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A Month Out – What Do I Need to Know?

I am just about a month away from my first half-marathon. The training has been going great and I am getting more and more excited as the weeks wind down.

Last week our coach made it very clear it was time to get serious. We had to figure out in the next two weeks how we were going to fuel and hydrate ourselves. Up until then I hadn’t really thought about it.

So I of course asked around and decided to try Clif Shot Bloks (cran-razz and mountain berry flavors). Tomorrow when I set out for my 11 miles I will be testing them out.

Clif Shot Bloks in Cran-Razz and Mountain Berry

If you have any other suggestions send them my way.

But honestly, my biggest concern is my hair. Since forever when a hairstylist asks how short I have responded with – “I need to be able to pull it back in a ponytail.” But recently I cut it slightly too short for one pony and have resorted to the double with a head band.

Unfortunately even the double pony isn’t holding up. So I am looking for some suggestions for a good elastic grip. I read recently on Endurance Isn’t Only Physical about Goody Stay Put but was hoping someone out there in the universe could give me another opinion.

What else do I need to prepare for?

More Sweat Time, Doesn’t Equal More Snooze Time

I have always been a poor sleeper. Blame it on what I call my stress genetics but at three, I was sitting in my bed crying about how I had to do my homework before I could go the bed.

It wasn’t until college that I even started to like nap time. Even then it wasn’t so much as napping as getting a full night’s sleep in the middle of the afternoon.

I always thought exercising more could be the answer. I mean studies have shown that some of the more common causes of insomnia (depression, stress and anxiety) can all be reduced by exercising.

But, a recent study published in Medicine & Science In Sports & Exercise says it may not be so true. Looking at a bunch of Swiss college students researchers found:

  • More than 16 percent of the students who rated themselves low on the fitness scale actually exercised the most and reported sleeping less
  • Those with high fitness levels and high fitness scales, slept better and were less likely to ruminate about unresolved problems

As a representative of Type Aers I have to say duh.  If you give a Type A something to keep track of like that, they are going to immediately think they can do it better. And they are going to stay up at night or wake up earlier than necessary to make sure they get those extra cardio minutes in.

So exercise may reduce stress, but if you hype yourself up again after the effects may be sufficiently lost.

Running in the Heat

Two weekends ago I was in Florida for my fiancé’s law school graduation. And it was a lovely 100 degrees.

Thursday wasn’t so bad, there was a cool breeze that probably brought the temp down to about a low 90. But Friday was unbearable and there was no way I was running stadiums, same thing Saturday.

I just couldn’t get myself motivated to run. But I also had to get in nine miles or I would be behind in my training.

Sunday had to be the day. We made plans to go to the beach (I seriously miss the beach) but what did that mean in terms of my run?

To make sure I got those nine miles in and motivate myself I had to make sure I stuck to a schedule. Also, dinner was homemade individual pizzas and I didn’t want to miss out on that because I hadn’t exercised in three days.

mmmmm...homemade pizza

So I made myself a schedule. I knew that I had to be on the road running by 5:00 p.m. or it wasn’t going to happen. We got home from the beach, I immediately changed, hydrated up and went.

It was a hard run. Took a lot longer than I anticipated but I’m glad I did it, because this past week I ran 10 miles in under 2 hrs.

My Team Challenge coach says it’s because I stressed my body and it rebounded.  Whatever it did, I liked it.

It’s In Your Genes

When I was with my mom last week she recounted a conversation she had with a friend about her lack of desire to exercise. She said she didn’t understand how her response to stress was eating, while others was shopping or exercising. She wanted to know why she wasn’t of the exercising kind.

Turns out it may be because of her genes. In today’s New York Times Well Blog Gretchen Reynolds writes about a few studies that found an exercise gene.

Looking at twins a group of European researchers found the identical pairs were more likely to share an exercise patterns than the fraternal twins. And then last year a report published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise found that people who were active tended to have similar variations of several different genes.

So Mom thanks for marrying Dad and passing along the genes that make me an exerciser.

Traveling Not for the Weary

On my run today, I started thinking about something a former supervisor said about my work ethic. She was explaining how a colleague was upset about traveling to a client in another state every two weeks.

After speaking with this colleague my supervisor’s reaction was “if this was Laney she would be psyched about it.” She’s right; to me the business trip is more than just frequent flier miles.

It’s about face time with the client and earning the trust from your team.

Face time with the client so early in your career doesn’t come easily. More often than not you are the one behind the scenes that gets the call for monitoring questions or meeting arrangements. Having a chance to be in front of the client, offering your counsel and learning client service hands on is invaluable.

Back on the home front, your team learns you can be trusted in certain situations. It can strengthen your relationship so that your boss knows you have his or her back and reinforce the idea that he or she can count on you to handle whatever comes up.

So while, catching the 6:00 am flight to wherever and returning 12 hours later can take a lot out of you, its important to remember all the good that can come from it too.

Obesity – Threat Level Orange

The latest national security threat, the growing obesity epidemic.

As of 2005, at least 9 million young adults — 27 percent of all Americans ages 17 to 24 — were too overweight to serve in the military, according to the Army’s analysis of national data. And since then, these high numbers have remained largely unchanged.

Last month, a group of retired military leaders announced a new battle. Mission: Readiness, Military Leaders for Kids. The group is advocating improving the nation’s unhealthy school lunches which contributes to the childhood obesity epidemic.

This along with Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution should be enough of a wakeup call right?

But changing school lunches isn’t the only thing that is going to slow the obesity rate.

Thankfully, Michelle Obama knows this and her campaign “Let’s Move” is also focusing on the education aspect.

Eating larger portions is one of the harder habits to break. I think everyone whether you have kids or not could benefit from re-learning portion control and other healthy eating habits.

And did you know that today’s portions are actually growing? The NHLBI put together this Portion Distortion Quiz to illustrate the difference.

I know it may seem elementary but as I started watching what I eat more closely the “Serving Size” card actually helped me make better decisions.

Today just take a second to look at what is on your plate and you may realize you are eating WAY more than necessary.

For more information on Let’s Move visit letsmove.gov.

A Running Marketing Ploy

I heard in passing that May was National Runner’s Month, so I decided to do a little digging. Turns out it’s actually a marketing campaign by Dick’s Sporting Goods.

Per their press release Runner’s Month is “a new, major sports-marketing initiative to promote running and highlight the retailer’s deep commitment to serving runners throughout the United States.” While, the company is sponsoring events, providing expert tips and donating at least some of the proceeds to TEAM FOX something about it just doesn’t sit right.

May for as long as I have lived in NYC has always been Bike Month. The biking community encourages people to be active and reduce their carbon footprints. There is no marketing scheme behind it.

I would have preferred to see Dick’s get behind National Running Day (June 2).

I guess if anything does come out of this, May will become National Runner’s Month because the running community decided to back it.

You can see the ad accompanying National Runner’s Month below.

The Wedding Diet

Every bride wants to look her best on her wedding day and since I have been the same weight for the last five years (believe me there have been efforts to lose) I decided starting early was the best thing. So even though I have a year and a half before my wedding I decided it was go time.

The Plan:

Burning Calories

In an effort to make this as painless as possible, I took my love of working out, specifically running to the streets. I am training for a half-marathon with the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation.  Now that the weather is nicer it’s making those longer runs nicer. In combination with my training runs I am also spinning, lifting weights and going to yoga.

Cutting Calories

It’s a tricky place I am in, because when you train and run long distances you are supposed to up your carbs and protein intake. But, when you are trying to lose weight, you are supposed to cut those pesky carbs out.  Not to mention the fact that my pescatarian diet doesn’t necessarily help me too much.

I hear the same thing all the time “it’s about portion control,” so I started a spread sheet on Google docs to help me keep track too.

We shall see how this all goes.