Runs over 90 minutes require the replacement of electrolytes so I turn to Nuun or Ultima. Both have been favorite electrolyte drinks because they are easy on my stomach (less sugar). For races, I don’t mind Powerade because it has both protein and carbs.

Hydration and GU’s are an area where I feel all runners really are unique.  Some runners I know hate GU’s.  Some runners (like me) love them.  Some runners have super sensitive stomachs to certain electrolyte drinks others don’t.  Try things.  Document them in a food/exercise journal, and you will find answers and solutions to your fueling issues.  Don’t suffer more than you have to.

When it come to what to eat pre-race, post-race, and post-long run Fitzgerald’s got that covered, too. One of the number one lessons I’ve learned about fueling over the years is the importance of what you eat during the first 30 minutes to and hour after you finish your run. Eat nothing and you’ve missed a key window to muscle recovery, fighting off illness due to a weakened immune system caused by running, and a chance at a quality or improved future workout. The first hour post-workout is a key time to take in proteins and carbohydrates.
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The book suggests options, but my old standby is an english muffin with peanut butter, some hydration drink or juice I’ve made from my juicer, and water. My muscles recover faster, I feel better on future runs, and I don’t get sick like I used to when I recover right.

During my training for my first few marathons I got sick in the final weeks before the big race day. Frustrating-Completely  My fault?  Yes!  But why? I didn’t recover right with fuel or get enough sleep (something the book references, too, but I’m still a work in progress on this one). Post-long run I used to choose Mike and Ike’s, the nearest candy bar, or ice cream pint Cookie Monster style (nom-nom-nom) or eat nothing because my stomach hurt instead of replenishing both the proteins and the carbs in a healthy way like my body needed (holy long sentence Batman).  I’ve since gotten wiser; more real foods, balance, and variety in the first 60 minutes post-long run equals a happier body and runner later.
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Another topic in the book-snacking right. His top 5 healthy snacks for runner 1-energy bars (cue Bearded Brothers or Picky Bars), 2-Soup Cups such as Nice Spice, 3-fresh fruit (see list of phytonutrients above and add variety by changing up your choices everyday), 4-fruit smoothies (juice it up), and 5-trail mix (not the candy-like ones filled with M & M’s and chocolate chips…that’s just, well, candy).
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Other topics included in this book include special needs of runners (i.e. women runners vs. men runners), tips for eating out, meal plans, and supplements. Eating out has always been a challenge for me as I see it as a chance to treat myself. In the last year I’ve really started to notice the difference in how food makes me feel. I’ve slowly started making changes to my food choices when eating out. Last week at the Olive Garden for example, I chose the tilapia and asparagus with a breadstick in place of the calorie laden alfredo and breadsticks. After the meal I felt satisfied and full of energy rather than in a carbohydrate coma. Treating myself is great, but it doesn’t replace the positive feeling of fueling the body well. Moderation is key!  I ate the breadstick after all.  If you can pass one of those up, then more power to you.

This post is long, and I could go on forever.  Many of my ideas and starting points came from the book Performance Nutrition for Runners by Matt Fitzgerald combined with good old trial and error.  Check out his book for more details!  Also, I’m always open to specific questions, too.  Did something not make sense?  Want more ideas?  Have a suggestion or fueling lesson you learned the hard way?  Send me an email or comment below.  One of the best things about running and talking to other runners is learning from each other.

{Wisconsin Marathon Training-Week 5/Fueling for Your Training}

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Monday-3 miles on the treadmill
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It was too cold for outside running today. The weather channel’s choice of background is slightly deceptive. True-the sun may have been shining, but at temperatures this cold it is quite unnoticed. Regardless of the temperatures staying hydrated is always important. One of my favorite ways to get myself to drink more water is to add fruit to water to add some flavor. My favorite-simple lemons in water. Ryan takes his water straight up.

Tuesday-6 miles on the treadmill

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This was a rough run for me. I actually wavered between throwing my iPhone against the nearby wall and bursting into tears. I kept it together (barely) but had to walk .75 miles to regain my composure. Treadmill runs do little for my mental health during the run-that comes later. Ryan on the other hand, rocked his miles out like the devoted-training-for-his-first-marathon guy he is.

Wednesday-6 miles outside (!) and Ryan lifted
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This run was a cold one with chilly winds blowing and gusting, but it was a chance to get outdoors. It was an ok run, but not one that made you love running. It made you more love running when you were done.

Thursday-Danced it up in my cowboy boots for several hours
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Friday-Ryan lifted after work and I skied it up on a school field trip
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Saturday-12 mile long run outside
Saturday’s long run was the warmest day we had this week.  The temperature was 18 degrees with no windchill. That is right no windchill.  As a result, there was no chance of us running inside today.  The windchill was slightly misleading as the wind certainly had a chill, but running in the fresh air on open road was so refreshing.

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That is bare road folks…the first run of the winter that had more than a few open blocks.

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Half way through our run we were feeling great. We swung by the house for a drink and were back on the road. I thought about taking a GU, but didn’t really feel hungry and I usually prefer not to take GU’s on runs of 13 miles or less. Ryan was sticking with the same plan. When I first started marathon training, I needed more calories to finish my runs and learned the hard way what calories worked for me. I don’t believe in set rules for all. We each have different bodies and will, therefore, require different foods and drinks for fuel. I am not a dietician, nutritionist, or certified anything when it comes to fueling needs of runners. I simply have ran and found what worked through my own experiences. Below are some of my personal findings with eating on the run or preparing to run.

During my first marathon training cycle, I started getting stomach cramps that would last hours after long runs. Sometimes they started during runs after taking in some form of fuel. I felt trapped; I needed to eat or I would be starving, low on energy, and unable to finish my long runs, but I was feeling sick from what I was eating.

Learning what foods you can eat and can’t eat on long runs requires some experimenting. There is no way to know for sure until you try things out. I remember it being a frustrating time. You are hungry, need fuel to accomplish quality runs, but know you are going to feel sick later. Ugh! You can try not fueling, but you will bonk and runs will feel way worse than they need to. Try no to get frustrated if this is happening to you. We all learn by doing.

After far too many stomachaches post-long runs, I started to do some research. I bought the book, Performance Nutrition for Runners by Matt Fitzgerald, and learned so much about fueling my body for running. If you’ve had issues with fueling I strongly recommend you purchase this book. He breaks fueling for running down into easy to follow ideas that you can take home to your kitchen and use on the run.
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I learned that so called sports bars and drinks that had lots of sugar were giving me my stomach cramps and really were not designed for runners. I swapped out sugary Gatorade for G2 and felt some improvement.  I later switched G2 for Ultima Replenisher which has no sugars, artificial flavors, colors, or sweeteners that were easier on my stomach. I also ditched the Snickers Marathon bars and Power Bars for GU’s and simple granola bars that were easier for my stomach to digest. Some of the experimenting was simply getting used to digesting foods while on the run. I can now eat more real foods than ever before because my body has learned to fuel my muscles and supply blood to my stomach at the same time (in moderation). When it comes to fueling the body for running, eating real food for meals and snacks leading up to runs is almost always the most filling, easiest digested, and the best for you. Since this post is already getting long, I’ve made a separate post for those of you who have asked me questions about fueling for long-runs-Fueling for the Long Run

As for Saturday’s run and fueling, our run continued to go well however around mile nine the damp, cold air started to chill the muscles and joints. Around mile ten we both got hungry. The next couple miles were a little challenging being hungry and having cold set in. The last mile home we talked only of which Bearded Brothers flavor we would eat and the Nuun flavor we would drink when we got home. Definitely should have at least brought a couple GU’s along just in case. Other than the hunger and cold, we both felt great on our longest run of our training plan thus far.
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12 miles is Ryan’s longest training run ever. He has ran four half marathons, but never ran training runs longer than 10 or 11 miles. We are unconcerned by pace right now as winter always causes slower times and greater perceived effort.

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Bearded Brothers is a new favorite bar of ours. Bearded Brothers bars are 100% natural with organic ingredients, vegan, gluten free, soy free AND taste delicious. Plus, they come in compostable packaging.

I am not always a huge bar person, but sometimes they are perfect for a pre-run snack or post-run snack. I love that Bearded Brothers offers a healthy and natural snack. I usually prefer to eat a meal 1.5 hours before a longer run. I can eat a smaller meal or snack minutes before leaving for a run. This training cycle we are both trying to eat healthier and not use our miles run and hard burned. In the beginning of my marathon training I often rewarded myself with treats and candy after long runs. After running more miles and marathons, I felt the need to do that less and less. I’m trying to continue on the healthy eating path as it really does make me feel better on a regular basis and I think I run better, too.

Ryan agrees with the feeling better when we eat better, and we are both looking to get in better shape. After our long run Saturday and Bearded Brothers snack we roasted up some chicken and veggies for dinner. I’d eaten most of my veggies when I thought to take this picture. We did enjoy some frozen yogurt later in the evening as we were hungry again.

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Balancing the hunger you can experience with marathon training and eating healthy can be a challenge. Making sure to fuel properly in advance of a long run and during a long run can prevent post-run pig out sessions. I also follow the rule that I only eat when I’m hungry. I’ve never been a snack just to snack person. I truly eat when I’m hungry and don’t when I’m not. Sometimes this gets me in trouble like on Wednesday when I didn’t feel hungry at lunch. I was then starving on my run on Wednesday.

Ryan’s Tip of the Week-As runs start to get longer, break the miles up into smaller sections to give yourself a better mental approach to the distance. This week I looked at the 12 miles, my longest training run yet, as a six mile loop and then an out and back six miles (3 out, 3 back). This approach mentally broke up the run making the distance seem much less mentally challenging.

Sarah’s Tip of the Week-Make sure to listen to your body and provide it appropriate hydration and fuel as your runs get longer. Rather than get frustrated if you bonk or have a rough time fueling, think of it as part of the training process. You are not just training your mind and legs to go the distance, but your entire body to travel many miles. Check out my fueling for the long run post tomorrow for more details-How to Fuel for the Long Run.

Total Miles-27 miles

{2013 Running Review}

In the blink of an eye 2013 is over. The below link pretty much sums up my running over the past 365 days. The photos below are a glimpse of the year that was 2013.
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What did you do this year that you are proud of? Excited about? Worked hard to achieve? Where did your run that you’d recommend to others? I’m always looking for new routes and destinations to run.

{Black Friday-Running Gifts}

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Need a gift for a runner? Any runner would love these ten things!
1. Pro Compression Socks-One of my favorite brands to run in. ($50-usually can find coupon codes online for 30-40% off)
2. Randies by Oiselle-These look so fun! ($48)
3. Stainless Steele Water Bottle-Great way to encourage and remind you to drink enough water. ($18)
4. Sweaty Bands-My go to running headbands ($18)
5. GU-My only fueling strategy for long runs (Box of 8/$11.60 or Box of 24/$31.50-again look for deals on certain sites)
6. Running iPhone Case-So cute, love! ($25)
7. Garmin 220-Seriously want! Why doesn’t Ryan read this blog. ($250)
8. Brooks Winter Running Jacket-Best way to get winter runs in is have the right clothes. You get what you pay for. ($150)
9. Yak Traks-A must for winter running in the midwest. ($30-40)
10. Nuun-Best way to rehydrate on runs. ($20 for 4 pack)

Happy Running and Shopping!