Friday, August 31, 2012

Can You Become a Faster Runner? Probably.

Last year I put on a running workshop at a local gym. I thought most people would want to know about injury prevention and how to not crap themselves while running, but I was wrong. The thing runners wanted to know the most about was how to run faster.

I’m a slow runner or a fast runner depending on who you talk to. It’s all relative. The 3 hour marathoner thinks I’m slower than a constipated snail. My grandma thinks I’m fast and wants my autograph.

If I am going to focus on competing with myself and not comparing myself to others, I’d say I’m doing okay. I started running four years ago and was able to shave 20 minutes off between my first marathon (January 2009 – 4:03) and my second marathon (May 2010 – 3:43). This 20 minute PR was no accident. I chose a course that was “fast,”trained my butt off and did race specific training. I know 3:43 isn’t super fast, but for me it was quite an accomplishment.


Me and my cheetah getting our BQ

While remaining uninjured and healthy is my top priority, next in line is getting faster. I still  have a lot of room for improvement. The question is whether my 45 year old self will allow for it.  Between form changes and heart rate training, I’m going to find out all that I can do.

I’ve done a lot of research on how to get faster. I used the Run Less, Run Faster program when I was training to qualify for Boston (and it worked, probably because I was also doping. JK). I loved this plan because it had me only running three days per week, but each run had a purpose: long, interval and tempo. I was able to do lots of cross training and yoga, and to keep my mileage low enough that my body never maxxed out. This is certainly one tactic, but there are more to consider.

I know not every runner wants to speed up. Many people are completely satisfied where they are and enjoy running without striving to be faster, or to go longer and harder. But, for those of us who want to increase speed, there are some things to try.

Tips for How to Run Faster (That May Or May Not Work):

  • Speed it Up. But, not all the time. Don’t run every run at the same pace. Do long runs slower to tap into fat as fuel and to spend time on your feet. During the week, add in tempo runs and/or intervals. In marathon training, I’ve found the Yasso 800s to be the ticket.

  • Head for the Hills. Ever heard the expression, “Hills are speed work in disguise”? Hills suck and will make you cry, but the slower pace will allow you to focus on form and efficiency. Running hills strengthens hip flexors and increases power: factors that contribute to an increase in speed and performance. Added bonus: running hills provides a high intensity workout without the amount of impact and pounding you’d have on flat terrain (since you are going slower, with fewer steps).
  • Lose weight. It’s harder to run faster when you are carrying more weight. If you don’t believe me, carry a 10 lb. sack of flour in your pants during your next run.
  • Increase Cadence: “Studies have shown that the world's fastest long-distance runners have a higher cadence than the average runner” (source). The magic number of steps per minute while running? 180 (90 per foot).
  • Train With a Heart Rate Monitor: This takes major patience, but if you are willing to stick with it, I am convinced speed will come with less effort. I wrote a post about this HERE.
  • Hit the Trails: Running on trails not only gives you a high intensity workout because you are usually climbing mountains, but you also get a different kind of running experience. Uneven footing increases muscle stability strength. Also, trails are a softer and more forgiving surface than asphalt. Bonus: you won’t get hit by a car (although you might get eaten by a bear).


  • Form, Form, Form: Head up, feet landing under your hips, upper body relaxed, arms swinging forward to back. Good running form increases efficiency, which can lead to a faster pace.
  • Accept You’ll Be Uncomfortable: Running fast hurts. You breathe quickly, your heart rate soars, your muscles burn, your stomach cramps. Don’t be afraid. Embrace the pain and know it makes you stronger.
  • Take a Break: Be sure to have at least one rest day per week to allow muscles to rebuild and adapt.

Is running faster one of your goals?

Have you scored a PR lately? How did you train to do it?

What’s your best tip for becoming a faster runner?


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

I Knee-d Your Advice

Sometimes things happen that really make me question myself. I’m not sure if I’m getting older or just more stupid, but here's what happened today:

I love, love, love to read. And, not just Runners World and 50 Shades of Gray. I use the website Good Reads to log books I want to read and the books I’ve read, as I’m sure many of you do too (if you don’t, it’s a great way to keep track of what your friends are reading and current book reviews). I haven’t been on the site in forever, so today I went in to update some things. I’m currently reading The Weight of Silence, which is totally gripping. I went to enter the book title. Guess what I found out?

Back in 2009, I had posted a review of this book after I read it. YES! I’ve already read the book I am reading now and didn’t even know it. Something is wrong with me. I told my family and they just laughed at me. AT me, not WITH me. The sucky thing is, I was really into the book and now I don’t have a book to read because what kind of loser re-reads books when there are so many books to read?


Please tell me you have done this before.

Later, my confused self and I went for a run. I am jumping for joy because this heart rate training is really working. I ran 7 miles at 155 average heart rate and my pace is markedly faster than it was 2 weeks ago at the same heart rate. Mind you, I am still running like a slow m-effer, but it’s progress, and I love it when 7 miles feels effortless.

I do want to ask you about my knee, however. A few days ago, the inside of my left knee started aching a bit. It’s more annoying than anything, but I am so paranoid about injury, I tend to freak out with any ache or pain. If I have to drop out of running again due to injury I will make everyone around me miserable and hurt people.

I do think this knee thing is related to two things – my shoes (Brooks Pure Cadence – I love them, but they are worn out) and the increase in the number of days I run per week (I’m now doing five). I think my body is still adjusting.

Today I ditched my tired Brooks (look closely, you can see where the right shoe is torn. That happened right after I got them – my only complaint):


I slapped on these new Mizuno Wave Elixirs. As part of their Mezamashii Project, Mizuno sent me these shoes to try out. I’ve worn them a couple of times before. I think they’re pretty cool looking if you’re into purple zebras.


Yes, I always put my feet on the kitchen counter. If my kids do it, they lose their inheritance.

I have been trying to move to less of a shoe, and these have a pretty substantial heel and heel to toe drop, but I wore them anyway. My main goal is to strike mid-foot and I can still do that in these shoes. I like that this shoe is light and flexible and comfy, although they seem much bulkier than the Brooks. Yesterday I ordered some Saucony Kinvara 3s (got them on sale at Running Warehouse for $72 after using a 25%  online coupon). I’ve heard a ton of good things about that shoe, and I like that it has only a 4mm drop like the Brooks. I’m very anxious to give them a shot.

So – my knee ached a bit over the 7 miles. I’ve never had knee pain while running before, but I know it’s common. I’m icing it, but that’s about it.


Oh, and one last unrelated and random thing. You have got to go make this zucchini carrot bread I found on Fit Sugar (recipe HERE). It’s relatively healthy with whole wheat flour, flaxseed, and veggies. I cut back on the sugar by a 1/2 cup. It does have one whole cup of oil, which you could reduce and combine with applesauce. I happen to like oil and fat, so I used the full cup. This bread is very good for a “healthier” version of traditional zuke bread. Don’t get scared thinking those dark things are raisins or rabbit droppings. Of course not. They’re chocolate chips.


Any advice on knee pain? Have you experienced it before?

Have you ever run in the Saucony Kinvaras?

What are you reading now? I just finished Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man. It was haunting, intriguing and disturbing. My favorite books are memoirs and I’m kind of fascinated by addiction, so this was a slam dunk for me.


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Switching Sides

Today I ran. Tempo. 6 miles. 5:30 a.m. 157 average heart rate. Now, onto more critical matters.

Two nights ago, Ken and I switched sides of the bed. You may not think this is a big deal, but it is.

For the past 18 years, I go to the right, he goes left. We do it in tents, hotels, homes we visit – you name it (I am talking about sides of the bed here, get your filthy mind out of the gutter). The kids know to go to the right (my side) in the middle of the night when they are puking because dad will not wake up, or pretend to not wake up.

But, the other night my parents were here for dinner and they said they made “The Switch.” After 50 years. Damn them. Ken looked at me and told me it was time to give up old habits. I said, “No, I can’t do it. I hate change.”  It is very easy to be married to me.

Later that night I went to bed early. I got a wild hair. In a  frenzy I moved pillows and clock radios. I relocated nightstand contents and water glasses. I then got into my new side of the bed, smirking at how shocked Ken would be. I fell asleep.

Morning came. I was refreshed. This SS (Switching Sides) thing was the bomb! Who said change sucks? This is the key to good sleeping, the secret to happiness. They meaning of life!

I noticed Ken was quiet.

Me (smiling, smug): Hey, were you so surprised when you got into bed last night?
Ken: Yup.
Me: I slept great. How about you?
Ken: I slept awful. Your side of the bed sucks. There is something wrong with that side.
Me: Well, I’m not switching back. Do I really have to switch back? It was your idea.

So, we didn’t SB (Switch Back). Not yet. I slept great again last night. When mama’s happy, everyone’s happy, right? Then I got to thinking: is it true you can really get up on the wrong side of the bed? Is one side better than the other?

Yes, and it’s the LEFT SIDE, according to this study. But, which left side? Is the left side of the bed determined by when you are laying with your head on the pillow staring at the ceiling, or when you are standing and looking at your bed? Is it like a car where the “side” is determined when you are sitting in it?

Anyway, this study says,

“3,000 adults found that that those who sleep on the left are generally more cheerful, but they are also more positive and capable of tackling heavy workloads and a stressful day ahead. More than a quarter of people who snooze on the left side of the bed feel they have a really positive outlook on life in general, compared to 18 per cent of right-side sleepers.”

Who knew? This is all so confusing. Think I’ll just sleep like this:


Do you have a favorite side of the bed? Would you switch?


Sunday, August 26, 2012

Do You Have Any Tweezers?

People tell me all the time they can’t get motivated to run, especially first thing in the morning. I can totally relate. I mean who wants to see this?


And, for God’s sake, who wants to run in the sunshine and cool morning air?


Yeah, that was sarcasm. I know everyone is different, and while I have a hard time getting motivated to floss my teeth, write my reports, cut my nails, answer the phone, figure out what’s for dinner and a million other things, I almost never don’t feel like running (well, ask me again when it’s 10 degrees and dark outside).

I don’t know the key to being motivated. I don’t think it’s something you just “become.” You either are or you’re not, and it’s hard to talk yourself into it if you’re not. But, just because you aren’t motivated, doesn’t mean that has to be an excuse. The more you stop thinking about it and just go do it, the more successful you feel. The more successful you feel, the more you see results. The more you see results, the more motivated you will become. Or, that’s my experience anyway.

Bottom line: Stop expecting to feel motivated. That will come. Sometimes in life the action has to precede the feeling.

Today’s run was an easy 10 miler through the back roads of Boulder County. Ken and I only passed two people who stared at us and would not say “Good morning” back. I still don’t get that. Why not just smile, wave or say something? Fortunately, we did not run into any overweight men in short jean overalls who were peeing. We did hear some mules mating, though. Hee-haaahh! They need to get a room.



I turned on the auto alert on my Garmin to tell me when I went above 154 bpm with my heart rate. This pretty much meant that the entire run was one big alarm going off again and again. It wasn’t annoying at all for Ken. Not one bit. Next week I’m going to run with a bunch of coins in my pockets.

After the run I got some splinters in my ass.


Then I went and got  my reward. I’m pretty sure this donut is the perfect 3:1 carb to protein ratio. The dough is high carb and the custard is high protein. The sprinkles have electrolytes in them. I’m not sure what the coffee is. Liquid meth.


What’s your post run reward? For long runs, mine’s always coffee and either a breakfast sandwich or a donut.

What do you do when you’re not feeling motivated to run? Duh. I go anyway. I’m always glad I did.


Friday, August 24, 2012

I’m Like An Old Porsche

I only have a minute because I am racing out the door to go to Costco before the weekend rush hits. I need for there to be enough samples left for me, and I don’t want to have to fight for them (especially not for these mini penises that Ethel is handing out).

I had a great, short (6 mile) trail run with Joie this morning at Hall Ranch outside of Lyons, CO. We both agreed a trail run is the best way to start the day. Well, officially the best way to start the day is: coffee –>dump->trail.

This is a very rocky, tricky and steep trail. From the moment you step foot on the trail, you are climbing, so any warm ups need to be done in the parking lot. I personally like to do push ups, jumping jacks and burpees. Yeah right. More like I slap on my fuel belt and hit the trail without so much as a stride or a stretch. I like to see if I can go from 50 to 150 heart beats per minute in 7 seconds. I am like a Porsche that way. A very old and non-certified Porsche.


I told you it was steep and rocky. You should believe me next time.

When you get up a ways, it is so gorgeous.  You then kind of forget and forgive the bitch of a mountain you had to climb to get there.


Joie pretending she’s not tired.


Today was my fourth consecutive day of running this week. I have never been someone who runs several days in a row because I am too afraid of getting injured. Turns out, however, that with heart rate training my exertion is finally where it should be, and it leaves me energized and without aches and pains. That is why I lay down and nap in the middle of the run. Even at home I sleep with my fuel belt on because that is the sign of a true runner.


Don’t even try to zoom in and look up my skirt. That’s so tacky.

Yesterday I did intervals on the treadmill 5 x 800s at 95% max heart rate, so wasn’t sure how I would feel today.  Alas, I felt pretty stinking great.

Okay, I’m off for the mini penises. But first…yes, I’m going there.

I am curious to hear what you all thought about Lance Armstrong’s decision to stop fighting the doping charges. He will likely be stripped of his seven Tour de France wins and will be banned from cycling. For all of these years, I have so wanted to believe in his innocence. From what I’ve read (which is not a lot), Lance has taken hundreds of drug tests, and never failed one. But, his accusers say that is because he is so adept at working the system and getting drugs out of his system efficiently. Apparently, there are many witnesses who can confirm his guilt.

I find it curious that he would give up now. This is someone who overcame cancer to train his ass off to win the hugest bike race in the world, 7 times. Not someone who quits.  But, maybe he is just tired of fighting. Or, maybe he is guilty.

Thoughts? Guilty as charged or the victim of a modern day witch hunt?


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Embrace the Fear or Quit?

Last night we went to the open house at Sam’s new high school. It was like PTSD for me. With his schedule in hand, we had to go to each of his classes for ten minutes. I am one who actually liked school, but after going until the 18th grade (what cool grad school kids call it), I’m done.


Just sitting in his biology classroom and talking about dissection and photosynthesis made me want to scream. Don’t even get me started on the references to cosine, sine and tangents in math class. Ugh. Sam already got in trouble in Spanish class for cracking his knuckles. “No tronarse los dedos!” (I had to look that up). We are off to a good start!

I didn’t get in trouble much in school, did you? I remember one time in ninth grade my geometry teacher threw an eraser at my face and I cried. I’m sure I didn’t deserve it. These days if a teacher did that they’d be burned at the stake.

Good luck, Sam. See you at graduation. Hope you don’t get arthritis from all that knuckle cracking (also, never swallow your gum or it will take 49 years to digest).

Speaking of kids and high school, a reader emailed me an  interesting question yesterday.  I thought you guys might want to weigh in.

“My husband and I are really struggling with my son and running high school cross country. He loves the practices but not the meets. He has anxiety and gets down the  week before he has to run a race. He says it hurts too much (he goes all out, and it would not be an option for him to not do his his best in every race). I think because he is our best runner he feels that pressure. He likes to run and everything else about cross country except what it does to him. We have already told him he does not have to do track in the spring. Coming from a Christian perspective I feel God has given him a gift and the anxiety and stress is not from God. We want to do what is right, but it is a tough call.”

At first I thought this was similar to a a subject I wrote about a couple of months ago in a posted title, “Should We Push Kids to Run?,” but then I realized it was quite different. That older post referred to kids who wanted to quit sports, but were “forced” into continuing for varying reasons. The above question, in my opinion, is about the mental aspect of pushing hard, and if it is okay to quit when we feel scared and inadequate.

I don’t know what I would do in this mom’s shoes, and I never ran cross country, but here was my stab at a response. Maybe it stinks, but it came from the heart:

“My rule of thumb with my kids is that I encourage them to not make decisions based on fear.  If they hate something, that is another story. So, if your son hated cross country, I would say maybe he should finish out the season and stop. But, it sounds like the issue is ultimately his fear of failure and being uncomfortable.

Yes, he has pressure and anxiety, but that is likely rooted in him feeling he might not do well enough. I think any athlete who has  excelled and given it their all (and who is the best in their school at what they do) probably feels this. Running hard and fast is very demanding. For everybody. That is why coaches work so hard with their runners on the mental aspects of racing. 

It is also very tough to always be the winner because you have to live up to that each and every time. Maybe he needs to give himself permission to lose a race, to take the pressure off. Before quitting, I'd suggest some remedies to get to the heart of the fear and to manage the anxiety. Is his coach aware of what is going on? What is his/her advice?

If none of this works then in my opinion, it is his decision. If he truly loves running, he will come back to it. Yes, he may have a gift of running, but he also has other gifts. Just because we are good at something doesn’t mean we have to do it if it makes us really unhappy. We just need to make sure we stop for the right reasons.”

Can you help this mom out with some of your suggestions?

Did you ever deal with this personally while running cross country or track in high school or college? What did you do?

What is the best way to combat performance anxiety (besides Viagra)?


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Top 10 Mistakes You Might Be Making While Training and Racing

Sometimes when I Google things like, “How to not kill your child when he shoves his little sister into her new locker



Or, “How to fart delicately when you are in a social situation” (who knew there are actually activated charcoal underwear and pads?), I happen upon some really interesting information that I think everyone should know.

Today I’m sharing with the you Top Ten Biggest Mistakes Endurance Athletes Make (by Hammer Nutrition). It might not surprise you to find the biggest mistake made is that people don’t use Hammer Nutrition (just kidding, sort of).

I want to share these with you because I am a hugely flawed and mistake-ridden endurance athlete. I have done it all wrong (three injuries in three years), and now I am backtracking and trying to do it all right. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life in MRI machines, crying while holding a 20 ounce glass of wine.

Overall, I think it’s a good list even though it is biased towards Hammer Nutrition (which is a great product, but not one I’ve used excessively). I tried not to plagiarize, but instead to summarize in my own words  (I don’t want Ms. Priles from ninth grade to come and give me a wedgie and an “F,” which would cause my dad to take away my new Michael Jackson album and my Love’s Baby Soft). I also added in my own two cents because this is my blog and I like to do that. If you take issue with any of these, let me know in the comments section. Some make sense to me and some I’m not sure about.

The Top Ten Mistakes Endurance Athletes Make

1. Too much drinking (and not of the alcohol kind, but that could be problematic as well)
We always hear about watching out for dehydration. Turns out, we need to be just as aware of over-hydrating. Interestingly enough, the front runners in races tend to under-hydrate while the middle to back of the packers sometimes drink too much.
Over consumption of fluid can lead to low sodium in the blood (hyponatremia) and can cause bloating, stomach upset and even death.  While hydrating, balance is the key – most doctors/nutritionists agree that approximately 20 ounces per hour will do the trick. This is an average – some people will need more, some less, and of course temperature and humidity come into play. I have a rule of thumb that on every long run I drink 2-3 ounces of water every time my Garmin beeps at the mile mark.
2. Eating and drinking simple sugars

According to the article, simple sugars – fructose, sucrose and glucose - cannot be digested by the body efficiently. There is a whole physiological theory behind this that I am too dumb to understand. It appears that complex carbs (maltodextrins or glucose polymers) are the best choice – they move into your system quickly, digest as easily and rapidly as the simple sugars and may cause less tummy distress (much needed over here).  GU is an example of a fuel source that contains maltodextrin (and Hammer, of course). Not everyone agrees that simple sugars are to be avoided. You can read the opposing viewpoint in this article by Matt Fitzgerald.

3. Improper amounts of calories

Apparently, your body cannot replenish calories as fast as it expends them, same with fluids and electrolytes. Therefore, athletes need to figure out the least amount of calories that they can consume to keep putting one foot in front of the other, but not too many calories that they get sick and lethargic. Too many calories and you risk being bloated and having stomach distress. Not enough and you bonk or DNF.

In general and according to the article, an intake of about 250 calories per hour is  sufficient for the average size endurance athlete (approximately 160- 165 lbs). Lighter weight athletes will need less, while heavier athletes may need slightly more. I can get by on 100 calories an hour during a marathon. I took in 150-200 per hour during the half Ironman. That’s just what works for me.

4. Incorrect Use of Electrolytes

Basically, athletes need to replenish electrolytes consistently, and especially when it’s hot outside (duh!). This needs to be done prior to becoming electrolyte-depleted. Once that happens, it is tough to catch up. But, it is also important to get the right balance of electrolytes – for example, the article points out that salt tabs alone cannot satisfy all electrolyte requirements and might even cause more problems than they help.

In all of my races I’ve started using Endurolyte Tabs because mixing gels and sports drinks upsets my stomach. I take 2 to 3 before the start of race, and a few during the race, depending on the duration. Throughout the race I do gels and drink only water. Some of my longer races like the Boulder 70.3 took over 5 hours and were done in 90+ degree heat. I’ve never suffered from dehydration. I swear by these capsules and they have never upset my stomach or caused any ill effects.

5. No protein during prolonged exercise

I have to say, this is not something I have done except in the half Ironman. But, apparently when you exercise for more than two hours your body will eat up your own muscle for fuel. This can devastate performance and cause deterioration and weakness. Carbs are still your major fuel source, but you should include small amount of protein. Supposedly, an intake of protein during longer workouts will help reduce recovery time as well.

6. Too much solid food during exercise

I am sad this is a mistake because I love eating eggs benedict during marathons. Just kidding. In fact, there is no way in hell I could ingest much solid food during a race or long workout effort. I know that if I ever did an ultra I might have to train my body to do this, although some ultra runners don’t take in any solid food. Liquid nutrition is easy, convenient and usually digests well. In addition, eating too much solid food utilizes blood for digestion, thereby not supplying it sufficiently to muscles.

The article goes on to say that if you do choose solid foods, avoid refined sugar an saturated fat.

7. Doing/using something new in a race without testing it in training.

This is one that we hear over and over again, “Never try anything new on race day.” This goes for nutrition, shoes, socks, tampons, condoms, etc.  (Who wants to get pregnant on the course?)

8. Sticking with your game plan even when it's not working

I think this is a tough one, and I like to compare it to the birth plan. When I was pregnant I told my doc about my plans for labor and delivery. He said, “It’s good to have a plan as long as you’re willing to ditch it if need be.” In other words, have a plan but for God’s sake, be flexible!

No matter how much we “plan,” it’s tough to anticipate what will really occur on race day. There are so many factors at play including weather, aches/pains that arise, etc. In terms of fueling, while it’s good to have a strategy, if the weather is hot, the body cannot process calories as well. Under these circumstances if you gag down food your stomach will fire back at you and it won’t be pretty. This is the point at which hydration has to become the primary focus. Once your body adjusts to the heat, you can try eating again. Like the article says, “Have a game plan, but write it in pencil, not in ink.”

9. Inadequate post-workout nutrition

This was a hard one for me to get when I first started running. I thought more was better.  The real gain of exercise comes during recovery when the body has been broken down and begins to adapt and rebuild. But, this can only happen with proper nutrition and rest. Protein and carbs need to be replenished post-exercise (within 30 to 60 minutes), especially for workouts of more than an hour. This will rebuild/repair muscle and support immune system functioning. 

Ideally, consume a 3:1 ration of carbs to protein. Good choices are chocolate milk, a protein shake, peanut butter and jelly, an egg sandwich, turkey and cheese on a bagel, etc.

10. Improper pre-workout/race fueling

Basically, over indulging (“carb loading”) the night before a race or long workout is futile. It takes weeks to maximize glycogen stores. In addition, don’t over-eat during your pre-race meal. 200-400 calories of complex carbs is sufficient, and avoid too much fiber. Ideally, stop eating three hours before your race. I usually do this, but only because I’m too nervous to gag anything down near to the start time.


Do you agree with these points? For the most part. Need to learn more about the simple sugar thing, and about eating protein during a race/workout.

What’s the worst “rookie” mistake you’ve ever made during a race? I ran a half marathon with a stress fracture in my foot. I’m an asshole!


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Let Me Show You My Boy Shorts

Yesterday was a weird day. Weird, I tell you. I had woken up in the night nauseous. Not like I was going to puke at any moment, but just that feeling of being sick and every time you see or think of food you get grossed out. No matter how hard I tried to not think about slimy egg yolks on toast, I couldn’t stop.

At first I thought I was pregnant, but then I remembered my eggs are really old and Ken was fixed. For the life of me I can’t remember a late night rendezvous with the milkman, so no mid-life baby for me.

The nausea continued after I dropped the kids off (<-I’m not saying I pooped. I’m literally saying I dropped the kids off). I was going to go to a 90 minute hot yoga class, but honestly, the thought of twisting and contorting my body in 105 degree heat made me want to throw up more. Plus, some turd always farts in the studio and I knew I would gag.

So, instead I laid on the couch for two straight hours and watched “Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition,” which is basically the Biggest Loser on steroids (you can watch episodes HERE). I can’t remember the last time I watched TV like that during the day (okay, maybe the Olympics, but that doesn’t count). It felt indulgent and oh-so-good.


I love this guy, but I do think he needs to get that thing on the back of his head checked out.
It didn't go away when he lost weight.

This was one on my favorite episodes ever because the contestant, Jarvez, started at 548 pounds and lost 281 pounds or something crazy like that. That dude never, ever found an excuse to not exercise or eat right. His head stayed in the game the entire time, and he never lost his sense of humor (although I saw him for 120 minutes out of entire year – 525,600 minutes – so maybe he was a douche the rest of the time, but I doubt it).

Unlike Jarvez, I hardly ate yesterday – half a turkey sandwich, a bowl of Kashi cinnamon harvest cereal and lots of ginger ale. This is about 1/8 of what I eat on a given day, so I didn’t recognize myself – laying on the couch, moaning, not eating. I slept for a solid 8 hours last night, and woke up much better. I put on my new favorite running skirt and felt like superwoman (with old eggs):


I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time find running skirts that fit right (I don’t like them too long), and feel ultra comfortable while running. This has now become my favorite skirt. It’s the Laser Cut Skort for $54 and comes in lots of fun colors. I love the cute detail on the side.



The boy shorts underneath stay in place.


Sometimes I have trouble with the sizing at Athleta. I find their running skirts are big. I usually would wear an XS or small, but this one is an XXS. I know Athleta can be expensive, but the quality is good. And, they have great sales if you keep your eye out.

I headed out for a 6 mile run (tempo). I felt crappy. I had such bad stomach cramps at mile 5 I had to stop to avoid a mess (I would cry if my new skirt got soiled). I made it home without incident. I’m whipping up some minestrone soup (best recipe HERE – I think the key is so many veggies and adding plain tomato sauce to the broth) and am  hoping this stomach crap is just a small blip on my big radar of life. Or, maybe we’ll have a new baby born in May 2013.

Speaking of babies, this time of year always leaves me unsettled. This year in particular. Sam started high school, Emma middle school. If your kids are really small and high school seems like it will never come, trust me it will and you will cry and wonder how you squandered all your time away.


Feel free to say, “awww..” if you want to. This picture was taken right before he tackled her to the ground and made her cry. (My sister in law, Jen, took this. She is such an amazing photographer!).

The start to the school year reminds me of new beginnings and it always makes me want a fresh start. I used to love the excitement and anticipation that went along with the first day of school. As a mom, each time they go back to school I think I need to revamp my life or something. I think about the years creeping by, and how in just a few years they will both be gone (they better be gone. No one is living in my basement). Even though I am first and foremost a mom (who has 40 part time jobs), I wonder what else my life’s work will be.

Most of the time I soul-search for a day or two then forget about it and go back to worrying about when the season premier of Survivor is and how I can get the smell out of my running clothes. I am very deep.

When’s the last time you’ve been really sick – like the kind of sick where you can’t move and your mom has to come take care of you? I think for me is was a kidney infection I had about 20 years ago.

What’s your favorite running skirt? I love this new one from Athleta, but my other favorite is the Marathon Girl Ultra from Skirt Sports and anything from Running Skirts.

Who knows when The Biggest Loser Starts again? I could NOT believe our boy, Dolvette, was the first to go on Stars Earn Stripes. Dude needs to learn to swim.


Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Time I Ran in Paris

I closed out a great week of running with a gorgeous trail run this morning. Could someone turn off the sunlight? I’ve got a wine headache.



Confession: I’m not even a runner. I just superimpose myself in various places. You fall for it – every single time! See! Look where I was yesterday!


Picture Rock outside of Lyons, Colorado is one of my favorite trails. Today we ran 10 miles, the first 5 gaining about 1,000 feet. So, it’s a steady climb, but not too steep.



That’s one perky breast!

I’ll admit this to you. This was a total “Shut up and run” kind of morning. I did not feel like running up a big hill when I woke up at 6:00 a.m. We went to a dinner party last night and just thinking about all of the weird foods and libations I consumed made me hang my head in shame. Champagne, Swedish Fish (best appetizer ever), peel and eat shrimp, brie and crackers, steak, corn, white wine, red wine, peanut M&Ms, green beans, white chocolate raspberry cheesecake. Not even to mention I was short on sleep.

You tell ME how you thought my stomach felt this morning. But, once I had a quick interlude with the pit toilet, I was good to go for a few miles.


My watch beeped the turn around point at 5 miles, but Ken’s Garmin hadn’t reached the 5 mile mark yet so he kept going. Do you ever do that? You are running with someone, the same exact distance, yet your GPS reads differently. So, even though you know you've run the same distance, you HAVE to go until your watch beeps and tells you you’ve gone far enough. I hate it when technology bosses me around.


This was really good practice for me to stay at my target heart rate. Climbing, without rest, for an hour can send your heart rate into psycho mode. I was really disciplined about it, and even though I kept telling Ken to go ahead, he stuck with me. 152 bpms average – success!

This is one of the better running weeks I’ve had in a long time. Why, you ask?

  • Easy, quick recovery
  • No aches and pains
  • Higher mileage

Monday: 6 miles @75% max heart rate (some incline)
Tuesday: 5.5 miles @75% max heart rate (flat)
Wednesday: 5.5 miles (tempo). Warm up 1 mile, 3 miles @85% max heart rate, 1.5 mile cool down (flat)
Thursday: Rest
Friday: 5 miles (speed). Warm up 1 mile. 5x800 @95% max heart rate with 200 mile jogs between. Cool down 1 mile. Done on treadmill.
Saturday: Rest
Sunday: 10 mile trail run @75% max heart rate

Total: 32 miles

Unlike my typical training plan where I’m doing lots of swimming and biking, I am now just focusing on running. My plan is to run 5 days per week, do hot yoga one day and rest one day. Putting in lots of miles on my feet at manageable heart rates will do something for me. Maybe it will make me crazy. Maybe I will get faster. Maybe I will flush the monitor down the pit toilet at the end of it all. Except that those toilets don’t flush.

Oh, I forgot to tell you that at the party last night (with people I hardly knew), I tripped on the step and fell flat on my ass, spilling my drink everywhere. I wasn’t hurt which gave Ken the freedom to laugh at me for the rest of the night. And, all of today. And, for the rest of my life.

Funniest thing I saw this weekend (aside from myself falling and laying on the concrete) was a couple in their car. They had bikes in their car and were, I think, driving to the start of the Tour de Cure. They both were wearing their helmets in the car. I don’t know why, but it make me laugh, because why would you do that? Maybe they were just being extra, extra careful they wouldn’t get hurt on the way to their ride. I tried to take a picture, but it didn't really work out.


How far and where was your long run today (or yesterday)? What are you training for?

What’s the funniest thing you saw or heard this weekend?


Friday, August 17, 2012

I’ve Got A Lot of Travelling To Do

Thanks for all of your feedback on car buying. You all had some helpful thoughts and suggestions I had not thought of. The Honda CRV seems to be one that I should have higher on my list. This anonymous commenter had something interesting to say:

The Charger is actually a really reasonable choice. If you opt for the V6 and AWD you will get an average of 21 mpg, but you will NEVER get stuck in the snow. The Charger's V6 produces 292 horsepower which will freaking rock your world, Beth. And you can get all this for under 30k NEW!! Sounds like your son Sam is a super intelligent and cool young man. The hummer H3 with an inline 5 cylinder engine is also an excellent choice.

Took me about three seconds flat to realize it was my son, Sam. Clearly he needs more supervision.

I thought I was done racing for awhile – I was going to kick back and do this heart rate training thing and pick my nose. But, Team Refuel offered me an entry to the Denver Rock and Roll Half on September 22, so I snatched that baby up. Not to whine, but if you sign up now, it is $115 + $9 processing fee. That is $124 to run a stinking half marathon. I have bitched about the cost of races before. Yes, I have. So, I’ll stop. Especially since I’m not paying.

IMHO, Rock and Roll puts on great races (minus last year’s puke fest in Vegas).  I think a lot of people have the mindset that they are okay paying for the fun extras like cool race medals, frequent aid stations, a brand name race shirt and bands every mile or so.

I ran Denver last year with Joie to help her break two hours (we did 1:54- go Joie!). It’s a scenic course going through some of Denver’s major parks and usually there is outstanding weather. Although now that I said that there will be a snowstorm or heat wave or tsunami. We get those a lot in Denver.


Denver’s a pretty nice and runner friendly city – if you watched Dynasty, then you know what I am talking about. Just like if you watch South Park you know a lot about Colorado mountain towns and how every child has huge white eyes and continually spews the f-word.


Remember Linda Evan’s feathered hair
                     and Alexis’ up-dos?                                                                                                     F-bombs around the fire. How heartwarming

In May, Forbes came out with a list of the top ten best cities for runners:

  1. Chicago
  2. New York
  3. Portland
  4. Boulder
  5. Washington D.C.
  6. San Francisco
  7. Austin
  8. Minneapolis
  9. Boston
  10. Atlanta

I’ve only run in four of these cities, so apparently I have a lot of travelling to do. I don’t know what they base their conclusions on, and I’m too lazy to figure it out. Probably something to do with weather, scenery, availability of running trails and number of bushes available for emergency evacuations (Boulder is especially strong in that area).

But, back to the race. I am not going to be sidelined from my heart rate training while getting ready for this half. Even though my long runs feel like I am running in place, through molasses and tar, I am sticking with it to see what kind of results I can get over the long term.

My plan for Denver is to “race” it (I use that term loosely) with a goal of staying at 80-85% of my max heart rate (165 bpms). I did a comfortable tempo run at that pace the other day and I think I was so happy to be running faster that I was almost euphoric. Denver will in no way be a PR for me, but it will be a test of this heart rate training experiment. I am also thrilled because my dear friend, Erika, is running – it will be her first half ever!

By the way, even though you train at certain heart rates, your racing rates are different (since you are racing – DUH). According to Runner’s World suggested rates are:

  • 5K – 95-97% of heart rate max (almost full exertion)
  • 10K – 92-94%
  • Half marathon – 85-88%
  • Marathon – 80-85%

Just information to confuse you more.

What’s the most you’ve ever paid for a race? I think mine was the Boulder 70.3 at $250.

What do you think the best city is for running? I am obviously partial to Boulder, but also love D.C. There is nothing like running on the Mall near all of the monuments. Rock Creek Park is amazing too.

What’s one city you’ve never run in, but have on your list? For me, it’s San Francisco. I want to be killed by the hills. I am enamored by this city and have never been. I’d love to go, eat my face off, and take some amazing runs.


Here is where I’m going to figure out my max heart rate for real.


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Mama Needs a New Set of Wheels: Best Cars for Recreational Athletes

I’m always paralyzed by decision making, especially when it comes to large, costly purchases.

Never mind, who am I kidding? I’m paralyzed by every decision from what to order at Chipotle (Black or pinto? Mild or medium? Brown or white rice? Just shoot me now) to what underwear to wear (leopard print? cotton hipsters? granny panties?) to purchasing a new home. Luckily I haven’t had to purchase a new home in 10 years and I will probably never move again just to avoid making a decision. Unless I go bankrupt, in which case I will debate over which cardboard box to live in and under what bridge to put it.

You can imagine that when it comes to car buying, I am ridiculous. I have had my current car, a 2003 Ford Explorer, for almost 10 years. It’s got about 150,000 miles on it. There are more vomit, sweat, and anonymous stains in there to count. Yes, I could do some repairs and keep it for longer, but the gas mileage is killing me (I drive a lot for my job. Yes, blogging hasn’t made me rich…yet). So, I’m thinking it’s time for a change - for a new set of wheels.

My son Sam is a car nerd. He knows everything about every car. And, I mean everything. When I first started looking, he said he found the perfect car for me. Good gas mileage, sleek, roomy, powerful. What was it?

Yes, the Dodge Charger. Does he know me at all? I mean, from what you know of me, can you see me driving that thing? I feel like I would need to first get a boob job and acrylic nails. Cougar city! (No offense if you drive one. It’s just not my style).

Recently, I posted a question on my Shut Up and Run Facebook page about which car is the best for recreational athletes in terms of hauling stuff, being family friendly, good gas mileage, affordability and all wheel drive capability. I said I was open to pre-owned options. 150 comments later, I was more confused than ever. 

From your comments and the research I’ve done, here are what appear to be the top 10 cars for athletes like us (in no particular order, although the Subaru was the most popular choice). Compact/smaller SUVs seemed to be the favorites!:

1. Subaru Outback – Deemed the “Official Car of Colorado,” this auto is affordable, has good gas mileage (21/28),  sports good safety ratings and has decent off road capability. The only reason I don’t like it (and it’s stupid) is that everyone else has it. Lame on my part.

2013 Subaru Outback 2.5i Wagon F3-4 Normal

2. Honda Element- This unique looking SUV has removable rear seats, a roomy cabin and a “dog friendly” package (must include poop bags and privacy glass for licking oneself ). Gas mileage is not great at 20/25. I love the design, but HATE the rear half doors. Ken has those in his Chevy truck and it  makes getting kids in and out of the car a pain. They stopped making these in 2011.

2011 Honda Element EX SUV


3. Nissan Rogue – With it’s good gas mileage (23/28), sleek look and decent price, I could find very little wrong with this choice. Until my car-nerd son convinced me I would hate not having a V6 (not available in the Rogue) especially for mountain driving. I have not ruled this car out, however.

2012 Nissan Rogue SV SUV

4. Jeep Patriot – For some reason, I’ve never been a Jeep person. Not sure why. I know people love these cars. Pros include good off road capability and a low base price. Fuel economy is good  (23/29). Acceleration is not supposed to be good and the car has limited cargo space.

2012 Jeep Patriot Latitude SUV

5. Toyota RAV4 – This one could be a winner with a good amount of cargo space, decent fuel economy (22/28) and responsive handling. I don’t like the right side hinge for the tailgate (makes it hard to curb-load and the spare tire on the back would make it tough to attach a trailer hitch for bike rack, etc).

2012 Toyota RAV4 4dr SUV Exterior

6. Nissan XterraAt first I thought this was the car I would get. I love the look of it – very sporty and outdoorsy. But, I was very bummed about the gas mileage (16/22). I just don’t want to go that low.

2011 Nissan Xterra X SUV Shown

7. Ford Edge – This one is  real contender. With lots of features and a comfortable cabin, I like the appearance of this car. Keeping the kids in mind, I like that it has a roomy backseat (reportedly more so than the Explorer) with reclining rear seats (the less complaining, the better). The gas mileage could be better (19/27) and it is kind of pricey. But, I think I might be able to get a good deal on a used one.

2013 Ford Edge 4dr SUV Limited Exterior

8. Mazda CX-5 – I was really excited when I heard about this car because it has everything I want: 26/35 gas mileage, stylish design, cargo space. But I do have two concerns. First, no V6 option. Second, 2013 will be the first model year for this car. In the past when I have bought cars making their debut, I’ve ended up taking them in numerous times for recalls, etc. PITA.

2013 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring 4dr SUV Exterior

9. Honda CRV – Hondas are such reliable cars, and this seems to be no exception. It’s definitely a winner with great fuel economy (23/31), lots of room for passengers and cargo and good handling. Bummer is there is no V6 available. Still a great pick!

2012 Honda CR-V 4dr SUV

10. Hyundai Sonata – Hyundai has put out some great cars in the past few years. The Sonata has a sleek design and is economical (24/35). It’s said to have limited headroom in the backseat, and have a rougher ride depending on the trim selected.

2012 Hyundai Sonata Limited Sedan

People also like the Toyota 4-Runner, the Subaru Forester, the Honda Fit and the Honda Pilot.

Bottom line: Yes, I’m being picky. But, if this car and I are going to have a relationship for the next ten years or so, I want to love it and not cheat on it after three months (not that I would do that). So, what do I get??

Do you drive any of the above? Pros/cons?

What do you drive? Would you buy it again if you could?

Any tips on cars to completely avoid?




The winners of the Everyday Endurance giveaway are:

Jen. T.
Swyers (
Running for the Reason
Kristin from Cooking in the Moment 

Email me at and I’ll tell you how to claim your prize. A special bonus: the 15% off sale will go until Friday. Enter “shutup15” at checkout.