Monthly Archives: January 2014

A Week of Running & A Weigh In

I didn’t really get around to blogging last week, but I was still running!

On Tuesday morning I had my weekly Weight Watchers weigh in and was down another 1.8 pounds. Although I’ve been following the Weight Watchers plan, I eat almost every single point given to me (daily, weekly, and activity). That his historically led to slower weight loss—about .4 pounds per week. Since upping my running schedule to 4 days per week, I’ve been around a pound or more per week, still eating all my points. I like this change!

3 miles on January 21

Tuesday night was 3 miles as scheduled. I posted this photo on Facebook with the message “every day I could quit, and every day I choose not to.” I felt like quitting a lot, but I kept plodding along. I conquered this run by running .5 mile intervals with a short walk in between, and I kicked it up a notch to finish strong.

January 21 pace chartOn Wednesday I had two miles on the schedule, so I did them as a 4×400 speed workout, with the running intervals at 5.0 mph (my normal treadmill pace is 3.9-4.1). This is the second time I’ve done these intervals, and while I wouldn’t call them easy, they were definitely easier than the first time. I imagine in a week or two I’ll be able to increase the speed a bit. I felt like a rockstar when I finished.

January 22 intervals

Thursday was a scheduled 3 mile run, but I honestly didn’t feel like it. I decided (just like last week) that I would move my Thursday run to Saturday, which fit perfectly with the Runs for Cookies Virtual 5K. I wrote a separate post for that, since it was technically a race.

On Saturday night I attended my husband’s annual work party, and two of the colleagues/spouses I’ve known for years commented on how good I looked and/or how proud of me they were for sticking with my running. That made me feel great!

Then, today I had to do the 4 mile “long run” for the week. We’re heading into another polar vortex (this winter will never end!), so it was back on the treadmill. My strategy for this was to run for 10 minutes, then walk for 2 minutes. I did that twice, then ran 10 and walked 6, and did a couple shorter intervals to finish it up. In the end, this resulted in a 3:1 running to walking ratio. Not bad for the stinking treadmill.

January 26 pace chart

January 26 four milesSo, that was my week. We’ll see if I can stick to my Tu-W-Th-Sat schedule next week…and then I officially start half marathon training!

Runs for Cookies Virtual 5K Race Report

It seems odd to write a race report about a treadmill run, but here goes nothing!

On Saturday I joined hundreds of runners around the country to celebrate Katie Foster’s birthday by running the 2nd Annual Runs for Cookies 5K. The format is simple: sign up, run a 5K wherever/however you can, and report your results.

After a pre-race banana, I headed to the gym. I would have much preferred to run this outside, but the streets are still snow covered and the wind was gusting so loud I could hear it in the house. I didn’t have any real expectation for this run. I would have loved to PR, because my 5K time is still dreadfully slow, but I have a very hard time running for more than a mile non-stop on the treadmill. I don’t know if it’s physical or mental, but it’s a persistent problem.

I ran the first mile at a good (for me) pace, and then walked for a minute. Then, I just set small goals (run for 5 minutes) and tried to meet them. There was one moment when I actually ran longer than my mini goal—when “Can’t Hold Us” came on…that’s the perfect race pace song for me (or at least what I want my race pace to be right now).

As you can see from the pace chart, there was a lot of run/walking going on after the first mile.

Runs for Cookies 5K pace chart


This is the third 5K race I’ve run, and for each one I had to run/walk. That’s really frustrating for me, because I can easily run 5K in the neighborhood without stopping to walk. There’s something about racing that messes with my head right now, I guess. Have any other new runners had that problem? Any advice?

Regardless of my run/walking, I finished. This is my “well, I guess it could have been better” face.

Runs for Cookies 5K Finisher Photo

Weekly Menu

Monday is a rest day, so I have no running-related things to report. I do, however, have a weekly meal plan to share with you. I’m still following the Simply Filling plan for Weight Watchers. On this plan, you eat from the power foods list and don’t have to count points, although you have 49 weekly points (+ activity points) to use for items not on that list. I like to use my points on cookies and chocolate 🙂

Breakfast each day will likely be oatmeal (1/2 cup dry old fashioned oats) with a chopped apple and a tablespoon of apple butter. So yummy!

Lunches are leftovers. There’s some wheat berry, beet & feta salad from Friday’s office potluck, and remains from the week’s dinners. I also made some homemade roasted red pepper chickpea dip—it’s kind of like hummus but no olive oil or tahini—to eat with raw carrots. Snack is usually some plain yogurt with fruit or jam.

Dinners are the fun part!
Sunday: Spinach & chickpea stew with brown rice
Monday: Green salad with roasted beets & feta, whole wheat pasta with tomato basil sauce
Tuesday: Taco potatoes! I’m baking potatoes in the slow cooker for the first time. Also: refried beans
Wednesday: KFC crockpot chicken, sautéed mushrooms, roasted butternut squash
Thursday: Freezer burritos (I made these a few months ago) with fiesta rice
Friday: Pasta with chicken and roasted yellow tomato sauce.

Are there any particularly tasty, healthy meals on your menu this week?

A 7 Mile Weekend

I skipped my scheduled Thursday 3-mile run, so I promised myself I would make up the mileage before the end of the week. I’m happy to report that I did!

On Saturday, I went to school to work on my dissertation with some classmates, then picked up some accessories  I needed for Aaron’s work party next weekend, and stopped off at the gym before dinner. I did three miles on the treadmill, listening to my updated Spotify workout playlist.

3 mile pace chartThis chart really tells a story. I ran well for the first mile—the drop at about .75 is when I had to quickly hop off the treadmill to adjust the fans. Every other drop (6 of them!) are times I wanted to quit. My mind just didn’t want to stick it out on the treadmill (so boring!), but I refused to let my feet leave the belt. I started looking for really driving songs, and you’ll see that my second-to-last running interval was much higher faster than all the others—that’s when I listened to Magic by B.O.B. and decided to match my strides to the music. I think this might be a good strategy for my speed workouts.

Alone With The TreadmillsI did my best work of the workout when I was all alone on the treadmills.

Today, it was time for my long run. I got ready for the gym, but went to the grocery store first (in Wisconsin, the car makes a perfectly good refrigerator in the winter). I noticed that all the other neighborhood roads appeared to be clear—except for the part in front of our house. It was a balmy 30 degrees outside today, so I came right home from the store and decided to do my run outside.

I didn’t have a route planned, but now that my Nike+ app is tracking distance correctly, I figured I’d just run through some adjacent neighborhoods until I hit four miles. For the first mile, I felt like I was running even slower than normal. My legs normally have a day of rest before my long runs, but rearranging my schedule this week changed that. There were also section of road where I was running through slush or snow, and I felt like I was running in place. I was completely shocked when the voice in my ear at mile 1 told me I ran it in 14:10.

I tried to hold my pace steady, but ended up clocking 15:05 and 15:22. I was still under a 15:00 mile average pace, and I wanted to keep it that way. About two minutes into my last mile, I turned off the podcast and turned on my workout playlist. It helped me kick it up a notch and finish the last mile in 14:13.

That meant the time for my four mile run was 58:58! I was ecstatic to finish in less than an hour. Speed is relative, right? 🙂 I took my celebratory picture from the couch.

Happy on the Couch After 4 MilesI’m glad I got to run outside today. Looking at the forecast, I’ll be lucky if I get to run outside again next weekend, but definitely not before then. Saturday is the Runs for Cookies 5K, and I really hope that I can do that on the pavement instead of the treadmill.

I Did A Speed Workout & Didn’t Die

See this? It’s my first 4×400 speed workout!

4x400 pace chartI did this on the treadmill, so Nike+ was not perfectly accurate, but I did the running intervals at 5.0 mph (yup, that’s sprinting for me) and walked 2.7-3.0 mph in between. For those of you that wonder what on earth 4×400 repeat means (I was one of those people a few months ago), it means you run 400 meters (quarter mile), then walk or jog 400 meters…four times.

I think this was the right speed for me, because I just about wanted to die at the end of the interval, but I was able to recover enough while walking a quarter mile that I could just barely knock out another one. When I was close to finishing (the display said 1.91 mile) I had my finger on the button to decrease the pace and quit…but I refused. I gutted it out, huffing and puffing like a crazy person, and finished.

I posted this picture to Facebook with the caption, “I’m not sure if I punched the 4×400 repeats in the face or if they punched me, but I did them, 25% faster than my normal pace.”

someone or something got punchedWhile I’ve been reading running blogs, this type of workout really intimidated me. It’s not absolutely necessary, because my goal right now is not to get faster, but rather to run farther. However, I have a 2 mile run every Wednesday for the next month, and doing it this way will make it go buy really quickly. If I experience any pain, I’ll back off…but this seems like a good challenge.

Also, I had to wait 20 minutes for a treadmill at the gym. Nonsense! I keep telling myself that if I’m still running when fall starts to fade next year (and I better be), we’re getting a treadmill for the basement.


A Weigh-In, A Run & A Race Announcement

Today is Tuesday…weigh in day! Last week I spent 4 days counting PointsPlus and 3 days doing the Simple Start/Simply Filling plan. I was very pleased to see that I had lost 1.1 pounds. Happy dance! My 12-week weigh in chart makes me feel pretty good too. Take that, holiday season!
Weight Watchers Weight ChartTonight we had blizzard-like conditions, so I was destined for the treadmill. I got my three miles done, interval style. For the last two minutes I kept pushing the speed up .1 mph every 30 seconds until I finished. I felt like I was flying at the end (for those of you keep track at home, that means I was up to a whopping 4.4 mph—my Mom can walk that fast). For some reason, my abs were quite sore towards the end of the run. Maybe because I’ve been trying to work on my form/posture?

That's my "Ow, my abs hurt" faceAnd finally…I committed to do another race today. I already have the big half marathon on the schedule for May 10. My friend Deb has been strongly hinting that I should do the Ragnar Chicago Relay with her team this year, and I finally said yes. So, June 6-7 I’ll be hanging out with Deb and 10 strangers as we run a relay race from Madison to Chicago via Milwaukee. I’ve been promised one of the shorter legs, so I’ll likely be running just a tad more than half marathon distance—but spread out over 3 runs in 36 hours. I barely recognize who I’m becoming, but I like it.


January Thaw & A Long Run

After ice-covered roads Friday night and Saturday, the thermometer hit 40 degrees today! I waited until the warmest point in my day to head out for my long run. I saw a few other runners while I was out, and they all seemed as happy as I was to be out on the roads.

I was very happy with today’s run. It was my longest run to date (4.25 miles), and I kept a fairly steady pace. I never stopped to walk, and didn’t even come close to feeling the need to. I didn’t have a route planned out in advance and planned on doing four miles. There was a point where I could have turned home, but I would have come up about .25 miles short. I decided to take a detour and come up long rather than short…and I bet I could have made it to five. However, I’m not trying to hit five miles until I’m officially in half-marathon training mode. Until then, I’m going to focus on finishing my regular runs and feeling good.

January 4 Mile RunOh, and as you can see, the GPS finally works on my Nike+ app. Woohoo!!!

Weekly Meal Plan, Including Quinoa Pie!

I can’t believe that I’ve become the type of person that makes—and enjoys—quinoa pie. But I made it for the first time today, and it is delicious!

Quinoa Pie with Butternut Squash

I’ve decided to follow the Weight Watchers Simple Start plan for two weeks starting today. Basically, on Simple Start you eat almost exclusively from the Weight Watchers Power Foods list, with 7 points (about 280 calories) allocated to “indulgences”—anything that’s not on the Power Foods list. The nice thing about the program is you only have to count the indulgences. There are no points allocated to the Power Foods. AND you’re just supposed to eat “to satisfaction,” so portion sizes are not strict.

For new members (and less creative cooks) Weight Watchers provides a selection of 10 breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks and some suggestions for indulgences. Since these suggested items pay no attention to the seasons or ethical farming practices, many of them didn’t jive with my eating patterns. However, I’m perfectly capable of following the guidelines to come up with meals that work with the plan. Here’s how I’ll be eating this week:

Weekend: Breakfast: oatmeal with frozen strawberries (thawed), skim milk. Lunch: quinoa pie with butternut squash, apple, skim milk. Snack: nonfat greek yogurt with frozen strawberries (thawed), .33 oz Lindt chocolate square. Saturday Dinner: chicken parmesan with whole wheat pasta and peas. Sunday Dinner: Roasted chicken with sweet potato skinsSnack: air-popped popcorn topped with 2 tsp olive oil.

Then, for the weekdays:

Breakfast: Fat-free cottage cheese topped with pineapple and plain shredded wheat

Morning Snack: Carrots & hummus

Lunch: Quinoa pie or wheat berry & roasted beet salad, vegetable soup

Afternoon Snack: nonfat greek yogurt with frozen strawberries (thawed)

Dinners: Monday: Veggie burgers w/ spicy mayo on light english muffin, roasted sweet potato fries, corn. Tuesday: Salmon, quinoa with rehydrated dried tomatoes, kale. Wednesday: Whole wheat pasta with leftover roast chicken, mushrooms, and pesto. Thursday: Brown rice topped with kale and soft boiled eggs, roasted sweet potatoes. Friday: Chickpea and spinach stew, brown rice.

Evening Snack: chocolate squares or light english muffin with peanut butter or banana and peanut butter or popcorn with olive oil (heartier snacks are for after my runs).

I’m looking forward to this menu. It’s very hearty and shouldn’t have me thinking about how much food I can squeeze into my remaining points for the day.

Finally, A Good Run!

After many days with below zero temps, it was 20 degrees outside when I got home from work. I was excited to go on a run through my neighborhood. The temperature was perfect, the streets were empty, and I felt great. During my last few treadmill runs, I’ve run at 4.0 mph and had to stop after about a mile to walk for a few minutes —I didn’t have to stop at all on this run (although I did stop for a couple seconds to introduce myself to a new neighbor).

I listened to the Everyday Runners podcast, which was the perfect length for this run. I highly recommend it. It’s exactly what it sounds like—stories from people for whom running is a hobby, not a job. The guy that was interviewed on this episode had run over 100 marathons! I’m looking forward to stories from “normal” runners that have just met a goal to run a 5K, 10K, or half marathon.

I really like running outside. I can’t wait until I can drop the gym membership…hopefully just a couple more months.

Three Mile Run Outside

This Week’s Meal Plan

I know it’s already Wednesday, but I want to write about this week’s meal plan. For the last 6 months or so, I’ve been in the habit of planning a week’s worth of meals every weekend. Many weeks I actually cook most of the meals on Saturday or Sunday so they’re ready to go throughout the week. This practice not only helps with my weight loss, but it helps our budget and we avoid food waste.

I need to come up with a breakfast I can eat in the car or at my desk, a lunch for each day, and meals that will meet my needs and satisfy my husband’s appetite, while providing leftovers for his lunches.

Here’s what we’re eating this week:

Breakfast: Vanilla chia pudding topped with cinnamon and a sliced banana. I made a 5-serving batch on Sunday night.

Snack: .75 oz almonds

Lunch: Confetti bean bowl (I totally just made up that name) – 1/2 cup brown rice,  1/2 cup black beans, 1/2 cup pickled corn relish. I throw all this in a bowl and microwave it for lunch. I also have an apple and a stick of string cheese

Snack: 1/2 cup fat free greek yogurt & 1/2 cup berries

Dinners: Sunday: Beef & wheat berry soup. Monday: Cheeseburger casserole & kale. Tuesday: Beer-soaked beef, whole wheat pasta, sautéed mushrooms. Wednesday: Leftover three-bean chili, mini cornbread muffin Thursday: Pulled pork, mini cornbread muffin, apple & carrot slaw. Friday: Leftovers of some sort.

Next week’s meal planning should be interesting…I’m pretty sure I’m going to try out the Weight Watchers Simply Filling plan.