Running to Brainstorm


I have a love-hate relationship with my weekly long runs.  Every Saturday morning when I hear the harp alarm on my phone, I groan at the thought of getting out of bed and running 8+ miles.  After I hit snooze a few times and force myself out of my cozy blankets, I continue to question my decision: my legs are still sore from yesterday, I feel extra tired this morning, I think I feel a headache coming on.  However, I know that after I complete the run, I will feel a sense of accomplishment for the rest of the day, so I fight all my negative thoughts and put on my running gear and, in today’s case, head down to my basement treadmill.

Today’s long run went by faster than any long run I can remember to date.  I felt relaxed and it allowed me to brainstorm and let my mind ponder different writing ideas.  (As a side note, I recently have been pursuing writing as a potential part time career in the near future.  Most of my free time these past few weeks has been devoted to researching what is involved with breaking into the freelance writing business.  Now that I have a basic foundation of the writing industry, I am trying to think of stories that I could pitch to magazines, newspapers, blogs, or online websites.)  Without even really trying, I came up with 3 new stories I could potentially write about and how and where to go about pitching them.  Because I wasn’t forcing myself to think about writing ideas, it came more naturally.  I’m almost tempted to do a long run every day if it’s that successful of a brainstorming technique; key word: almost.  My only goal for next week is that it is slightly easier to get out of bed on Saturday knowing that I may be able to generate some captivating writing plans.



New FODMAP Diet, New Goals

After numerous doctor’s appointments and various tests over the past few months, it is more than likely that I have Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).  Although it may sound strange, I was disappointed each time a different test result came back negative.  I was hoping for a clear solution like taking an antibiotic or having some type of one-time procedure.  Nonetheless, there is a diet that supposedly works for most people with IBS called the FODMAP diet.  The letters stand for really long scientific words, but stand for foods that are highly fermentable and poorly digested.  The FODMAP diet is a diet that reduces high FODMAP foods.  The first phase of the diet is the elimination phase, which lasts about 6-8 weeks or until symptom-free.  After that phase, foods high in FODMAPS are gradually introduced to determine which foods are trigger foods.  The naughty list (high FODMAP) includes certain fruits and vegetables, dairy that is high in lactose, soy, beans, gluten, sugar free gum, and certain types of sugars.  The diet also limits any sweetener to very small quantities.  For the past few days I have been struggling to find a substitute for soymilk.  No other non-dairy milks have any where near as much protein as soymilk so I opted for mixing a hemp-based protein powder into almond milk – NASTY.  The hemp powder mixed into the almond milk at first, but as I was eating my infamous bowl of Cheerios, it started to get all clumpy and I was eating chunks of hemp (and hemp powder is green by the way – DOUBLE GROSS).  Then I tried fortified almond milk that has a little bit more protein – EVEN NASTIER.  I didn’t realize that it has added sugar in it so it tasted like I was eating Cheerios with watery corn syrup – YUCK.  So, I thought I might try another non-dairy milk that was higher in fat content, praying that the milk would be a little thicker and absorb the hemp powder better.  No such luck, coconut milk has higher fat content, but that is on the naughty list.  Then, I did some research and realized that I could drink lactaid milk.  It is dairy milk, but does not have lactose and has even more protein than soymilk.  Success!  It will take me a while to get used to the flavor, but by far the best substitute to complement by precious Cheerios.  I was also instructed to give up tea.  I haven’t found a substitute for that yet, hot water and hot water with lemon added are both quite unpleasant.  I also had to give up dried apricots, which I ate for potassium since I read that potassium is important for those who run.  I’m trying cantaloupe, which is not as high in potassium, but it’ll do the trick for now.  The sugar will be tough too.  I usually eat pretty healthy during the week, but I love having cake on the weekend (especially chocolate cake and chocolate is on the naughty list too, ugh).  So far, corn bread will be my substitute since it does not call for much sugar.  I don’t think the gluten elimination will be a big deal and I can finally put my gluten free cookbook from America’s Test Kitchen to good use.  Overall, I am just glad I don’t have to give up Cheerios and waffles.  I do have to alter my waffle recipe slightly, but I’m having fun experimenting with different ingredients.

This is quite a long post and if you’ve made it this far, pat yourself on the back!  As you can see above, this new FODMAP diet is now my main priority.  Because of this, I have decided to alter my goal of running to Nana’s house in Southie.  Instead of focusing my energy on increasing my mileage, I need to focus it on eating according to these new guidelines and possibly adding other exercises like yoga and pilates.  I still need to do more research on this FODMAP diet and other techniques that people with IBS have found helpful.  There are quite a few Facebook pages dedicated to this diet, which is great.  I’m looking forward to reading about other people’s experiences with both the FODMAP diet and IBS in general.  I still plan to keep running, but not at the intensity of training for a half marathon.  I did reach a speed goal last week by breaking 8 min/mile last week!  I may still run to my Nana’s house someday, but for now its FODMAP, FODMAP, FODMAP 🙂

Pain of Progession

I cranked it up a notch this past week.  I did a new ab exercise called “y crunches.”  I’m pretty sure they are named that for the shape your body is when completing them, but I have another theory…”‘Y’ did I do this to myself!”  It took me four days for my abs not to hurt just breathing, but it was a good pain; the pain of progression.  On Saturday, I did a 10 miler and was exhausted for two days.  (Probably didn’t help that I spent Saturday and Sunday painting up a storm in my kitchen instead of resting.)  I also did my best speed run today with an average of an 8:00 minute mile.  This weekend my goal is to hit 11 miles (and also continue the hurricane of painting by painting my pantry bi-fold doors and linen closet doors.)


Self Prescribed Half Marathon

The past few weeks have not been the greatest.  I have been feeling down and unmotivated to do much of anything, including running.  The days that I did run, I felt great, but getting the motivation to wake up in time to get in a morning run was an extreme challenge.  As most people who know me can probably guess, the winter is my arch nemesis.  I have been known to wear sweatshirts at night in the middle of summer, bust out my winter gloves and coat as early as September in some years and sleep on a heated mattress from fall through spring.

I knew I needed something to look forward to, but it’s not always easy to think of exciting things when you feel like your turning into Squidward Tentacles.  Finally, after running two mornings in a row and feeling better than I had in weeks, I knew I needed to set some type of running goal.  Not interested in an official race because I like running first thing in the morning and on my own schedule, I decided to create my own race.  I plan to run from my house in East Weymouth to my Nana’s house in Southie, which will probably be around the distance of a half marathon.  I haven’t decided my exact route yet or set a specific date, but sometime this spring it will happen.  I completed my first long run (8.5 miles) for the first time in over a month.  Although my legs feel like rubber right now, I can’t wait to increase my long runs each week to prepare for my goal race.


Plank Challenge

Although I thought I had adjusted to running in the summer heat, these past two weeks proved otherwise.  I even upgraded to two fans with no relief.  I know that almost all runners face slower speeds and shorter mileage weeks during the summer months, so I’m trying not to let it bother me – key word trying 🙂  In addition to the heat challenges, my knee pain is also back.  I recently got my treadmill serviced, which I learned basically just involves someone coming out to lube it.  I think the servicing did more harm than good because that the belt seems a little slippery and has less traction, thus the knee issues.  It will probably wear off over a little bit of time, but it gives me more incentive to start running outside.  I bought a new GPS Garmin watch and plan to try it this Tuesday for my tempo run.  Watch seems easy enough to figure out for tracking pace, but it doesn’t seem to have a power off function, unless I am just really tech challenged.

Because I am not sure if my knee pain is due to the treadmill lube or to possible hip and knee weaknesses, I decided to increase my core strengthening workouts by adding more planks.  I found this plank workout below and just tried to do them all in one workout; that was a joke.  I made it to the third variation and then my arms gave out.  Now I am determined to get more strength in my arms and my core to be able to do these planks all in one sitting.  I’m not sure how long it will take me, but its a new and interesting goal for me to work on.


Summer Running

I just ran my second 10-miler this morning.  I skipped last week’s long run because I was exhausted from removing the plaster from my parlor ceiling the day before.  The morning run I completed the day I was going to remove the plaster was probably one of the hardest so far.  I was anxious about the ceiling – how long would it take and how difficult would it be?  Although I was able to accomplish my goal of a 45 minute moderate tempo run, the entire run was painful; worse than some of the runs I completed when I had sore legs.  It is amazing how the mind can affect the body.  (Whoa, getting a little too deep here.)

Since the contractor who I hired to complete my kitchen renovation is set to come any day now, I’m glad I was able to get in a good long run this week.  With all the stress of a renovation, I’m not sure how strong my running will be while it is in progress.  I seem to have adapted to running in the warmer weather, but I think adapting to running under stress will be more challenging.  I am always up for a challenge, so this kitchen renovation will be a good test of that.


The 10 Mile Mark

I finally completed my goal distance of 10 miles!  I honestly never thought I would make this goal when I first started running back in February.  The first run I completed of an 8 week beginners program involved a 30 minute workout with only 10 minutes of running (1 min of running followed by 2 min of walking) and it killed me.  My legs felt like rubber and I was panting for a while after the workout ended.  Frankly, I felt like a out-of-shape loser for having such a difficult time with a workout that on paper looked relatively easy.  From that day on, I was determined to get in better shape and feel better about myself.  It is amazing to me that just over 4 months ago it seemed near impossible to run just 10 minutes and yesterday I ran 10 miles straight.  Patience is not one of my strengths and I tend to get frustrated when I am not good at something right away and may not pursue it, figuring I’m just not cut out for it.  I am so glad that I did not give up on running.  It has given me a sense of accomplishment and a drive to continue to improve.

I never thought I would say this, but I think I may like spending my free time on improving my fitness than on trying out new recipes and baking – wait, who said that?  Don’t get me wrong, I still love to bake, but I think I am now more focused on trying out healthier recipes.  As I said in a previous post, I am sensitive to many foods including dairy and any foods that are very sugary or fatty.  Running now provides even more incentive for me to seek out alternative ingredients and experiment with them until I find the right balance of healthy and yummy 🙂

This was a milestone week for me I hope this achievement improves my patience when learning new skills in the future.  I’m sure Nana Nee will tell me if I have improved or not as she tells everything like it is and knows that patience is one of my greatest weaknesses.