Beat the Heat: Summer Training Tips

If you missed my announcement Monday about shutting down Noshing on Asphalt, please make sure to check it out. Thank you for all of the sweet comments, I promise I will respond to them soon.

Now onto today’s post. Summer is officially here in Mississippi. There’s no denying it anymore. Mother Nature has parked her big, hot hiney right on South Mississippi and I don’t think she’s planning on moving it until November. I went for a run Monday evening and it was 87* but had a heat index of 94*.

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Honestly, I really shouldn’t complain because those temps are mild compared to late July and August where it’s not abnormal for the heat index to soar into the 110* range. But I’m a big baby and hate heat so, doggonit, I’m going to complain! Give me temps in the 30-40* range any day.

This time last year I was freaking out preparing to start training for my first marathon. It’s hard for me to believe that I’ll be training for marathon #3 soon. (3 marathons in a year? I think I might be hooked…) This means another brutal summer full of trainings. Luckily, I learned some things last year so I don’t feel quite like the training novice.

Tips to Not Dying During Summer Training:

1.) Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!! Sorry for the repetition, but I really can’t stress this enough. During hot summer sweat sessions, you can lose anywhere from 2-5lbs just from sweating. This is bad. Your body needs fluids and electrolytes to function properly.  There are plenty of hydration options out there like Camelbaks (my favorite), hand held bottles, belts, or just old fashioned water stops.

Loooooooooove my Camelbak!

Loooooooooove my Camelbak!

2.) Replenish your electrolytes. Because you sweat so much (see #1) you are also losing valuable electrolytes that help regulate your body and muscle functions. Water is great to keep yourself hydrated but it doesn’t do anything to replenish your electrolytes. For longer runs, 10+ miles plan on consuming at least one sports drink. This can be Cytomax (my fav), NUUN, gatorade, etc. A few of my friends use salt tabs during their training runs; I’ve never tried them.

It's good to have options.  I don't care that it's neither clean nor paleo. I drink it once a week and it keeps me alive.

It’s good to have options.
I don’t care that it’s neither clean nor paleo. I drink it once a week and it keeps me alive.

3.) Fuel.  Gels are a great way to make sure you’re taking care of tip #2. There’s all sorts of different gels and chews out there (my fav are Huma and Honey Stingers) so feel free to experiment with the ones that work best for you. The amount of fuel you consume is totally up to you.

Ready to Rock-n-Roll 26.2 miles fueled by ch-ch-chia!

Love this stuff!

4.) Run early.  This is the coolest (HA!) part of the day so take advantage of it. It wasn’t abnormal for me to meet my training partners last year at 4:30am. We may or may not have looked like the running dead for the first mile.

5.) Keep it loose and light.  I’m talking clothing here. It’s tempting to wear tight tanks and shorts for optimal movement but the looser fitting clothes actually keep you much better ventilated.  Light colored clothes are preferred.

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Taken last summer. Yes I look like a dork, and yes, I’m drenched in sweat.

6.) Protect yourself.  Unless you want skin cancer when you’re 50, make sure to slather on the SPF. The higher the SPF, the better. Just make sure you get a sport version otherwise you’ll be feeling the burn from it melting off your face into your eyes. Also, wearing a visor to keep the sun directly off of your face.

7.) Slow down.  It’s ok to run slower during summer long runs. Most training plans recommend slowing your pace as much as 30 second – 1 minute per mile. It doesn’t mean that you’re turning into a turtle; it just means you’re being safe. Use your short weekday runs to do speed work.

8.) Plan your route.  Take a few minutes to plan your route before running. Try to choose shady routes, neighborhoods (hello sprinklers!)  and loops if at all possible. Loops allow you to stop at your car to refuel, stretch, etc… They can also be a godsend if you need to cut your run short because you feel off.

Which brings me to my final point:

9.) Listen to your body.  If you feel in any way ‘off’ stop immediately. It’s tempting to try to push through but you may be experiencing the first signs of heat distress. Remember, you want to get to your race alive.

So there you have it.  My tips to not dying this summer.  Don’t forget that today’s National Running Day!! I’ll be meeting my favorite running girls later tonight to log some hot and sweaty miles – what are you doing?

Question:  What tips do you have for summer training?

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Weekly Workout Recap & The Beginning of the End

First things first.  Let kick today’s post off with my recap of last week’s workouts:

Monday: 3 miles speed work + HIIT workout.

Tuesday: 4 mile run.

Wednesday: Yoga

Thursday: Workout fail.

Friday: Another workout fail.

Saturday: 7 mile run (with some walking)

Sunday: Third workout fail of the week.

You may or may not have noticed a pattern emerging over the past several weeks with my workouts.  They’ve been significantly decreased in both the amount I workout in the week and the intensity/duration of my runs.  That fact really bothers me (and simply isn’t acceptable) which brings me to the 2nd part of today’s post: The Beginning of the End.

June will be Noshing on Asphalt’s last month.  This isn’t a decision that I’ve come to lightly; I’ve actually been contemplating this for several months now.  I fought the idea for a while because I feel like a have a responsibility to you, my lovely readers, but the truth is that I have some personal things going on in my life that need my attention.  (Don’t worry, nothing’s wrong with me; I’m not sick or anything.)

I’ve been trying to juggle things but I keep coming up short. I don’t have enough time to get things done and it’s been putting a strain on me emotionally and now physically.  The only thing that I can do to create more time is reduce my hobbies and I’m not willing to nix the workouts – especially with training for marathon #3 starting soon.  The time I spend running helps me clear my mind.  It’s my time to be selfish, to problem solve, to chat with my girlfriends.  Basically, running/working out is my sanity.

When I started Noshing on Asphalt (my first post almost exactly a year ago) it was a way for me to keep my family and friends updated with training for my first marathon which I was running in memory of my brother.  I didn’t anticipate my little slice of the blog world growing the way it did but I have enjoyed every minute of it!  I’ve met some amazing people, worked with some great companies and really have learned a lot about myself.

I can honestly say I’ve pushed myself harder this past year then I have any other year of my life.  I’ve enjoyed shattering barriers and pushing past my limits.  Your constant motivation and encouragement has been a huge part of my growth. Whether you realize it or not, you held me accountable for the goals I set.

The next few weeks you can still expect my usual Monday, Wednesday, Friday ramblings but Wednesday the 26th will be my last one.  I don’t know if it will be the last Noshing on Asphalt post forever, but at least it is for the foreseeable future.

Question: Do you ever find yourself struggling to balance things?

Real Food

I’ve been meaning to write this post for awhile now but for some reason or another just haven’t.  However, I started reading a nutrition book last week (review to come later) and I finally feel like now’s the right time to write this post.

I get a lot of interest from people wanting to know the way that I eat, what diet I’m on (really, that one pisses me off), or why I eat the way that I do.  Not that I’m anything special, I’m more an oddity to them.  Fruits, vegetables, no chips?? What gives?? I used to give a lengthy explanation of clean eating but I kept noticing the same glossy eyed look on different faces.  Now that I’ve gone paleo, it’s even harder to explain.  So I’ve learned to keep my answer short and sweet:

food 2

This revelation either shuts the conversation down immediately, or opens up further dialogue.  Usually, further dialogue follows with a confused look and “Real food??” in a questioning tone.  Alright, I think to myself, I’ve got ‘em hooked.  This is where I pull out my soap box.

Yep, real food.  Food that comes from a plant, not manufactured in a plant.  Food that I recognize and can pronounce all the ingredients.  Food that can go bad.  Food that has a mother; although, that actually sounds really terrible.  And I’m pretty sure I just heard all my vegan / vegetarian friends gag.  I’m talking about beef, chicken, pork – not cannibalism.  Food that visually excites and inspires me.

Asparagus wrapped in prosciutto

Asparagus wrapped in prosciutto

papaya

Freshly halved papaya

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Sausage stuffed ‘shrooms

Real food is consuming food that is as close to the real form as possible.  Whole fruits & vegetables, nuts, meat that have been minimally altered or processed.  If it tastes like a banana, by golly, it better be because I’m eating a banana or it has a banana in it.  Not because it has banana flavoring. (Dairy, legumes and grains fall into the real food category, too, unless you’re Paleo.)

Real food rots and goes bad.  It doesn’t have a shelf life able to withstand a zombie apocalypse.  You can find it by shopping the perimeter (with some exceptions) of your local grocery store.

It’s taken me years of trial and error to find this real food lifestyle but it works for me; it fits me.  I went through the phase of eating low fat, no fat, sugar free “food” thinking it fell into the healthy category.

This aisle was my BFF for several years. Quick, easy, convienent, and...."healthy"

This aisle was my BFF for several years.
Quick, easy, convenient, and….”healthy.” I mean the sign even says so.

lunch

Look at those stats: 16g protein, 3g fiber and only 210 calories.
Eggs, potatoes, cheese, and peppers. Simple, healthy. Right?

I read nutrition panels like a hawk. I could quote health benefits of processed foods like nobody’s business – ‘that’s a great source of fiber, calcium, whole grains, whatever…’ But I never stopped to read the ingredients.

ingredients

This is the label from that breakfast meal above.
Not quite as simple as eggs, potatoes, cheese and peppers….

When I started reading the ingredients, I started changing my life.  That was a couple years ago and I haven’t felt better.

{Some} Benefits of Eating Real Food:

  • Increased energy;
  • More complex variety of vitamins, mineral, phytonutrients; antioxidants…. i.e. a multivitamin without the pill;
  • Happier & healthier digestive system;
  • Strengthened immune system;
  • Environmentally conscience;
  • Minimally processed;
  • Tastes great (duh); and
  • Doesn’t make your body a vessel for science experiments.

If you really take a look in the grocery store, the shelves are filled with food-like products.  I say food-like because if you read the ingredients, it’s more like a science experiment in a box.  A very well crafted and cleverly disguised science experiment.  Seriously, take a look at some of the ingredients.  When was the last time you saw a garden or pasture full of sodium bicarbonate? (Yes, that chemical is one of the ingredients in the frozen egg thingy pictured above.)

“But it tastes so good….”  Is something I hear a lot when I’m explaining real vs. processed food.  Yes, that processed stuff does tastes good. No, scratch that. It doesn’t just taste good, it tastes fantastic.  It was designed to.  But what is that food really doing for you?  Is it nourishing your body or just filling your stomach?

Real food nourishes your entire body and -wait for it- tastes great, too.  When I first ditched the processed crap, I missed it terribly. I might even go so far as to use the word ‘withdrawals.’  However, after awhile I started to notice just how great food, real food, tasted.  I was amazed at how natural flavors seemed to burst out of food that I had previously thought bland.  Gone was my need to add salt and refined sugar.  Gone were the junk food cravings.  Eating real food, I feel satiated when I’m done eating. I also feel like each time I grocery shop I’m buying a small amount of life insurance.

I could go on and on about this topic but this is where I step down from my soap box.  The processed stuff you find in the grocery store will not kill you. It may not contribute to your health but you won’t die if you eat a Twinkie. Unless you choke on it. Always chew your food thoroughly.  Don’t think that I’m putting myself on a pedestal either, I still splurge from time-to-time on non ‘real food’ (did someone say froyo??). This post isn’t meant to make you feel bad about how you eat, just maybe make you more quizzical and conscientious about what you’re eating.

Question: What’s your favorite real food?

Family

As you know, my Aunt Sherry died last week.  While this was unexpected and incredibly sad,  her death gave me a rare opportunity to get together with my family.  See, I’m one of those people who ‘hope to see you soon’ but before I know it two years have flown by.

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Just a handful of my lovely family.
My grandparents, aunts, uncle, cousin and Dad.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not because I don’t miss my family, I miss them terribly. I have full intentions of seeing people but life just seems to take over.  There’s always some sort of excuse – not enough PTO (paid time off), schedule conflicts / previous commitments, it’s difficult to juggle 4 families (hubby and I are both from divorced parents who live in 4 different states) or heaven forbid I’m racing or training for a race (that’s the worst reason ever, and one I use quite often).

So what’s my point with this rambling self confession of familial neglect? It shouldn’t take the death of a loved one for us to make a concerted effort to get together with family.  And when I say family, I really mean it in the broadest sense of the word.  I realize that we all come from different backgrounds and may not have a traditional family; however, we all have people in our lives that, even though they aren’t a blood relative, they’re family to us.

Last Wednesday I made the almost 15 hour drive to Iowa to say goodbye to my Aunt Sherry.  I was greeted by my Dad, grandparents, uncles, aunts and many cousins.  In the short time I was there, I was regaled by the stories from my father and his sibling’s childhood.  Crazy, hilarious stories.  Ones that make you wonder just how did they survive childhood / adolescence?  I’m seriously amazed that any of my grandparent’s children lived to become adults, let alone all of them.

My dad and I drove around the small town where he grew up.  I got to see the church he went to.

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I just had to get a picture of the sunflower, too. So cute!

The house my grandfather built for my grandmother and their children over half a century ago.

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You can only see part of it due to the overgrown bushes but it’s a very lovely house.
I had no idea my grandfather built it.

And the spot where my grandfather would {not quite legally} hop a ride with the moving train to work.  Why bother with driving when you can hop a train? I’ve heard about these tracks my entire life.

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I had such a great time visiting with all of my family.  Yet at the same time part of me was sad wondering when it would happen again.  Whose funeral would be the next one to bring us together?  On my drive back home I had plenty of time to ponder that last question.  The only feasible answer is that it won’t be a funeral because I’m going to stop being that ‘I hope to see you soon’ girl.

Even if I can’t make it to every family event that occurs, it’s nice knowing that I’m going to give it a good shot. We never know what tomorrow holds so don’t wait for time to sneak up and steal someone away from you.

Question: Are you a ‘hope to see you soon’ person?

Emotionally Exhausted

This weekend started out on such a high note. My amazing husband graduated with his master’s degree on Saturday. It was such a beautiful day and I can’t even begin to express how proud I am of him.

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Watching him walk across that stage to pick up his diploma really felt like we closed a huge chapter in our life book. This is the first time in our dating/married lives that we’ve both been out of school.  The thought of starting an entirely different chapter in our lives is both exhilarating and a bit frightening.  The world is our oyster and we can choose whatever adventure we please.

While we went to bed basking in the limitless potentials of our new chapter, I woke up early Sunday morning to find out that another chapter had been very abruptly closed. My amazing aunt Sherry died very early Sunday morning from a massive heart attack. Her death leaves a void that cannot be replaced. The two things that will be missed most is first and foremost her spirit. She was an amazingly thoughtful woman.  Phone calls, cards, you name it and she did it. She always went that extra mile to let someone know they were loved and thought of. Secondly, I’ll miss her sense of humor. Man alive could Aunt Sherry get you laughing. Especially when all the family was together; you just never knew what was going to happen or who was going to say what. Some of my favorite childhood memories are from family get-togethers.

Going from an extreme emotional high to an incredible low in the matter of 5.5 hours has left me emotionally exhausted. Throw into the mix some other personal things that have been going on this past week and I’m just spent. I’ll be traveling later this week to Iowa for Aunt Sherry’s funeral so there won’t be any blog posts until after Memorial Day.  I guess the silver lining in this weekend is that I’ll get to see my dad and family this week. Memorial Day is always a hard time for our family since my bother was killed in Iraq so it will be nice spending time together.  That’s my Aunt Sherry, still giving gifts from beyond the grave.

No question today, just a plea to tell your family and friends you love them.

The End of an Era

I’m not really a TV watcher at all anymore but I have to confess that I skipped last night’s workout just so I could have my butt plopped on the couch at 7pm sharp to catch the final episode of The Office.  The only thing missing was a large vat of popcorn drenched with butter and some chocolate bon-bons.

the office

The Husbster and I have been huge Office fans for several years now. (Admittedly though, we both lost interest when Michael Scott left.)  We even have an The Office version of Clue.  All the cool kids have that, don’t they?

Hands-down, the best athletic supporter ever!

“That’s what she said.” – Michael Scott, Dunder Mifflin
Yes, I made my hubby carry that sign for my first marathon.

So what exactly is it about The Office that has captivated my attention for so long? I think the fact that it’s incredibly relatable has a lot to do with it.  Each of the characters possess an everyday quality that we can find just about anywhere and we all know those characters in real life.

There’s the bumbling boss who {Michael Scott}, try as he might, just can’t seem to get things together or say the appropriate thing.  Then you have the guy who’s desperate for power {Dwight Schrute} and will do anything to distance himself from his subordinates.  The perfect couple {Jim and Pam} who have a chemistry every girl dreams of having with her husband.  Then on the opposite end of the spectrum, there’s the Brittany Spears and K-Fed couple {Ryan and Kelly} who are so hot and cold and all over the place.  And we all know a crazy cat lady in real life – yikes.

Angela-and-her-cats-the-office-868012_624_352

Throughout the past 9 years The Office has provided so many inappropriate “that’s what she said”s, hundreds of hilarious pranks, Lord knows how many office romances, plenty of office rivalries, and countless moments that melted your heart.  I’ve laughed, I’ve cried, at times I wanted to scream. But mainly I laughed.  A lot.  To the point I thought I might pee my pants at times.  Dunder Mifflin, you’ve always left me satisfied and smiling and for that I thank you. That’s what she said!

Question:  Are you a fan of The Office? What’s your favorite moment from the past 9 years?

So Easy a Caveman Can Do it? Well, Kinda.

Roughly six weeks ago I posted about how I was going to fully embrace the crossfit experience which included going Paleo(ish) – my version of Paleo eating.

To say I was nervous about how restrictive Paleo is is an understatement. Since I already eat clean, I’m used to quite a restrictive diet already but Paleo was taking away some of my beloved staples like grains, dairy and legumes.

paleo

Instead of freaking out and feeling like I couldn’t eat anything, I gave myself some wiggle room. I decided that it was ok to have one serving of dairy and/or grains a day with the intent of not eating any.  Remember, I was going Paleo{ish}. This wiggle room worked out great for me and I actually only ate a total of three servings of grains (no dairy) during the first two weeks and I was able to cut it out entirely.

the-paleo-diet11The first two weeks were definitely the most challenging.  So easy a caveman can do it? Ummmm, maybe.  But this modern, clean eating girl struggled.  I knew that I relied on grains, dairy and legumes heavily in my diet but I had no idea how much I relied on them.  During those first weeks I felt drained, like someone had stolen my batteries.  I was still doing short mid-week runs and Crossfit but the first time I went on a long run (10 miles) fueled the Paleo way, I tanked.  It was terrible and I felt super sick, light headed and my vision was a bit fuzzy; I ended up calling it quits after 8.75 miles for safety reasons.  As soon as I got back to my car and ate something I felt much better.  My system was lacking carbohydrates big time and just couldn’t sustain the energy my body needed for the run.

I did some research on how to properly fuel runs with Paleo and found lots of conflicting information. Joy. But there was at least one common recommendation: sweet potatoes. All my life, I have never liked sweet potatoes. I know *gasp*. But I knew if I really wanted to take this seriously, I would have to get used to them.  So I did some searching and found a recipe for sweet potato chips. {Enter my new found love for sweet potatoes.}

Once I discovered sweet potatoes, that kind of took care of my carb issue. It didn’t fix the feeling I had of being drained though.  I decided to track my calories one day using My Fitness Pal and I was shocked to see that I was 600 calories short for the day. Unfortunately, I had been unintentionally starving myself.  Even though I was eating a ton of food each day I realized what I had done was replace my higher calorie dairy, grains and legumes with lower calories vegetables and fruits. Whoops.

After doing some adjusting with my food, by week three and four I really felt like I hit my Paleo groove.  I started to see a few changes with my body; I noticed a bit more muscle tone and didn’t feel bloated like I often had.  I have always had some problematic acne on my back (bacne – ewwwww) and that cleared up as well.  Apparently I have a slight dairy or gluten allergy.  Also during weeks 3 & 4 I stopped missing my carbs and dairy which is something I never thought would happen.

So what did I eat? Whole foods.  LOTS of whole foods.  Eggs (9 dozen of them to be precise) were my go-to protein source. I had them for breakfast and snacks.

eggs egg 4 omelette scrambled eggs

Protein (esp. chicken) in just about every form you can imagine.

chicken

And an insane amount of fruits, vegetables and nuts.  The only pre-packaged food I ate was Larabars, canned nuts, some beef jerky and Vega’s Energizing Smoothie.

larabar

Vega

Oh, and I may have snuck a bite or two of some deliciously dark chocolate. Don’t judge…

chocolate

I discovered some pretty cool Paleo sites (PaleOMG and Nom Nom Paleo are fantastic for recipes).  I did some experimenting in the kitchen, found some new recipes I love and a few I hated. {side note: If you’re a blogger, PLEASE make sure your recipe is actually tasty like you say. It’s incredibly frustrating to waste good ingredients on a bad recipe.}

When I started Paleo eating, I had fully intended on returning to clean eating after the month ended.  However, it ended two weeks ago and I’m still going strong and don’t have any plans on going back to the grains and dairy.  I still have some tweaking that needs to be done (making sure I get enough calories & that I’m properly fueled for long runs), but I’m happy with this new Paleo(ish) lifestyle.

Question: Have you ever taken a challenge only to surprise yourself by continuing it once it’s over?