{Friday Fab 5-Running Route Art, BTN 10k, Truths, Words to Think About, …}

{#1-Running Route Art}
Screenshot 2014-02-20 21.38.26
Monday I wrote about the awesome running app I use each week, Runkeeper. Statistician, Nathan Yau, from FlowingData gathered data about running routes in major cities using public information from the Runkeeper App. From the data, maps were created of various running routes. The darker or thicker areas of maps represent more popular routes, while lighter or thinner routes are less traveled. Check it out for your next vacation or to hang on your wall.

{#2-Words to Think About}
Screenshot 2014-02-20 21.27.04
Lately I’ve been hearing a lot of excuses from people. I can’t do this because… It won’t work out because… I was going to, but then… What if we forgot all those reasons, and we just did it? Accomplished it. Achieved the goal!

{#3-More Picky Bars}
This week’s new flavor I tried was Lauren’s Mega Nuts. If you like peanut butter, then you’ll love this flavor.

Screenshot 2014-02-20 21.18.00

{#5-Big Ten Network 10k}
Screenshot 2014-02-20 22.08.06
Nothing says love like running together. Since the husband and I are both big Badger fans, and I love Chicago, this race was a perfect one to add to the race calendar. I first heard about this race through Run with Jess‘s blog. Her goal to run a half marathon in every state is inspiring and she is midwest Badger fan! The registration fees were part of our v-day gifts for each other. Over the past few years we are much more interested in buying experiences to do together for holidays and birthdays rather than a material gift. I CAN’T wait to run this 10k. It looks like so much fun! Go Bucky!

Anyone have any fun races you’d recommend to others?

Happy Friday?

{Wisconsin Marathon Training-Week 7}

and in the snow, ice, and slush!

and in the snow, ice, and slush!

Let me preface this post with what an awesome week of miles I had.  I’m excited to see my miles increasing, and to be feeling as in shape as I do.

Tuesday-4 miles (Sarah)



Even though most weeks in January I was a few miles under my weekly mileage goal on my training plan, I’m really feeling strong going into February. Today’s 4 mile run felt so easy and effortless. Yoga on Sunday definitely helped stretch out some tight muscles. Running through snowy and icy miles throughout the winter has also helped build endurance for runs where I get some sections of bare road like tonight.

Wednesday-4 miles
Wednesday was four easy miles. Ryan had parent-teacher conferences two nights this week and reffed baseketball a different night, so he didn’t get many miles in during the week. We both planned to hit the weekend up for miles.

Friday-5 romantic miles…err something like that (both of us)


Love the Beard. The Bearded Brothers are offering 30% off all orders through 2/17. Use coupon code LoveBeard to score yourself some great fuel at a great price.*

After an easy five miles and a little romantic sunset, we came home and got ourselves ready for a night out and dueling pianos with friends. I’ve been to dueling pianos in Minneapolis several times, once in Austin (amazing!), and a couple other smaller places, but never locally. They were good, and dueling pianos is always a great time.

Saturday-7 snowy miles (both of us)
After enjoying myself perhaps a bit too much the night before it was amazing that I ran seven miles on Saturday. Once I got myself out the door, the miles flew by. Ryan and I had so much to talk about, the snow was falling lightly, and we just enjoyed the run. We talked about how we love to run in freshly falling snow. It surprisingly isn’t all that slippery, has such a silent beauty, and there is a rhythmic relaxation to the sound of your own crunching feet hitting the ground. Even though I didn’t feel the greatest earlier in the day, sometimes you just have to do something!

Sunday-14 miles (both of us) Ryan’s longest run ever!
To fuel up for today’s run we went to brunch. I had whole grain blueberry banana pancakes, apple chicken sausages, and egg beaters. The pancakes were amazing! I forgot how much I love fruit and pancakes together. This was the perfect pre-run fuel.

Despite fueling properly pre-run, I have to honestly say I was not looking forward to my run. The weather was sunny and probably the warmest its been this year (24 degrees), so I’m not sure exactly what my funk was. I am just really getting sick of running in the snow. The night before it was all silent and peaceful. I knew today the snow would be packy, slippery, slushy, and hard to run in. I was exactly right.

My foot has also been bothering me all weekend. I have no idea what is going on with it, and the pain isn’t intense, so I did what any runner does…and ran through it. We’ll find out if that was a good idea Monday morning I’m sure. Again, not all things I do are advice for others.

To make this long run seem less daunting, Ryan’s longest EVER, we broke it into two halves. The first seven miles were decent. The snow and slush was annoying, but there was some open road. Ryan and I chatted some of the time, while other parts we were silent. I think he was afraid to poke the bear-that was me :(.. Luckily I snapped out of it after a few miles. For part of the first seven miles I wasn’t sure if I’d finish as my foot was sore.

Halfway through our run, we stopped at the house to grab a drink, a GU, and for Ryan to apply some Body Glide to his foot. He had a hot spot started, and we wanted to prevent it from becoming a full on blister. Then we were back on the road. I brought my music with for the second half. Music is so motivating to me and makes my runs significantly more fun, feel easier, and go quicker. Ryan still refuses music for reasons I still don’t completely understand, but everyone trains differently. Some runs and races I don’t use it, but most of the time I enjoy my runs more with music. I made sure to belt parts of every chorus out so Ryan would know what song was playing at all times. I’m sure he loved it!

We both took GU’s at mile 10 to prevent the long run hangry experience we had with our 12 mile long run two weeks ago. Properly fueling before and during the run made these miles so much more enjoyable. Enjoying runs also builds confidence that you can complete the entire 26.2 distance. Ryan and I both felt great on our run. When asked about his training so far, Ryan says he feels strong, in shape, and confident about the marathon distance.  I feel like the 14 miles was not a challenge, and that I could have easily ran 20 with some more open road. Now I’m sure I just jinxed my next 20 miler.  I am fairly superstitious when it comes to running.
My foot is still sore, so we will see what develops from that. Hopefully I’ll have nothing to report back. If I do, I blame Ryan and his heel incident as I’ve NEVER had a foot problem before. I know there is no way the heeled wedges I wore to work followed by stilettos I wore Friday night to dueling pianos have anything to do with the pain (17 hours in heels). I wear heels often so I’m seriously doubting it, but who knows. I’m optimistic it will be back to normal in a day or two!


Post-run hydration-Fruit Punch Nuun for me, Grape Nuun for Ryan.

Ryan’s Tip of the Week-Train with a partner who is reliable and encourages you to complete your workouts. Train with someone who doesn’t make excuses for why not to do a workout. If you don’t have someone to train with, then find someone who shares a common goal or interest of running to discuss your training and workouts. Hearing about another person’s training can both reassure and motivate you in your own training.

Unfortunately, Ryan’s advice this week also applies to me. I wasn’t very encouraging before our long run. I actually suggested multiple alternatives to running our long run even though I didn’t really want to skip the run (much).  Once I get going, I’m all lovin’ every minute of it.  It is just the getting going part that gets me sometimes.  Ryan helped ME a lot to get my butt out the door. I’ll work harder next week to not whine and complain before our long run. It should be noted that during the long run I was completely supportive. 😉

Sarah’s Tip of the Week-Make a playlist of songs you like, that are upbeat, and that motivate you to push yourself and complete those miles. Music is one of my biggest motivators. Having the right songs on my playlist can make or break a longer run. I change up my playlists every month or two to incorporate new songs and so I don’t get bored. Some songs make it a year on my playlist while others only last a month or two. Once a song loses its mojo, its gone. This keeps my playlists new and exciting all year round. My current long run playlist is below!  Don’t judge!
Screenshot 2014-02-16 20.36.09
Screenshot 2014-02-16 20.36.35

Week 7 Total Miles-
Ryan-26 miles
Sarah-34 miles

Happy Training!

*All opinions are my own. I’ve not been paid or compensated in any way for any products mentioned in this post. They are simply favorites of mine I’d recommend to other runners.

{Friday Fab 5…Be Your Own Valentine, Dueling Pianos, Pearl Street Brewery, Tree Love, and Picky Bars}

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with this holiday because it focuses too much on needing a special someone to be happy when we really should all…
{#1-Love Ourselves First}

This Valentine’s Day be your OWN valentine. Love yourself first! Do something sweet for yourself. Take yourself somewhere you’d love. Enjoy something special this vday Friday for YOU!

{#2-Pearl Street Brewery}

I’ve always loved their Downtown Brown, and now I love their Pale Ale, too. Ryan and I had a dinner and drink date after our trail run Sunday where we enjoyed some local brew.

{#3-Tree Love}

Remember how I love trees?! Well this is one I run by often. Pair it with a winter sunset and you’ve got some great natural beauty.

{#4-Picky Bars}

I’m loving Picky Bars lately. They are a great afternoon/pre-run fuel. Smooth Caffeinator was awesome!

{#5-Dueling Pianos}

This is what our Valentine’s Day evening has in store for us. Good friends, dueling pianos, and fun!

Happy Weekend! XOXO

{Wisconsin Marathon Training-Week 6}

Screenshot 2014-02-09 22.52.42
This week was a down week in our training plan. It was nice to have some lower mile runs this week as we both were pretty busy outside the running world. As you will see below, we only ran two of our runs together this week as our schedules didn’t really allow for us to log any other miles together.

Monday-3 miles (Ryan)

Tuesday-3 miles both of us

Wednesday-5 miles (Sarah)

5 miles fueled by Picky Bars. You know it has been a cold winter when the temperature above feels normal and not cold.

Friday-6 miles (Ryan on treadmill)

Saturday-8.5 mile trail run (Sarah)
I’ll warn you in advance that I took a gazillion pictures on this run. I knew I had no pictures from earlier this week, the run was amazingly beautiful, and Ryan HATES when we stop for 30 seconds to take a picture and start running again. It makes him instantly grouchy, so I try my best to avoid the start and stops when running with him.

My decision to drive 35+ minutes to get my run in was based on having other errands to run, and the fact that I am bored to death of running the same freakin’ routes in the city I live. Seriously, bored out of my mind. So I grabbed a Bearded Brothers for some pre-run fuel, my shopping list for post-run, and jumped in the car to run somewhere different. I secretly hoped my favorite trail would be runable. And, yes, runable is a word!
This run was also my favorite run of the winter so far.  I soaked up the vitamin D and was high on endorphins for the entire run.  I also was pleasantly surprised to find my favorite trail to run on in the summer was perfectly groomed by this winter’s snowshoers and skiers.  I was beyond pumped to find the trail in excellent condition.  I welcomed the new terrain and scenery with smiles and a happy heart.  The 8.5 miles below passed by faster than most miles I can remember.  I love runs where you get so taken away by the scenery, your music, and/or, the weather that the miles fly by.  Saturday was just one of those runs that makes you fall repeatedly in love with running.  Just you, nature, the crunch of your feet on snow, and the sunshine.  Perfect!





My favorite tree in winter (left), sunshine on snow, and my shadow.




When I got to the part of the trail that goes under the highway, I couldn’t figure out at first why I had to nearly duck in the tunnel. Upon exiting the other side I realized there was some two feet of frozen material making the tunnel seem shorter. Proof is in the photos. It was neat.

As much as I enjoy training with my husband, running alone is still time very much cherished by me. I’d be lying if I said that I don’t miss my alone miles at times. I don’t seem to forget about miles, my troubles, or my to do list when running with the husband versus running alone. The mental fix isn’t the same. Some days though I know that without him training with me, I’d be tempted to skip a run here or there. This run was the break I needed to feel good about training and the many miles we have ahead of us in the coming weeks.



Post-trail run my jacket and hair were partially frozen. After all that sun and endorphins though I just didn’t care.

Sunday-Yoga Class and 5 mile trail run (both of us)

We ended up staying with friends in the city where I love to run trails is, and we all got up and went to a delicious breakfast in the a.m.  I had one of the best veggie omelets EVER.  Then it was onto yoga which was the perfect way to stretch out our tight runner muscles, reflect on the past week, and relax the mind.  After yoga we hit up a nearby coffee joint, Moka, that we hadn’t been inside (I had never been to).  Their decor was modern and fun, the coffee delicious, and the company…well, amazing.



Then it was time for some guy time and girl time. The guys headed to some hunting, boating, RV show and the girls caught up on some qualify TV, Keeping Up With the Kardashians. Finally, it was time for us to get in some more miles, and I suggested the gorgeous trail I ran yesterday. Since my Garmin’s battery had died, I guesstimated the miles to be around 5 based on the day before’s run. The husband enjoyed the change in scenery on our run, too.


Ryan’s Tip of the Week-Stretching is important to feeling good when running. Even though it can be easy to skip (Sarah and I do this all the time), the end result is a happier and healthier runner. Yoga is a great way for runners to stretch and strengthen their muscles and yes, even for guys.

Sarah’s Tip of the Week-Vary your runs even when training with other people. Some people prefer to be on their own for most of their runs. Other runners thrive on the company of others. No matter what your preferred training method is be sure to add in variety by running alone and with others. The balance you get from doing both is rewarding and rejuvenating. Seek out other runners who you work with, running clubs, and fitness groups to meet other active individuals.

Total Miles-
Ryan-17 miles
Sarah-21.5 miles

{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}


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.
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
Screenshot 2014-02-03 22.09.40

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.

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.
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.

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.
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).
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.