Monday, November 25, 2013

Energy Bit Review

#poweredbybits ... I'm sure you've seen the hashtag on Twitter. Maybe even used the hashtag yourself. Or you've never heard it before. But today I am proud to say that I am #poweredbybits.

Energybits are a natural form of energy and a great alternative to gels and energy supplements for fueling before, during and after exercise. They are made from 100% spirulina algae and include tons of other nutrients. For more information check out their website (Energybits) or connect online by following on Twitter and Facebook.

I learned a lot about myself and nutrition while training for my previous two half marathons and I made a list of areas to improve on after the twins were born. I really struggled with choosing the right nutrition to increase my performance to avoid stomach issues and just feeling BLEH throughout and after a run. Since I had some  lots of extra time while on hospital bed rest with the twins, I started to do some research about natural methods of fueling while running. I had always hated the taste of gels and I wanted to try to incorporate less sugar and more natural options while running. I wanted to find a fuel that I could use throughout running that decreased my worry about stomach issues. Throughout my search I kept noticing the hashtag #poweredbybits used by a lot of my running friends so I figured it was worth checking out.

I'm so glad that I did! I instantly loved that bits are all natural and organically grown. I also love that they can be used as a snack and are real food. Instead of using supplements I am using natural food to help increase my performance. I can even take them around that mid-afternoon lull when I am losing steam quick after being up with all 3 kids at 5 A.M.. They are convenient and don't take up much space if you want to pack them as a snack when you are on the go. The only downside, I am still not used to the "green" smell so I do pinch my nose when I take them.... I always pinch my nose when I take cough syrup so I guess it's all relative?

In addition to being so convenient, I have noticed an increase in my mental focus when running/training, as well as my actual physical performance. I have been using bits prior to all of my training runs for the past three weeks and I have noticed that I don't hit the "wall" as frequently. I am not a very experienced runner so much of my training isn't only working on my fitness, it's reminding myself that it's ok to push myself and conversely, it's ok to struggle. I find that I am more confident when running because I don't feel as hungry and fatigued during my runs. I don't feel like I'm dreading the end of the run because I feel strong enough to finish and push a little harder when I am more tired. And I know the bits are helping me increase my fitness level because I'm already back to my pre-baby run/walk/run interval only 4 weeks into my training. I can't wait to see how much faster I can get before my half in February!

I think the biggest determining factor in choosing to use Energybits while running was their awesome customer service. If I send a question via Twitter, I am amazed at the quick and informative response that I receive. Additionally, I received a hand-written response on my invoice when I got my first package. I definitely love the attention to their customers!

I could really go on and on about how great Energybits have been for my own training and I encourage you to try them! I am now looking forward to incorporating them mid run and after running. More updates to follow...

Looking for some suggestions...

Have you used Energybits before, during or after running? Did you find a drastic change in your performance? How many and how often do you use the bits while running longer runs? 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

It's Official!

I still have to write up my training journal from this week, but I figured I'd do a quick post on my big news.

Running a marathon has always been something that I thought was unachievable. So much so, that running a half marathon was on my bucket list. 13.1 seemed (and is) and incredible challenge for me. Now that I have grown as a runner, I'm ready to challenge myself in a new way. For the past year I've been watching all my run friends accomplish new PRs and new races, many of them the marathon. Feeling inspired I am throwing my hat in the ring... Next October I will run my first marathon!

Am I crazy or brave????

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Disney Glass Slipper Challenge Week 2

 I know I'm a day or two off since I started week 3 today, but as part of my training I need to be better at reflecting on my training. So here it goes... 


Tuesday: 45 minute run/walk/run workout
     Today's workout was definitely challenging. I was struggling with the 2:1 run/walk ratio at 15 minutes. Knowing that I wanted to increase my stamina, I continued to push myself through. I'm glad I did because I felt so much better at the end of the workout. However, the next day I woke up with the start of a cold, so I think I found the source of my fatigue the night before! 

Thursday: 30 minute run/walk/run workout
     I had planned to do a 45 minute run/walk/run workout, but I wasn't feeling 100 percent yet. I was able to maintain the 2:1 run/walk ration for the entire workout, but at the end I felt some calf tightness. I've never had calf pain while running so I made sure I stretched a little more carefully on that side and threw on my compression sleeves. I wanted to make sure that I wasn't overdoing my workout so early in my training. 

Saturday: Long run 4 miles
      Since my daughter has swim class on Saturdays, I need to get my long runs in super early in the morning. I run by myself so I didn't think it was safe to go running at 5:00 by myself. This left me with a 4 mile treadmill run. I know that most people think 4 miles on the treadmill is nothing, but I struggle with longer than 3 miles on the treadmill. I get so bored! Luckily, I was able to catch up on my guilty pleasure shows and the time didn't seem that bad. I was able to maintain 1:1 ratio the entire run and was able to keep my pace between 12:30 - 13:00 min miles, my goal long run pace. 

      I am continuing to work on finding the right pre and post run fuel. My runs aren't long enough for working on nutrition during running. I know in the next few weeks though I will need to start experimenting on long runs to see what works best for me. This week I did find that I can't eat my breakfast after a half hour before my workout. I definitely did not feel well at the end of the run and I know it isn't because I exerted myself too hard, considering I was doing an easy pace on purpose. In the future I'm definitely going to have to wake up earlier to make sure that I have a little time to digest and find the perfect pre-run meal, definitely something I'll need for my early wake-up at Disney. 

Next week (technically this week) I am hoping to increase my running intervals and maintain that for thirty minutes. From then on I will continue to increase my workout duration and intervals, hopefully arriving at a 4:1 or 5:1 ratio. I'm also looking at working in cross training and strength training on non-run days. However, I'm trying to slowly build into my routine as I know I am coming from no exercise since February of last year and minimal exercise since the twins were born.  Although I'm looking to reach a certain time goal, I am also trying to be realistic with my fitness level and avoiding injury. 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Disney Glass Slipper Challenge Week 1

Last spring Disney announced the Dumbo Double Dare Challenge at Disneyland. It was the first of what would become new additions to the runDisney lineup. Basically the Dumbo Double Dare is the 10K on Saturday and the half marathon on Sunday. This race was scheduled for the end of summer 2013, so I knew that it would not be an option for me with the twins expected to be born mid to late summer. I was bummed until shortly after the Glass Slipper Challenge was announced for the Princess Half weekend in February. The Glass Slipper Challenge is the Princess version of the Dumbo Double Dare. Even though I was unsure if I would be able to commit to the race, I knew I had to sign up. Given the popularity of the new Disney races, I did not want to miss out on the inaugural experience, especially the chance to earn 3 medals.

Fast forward to this past week and the first week of my training. I chose to train and run the challenge using Jeff Galloway's walk/run/walk method. I used this same method for my first and second half and was able to accomplish both feeling strong and uninjured. This means that I have two days throughout the week of running where I build up my stamina and determine my appropriate walk/run ratio. The weekend long run is run significantly slower to build my endurance.

Since I was unable to exercise throughout my last pregnancy, I have had a lot of time to think about my goals and to research fueling, nutrition and training. Before beginning my training I had the number 2:15 in my head for my goal. Knowing that I would have to work my butt off, I was reluctant to say the goal out loud and to realistically find it achievable. Yet, the more I looked at what I wanted to achieve, I knew I wanted to push myself. I had done a lot of research about proper nutrition and training techniques to improve performance. I didn't want to sell myself short, so I decided to jump all in. What good is a goal if it doesn't force you out of your comfort zone and make you examine yourself? Right?? As part of reaching my goal, I am using this blog to summarize my workouts and to review my progress as a method of staying on top of reaching my goals.


Tuesday: 30 minute run/walk/run workout
     Finding time to train is hard, so most of my weekday workouts will most likely be at night on the treadmill. I chose to workout after all 3 kids were asleep and to use a 2:1 run/walk ratio. It was a little disappointing for me to use such a "slow" pace from what I was doing prior to becoming pregnant, but I kept reminding myself that I needed to build up my endurance and ability again. As tough as it was to get back in the routine, I am glad that I chose the pace I did. I felt tired afterwards, but I didn't feel as if I pushed myself too much.
   Today I also kept track of my food using a food journal. In the past, I have had issues with proper nutrition. I often over-fuel and end up with GI issues or I feel sluggish. To reach my goal, I know that I need to be more aware of what I am eating and when I am eating it. One major benefit to my pre-workout routine was the use of Energybits. I'm not sure how many of you have tried them, but I have seen so much buzz about them on Twitter, that I knew they were worth a try. They definitely gave me the extra boost that I needed while running. I am going to continue incorporating them into my weekly training and after another week of training, I hope to do a full review on the blog. Stay tuned!

Thursday: 30 minute run/walk/run workout
      Today I did another night workout on the treadmill. I stuck to the 2:1 run/walk ratio, but I found it to be easier and I think it had a lot to do with choosing the right time frame and pre-run fuel. Instead of eating dinner around 5:30ish with my daughter, I had a turkey sandwich as an after school snack at 4:00. By just moving my dinner back an hour and a half, I felt like I still had energy from the meal, but didn't have the sluggish feeling of just eating. This allowed me to use my Energybits as my only fuel prior to running. I definitely felt a difference in my mental focus and my endurance throughout the workout.
     I also experimented with post-workout nutrition this week. I found that I liked baby carrots with hummus, glass of Nuun, and a glass of skim milk post-workout. Instead of waking up famished the next morning as I usually do with a night workout, I felt hungry but not like I hadn't eaten in days.
Major win!

Saturday: "Long run" 3 miles
      When I hear long run, I always think of longer distances, but knowing that I needed to establish a base of consistent miles, 3 miles was enough for me. Prior to my run, I looked up the training paces and race paces to help me achieve my goal of 2:15. By determining the ideal training pace for long running, I was able to focus on my pace throughout my 3 mile run instead of pushing myself too hard and losing the benefit of the "long run." In past training, I didn't use this strategy appropriately and I definitely felt it when I was in the middle of my training schedules. I had overworked myself. My goals for long runs throughout this training is to keep a close eye on pre and post run nutrition and appropriate pacing. These are two areas that I struggled with when training for my past two half marathons.
      The weather was perfect for a run on Saturday. It was mid 50's and was a clear day. I was so excited to be running outside and actually enjoyed a long run. Watching my pace and forcing myself to examine how fast and slow I ran really made me aware of my abilities as a runner. I am definitely looking forward to longer runs to analyze.

All in all, this was a relatively good training week for me. I am looking forward to adding some more time to my weekday workouts and extra mileage in the upcoming weeks. Until next time.... (hopefully for week 2, as I still continue to blame the twins on my lack of blogging skills....)