Monday, April 28, 2014

Speed up, shorty.

The Marathon is behind me and Spring is cruising by. Bring on the longer days, warmer temperatures and shorter runs. Over the next few months, I'm focusing on improving my speed and looking good in my bathing suit (priorities, ya'll).

Cue the strength-training, cross-training and jogging stroller-pushing.

Long-distance training is awesome; its also super time-consuming. This time of year is always packed with weekend activities (festivals, roller coasters and beer-drinking, to name a few), so its an ideal time for me to run shorter and focus on other parts of my training besides distance.

My next major goal is the Seashore Nature Trail 50k in Virginia Beach. That race isn't until December, so I've got a little time to kill as far as training goes. Guess I might as well crush my 5k and 10k PRs while I'm waiting. My fastest 5k time is 23:56, a time that I'm confident I can beat this July during the Road Runner's Cul-De-Sac series. My 10k goal is to come in around 55 minutes at the James River Scramble next month. Totally doable. I think.

In order to become a stronger, faster trail runner, I've been sticking mostly to single-track trails that are somewhat challenging from a technical standpoint. The mountain bike trails @ Pocahontas, Buttermilk/Northbank, Forest Hill Park and Rockwood Park are my favorite local spots. It feels totally different to focus on speed instead of endurance. To hit 6 miles and feel exhausted after pushing myself to maintain a less-than-comfortable pace is sort of refreshing. And weird.

I'm not an expert, but I find that in order to run faster, I have to get stronger and lighter. Since I'm not currently running giant distances, I've been eating a little less and really trying to eat the right stuff. Easier said than done, but we're all a work in progress, right?

Here are my 5 favorite power-foods

1. Avocadoes

I know I'm not the first to realize this, but avocadoes really make me feel lean and strong. I love them with eggs in the morning or added to a favorite sandwich.

2. Greek Yogurt w/ Flax seed granola

One of my favorite mid-morning snacks. Fills me up and satisfies my sweet tooth.

3. Pretzels & Bananas w/ Peanut Butter

Best snack to munch on during my kiddo's nap-time...yummy and even better because I don't have to share.  :)

4. Edemame

Best. Food. Ever.

5. Tomato Sandwich on whole wheat

To me, a tomato sandwich is the lunch for Spring & Summer. I toast the bread and stack it high with veggies, cheese and the fattest tomato I can get my hands on. YUM.

Eating better definitely makes my training go more smoothly. I feel lighter, quicker and less sluggish; even on hard days, I feel stronger than ever before. I still have to get my pizza fix on (old habits die hard), while enjoying a little more salad and a little less cheese.

In addition to eating better and running shorter distances, I've added more cross-training and strength-training to my routine. Cycle class has become my new go-to for low-impact cardio while Boot-Camp style workouts have been kicking my butt on a regular basis. These new additions to my regimen are keeping my workouts fun while strengthening and toning every muscle group (including those I didn't know existed).

When I'm not able to hit the trail, I've been dusting off my jogging stroller and hitting the pavement with Lu in tow. The older she gets, the more challenging (and hilarious) this becomes. This morning we went to Rockwood Park for a little jogging and playground action. The constant hills at Rockwood are hard enough, but throw in a very chatty toddler and a very heavy stroller and you've got yourself a heck of a workout.

When your running buddy is 2 years old...
Lu- "Another big hill, Mommy?"
Me- "Yep (deep breath),"
Lu- "We almost there, Mommy?"
Me- "Uh-huh."
Lu- "This is hard work, Mommy."
Me- "...(you're telling me, kid)...Yeah, it sure is..."
Lu- "Me have my fruit snacks, Mommy?
Me- ".........."
Lu- We go playground now, Mommy? Pleeeease?"
Me- "Yep, in just a minute."(quads on FIRE)
Lu- "Mommy?......You OK, Mommy?"
We finally make it up the damn hill.
Lu- "Yay! I WIN!"
My very chatty running partner.
Hopefully the results will be evident by my stellar beach bod; I'll be the one covered in goldfish crumbs, chasing around a topless 3 year old on the beach. Yeah, that's sexy.