Thursday, April 30, 2015

Blogger Book Club - April - Make Your Own Rules!

It’s the end of April and that means we’re already one quarter through 2015 and the Blogger Book Club. This month bloggers read a “Healthy Living Book.” To be honest I had this book picked out in February when I walked into Starbucks and saw that iTunes had a code to redeem Tara Stiles’ newest book for free.

Her book is called the “Make Your Own Rules Diet.” If you know anything about Tara Stiles you would know that right away this would be a book true to her personality.

Personally, I’m a huge fan. She is the owner of Strala yoga, an incredible yogi, and designs Reebok’s yoga line (I definitely have some cloud leggings and a cloud tank top). I follow her on Instagram and love everything she posts. I knew that if this book was anything like what she puts out on social media that I would love it.

It’s a really easy book to get through. I took my iPad to the gym with me and read it while walking on a treadmill for my cool-downs. She has lots of graphics and all of her chapters are separated into sub-headings and lists making it even easier to follow.

She begins by telling her own stories of healthy living and not-so-healthy living throughout her life, then Tara lays out her rules for herself. Some of Tara’s rules include:

Breathe Deep
Pay Attention (Self-observation)
Stay Connected
Hug People
Check In

She also shares yoga practices and recipes she likes. Sometimes I read “healthy” cookbooks or “healthy” recipes online, and they just don’t look that appealing. Tara’s are easy and simple, with few ingredients, and resemble things I’d be likely to whip up on my own.

One of my favourite things Tara writes is how you should not feel like you need to push yourself extremely hard while working out, you shouldn’t feel like you absolutely have to sweat or “feel the burn” unless that this is something you truly enjoy. I seriously cannot express how much I love this sentiment. As someone that has been nearing extreme thoughts and practices towards eating right and exercising I had only just come to terms with this idea on my own. After feeling like I had to do lots of cardio, lots of weights, and lots of everything to an extreme degree, I’ve created a schedule based on what I truly enjoy doing. This schedule of various things is the first thing to stick with me in a long time.

This is one of my favourite sentiments:

While not as deep as Tara’s are, I do have some rules for myself:

Always carry a bottle of water (I have strong feelings about being well-hydrated).
Rest days are necessary, not lazy (I can't train for a marathon by running every day).
Listen to your body's signals (Eat if you're hungry, drink if you're thirsty, rest if you're tired). 
Say yes to new experiences (You might stumble upon something you absolutely love).
Change your scenery (Even if it's from my room to the couch, at least I haven't been in bed all day).

What did you read this month? Do you have any rules to live by?

Can I Just Have a Shot of Caffeine Straight to the Bloodstream?

For the second week in a row I'm not sleeping very well. This is definitely taking a toll on my ability to workout. It's so hard to find the motivation when all you want to do is sleep. The lack of sleep is definitely increasing my migraines, too, so I'm feeling absolutely lost. I'm going to bed on time, I'm waking up when I should be, but I'm assuming my sleep is restless. For the third morning in a row it looks like I'm making a stop for coffee -- something I try really hard not to do.

Last night I managed to get a workout in. I skipped the gym and brought a couple of weights, a skipping rope, and my yoga mat out into the backyard. It was so nice to spend sometime outside that if I didn't have to pay for a gym membership I'm locked into for another eight months I would skip the gym altogether.

On the bright side my boyfriend bought and built me a hammock. For the last three years I've been talking about how badly I wanted to buy a hammock, and was constantly pulling my boyfriend into stores to look at them, that he was probably sick of it and wanted to cut off that conversation. I'm just kidding, he thinks I'm adorable.

He built it while I worked out beside him and I took a test of it when I was finished.


I'm definitely going to be spending a lot of Sunday afternoons snoozing here after my long-runs.

How's your week going? What do you do when you need an energy boost?

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Worst Final Taper Run Ever

Happy Sunday!

I can't believe another weekend has already come to an end. I had so many big plans to be productive this weekend and none of them happened. I desperately need to sort through my closet and get rid of what I'm not wearing anymore. Maybe I'll do that after this post, but I sincerely doubt it.

I really hate wasting food but there are so many easy things to make with leftovers. The last three days I've been on an omelette kick using up different things. One morning I added half of a chicken breast, today I added some leftover bell pepper. Half of a cup of egg whites and two whole eggs, and I am full for the rest of the morning. So worth it.

I also had the tiniest bit of plain Greek yogurt left over from my week. It wasn't really enough to constitute a proper snack so I mixed in some peanut butter, chia seeds, and flax seeds, and used it to dip a pear into.

This morning was my last "long run" before my half marathon next week. I ran an awful 10K but at least the views were nice.

I'm not sure if I'm starting to get a chest cold or if it's seasonal allergies making me feel a little out of breath but I took some time to walk. I would rather go easy on myself now to be able to push as hard as I can next weekend. My pride was easily pushed aside this morning.

I'm going to try to take it easy this week. After taking a total rest week last week I'm still going to fit in my workouts but I think I'll have to take the intensity down. After my 10K PR last weekend I'm eager to see how far I can push it next Sunday.

What are your goals for the week? How do you prepare leading up to a big run?

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Cures for a Migraine & the Puppy Turns Two!

Despite getting 6-8 hours of sleep each night I’m feeling perpetually tired. I don’t know if it’s my allergies, if I’m coming down with something, or whatever else, but I’m taking the week off from the gym. Each day I kept saying, “I’ll go tomorrow” but I’d wake up feeling the same way. For now I’m going to take it easy and see how I feel this weekend. With a race coming up in a week and a half I don’t want to push it.

I’ve been trying to eat really well lately since I’m aiming for a PR in my next half marathon, but I started suffering from a migraine at work. I picked up some groceries on the way home and my boyfriend and I had a dinner of eggs and bacon, and fruit and chocolate for dessert.

I also drank some watered down Gatorade, which usually helps. In the end I’m not sure what did the trick but the migraine didn’t fully develop so it’s been more of a dull ache.

In other news it was my puppy’s second birthday today! I can’t believe he’s already two and that I’ve almost had him for two years (I got him when he was just over seven weeks old). He’s become such a good dog and I never thought I could feel so much love for an animal. I made him “pup-cakes” that he shared with his brother, and the two dogs even shared a piece of bacon. So spoiled.

Do you have any tricks for getting rid of a migraine? When do you make the decision not to push the exercise?

Monday, April 20, 2015

Toronto Yonge Street 10K Recap

Yesterday I ran the Toronto Yonge Street 10K and I absolutely loved it.

First, I love 10Ks. They require slightly more endurance than a 5K but they’re much faster than the half-marathon. I don’t just mean this in time, I mean this in pace. I love that during a 10K I can comfortably keep a quicker pace than I’m used to. I went into the race with an ultimate goal of hitting a 1:05:00 finishing time and a secondary goal to PR. I missed my goal by 46 seconds but I still PR’d by two minutes so I’m over the moon right now.

The TYS10K was my fourth Canada Running Series race that I’ve run, including running the STWM half-marathon distance twice, and it definitely did not disappoint.

I loved TYS10K in particular because it’s a fast course. The majority of it is down-hill and the very few hills it had were minor. Down-hill can be challenging for me because I’m used to going up a hill for every hill I go down and it makes me alter my stance/posture slightly, but I think most people enjoy down-hill courses and they make for great PR courses.

Here are the things I love about CRS races, including TYS10K:

  1. Organized. Every single aspect of this race is so well organzied. Race kit pick up, baggage drop and pick-up, transportation, starting corrals, medal delivery, and walking through the food tents at the end were all flawless at TYS10K and I’ve never had an issue with these things at their other races.
  2. Race kits/”swag bags.” When I ran my first half-marathon with CRS I love all the great things I got in my bag. At my next half-marathon, also sponsored by a big name, was pitiful. I know races shouldn’t be about the kits but when you run a 10K and get samples of juices, Powerbar treats, really well-made shirts, magazines, sunscreen, and more, it’s hard to not look forward to receiving  your next CRS kit.
  3. Atmosphere. The volunteers and runners are incredible at these races. Everyone is so excited to be there and the elite athletes they get out are amazing to catch a glimpse of. Oh, and the crowds? The running groups that are dedicated to CRS events are amazing. I ran part of my last kilometer through sparkly confetti dropped by one of these groups and I literally got chills running through it because it felt so magical.
  4. Build up. I’ve followed CRS on social media for two years now and I love seeing the organizers, the runners, and other supporters constantly talk about the race for weeks leading up to the event. For TYS10K they had a group of “Digital Champions” that helped to shape social media presence and they really inspire and excite you to have such a great race.

Overall, I will definitely be running the Toronto Yonge Street 10K again. This race was my first of three Canada Running Series events that I’ve registered for this year. It was a great kick-off to race season and I’m still riding the high from yesterday.

If you have the opportunity I 100% suggest running any of the Canada Running Series events.

Do you have any races or series that are essential events in your race schedule?

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Hardcore Athlete or a Big Klutz?

I go to the gym a few mornings each week, usually around 5:30. When you go to the gym this early you see very few people, but they seem to be the same very few people each time. On Friday morning a girl told me I always look like I'm so hardcore when I workout. Red-faced and out of breath that compliment totally went to my head, even though she had just missed me kick my open water bottle all over the floor. 

Either way I treated myself to a chai latte before work. Last week seemed to go on forever and I need some incentive to get through one last weekday. 

This morning I ran the Toronto Yonge Street 10K. I'm going to post a full race recap/review tomorrow because I'm still feeling a little groggy from my post-race nap earlier, but I had such a good time. Afterwards my mom and I went to the Hard Rock Cafe for a post-race meal and decided to walk instead of taking the subway over. Wrong move. We thought it was much closer than it was and ended up walking for 45 minutes... and we're fast walkers. 

I used to be a huge bath person but haven't had one since I lived off-campus in university. I stopped at Lush before we came home to pick up a bath bomb and had the most relaxing bath this afternoon. I might had a chai latte while soaking. 

Meal prep is done for the week, my left over mac and cheese is in my belly, and even though it's only 8PM and I had a nap earlier I think I'm ready for bed. I've had so much fresh air and sun this weekend I'm exhausted. 

Did you race this weekend? What's your favourite way to recover? 

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Today I Was a Functioning Human Being

Do you know how great it feels to have a full night sleep? Probably. I’m the kind of person that requires 7-8 hours of sleep every night to be a functioning human being and lately my sleep sucked. Thankfully last night I was asleep so fast and slept throughout the night. I feel like a brand new person today and it’s amazing.

Too bad my seasonal allergies are in full swing today and are making me feel a little off. You win some, you lose some.

Side note: the grocery store has baby cucumbers back in season and I’m obsessed!

I’ve been neglecting my morning workouts due to the lack of sleep I was getting so last night after work it was such a beautiful night that I fit in an easy 3K before doing some arm work at home. It’s amazing what you can do with only a few items at home. I had a hard workout with just a couple of dumbbells, my yoga mat, and a sturdy, elevated surface.

I took it easy tonight. I’m running the Toronto Yonge Street 10K this Sunday and don’t want to wear myself out. After running some errands I just went for a walk with the puppies, did some yoga, and some foam rolling to make sure I’m nice and loose. I’m dying for some PRs this year. I feel like, despite some issues running recently, overall I’m the strongest and fittest I’ve ever been.

I’m definitely growing mentally and physically as a runner and I’m excited to see what this season of running will bring.

Do you prefer to workout at home or at the gym?

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Taper Madness

I'm officially in taper mode. I went on my first taper run tonight and it sucked. Big time. 

I usually enjoy tapering but today was off. I aimed for 13K and within the first kilometer I was feeling off. I had a twinge happening in my right-side hip, felt like I had shin-splints coming on, and my legs felt like lead. Awful. 

I didn't know what to do. I needed the mileage but didn't want to burn myself out. Besides running a half-marathon at the beginning of May I have a 10K in Toronto next weekend. I decided to turn it into a weird, long speed-training session, minus the speed. I switched to running 0.8K and then walking 0,2K for my run. I started feeling better about half-way through but didn't want to chance it but letting my ego take over. 

Side note: it was 14 degrees at 8PM! Crazy!

To treat myself for keeping my ego in check I made myself a huge smoothie. It looked like swamp water but was SO good. Banana, peanut butter, spinach, vanilla protein, and chocolate almond milk.

I'm going to focus on yoga, stretching, and foam-rolling over the next couple of weeks. Although I've never been better at the rest and recovery stuff this time around I'm definitely still not where I should be. 

Other updates since I've been MIA lately: 

I got into the Nike run in Toronto. I'm pretty sure everyone made it through the lottery but I've always wanted to run either the Washington or San Francisco race so I'm excited they've brought it local. 

I got tickets for Rise Against for July! Since I met my boyfriend four years ago I've talked about how badly I wanted to see both the Foo Fighters and Rise Against live, and this summer I get to see them both!

I'm back in school. After spending four years studying communications and one year studying PR and corporate communication my company is paying for me to take accounting courses at a local college. I'm finishing up my second week so between balancing work, school, and running I've had very little time for blogging, or a social life. 

What's happening with you lately? Do you suffer from taper madness? 

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Sunday Run-day

Happy Easter! I am so full of chocolate someone will have to roll me into work tomorrow. It's wonderful. 

Life was hectic last week. Between working, running and going to the gym, and a lot of family commitments I felt like I had no time to read or write a blog post.

I want to be optimistic about the upcoming week but I'm about to start some a 14-week course my company is paying for so my free time is going to continue to be limited.

However, there are two positive things to report:

1.) I finally got the carrot cake I was craving. I made it to take to a family dinner and I've had more than one piece each day this holiday weekend.

2.) I actually went for my long run today, finishing off my mileage building for this round of training. I fit in 18K and now have three weeks to taper before my next half-marathon. 

Except I found a new place to chafe... My neck.

I know it's small but I swear it hurts!

I also iced my IT band with frozen corn while watching Wild. 

My meals are prepped for the week and after the amount of dessert I consumed this weekend I'm going to try very hard to stick with it. Here's a look at my workout schedule for the week:

Monday: Legs - morning. Hot yoga - evening.
Tuesday: Speed training.
Wednesday: Arms and abs.
Thursday: Easy run, self-led yoga.
Friday: Full body.
Saturday: REST!
Sunday: Taper begins! Long-run down to 13-14K.

How was your long weekend? What's motivating you to get moving this week?

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Blogger Book Club - March!

The theme for March in the Blogger Book Club was “a biography of someone you’ve been meaning to learn more about.” I chose a book that I’ve had in my Amazon cart for the longest time: R.A. Dickey’s autobiography “Wherever I Wind Up.”

I love baseball, I love the Toronto Blue Jays, and I love their knuckleball pitcher #43, Dickey.

I don’t know what I expected from his autobiography but I never realized how dark his early years were in life and in baseball. He tells his story of poverty, of a child of divorce, of facing brutal sexual abuse, a heartbreaking start to his baseball career, the moments in life he debated suicide, having to change his pitching style to master the knuckleball, and his eventual success as a professional major league pitcher.

To my dismay the book doesn’t take him into his career as a Jays player but that was my single disappointment in this book. I would definitely recommend this book for all fans of baseball and anyone that loves the story of an underdog.

Now that I’m retiring my Rasmus t-shirt, I’ll definitely be rocking #43 in the stadium this summer.

Are you a baseball fan? Who have you learned more about lately?