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Running..that dreaded thing

I’m not a runner. I never have been either. I swam, so when you put me on land to do that kind of steady, continuous movement I become a fish out of water; flopping around and senselessly moving forward. I assure you, it’s not pretty. My boyfriend has always said my running is terrible and I need serious help.

So I don’t run. I can do cardio in the pool or on a bike, in a spin class or cramming it into 15 minute HIIT workouts that don’t require me to hold proper form for more than 30 seconds at a time.

A month ago I seemingly lost my mind. After watching several friends post about their SeaWheeze half marathon accomplishments, I made a decision. I want to do that.

So I am going to. Part of the draw is of course the fact that it is lululemon hosting it. I freaking love lululemon, who doesn’t? Registration comes with a pair of shorts, evening yoga, special event shopping, an after-party, all hosted by lululemon!

There is also a MEDAL. I haven’t had a medal since I was 14 when I quit swimming. I want one, so I’m going to get one. I want to be able to say YUP, look at this baby, I just ran for 21.1km and I have a sweet piece of metal around my neck to prove it.

The last and most important factor? It’s something that challenges me, and forces me out of my comfort zone. It’s something that will enhance all my exercise abilities, increases my cardio, and overall going to make be stronger at the end of it.

So since my running abilities are essentially non-existent, I signed up for a Learn to Run clinic at the Running Room…and I quit it. Full disclosure, I found at the one I signed up for there was no focus on the actual how to run. What I expected to get was education on stride, foot strike, breathing, body position, posture, etc. The biomechanics of running. I very well could have misunderstood the course, but to go learn about products and clothing, then just go out and run really wasn’t what I was looking for. As a swim instructor in the past, it’s so important to me to understand the fundamental movements, and how to do them correctly, before you can expect someone to successfully swim, and in this case, run.

So instead, I stopped going to the clinic, but I did not stop running. I’ve gotten tips from my physiotherapist, massage therapist, my boyfriend (who was a short-track runner in high school), and input from other friends who are runners. I utilize the internet, without getting too deep in there since that is just overload and I try my best. I have learned over the last year of continuous working out that I can usually tell if I am doing something wrong because of the way my body feels. I listen to it, and figure out the problem as quickly as possible.

I go out to run every Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday. I still follow the structure the running room set out, increasing the number of minutes I run each week by one, but typically sticking to 20-25 minute each time while I build up my ability. The pyramid I am working on is as follows:

Week 1: run 1 minute; walk 2 minutes, repeat 7 times

Week 2: run 1 minute; walk 1 minute, repeat 10 times

Week 3: run 2 minutes; walk 1 minute, repeat 7 times

Week 4: run 3 minute; walk 1 minute, repeat 6 times

Week 5: run 4 minutes; walk 1 minute, repeat 5 times

Week 6: run 5 minute; walk 1 minute, repeat 4 times

Week 7: run 6 minutes; walk 1 minute, repeat 3 times

Week 8: run 8 minutes; walk 1 minute, repeat 2 times

Week 9: run 10 minutes; walk 1 minute, repeat 2 times

Week 10: run 10 minutes; walk 1 minute, repeat 2 times

I still don’t love it. I just finished the third run of week 3’s set up and have to head out to run 3 minutes at a time tonight and I am not excited. This runner’s high I keep hearing about it, I haven’t found it yet. This is what goes through MY head when I run, not some crazy feeling of euphoria:

  • ok, left, right, left, right, not too quick
  • right, I am supposed to engage my glutes, squeeze that butt
  • left, right, left, right, not too quick
  • crap! I am leaning forward again, chest up, butt down
  • left, right, left, right
  • ok, shoulders, they’re supposed to be relaxed and well they are up by my ears, ok shake them out and drop them
  • left, right, left, right, not too quick
  • oh FACK a hill, how did I find this street again when I always try to avoid it?!
  • breathe, breathe, stop holding your breath you crazy woman
  • left, right, left, right
  • ok timer, really? I swear you should have gone off by now
  • oh THANK GOD A WALKING BREAK
  • what the hell!? That was not a minute. That was 10 seconds!!
  • FINE left, right, left, right
  • Why am I clenching my teeth and fists, am I about to get in a fight!? Does my body know something I don’t? STOP IT.
  • Annnnnd repeat. For the entire time

Doesn’t that make running sound SO FUN?! But. Running is SO good for you. There are a lot of reasons, but these are the first 10 I have discovered in my first 3 weeks:

  1. it lowers blood pressure and cholesterol
  2. strengthens bones better than aerobic activities
  3. increases concentration
  4. it tones your legs
  5. it. burns. calories. A LOT of them.
  6. more calories burnt means I get to eat more food. I love food.
  7. it makes your whole body work – I thought it would just be legs but it is far from
  8. it’s mental. It forces me to examine your entire body at all times, and for me it’s a lot of “just do it” being repeated every 3 seconds.
  9. it’s challenging. I can do squats until the cows come home, I can’t run 2 minute without being pushed to my limits. This is GOOD for me. Once things become easy, they stop being rewarding and exciting.
  10. it gets me outside (at least until the snow shows up) and gives me some natural vitamin D and fresh air in my lungs

So, as much as I hate it, I will lace up my shoes and continue on. Nothing bad can come from it, and each week is one step closer to my half marathon goal.

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Parmesan Garlic Roasted Broccoli

As much as I love salads, sometimes it’s nice to switch things up a bit to get my veggie intake in. Especially for lunches during the work, since taking all the salad ingredients and a dressing take up a ton of room, and taking the bus, I like to maximize the amount I can fit in my tiny bag.

I’ve always liked broccoli (cooked, never raw) and decided to play around with some different ingredients and roast it instead of steaming it. I found the winner here – the parmesan gives it an extra kick, making it a little more savoury. I usually make a batch once a week to throw in with rice and whatever meat I packed for lunch a couple of times a week!

Measurements aren’t exact, I tend to just guess and play it by taste. Feel free to add any other spices, and I have used fresh parmesan instead of dry and it turns out even better!

Parmesan Garlic Roasted Broccoli

Serves 4-6 (1 head serves 4, 2 serves 6)

Nutrition/serving (based on 4 servings):

Calories: 196

Fat: 16g

Carbs: 9g

Protein: 8g

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 heads broccoli
  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1/4 c.parmesan cheese
  • salt & pepper

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F
  2. Wash broccoli and cut florets into bite sized pieces
  3. Put into a large mixing bowl
  4. Add all other ingredients, and toss so broccoli is coated evenly
  5. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and spread broccoli evenly
  6. Bake for 30 minutes
  7. Broil for 5 minutes, or longer, depending if you want it a bit crisper

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Tough Mudder Alberta 2016

I don’t know what possessed me in January of this year, when I turned to the BF and said “let’s do Tough Mudder this year, it will be fun” – he had done one previously in Toronto several years ago and at the time said never again, once is enough.

We must have let the couple cocktails get to our heads that night, because an hour later, we were both registered to race on August 6, 2016 in Drumheller. I then recruited my friend Meghan to come join us.

With good intentions of training hard and working a lot on upper body strength beginning in January, the months quickly passed by and before I knew it, it was August 5 and the race was the next day. It’s not like I spent the prior 8 months sitting on the couch, I did my BBG workouts and a variety of fitness classes, but never get to the whole “work on a pull up” plan I had in mind.

Already feeling a bit nervous, I foolishly opened my email that contained the course preview:

TM course

18 obstacles. 16 km (10 miles). Most of these obstacles had not been listed on the website and I had no idea what I was going into. Insert fear here.

Saturday morning came, we picked up Meghan and headed the 1.5 hours to Drumheller. Once we got to the event and into the start area, the adrenaline kicked in. We were ready! We were clean!

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Right out the gate was a 2km run to the first obstacle. The intent we went in with was to jog some, but do a lot of walking. Instead, they decided nah, let’s run the whole way to obstacle 1! Can’t say I loved that part – my cardio skills are lacking and I am a terrible runner. But with some pushing, I lightly jogged 90% of it, grumbling the whole time.

Obstacle 1 was a 6 ft jump into a muddy pit of water and who knows what else. We made the BF go first…and that didn’t end well. He landed wrong, and his ankle immediately swelled up and he had instant searing pain – we later found out he had  second degree sprain and had pulled the ligaments on both sides of his left ankle. At this point, he told Meghan and I to finish the race and the medics carted him off to the tent where he would have to wait for us to finish.

With 17 obstacles to go, we trucked on. We jogged, we walked, we climbed both 9′ and 16′ walls, used a rope to scale down a cliff, carried each other, slid into a dumpster filled with 10 tons of ice, climbed up muddy walls, pushed and pulled people up and over obstacles, jumped into puddles of mud, slipped, fell, climbed over one another to get up a pyramid, ran up a 15′ tall half pipe, went across monkey bars (well, Meghan did, I fell into the pit of water), carried logs, pushed and pulled and climbed over blocks in muddy water and ended by running through a field of dangling wires carrying 10,000 volts. It’s called the toughest event on the planet for a reason…it’s HARD.

The reason I wanted to do Tough Mudder, over the many other obstacle races, is because this one is about TEAMWORK. It is not about the fastest time, beating others, and it is NOT a competition. The goal of Tough Mudder is to COMPLETE it. Period.

At the beginning, you are hyped up and told that the people in your race wave are now your family – you start together, you end together. While we fell behind due to the injury, we did find another wave and joined with them and made 2 new friends who helped us through the last half of the race.

Could I climb those walls alone? Could I get to the top of a 15′ half pipe and pull myself up? Could I climb under a weighted net without someone holding it up to release tension? No. I couldn’t do any of these things, but I didn’t HAVE to. No matter where you turn, there was someone there to help you – to give you a boost, to pull you up, to encourage you, and remind you YES YOU CAN.

After we crossed that finish line 3 hours and 47 minutes later, we successfully completed every obstacle (my goal going in was to not skip a single one), ran/walked 22,000 steps/16km, climbed the equivalent of 71 flights of stairs, burnt 2,200 calories, and I got that finisher headband placed on my head. Oh – and we were dirty…very dirty.

The sense of accomplishment I had after this race is hard to describe; I did things I didn’t know my body could do, let alone get myself in the mind space to believe that I could. I wanted to challenge myself this year, and I did. I wish I had a little more upper body strength and could have stood to run a little more than we walked, but I had an absolute blast and still can’t believe I was able to do some of those obstacles. I could hardly walk for a few days, and the bruises I got were mildly frightening, but I did it…and I would do it all over again. 2017, I’m coming for you.

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Roasted Cherry Tomato & Basil Angel Hair Pasta

I love pasta. Any shape, form, sauce, anything. I could eat it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Don’t worry, I restrain myself though, that would get out of hand really quickly.

I found the orignal recipe on Pinterest and thought it would be a great healthy alternative to typical bolognese or alfredo sauce. I have my own roasted cherry tomato recipe that I used instead of what was provided in the original recipe, which I’ve incorporated below. I also added ground turkey as a source of protein – the BF doesn’t do so well with fully vegetarian meals, he gets too hungry unless I make sure some sort of protein is involved.

I’ve used my roast tomato recipe to top spaghetti squash, and other types of pasta as well!

Roasted Cherry Tomato & Basil Angel Hair Pasta

Recipe adapted from Oh, Sweet Basil

Serves 4

Nutrition/serving:

Calories: 450

Fat: 17g

Carbs: 42g

Protein: 35g

Ingredients:

  • ½ lb. angel hair pasta
  • 1 package ground turkey
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 5 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 lbs. cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp. fresh rosemary
  • 1 c. loosely packed basil, roughly chopped
  • ¾ tsp salt, plus more for seasoning
  • ½ c. grated parmesan, plus more for garnish

 Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Heat a large sauce pan, and brown the ground turkey until cooked through.
  3. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Add in a good handful of salt. Add pasta. Cook aldente or until pasta is slightly undercooked. Using tongs to remove pasta from water and place into a colander.
  4. While the pasta is cooking, slice each cherry/grape tomato in half, and add it, the garlic, rosemary and olive oil into a  large bowl. Toss the tomatoes until fully covered.
  5. Spread the tomato mixture evenly onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes, broil for 5 minutes. The tomatoes should be shrunken and become soft.
  7. Add 1/2 cup of starchy cooking liquid leftover from pasta to the pan with cooked turkey. Add in the cooked tomato mixture, and the cooked pasta. Mix well, and cook another two minutes.
  8. Turn the heat off, add basil and parmesan cheese. Toss to coat. If needed add more starchy pasta water.
  9. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  10. Serve with extra grated parmesan cheese.

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