About Laura

Holistic Health coach, RRCA certified running coach, RPM spin instructor, MSW and mom

Why a runner’s identity crisis can be a good thing

Last weekend marks 8 weeks since the day my tendonitis reared it’s head and caused me to pull out of my training.  For the most part, I stayed upbeat and positive.  I could spin, swim, aqua jog, use the elliptical and weights, so I was enjoying the mix of training.

By the 5 week mark when I was able to ease back in, I had a few good runs and then one run with a little pain that brought everything crashing down for a few days.  Isn’t it funny how that can happen?

From that one run, I was sure I was back to square one.  That I would need another 6 weeks off.  That my body was done with road running for good.

And then there was the issue of my name… mommy run fast? What do I share on Instagram if I’m not running? What do I blog about? What if I’m done with running for good? Should I change my brand and pick a new name?

Have you ever had a runner’s identity crisis? I think that’s what I would call my experience.  But it gave me a healthy perspective that, in retrospect, was much needed.

When everything is feeling good and all systems say go, I go!! And push and push and push.  How much more can I increase my mileage? How many more minutes might I be able to shave off my race time?

Social media rewards intensity.  The longer you run, the more likes a photo receives. The bigger the challenge, the better! This is not helpful for my somewhat addictive personality.

As I stepped back and considered being done with running for good, a strange thing happened… I realized I could be okay with that.  During this running break, I

  • actually really enjoyed my spinning, swimming, elliptical-ing, and strength training
  • felt fitter and stronger after a swim or strength workout than an easy 5 mile run
  • found my body was happier and more balanced without the long runs
  • had more energy on the weekends (and week days) to really play with my kids, swim around in the pool with them, and happily take them more places because I didn’t need a nap or wasn’t worn out from training
  • found my appetite was more balanced and I thought less about food, eating at normal times and not needing all the extra snacks
  • had more quality family time and my kids noticed and appreciated my energy

Yet…

I signed up for the Richmond marathon and part of me really wants that 3:15.  I can’t quite understand why.  I mean, I totally get it when I’m in training, but when I step back, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.  What difference does a 3:23, 3:15 or sub-3 make next to my name in the big picture?

My kids will only notice the additional hours that I’m gone and the added exhaustion when I’m with them.  My husband will have to pick up the slack around the house.  My body will be back in the stressed zone- is it worth it?

The answer might be yes.

It might be no.

I’m still wrestling with the next immediate goal, but I appreciate being forced to consider how running fits into my life for the long term and to know that regardless of what happens, I will be just fine.

Have you had a runner’s identity crisis? Have you found an injury took you through all the emotions?

Does running start to define who you are and what you do? I think it’s natural to be proud of our accomplishments and plan around races and training runs but it’s also easy for this to go too far (for me).

I am linking up with SuzRachelLora, and Debbie for Running Coaches CornerPattyErika, and Marcia for Tuesdays on the Run, NicoleAnnmarieMichelle, and Jen for Wild Workout Wednesday.

 

Progress in my running this week + 2 Ingredient Pesto Chicken

Hey friends,

I have no idea where this week went! I didn’t plan to ignore the blog but here it is the weekend again.  I’ve been reflecting a lot on my runner identity (or identity crisis while injured!) and my future with marathons and training.  It’s been helpful to step back from training… more on that later this week.

In terms of training, I decided to see how much speed I lost and did a repeat track session Wednesday night and Saturday morning.  The good news, I didn’t lose as much as I thought and I feel my paces slowly returning. Progress for sure!!
Here’s the rundown:

Sunday:  Easy 5, felt wiped out for some reason… this was without my Garmin but probably 10+ minute pace

Monday:  45 minutes easy spin with a few intervals was all I could handle

Tuesday: Off! Still feeling tired… I think I was fighting something off. Finally felt better by the evening.

Wednesday: am: 35 minute pool run; pm: 4 miles at the track with a few intervals to see where I’m starting from in terms of speed…

1 mile- 6:48, 800m- 6:44 pace, 400m- 6:29 pace, 100m x 2- 5:48 pace for each

This was humbling, yet encouraging too.  I thought it would be worse.  The mile pace was my goal half pace 6 weeks ago so yeah… lots of work to do!

Red face, green smoothie

Thursday: 45 minutes spin + TRX push ups, pull ups, lunges, squats and planks

Friday: 4.5 run, .5 walk with my blogging friend Steph, nice and easy pace

Saturday: 6 miles with a repeat of Wednesday’s track workout and progress!

1 mile- 6:42, 800m- 6:31 pace, 600m- 6:14 (added this one), 400m- 6:01 pace, 100mx2- 4:45 pace for each

These are pretty much back to where I was pre-injury, other than the longer than normal recoveries I needed between each!

I’ve never seen a 4:xx on my watch before! But I’ve also never done 100m bursts in training.  I want to stick to track or tempo work just twice a week and not worry too much about endurance right now. I know I have enough volume with all the cross training, and my focus is on remembering how to turn over my legs and making the quality count, while of course taking it really easy on non-running days.  So far, so good!

I skipped meal prep this week as we’ll be spending the next few days at the beach, but we did make an awesome pesto chicken Friday night which was SO easy!

Pesto Chicken

  • 1/2 cup pesto
  • 1-2 pounds of chicken

Brush chicken with pesto and grill for 4-5 minutes per side, or bake for 25 minutes at 350 degrees.

We made our own pesto with our exploding basil plants and grilled chicken breasts and drumsticks (the girls love these!) and threw veggies on the grill as well for a fast, easy, healthy dinner.

Then I threw leftovers together with quinoa and veggies for a one dish salad for lunch yesterday.

What are your favorite veggies to grill? We love zucchini, red peppers, onion, mushrooms and eggplant.

Do you have a favorite interval workout at the track? The shorter the better for me.  I started with the mile because I knew mentally I wouldn’t be able to wrap my head around more than one and loved that the repeats in this workout kept getting shorter!

I’m linking up with Fitness and Food with Ilka and Angela, and Tricia and HoHo from The Weekly Wrap!

Workouts this week + Meal Planning

Hey friends! I think I’m back to normal over here… 8pm no longer feels like 2am, and I’m feeling caught up on my business, emails and other to-do lists.

In terms of training, I had a great 6 mile run on Tuesday when I got back.  I was back to running 8ish paces easily and felt normal again.  However, after seeing my PT this week they asked me to back off a little and stick to 4-5 miles for another few weeks.  So I’m going to listen.
Here’s the rundown:

Sunday:  8 mile run around Amsterdam, including Vondel Park with 3 x 1200m pick ups (7:30, 7:15 and 6:51 paces)… felt like I was sprinting on that final one!

Monday:  Nada… travel day.  I watched Patriot’s Day and Hidden Figures on the plane ride home. I really enjoyed both, especially Hidden Figures.  Such a cool story!

Tuesday: 6 miles with some short bursts up hill (8:23 ave)

Wednesday: pool run 20 minutes + swim 40 minutes (about 1 mile)

Thursday: 1 hour elliptical with 12 x 2 minute sprints (8.5 elliptical miles) + upper body strength

Friday: 40 minute pool run + 20 minute swim

Saturday: 4 mile run + 40 minute strength (Cathe’s SuperCuts)

I also got some meal prep done yesterday… grass fed meatballs, chocolate chip banana bread, another batch of kombucha and roasted sweet potatoes.

For the meal plan:

Sunday: Chicken sausages with sauerkraut

Monday: TJ’s Quinoa and Rice pasta with grass fed meatballs and sauce

Tuesday: Grilled chicken and homemade guac (maybe fajitas?)

Wednesday: Leftovers or eat at the pool

Thursday: Soba noodles with broccoli and  pb sauce

Friday: Likely pizza

Saturday: Head to the beach!

What meal prep do you do on a regular basis?

Have you ever jumped back into running too quickly? I do every.single.time.  When will I learn?!

I’m linking up with Fitness and Food with Ilka and Angela, and Tricia and HoHo from The Weekly Wrap!

 

Europe part two plus the running comeback

If you missed it, I shared some highlights from the first part of our Europe trip earlier in the week.

I left off in Worms, Germany.  Our next big goal was to go from Worms to Amsterdam, so we broke up our trip with a few stops including the small town where my MIL’s ancestors came from.  We found her town way out in the country through some winding, narrow roads at the top of a hill.  The drive was beautiful, as was the quaint town.

From there, we broke up the trip by touring the Marksburg Castle in Braubach, one of the only remaining castles that is completely intact.  I highly recommend it- the tour was fascinating. We had lunch at the cafe there before driving the final stretch and making it to Amsterdam in the early evening.  We did a bit of walking around our hotel in Amsterdam in Old Town before calling it a day.

Jared had to present at his conference the next day, so his parents and I took a train to nearby Haarlem to find the Corrie ten Boom house and walk through the historic market square and the impressive Grote Kerk cathedral which houses the third largest organ and the one on which both Handel and Mozart played.

 

After lunch at a cute cafe, I hunted down an adorable chocolate shop and stocked up.  That evening, Jared joined us at Cafe Bern, which was a great Swiss spot where we got cheese fondue and steak since we missed the fondue experience in Switzerland.  From there we walked to Central station to take the ferry across to the Eye. We stopped for ice cream on the walk back to the hotel, of course.

Saturday was another busy day.  I walked a bit in the morning and checked out a local grocery store and did some shopping. Then we spent all afternoon on a bike tour- in Amsterdam, there are more bikes than people! Parents tote their kids in carts on the front of bikes and everyone bikes everywhere.  It was an architectural tour so we stopped at various places and learned more about the history of Amsterdam on the water.

That evening, I joined Jared at the conference dinner in gorgeous TropenMuseum and had dinner in the adjourning marble foyer. Our table included academics from Russia, Germany, Spain and Israel.  Directly across the table was, ironically, an endurance running couple from Utah who were at Boston this year where she ran despite breastfeeding a 5 month old! We bonded over our similar stories but I loved the diversity of the conference.  And of course, English was a second language for everyone else yet they spoke it flawlessly.

On our last day, we said goodbye to Jared’s parents and spent the day on foot one last time.  I started the day with an 8 mile run through Vondel Park and the hotel’s breakfast buffet. Then we checked out the Portuguese Synagogue, the largest Synagoge outside of Israel and walked Old Town, got lunch at Cafe Bloem, took naps and then after dinner caught the canal cruise through the city.  After one last ice cream stop on the way home, we got a few hours of sleep before saying goodbye to the city and heading home on Monday.

So that’s a wrap! Thanks for sticking through it with me!

In terms of the running, I feel good.  The tendonitis is still a bit tender when I press on it but doesn’t hurt to run. I got 3 runs in this week (4 miles walk/run, 5 mostly running miles and 8 miles) and felt awkward and slow but had no pain.  I’m not sure that training for a marathon is the smartest decision but I’m going to see what the PT thinks this week.  Regardless, it feels amazing to be back out there!

Have you been to Amsterdam?

Do you ride bike to get around? The last place we lived where we actually used bikes on a regular basis was in Philadelphia, when we were first married.  If I hadn’t had that city biking experience I think I would have been pretty terrified as we navigated traffic to get out of center city on the bike tour- it was intense near all the tourists! Beyond that, it was easy with well marked bike lanes everywhere.

Any words of wisdom on recovering from tendonitis and marathon training?

 

Europe part one

Hi friends! And Happy 4th of July!

We got back from Europe last night and I’m a bit jet lagged, so if I’m not making sense or repeating myself, you’ll know why.  But I wanted to pop back in with a few photo updates of our trip!

I am lucky that my husband is part of an international conference every year, and other than the year I was pregnant (Sydney, Austrailia) and the year I had an infant breastfeeding (Costa Rica) I get to tag along.  This year it was in Amsterdam, so we started our trip in Switzerland and made our way north.  We also invited Jared’s parents along so we could do a bit of family history too as they’ve never been to Europe and we both have Swiss German roots.

It was a fantastic trip! I could write pages about each day but I won’t.  A few highlights from Switzerland…

On the first day, friends of the family met us in Schaffhausen and took us to a gorgeous lunch spot overlooking the Rhine river, a walk through of the Munot castle, and a walk by the famous Rhine waterfalls.  We finished up with the town’s favorite ice cream spot before crashing at the hotel.

On day 2, we drove south to Lauderbrunnen for a hike in part of the Swiss Alps.  Amazing.  Probably the highlight of the trip for us!

Day 3 was the day I was cleared to begin my running comeback.  I did a combo run/walk for four miles early in the morning through the countryside.

Then Jared and I explored Zurich including a lot of our religious history around the Protestant Reformation and we walked through gorgeous historical cathedrals including Grossmunster church (from the tower you get an impressive view of the city), Fraumunster church with the famous Chagall windows and Peter’s church with the largest clock face.  I could have spent days on the historical side of Europe but I think Jared had his fill of churches that morning!

That evening we drove to a friend’s house for dinner and got to see their traditional small Swiss village and learn more about Switzerland from their perspective.  Definitely another highlight for me as I got many of my Swiss questions answered!

PS-  I was so impressed with the maturity and respectfulness of their four kids. Even their almost four year old can walk by himself down the hill into the small store in the village to pick up a few things.  If only it were safe enough in the US to allow our kids that kind of responsibility!

We woke up to rain the next day and began our drive to Germany.

The main goal was to see a few Luther sites (it’s the 500th anniversary of the Reformation) and Worms was one of the anniversary spots that was on our way to Amsterdam.

We spent the afternoon in Worms where we explored more incredible cathedrals, Luther history and memorials, and got a traditional Germany dinner. In the evening, we walked past the oldest Jewish cemetery in Europe and sat outside eating ice cream. I’m pretty sure we had ice cream every day at some point.  How can you not on vacation?

The adventure continues in Germany and then Amsterdam so I’ll save that for later this week!

Have you been to Europe?

Do you have a favorite country or city? Switzerland was the highlight for me. I told Jared I’m going to start working on my Swiss German in case we decide to retire there. I’m not sure how serious I am about that but at the very least, I could see us spending chunks of time there in retirement!

Workouts this week + a fun trip

Hello from Switzerland! We left our girls behind yesterday and our kid-free adventure begins! It was another solid week of cross training. I’m feeling really good!
Here’s the rundown:Sunday:  rest (so important)Monday:  8 miles on the elliptical with 12 x 1 minute sprints, 1 minute recovery + ST (legs)

Tuesday: 40 minute pool run + 20 minute swim

Wednesday: 8.5 miles on the elliptical with 6 x 2 minute sprints with 1 minute recovery + ST (upper body)

Thursday: HIIT legs/cardio + 45 minute pool run

Friday: very easy 40 minute spin

Saturday: 45 pool run + Ignite Burn + Build

I did a little bit of running this week as warm ups for some of the boot camp/ HIIT workouts and felt fine (not to mention high knees, burpees, squat jumps, skaters, etc in the HIIT workouts.  I know that if I’m fine with all that jumping, I can do some short, easy runs but somehow running is still a bit scary!)

This is the week I’ll be adding some back in, starting conservatively with walk/run combos.

I won’t have much access to my computer this week so I’ll check back in when I’m home again, but you can keep up with my workouts and travels on Instagram!

Do you love or hate HIIT workouts?
I’m loving them lately! But they’re tough to include when I’m also running as it become too much intensity.

Have you been to Europe? Favorite city or country you’ve visited? We went once before kids and explored France and Italy.  This time we’re hitting the northern part- Switzerland, Germany and the Netherlands.  Share any tips or things we must see!

I’m linking up with Fitness and Food with Ilka and Angela, and Tricia and HoHo from The Weekly Wrap!

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How Runners Can Get Fitter While Injured

There is never a good time to have a forced running break, but the timing of this one was frustrating.  I had just signed up for the Richmond marathon and was ready to ramp up my mileage in preparation for training.

Instead, I’ve been cross training for a month letting my tibial tendon recover from too much stress.  In the process, I have been determined to maintain as much running fitness as possible.

From the many articles and research I’ve read on this topic, I was surprised to learn that runners can actually improve their fitness while injured.  Some runners even come back to run pr’s!

Here are a few reasons why:

  1. You can get in more interval training due to the lower impact activities.
  2. Cross training strengthens the whole body which can lead to more overall power.
  3. You can focus on running specific strength training.

My first week, I focused on spinning and long walks, but it takes twice as long to walk the mileage that I had been running so I soon joined a gym to use the elliptical and pool.

Sprints and interval training can only be done once, maybe twice a week on a run without risking injury.  With the elliptical or aqua jogging, it can be more frequent. I’m aiming for at least 3 speed sessions each week.  Here are a few sample workouts:

Aqua Jogging Sprints (in deep water with a belt or dumbbells)

Warm up for 5-10 minutes.  “Sprint” for 2 minutes hard x 5 with 1 minute of easy running between.  Jog 5 minutes easy then repeat sprints.  Cool down.

Aqua Jogging 1200s

Warm up for 5-10 minutes of easy jogging in the water.  Run hard for 5 minutes, easy for 2 minutes x 4-5 rounds.  Cool down with 5 minutes of easy jogging.

*Note: Aqua jogging won’t necessarily be moving your legs as fast as you would on land because of the added resistance but you can get in a really good workout with minimal impact.

Elliptical Sprints

Warm up for 10-15 minutes on varied terrain (I like to choose random).  Sprint for 1 minute, run easy for 1 minute, x 10-12.  Cool down for 5-10 minutes.

Elliptical 400s

Warm up for 10-15 minutes.  Run as hard as you can for 2 minutes, jog easy for 1 minute x 5.  Jog for 5 minutes then repeat the intervals.  Cool down for 5-10 minutes.

Steady state “easy run”

Swimming or cycling are excellent options to replace the easy run.  You can get in a good aerobic workout and stay in fat burning mode while still working harder than you would on an easy run on land.  Rather than a 4-6 mile steady state run, swim for 45 minutes or bike for an hour with moderate resistance.  Swimming forces you to improve your breathing and works the whole body. Biking gives you a break from the running motion but can work the quads with a small incline.

Putting it all together

You still want to keep in mind the easy/hard principle.  To get the most from your exercise routine, your body needs easier days so it can absorb the work and repair itself.

To keep the hard days hard and the easy days easy, add strength on the sprint days and keep the steady state days at a lower intensity.

For a mock long run, bike, swim, hike, use the elliptical or do a combo of any of them for 2 hours total.

Sample week:

Monday: Sprints on the elliptical + ST

Tuesday: 45 minute steady swim

Wednesday: Aqua jogging sprints + ST

Thursday: 1 hour steady spin

Friday: Sprints on the elliptical + ST

Saturday: “Long run”- 1 hour elliptical, 1 hour spin

Sunday: rest

I’m combining a lot of these workout theories in my own cross training and will begin adding some running back in next week.  I feel fitter than ever in my overall fitness, although I realize my running specific fitness will have to catch up for a few weeks as I rebuild time on my feet again.

For more on how aqua jogging can maintain your running fitness, check out this article and additional pool workouts.

Runner’s World also has a 9 week plan for maintaining or improving fitness while injured.

Note: The activities that you are cleared to do will depend on your specific injury.

Have you ever taken time off from running and come back stronger?

After my first marathon, I had a stress reaction and took 10 weeks off! I ran my first 5k two weeks later and set prs in the half, 10k and 5k in the following months.

Do you worry about losing running fitness when injured?

I still do every time! But it always works out okay.  So far, I’ve always come back stronger.  Let’s see if we can say that again after this break!

 

Running Contradictions

Isn’t it crazy how often we hear or read contradictory advice? This is true in both nutrition and running, but lately as I recover from an inflamed tendon I’m getting a lot of it and I thought I’d share a few:

Buy orthotics vs. run in zero drop shoes: Because we’ve determined it’s my tight calves stressing my tendon, my PT wants me to get fitted for orthotics to run in going forward.  Meanwhile, other online advice recommends the opposite- a zero drop shoe to encourage the full extension of each step. How do I decide which to try?

Run through the injury vs. stop running: Several articles claim that it’s fine to run through this injury (which I did for over a year) while others say you must stop. Ultimately, I decided for me I’d rather stop and let it fully heal then play the on-again, off-again came with my shin.

Run less vs run more to improve: I’ve experimented with both of these approaches. While I feel like I improve with more miles (and higher mileage is especially key for marathoners), if it’s going to lead to injury than I’m better off at a lower mileage with cross training.  I’m still debating how to train for the Richmond marathon.

Running improves the joints and is good for the body vs. running leads to degenerative wear and tear: Obviously, rehabbing from a running injury leads to much of the latter… my physical therapist and a trainer at the gym are firm believers that running will tear down your body and you only have so much time before you feel the effects of it (unless you are bio-mechanically perfect).  Meanwhile, Runner’s World put out an article on the benefits of running for life.

I confess, every time I battle a running injury I wonder (again) if running distance is the best choice for me.  It’s certainly not for everyone, and I am feeling much more fit and balanced lately with the greater variety of training.

I know there are so many more…

What running contradictions have you heard?

How do you advocate for yourself and determine what the best fit is for you?

I am linking up with SuzRachelLora, and Debbie for Running Coaches CornerPattyErika, and Marcia for Tuesdays on the Run, NicoleAnnmarieMichelle, and Jen for Wild Workout Wednesday.

 

Pool Cross Training + Meal Planning

Happy Father’s Day to the dads out there!

Thank you for the aqua jogging advice! I’m happy to report I have figured it out.  Getting into the deep water made a huge difference, and I was able to last up to 45 minutes.  It actually wasn’t as boring as I expected.

Because of the pool, I decided to join the gym.  I think I’d like to keep one aqua jogging “run” in per week when I ramp up for Richmond, and honestly, I am having so much fun in the pool! It’s really nice to mix things up.

Here’s the rundown of cross training:

Sunday:  Kickboxing

Monday:  3 mile walk/run (am) + 1 mile swim (pm)

My PT gave me the okay to mix in some running intervals so I did, but honestly I want my angry tendon to heal asap so I’m thinking I’ll stay off it for another week.

Tuesday: 50 minute elliptical with 10 x 1 minute sprints (7 total miles) + upper body strength

Wednesday: 30 minute aqua jogging + 1 mile swim (about 40 minutes)

Thursday: 55 minute elliptical with 12 x 1 minute sprints (7.5 miles) + 15 minute strength circuit

Friday: 45 minute aqua jogging + 20 minute swim

Saturday: 30 minute spin + 45 elliptical for a mock “long run”

 

Meal planning:

Sunday: Father’s Day out!

Monday: Quinoa power bowl with Lemon Tahini dressing

Tuesday:  Grilled salmon, asparagus and potato slices

Wednesday: Last day of school party with friends (taking a fruit salad)

Thursday: Chicken Fajitas

Friday: Leftovers or dinner at the pool

Saturday: Travel day

 

Do you dread or enjoy breaks from running? I used to always dread them, but honestly, I’m loving the variety right now and in some ways feel fitter than when I’m just running, running, running.

What’s your favorite cross training activity?

I’m linking up with Fitness and Food with Ilka and Angela, and Tricia and HoHo from The Weekly Wrap!

What I’m Eating for Breakfast This Week + Learning to AquaJog

This week, I made a giant batch of Veggie Quinoa Salad.  It was intended for lunch, but I found myself eating it for breakfast instead! I quickly threw an egg on top and love a breakfast that comes together in two minutes flat.

I shared the recipe for Breakfast Quinoa Salad here!

Besides getting inspired in the kitchen again, I’m finding myself trying all sorts of cross training lately.

I got HIIT cardio in on Saturday and kick-boxing on Sunday.  I even broke a board!

When they announced what we were doing, I was initially terrified.  But I knew it was largely mental.  If I went up determined to break it, it would break.  It helped that we wrote our barrier on the board… limits, fear and injury were on mine and I smashed through it.  It. Felt. Amazing.

Then on Monday, I took advantage of a free trial at a local gym to have access to a pool again.  The plan was to aqua jog for 45 minutes or so, but I did one lap and called it. Instead, I saw a mile and felt almost as accomplished as a good run.

I didn’t understand why I was barely moving when I tried to jog in the water and what I was doing wrong. I also didn’t feel like it was giving my feet any relief.  I came home and watched several ‘how to’ videos and realized I probably need to find deep water.  So maybe I’ll be doing some aqua jogging at the pool this summer while my kids swim.

The 3-4 foot water wasn’t cutting it for me, although you can aqua jog in that depth as well.

What’s next? I think I’m going to get to the pool as much as I can before my free membership runs out, and then continue with a mix of elliptical, bike, strength and swimming for a few more weeks.

Have you tried aqua jogging? In normal or deep water?

Does your breakfast consist of traditional morning foods, or do you like to step outside the box?

I am linking up with SuzRachelLora, and Debbie for Running Coaches CornerPattyErika, and Marcia for Tuesdays on the Run, NicoleAnnmarieMichelle, and Jen for Wild Workout Wednesday.