Fit Friday: 4 Healthy Eating Tips

Healthy eating is a challenge.  There’s so much prepared food filled with sugar, fat and salt quickly and easily available that finding something  good for you can be tough.  Our busy schedules also make eating less nutritious food convenient and appealing.  Luckily there is tons of good quality, good-for-you food available on the edges of the grocery store if you stick to them.  There are also tons of benefits: less soreness, better sleep, longer life, lower risk of disease and more.healthy eating

Here are four of my favorite tips for eating healthy!

Plan:  Put together a meal plan for the week.  With a plan in place you’re less likely to just go ahead and eat whatever.  A plan increases your involvement in responsible choices and gives accountability.  Having a healthy eating meal plan also helps make grocery shopping easier since you’ll know exactly what you need.  Adios, impulse cookie purchases!

Prepare:  Meal prep can be a long process but it’s worth it.  Make big batches of meals and stick individual servings in the freezer or fridge.  It will make healthy eating simple and save time during the busy week.  I also chop up veggies and fruits to make good-for-me daytime snacks healthy eatingjust as quick and accessible as something processed.

Skip It:  With your meal plan ingredient grocery list in hand hit the store with a mission.  Follow the edges of the store, grabbing the fresh things on your list and skipping the middle isles packed with processed, sugary foods.  If you don’t buy it, it’s not in your house and you definitely can’t eat it!

Use 80/20:  Enjoy yourself.  We all need a treat now and then so go ahead and indulge a little bit.  Using the 80% good, 20% not-so-good rule, satisfy that sweet tooth daily.  If you hold out until you can’t take it anymore or are celebrating at the dessert buffet, you’re much more likely to overindulge.

Meredith

What are your tricks for healthy eating?

East Coast Run Project + More

The days are getting shorter as fall head in and I’m busy busy with training, working and, most importantly, getting East Coast Run Project going.  We had out first group workout Saturday with another warm day, plenty of sun and a tasty team breakfast afterwards.  It’s exciting to be launching the team because it took me a long east coast run projecttime to figure out what I wanted it to stand for beyond successful athletes.

ECRP is focused on creating better athletes in any sport that requires running based movements.  We are dedicated to improvement and building durable participants.  Our team is filled with resilient, passionate runners who look forward to working hard every single day.

I’m writing blog posts, improving my photo skills for better Instagram pictures and continue to refine the Project’s mission every day.  It’s hard work getting off the ground but I know it’s worth it.  Building happy, healthy athletes that experience fewer injuries and have successful race days is the most rewarding experience I can ask for.

In addition to building East Coast Run Project this fall, I’ll be kicking off my fall race season with the Rock n Roll Virginia Beach 5k on Labor Day weekend.  With a goal to PR at that distance I’m hoping this week’s cooler, less humid weather sticks around or makes a comeback Sunday morning.  Next up after rocking through a solid 5k is pacing the 2:00 group at the Morgantown Thirteener.  West Virginia will be my 21st state and with ‘mountainous’ terrain, the easy pace should make a solid last long run before my 10k race/taper the next week at Heart of Ghent 10k.  Then, before I know it, I’ll be heading into the Wineglass Half Marathon to attempt a new half marathon PR.

Meredith

Please give East Coast Run Project a follow on Twitter and Instagram!

Lululemon Hotty Hot Short

While I was on my recent blog vacation, I acquired Lululemon’s Hotty Hot Short.  After spending some time trying them out with different activities I’ve found them to be just right for lots of things.  Here are the details!

Fabric:  I was looking for something different with this pair of shorts.  It’s been a hot, humid summer and with the dog days of August settling in I wanted a little more breathability.  The hotty hot shortloose fitting, four-way stretch fabric is great.  They are very light and I barely noticed them, even when they were soaked in sweat.  It’s not an easy fabric to damage with pins for a race number or a heavy cycle in the washer but I never put workout gear in the dryer and haven’t with these.  [All of my selfie shorts attempts failed so here’s what worked].

Fit/Feel:  With the looser fit through the legs, I doubt you’ll ever need the fabric’s four-way stretch but it’s nice to know it’s there.  The wide waist band is great for keeping the shorts in place without leaving its pattern indented on your tummy.  The Hotty Hot Shorts I purchased have a low, 2.5″, rise.  The fabric’s looseness and built in liner make you feel secure and covered even if your shorts tan is shrinking a bit.  If you’re taller there is a ‘long’ version available.  The single zip pocket in the back is convenient and keeps its contents as dry as can be expected.  The seam locations in these is different than some other Lulu shorts and I have no fear of the dreaded inner thigh chafe when rocking them.  All in all, they fit great, stay in place even when wet and almost make you forget they’re there.

Functionality:  With reflective details and a back pocket, the Hotty Hot Short is very versatile.  I’ve spent time in the gym with them, on the track running hard and on an easy long run.  For a longer run there aren’t enough pockets to hold gels so you’ll need a fuel belt or backpack.  For just about anything else from hiking to yoga they’re a solid choice.

Price:  At $58 (+ tax in most states) they come in right on target for Lululemon.  It’s an investment I’ve found is worth it.  The key to keeping these shorts long lasting is skipping the dryer and washing in cold water.

Meredith

What do you look for in workout gear?  What will you compromise on?

Olympic Inspiration + Blog Vacation

It’s been a few days since I’ve posted.  My annual blog vacation just happened to coincide with the Summer Olympics and it wasn’t too hard to stay put in from of my TV watching all of the amazing athletes.blog vacation

I like taking a short break from blogging once or twice a year to think about why I do it.  Sometimes it can feel like a drag or something I ‘have’ to do, not something I enjoy doing for the fun of it.  A blog vacation is a good chance to clear my head, figure out what’s next (if anything) and what I really want to focus my upcoming posts on.  While I was a little distracted during this most recent one, I’m coming back from my summer blog vacation ready to share my training, race recaps and reviews and any other awesome running related fun I can think of.

Let me start with the Olympics!  I love the spirit of the games, the variety of athletes and being exposed to new sports.  Fencing was definitely not on my radar but I spent time watching and learning about it.  Olympic weightlifting was incredible.  The swimmers of Team USA were mind bogglingly awesome.  And now that we’re on to track and field, the Olympic inspiration hits even closer to home.  There are so many feel good stories.  So many amazing athletes from diverse backgrounds and situations competing you can’t help but be inspired.  Emma Coburn’s bronze, Allyson Felix‘s silver, Usain Bolt‘s gold.  And this story about the final few finishers of the women’s marathon.

With all that inspiration, I’m coming back from my blog vacation ready to rock my fall goal races and tell you all about them!

Meredith

Do you take a summer blog vacation?  One at all?  How much are you loving the Olympics?

Moving Forward from Base Phase

I wrapped up my 8 weeks of base phase training last weekend, finishing July with an easy 13 miler for my second 50 mile week and a month total of 185 miles.  It seems like a long time to go until my target fall race, the Wineglass Half Marathon, rolls around but I know my next two training segments will fly by.  I have four week of prep followed by four weeks of peak training to look forward to and I’m excited to see what I can do this fall.base phase

With base phase behind me I’m feeling solid about my fitness level.  I did a good job of building up my weekly mileage without draining myself.  Racing the 5ks I did during base phase helped me stay on track with weekly speed work and kept my confidence up while I logged some slower miles.  Even though I ran both short and long intervals while continuing to spend time in the gym, my performance in each decreased slightly.  It was likely a combination of my focus being on something else and the hot, humid weather.

Now that I’m out of base phase and into prep phase I’m excited to see what a more intense, fewer miles load can do for me.  Hopefully some cooler weather will help, too.  The eight weeks I have before my goal half marathon perfectly work out with the months.  August is will be all prep phase and September all peak work.  This first week of August week features a 14 mile long run, more time in the gym and harder interval work.  Prep phase finishes with the Rock n Roll Virginia Beach 5k.  It’s a goal race for me and I might push up some hard, fast interval work a week early to get ready for it.  I’m confident the down week I have planned leading into race day will be all I need to feel fresh.

Meredith

Do you have a base phase?  How do you organize your training?

2016 Summer Series 5k

Another race recap on a Wednesday?  Yup!  This time the race wasn’t Tuesday night, however.  It was Wednesday morning.  J&A Racing’s Summer Series 5k takes place on the Virginia Beach Boardwalk at 8am Wednesday mornings all summer long.

In its inaugural year, the series is made up of 8 events.   Registration is available the morning of the race for those who are waiting to see what the usually hot and humid Virginia Beach weather might dish out for $30 or in advance online for $25.  There is garage parking at the race site with a discount for locals but the start is also easily accessible by walking, jogging or biking.  Hotels abound and are also easy to get to.

Featuring an out and back course from 31st Street on the boardwalk, the Summer Series 5k is a great opportunity to see how your training is going.  It’s very flat with at least one direction providing a tailwind.  There’s a water stop and cheerleading at the halfway summer series 5kpoint with a nice wide coned off u-turn zone.  Here Team FitNice is having some fun at the turnaround with Ryan from J&A.  Erin in the lead, Heather and I picking up the back half with smiles on our faces.  Boardwalk races can get crowded with people but they also usually take place on the weekend.  Since this one is during the week, there’s much less traffic out there and there’s plenty of room to run.

Swag includes a beach towel, a massive medal, bananas, bottled waters and eucalyptus ice summer series 5kwater soaked towels across the finish line.  The back of your race number also features discounts to three tasty local restaurants for your post-race refueling pleasure.

Taking part in one of the Summer Series 5k events is a must do for those runners who visit between June and August.  It’s a fabulous way to kick off the morning while enjoying the boardwalk before it gets too crowded.

Meredith

Do you race on vacation?  During the summer at all?

Workouts for Every Week

Every week I make sure my training is different than the last one.  Having variety in a training schedule is undeniably important.  I never repeat a workout more than once every two weeks and only in the case of mile repeats if that often.  Even though the exact content might change, the types of workouts I do consistent across every training week.  Each one focuses on a different aspect of improving my performance and the variety forces me to adapt in positive ways without over working one system or another.  Here’s what I find on my schedule every week of training:

Long Run:  Of course the long run!  As a distance runner the long run builds my fitness base and helps me stay strong.  Because my day, or days, off change, my long run doesn’t always every weekstart or end my training week.  That makes it a great place to practice mental toughness when there’s bad weather or I’m heading for an off day beat up.  Run at an easy pace, I’ll add more than one when I’m running big mileages weeks to keep wear and tear to a minimum.

Track Work:  In complete contrast to my long runs, track days are all about beating myself up.  Every week I tackle short intervals of anything shorter than 90 seconds or 800M.  These sessions are hard on my legs, core and cardiovascular system.  The goal is to improve my tolerance for lactic acid, build VO2max and keep my turnover rate high.

Tempo Run:  This type of run trades off between race pace miles and long, faster intervals over a mile run at a comfortably hard pace.  I use them to build aerobic endurance, spending the bulk of these workouts getting comfortable being uncomfortable.  They let me know that I can push myself and keep going when I thought I was finished.  It’s typically here I first notice a performance improvement.

Easy Running:  Sometimes these are called recovery runs.  I wouldn’t ever say these are ‘junk miles’ since they help me a lot.  It’s inevitable I’ll be sore and tired at some point every week and these usually 4-milers keep me moving without added strain.  I run them very easy, 30-45 seconds slower than my long run pace, trying to breathe every weekexclusively through my nose for the entire duration to make sure it stays easy.

Yoga:  I recently started adding more yoga and meditation to my schedule.  Each morning I flow through 10 minutes of hip opening and spine loosening poses.  Every night I do at least 15 minutes to wind down my day, finishing with breathing exercises, reviewing the day and planning the next one.

Crossfit:  I Crossfit or lift heavy weights three times a week.  The strength, balance and mobility required to properly perform the movement has undoubtedly improved my running.

Meredith

What workouts are sure to include every week?  Do you have favorites?

Memorial Scholarship 5k

Race recap on a Wednesday?  Yup!  The Tidewater Strider’s Memorial Scholarship 5k is held on the fourth Tuesday of July at 6:30pm.  It was in 2016 and has been each year in 1982.  Since this would be my second workout of the day there wasn’t any sort of goal.  I planned on having some fun and supporting a great organization while getting my legs moving again after a tough morning on the track.

The Memorial Scholarship 5k course runs through the gorgeous Norfolk Botanical Garden to complete the group’s Summer Series.  The series is a group run at the garden each Tuesday evening in Julymemorial scholarship 5k featuring a poker run, a relay and a guess your finish outing.  On this year’s very hot and very humid evening over 200 people came out to run the annual event, including a bunch of my Team RWB buddies.  It was great to catch up with them as the sky clouded up (yay!) and it started to feel like rain.  Everyone was rooting for some to cool things off.  Unfortunately, we never got it.

On the bright side, I did get to warm up on some nicely shaded paths.  With five miles to rack up between a warm up, the race and a cool down I was happy to jog a bit extra before racing to enjoy the scenery.  The start lined up around 6:25 and we took off right on time.  Things were a bit crowded for the first half mile then loosened up nicely.  My legs were grumpy grumpy from a hard morning workout and the humidity didn’t help but I felt surprisingly good past Mile 1.  Not concerned about my time, I was running all of the curves wide to pick up as much mileage as possible to credit towards my five mile goal.

There were a few non-racers strolling through the beautiful gardens along with Pokemon Go hunters sharing the paths with us as the course wove through the park’s paved trails.  Two bridge crossing and one teeny tiny hill greeted us on the otherwise flat course and before I knew it I had passed the Mile 2 marker.  My legs were moving decently but lacked the power and turnover I had left on the track.  I took the final 1000M on cruise with plenty of running room, crossing the finish line in 22:32.  Not a great time for me but decent considering it was a second workout of the day on a hot and muggy one with my heavy shoes on.  I did win my Memorial Scholarship 5k age group!  Post race there were tons of raffles, pizzas, watermelons and beers.  I won zero raffles.  I did enjoy the food and drink while hanging out with a ton of run buddies to make up for it.

Racing in the evening was tough for me, especially after working out hard in the morning, but definitely effective.  It left me feeling positive about my training and made me realize I can push harder than I think I can.  I might even be figuring out how to race the 5k distance!

Meredith

Have you ever raced in the evening?  Did you like it?

Less Sugar, More Plants

We’ve all heard it.  We’ve all thought about it.  Some of us have even tried it.  Paleo, vegetarian, vegan, raw.  The idea of eating less sugar, less processed food and downing more plants and clean food.  It sounds easy but the truth is it isn’t.  Changing your diet is hard.more plants

I tried paleo and it didn’t work for me.  I had a lot of trouble meeting my caloric needs and felt tired/grumpy/cruddy without carbs.  I also tried going dairy-less for ten days.  Not only was I seriously craving some cheese, I didn’t notice any difference at all in my digestion and energy levels.  Lactose intolerant I am not.  Vegetarian lasted about three whole days for me.  Soda was never a factor, nor was coffee.  I’ve been a water drinker with the occasional apple or orange juice, protein shake, glass of milk or chocolate milk, sports drink and boozy treat (maybe more than occasional with those) for as long as I can remember.

So while I won’t be going paleo or vegan any time soon and don’t need to kick a caffeine habit, I am trying to clean up my eating.  With part of my Unbeatable Mind training focusing on nutrition and goals to PR at several distances this fall cleaning up my eating is something I’ve finally committed to.  My first step was to add more plants to all of my meals by making it easier to do so.  I spend meal prep time more plantschopping veggies for cooking, salads and snack time.  This one ended up looking like the Italian flag but I’m enjoying preparing more food because it makes me think harder about what I’m actually fueling my workouts with.  It also makes healthy snacking more convenient when all I have to do is reach in the fridge.

As a bonus, think I picked the best time of year to add more plants to my fridge.  So many fruits and veggies are in season that finding a few tasty ingredients to top my salad is easy.  I know all of the additional fiber is helping my body clean out toxins while the vitamins and minerals keep my insides functioning at their peak.  I’m excited to see what eating more plants and less sugar does for my performance as race season approaches.

Meredith

Have you added more plants to your meals?  Are you paleo or vegetarian?  Why?

Allen Stone Memorial 5k

Saturday morning I raced the 17th Annual Allen Stone Memorial 5k.  I blogged about how excited I was to race in my new shoes last week and I was happy with how things turned out.

I could tell the second I walked out the door into a humid morning it wasn’t going to be a banner day.  I hadn’t had a full recovery day in 10 days and my legs were pretty tired.  My new shoes settled right onto my feet as I jogged an easy mile to get moving.  One of the allen stone memorial 5kthings that didn’t help my performance was that between the portions of my warm up I had a big break.  This race is full of tradition, including a reading of the names of special operations service men who have died in the line of duty, the national anthem, and three parachuters floating down with the flag.  After stretching and relaxing through that I finished with 800M of pick-ups to get my turnover and heart rate going.

Soaked in sweat with my heart pumping and legs feeling lighter but not fresh we snapped a Team RWB photo.  Then I was off to the Allen Stone Memorial 5k start line.  I knew the crowd was competitive and settled into the third row of runners figuring that would be roughly my speed.  I went out of the gate too fast for the first 400M, especially on the humid allen stone memorial 5kmorning, but was thankful the sun stayed hidden as I ran through the first mile.  I had a girl right next to me through the turn around then pulled away in the second mile.

Coming into the final kilometer I choked.  Not crapped out on performing but actually choked.  Some sticky spit got stuck in my throat with no water in sight and I slowed to attempt clearing my throat without making things worse.  It kind of worked so I picked it back up for the last half mile.  Set on cruise, the girl who had been neck-in-neck with me at the race’s start came on strong in the final 20M and we finished with a sprint over the line.

I ended up finishing in 21:40, averaging 6:59 miles.  Not the time I thought I had run when I crossed the Allen Stone Memorial 5k finish line, it was actually a few seconds faster.  I immediately grabbed some water to finally get my throat clear, collected my medal and waited for results with a bunch of friends.  I found out I had won my age group then jogged a cool down mile that took long enough to miss my award being presented.  I got a fancy handled mason jar with the Allen Stone Memorial 5k logo on it to match my medal and then called it a day.

I was happy to get a solid workout in, have success with my new shoes and still have something left for the next day’s long run.  With two more weeks in my base phase, I’m excited to see what I can do when the weather’s cooler, my legs are fresher and my weeks aren’t packed with miles this fall.

Meredith

How do you decide if a race was successful?  What training phase are you in right now?