Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Balancing Act

Getting to the next level in running often means getting a little uncomfortable. To improve, you need to push yourself harder so you can reach peak fitness. Pay the price during tough workouts and you'll reap the rewards on race day.

But you also have to be careful to avoid overpaying - aka overtraining. Based on my training journal entries for the past few weeks, I can tell I am skating a fine line. Not so much with running - fortunately I have Coach Matt who tells me how long and how fast I need to run - but with balancing running and additional workouts. 

I have a tendency to get a little too ambitious and last week I paid the price. Without getting into it too much, I'll just say a near blackout Wednesday morning led me to the conclusion that days I've been considering "easy" have actually been too hard. 

 These delicious Honey Stinger chews saved me Wednesday morning!

Coach Matt lays everything out for me - easy run days, challenge workout days, long run days, recovery run days. Everything is balanced so I can nail my hard workouts, recover properly and still run enough miles every week. But in addition to running, I sneak in my own extra workouts - mainly classes at the Y and strength training. This wouldn't be a bad thing except I tend to work too hard during these sessions. The result is the easy days in my plan are no longer easy and I'm left feeling more fatigued than I should.

I'm not sure what the solution is - I won't give up my favorite classes anytime soon and strength training is necessary for running strong. But I need to find a way to scale back somehow. It might be as simple as running slower for the lap portions during certain classes. All I know is that I need to do something or else I'll end up having paid too high a price - with nothing to show for it.

So this week I'm scaling back on the additional workouts just a bit (no Y-Blitz, no additional strength training), mainly because I'm racing this weekend. Finally, the relay race is less than one week away! Here's this week's plan:

Monday: 5 mile run w/strides + Y-Kettle Bell Intervals
Tuesday: 7 mile workout
Wednesday: 5 mile recovery run + Y-Fuse + Y-Core
Thursday: 6 mile run w/strides + Y-Kettle Bell Intervals
Friday: Rest Day
Saturday: Fleet Feet Sports Marathon Relay!
Sunday: 5 mile recovery run

Total: 38 miles

Ha, it's pretty funny when you look at a race week as a recovery week. But that's what I'm doing. This week's goals: Train smart, avoid excessive fatigue and have fun at the marathon relay :)

Tell me: How do you balance running with other types of exercise?

- ST

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Chicken and Black Bean Enchiladas

Some diet articles will have you believe that Mexican food is a calorie and fat bomb and best avoided when trying to eat healthy. But I don't really believe that to be true. I think you can eat everything as part of a healthy diet - just a matter of finding a way to fit it in. 

I eat Mexican food all the time so have found several ways to make it a bit healthier without skimping on flavor. This is one of those recipes. 

Before you complain about the serving size being one enchilada, I should say that these are extra large enchiladas. More like burritos. So one is definitely enough ;)

Chicken and Black Bean Enchiladas
Serves 8

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, minced
2 cups boneless, skinless chicken breast, cooked and shredded
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup corn
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
2 tsp lime juice
Salt and pepper to taste
12 oz enchilada sauce (I used Trader Joe's)
8 nine-inch, whole wheat tortillas (I used La Tortilla Factory low-carb, whole wheat)
1 cup Mexican blend shredded cheese (I used 2 percent)
Cilantro, chopped

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add onion, garlic and jalapeno and cook until softened. Add chicken, black beans and corn and season with cumin, chili powder, salt, pepper and lime juice. Cook until heated through.

Spread 2-3 Tbsp enchilada sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 casserole dish. Divide the chicken and black bean mixture between the 8 tortillas. Roll up each tortilla and place seam side down in the casserole dish. Pour the remaining sauce over the enchiladas and sprinkle with cheese and cilantro. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Serve with extra cilantro, Mexican hot sauce, chopped avocado, etc.

Tell me: What are you making for dinner tonight?

- ST

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Looking Ahead to the Marathon Relay + This Week's Training Plan

I have the itch to race.

It's been building for awhile now. I thought I would get some relief at Run Into the New Year but the weather didn't cooperate and I decided not to race. Initially I felt a little bad about skipping out because of the weather but Coach Matt said it was a great call to pass on this one. And if Coach Matt says it was a good decision, I'm okay with it.

But that means I haven't raced since Thanksgiving! For a girl that thrives on competition, this feels like an eternity. Fortunately, I have a race in less than two weeks - the Fleet Feet Sports Marathon Relay. This race is held at the Pettit National Ice Center indoor track and I'll be racing with a few fellow Oiselle teammates, Kim, Kristine and Sheila. 

Last year's relay team - we took 2nd Female Team!

While this race is definitely more about team camaraderie and having fun, I still intend on getting in some fast laps. I can tell I've lost some speed over the last few months but an all-out effort, no matter what the actual pace, will help satisfy my need to race!

Anyhow, things on the training front are going decently. I ended up taking a mini-step back between Christmas and New Year's with a few skipped runs but am now back where I was and hope to build from here during the remainder of winter. 

This week's plan includes:

Monday: 5 mile run w/strides + Y-Kettle Bell Intervals + Strength Training
Tuesday: 8 mile workout + Core Work
Wednesday: 4 mile recovery run + Y-Fuse + Y-Core
Thursday: 6 mile run w/strides + Y-Blitz + Y-Kettle Bell Intervals
Friday: Rest Day
Saturday: 11 mile run w/60 second surges
Sunday: 5 mile recovery run

Total: 39 miles

My questions for you:
  • It's been wicked cold in WI lately - how do you stay motivated to run during periods of bad weather?
  • What weather conditions keep you from racing? Or, will you race through anything?
  • Have you ever participated in a relay race? If so, what was your experience?
  • What are you most looking forward to this week?

I'm looking forward to trying this recipe for Coconut Chicken Chili - and making a few tweaks to lighten it up!

- ST

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Questions, Questions and More Questions!

About a week ago, my blogger friend, Cecelia from Mommies Run, tagged me in a questionnaire-style post. So just for fun, I'm answering her questions - and also tagging a few of my favorite bloggers so I can learn their answers, too!

Let's get started ... 

Four names that people call me:
1. Sun - with the correct pronunciation, Soon
2. Sun - mispronounced as "Son"
3. Sunie - childhood nickname
4. Fatty - because I can't stay away from cookies and other fatty treats!

Four jobs I've had:
1. Gap sales associate
2. TV news intern
3. Newspaper reporter
4. Marketing copywriter

Four movies I've watched more than once:
1. Love Actually
2. Mean Girls
3. Breakfast at Tiffany's
4. Clueless

Four books I'd recommend:
1. Run or Die
2. Racing Weight
3. The Lola Papers
4. The entire Harry Potter series

Four places I've lived:
1. Milwaukee suburb where I grew up
2. Madison, WI for college (UW-Madison)
3. Milwaukee, WI (current)
4. This space is TBD for now!

Four places I've been:
1. Bend, OR (Bird Camp!)
2. Chicago, IL
3. South Korea (trip for adoptees)
4. Boston, MA

Loved last summer's trip to Bend!

Four places I'd rather be right now:
1. Bend, OR
2. Portland, OR
3. Huntington Beach, CA - visiting my bestie, Debbie!
4. Madrid, Spain - my favorite of the European cities I've visited!

This pic's in MKE - I've yet to visit Debbie's new digs in CA!

Four things I don't eat:
1. Mushrooms
2. Tofu
3. Chocolate covered strawberries - or any type of chocolate & fruit combo
4. Black licorice

Four of my favorite foods:
1. Pizza
2. Guacamole
3. Chili 
4. Cookies

I could eat guac all day, every day

Four TV shows I watch(ed):
1. Buffy the Vampire Slayer
2. One Tree Hill
3. Gossip Girl
4. Revenge

Four things I am looking forward to this year:
1. Running new PRs!
2. My first destination race
3. Racing the 1-mile distance
4. Spring/Summer/Fall weather - because I'm already over winter ;)

Four things I'm saying:
1. Brrr!!!
2. Only X hours til I can hit the gym!
3. How many miles do I get to run today?
4. I wish cookies had negative calories.

Four people I'm tagging to do this next:
1. Hailey at Striding Strong
2. Tracey at Robot Lady Runner
3. Alicia at In Healthy Habits We Trust
4. Jen at Jen Chooses Joy

Join the conversation: What are four facts about you?

- ST

Monday, January 5, 2015

2015 Race Schedule

In a previous post, I mentioned I'm not running a marathon in 2015. Instead, I'm going to focus my training on the shorter distances that I love - 5k and 10k - and work on improving my time in the half marathon - a distance that my relationship with can best be described as love/hate. 

Below is my tentative race schedule. I highlighted my goal races although I'm still working with Coach Matt to determine goal times!

Icebreaker Indoor Marathon Relay - I'm running this one with Oiselle teammates Sheila, Kim and Kristine. The main goal is to improve on last year's time while still having tons of fun in the process!

Kim, Sheila and I at last year's race!

Snowball Shootout 5k - This race is part of the Winter Run Series. Since winter running is not really a strength of mine, I'm more using these races as workouts than all-out efforts.

Cupid Shuffle 5k - See Snowball Shootout

Luck of the Irish 5k - See Snowball Shootout

Door County 5k - I was under the weather when I ran this race last year. So this year I hope to run healthy and crush last year's time!

After last year's DC race - looking forward to doing this one again!

Rock n Sole Quarter Marathon - This will be an automatic PR for me as I've never raced a quarter marathon. In fact, I've always kind of believed it to be a 'fake' distance, if that makes sense, so have avoided doing one. But this year, the race works well with my schedule so I'm going to take a stab at it!

Chicago Rock N Roll Half Marathon - The weather is always a major factor for this race - will it be hot? Humid? Both? As such, I set my expectations pretty low and while I'd love to run faster than last year, I'll see what the day holds. 

The race to the finish line at last year's #RNRCHI

Race for the Bacon 5k - This is one of my absolute favorite races. While I enjoy running in Sheridan Park, I'm more in it for the bacon at the end of the race ;)

Hurry, there's bacon at the finish!

Lake Country Half Marathon - I'm already a bit nervous about this race. I've raced it before so know the course and think it plays to my strengths. Just a matter of getting in a solid block of training before the big day and then seeing what I can do when it's time to go!

Milwaukee Running Festival 1 Mile - Another automatic PR! Believe it or not, I've never raced a mile so I'm really looking forward to this one. Should be a leg-burning, awesome time.

Milwaukee Running Festival 5k - As practice for the San Antonio races later in the year, I'm going to race back-to-back days. Plus, I want to be in on all the action and excitement at the first Milwaukee Running Festival!

San Antonio Rock N Roll 10k - This will be my first true destination race and I think it will be a lot of fun! Since I was selected as a Rock N Blog team member (more on this to come), I knew I'd want to race additional Rock N Roll races this year. So San Antonio it is!

San Antonio Rock N Roll 5k - If I'm traveling to San Antonio for a race, I figure ... why not do two races? ;)

Tell me: What's on your 2015 race schedule? 

If we're doing any of the same races, let's meet up! :)

- ST

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The 2014 Run Recap + Up Next

Where does the time go? It really seems like only yesterday I was writing about my plans and goals for 2014. And now here we are, wrapping up another year!

In my mind, 2014 was a success. Although there were several "wins" in my mind, the following really made the year special:

Working with Coach Matt - It was great working with an expert and doing new workouts specially tailored to my racing goals. I'm sure it was Coach Matt's guidance that led to the next item on the list!

New 5k, 10k and Half Marathon PRs - Awards are great, but PRs are better! 

Wearing buns = Running a PR!

Bird Camp!!! - I loved meeting my wonderful Oiselle teammates and visiting the incredibly beautiful Bend, OR. It was so fun dedicating five full days to running, learning about running, talking about running, meeting other runners, etc. And we still managed to do plenty of non-running activities, too! 

Look at that sea of beautiful Oiselle singlets!

New friends!

The best roommates :)

Joining the YMCA - I had the unique opportunity to partner with the YMCA Milwaukee to do a series of blog posts. Over several months, I went to the Downtown Y location and quickly fell in love. The best part is the wonderful class selection with Y-Blitz, Y-Fuse and Y-Kettle Bell Intervals being just a few of my favorites!

So what's next in 2015? Well, some of you may be surprised to hear that I'm not going to run a marathon. Instead, my focus will be on improving my times in shorter distances, mostly 5ks (my favorite!!) with a few 10ks and half marathons sprinkled in.

While I love marathon training, I think taking a year off to get stronger will be key to racing a faster marathon in 2016. But don't think I'll be slacking on mileage or workouts - I plan on getting back to 50 miles per week this winter and building from there throughout spring, summer and fall!

My questions for you:
  • What 2014 accomplishment are you most proud of?
  • What's on your list of goals for 2015?

Looking forward to another fantastic year of running! 

- ST

Monday, December 15, 2014

Lentil Spinach Curry

When I went to Bird Camp in August, I met some of the best people, one of them, my roommate, Nicole. I've been following her blog, Fitness Fatale, and over the weekend decided to try one of her recipes. 

I adore Indian food - eating a delicious curry is just the thing to warm up during a Wisconsin winter. To get my fix, I usually hit a local Indian restaurant but Nicole's recipe looked so simple that I decided to try making it for once. And it turned out great! I definitely recommend making this simple, vegan curry - it's the perfect lunch or dinner to chase away the chill!

Lentil Spinach Curry
From Fitness Fatale

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
2-4 tsp curry powder (Originally recipe calls for 2 tsp but I added closer to 4 tsp. Season to taste.)
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 cup dried red lentils, rinsed
1 tsp salt
1 14oz can light coconut milk
1 Tbsp lime juice
1 3/4 cup water
1/3 cup cashews
3 cups fresh spinach
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

For serving:
Basmati rice
Cilantro, chopped

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add diced onions and cook until soft and translucent. Then add mustard seeds, curry powder, turmeric and lentils. Cook for another 5 minutes, stirring frequently to make sure lentils do not stick to the bottom of the pot. Add additional oil if necessary.

Mix in the salt, coconut milk, lime juice and water. Bring to a boil then cover and simmer over low heat for 20-25 minutes or until the lentils have cooked through and the mixture has thickened.

Stir in the spinach, cashews and cilantro and cook until heated through. Serve on top of basmati rice topped with extra cashews and cilantro. 

Tell me: What is your favorite food to eat to warm up during winter?

- ST