Tuesday, December 30, 2014

New Years Eve-Eve

I’ve never been a huge New Year’s resolution maker, but I always have goals. I, and I know many people agree, think that anytime is a great time to start a goal -- not just the first day of the year. Nevertheless, here is my list of a few goals I hope to achieve in 2015:

Improve my crow pose and headstand.

I would love to get deeper into my crow pose and stronger in my headstand. I’m excited that I’ve accomplished these two

Achieve forearm stand and a full king pigeon.

Forearm stand is my next inversion goal, just before I get ready for handstand and its variations. Just casually attempting it recently I’ve realized just how much core and arm strength I’m going to need to get myself into the pose. I’ve also been working on my king pigeon for a while. For this I need to continue to work on my backbends.

Try aerial yoga and SUP yoga at least once. Revisit hot yoga.

I love yoga but I’d like to try aerial yoga and SUP yoga each at least once to see if I will learn anything new, or if it could help my routine. It’s also hard to move out of my comfort zone so I think these two classes will be great challenges. I’m also going to aim to revisit bikram yoga a couple of times.

Finish a marathon.

I’ve been signed up for my first full marathon for two months now, but training is really going to ramp up after May when I participate in another half.

Run 2015 kilometers in 2015. Try a running streak.

I’d like a secondary running goal. For now I’m playing around with two ideas. While I’ve seen many people run 2014 miles for their year, I think kilometers is a goal that’s daunting enough for me. My other thought is to try a running streak and see how long I can last.

Continue to practice making healthy eating choices. Intuitively eat.

This year I’ve made a huge change with healthy eating. I’ve lost weight, I’ve been sick less, and mentally I feel more clear than I have the past few years. I really want to push to eliminate the occasional binge eating that I fall into, and focus on eating to nourish -- not because I’m bored.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Rainy Running

You know you're desperate for a run when you race home from work and commuting, jump into your gear, and don't even contemplate using the cool, rainy weather as an excuse to skip speed training.

Although, maybe next time I should take a few mixtures to wash off my makeup before I go for a run in the rain.

I was so desperate to make time for my run that I held off on eating dinner. I was so hungry that I devoured the biggest plate of roasted veggies, brown rice, and my current Gardein obsession (this week it's Fishless Filets).

I want to get back out for an easy run tomorrow but my IT band is super tight even after stretching it and my hip flexors so I may have to settle for a walk, but that's okay. As much as I have a training plan in place I'm trying to be kind to myself so I can keep loving running.

What's your favourite post-run meal? With the cooler weather I'm loving anything warm!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Meal Prep Crazy

I love meal prepping. Seriously. All week I brainstorm what I'm going to cook up for the following week. Usually I focus on a soup or a salad that I can eat for lunch, and dream up what I might snack on. 

This week I went a little crazy and meal-prepped my breakfast, lunch, AND dinner: 

My hours at work are picking up and lately I've had to stay a little later to get work finished. Taking the train makes my day even longer because sometimes I have to wait around for one to arrive. I'm trying really hard to keep my activity levels up this winter so any time I can spare, whether it means fitting in a workout before work or getting to the gym in the evening, is great .

There are so many things you can prepare ahead of time. For example, I eat a grapefruit almost every day for a morning snack. I don't want to make a mess trying to eat halves of juicy fruit at my desk so I peel the fruit from their skins on Sundays and they stay delicious all week. 

This week I made a huge pot of hearty minestrone soup for my lunch. I make so much soup that I usually have to put two portions in one larger container so save my containers for the rest of my food.

In the afternoon I usually snack on veggies and hummus. Each day I open up the fridge and take what I need.

As I mentioned, I also made breakfast and lunch for the week. I prepared some protein waffles that work great after a morning workout as well as on a quiet morning. I either throw them in the microwave or the toaster to warm them up, drizzle with honey, and pair with some fresh fruit.

For dinner I roasted up a variety of vegetables and divided them into containers. I also cooked up some brown rice and I'll probably add some form of protein.

Cantaloupe was also on the menu this week. My sweet tooth is threatening to get out of control so having some fruit that's easy to get to makes choosing healthy options a little easier. 

Do you go meal-prep crazy or do you make your meals each day?

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Early Mornings & Grumpy Nights

I'm forever setting my alarm at an early hour to get some exercise in before work, and today I finally did it! I rolled out of bed shortly after 5, and was at the gym right when it opened at 5:30. I had planned to eat something small before I left but I wasn't hungry in the slightest... weird! My hunger after the gym was another story.

I devoured a banana and a vegan breakfast burrito. I'm not going to lie, I promised myself that microwaveable burrito if I woke up for the gym. 

I was ready for a post-gym nap but I settled for an almond latte before work. 

I came home and was so grumpy. I didn't have a bad day, and I don't feel overly tired, so I'm just not sure why. I settled for some comforting food and yoga to bring me out of my funk. 

How do you fix a bad mood? 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Working From Home and Avocado Cravings

I got to work from home tonight. I wouldn't want to do it all the time, mostly because it means I work later hours, but it was a nice change of pace.

I got to sleep in until 8(!!!) and it was wonderful, especially since I haven't been sleeping well lately. I stayed in bed checking social media and emails for almost another hour before I got up, grabbed a banana, and went to the gym. It's been a weird couple of weeks so it was nice to sneak some speed training on the treadmill and some cycling into my routine.

I've had the biggest craving for an avocado lately so, even though it was cold and I was still sweating, I made sure to stop by the grocery store for one of these green beauties:

Before my shift I made it into a creamy sauce by blending in with some olive oil, garlic, and goat cheese and poured it over some zucchini spirals.

I definitely satisfied that craving... for now. 

Also, the perks of working from home? Hanging out with this guy (when he's not barking at me for attention):

Sunday, November 30, 2014

First Race Anniversary

On December 1st, 2012, I ran my first 5K race and it sucked.

I often ran short routes through my neighbourhood and thought I was ready. I saw that the Santa Shuffle was in Ottawa and boldly signed up. The race wasn’t awful because of the cold, or the organization of the race, or the fact that I had to get up extra early to bus my way across Ottawa; it was because I honestly still wasn’t up to running 5K straight.
Instagram from my first race
Running isn’t for everyone, but as I look back to two years ago, I can’t imagine that was me struggling with that race and walk/running the course. Since December 1st, 2012, my love for running has only grown. I’ve run many more 5K races, a 10K race, three half-marathons, and already have half a dozen races of varying distances scheduled for 2015.

Honestly, though, I don’t know what happened. I fell in love with something that I think is really tough to do, I made some goals, I did some research, and I have slowly improved from that struggling 5K runner I remember two years ago.

This is not to say I’m a great runner now – I’m still slow and I still have those runs I struggle with – but if you had told me two years ago I would be running 21 kilometers without stopping I would have laughed. Now, I’m constantly inspired not only by the runners I follow, but with my own progress to run faster and further than I ever could have imagined.  

Two years later, hanging out in my race shirt

Friday, November 28, 2014

Neglecting my Body

My body is send me signals it hates me.

I`m bloated, my skin is breaking out, I`m having trouble sleeping, I`m irritable, I`m lethargic, and it`s 100% my fault. This is what happens when you overeat and stuff yourself full on junk.

I have indulged so much that my body is just craving sugar and is constantly telling me it`s hungry. It`s no joke when people make claims that sugar is just as addictive as cocaine -- my name is Courtney and I am a sugar addict.

But here I am, admitting to my faults and ready to step up to try and change my ways, I want to be nicer in my body and let it recover. I vow to eat more fresh fruit and vegetables, eat more healthy, homemade soups and warm dishes that didn`t come from a box or bag. I will drink all the water, pee all the time, and run all the kilometers while breaking PR`s because my body will be thanking me for finally taking care of it.

But let me have one last latte...

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Under the Weather

I was so excited and bragging to everyone how healthy I was (I'm always sick so I felt like I had figured my life out) and of course I jinxed it. Since Saturday I've been feeling a little under the weather. A little stuffed up, tired, irritable... just blah.

Some people I know lose their appetite when they get sick. Not me, I reach for all the junk food I can find. Saturday I was trying to eat as much fresh fruit as possible to combat the cravings.

And my vitamin collection is slowly growing.

But mostly I'm trying to drink as much liquids as possible and get a full eight hours of sleep.

What do you do to fight being sick?

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Hug a Runner Day!

According to the internet, today is "Hug a Runner Day!"

I loved seeing photos of post-race hugs all over Twitter and Instagram, so after work I raced home and gave my favourite runner a big hug -- hi, mom!

I'm seriously so proud of her. She's only been running for about a year, but just last month she ran her first half marathon. I don't know many runners personally so it's so much fun having someone in my life that I can share my love of running with.

Hug a Runner Day makes me want to go out and hug all the badass runners out there, runners of all speeds, sizes, distances. It reminds me in my off season how inspiring other runners make me feel.

So go out, hug a runner, and tell them how amazing they are.

Question: did you hug a runner today? 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Into the Gym

After living in Ottawa for four years I thought I was so tough. I used to laugh at my friends and family, proclaiming it's cold while I would spout the various temperatures of the harsher Ottawa weather that I endured. Only two years after moving back home, and I hate to admit it, I'm back into Toronto-mode.

The moment I let the dogs out this morning I knew they weren't getting walked by me today. From my sidedoor to my backyard I had been scared into hibernation. What's even worse? My ego was crushed even further when I got into the car to go to the gym, and the temperature only read - 4.

...I'm going to blame my wussiness on the crazy wind.

I've been trying to get over my hatred of the treadmill. So far I've only used it for speed training and easy runs, but I think my long runs are going to move inside if this wind keeps up. Tonight's speed training went really well. I meant to only do about two kilometers (working up slowly; 2015 is all about speed for me), but I ended up completing just under five. I have yet to figure out how to change the treadmills into metric. I feel like I'm getting stronger and faster (if even just slightly) already.

Since I missed my walk with the dogs I jumped on a bike to cool down for about 20 minutes and read The Shining. Even though I commute by train to work I still manage to get most of my reading done at the gym. Whatever, I'm weird.

After my workout I had to head over to the grocery store to pick up a few items, and by the time I got home my sweat had almost dried and I had the worst chill. A hot shower, a hot meal, and an even hotter tea has warmed me up, but now I'm dreading taking the dogs out one last time before bed.

Maybe this is an excuse to go buy more running gear. Hmmm...

Do you hide in the gym or tough out the cold weather in the winter?

Sunday, November 16, 2014

First Snowy Run of the Season

We've had a few light flurries this fall, but when I woke up this morning it was the first time I had seen snow on the ground this season. It's too early for a really heavy snowfall, but even if there was I wasn't too concerned because I had only scheduled 6 kilometers for today.

Usually I'm an early riser, but this weekend I haven't been able to pull myself out of bed until 10 or 11. As I was figuring out what I was going to eat, my boyfriend got up and made me pancakes. I don't think it's a typical pre-run breakfast but it might be my favourite.

My run went really well. I'm taking it easy because I'm forever working through IT band issues, but the conditions were great. Once it gets snowier and icier I won't be able to run through my favourite paved trails anymore (the city doesn't maintain and if I slip the creek is too close for me to feel comfortable), so I'm taking advantage of them while I can. The pavement is too warm for the snow to stick, but the trees looked beautiful.

Side note: I'm really hoping I get a hat with a ponytail hole for Christmas because I hate braiding my hair for running.

I drank a small banana and peanut butter smoothie while I started to prepare some meals for the week, followed by hot water with lemon, honey, ginger, and echinacea, and a bowl of alphabet soup. I usually try to make my own soup instead of eating stuff from the can, but I`ve discovered Amy`s at my grocery store and I`m falling in love!

Question: How do you like to fuel pre and post run?

Friday, November 14, 2014

Life and Routine

I feel like everytime I try to get into an exercising routine something happens. Maybe I'm just making excuses but I started this week with a migraine so bad it made me sick on Sunday night, a sick dog midweek, and what feels like my first illness (excluding my usual migraines) of the season. 

I felt better on Monday so I was able to fit in my dog walking and yoga, and Tuesday I got in my speed training, but after waking up to let my sick dog at 1:30 in the morning, an easy 2K Wednesday morning before work was out of the question. I tried to fit it in Wednesdau night but after seeing my dog still getting sick on our walk, I decided to skip it. 

Thursday I usually aim to cycle, walk the dogs, and do some yoga. Because I was eager to get in that 2K I decided to skip the yoga and fit in that run. 

I'm aiming to do yoga on Fridays. I'm sure I'll fit it in tonight but I'm excited for date-night with the boyfriend after work. I've made headstands my focus for November and it's crazy how much improvement I've made. I can't wait to compare it with a picture I took way back in the summer.

Do you feel guilty when you stray from your workouts?

Monday, November 10, 2014

Back to Running

After my last race I decided to take a couple of weeks off from running. I've been feeling exhausted and rundown, so it was hard for me to want to fit even half an hour of running into my schedule. With so many races that I'm already registered for in 2015, I decided to get a schedule together and force myself back into it.

So, yesterday, I went on my first run. Sunday's are going to be my new long-run days and I started my training schedule with an easy 5K. I ran through the marsh near my house and it felt really good to be back.

I followed up with some fresh green juice, made with spinach, kale, cucumber, celery, apple, and ginger. 

The rest of the day was a lazy Sunday, mostly spent in bed with my dogs watching Gilmore Girls. My IT band was feeling pretty tight despite all the yoga and stretching I've been doing lately, so a lazy day was perfect.

How do you prefer to follow up your long runs?

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Climbing the CN Tower

A few days before running the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront (half!) Marathon, I climbed the stairs of the CN Tower for the second time. Yes, all 1,776 stairs. 

I wanted to beat my time from last year, but knowing I had to run just a few days later my main goal was to finish and feel good. So that's what I did. It was disappointing to climb 46 seconds slower than the previous year, but the way I felt when I finished was great. The year before I was weak and shaky and instantly  hated myself for even attempting it. This year was still difficult, but my legs felt good once I reached the top, I was still energized, and I felt like I would want to do the climb again in the future. While not completing a time-goal, I think these feelings showed that I had reached a different realm of growth from the previous year. 

I think I would do it again. For a couple of days I was unsure, but after I ran a half-marathon a few days later (again!) and had a PR despite struggles on the course, I feel confident in my abilities. 

I would highly suggest attempting a climbing race. Although running is difficult in itself, climbing is incredibly tough but hugely fulfilling. Fighting against gravity and  your body weight, not just pushing forwards but pushing upwards, and being able to stand beneath the structure and be able to see you were able to accomplish something great is an amazing feeling. 

Do you have any other ways of measuring your success besides a PR? 

Friday, October 24, 2014

Almond Milk Latte

I'm not a huge coffee drinker. Lately I've been starting my day with hot water with lemon, honey, fresh ginger, and echinacea and drinking a tea mid-morning in one of the many flavours I have stocked in my cupboards. Usually these are the only energy boosts that I need. 

Today was different. I worked an afternoon shift from home last night (5:30-10:30pm) and although as soon as my shift was over I climbed straight into bed, I felt wired and couldn't sleep. Exhausted for work this morning I needed an extra caffeine boost to get me going. Tired of coffee from the train station and not able to hit up a Starbucks on my way home, I got to work making my own latte.

I try to stay away from dairy but I hate soy milk so I was excited to try something new and attempted a latte with almond milk. It was so easy and delicious! 

I stuck an espresso disk into my Tassimo and made it with extra water for more volume. While that was brewing I warmed 1.25 cups of almond milk on the stove while whisking often. Then I combined the two and stuck it in a travel cup for my commute. Voila! Lazy/cheap girl latte. I love the taste of almond milk so I really like the nutty taste it gives the latte. 

I'd love to invest in a frother one day but for now this method will do.

What's your favourite way to perk up on slow mornings? 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A Literal Hit & Run

Sunday I ran the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront (Half) Marathon for the second time. I absolutely love this race. The course is mostly smooth with amazing views of the Toronto waterfront and downtown core. I could run this race every year for the rest of my life.

I was a little disappointed and struggled with the race. I achieved a three-minute PR but I knew I could have done better. Although the course is flat, there are slight declines along the way. Awesome, right? Not so much. On the declines I was suffering through knee pain so extreme I debated dropping out. I'm glad I pushed my way through it because on the flat and incline surfaces the pain seemed to disappear. Now, either I'm starting to suffer from IT band issues on my other leg (it mainly occurs on the left leg)... or it has to do with the fact that I got hit by a car the day before.


Somehow I managed to avoid most of the impact of the car by lifting myself onto the hood. I even landed on my feet! I walked around the race expo, took the dogs on a six-kilometer walk, and completed yoga without feeling any pain. Tonight I'm going to the massage therapist and I'll ask if it feels like IT band issues to her.

Surprisingly I didn't end up taking any pictures with my face before, during, or after the race, but I did take a picture of my expo finds and buys, and a picture of my post-race meal.

I eat therefore I run. I run therefore I eat. This might be my new race mantra.

What stupid things have you done before a race?

Monday, September 22, 2014

Oasis Zoo Run 2014

I might have a new favourite race.

On Saturday I ran the Oasis Zoo Run in the 10K group at the Toronto Zoo and had the time of my life. 

I'm a slow runner and my finishing times usually sit around the 1:20 mark, but somehow I managed to PR by 12 minutes and finish with a 1:07:52! 

It was surprisingly difficult as I forgot how hilly the grounds at the Zoo are so it makes this milestone all the more exciting.

It's also pretty cool to have animals as your cheering section. From polar bears, to foxes, to wildabeasts, I have to say the flamingos made the best spectators with their loud squawks as I ran by.

This race is part of the Canada Running Series, the same group that puts on the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathob that I'll be doing the second time this October.

I'm already looking forward to signing up for this again, and other CRS events.

Have you had a race take you by surprise?

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Struggles and Triumphs

This week was weird. I started a new job on Monday so my schedule was a little out of whack. I was nervous for my first day so I didn't sleep very well the night before and was exhausted by the end of the day. 

Tuesday was the same but on Wednesday I was off so I planned a long-run. It did not go well.

I was able to make it about 16K before I was just too tired. I stopped to rest and admired the view.

My boyfriend picked me up and instead we grabbed bagels for lunch and ran a few errands.

After feeling disheartened about my long-run I had little faith in how my stair-climbing would go on Thursday. Thankfully I was pleasantly surprised. I think I've finally made it over the hump because it went so well! Usually I feel exhausted after just the first two times up the seven-flight parking garage, but I felt pretty good even after ten! I wanted to push myself further but didn't want to overdo it.

Friday I was desperate to go to the Farmers Market. I haven't been in a few weeks and it's my absolute favourite place. Not having access to a car or wanting to spend money on the bus, I walked seven kilometres to the Market, including a stop at the bank to grab cash my boyfriend ended up picking me up on his way home from school so we could hangout that afternoon.

I'm really struggling with my long runs lately and don't know what to do. Do you have any tips for when you're in a rut?