The Mental Challenge in Exercise

How many times have you been in knee deep in a workout, and all you want to do is throw in the towel? You are breathing crazy hard, your legs and arms are exhausted, but you still have a few repeats left.

What do you do?

Do you give into that feeling of fatigue? Your body just can not make it any longer. Or do you push it that extra step, the extra lap, or that extra repeat? Sure, your body wants to stop. It’s hard, and your muscles recognize that.

At swim practice on Wednesday night, my teammates and I were directly faced with this challenge. We tackled the following:

We started the sets of 100′s at a very easy interval. We were instructed to finish what we could. If we made the interval, no matter how much rest we had in front of us, we kept going. Simple enough.

We were all chatting in between sets, and ended up having about a minute of rest each time. Each time we went into a new set of 100′s, we got less and less of a break, hence the progression. Once we got below the 2 minute mark, everyone really started to feel the workout. I was hitting 1:31′s almost every 100, so my goal was to make it through the sets of 1:40. Once I got to that set, I ended up having about 8-9 seconds rest. I was at the quitting point. I was gasping for air each time I stopped at the wall, and all I wanted to do was take a break with my other teammates that had already not made the next interval.

Rather than listening to my body, I kept going. I did another 100, then kept going again. I made it through each 100 even though I so badly wanted to stop. And the best part – I didn’t even drown. It is amazing how much further we are able to push our bodies than we think possible. I believe that this mindset is where the experience of being coached for so many years comes from. Having someone coach you and tell you that you can do it – tackle the workout – well you actually start to believe it after a while. There were so many times when I ran cross-country at UCF that I thought I was going to die after a workout. And guess what, I didn’t die. I just kept getting better.

Believe in yourself and you will be shocked at how far (and hard) you can push your body towards your goals. Seriously, just give it a try. Tell yourself you can do it, and you might just surprise yourself ;)

Enough swim talk – now it’s time for food!!

Cherry Chocolate Bread

I made this last week at the same time that I made the Pumpkin Oat Bread. I figured I would try them both out, and then see which one I liked better, and then would feature it here. As luck would have it, I liked them both, so voila! Another yummy bread recipe :)

What you will need:

1/3 cup Greek yogurt

1/3 cup sugar

1 Tbsp vanilla extract

2 eggs

1 & 3/4 cup flour

1 tsp baking power

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

2 cups of fresh, whole cherries

1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

To start, preheat your oven to 350. Then, pit all of the cherries. It takes a few extra minutes, but this is obviously a vital step to the recipe. I did it over the sink, as it does have the tendency to get a little bit messy.

After pitting the cherries, put them back in the original measuring cup, and smash them. I used a large wire wisk. Make sure that you squish them pretty well, as the juice from the cherries is a welcome addition.

Before:

After:

After smashing the cherries. set them to the side. Get out your blender, and add the first two ingredients. Blend until combined. Add the vanilla extract and the eggs, and continue to beat well.  Then, take all other dry ingredients and add to the egg mixture, about a cup at a time. Slowly start adding the cherries and chocolate chips, until everything is smoothly mixed together.

Pour the batter in a standard loaf pan (after spraying with non-stick spray), and put it in the oven for 45 minutes.

Don’t worry – it will look a little bit funny! The cherries give it a bit of a purple/blue hue for sure! The loaf is done when you can insert a toothpick or knife through the center and it comes out clean.

I went ahead and topped it with Vanilla Greek yogurt (just like the pumpkin bread), and it turned out great. It was an amazing breakfast, and it wasn’t too sweet since I used semi-sweet chocolate chips instead of the milk chocolate.

Yum!!

Do you have the ability to push yourself past the point that you think you can complete? Have you ever tried it and succeeded (or failed)? What about the chocolate cherry bread – love or hate cherries in food?

Upcoming Races and Running Zooma!

With the unofficial kick off to fall comes so many great things:

Pumpkin Madness - Did you hear the PSL is back!?

Football Season 

Fun colors

and the best part…. Fall Racing Season! We don’t have too many summer races in Florida because it is just far too hot to endure any kind of speedy mileage. However, come fall, lots of races start popping up! The only race that I am directly focused on right now is Chicago – which is now only 31 days away! After I run Chicago (and recover from Chicago!), I plan to get in a few half marathons before the year is over. Races I have coming up this fall are:

Women’s Running Half Marathon

Tampa Bay Times Turkey Trot

OUC Half Marathon

I know there are more races that will pop up around the holidays, but for now, I am definitely committed to these three! I have done them all in the past and have been very impressed by each one! Then once the new year comes around, I have quite a few half marathons lined up, and one in particular that I am extremely excited about….

I was asked by Zooma to be an ambassador for their newest race – Zooma Florida! (Full Disclosure: I am not being paid for the event, but I did receive a complimentary race entry.) The race is being hosted at the Ritz Carlton on Amelia Island, and I can not wait! I have never actually been to Amelia Island, so this sounds like the perfect opportunity to explore – running 13.1 miles seems like quite the tour! I tend to stick to local (ish) races that I have done time, and time again, but this will be a new course for me (and everyone else). I am really looking forward to participating in the weekend’s events. They have quite a few fun things on tap for all of the runners!

Besides, a race in Florida in January – the temperatures should be perfect! Maybe even a little bit cold for the duration of the race. I’ll just put those vibes out there now ;) Look out on other runners’ blogs for the Zooma badge! I have one that signifies that I am an ambassador (check it out on my sidebar!), and they have ones for everyone participating as well! This makes it even easier to connect with other participants!

What does your fall racing schedule look like? Any goal races out there?! Are you running Zooma too!?

Laboring Through The Day!

Happy Labor Day! Living in Florida, we know that we have quite a few weeks left of summer. That didn’t stop me from having a weekend of fun, filled with friends, sunshine, and some great training.

I was able to get in a 14 mile long run, a great 40 mile ride, and Winnie swam her little heart out at the beach – that counts right?

I hope you all are having a great long weekend! I know I am!

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7 Tips To Stay Healthy When the Seasons Change

I’ve already started to see plenty of tweets and posts from others about the weather starting to cool off in their city. Although we have quite a while until that happens in Florida, it is smart to remember how to keep healthy as the seasons change. Even though running and regular exercise is an aid to help our immune system, it can actually harm us too. People that engage in long bouts of endurance exercise (cough – marathon training – cough) are more likely to catch colds when exercise sessions increase. This especially happens to me when I am travelling to another state for the race, and I ride on a plane (aka, my last 3 marathons!). To help keep myself well this training season, I am diligent about making sure I do the following things to stay in tip-top shape for race day!

1. Load up on Vitamin C

This is probably the most obvious tip that people think of. Rather than grabbing a glass of orange juice, get a box of Emergen-C. It has a yummy taste when added to water, and it has 1,000mg of Vitamin C in each packet!

2. Get adequate sleep

When we don’t get enough sleep, our bodies don’t have enough time to repair the muscles that we have broken down, day after day by exercising. Our bodies do a lot while we are catching zzzz’s to help repair those muscles, so let it! If you can’t get in the right amount of sleep for your body, try going to bed earlier at night, or pushing that workout to the evening rather than the morning. Your body will thank you.

3. Immediately change out of those wet running clothes

I don’t know about you, but I tend to stay in my drenched sweaty running clothes for a while after I am finished with my workout. I stretch, usually eat something, or just waste time. More often than not, I am pretty quick to just change out of my sports bra and top, so that I warm up and don’t have sweaty clothes sticking to me. When your body temperature goes back to normal in the cold A/C, that sports bra can send chills up your spine, and be another reason why you may catch an unwanted cold. And sure, you could always shower too… ;)

4. Eat for your health

It is so easy to get in the mindset that you can eat anything during high endurance training. Now more than ever, it is important to truly fuel your body with the nutrients that it needs – fruits and veggies are all packed with vitamins and minerals that your body needs to stay strong and healthy. Of course, its ok to indulge too, just make sure to do so when you are not recovering from a hard workout, or you have a key long run coming up.

5. Skip a workout if it is necessary

Rather than just logging crappy miles when your body is broken down and exhausted, a) take the day off or b) cross train. There is not reason to push yourself when it is actually going to hurt you, rather than help you.

6. Limit alcohol intake

It is no surprise that alcohol suppresses the immune system. According to Livestrong.com, “Excessive alcohol can damage the immune system because the alcohol will prevent nutrients from feeding your immune system…With less than an optimal amount of oxygen, your organs and your immune system will not operate at peak efficiency.” And really, it isn’t something you really need to be partaking in when you are peaking in training anyhow. See #4.

7. Take your workouts inside

I am not a fan of the treadmill. I think my max distance that I have ever ran on a treadmill is probably between 6-8 miles. I would definitely rather run in the rain than be subjected to run indoors. However, when temperatures start to drop, it is not the smartest to brave the elements, so inside I must go! Just be sure to wipe off your equipment before and after you workout, since they could be a host to all kinds of germs!

Do you tend to catch colds when the seasons change? How do you keep from getting sick when the temperatures start to drop? Any good tips for the rest of us!?

Pumpkin Oat Bread

With Hurricane Isaac out in the Gulf yesterday, Tampa was definitely in the clear in regards to weather. However, it was a very windy day! I decided sleeping in was the way to go, so my run followed last night. With my hamstring and hip acting up a bit, I decided to take it easy and stretch out my legs a bit with a pace run. With that crazy wind, my pace run turned into a very challenging run for the first half! I was working incredibly hard just to hold the 8 minute pace that I was looking for.

Lucky for me, the head wind I had in the beginning was bound to turn into a tail wind on the way back! I turned around at mile 3, put in the same effort, and was hitting 40 seconds a mile faster! Running against the wind exerted as much energy as a tempo run! No wonder it was so hard! I was able to get the entire pace run done with very minimal pain in my hamstring and hip, which is a whole lot more than I have been able to say for the past 4-6 weeks. I still do not plan to push myself hard until I see significant improvements, but it was great to feel even a little bit like myself again. 38 days and counting until race day!!

Pumpkin Oat Bread

Over the weekend, I had some time to play around in the kitchen a bit. It is something that I rarely make the time to do, so I am excited to share a recipe that I made with all of you!

With fall right around the corner, I decided to pick up some pumpkin and make a yummy breakfast treat! Since it has oats in it, in place of some flour, it is a more dense version of your everyday bread. There is a more hearty feel to it, but it is still nice and moist, like pumpkin should be! Here is everything you need for it!

            •  1/3 cup Greek yogurt
            • 1/2 cup sugar
            • 2 tsp vanilla extract
            • 2 eggs
            • 1 cup old-fashioned oats
            • 3/4 cup flour
            • 1 tsp baking power
            • 1 Tbsp cinnamon
            • 1/2 tsp baking soda
            • 1/2 tsp salt
            • 1 cup canned pumpkin

Grease a loaf pan well, and preheat the oven to 350. Take the first 2 ingredients and blend together until combined. Add eggs and continue to beat well.  Then, take all other dry ingredients and add to the egg mixture, about a cup at a time. Add pumpkin, and beat well, until all is mixed together.

Pour bread batter into a 9x5x3 pan, and put in the oven for 45-50 minutes, checking when it gets closer to the end.

The loaf is finished when you can insert a toothpick, knife, etc. in the middle, and it comes out clean. Don’t expect this bread to rise like other breads, since there is not a lot of flour. It is a much more dense bread, but in a very good way :)

I topped mine with vanilla Greek yogurt, bananas, and cinnamon. Feel free to top yours with whatever you prefer, or just eat it the way it is. It’s great either way!

 

How many times have you run into the wind, and then had a great tail wind on the way back? Or maybe the opposite – tail wind at first and then head wind on the way back? Do you make pumpkin bread – any good recipes?