Half and Full Marathon Thoughts and Training Plans

Brooklyn Half 2014I have entered into temporary running madness. 3 half-marathons in 3 months with a full set for November. Not just any full marathon but NYC, which is intimidating, exciting, scary and thrilling all at the same time. Some days I think “what the heck have I signed up for?” and other days I think “I’m going to rock this.”

I ran one of my halfs last month and it was fun. I was glad when I hit the finish line and I think, uh oh – how will I do a full? And while I’m looking forward to my Runapalooza half-marathon in Asbury Park I’m not as excited about the Brooklyn half. I’ve run both and I prefer Asbury. I signed up for Brooklyn because my friends are doing it. Yes, Mom, I will jump off the bridge if my friends do!

I remind myself that I’m not training for a full at the moment and that I can run 18 miles when I am trained for it. I am stronger than when I trained last year for the NJ Marathon. I am still doing my PT exercises and I am going to follow the beginner plan. I am not a beginner runner but I am a beginner marathoner. I’m not naive enough to think there isn’t a difference.

I’m deciding on my training plan, I’m tossed between traditional marathon training, which is what I do for my halfs, and the Hansons method. You run about the same mileage each week but the Hansons method doesn’t have runs longer than 16 miles. The thought is you are running that distance on tired legs so it’s similar to running the last 16 miles of the race. You’re fatigued but less beat up over all. Then again, 6 days of running sounds crazy!

I have friends who have run NYC and they assure me I can do it. I believe, deep down, that I can do it. I can see me crossing the finish line and I am looking forward to it.

Have you run a full marathon? Want to share some tips or advice? I’d love to hear from people who tried the Hansons Method, too!

Why I Don’t Believe in Everything in Moderation

968eIt sounds great, doesn’t it? “Everything in moderation.” Especially when you’re trying to shed a few pounds and watching what you eat. But that damn scale keeps creeping up. You start wondering why and get frustrated because you’re following all things in moderation. So why isn’t this working? Do you need to give up carbs or maybe try a low-fat diet?

Then you start looking back over your food diary and realize that you’re eating moderate portions of snacks three times a day, every day. And there’s a relaxed eating day over the weekend on top of these daily treats. Think about it, a cookie mid morning, a salty or sweet snack in the afternoon and a square of chocolate after dinner may be in moderation but those treats add up. That’s not including the weekend dinner out, cocktails and the pancakes for breakfast.

There are also the foods you can’t seem to have in moderation: A pint of ice cream, rather than a half-cup serving. The bag of chips instead of one ounce. Sometimes you even sensibly portion our treat out, only to go back for another serving. You think, well I’ll just have a little less at dinner or I’ll skip whatever later on. Except you don’t. We are creatures of habit and instant gratification is a powerful draw.

A lot of the runners I work with feel they deserve a treat for running so many miles per week. I love treats too and I know when you’ve burned hundreds of calories on a long run a doughnut, plate of waffles or cookies can be a powerful lure. While I don’t say no, don’t eat them. I do say eat a healthy meal first, replenish what you lost. Then if you want a treat go for it.

Daily treats become more of a habit instead of something we actually want. And we end up needing more of them to satisfy cravings. Instead of giving in to every craving wait a while, have some water or drink a flavored tea. Still want a sweet, eat some berries. If you’re hungry pair a piece of fruit with a protein. Some easy choices are yogurt with those berries, string cheese and an apple or a small banana with nut butter.

There will be days when you really want that cookie, cupcake or serving of chips. Go ahead, sit down and enjoy every bite of your treat. (Don’t keep extra servings in the house if you know you’re going to go back for more). I also suggest planning it for one time during the day. It may be easier to say no to a cookie when you know you’ll be enjoying that ice cream later on.

Do you have trouble moderating you servings? Not sure why your weight is creeping up? Email me, janinemchale@empowereplate.com, and together we can come up with a plan designed specifically for you.

Eggs Are Dairy, Bread is Bad and Other Food Lies

I always ask my client’s what they eat and what they enjoy eating. A common theme are the clients who proudly tell me that they only eats egg whites and wheat toast without butter when they get breakfast from the diner. When I asked why no yolk I hear “I don’t eat dairy”; “cholesterol is bad for you” or “they’re so full of fat.”

As odd as that seemed to me it is a popular misconception that eggs are dairy; they are not. (A true dairy product is made by the mammary glands of a mammal. Eggs do not fit this definition; they are an animal by-product). The yolk contains the most nutrition and I recommend clients eat at least one yolk. but honestly why not go for broke and eat both. One egg has 75 calories, 6g protein, 5g fat and are no longer considered a food that raises cholesterol.

The fat throws some people, I know. I’d rather see you eat 2 eggs and pair it with a slice of bacon and a bunch of veggies than an egg white omelet with toast. Why? The fat is going to keep you full, along with the fiber from the vegetables. The fat also helps your body synthesize the nutrition from the veggies. The slice of bacon tastes good and is another protein source. (Keep the bacon to a slice or two and buy a nitrate free uncured brand).

I don’t demonize bread or recommend always skipping it. I like whole grain sprouted bread, especially toasted and spread with grass-fed butter. I just think we tend to eat a lot of it an, try having a side of oatmeal or grits if you want a more nutritious carb choice when dining out. It’s rare that your local diner has 100% whole grain bread.

If you’re going to eat bread, eat 100% whole grain bread preferably sprouted. I generally buy Ezekiel brand bread and keep it in my freezer (it goes bad quickly). Read your labels, whole grain products need to say 100% whole grain. Otherwise they’re just a mix and generally not much more nutritious than white bread.

Do you want to boost your energy, regain your focus and keep up with your kids or grandkids? Email me, janinemchale@empoweredplate.com, and I will work with you to create a plan that works for you and your busy life. (It will even include chocolate, I promise).

Not So Challenging Fitness Challenge

cropped-running-with-dog1.jpgIt can be challenging during the holiday season to fit workouts in. There are a lot of fitness challenges out there right now to help motivate you. Run streaks, 21 day yoga, 21 day Fit and the Do Something Challenge. I happen to like the concept of the last one, even if I don’t love the exercises.

I’ve participated in an arm workout challenges, yoga challenges and a run streak. I loved my arms after the first challenge, ended up doing my own yoga practice (and that’s not a bad thing) and was close to hating running at the end of the run streak. (You can check out my blog on why I would never do another one). What I can say proudly is that for the last 15+ years I have exercised regularly.

I do some form of fitness at least 5 days a week, usually 6, whether or not I belong to a gym. So my challenge to you is to do some form of exercise for at least 15 minutes a day, every day through New Year’s Day. Yes, I want you to move on New Year’s Day – it will help the hangover.

There are no other rules. Activities could be walking, dance, yoga, Pilates, Cross Fit, running, strength training – or whatever else floats your boat. You can mix and match your activities. Do something gentle on days before or after a hard workout (if you choose to do one) to let your body recover. My goal is to get you to move during a time when you think you are too busy. Holiday shopping? Walk a few laps, take the stairs and park your car a bit further from the mall. There, you got your activity in.

Seriously, I don’t care what you do – just move. You can hashtag me on Facebook or Twitter with #notachallenge and let me know you got your fitness in. Add a picture if you like!

Reducing Inflammation Naturally

glowing skinAre you suffering from chronic inflammation? In previous posts I’ve talked about foods to avoid and foods to include to reduce inflammation. There are other things that you can do to reduce swelling and pain so you’re not reaching for NSAIDs or Tylenol. Taking over the counter medicine regularly can cause a variety of physical complications. Stress management, diet and exercise can help manage symptoms with little to no side effects.

Omega 3 Fatty Acids – Natural supplements help the body have a more appropriate inflammation response. Omega 3’s can help to reduce morning stiffness and joint pain.

Probiotics – Probiotics add good bacteria back into the gut which helps to reduce pain from arthritis and intestinal inflammation.

Yoga – Regularly practicing yoga can reduce inflammation by 20% and helps reduce fatigue. Yoga also manages stress which can cause flare ups for those with chronic illness.

Meditation – There are a variety of meditation practices, including ones geared towards those who fidget. (I resemble that remark). Taking the time to sit and be still reduces the stress that contributes to inflammation.

Exercise – Moderate exercises such as walking, swimming and the elliptical machine bring movement to the body and reduce stiffness. High impact and intense activities raise inflammation levels so it’s important to go easy when you’re experiencing chronic inflammation.

Relaxation – Make time to do activities you enjoy. Giving yourself time to do things you like lets you relax and melts stress.

Sleep – This varies for individuals but getting the right amount of sleep for you is crucial for managing inflammation. Sleep deprivation can result in chronic inflammation.

Hydrate – Not drinking enough water leaves the body dehydrated which leads to a variety of conditions, including inflammation. Not a fan of water? Add fruit slices, herbs or a splash of juice to make it interesting.

Making changes in your daily life can have a big impact on your health. Gradually adding new habits makes it easier to adopt them for lasting change. Let me know if you need help with that, that is exactly the way I work with my own clients. I can be reached at janinemchale@empoweredplate.com.

Staten Island Half-Marathon Finish & Recap

2015 SI half marathonI finished the Staten Island half-marathon on Sunday. It was a beautiful sunny day but a little on the warm side. I started out running with friends who were in my corral but we know that we all run our own race. Which means we part ways as needed and no one minds.

Spectator support isn’t high at this particular race and those who came out were thanked profusely. I was feeling a bit cranky at mile 5 but seeing my friends and hearing them cheer gave me the boost I needed at that moment. I also found a friend of mine and me ran/walked together for a while.

The course was altered from the previous years and included a stretch on the boardwalk. I despise the boardwalk, there are loose boards and I caught the edge of one. Luckily I didn’t trip, just cussed a bit. I found another teammate and we ran together for a bit. After the boardwalk at around mile 8.5  was the first tough hill. I laughed to myself as people were cursing it. The next hill made this look like a bump in the road.

Mile 9 was a steep hill that feels like it goes on forever. I’m used to running and/or walking up this hill during practice. Unbeknownst to me a friend of mine was behind me and focusing on me helped her up the hill. I wish I had seen her! By now it was mile 10 and I thought well, 5k left now you’ve got this. And hallelujah, finally some shade!

At 11.5 miles I started having a little hip pain. With 1.6 to go I was finishing either way and it wasn’t bad if I had to walk the rest of it. I see a little Yorkie on the course, off leash, and I cannot figure out who he’s with. I worry that he is lost but he went trotting over to someone. I keep going.

At the 13 mile mark a man thinks he is being helpful by yelling at runners who are walking to start running. He’s calling them out by shirt color and I’m getting mad. I’m running next to someone who clearly has some sort of disability and needs to run/walk. I am running but I know that if my hip hurt I’d have to walk. I yell at the man and the person I was fretting over thanks me. He said, “We’re all out here doing the best we can. I am pushing to finish.” I assured him he would and we wished each other well.

I crossed the finish line I smile as I hear the announcer call out my name. My legs ache from the hills but my hip feels surprisingly good. I grab water and wait for my friends to finish. I check my watch and this is the fastest run I’ve had since March. Whoo Hoo! While waiting I see the Yorkie and his owner and both of them are wearing medals. I can honestly say I have never seen a dog run a half marathon before.

 

10 Foods That Reduce Inflammation

berriesIn a previous post I wrote about foods that cause inflammation. In this post I’m focusing on foods that will reduce inflammation. While we need some inflammation to have the body’s immune response kick in, chronic inflammation is out of control and is linked to a variety of diseases. Incorporating these foods can naturally reduce swelling in the body.

Beets – The dark red pigment of beets is from betalains and has many antioxidant properties. Not only do beets and beet juice reduce inflammation, they protect against heart disease and cancer.

Berries – While most fruits can help reduce inflammation, berries are particularly effective. The dark colors mean they are rich in anthocyanins and have powerful antioxidants. Raspberries are effective for preventing arthritis and blueberries protect against intestinal inflammation and ulcerative colitis.

Dark Leafy Greens – Dark leafy greens are full of vitamins and minerals and disease fighting phytochemicals. Vitamin E, in particular, is believed to fight against pro-inflammatory cytokines.

Fatty Fish – Fatty fish are an excellent source of omega 3 fatty acids. Salmon, mackerel and sardines that have been broiled or baked are excellent sources of omega 3s. Not a fan of fish? Try a high quality fish oi instead.

Ginger – A cousin to turmeric, ginger has been shown to reduce inflammation in the intestine. It also helps quell nausea. Ginger is a staple in Asian and Indian cuisine and can be added to a variety of dishes. It can also be enjoyed as a tea.

Nuts – Nuts are full of healthy fats and antioxidants, which can help fight and prevent inflammation. Almonds in particular are high in vitamin E and walnuts are high in omega 3s.

Olive Oil – Extra virgin olive oil is a great source of plant based mono-unsaturated fat. Olive oil has been shown to have a similar effect as NSAID painkillers in the body due to the compound oleocanthal, which gives olive oil its taste. Note that olive oil can become rancid when cooked at a high heat.

Soy – Recent studies show that whole soy does not increase breast cancer risk and that it can reduce the risks of inflammation on bones and the heart. Choose tofu, edamame, tempeh and miso but avoid heavily processed soy, such as soy protein isolate, which does not contain the same benefits.

Tart Cherry Juice – Tart cherry juice are believed to have the highest antioxidant content of any food. Tart cherry juice is used by athletes to reduce inflammation and reduce the need for NASAID pain relievers.

Turmeric – Turmeric is believed to help to turn off a NF-kappa B, a protein that regulates the immune system and triggers the process of inflammation. Add ground turmeric to rice, vegetables and curries. You can also make a tea out of it. Turmeric works best when paired with some black pepper.

Do you need help with reducing inflammation? Please email me, janinemchale@empoweredplate.com, and together we can come up with an eating plan that works for you!

Tough Long Run With a Surprise

clove lakeSaturday’s run was one of those runs where you feel achy and it’s hard. It was a rough week and I was tired. My husband had surgery and had come home from the hospital the night before. I was worried about him, my allergies were kicking in and I was sleeping on the wrong side of the bed, literally. We switched spots since my side is easier mobility wise for him.

The run felt tough from the start. I generally ignore the first mile, it’s rare that it’s a true indicator of a run. The second mile didn’t feel any better and by mile 3 I was checking my watch – it’s only 3 miles?! How is that possible? Meh. That pretty much continued until I got to mile 6.

I was running alone and I was regretting not strapping on my iPod. I rarely run with music when I’m outside. I prefer to be able to hear my breathing, my foot strikes and what’s going on around me. (When I do wear my iPod I only put one ear bud in, essential for safety when you run alone and/or on streets). I could have used the distraction and I missed my running buddies.

I made bargains with myself. Just get through the first park lap and you’ll have 4 miles done. You can get one more mile in and then jog home. Would it be terrible to run 6 miles instead of 8? No, honestly at this point in my training it does not matter if I run 6 miles or if I run 8. I’ve had a couple of 10 and 11 mile runs plus a 12 miler, this week wouldn’t make or break me.

Somehow that did the trick for me. I was able to finish up my second lap in the park and run home, hitting my 8 miles. When I looked at my time on my watch I saw that I ran my fastest long run since my injury. What!?

Wednesday I ran the fastest time period since my injury and now I’ve had my fastest long run. Both felt physically hard but my hip felt okay both times. Little twinges but not hard aching. Yes I’m ready for my half-marathon but I’m happy for the taper!

How have your runs been lately?

Have you started running after an injury? How did that go for you?

9 Foods That Cause Inflammation

inflammationIn the past week I’ve been asked by 4 different people about inflammation, what foods aggravate it and which foods help it. As a runner I’m constantly trying to reduce inflammation and as a health coach I work to help my clients reduce their inflammation. Some inflammation is a good thing, in the case of injury or illness it cues the body to start healing. Chronic inflammation, however, can lead to or be a sign of serious health problems.

Chronic inflammation is the root of many diseases as the infographic above shows. While culprits such as environment, stress and sitting on your butt too long can contribute to inflammation, the main cause is often diet. This week I’m going to focus on foods that aggravate inflammation.

Highly Processed Foods – Foods that are highly processed often have trans-fats which promotes inflammation, raises bad cholesterol and lowers good cholesterol.  Manufacturers are allowed to list 0 trans fat if there is less than 1% in the ingredients. Sneaky, huh? Partially hydrogenated oils listed in the ingredients is your red flag, otherwise you could end up consuming quite a bit of trans fat this way.

Sugar – Sugar is biologically hard for our bodies to break down, especially when we eat it in large quantities. Too much of the sweet stuff causes poor memory, swelling, pain, and breaks down collagen in your skin (hello, premature aging and wrinkles!). Check your food labels, 4 g of sugar equals one teaspoon.

Dairy – Dairy can be hard to digest, especially for the lactose intolerant. Despite the marketing by the dairy board you do not really need 3 servings a day. Unpleasant side effects include swelling, gas, diarrhea or constipation.

Highly Refined Carbohydrates – Bagels, pizza, white rice and packaged baked goods quickly turn to sugar when broken down and the body needs to get rid of that sugar quickly; triggering an inflammatory response. Skip the breads and empty carbohydrates in favor of whole grain choices, like brown or red rice, quinoa or barley.

Omega 6 Fatty Acids – You want a healthy balance of Omega 6 and Omega 3 fatty acids. Too many Omega 6’s, found in seeds and the oils extracted from them, can cause inflammation. These oils are commonly found in processed snacks and fast foods. Choose olive oil or coconut oil when cooking and eat foods such as salmon and walnuts, which are rich in Omega 3’s.

Alcohol – Alcohol is sugar and it irritates the body. Yes, a glass of wine can be beneficial to the heart but recommendations are 1 glass per day for women and 2 for men, less if you have an existing health condition.

Coffee – I know coffee is delicious and has some health benefits and it can trigger the stress hormone cortisol causing inflammation. Acidic beverages can also irritate the GI tract and cause swelling. Choose teas, preferably green, when possible. If you must drink coffee, and I know many of you love it, do not drink it on an empty or full stomach. Eat, digest a bit and then enjoy your coffee.

Artificial Sweeteners – They are hard for the body to digest, cause gas and can exacerbate sweet cravings. Our bodies also see them as a foreign substance and may attack itself. Learn to enjoy foods without extra sugar or use natural sweeteners sparingly.

Carageenan – Carageenan is extracted from red seaweed and used as a thickener in many foods. It sounds healthy enough but is undigestible, increases inflammation and has been linked to many GI diseases.It’s found in low-fat milk, yogurt, almond, coconut and some soy milks, some ice cream, creamers and deli meats.

The upshot? Read your labels and make the best choices you can. Limiting the amounts you consume of these foods can leave you feeling and looking better. Next week I’ll share foods that reduce inflammation.

Is your diet causing inflammation? Need help in getting it back on track? Send me an email, janinemchale@empoweredplate.com, and we can set up a time to speak. Not in my area? That’s what Skype, Google Hangout and the phone are for!

When the Training Goes Well and the Long Run Feels Good

sneakersI am almost afraid to put this in writing – I’ve had some really excellent runs lately. There has been some hip pain but overall I have felt stronger and faster. I started seeing a chiropractor for hip manipulation and he noticed this past week that the area of tightness was smaller.

I’ve been doing hill training and added in a fourth day of running. I had been sticking with three and doing strength, exercises from my physical therapist and cross training cardio. This week I felt so good on that fourth day I was able to add an extra mile and I felt fine afterwards.

Saturday was a down week, 8 miles instead of 12, and I took advantage of it. It’s crazy how much it makes a difference but I just did some stretching and went on with my day, no ice bath needed. Today I could have run but I stuck with strength, cardio and the PT exercises.

I think it helps that my training partner is pregnant and we’ve been running more slowly. I have a tendency to push and this forces me to take my long runs at an easier pace. I can run my shorter runs faster when I want to. Some days I do and some days I just run easy.

It seems to be working and I’m sticking with it for now. My half-marathon is 5 weeks away and I plan to have a good race. I have not signed up for anything else, I’m planning on taking a few weeks off to do interval training. After that I’ll see how I feel and what feels right.

I’ve also found my new favorite long run meal: Pineapple Coconut Curry. We hit a vegan restaurant in New Jersey, Kaya’s Kitchen, and the food was amazing. I was very surprised when my meat and potato loving husband suggested eating there. They have a lot of gluten-free options as well, so it was a win. We had Missy Dog with us so we chose to eat outside. Missy gives the dairy/gluten-free Mac N Cheese 2 paws up. (And she only had a few pieces – so no warning letters needed, thank you).

Do you have any races coming up?
What’s your favorite recovery meal?