Blogging, Habits and “I’m back!”

July 26, 2013 § 38 Comments

There exist a couple of reasons I left this blog to decay for 9 months:

  1. I came to terms with my outright inability run outdoors in the winter. Call it being a wimp, looking for an excuse or not being cut out for it, I just couldn’t get myself out there. I figure the labour of a run is tough enough to talk myself through, let alone under lung-frosting blizzard conditions (alright, it’s not THAT bad, but still…), so I conceded my defeat and cowered in shame from my blog.
  2. I signed up for the Nike Women’salf Marathon in Washington,DC last April, 
    and was all stoked about getting back to trainingIMG_0987 IMG_0984and blogging until a knee injury decided to strike (actually, it was my fault but blaming the injury makes me feel a smidgen better) and completely derailed my training schedule and attitude towards running and therefore blogging about running. All I could manage on race day was to run the first 2 miles and walk the remainder. Which was very sad for me, but mostly painful: I didn’t realize the walking part would require any training and boy was I wrong! Power walking is NOT a natural movement and you DO need to adapt your body to it or you’ll end up like me: the weird girl who alternates between power walking and limp-running (because despite the knee pain, it gave my walking joints a rest) and much more sore than any running race can make you.


Now, there exist a couple of reasons why I’m back to my blog and promising to be much less absent!

  1. One of the last audiobooks I listened to was What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast, which wasn’t mind opening enough for me to recommend it for anyone’s reading list, but it did inspire me enough to reflect on how my ideal mornings would play out. I decided it would be to always awake at 5:30 and either run or get my day going so I can have time to read or blog before starting work.
    Additionally, I listened to another audiobook, What Makes Your Brain Happy and Why You Should Do the Opposite, describing how contrary to the popular belief that it takes 21 days to create a habit, it actually takes on average 66 days for easier habits and 84 days for more difficult habits (exercise being one of them) to develop. Basically, if I want this early morning running thing to stick, I’m going to have to commit to at least 66 days…
  2. A couple of weeks ago TubbyPaul reblogged my last post and very encouragingly said he was “gutted Andrea has stopped updating this blog”, which firstly, made me remember about my blog and secondly, contemplate that hey, maybe some people actually enjoy reading about my love-hate relationship with running.
  3. I have another race to train for!
    Even after the late April race, I struggled with my knee for another 2 months and was so frustrated I almost gave up on running altogether. Finally, after admitting to myself that the injury persisted from a continued attempt to run too far too fast, and after many 1 milers, even more 2 milers and countless cringes on my foam roller, I’m happy to announce my knee is in tiptop shape and ready to take on training for this year’s NWM Half in San Francisco!

So with apology to any who wished I had posted these last months, here I go, ready to tackle 66 (or maybe 84) days of morning running and blogging!

When is your favorite time to run?
Is running a habit or do you have to talk yourself into it?
Do you have any book/audiobook recommendations?

Food to Run On

November 7, 2012 § 31 Comments

Every day my news feeds on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, WordPress, Bloglovin’, MyFitnessPal are flooded with advice on what one should and shouldn’t be eating to live a healthy lifestyle. Some days I’ll be told to drink red wine to keep my muscles strong, others it provides me no benefits. Some days grapefruit is great for me, other days it’ll give me breast cancer. Some days red meat should be part of my healthy diet, other days it’ll shorten my lifespan. Most days I just feel like a headless chicken set loose in the supermarket.

So to simplify my decisions in the grocery aisle I created the following rules each item must pass to make it into my basket:

– whole grain flours only
– no refined sugars (chocolate is of course an exception!)
– no artificial sweeteners
– no trans fats

Some may say these rules are pretty restricting, but I can assure you my diet isn’t the least but boring. (Check out my other blog for evidence). Plus, why torture yourself with the “snack on this candy bar or have some greek yogurt and blueberries?” decision at home? Do it in the grocery store and it’s smooth sailing all week!

Whole Foods

Despite the constantly contradicting claims about diet, one thing everyone can agree on, no matter their field of study, is that eating whole, unprocessed foods is the healthiest way of life. You should be filling your belly with lean proteins, complex carbs, good fats, fruit/veggies bursting with vitamins and minerals, and the occasional cup of coffee. Runners specifically, as suggested by theRUNIVERSE, should be paying attention to
 these fab foods.

I’m happy to report that I eat each of those items on a regular basis, with the exception of the red meat and coffee (I’m a green tea-er, coffee gives me the shakes and sweats!).

Well okay, looks like I’m on the right track… but in what quantities?

Diet Ratios

Sources will tell us runners everything from stick to a 50-25-25 or 50-20-30 carb-protein-fat ratio to eat 50%-60%, 60%-65% or up to 70% of our calories from carbs, but which do you follow? And then there’s the weight-loss ratios that vary even more. With such variance in the numbers, diets can look completely different for people doing the same activity. Personally, I tend to agree with the experts that say it’s it’s different for everyone and all depends on your goals, body type and level of aerobic activity. If you’re looking for fat-loss, then up your protein. If you’re light enough and are running longer distances, then carbs are your friend. If your hair is dry and skin is dull, get more healthy fats. It really is just a trial and error game for everyone, but that’s the only way to find what works for you.

I’ve recently been trying to revamp my own diet since I know I won’t be logging as many miles over the winter. Though I’ve put the “it’s too cold outside” excuse behind me now, I at least wait until a day it’s not snowing because ski goggle are for skiing and not for running in weather like this:

Normally my view looks like this:

(It’s a blizzard out there and, yes, I really should take my patio furniture in…)

Instead, I work in some weight training on snowy days like these. So to help my muscles out, I figure I should increase the protein in my diet and since I’m not getting as much cardio in, and thus probably not burning as many calories as during training season, my diet probably doesn’t need as many carbs.
Decision: move my 55-25-20 ratio to 40-40-20.

Are you eating theRUNIVERSE’s recommended foods?
What does your diet look like? 
What do you run (pun intended… I’m a dork) on?


Cold Feet

October 26, 2012 § 54 Comments

Now that I’m convinced I’m a real runner, I figure I should take to running over the winter season. My mother normally trains through the snow, as long as it’s warmer than -15°C (5ºF), so I figure if she can do it, then why can’t I?

Monday I went for a run and it was about 0ºC (32ºF). I wore my new digs from the NWM:

NWM Gear

I also wore a light lululemon jacket, some mitts and a visor… and I FROZE.

Actually, it wasn’t so much my body that was cold, but my nose and lungs. I have no idea how I’m going to make it through this winter. Does it get better? Do your lungs get used to that piercing cool air? Does your nose develop better circulation techniques? Do you eyes stop watering? If you stick with it long enough will you actually enjoy running in the cold?

The worst part was that I found it difficult to maintain my regular pace. I ended up running about a 0:30 min/mile slower than usual and struggled to keep even that up. It was almost as though my muscles weren’t getting enough oxygen because my lungs were frozen. I know they can’t literally freeze, but it sure seems like the cold inhibits oxygen absorption, which is rather counterintuitive. Remembering the PV = nRT formula from highschool chemistry, cooler air is denser, meaning there should be MORE oxygen going into your lungs with every breath. I knew that stuff they taught us in school was useless!

And now I’m sitting in my living room running gear on, staring out at a layer of snow on the ground and -3ºC (27ºF) weather, trying to convince myself to get over my cold feet and get out there…

Anyone have any tips on how to run in the cold?

NWM 2012

October 17, 2012 § 52 Comments

Yes, it’s been 2 and a half months since I’ve made a post, but at least a hell of a lot of running has happened since then, though probably not nearly enough…

The Nike Women’s Marathon was last weekend and though I took tapering a little too seriously (one 4-mile run in the 2 weeks before the race) I didn’t fare TOO poorly. Finished with a 1:54:45, which put me in the top 5% of my age category for the half! Though I suspect the popularity of the Tiffany’s finisher’s necklace attracting non-runners may have skewed the stats in my favour… Stats aside, I still felt like a champ crossing that finish line to receive this beauty:

(I really am a master Instagram photographer, thank you very much.)

Ha, though I wasn’t exactly a beauty myself running out there…

(Like my new sports bra?) Someone really needs to tell us novice runners to smile during a race so we don’t end up looking like we’re in labour.

The course was pretty fun if you as me, though I don’t have many halfs to compare it to. The hills weren’t nearly what you’d expect of San Francisco and what scenery I could see through the fog was pretty spectacular. With so many runners the course is rather crowded for the first couple of miles though, so you either need to push your way to the front of the start line or admit PB defeat.

The best part about this race is the before/after fun in the city, though that’s probably the best part about ALL races… who actually LIKES running anyways…?

The entire city is buzzing as early as Friday for Sunday’s 25,000 runner event. Union Square is home to the Nike expo as well as the 3-storey Niketown, which is pulsating from some dj’s obnoxiously loud music. I’m sure they do it to prevent you from thinking too much about your purchases – it’s literally a “get in and get out” shopping experience to save your ears. Luckily the buyer’s remorse is offset by the copious number of freebies you get over the weekend – I almost had to buy another suitcase for all that Neutrogena beautifying goop they give you.

Overall, the NWM is a fantastically fun time for a group of girls and totally makes the old ones feel young again, or maybe that’s just because they were hanging out with me… say hi to me and my mom’s friends:


No shoes, no socks, no service…

August 1, 2012 § 7 Comments

I’ve been at this barefoot/minimalist running thing for a few months now and I find that around 2.5 miles, the bottoms of my toes start to feel raw… is this normal? I figured shoes without socks goes hand in hand with barefoot running, but my feet have not been serving me well. Maybe I need to be sporting socks with my New Balance Minimus Zeros… anyone have any words of wisdom on this one?

Otherwise, training has been going rather well. Ran 4 miles on Sunday in the heat (UGH) and didn’t fair too poorly… I really hope raceday’s weather is temperate… 15 degrees would do for me! And no sun please! Not sure how I’d do in the rain though, I’m pretty scared of water and can’t say I’ve ever really run in it…

Keep Your Head Up

July 25, 2012 § 6 Comments

Last night we went for our 2nd 3 mile run since training officially started on Saturday and psychotically did it all up hill… I had the bright idea of biking to my fiance’s dad’s house, since we hadn’t seen him and his wife  since the engagement, leaving our bikes there and running home. Stupid stupid stupid (yes, THAT stupid) plan for two reasons: 1) It’s all uphill on the way home 2) It’s really easy to forget your condo keys in your bike pannier bag…

We decided our calves had had enough torture for the night so we called my future father-in-law and asked him to drive over the keys in my bag. He finally arrived after what seems like an hour shivering in the wind and holds out THE WRONG key… Haha (it’s funny now), he starts off with “I didn’t think this looked like a condo key, but these systems are getting so high tech these days…”…….we just stand there staring….. waiting for him to say “just kidding”……. nope, didn’t happen, he just sat there holding out the key to my bike lock….

Aside from the slightly dumb mistake made last night, I did make what I thought was an intelligent discovery. I found keeping your head up and looking 50 yards in front of you really makes the running less tedious and painful. I think it might have actually made me run faster up those hills! And I HATE hills. And running…

So yes, yesterday’s lessons: keep your head up and triple check where you put your keys.

Best Week of My Life

July 24, 2012 § Leave a comment

I can say with utmost certainty that this time last week I had no idea how much my life would change in 7 days. One thing that didn’t change though were my running habits, which remained at near zero.

Last Monday I got engaged. And it was a complete surprise. I had been with my boyfriend for 1 year – the most amazing year of my life. We had talked about how we cannot wait to spend the rest of our lives together, but I wasn’t expecting him to propose for at least another year, only for my parents’ sake. It was an intensely romantic and heartwarmingly nostalgic evening – perfect in every way.

And now life has become engulfed with engagement ring designs, moving in together, preliminary wedding planning and a run here and there. Thoughts I will fill in in days to come!

Barefoot Running!

July 15, 2012 § 3 Comments

Running is not my passion – it’s something I do because I want to learn to like it, but I HATE it – at least I have in my traditional running shoes.  I’ve never been a big runner – have run a couple half marathons, but never trained for them, which is probably why the running stops there. I go through spurts of dreading it and being OVERTLY EXCITED to strap my sneakers on, which typically lasts about 5 minutes into the run. And then I hate it again.

So here I am again, in one of those “I’m going to be a RUNNER!” phases. But this time it’ll be different… ha, I hope! I’ve been reading Born to Run by Christopher McDougall, and as everyone else who’s read the book, I think I’ve found the answer: ditch my running shoes and go barefoot! Well not completely, but I did go out and snag a pair of New Balance Minimus Zeros.

The large ones are my boyfriend’s. Yes, I have freakishly small feet.

The whole concept behind barefoot/minimalist running is that by removing all that cushion, which only became popular in the 70s with the birth of Nike, you allow your body to move the way it was meant to. Naked feet naturally soften the whole body’s landing. Go try it – run on your tile floor barefoot – you won’t be landing with your heel that’s for sure! Human anatomy was designed for running barefoot.  So when you land softly on the forefront or ball of your foot, you reduce all the stress that shoots up your foot and into your knees, hips and back from heel striking. Even though modern day running shoes are engineered to absorb the impact hammering your heels, they can’t counter all of it. One Harvard study shows that heel strikers throw the equivalent of up to 3 times their body weight into their heel. Running shoes only reduce this impact by about 10%, On the other hand (or the bare foot, teehee), there is no high level of impact recorded at all for barefoot runners!

I’ve been sporadically trying them out for about 10 weeks now. The runs started at 3-6 minutes, hovered there for 2 weeks and then I thought I was ready for a big run of 16 whole minutes. Holy hell was I wrong! I could hardly walk for the next 3 days! I guess it takes a bit longer than 2 weeks to build back up a lifetime of relatively inactive calves… And it probably didn’t help that those 16 minutes were downhill either.

But now I’m up to a 23 minute run, and good thing too, because half-marathon training officially starts today! Yup, I’m 13 weeks away, and need to get my calves in good enough shape for the San Francisco Nike Women’s Half Marathon. I guess the good thing about switching running techniques is that it won’t be able to put it off until 2 weeks before the race – my calves wouldn’t last past 25 minutes I’m sure!