Whiskey Rebellion 5k Race Recap

I did not feel like racing on the morning of the fourth of July. Something about the way I rolled out of the bed in Megan’s soon-to-be trendy guest bedroom (renovations underway!)…something about the humidity that I could already feel creeping on my skin…something about the way I threw my hair in a ponytail and, painted some makeup on my face…it just didn’t feel right. I tried talking myself out of this feeling. Come on, Annette. It’s race day! Get pumped! But, it wasn’t working. We made the 30 minute commute to the town of Canonsburg, where the second largest 4th of July parade in the state of Pennsylvania would take place, an hour after our 5k. It was hot and sticky out. When we got our bibs, some nerves got to me. There were so many high school and college athletes at the event. I really don’t feel like racing today. A woman handed me my number and a flag bandana which I twisted and tied into my ponytail in an attempt to bring some excitement to my demeanor. Snap out of it. The race started with the walkers going first. Who starts a race with the walkers?! The horn went off and we left the track starting line and made our way through a gate and onto the road behind the high school that was hosting the event.

This course felt very much like a high school cross country route. The adrenalin finally starting flowing and I pumped my arms and lifted my knees with as much muscle memory as I could muster. My mind was not thinking about competing, it was thinking about survival. I tried to dissociate myself from the heat and, from the hilly course. This will not break you, I said to myself as I climbed up a giant hill in what I thought was mile two. I had forgotten my Garmin at home and was not paying attention to spotting any mile markers. It was then that I realized that the first pack ahead of me contained only boys, most of them being of high school and college age. I was in the lead. Dammit. I was not indenting to do that. Surely at any point, some speedy high school babe would whiz past me and claim the Canonsburg 5k female title. As I ran by a sidewalk lined with chairs that claimed the spots of soon-to-be parade spectators, I heard footsteps behind me. I thought this is it. My lead is over. It was a male passing me. Darn. I finally came to the conclusion that this race would play out the way it was meant to. I could either embrace this opportunity and give it my best or, wallow in discontent and be upset. I chose the first option and started my grind to the finish line, back on the track where we started. I have not run a 5k in the 20’s in a really long time but, I didn’t care. I crossed the finish line in 20:13 really thankful to be done. I watched a ton of people finish and at the awards ceremony, we found out that Megan placed third overall!

We won some super cool whiskey jugs!

We both got to accept awards, which is a special and rare moment! At the end of the day, I was thankful to have the freedom to wake up every day and train and compete. While my emotions may play with me, my appreciation for the simple act of running will never go away.

Happy Running,

❤ A

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Eat Your Water

You heard me….eat your water. I mean, yes, you should be drinking your water too but, have you considered how certain foods can also keep you hydrated? Many fruits and veggies contain a lot of water but, some have more than others. Think about how you can incorporate these foods into your diet, for that extra hydration (and, natural electrolytes and vitamins/minerals!).

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  1. Grapefruit: 95% water
  2. Watermelon: 92% water
  3. Tomatoes: 94% water
  4. Celery: 95% water (plus, the highest source of natural sodium, which is an electrolyte!)
  5. Broccoli: 91% water
  6. Bell Pepper: 92% water

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Here are some meal and snack ideas for incorporating these foods into your diet throughout the day!

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Grapefruit parfait with granola and Greek yogurt

Watermelon and stone-fruit salsa with black beans and whole wheat tortilla chips

Tomato and mozzarella with whole wheat crackers

Celery and peanut butter with raisins

Broccoli (steamed or raw) with Greek yogurt ranch and  pita bread

Bell pepper slices, with hummus and pita chips

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Drink your water, runners! And, eat it too!

Happy Running,

❤ A

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My Experience Working with a Coach – One Month In

If you want to continually improve yourself, you have to learn how to be aware of your needs physically, and mentally. In running, and many other sports, this advice translates into knowing when what you are doing is working and, when it is time to switch things up.

A little background for you…I left 10 years of organized coaching (7th grade to senior year of college) and jumped into self-training myself for my first marathon. Everything went great. I then took my skills and, the skills of some folks who were willing to lend me advice, and I trained myself in my second marathon. After that, I knew that I had utilized so much of what I knew to be true about running. I was ready for a change! There could be several scenarios as to why an athlete needs a change in their routine. Injury, boredom, lack of results, these are all examples of times when athletes need to switch things up. I was not necessarily experiencing any of those things but, I did know that if I went through another six months on my own terms, I may not be able to give my best effort. To make things even more complicated, I am a coach, myself! A coach of adult runners, high school kids, and of individuals of all ages in the gym, as a personal trainer. Well, guess what? Coaches need coaches, too! So what did I do? I went on a long run and decided that I should get a coach.

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I have been working with Matt, from Trust the Plan Coaching, for a month now and, it has been great! I have learned a lot about myself over the past 4 weeks and, I am excited to see how I progress under Matt’s guidance. If there is one thing to be true about coaching, it is this:

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This month, I have learned the following:

The benefit of slowing down

Crazy, I know! When I was training myself, I would run really hard for the majority of my workouts. I knew this was not the best way to train but, no one was keeping me accountable and, 6:30 pace is really fun so…I did it a lot. Now I have a structured plan and I can put my knowledge to practice because someone is keeping me honest. Also, slowing down to the right frequency actually makes you faster!

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The art of listening to your body

Matt’s plan is really heavy on specific paces, which is the guidance I need to run fast on hard days and slow on slow on easy days. I was coached with a lot of pace-specific guidance in college so, it’s nice to step back into that and have some fun with pace play!

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Accountability + Communication

I use the Believe Journal to track how each training day goes, and then I take that information and draft an e-mail to Matt at the end of the week, on how each day went. As the weeks go on, I have been open to sharing more information about my training and how I am feeling and responding to runs. This helps Matt create the next week of training for me and, gives him a  sense of how I respond to stress and so forth. Because I take a lot of injury prevention measures as well, I make sure to include those! Communication is really important when you are working with someone to accomplish a goal.

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At the end of the day, I definitely feel like having a coach is like having a team again. I know that I am supported in my efforts and, I can go to someone for advice. So far, the best thing about having a coach is knowing that I am being challenged! I will be giving a status on my coaching experience with Matt, every few weeks!

Happy Running,

❤ A

July Goals

The seventh month of the year is here and with it, come lots of fun and new opportunities! Whatever it is you are chasing this month, remember that you play a vital role in the creation of your success. Don’t just chase…create. Here are my goals for the month of July:

  1. Run under 1:27:00 at the Rock and Roll Chicago Marathon
    1. 1:28:00 is the time that I ran my last half in, in Vancouver. I have run a 1:26:00 in tough conditions and, I would like to do it again. This race is the third weekend in July. It will serve as a fun girls trip as well as an opportunity for me to preview parts of the course for the Chicago full in October. I am stoked to be going to Chicago twice in one year!
  2. Increase time spent foam rolling and stretching
    1. I would never miss a core workout but, I would walk away without stretching. Not good! I think that since losing my home-base gym, I have gotten a bit lazy with stretching. Not this month! To work on this, I brought a duffel bag to work with me, where I keep mini foam roller, a massage ball, and some resistance bands so that I can stretch in the middle of the day as well as at home and in the gym. I know the importance of stretching and I know I feel my best when I do it.
  3. Get more electrolytes 
    1. I know that I am fully hydrated when I step outside to run but, do I have enough electrolytes? After consulting with my sports nutritionist, we decided that it would be a good idea to incorporate one electrolyte drink into my hydration routine, the hour before a workout. To do this, I am investing in some fun Nuun flavors like watermelon, fruit punch, and lemon-lime.

What are your goals this month?

Happy running,

❤ A

My Favorite Summer Gear

If I am being honest, you will most likely always find me running in a sports bra and shorts in the summer months. Fewer clothes = less weight in the heat and that is always a good thing! Regardless, clothes are still essential sometimes.s 🙂 In the summer, I try to focus on pieces that are light in material and, light in color. Here are some of my favorite summer pieces!

LuLu Lemon Speed Up Shorts

I absolutely love these shorts because they are so comfortable for now being spandex! They fit the hips just right and are flattering as well as functional. I love them in white and even wear them down to the pool sometimes, as a cover-up.

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New Balance Determination Bra

This is my favorite sports bra so far! A high neckline helps with sun protection. The mesh aspect allows breathability and, honestly, this bra is more like a crop top. It comes in a variety of great colors but, my favorite is the pink!

New Balance Determination Bra Top, Vivid Coral

GapFit Breathe Heathered Tank

For this price, you can’t get a better summer top! I love this lightweight tank for gym sessions and early morning runs. I actually ran my first marathon in this top and, it was perfect if you like a flowy, breathable top!

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Lulu Lemon Racerback 

This is hands down my favorite workout tank top. It can be hard to find in Lulu stores in the U.S. (I have two pairs and got one online and one in Vancouver!). I like snog tops (no build in bras though!) for speed workouts and even long runs. I ran the Boston marathon in this top and it was amazing!

Fuchsia Pink

New Balance Accelerate Hot Shorts 

These are my favorite running spandex. If you like running in spandex, you will love these! They are tight but not too tight or thick. They hit the hip well and are just short enough!

New Balance Accelerate Hot Short, Black

 

There you have it! My go-to essential summer gear! Sometimes it can be really intimidating to see the price tag of athletic clothes…. “$60 for a sports bra?! I’m just going to sweat in it!”. Remeber, when you invest in high-quality items that you love, they will last you a long time and, you will feel good wearing them! The most important thing to remember is to buy items that you will wear often and, that you feel comfortable and confident in!

Happy Running,

❤ A

 

June Recap

June was a busy month for me at work! I am learning a lot at my new job and, applying my skills from grad school which is exciting! I also started my training plan for the Chicago marathon this month so, let’s take a look at how my goals went.

  1. Be a coachable athlete
    1. I feel pretty good about how June went, with my new Coach, Matt. We have a solid system down for communicating, which is really important to establish early on. It also helps that he hasn’t thrown anything my way that completely challenges my philosophies on running. I am keeping track of my runs in my Believe Journal and, sending him my notes via e-mail at the end of the week!
  2. Race the Yinzer 5k competitively smart
    1. I was really excited to run this race because it’s all about Pittsburgh and on a pretty course that I often train on. The race started out well and I went into it knowing exactly who my competition was. I stuck with some rules that I sometimes abandon while racing, like letting my speed drop too soon or, not going with the leader if I am capable. I ended up maintaining the first place female position for the entirety of the race!
  3. Get better at intentional pacing
    1. Seeing that a lot of the workouts Matt is giving me come with very specific paces, I am becoming a better pacer! I am mentally more aware of my pace, than I used to be and, am definitely getting good use out of my Garmin. It may be time to upgrade soon. 🙂 Pacing is something that I want to continually get better at.

Since June also marks the middle of the year, let’s take a look at the status of the goals I set back in January!

RACE GOALS

  • PR in the 10-mile distance at the Cherry Blossom 10-miler in D.C. (under 1:05:05)
    • This didn’t happen for me but, that’s okay! Not reaching this goal means that I may have stepped into this race with too high expectations and possibly not trained well enough to handle the goal. Maybe I can reach my under 1:05:05 in the EQT 10 miler this November.
  • Run 1:30 or under and place, at the Chesapeake Stomp the Swamp half marathon this April, with Megan.
    • YASSSS. I accomplished this goal with a lot of hard work and dedication! Plus, some amazing support from my training partner and best friend Megan! A PR is a sweet thing. 🙂
  • Run under 1:30 again, three weeks later, at the Vancouver Half Marathon in May.
    • I did it! Running 2 half marathons under 1:30, within a timeframe of 22 days apart was very satisfying! Plus, Vancouver was very inspiring!
  • Break three hours in the Chicago Marathon, in October.
    • TBD
  • To be accepted into another World Marathon Major (London via lottery, NYC via good-for-time, etc.)
    • TBD

FITNESS GOALS

  • Perform 10 pull-ups with proper form. (Stay tuned for some tips on how to build pull up strength in another post!)
    • I am at 5, confidently. Let’s see how my upper body strength improves in the next six months!
  • Keep track of my yearly mileage in 2018, by using my Believe Journal consistently.
    • I have accomplished this, to date! I love keeping track of runs in my journal and, using it as motivation!

How are you doing this month? This year? This week? Challenge yourself and keep yourself accountable! 🙂

Happy Running,

❤ A

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How to Sweat more Effeciently

We sweat all year around and, sweating is an important physiological response that should happen regardless of the temperature inside or, outside. Do we sweat more while running in the summer versus the winter? It depends on your body. Some people do and some people don’t. While everybody’s personal sweat rate is unique, you can still learn to leverage your sweat response and let sweating work in your favor. Sweating is a natural bodily action that is necessary for cooling you down and helping you maintain a normal core body temperature.

Let me set the stage for you:

Runner #1 gets ready for a speed workout of 5x800meter repeats at the track. It is a Tuesday afternoon in June, with a temperature of 85 degrees and 15% humidity. It is a Tuesday afternoon in June, with a temperature of 85 degrees and 15% humidity. She has hydrated and fueled well all day. Before her run, runner #1 weighs 120.5 pounds. By the end of her mile warm-up and drills, she is had a fairly moderate sweat running down her neck and back. She continued this sweat response through the whole workout, replenishing with water and electrolytes in between interval sets. After the workout, runner #1 weighs 118.5 pounds. She has lost 1.5 pounds of fluid and proceeds to replenish those fluids.

VERSUS

Runner #2 gets ready for a speed workout of 5x800meter repeats at the track. It is a Tuesday afternoon in June, with a temperature of 85 degrees and 15% humidity. She has hydrated and fueled well all day. Before her run, runner #2 weighs 135.3 pounds. By the end of her mile warm-up and drills, she is a little red in the face but, is not sweating much. In fact, she feels like she is boiling up inside. She is used to feeling this way and proceeds with the workout, replenishing with water and electrolytes in between interval sets. By the third interval, she is sweating a little. Runner #2 finishes the workout and weighs 135.1 pounds. She has hardly lost any fluid while running. Regardless, she proceeds to fuel and hydrate.

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Okay, so runner 1 and 2 have essentially done the exact same thing except for the fact that one had a good sweat response during her workout and the other runner does not.

The first thing I want to make clear is that both runners DID SWEAT. One just sweats better than the other. Not sweating at all is called Anhidrosis. Hypohidrosis, on the other hand, is when you do sweat but, not much.

Each of these individuals can maximize their sweat response and become better at sweating by doing the exact same thing: ACCLIMATE TO THE HEAT.

Acclimating to the heat simply means being in the heat. Yes, it is uncomfortable when you could say in an air-controlled environment. But, doing so will not teach your body to sweat better. It is the same theory for anything. If you want to get better at something, spend more time doing it. But, how long should you be out there? And what about when you are not exercising? Consider these three tips when training for a marathon and trying to acclimate to the heat:

  1. Increase duration and frequency slowly
    1. Spend 1 to 1.5 hours at a time outside for a workout, four days a week, initially. Build that up to 2 hours and 3 hours five to six times a week. Your build should be guided by the length of your event. So, if you are training for a marathon and your goal time is 3:30:00, you need to make sure that you give your body enough time to acclimate to the heat for 3:30:00 before your event!
  2. Acclimate when you are not Exercising 
    1. You don’t have to only spend time outside when you are working out! Consider acclimating during a time that is not designated for running. For example, I take 45 minutes for my lunch break. For the past three weeks, I have been leaving my office and walking on my lunch breaks, sitting outside to eat, and walking back. It is not only a nice way to get out of the sun, it is good to get heat exposure when you are not running.
  3. Sauna Use for Heat Acclimating 
    1. If you have access to a sauna, spending time sweating in the sauna is a good way to acclimate in addition to training outdoors. Just like outdoor training, start with just a few minutes in the sauna and then build up. You should not spend more than 15 minutes in the sauna. Start with 5 minutes, build up to 10, and then 15. Do not use the sauna after working out. I like to utilize the sauna on my day off!

These are all ways that you can trigger the sweat response in your body. Runner #1 may have a consistent sweat rate for the duration of her life as an athlete. That does not mean that she cannot teach her body to utilize that sweat more efficiently. Same for runner 2. Efficiently sweating means that you have taught your body how to start sweating sooner and continue sweating while you are performing. It definitely takes time but, if you will be training all summer, I would start acclimating as soon as possible!

Remember, our bodies are meant to be outside and moving.  🙂

Happy Running & sweating,

❤ A