Stabilizing Endurance….

I haven’t been writing lately.  Always busy (like everyone).  Quite frankly, I’ve been a little down since my foot / hamstring injury, because I can’t run.  My biggest fear has been losing endurance.  As a distance runner, maintaining endurance is what it’s all about.  If I can’t make it to 26.2 and beyond… I don’t want to run.  My physical ailments will heal.  I’ll adjust to the custom orthodics (thanks to my extremely flat feet).  I have maintained physical exercise through cycling, swimming, yoga and weight training.  That’s all fine, but in terms of endurance, nothing compares to a good 2-4 hour-long run.  So what have I been doing?  I’m bound and determined to bike for over 2 hours, approximately 30 miles, every time I go out.  There’s a lot more that goes into planning for a long bike ride.  For one, riding makes you very hungry.  You won’t burn as many calories as you would running, but for some reason, you need to fuel while you ride.  I can go out for long runs on an empty stomach, drinking only water and occasionally eating a GU (energy gel) for a little boost of energy.  Cycling, I need substance, real food, maybe even a sports drink.  The hunger only happens on a real ride, never on a stationary bike or during a spin class.  I think it has to do with brain function.  While riding on the roads or trails, you have to constantly be aware of your surroundings.  Traffic behind you, pot holes, roots, branches, pedestrians, etc…. Plus the fact, you’re locked into your bike.  It’s difficult to jump out of the way if needed, like you can when you’re on your feet, running.  While running, you can zone out in certain areas, listen to music, manuever your feet to prevent falling etc….  You just can’t do that cycling.  Therefore, I think your energy is dispersed differently.  The fuel is as much for your brain as it is your belly.  This morning I rode just over 32 miles.  I would have gone further, perhaps 15 more miles, but my stomach was growling and I had to be back for a business appointment.  I had a snack at mile 16, but it just wasn’t enough.  I had a banana and fun size pack of m & m’s, which is 165 calories total.  Got me through 10 miles fine, but my stomach was growling like crazy for the next 6 miles. 

Cycling Snack 165 calories
Cycling Snack 165 calories

I got back just in time for a protein packed lunch and enough time to prep for my appointment.  I made myself an egg white omelette, which is something I eat often, especially after an intense / long work out.  An omelette is a great way to get rid of leftovers, veggies so they won’t go bad, etc…  It’s also a filling meal for approximately 400 – 500 calories.  I use egg whites, because it’s easy and I’m trying to cut down on fat any way possible.  If I had made this on a regular day, not after a 2-3 hour cardio work out, I would eliminate the cheese, ham and toast with butter.  These items add a lot of unwanted calories and fat. 

Today’s Egg White Omelette – 500 calories

  • 1/3 cup of Egg whites
  • 2 thin slices of deli ham chopped
  • tbsp olive oil 
  • 2 cups of baby spinach
  • 1 cup chopped white mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup chopped Vidalia onion
  • 2 tsp parmesan cheese
  • salt, black pepper & cayenne pepper to taste
  • 1 slice of french peasant bread toasted with 1 pat of unsalted butter
Today's egg white omelette
Today’s egg white omelette

Have you been injured and can’t participate in your favorite activity?  How do you compensate?  Are you an endurance junkie like me?  How do you make up the lost miles?  Let me know.  I’m an average person who loves running, cycling etc….  I’m always looking for new ideas and approaches….  Let’s get the conversation started….

Getting Back to Basics….

Ok Friends, it happens to all of us!  That unwanted weight gain.  For me it usually ranges from 5 – 10 lbs, depending on the season.  Luckily I’m physically active all year.  But, basically, we are what we eat!  I’m in the middle of marathon training which means I’m burning a lot of calories during my work outs, but it’s important to eat the right kind of foods.  Summer is filled with vacations, travel, etc…  That’s all fun, but what goes along with that is….the curse of “Restaurant Food”!  For me, doesn’t matter how much I exercise, if I start eating anything other than plain salad topped with balsamic vinegar, at a restaurant…I’m going to gain weight.  The unwanted tire around my middle will form… So needless to say, after taking pleasure in some of my favorite restaurant junk foods (Fish Fry, Pizza, Chorizo Burritos, ice cream, etc…) throughout July & August, the tire is back!  Time to get back to basics…. 

I’m not blaming my children, but when they are home during the summer, it’s tough to not cheat here and there in the food department.  Not that my kids eat a lot of junk, but we tend to be in situations where there aren’t a lot of healthy options available.  It’s difficult to tote your own food around all the time.  So, going out for an ice cream cone is more of a common occurence than during the school year.  Long weekend vacations, always mean restaurants for at least 2 meals.   Vacation is vacation.  No food rules apply!  You order what you want.  Portion control, sodium, sugar, oils, cheese, cheese, cheese (did I say cheese) is out the window!  As long as you don’t beat yourself up over it and you remain physically active, you can get back to basics when the kids go back to school and you develop more of a schedule in terms of meals, snacks etc….  One item I make for myself is fast, easy and perfect for dinner or lunch.  Fish (usually salmon, haddock or red snapper) with brown rice, veggies and spices.  

Fish brown rice & veggies

  • Vacuum packed frozen fish fillet
  • 1 cup of cooked brown rice
  • Whatever vegetable you like
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Mixed spices
  • Olive oil ( 2 tbsp)

I used my cast iron skillet for baking.  Any kind of baking pan will work fine.  I also used the vacuum packed fish, because it’s portioned, easy to keep on hand, plus, I’m the only one in my family that likes fish.  Therefore, buying fresh fish on a regular basis is unrealistic.  I buy fresh on my birthday & grill it!  

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  • Cover your baking pan with olive oil.
  • Cover your baking pan with cooked brown rice
  • Add vegetables of choice ie; peppers, onions, mushrooms, carrots, tomatoes, spinach, parsley, basil etc…. Basically whatever you have on hand.
  • Thaw your vacuum packed fish under warm water.  Place on top of the rice and veggies.
  • Cover the fish with mixed spices (on both sides)
  • Place in the oven and bake for 25 minutes

I’m not a huge fan of the scale, but I do step on it from time to time.  I decided to step on it September 1st.  My pants were feeling a little tight and my energy level wasn’t as high as usual.  I was feeling lethargic during my training runs.  I knew what was happening, so seeing the 10 lb weight gain was a real slap in the face!  But, it was the reality check I most definitely needed to get back to basics.  Thus far I’m down 4 lbs.  6 more to go before my marathon in October.  Marathon pictures are usually horrendous!  The last thing I need is the tire around my middle.  Even if I have an agonizing look on my face, I will share a marathon picture with hopes that the tire will be gone!  

Who else out there always gains weight during the summer?  Vacation?  Simply from bad food choices.  Who gains weight during marathon, triathlon, etc… training?  What’s your food plan?  How do you not deprive yourself from flavor?  Please share.  Let’s get the conversation started….