May 062014
 

I got a great comment from a reader, Beth, who had a few questions. I started typing out a response and realized that I was going to be very long winded so why not just make a whole post about it?

“I’m having trouble fitting in everything I want to do – maybe I need a schedule like yours. My primary training is biking, since I’ve got Reach the Beach in 2 weeks and Cycle Oregon in September, but I do want to squeeze learning to run in somewhere too.”

 

I had the SAME problem. I still have that problem. My currently workout schedule is working okay but I am struggling to find time to fit in a run three times a week like the Couch to 5k app says to do.

Last year when I was struggling with my knee injuries, I decided that I needed to give yoga a REAL shot. Like going consistently and not just once in awhile and expecting to see results. I decided that I had to drop one of my swim days. I was swimming twice a week but I was struggling to fit in all the things I wanted to do.

Weight lifting was my priority for the last two years. It was both to help tone and get rid of some of the body fat that has plagued me since I lost 100 pounds but to also heal my injury. I had imbalances in my body and that was resulting in my knee pain. The weight lifting (and the kettle bell gym) did wonders! It was so beneficial and I attribute my current injury-free state entirely to weight lifting. More so than physical therapy ever did for me.

Recently Suzanne wrote a post for me called Why Recover? In it she said: “When you add something, you have to take something away.” Seeing that in print was a big lightbulb moment. Duh! There isn’t enough time in anyone’s day to do EVERYTHING. So what is the priority?

For me the priority is strength training at least twice a week and yoga once a week for injury prevention and then running because I’m training for my 5k. But what about my swimming?

Swimming is something close to my heart. I love it, it’s meditative for me, it’s relaxing, it’s a must. I will always include that in my schedule. So maybe that means I have to cut back on something else. Maybe it’s something I do every other week instead of every week so that I can include other things I like.

My fitness schedule changes with the season. It’s really easy for me to lift weights and swim and do yoga in the winter. When summer comes, some of those things fall back and the priority becomes doing stuff like biking to work and going for hikes with Michael and the dog. While I am frustrated that I can’t always fit in 3 training runs a week, I’m okay with the 6 week program taking 12 weeks. It’s okay to repeat a few weeks in a row because I didn’t get to that third run. I’m trying not to put pressure on myself by saying I HAVE TO RUN!!!!

Long Distance Runner
The next question is more about injury. She asked:

“Is it normal for my legs to BURN from the knees down when running? They’re okay when walking and when not running… I can’t tell if I’m out of shape or if I have bad shoes or something. Any thoughts?”

When I signed up for Couch To 5k I had many months (like 6 months) to train. I wanted to give myself enough time to SLOWLY get back into running. History has proven that I need to take it easy and not increase mileage too quickly.

I’m not a doctor or physical therapist obviously, but I do have an extensive injury history. My first thought is that maybe it’s the wrong kind of shoes. OR it’s time for new shoes. Read this post about shopping for running shoes: Is it Time for New Shoes? I really think all runners should get fitted for shoes according to their stride. It’s so important in injury prevention!

If it’s a nagging ache it could just be that it’s a new activity. Running is Hard and it uses muscles we may not have used doing other activities. Take it slow, follow a running program, don’t push it too far too fast. Learning how to pace yourself while running is also crucial. It’s really easy to go FAST out the gate and then burn out before you’re done running.

If it’s pain in the shins, it could be shin splits. That can happen to new runners who aren’t conditioned yet for running. It could also be OLD or BAD shoes. If it’s the wrong fit, they could be hurting you. It could also be that running on the street is too much for you. Try a treadmill or a track to see if the softer cushion helps.

If it’s knee pain, try to figure out where the pain is. If it’s on the outside of the knee it’s most likely the IT Band. If it’s on the inside of the knees it is most likely runner’s knee. Read: R is for Runner’s Knee and So…About that Runner’s Knee….

When it comes to injury, I’ve had a few and I’ve written many posts about the subject. Here is a little list of some old posts:

Coping With An Injury

How (Not) to Train for a Half Marathon

8 Mistakes I Made While Injured

Yoga & Runners

Tip for New Runners: Foam Roller

I’ve had a lot of aches and pains with running and wondered, Uh oh, am I injured? But I will tell you this: YOU WILL KNOW IF YOU’RE INJURED. Trust me. The REAL injury pain is obvious. There aren’t any doubts. When I first got overuse of IT Band I diagnosed myself while I was out running on the track. I knew it. I just had a gut feeling that said “this pain is different.” And it stuck around and when I saw a doctor I was right.

It’s so important to listen to your body and if it’s telling you something, take note. Don’t try to push through an injury. It will just make it worse and longer to heal. Also, you can get Runner’s Knee from other activities–not just running! Just like getting fitted for good running shoes, go get fitted for your bike! It makes a world of difference. Read: Professional Bike Fit & New Doctor.

I hope I answered your questions. I’m not an expert in running by any means but hopefully some of my experience can help other new runners in their journey.

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Feb 052014
 

We LOVE our dog walker! She’s so awesome and came highly recommended from a friend who also used her when they were in Portland. Amy is the owner of FurEver Family Pet Sitting. Bella loves her! We are so happy to have found someone so great to come and walk Bella a few times a week while we are at work. It makes a huge difference. On days we don’t have Amy come over, I can tell a difference–Bella is a super spaz all evening after being cooped up. Bella’s behavior has also improved because Amy continues the training we are doing with her (i.e. not pulling on the leash on walks, not jumping on guests, etc). Another bonus: I get a mid-day text report of Bella and sometimes a cute picture. :) It brightens up my work day.

Amy posted this comment on another post I wrote and it was a great blog idea!

I’m struggling right now with finding things that I can eat in the car on the go. I’m ok with ‘ruts’ and eating the same thing day in and day out, but I just struggle with ideas that are healthy and I can keep in my car for up to 8-12 hours some days. I know I just need to PLAN and fix ahead so I can grab and go…but looking for new ideas!

While Amy’s situation is probably unique compared to a lot of my reader’s daily work lives, I think everyone can relate with running out of ideas for easy snack and on-the-go meal ideas.

Portable Healthy Snacking

If you work in a job where you spend a lot of time in the car, pop a small cooler in your trunk with some ice packs. That will open up a bigger list of options if you can keep the food cool. Here are some ideas for on-the-go snacks that won’t bust the calorie bank:

Hard-boiled eggs – Just one hard-boiled egg is so filling for me

Amazing Meal Shake – Add some protein powder to it to have some staying power

CHOCOMILK

Dried apricots – This is often a pre-workout snack for me because just a few dried apricots do the trick

Trail mix -This one is iffy because the calories can really add up!

String Cheese and crackers

Tuna salad with craisins and chopped walnuts – Top a green salad with this and you’ve got a great lunch

Pickles and beef jerky – No, I’m not pregnant, I’ve just been craving pickles lately! ;)

Apple slices with peanut butter

Apple Oatmeal Muffins  (this recipe looks so GOOD!)

Yogurt Fruit Dip

Dry-roasted and seasoned edamame – I’ve seen this at Trader Joe’s

Cottage cheese with fruit on the side – I love cottage cheese as a snack because it fills me up quickly

Single-serving chocolate Almond Milk – I love this stuff!

Almond-Breeze-thumb

V-8 juice (with or without the vodka :D )

Hummus with raw veggies and pita chips

A box of raisins with some peanuts

Chipotle Lime Chickpeas

5 Minute No Bake Peanut Butter Granola Bars (I’m totally going to make these!)

Almond Butter Stuffed Dates (this could be a really nice healthy dessert idea)

Practice What I Preach

I decided to give something a try I’ve vowed to do for a long time now–ever since I saw it on Pinterest. The egg “muffin” for breakfast. I’ve seen dozens of variations and you can really do whatever you want with it and make it your own. It’s something that you can make on a Sunday afternoon and have for the work week for a quick breakfast or a snack.

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I used this recipe as a jumping off point. I made some alterations for my own personal preferences and also combined a neat idea I saw in another similar recipe–using some frozen hashbrowns as the base of the muffin.

Egg Muffins

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Yield: 6 muffins

Serving Size: 1 muffin

Calories per serving: 95 calories

From: http://thesweetspotblog.com/breakfast-to-go-egg-muffins/

Ingredients

  • 4 whole, large eggs
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 tablespoon whole milk
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup broccoli florets, cooked and chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Steam or boil broccoli to desired tenderness and chop.
  2. Whisk together eggs, egg whites and milk. Season egg mixture with salt and pepper and stir in cheddar cheese.
  3. Spray muffin tins with cooking spray. Layer about a tablespoon of chopped broccoli into each muffin cup.
  4. Pour in egg mixture to about 3/4 full and top with remaining grated cheese. Bake until set in center about 20-25 minutes.
  5. Note: We also love them with baby spinach and roasted mushrooms. Use whatever cheese and veggies you enjoy to customize these for your taste buds.
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With the alterations I made, my muffins came out at 145 calories each. I was okay with that number. My muffin had green onion, yellow and orange diced peppers, some shredded sharp cheddar cheese and sliced grape tomatoes. I baked the egg muffins for around 30 minutes and tested them with a toothpick until I decided they were cooked through.

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How pretty do those look? Don’t mind the lone muffin that apparently got all the egg whites in one section. :P Despite that, they were tasty! I already have some ideas on different recipes–maybe artichoke hearts, tomatoes and feta cheese….yum!

I also made some chicken salad for lunches at work. I made some alterations and omitted the apple to reduce the calorie count slightly. I planned on topping some spinach and green leaf lettuce with the chicken salad mixture. I used 5 tablespoons mayo instead of 6, omitted the apple and the cooked chicken breasts came to 2.5 cups instead of 3 so that made the calories about 260 a serving.

Chicken Salad

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 60 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

Calories per serving: 271

From: http://southernfood.about.com/od/chickensalads/r/r81002g.htm

Ingredients

  • 3 cups diced cooked chicken
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup diced celery
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
  • 1/2 cup diced apple
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans, optional
  • 4 to 6 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon curry powder, or to taste, optional
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Combine the chicken, cranberries, celery, onion, apple, and walnuts, if using.
  2. In a cup or small bowl combine 4 tablespoons of mayonnaise. the lemon juice, curry powder, if using, and salt and pepper.
  3. Stir into the chicken, adding more mayonnaise as needed and for taste.
  4. Line bread or rolls with lettuce and spread chicken salad on the bread or serve the chicken salad on lettuce-lined plates.
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I had a few nibbles of my chicken salad before I put it in tupperware for lunches. It was really tasty! I like the crunch of the celery and walnut and the sweetness of the Craisins. I enjoyed the chicken salad lunches and I’m glad I finally gave it a try. I’m going to experiment with other recipes and see if substituting Greek yogurt for the mayo might work too.

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In one afternoon I prepped my breakfast and lunch meals for the work week and it was a success! It was easy, didn’t take much time to prepare on Sunday and saved me a lot of time in the mornings before work.

What are your time-saving ideas for quickie meals?

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