Thursday, March 29, 2012

What a pain in the butt!

I've been doing extremely well with my training plan for the 10K.

Well, at least, I had been until Saturday of last week. Then that little muscle in red decided it wasn't very happy with my training:

That is the piriformis muscle on my right leg. It'd gotten so bad in the last week that I couldn't find a comfortable way to sleep. I would thrash about in bed for an hour, then give up and go sleep on the couch. It was the only place where I was able to rest my back against something comfortably. It didn't hurt while running, but I knew how its symptoms progress. Pain while running was next on the list. The last time (January) this happened I took a break from running for a week and a half, did a lot of yoga, foam rolled, stretched it and got a massage.  It worked and after I felt much better.

This time though, in addition to the piriformis pain, I got a touch of a cold that's making the rounds at work. I knew on Monday when I got a mere five minutes into a warm-up run that running wasn't in my body's plan for the day. I bagged my workout 20 minutes into it and went home try and rest. The following day I headed over to the spa for my deep tissue massage, which after another rough night of thrashing about in bed, left me feeling like a wrung out washcloth.

It's been a couple days since the massage and the tension in my piriformis is easing, but running is still a couple days out. I'm seriously contemplating going to get a functional movement assessment and gait analysis. The fact that it's been my right piriformis twice isn't coincidence. I want to know what the problem is and how to prevent it.

I'm hoping things will start to improve dramatically over the next 48 hours. I'm a little out of sorts when I can't run.

How's everyone else's week been so far? Good, bad? Cheer me up with a comment down below!

Monday, March 26, 2012

March Foodzie Box

This month, after checking out my options, I decided against the cooking box. I was drawn in by a much more appetizing option, the Ski Lodge Cafe tasting box. Of course, selecting something that was perfect for the cold early Spring in New England meant that wasn't the weather I got. Instead I got something more akin to early Summer in New England, which made me not want eat much of anything from the box when I got it.

Now that the weather's cooled down again, I'm more interested in the contents of the box:
  • Chai tea
  • Hot Chocolate on a Stick
  • Marshmallows
  • Shortbread Cookies
  • Java Rocks
  • Peppermints
While shortbread cookies aren't my favorite type of cookie, the two I got were reasonably buttery and quite crumbly. I'd eat them again if they were in front of me.

I haven't tried the hot chocolate yet, but it's on my to-do list now that I have more almond milk in the fridge. I noticed that they have instructions for American style and European style hot chocolate on the back. Evidently Europeans only use water in their hot chocolate. Personally, I think that's a little weird. Don't you just end up with some watery hot chocolate?

Everyone knows that hot chocolate is best with marshmallows, so there had to be some in this box. If you've been following my blog, you know that I made my own marshmallows at the end of 2011. I was pleased to see these marshmallows were just as square and covered in powdered sugar. Handmade marshmallows are the greatest.

I'm not a huge fan of tea in general, which we've discussed in these posts before. But when I opened this bag of tea up to give it a whiff, I was surprised to find many of my favorite herbs. I smelled tons of ginger and cinnamon. I'm going to have to attempt to make a good cup of this tea one of these mornings.

These are good. Really good. If you like coffee and chocolate, get them and try them. I have to be very careful not to eat a bunch because they have coffee in them and I have the caffeine tolerance of a rodent. My poor little heart couldn't taken it.

I normally don't buy a tin of mints, even though I quite like them. This is because instead of just sucking on them, I end up chewing them to bits. I enjoyed these because they actually had little bits of peppermint in them! And because they're made locally in New England.

Which product from this month's Foodzie box interests you the most? Lemme know down below!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Weekly Weigh-In and Musings: 3/23/2012

Weight: 125.2
Body Fat %: 21.0 + 3 = 24.0%
Measurements: 34"-26"-34"-20"

Mildly dehydrated Sarah is no fun. No fun at all!
I woke up this morning feeling stiffer than a two-by-four and heartily exhausted. Since I've been tracking my weight and body fat percentage daily for my 10K training, I knew my body was giving me a clue. You see, my body fat percentage monitor provides consistent results when you maintain roughly the same level of hydration each day. Normally I'm pretty good about staying hydrated, but the last couple of days haven't been so normal. On Wednesday, I did my 400m repeats workout in the gym on the treadmill directly under the A/C vent. Normally I avoid this treadmill, but it was the last one open.  I detest having a cold draft on my neck while I run so I kept my fancy long sleeve, mock turtleneck, wicking cover-up on. Unfortunately this caused me to sweat profusely and it was a tough workout to begin with.

I knew I should have brought a small bottle of Gatorade when I got off the treadmill and my fingers felt stiff. I had a bottle of water on the drive home, ate dinner and didn't have anything else to drink all night. I felt appropriately pooped the next morning but my body fat reading told me that I definitely didn't drink enough water to make up for yesterday's water losses. Woops. I then made the situation worse by not drinking enough yesterday and sweating like a fiend in Zumba. Apparently, I can be an idiot sometimes.

Snow tires, be gone!
I'm dragging my aforementioned exhausted self to the tire place today to get my snows swapped out. It's been unseasonably hot over the past week and a half, and that's not doing the tire tread any favors. Of course that means it'll snow next week.

Baby plants!
I started my plants earlier this week, but there's nothing to take a picture of yet so you'll have to stay tuned. I'm surprised my marigolds have already sprouted, but it'll be a week or more until I see some baby tomato plants.

How was your week? Any interesting weekend plans? Lemme know down below!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Tummy Troubles

A couple of weeks ago, I stumbled across the xoJane Real Girl Belly project while looking for other reviews of Grimm. I was immediately intrigued by the concept of showing what real women's bellies actually look like.

You see, I have a pretty big hang-up about my own belly. In spite of, or perhaps because of, a total loss of 72 lbs and roughly 26% body fat, I still have a flappy, flabby looking stomach.

Loose skin a myth? I think not.
There's some baloney out there in the interwebs about how loose skin is a giant myth. It's total poop. Whether or not your skin is capable of shrinking back around your newly svelte form is a multifaceted issue (genetics, time at weight, rapidity of loss or gain, etc.) and making a blanket statement indicating otherwise is idiotic. My problem, in particular, is a combination of adipose tissue and loose skin. I doubt that even if I were able to and wanted to drop my body fat into the teens that it would help completely.

At first, I was disheartened when I reached goal and my tummy still looked I'd been through a war. My expectations of making goal weight and its appearance didn't jive with reality.  I spent most of the last two years agonizing over it every time I'd stand in front of a mirror. I tried creams. I tried exfoliation. Then I realized that the only way to get rid of it was drastic measures and I wasn't willing to do that. I knew I had find a way to come to terms with it. I didn't want to continue to let it diminish the nature of what I'd done in terms of getting healthy.  It's still a mental battle each time I find myself in front of a mirror, but I'm getting better about it.

I think a lot of my problem with how my stomach looked post-weight loss stemmed from the simple fact that society rarely ever presents a picture of what women truly, honestly look like in their skivvies. Back in 2009, Glamour ran a photo (though I didn't come across it until sometime in 2010) that really helped me start to realize that perhaps I wasn't the only regular sized woman with a flabby tummy. It was heartening to see. Then just a couple weeks ago, I found the Real Girl Belly project. It made me smile and reinforced the fact that it's okay to have a few imperfections.

Do you have any hang-ups about your body? What do you think of the Real Girl belly project?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Evolution: Food Logs

I've spent the last three years logging my food. When I first started, my M.O. was to lose weight, so I logged with diligence in my Calorie King food diary. I can count on one hand the few days that I didn't log and they were all special occasions. Despite my diligence, I never felt like I was restricting myself. If I wanted a piece of dark chocolate, I had a piece. There were no "bad" foods. Upon reaching maintenance, I slowly increased the amount of calories I was allotted each day.

I continued to log and I began to focus more on the quality of what I was eating. I watched my carbohydrate, saturated fat and protein intakes, ensuring that each was within their goal range on a regular basis. I worked on feeling less guilty for the days I wasn't perfect, be that not logging at all or just eating more than my target. My aim was to log 80% of the time, and let the other 20% go. It was certainly not easy, since I was afraid that eating more than my target would cause me to get fat again. My philosophy towards exercise (running included) was that while it was something I loved and would never give up, it's main purpose was to burn calories.

Over the course of the last year, my thoughts on the subject have grown and changed considerably.  During that time, I was having a hard time not snarfling every piece of food that came my way. I felt like I was constantly hungry.  I felt like my control was slipping. I wrote about that recently, so you all know that I finally came to the conclusion I simply was not eating enough for my activity level. And, unquestionably, my activity level has increased significantly.

I attribute this mostly to my desire to get faster. Running has changed from something I do to burn calories to something that I want to do better. I want to be faster. I want to finish every race quicker.  Good nutrition plays an enormous role in achieving this. It's not just making my macronutrient targets either. Focusing on micronutrients (e.g. iron, copper and vitamin K) is equally important. My body operates at its best when its been properly fueled.

I've always had a rather difficult relationship with food but I finally truly feel like I'm making progress.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

You know you're a runner when...

I'm sure not all of these are completely original but they make sense. Enjoy!

1. You see other runners running and you can't wait to go out for your own run.
2. You own more pairs of running shoes than you do dress shoes.
3. It's way more fun to shop for running clothes than it is dress clothes.
4. You know where exactly one mile from your front door is (in any direction).
5. Taper weeks make you stir-crazy even though you know they're beneficial.
6. You have a stack of running books on your night stand with sticky note flags marking the training plans and pace charts.
7. You frequently lament that races don't offer race t-shirts in your size.
8. You have a stack of oversize race t-shirts that take up an entire shelf in your closet.
9. You spend a lot of time thinking about how to improve your running economy.
10. You spend time debating whether people should be allowed to wear headphones during a race.

Got any more to add to this list? Lemme know!

Monday, March 12, 2012

No RAM Weekend

It was a pretty quiet weekend. I got every piece of my new computer except for the RAM. I put what I did have together on Friday night using my yoga mat because I don't use it for much of anything else these days. Fortunately my RAM is arriving today so I can put it in tonight and begin the tedious software installation process. On Saturday, I tested out my new Altra Zero Drops with some intervals on the treadmill. They're super comfy and my toes don't get all squished together. I'm looking forward to logging many more miles with them.

How was your weekend? Do anything fun and interesting?

Friday, March 9, 2012

Weekly Weigh-In and Musings: 3/9/12

Weight: 126.8
Body Fat %: 20.0 + 3 = 23.0%
Measurements: 34"-26"-34"-20"

Baby plants...coming soon!
Looking forward to many more of these this summer!
 After the success I had last year growing cherry tomatoes on my porch, I'm definitely doing it again this year. I started mine too early last year and spent an unnecessary time worrying for their safety during early, wet and chilly spring. According to Burpee, I should start my tomatoes in the next couple of weeks, so stay tuned for the arrival of baby plants!

I hate to even bring this up, but it's been bothering me a lot the past couple of weeks. I've been a CalorieKing member for the last three years. I'm not as active as most people are in the community there but I'm around. I run a challenge there that has dropped off in participation and occasionally I toss up a personal blog there when I want to say something that I don't feel like announcing to the rest of the world. All that being said, I've never been nominated as a success story.  I suspect it's because I don't make myself all that easy to relate to. I rarely ever write about the speedbumps I hit or the places where I stumble.  I know that for some writing about that can be cathartic. It's just not for me. I'm of the mindset where you accept that crap happens to you so you have to deal with it and move on. Why waste any energy giving voice to the crap?

The Hunt For The Perfect Running Shoe
Anyhow, onto lighter topics!
The Altra Zero Drops Women's Intuition
 For the last month or so, I've been searching and searching for a running shoe that I don't want to toss at the wall after every run. I haven't discussed it in much detail (though I plan to at a later date) but I've been working very hard to strengthen my feet and calves through barefoot running. At first, I started out by running absolutely barefoot at home on my treadmill where I could get away with that. As I got progressively stronger, I wanted to branch out and do circuit training workouts at the gym in a barefoot manner, hence I bought a pair of Vibrams. I'm now to the point where I can comfortably run 3-4 miles on the 'mill with my Vibrams, but running in my New Balance 890s is noticeably more frustrating. I can feel the extreme padding in the heel mess with my stride and it drives me a little crazy. A week ago, I stumbled across the Altra Zero Drops with come with a hearty list of benefits, most noticeably a 1:1 ratio. Your heel and your forefoot are the same distance from the ground. I haven't run in them yet (tomorrow for my interval workout outside!), but I intend to put up a decent review of them when I do.

What's your take on barefoot running? Good/bad? Any fun plans for the weekend?

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Interesting Articles

I'm not a big fan of the news, world or health. It's actually really quite depressing when you read it, though that may be because half of the time stories get sensationalized. I still read it though, depressing or not, and occasionally I come across an article (or two) that are meaningful.  This week I actually found a couple!

Be It Resolved: New Year's Resolutions Stick When Willpower Is Reinforced
I'm actually rather late in this article since it was first published just about two months ago. Surprisingly, this is the first time that I'd heard of any research regarding willpower being an actual form of mental energy powered by glucose. I wonder if that's actually why I have such a hard time controlling myself when I get too hungry. No fuel for the mental fire! Despite the fact that I think the example success story doesn't help any normal person relate, it contains a lot of great ideas that I have used in my weight loss and maintenance. It's definitely worth a read!

How Exercise Can Change Your DNA
I'm not sure I know how I feel about this article yet. I'll be interested to see future studies on the topic for sure.

If you read them, let me know what you thought down below! I'd love to hear.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Girly-girl? Not so much.

Every year I make a quiet promise to myself to try and attempt to care more about traditionally girly things.

This year I told myself I'd paint my nails more often.

Last year I told myself I'd try to wear nicer clothes to work more often.

The year before that I told myself I'd wear make-up more often.

I follow through with my self-resolution for about a month before I revert to my preferred state: a Woot t-shirt, a hooded zip-up sweatshirt, a pair of jeans, an old pair of running sneakers, a pony tail and no makeup.

I've never had a facial, a pedicure or a manicure. My purse is 8 years old and I'm happier carrying my gym bag with my wallet in it over my purse. I have no desire to spend the time or the money on things like that.

That's not to say that I wouldn't do it if it were appropriate to my situation. If I spent a lot of time interfacing with  people, I would put more effort into my appearance because I understand that it's important in that situation. I do take care to make myself presentable when I have to interface directly with a customer at work.

But my daily interaction? It's primarily with my computer monitor, meaning I feel no need to impress an inanimate object with a fancy dress.

Are you a girly-girl? Or are you more like me? Guys, feel free to chime in with any sort of thoughts on this topic!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

RWTW 10K Training: Base Phase Weeks 1-4

I've decided that I don't want to bore everyone with a weekly training post and honestly I can't make my runs all sound interesting. Instead I'm going to do it by training phases and call a few of the notable runs from the phase.
Week 1: 2/6 - 2/12
Notable workout:  Hill Sprints on 2/11
I haven't done a lot of hill sprints since I started running. However, the training plan that I'm using has them in the base building phase to help recruit more muscle fibers and build speed. I have a love/hate relationship with hill sprints. They suck while you're doing them, but after you feel so accomplished and strong for having done them. The plan instructed me to do the sprints at a "relaxed" speed which is a little silly if you ask me. There's nothing relaxed about a sprint!
Week 2: 2/13 - 2/19
Notable workout: Hill Sprints on 2/18
After my first hill sprint workout, I decided that I didn't want to spend the entire time staring at my watch trying to figure out when I should press the lap button. I set up a custom workout for my Garmin, transferred it over and used that instead. By doing that, I was able to see my pace for each of the sprint periods and not have to worry about touching the buttons after I'd pressed the start. Plus, Beepy always rewards me with the most satisfying happy-sounding noise when I finish the custom workout. Upon uploading the workout data to my computer, I was startled (and amazed) to find out that I'd been doing my sprints at a pace of 7:33. I never thought I'd even see a number that quick. Especially going up a hill!
Week 3: 2/20 - 2/26
Notable workout: 3 treadmill miles in Vibrams on 2/21
I bought my Vibrams last November on a whim. I'd been running on my treadmill at home barefoot for about a year, but I wanted to take my barefoot style workouts elsewhere. This was the first time that I'd run 3 miles without any calf and foot soreness the following day. I'm amazed at how strong my feet and calves have become. Oh, and callused. I've got some really attractive calluses. *insert eye roll here*
Week 4: 2/27 - 3/4
Notable workout: Zumba on 3/1
I've noticed that by Thursday, I'm pretty pooped and so I haven't be able to be as energetic in Zumba as I usually am. This week was a recovery week (less mileage than the previous three) and so that combined with a smaller class resulted in me having a great class.

What's next?
Now that my base phase of training is over, I'm switching the focus of my lifting workouts from strength building to endurance. This should leave me feeling less sore throughout the weeks and provide me with more energy for increasingly intense speedwork. This next phase in the training plan focuses on building endurance at particular paces using 400m repeats and 1K intervals. I'm looking forward to the 1K intervals because I recall how much they helped me pace myself during the Gobble Wobble back in November.

Do you follow a structured training plan when you have a key race? Or do you play it by ear? Lemme know down below!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Dumplings and flour everywhere!

Eric recently purchased Asian Dumplings: Mastering Gyoza, Spring Rolls, Samosas, and More. That meant we hit up the Wegman's on Friday night, which is the only sane time to shop there as far as I'm concerned, to make sure we had all the kitchen staples (i.e. flour and sugar) he would need to play the role of weekend kitchen mess maker.  Saturday morning we went to the Asian grocery to find some specialty things that Wegman's didn't have. I found some super cute chopsticks (with duckies!) there, but alas, I did not purchase them. Maybe next time. All the pictures I used to make this collage can be found here.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Weekly Weigh-In and Musings: 3/2/12

Weight: 126.6
Body Fat %: 20.6 + 3 = 23.6%
Measurements: 34"-26"-34"-20"

Body Fat %
I've been wondering how accurate my body fat tracker has been lately. The three percent I add to each time is a figure I determined getting my body fat checked in the BodPod in Weymouth, MA well over a year ago. I've been thinking that perhaps it's time to go back and get it done again, but Weymouth is so far away and it costs $69. I wish there was a BodPod location more convenient.

I make good food choices, why can't I floss more?
I had a dentist appointment this week. I'm not a really huge fan of the dentist to be honest. I suspect that has something to do with a palatial expander, eight extracted baby teeth, two years of braces and a myriad of in between the teeth cavities. You'd think that given my propensity towards doing good things for my long-term health, that I'd actually be one of those people who flosses every night before bed.

I'm not.

In fact, I'm really quite bad at remembering to floss.

This has led me to having not one, but three cavities between my teeth as a result of this appointment. I think I finally hit my dental health low point. I'm not thrilled about needing the fillings but I've accepted it. I've also come up with a plan to prevent future sessions with the dentist's drill by purchasing a Sonicare and making sure I floss before I use it each night. Hopefully this will be the thing that sticks.

RWTW 10K Training
I haven't been slacking on these posts or the training. I decided that I didn't want to bore everyone with the weekly updates, so I'm only going to post about each phase of my training  once it's over. This is the last week in my base building phase, so expect a weeks one through four post next week. I'm really motivated to kill the 10K in June so I'm fully committed to my training plan.

Any fun plans for the weekend? Any race plans for this year?