Run Chat

Hi! How’s your week going so far? Mine has been busy but I expected nothing less. Anyway, today I want to chat about running. My running habit dwindled down after the Nike Women’s Half Marathon at the end of April, and moving to New York didn’t help the situation. Somewhere around mid-July I laced up my running shoes, threw on my Garmin, and headed out the door straight to Central Park. The 2 mile run was hot and painful but I knew I didn’t want to lose anymore of my endurance by skipping. And so my running habit slowly returned.

Central Park

Living near Central Park certainly helped maintain this habit – I knew I had to take advantage of what may be the best place to exercise in the entire city. I mean, how could I pass up the opportunity to run here:

Central Park

(one of my favorite running routes around the Reservoir)

As soon as fall came around, bringing with it perfectly cool temperatures, I found myself utterly hooked on running again. I actually remember the exact day my obsession came on – I woke up early on a Monday to get my 5 miler in before work since I skipped it the day before. It was chilly and gloomy outside but I loved every step I took.

5 miler

(the run that changed it all…again)

I actually ended up missing a turn and getting completely lost in Central Park for a bit, but it made the entire experience all the better. A runner’s high mixed with an unintentional stroll through the colorful park basically sealed the deal – running and I were in love again. Ever since that epic day I’ve been obsessing over running…think head-over-heels in love. I can’t even remember the last time I was this hooked!

Is it weird that I’m actually looking forward to winter here in New York? I swear my life and perceptions of the seasons are directly tied to Central Park. The park is like a shiny new toy to me still – I get giddy thinking about what it will look like during every season! And what better way to experience it all than while running?

Let’s chat about reading…

Running literature has made a strong return as well…soak.in.ALL.the.running.wisdom

running lit

Subscribing to Runner’s magazine was one of the best commitments I’ve made. I was a bit (read: 5 months) backlogged on the magazines during the whirlwind move to New York, but I’m almost caught up! The stories are so inspiring and the running tidbits always make me want to hit the streets. Not everyone will find running lit interesting but if it’s your thing then use it to your advantage! And yes, that’s a Russian book on running that someone gave me as a gift. And no, I will most likely never read it because it would take me years to get through.

Let’s chat about food…

I recently started making a conscious effort to diversify what I eat. I’m queen of food ruts and tend to fall into a routine with grocery shopping and cooking. My body is quick to tell me when it’s unhappy though – as soon as I start consistently craving sugar and protein bars I know my diet isn’t balanced.

seafood salad

(epic seafood salad featuring lobster, scallops, and shrimp)

I really respect those who thrive on a vegetarian or vegan diet but I’m not one of those people. Over time I’ve come to realize that my body functions best when I consume meat. Here’s the thing – I’m not a fan of chicken/beef/pork/etc. and only eat those once or twice a month. I am, however, a lover of fish which is where my main source of protein comes from now. Seafood, in addition to cheese and eggs, is now an almost-daily staple in my meals.

oysters

(a dozen fresh oysters…basically my ideal meal and one that I crave weekly)

I’ve quickly developed a runner’s palate in general – brown rice, beans, bread, yogurt, cheese, pasta, avocado, squash, soups, quinoa, veggies and other wholesome nutrient-dense foods are my go-tos for meals. The simplest foods are always the most satisfying.

fish sandwich

(hearty sandwich filled with greens, avocado, cucumbers, and cod)

It’s been working – I feel more energized and stronger on my runs, and I completely believe that the change in my eating habits helped contribute to my recent increase in speed. Food is such an influential base point in running and I need to start taking it more seriously if I want to improve (and I really, really do).

Let’s chat about running habits and mileage…

I’ve acquired a new running routine and it’s been great so far! I’m running only 3 days a week and trying to slowly increase my mileage. Much like the last half marathon training, my schedule for this upcoming race is flexible and unstructured. My shin splints recently returned and I blame the sudden increase in mileage…it’s all my fault!

I also haven’t done a great job with stretching and foam rolling, let alone icing my legs, but it’s something absolutely critical to work on in the upcoming weeks.

foam roller

(dear foam roller, let’s be best friends again please!)

However, I’ve been paying very close attention to how I feel during all my runs. I’m learning what my body feels like at every pace and every heart rate zone. I’m still a bit lost on what pace I should hold for my long runs and I’m worried that I may do harm with the speedy pace I currently run at. As much as I enjoy feeling challenged after my runs, I need to make a better effort at slowing down during those long distances.

I also recently started toying with the idea of adding some sort of cross-training into my schedule. I do nothing outside of running! Yoga, pilates, body pump, soul cycle…so many (too many) choices! Nothing is definite yet but I’ll keep you posted.

Let’s chat about running gear…

Hmm anything that involves shopping is obviously a great topic for me. I’ve been running in Brooks PureCadence for over a year now and absolutely love them.

Brooks PureCadence
The only problem is that Brooks is no longer producing this shoe! Instead, the PureCadence 2’s are now on the market and I’ll be the first to admit that I’m terrified to try them. I have flat feet but these lightweight/lightly-cushioned shoes have treated my feet well. What if the 2’s are awful? Someone tame my fears please…

Ever since I took the plunge and started “investing” in “fancy” running clothes I haven’t looked back… Some of the best running clothes I own are easily from Lululemon (I’m sorry please don’t judge me) or other brands like Nike and Under Armour.

me

Maybe I’m the minority here but I don’t hesitate to invest in certain running pieces that are both versatile and high-quality. With that said, I adore stores like T.J. Maxx and Marshall’s to pick up great finds (like the wool Nike running hoodie I’m wearing in the above photo)! My running wardrobe is far from overflowing with Lulu (I wish), but I do have a few great tops and bottoms that proved to be durable and completely worth the hefty price tag. The key is to invest in a few crucial items, especially when it comes to winter gear, because there really is a difference in quality (usually)! There is nothing like a top that’s like a heat blanket or pants that rub in all the wrong places to kill your joy while running.

Confession: I also like to look “cute” while running…it’s silly but it’s a mental thing that probably has some dumb positive effect on my running. Cute + comfy = win!

Let’s chat about fueling…

On days when I work from home I wake up before work, make and eat half of a vegan buckwheat waffle, wait about 30-40 minutes, go out for a run, and make it back in time to start the workday. On weekends I eat the entire waffle and wait 1.5-2 hours before my long run.

post-run food

I also made it a habit to leave some coffee to enjoy with my post-run waffle – it chills down in the fridge and basically becomes an iced latte minus the ice.

I finally feel like I nailed down my pre-run nutrition. It took me long enough! I’m prone to heartburn and stomach discomfort while running, and this filling breakfast causes no problems. I still take 1-2 TUMS before every run just in case though…

TUMS

I’ve been playing around a bit with fueling during my longer runs. My go-to energy source are Clif Shot Bloks, which consist of organic and fairly natural ingredients.

Bloks

(my new favorite Shot Blok flavor – chocolate cherry with a shot of caffeine)

Looking back, I’m shocked at how much fuel I used to take in during my runs. No wonder I struggled so much! I used to take an entire Clif Gel Shot at a time (I took in two total during my first half marathon along with some chews) which provided way too many calories and sugar at one time for me. Nowadays, I take in half a block at a time as needed and consume an average of 2-3 full blocks during long runs depending on the distance.

Let’s chat about upcoming goals…

I’m always hesitant to make any goals for myself because there’s nothing worse than letting yourself down due to high expectations. This means that for my upcoming half marathon…

half marathon

…I absolutely don’t have a time goal. I probably would’ve created one if this race was in Chicago but I already know that the Central Park hills will make this race tougher than all others. Not to mention, I’ve never run long distances in the dead of winter. While my pace has improved significantly during this training cycle making a sub-2 hour half seem feasible, the race route is very challenging. As always, I’m planning on going into the race with the mentality to finish injury-free and with a smile.

I’m also hoping to work on my speed with the addition of speedwork and/or cross-training. The one running-related goal that I do have is to maintain my running habit through the winter. I tend to fall off of the running bandwagon after major races and in the colder months, so I’m absolutely determined to avoid this crash!

That’s enough running talk for the day. Feel free to reach out with any questions or comments, all feedback is appreciated!

Share your random runner’s musings!

♥ Irina

6 Comments

  1. November 12, 2013 / 3:40 pm

    This may be the most helpful post you’ve ever shared- mainly because I’m in the process of getting back into the running groove too! I was never running half marathons before but my mileage definitely dwindled over the past 6 months and I missed running like crazy! You’ve always been one of my biggest inspirations, so thank you!

    I’m a vegetarian because I genuinely don’t like meat…I stopped eating it when I was 8. But being a vegan definitely didn’t suit me. It’s all about what works best for us! So glad you’ve discovered the eating habits that suit your body best and give you the most fuel!

    • November 15, 2013 / 2:50 pm

      Thank you! You have no idea how much you just made my day 🙂 I’m always happy to help. I still vote that you sign up for a half marathon and see where your running will go from there.

      Looks like we both found the right eating habits for us, which is great! Not to mention, very important. I think I can definitely survive on a vegetarian diet (not vegan though) and primarily do, but sometimes I crave fish like crazy. I’m with you on meat though – I don’t like it either at all!

  2. November 12, 2013 / 4:24 pm

    Oh Lululemon…I think some of their clothing is adorable (like their hoodies!), but I still don’t understand their $60 sports bras…are they really that good? Haha.

    I love Clif Shot Bloks! They were handing them out mid-race during the NWHM and I stored some in my bag for afterwards. I like how they have that chewy/jelly consistency without having gelatin as an ingredient.

    • November 15, 2013 / 2:53 pm

      Haha I’m with you there…some of the items (like $30 undies?!?) are so ridiculously over-priced that you can’t help but laugh. I try not to spend a lot on running gear apart from shoes, but sometimes some items are justifiable.

      And I actually never thought about the fact that the Shot Bloks don’t have gelatin! That’s SUCH a great point and now I think I love them even more 🙂 There is just something so off-putting about sucking down one of those ‘chemically’ GUs that makes my stomach churn. But I guess what works for some obviously won’t work for others. Anyway, try the chocolate cherry Bloks, they’re phenomenal.

  3. November 12, 2013 / 6:18 pm

    I love how you’ve found what works for you! I’m very similar in terms of being a creature of habit. But that’s what works, so that’s what I do!

    • November 15, 2013 / 2:55 pm

      It took me long enough! Haha especially the eating part. I used to get the worst heartburn while running, and figuring out how to avoid it has really helped my running.