Monday, January 31, 2011

Marathon Monday: Training Week #4

So this past week was an interesting one in the world of "Becca and Brandon Train For A Marathon". First week back in the cold, sub-freezing snowy tundra that is Cleveland right now. Thank goodness it didn't actually snow while we had to be outside running, but there is about six inches of snow on all the sidewalks and there is no sign of it melting anytime soon (according to, the "real feel" in Cleveland is -1 right now, and it's only going to get colder!)

Monday's are generally an easier run for us, so we've decided to start taking Pele', our puppy, out on our easy runs. Last Monday, that meant trudging through 2 feet of snow in Bexley Park (I know, I know...dogs are not allowed). It blows my mind how different it is to run in the snow! I would invest in a pair of snowshoes, but living in the 'burbs of Cleveland doesn't really lend to the terrain always being snowshoe friendly.

Last Tuesday and Thursday were two challenging runs; one tempo and one speedwork run.

The tempo run was a 5 miler. We warmed up for a mile, did three hard miles - which ended up being slower than our goal pace...thanks, in part to all the snow on the ground, then cooled down for a mile. The speedwork came in the form of four 800m repeats. For those of you that think in English, not metric...that's about half a mile. Luckily, that's exactly how long our street is.

Here's our schedule for this coming week:
Hopefully it'll be a bit easier than last week. 

We're going to start doing our push-ups, sit-ups and squats this week too! AND, we're bringing back our daily morning yoga practice. It was a little too difficult to begin yoga again last week because I was still highly jetlagged...mornings were more difficult than they normally are! It's amazing how even just a short yoga practice helps get my day started off on the right note. 

I'm really looking forward to this week.

Oh, and one more thing...


Peace, Love & Bagels,

Friday, January 28, 2011

No-Gym Strength Training

One of my favorite things about blogging (and more importantly, following other people's blogs) is finding incredible online resources to share.

Thank you, thank you, thank you Ashley, for opening my eyes to the awesomeness of zero-dollar-at-home strength training!! For those of you that are like me and know you need to supplement your running program with strength training, but don't want to fork up the cash to join a gym...this is totally for you.

a six week training program to help you build up to 100 push-ups in on shot

a six week training program to help you build to 200 sit-ups in on shot

a six week training program to help you build to 200 squats in one shot

They start you with an "initial test" (a.k.a. how many push ups you can do in a row right now at your current fitness level) and then build your training program based on your current fitness level. An example, from the push up regimen for week 1 looks something like this:

Guys, this is totally doable!

It's three days per week and a go-at-your-own pace type of training program. If you can't finish the workouts one week, you can just repeat the week until you're able to complete all the push ups/sit ups/squats. I think the best part is, it doesn't take too long! So I'm going to try to work these in after our weekly runs. Every two weeks, you monitor your progress by doing an "exhaustion test" before you move onto the next week. This helps you understand your push up, sit up or squat fitness level and tailor the next few weeks to that level.

My goal in using this program is to develop my strength while I'm training for the marathon, without having to drag my butt to the gym before, or after work. I don't necessarily feel like I need to do 100 push ups (which is a far cry from where I'm at right now). 

I hope a few of you find this helpful, please check back in and let me know how you are doing if you decide to embark on an at-home strength journey with me.

Peace, Love & Bagels,

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Easy Peasy Homemade Legwarmers

You are going to think I'm nuts for actually posting this, but I am so thoroughly excited for my newest discovery that I just had to!

It's been an ongoing argument in my office whenever I have my space heater on, my boss comes over to yell at me (ok, I'm embellishing a bit) that the space heaters are tripping the thermostat and his office is FREEZING. Our side of the office is still freezing, thank you, and I'm going to keep my space heater on if you want me to be a productive part of this company. His rebuttle? WEAR SOCKS IF YOU WANT TO BE WARMER.

Excuse me, but the majority of office-appropriate woman's shoes that I own do not jive with socks. I'm happy to wear socks and 'sneaks everyday, but that is (regrettably) against our dress code, per the employee handbook.

I've been thinking a lot about simplifying my life, consuming less, creating more. Buying a pair of shoes that is sock-friendly is the last thing I want to do right now.

So what's a freeze baby to do?!?! (Mind you, we just got back from 75+ degrees in Maui!)

Make my old socks into legwarmers, duh!

Brandon will tell you that he told me to do this months ago, but I beg to differ (ahem).

Easy Homemade Legwarmers
makes 1 pair
Time: 3 minutes (more if you have to search for your scissors)
Cost: $0 if your socks have seen better days


  • 1 pair of old soccer or softball socks (actually any socks that are taller than ankle socks will work, just depends on how much of your leg needs to be kept warm)
  • 1 pair of scissors


  1. Cut the feet off of your socks, right at the ankle. If the toes aren't holey, you can now use these as feet warmers, or regular old socks.
  2. Pull the long end of the sock over your foot and wear on your leg (as shown in the picture above)
  3. Brag to the world, via your blog, about your brilliant leg warmer idea! Also, tell your boss he can take is 65 degree office and shove it...hmm, on second thought, don't do that.
Do you have any brilliant do-it-yourself ideas that have saved you some money? I'd love to hear them!

Peace, Love & Bagels,

Monday, January 24, 2011

Marathon Monday: Training Week #3

Alright folks, back from the two week Maui vacay. Two weeks of training under our belts. Training on Maui has been a blessing (I absolutely love running in SHORTS!) but it has also been a whole different world. Running on the beach is much different that running on the road; even in the snow. Now I'm working on not getting sick because of the 70 degree temperature difference between Cleveland and Kihei.

This week should be a tiny bit easier than last week since we don't have much of a "long run"...instead, just a 10k pace run. That, and Cleveland is just flat, flat, flat compared to Maui. The lack of hilliness will be a welcome change to our runs, but the sub-freezing temperatures will absolutely not be.

So thank goodness that tonight is an easy run, because I'm pretty sure the weather looks something like this:
Um, that's approximately a 65 degree difference from what we've been training in for the past two weeks!! I have to make sure I take this easy so I don't get sick. I plan on wearing mucho mucho layers...I once counted twelve articles of clothing on an early winter run, this is going to have to be at least fifteen. It's an absolute must to get out of my wet clothing as soon as I get back inside. I'm definitely recharging with an Emergen-C, a shower, and dinner as soon as I get inside. 

Later in the week the weather shows a picture of a blue thermometer...I don't even know what that means!! I guess I'll be hanging up my running shorts for a while, huh?

Welcome Home to Cleveland!!

Peace, Love & Bagels,

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Guest Post: Trust, Honesty and Loyalty

Emily is a very close friend, and former roommate, of mine. She doesn't have her own blog, but happily offered to write a guest post for me while I was on vacation. Please let her know what you think of her very first blog post and if you want to contact her directly, feel free to shoot me an email at peacelovebagels[at]gmail[dot]com and I'll be sure to forward on the message! Enjoy!!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Trust, honesty, and loyalty.  These are three of the key traits I look for in any relationship whether friend, family, self, or partner.  So what do you do when you lose one of those traits with someone you already have a relationship with?  Do you act differently whether it is family, a friend, or a boyfriend/girlfriend?  Which traits do you feel you can live without?  And what do you do when you can’t ignore or enable those flaws anymore?
That is what I have struggled with in several relationships over the past few years.  So let’s take a second to examine these traits individually.

Trust is one of the key components in any relationship.  If you cannot trust someone why would you even spend time with that person?  Someone once told me that it takes years to build trust and only a second to break it.  How true that is!  My senior year of high school I was struggling with depression, drugs (nothing too serious), and alcohol.  My struggles drove me down a very dark and scary path.  Luckily I had an amazing friend and her family who pulled me out of that hole.  We went through an incredibly traumatic experience together and it brought us incredibly close.  To some, our relationship was borderline inappropriate.  To us, it was completely normal.  So why does this relate to trust?  Well, my mother was insanely jealous of my relationship with this girl and her family.  So much that she expressed concerns to a friend of hers that she believed we were gay.  Those of you reading who went to high school know all about rumors.  They would spread like wild fire!  You wouldn’t think it would move as quickly with adults.  Well, you don’t know Jewish adults!  Within a few days my friends mom heard.  That was it, end of my friendship with the one person that understood me.  From that moment on, I have never trusted my mother again.  They are the ones who are supposed to protect you from that garbage not start it.

So here I am, 8 years later and still don’t trust my mother.  I cannot hug her, I cannot confide in her, and I cannot be alone with her without a “buffer”.  Some might say I am holding this grudge way too long.  And they may be right.  But I say when someone betrays your trust to that degree they don’t deserve it back. Every once in a while I throw out little bones to test the waters and very often I get the bone thrown back to me by my grandma or another family member who was not meant to hear the news.  It has made me bitter and it has ruined my relationship with my mother.  So when I said earlier that it takes years to build trust and only seconds to break it, I can honestly say there is nothing more true than that.

Without honesty you can never have trust.  Honesty is an incredible judge of someone’s character, how they treat themselves, and how they treat others.  There are so many times in life where we are taught to give just enough information to get through a situation.  In some cases that works just fine, in others, it just creates a fake sense of security.  Then later, when the whole truth comes out, the floor drops from beneath you and you can’t recover.  Another interesting thing I have learned about honesty is that it is not always about one person being honest to another.  It is about being honest to yourself.  I recently told a friend that it is one thing to say something honestly to yourself in your mind, it is another to say it to yourself out loud, and yet another to say it to someone else out loud. 

Why is complete honesty such a difficult feat?  Probably because no one truly wants to hear the complete and honest answer.  It is much easier to speak say just enough to get your point across but not enough to possibly incriminate yourself.  So when our friend asks us if her butt looks big in her new jeans what do we say?  “No, it looks great!”  What should we say?  “Well, you have a big butt, it’s gonna look big in any pair of jeans you buy.  But those jeans make your big butt look great!”  But who wants to hear that?

I had a friend for 14 years who I recently ended my friendship with because of lying.  He had a problem, and I mean a serious problem.  For 14 years I knew he lied and yet did nothing about it.  Occasionally I would call him out but then, shortly thereafter, forgive him and act like it didn’t happen.  This went on for YEARS!  Most of the time the lies were stupid.  I would ask what he was doing for dinner, he would tell me he was getting ready to go out but then I would stop at his house to drop something off and there his family was sitting around the dinner table together.  That is the kind of crap I ignored for years.  But that kind of lying took a toll on our friendship.  I took everything he said to me with a grain of salt.  Usually not even believing me when he said he had to go to the bathroom.

Six months ago it got worse.  I found out he was lying about a woman he had been seeing who was married.  He had stolen money from his parents and had been lying about every important part of his life.  So we had an intervention.  We sat in the gazebo for hours begging him to get help.  I wrote him a letter telling him how hurt I was and that I would no longer enable his behavior.  That once he got help I would be back and that I’d never stop loving him.  I walked away that night with a firm policy that I would only speak to his parents.  Too bad a few weeks later I found out his mom was also lying and asked me to lie to her husband about it.  That was it, end of relationship.
So now, six months later I want to reach out to him.  But when do I know I can trust that he is being honest again?  How can he prove it to me?  Am I willing to take that chance?  I am not sure.  I love him and he has been a part of my life for over 14 years, but am I willing to go through the disappointment again if he hasn’t changed?  And if he has, do I just forgive him?  So many complicated questions with complicated answers. 

Being loyal to your partner is easy to define, don’t cheat!  Being loyal to your friend is a bit more difficult to define.  Loyalty comes in many forms.  Keeping a secret, sticking up for someone when others put them down, being there for them when they need you whether they tell you they do or not, telling them when they have toilet paper hanging from their shoe, and knowing when a secret shouldn’t be kept.  I consider myself to be an incredibly loyal friend.  If I hear fight and I know my friends are around I jump out of my chair to help out.  Granted, most of the time it is a false alarm but the point is just that I am there if it was real.  When someone says to me “in confidence” that is where it stays.  When I sense a friend needs me I am always there, even when they wont say they need me.  And when I know something about someone that will hurt my friend I do everything I can to first protect them but make sure they hear the truth.

A little over 2 years ago I lived in Pittsburgh with a friend of mine from college.  He and I had been friends for about 5 years.  While in college he dated one of my other good friends but they had broken up our senior year.  While living in Pittsburgh he was single and quite ready to mingle.  He spend may nights going from one girl to the next.  I never knew most of their names, just the back of their coats as they walked out the door.  Once he had three different girls three nights in a row.  It was incredibly disgusting.  But whatever, it was his life and nothing I could say was going to stop his behavior.

About 10 months after living together he and my friend decided to get back together.  It had only been 2 weeks into their relationship and I already knew he was cheating on her.  Fortunately for him I had no actual proof so I couldn’t do anything about it right away.  But one night he brought a girl home.  I heard them having sex in the room next to me.  I was FURIOUS!  I got up, pounded on his door, and asked him if he wanted to call his girlfriend or if I should.  I grabbed a beer, went outside, and told him to get the girl out of our house immediately.  As they walked out I asked him why and he said, “it is what it is”.

That night when he got back from taking her home I told him he had 24 hours to tell his girlfriend the truth or I would.  I woke up to 6 text messages and 2 voicemails.  First was from the girl he had cheated with, she apologized for what happened and told me she didn’t know he had a girlfriend.  The next was from my roommate telling me he told his girlfriend, and the last few texts and messages were from my friend, frantic about what she had just heard.  So of course I call her, she tells me that her boyfriend said that he brought a girl home but I broke it up before anything happened.  I was furious.  I avoided all questions and hung up with her to call him.  His response to me went a little something like this…”She will kill me if she knows the truth.  Can you please just tell her that nothing happened?  Be a good friend and lie for me.”  My reply…”You have 2 hours to tell her the truth or I will.  And how dare you ask me to lie for you.  In the 5 years we have been friends name one time I have lied.  You obviously don’t know me very well and that makes you a shitty friend.”

That was it, 2 hours later he had lied to her again so I told her the truth.  End of relationship and end of friendship.  I was loyal to one and not to another.  But in my opinion, I was loyal to the only one who deserved it.  Two months later I moved out.  Loyalty is everything in a friendship.  You have to know that the other person has your back otherwise what is the point of being friends.  It is very easy to find a drinking buddy.  Not so easy to find someone who will show you complete and utter loyalty.  So what things are you willing to give up to find that kind of friend?

Did you notice a theme with all of these traits?  How about the phrase “end of relationship/friendship”?  Throughout my years I have dealt with all of these issues and a misstep in each one has cost me the loss of a friend.  So why am I writing about this?

Every day I see elements of distrust, dishonesty, and disloyalty in the people around me.  Sometimes I allow the flaws in others to define my emotional state.  I get angry, frustrated, and upset.  Even when they are people who don’t matter to me.  And maybe I act that way because I have been burned so many times.  But at what point do I just say, “okay, I surrender”?  At what point do I understand that not everyone is like me.  Not every person in my life will be as honest, trustworthy, and loyal as I think I am.  And if they aren’t, fine, they don’t deserve my friendship anyways.  But instead I keep them around and wait for the next opportunity to get hurt.

Take a look at every relationship I spoke about earlier…

My mother…
We are still having problems.  Her jealousy and need for attention cause big fights between us every 3-6 months.  I have been in therapy for 7 years trying to learn how to understand my feelings and forgive her enough to have a relationship with her.  But every time we take a step forward, something happens and we take a few steps back.  We never heal the wound, just cover it.  My mother keeps pushing me for more and I just can’t give it to her.  So where is she pushing me?  Away.  I love her but I have not gotten over the lack of trust I feel in her.  She is my mother, I can’t just end the relationship.  So how do I get past the hurt?  It was 8 years ago yet it seems like yesterday.  If it were only the trust issue maybe we would be in a better place.  But unfortunately it isn’t.  The plethora of conflicts we have had throughout the years get carried around daily just waiting for someone to slip up and open them back up again.  And guess what, it happens.  Boy does it happen!  So now I am stuck.  I love my mom but I care too much about myself right now to allow this to go on any longer.  Every time we fight I go through a 3-day depression that sets back my personal progress.  So what do I do?  Just too hard to know sometimes.

My friend the compulsive liar…
How will I truly know he is making progress if I don’t speak to him?  But if I do speak to him how can I prove he is telling me the truth?  And if I catch him lying again do I have the willpower to walk away for good?  After 14 years of friendship is that even possible?  I love this guy more than I can even say.  But the pain he has put me through is immeasurable.  And if I let him in does that mean I have to let his family back in?  They have their own drama and issues to work out.  No way do I want to get sucked back into that.  These last 6 months without their drama have allowed me to really focus on myself and some incredible changes in my life.  I am happier, healthier (30lbs lighter in fact), more self confident, and more drama free than I have been in many years.  So if I let him back into my life do I have to give that up?  Or should the question be…if I let him back into my life WILL I give that up?  I sure hope not!!

My cheating friend…
We have maybe spoken 5 times in the last 2 years.  And it has only been in person twice.  As far as I am concerned he went from being a friend to being an acquaintance.  He no longer deserves all the things that come with my friendship.  So honestly, I really have no issues here.  The thing that seemed to frustrate me the most and maybe the reason I used this example at all was because I was upset that a friend of 5 years didn’t know me and asked me to lie.  So it is more of a reminder of who to keep and who to let go of.  There is a big difference between a friend and an acquaintance.  Acquaintances are great to party with and fill a room, but do they deserve to be treated the same as a friend?  A friend is someone who isn’t just there for the party but stays to clean up.  That person deserves the trust, honesty, and loyalty.

So what was the point of all this?  Honestly, no point but to allow me an opportunity to express my feelings and restate to myself what I deserve from people.  Like I said before, it is one thing to admit something to yourself in your head, another to admit it to yourself out loud, and yet another to admit it to others out loud.  So that is what I am doing.  I am admitting out loud that I am good enough to deserve someone in my life (friend, family, or partner) who will treat me the same way I treat others.  I deserve someone who will be honest, trustworthy, and loyal.  I deserve someone to love me for the fact that I will tell you that you have a big butt if it is true.  And I deserve someone who wont let me down like others have in the past.  I am good enough.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Guest Post: Simple Flourless Cookies

Alooooha! Here is my first ever guest post from a fellow Cleveland blogger: Katie over at Healthy Heddleston. She is a registered dietician and has lots and lots of GF recipes to share. Enjoy!
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Simple Flourless Cookies

Hi Everyone! I’m Katie from Healthy Heddleston! While Becca is off enjoying the Maui sunshine (so jealous), I’m here to provide you with a quick and simple cookie recipe!

·      1 cup creamy peanut butter
·      1.5 cups quick oats
·      1 cup brown sugar
·      1 teaspoon baking soda
·      1 teaspoon vanilla
·      1 whole egg
·      1 egg white
·      1 cup chocolate chips – can be semi-sweet or milk chocolate

1.     Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2.     Combine all ingredients except chocolate chips.
3.     Stir in chocolate chips.
4.     Bake for 10-12 minutes.

That’s it! Told you they were quick and simple! Recipe makes 24 cookies.

So while we are enjoying our yummy cookies, I hope you are having fun seeing your family, splashing in the water, and soaking up the sun! Thanks for having me Becca!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Marathon Monday: Training Week #2

For some reason I cannot take a screen shot of my running schedule for the week, so I'll just write it out:

Monday: Rest or crosstrain
Tuesday: 30 min run 3min/walk 2min
Wednesday: 5 mile run
Thursday: 35 min run 3min/walk 2min
Friday: Rest or crosstrain
Saturday: 9 miles
Sunday: Rest

Our first week of training on Maui (yep, loving it!) was absolutely divine as far as winter running goes! We decided to forego our 800s on Thursday to go to my mom's spin class instead...holy wow! I forgot how tough her classes were. It ended up being a great stand-in for the 800s.

Our crosstraining day consisted of a private 2-hour yoga class and then a hike along Waihe'e ridge, which was basically a vertical incline for the first quarter mile and then a very steady uphill the rest of the way. No complaints though, it was beautiful. We finished just before it started to rain, but waterfalls were still going off. It was really incredible...I can't believe I never did that hike when I lived here.

Our pace run was really challenging. We held about a 10:15/mile for the first 4 miles, the last was the most challenging because of a huge headwind and a long hill to finish on. The hills here are nothing to underestimate, it's definitely a reality check compared to flat Cleveland.

Our first long run on Saturday was also challenging and hilly, but very rewarding as there was a jump in the ocean as soon as we finished. We did a run 4 minutes/ walk 1 minute cycle, which was absolutely my savior. Those rests were totally needed! With some maple syrup water and some of Angela's raw energy cookie bites we were well fueled for the first 8 miles of marathon training.

Sorry Cleveland...I don't miss you at all.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Marathon Monday: Training Week #1

Today, my friends, is the day that Brandon and I officially begin our marathon training! The picture above is our first week of training. Nothing too difficult, except our first 8 mile run since last August. Other than that, you already know my run/walk plan and how to do a tempo run and a Yasso 800. I'm so excited to officially log some miles toward my next marathon! 
We're being completely spoiled for the first two weeks of training, given that we're on Maui right now visiting my parents. Beautiful 70+ degree weather. Runs along the beach. Breezy, fresh ocean air. Sunlight!
As soon as we return to Cleveland, it's going to be back to winter workouts and training in below freezing temperatures, snow and darkness. I'm okay with that though. This is the first race I'll be training through the winter for and it'll only make me stronger. Running in a few feet of snow is not only great cardio, it's like a strength workout too! So the long runs toward the end will not be so daunting; since we were out in the cold, dead of winter, dredging through the snow!
Since the  Monday is generally a rest day, but it's the first day of training, we are going to a yoga class with my mom and then going for a hike in the West Maui mountains. We will also be continuing our daily morning yoga practice on most days...OUTSIDE because the air is crisp and warm and beautiful. Maybe even on the beach.

I hope you guys enjoy some of the guest posts that I have coming in the next two weeks, I'll check back next Monday to let you know how our first week of training went! I'll leave you with some fun Maui pictures that my dad has taken:

Kealia Pond at sunset

my baby sister, fingerpainting
Peace, Love & Bagels,

Friday, January 7, 2011

Fun Things Friday + Argentine Lentil Stew

First, I'm slacking on procrastinating lately and have only found a few fun things to share with you this week. My thoughts are totally and completely on my upcoming vacation on Maui to visit my family. It's been two years since I've been home, so I'm waaaay overdue for some Hawaiian sun, beaches and FAMILY. I won't be going completely radio (uh, er...internet) silent but I will have a few people guest posting as well.

So on this lovely snowy Friday, I leave you with a few fun things, and a recipe re-post (I posted it on my old blog forever ago, so now you can have it here on PL&B!)

Just in case you wanted to let someone know how awesome they are


this video is why I want to be a high school math teacher:
well, that and the best pickup line ever:
"Can I be your derivative?....So I can be tangent to your curves!"

and now, a recipe for Argentine Lentil Stew

  • ingredients: 
  • 1 cup dry lentils
  • 1 quart water
  • 1 cube vegetable bouillon
  • 3 medium tomatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 carrot, sliced
  • 1 medium apple - peeled, cored and diced
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 1 large clove garlic
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup barbeque sauce (or a mixture of ketchup and worchestershire sauce)
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • salt and pepper to taste

  • method:
  • Place the lentils and water in a large pot, and mix in the vegetable bouillon. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer 20 minutes.

  • Stir the tomatoes, onion, carrot, apple, peas, garlic, olive oil, barbecue sauce, and paprika into the pot. Continue to simmer 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to serve.

  • My thoughts: I was pleasantly surprised at how delicious this soup was!! First of all, I NEVER have good luck with lentils, but I diligently cooked them long enough this time and it worked out alright! 

  • And what's with the apples and the barbecue sauce?!? It gave the soup a sweet and savory flavor. It was delicious and packs a nutritional punch. Best of all, it's incredibly easy! Except for lentil cooking time you basically just throw everything in a pot and go.

  • On another note, this soup is best enjoyed with a glass of my Gascon Malbec (my favorite!!)

  • What is your go-to wine for dinner? And are there any weird ingredients you've included in a recipe that just made the dish? I'd love to hear about them!

  • Peace, Love & Bagels,
  • Becca (blogger is driving me nuts today and won't place any picture where I want them to go, so no fun signature to close today's post [sadface])

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Anatomy of a Training Run

Anatomy of a Training Run: the Tempo Run

When I trained for my first half marathon, I followed a training plan that I got from the Smart Coach tool at If you're not used to running lingo, those training plans can look like Chinese. 

At least that's what I thought when I saw "tempo" workouts on the plan. They looked something like this:
5 mi, inc Warm; 3 mi @ 9:17; Cool

wtf?!? (yep, I'm using texting abbrevs even though I have a full keyboard and all ten fingers at my disposal)

According to Running Times Magazine, Jack Daniels (hahaha, what a name!) popularized the tempo run and defines it as such: "A tempo run is nothing more than 20 minutes of steady running at threshold pace." Basically, you're running for extended mileage (3+ miles, depending on what you're training for) at a pace that is right at your anaerobic threshold (holy college flashback, batman!) which is the threshold where lactic acid starts to accumulate in your blood because you're exhaling more oxygen than you're taking in. Anaerobic = the way your cells metabolizes energy without oxygen. For most people, that  is the pace that corresponds to about 90% of your max heart rate, or a pace that is 25-30 seconds/mile slower than your current 5k race pace. Well, unless you're like me and like to leisurely jog a 5k.

So your tempo run is higher intensity exercise over a longer distance (in relation to speedwork and long, easy runs). Back to my "smart coach"...

5 mi, inc warm, 3 mi @ 9:17, cool just means to run a total of 5 miles, which include 3 miles at my anaerobic threshold pace (or 9:17 according to smart coach) plus a warmup and cooldown for about a mile each.

The tempo runs don't have to be that specific though. For me, it's going to be all about perceived exertion. My training plan says things like "5 mile pace" which will translate into running 5 miles at a "comfortably hard" pace - one that can be maintained for an hour. Maintaining your pace over the course of the mileage is the ticket here, which is where my trusty Garmin will come in. (I love you Garmin!)

Some benefits of tempo running are:
  • helps improving speed (over any distance, not just marathons)
  • trains your body to sustain speeds over longer distances
And here's why it works (directly from Runner's World):
"Tempo running improves a crucial physiological variable for running success: our metabolic fitness.Tempo runs do just that by teaching the body to use oxygen for metabolism more efficiently.The better trained you become, the higher you push your "threshold," meaning your muscles become better at using [lactic acid byproducts]. The result is less-acidic muscles (that is, muscles that haven't reached their new "threshold"), so they keep on contracting, letting you run farther and faster."

So, get a couple tempo runs into your training regimen and you're likely to see an improvement not only in your race time, but your overall fitness. I'm down with that!

How long do you run your tempo runs and at what pace? Do you enjoy doing them?

Peace, love & bagels,

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A Yoga-lution

I spent a lot of time reading a few books about yoga this weekend. Specifically, Myths of the Asanas and the Sivananda Companion to Yoga. They really got me thinking...

I first found yoga when I was injured and couldn't run for months after my last marathon. At first it was a way for me to exercise when I couldn't run (Vinyasa Power Yoga was my go-to class) but it quickly became something much more than that. As I learned more and more about the stories and the history behind the poses I realized how important is had become to employ yogic philosophies in my own life, to keep myself centered and balanced and always striving to reach my true self. The real change in the way I viewed yoga (a workout vs. a lifestyle) came when a new yoga teacher walked into my yoga studio. Deirdre swept in and took us through the story of Shiva and the origins of the warrior poses (Virabhadrasana I, II and III, the poses for Virabhadra, an incarnation of the Hindu deity, Shiva). She opened the class with chants invoking the spirit of Shiva and ended with 3 long "Oms" that filled the room with energy that I had not previous felt in any yoga practice. In one class I learned more about yoga than in all my previous classes combined. She had my interest piqued.

For the last few months I've been longing to get back to that time in my life when I practiced yoga almost everyday, but I always find myself getting consumed in my running and my need to break a sweat. Sometimes there aren't enough hours in my day for both. Then, there is a part of me that wants my yoga practice to always be an exercise, like running is, but I know it's much more than that and I shouldn't always expect to break a sweat...because I will still reap the benefits. The Sivananda book reinforced just that. One of the biggest point that hit home for me was that it is more beneficial to have a short practice every day than one or two long practices a few times a week.

Well, that's easy enough.

So, I'm really glad Brandon made the suggestion to get up half an hour earlier to have a short practice in the mornings. Not necessarily everyday, but on most days. It's only half an hour, and we don't have to spend 20 minutes getting dressed only to go out in the cold, dark air (like we would for a morning run). I'm happy to report we've practiced for the past three days! Even though it has been a little tough to get through the morning "humbugs", our morning practice has been an incredible blessing for me. It has helped center and ground me before my 45 minute commute and 8+ hour workday (which has been increasingly tough to deal with) and it gives me a special time and space every morning that Brandon and I can share.

It doesn't take long, and it isn't hard. It's just yoga.

and it looks something like this (enjoy the pictures, each one is a link to the original source):

Start in savasana
then, spend a few minutes doing a pranayama breathing exercise (we do anuloma viloma, a.k.a. the "yogi ganster sign")
a few sun salutations (surya namaskar)
an inversion
followed by child's pose (balasana)
then a small flow through shoulderstand, plough and bridge
cobra, locust and bow (only bow is shown)

a seated forward fold
a twist on each side
one last standing forward fold
triangle pose (trikonasana) on both sides
then, coming full circle and soaking it all in for the final resting pose, savansana

Do you have a go-to home yoga practice? How often do you practice yoga? What is your favorite pose?

Peace, Love & Bagels,
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