This past fall I ran my first half marathon, The Middle Half in Murfreesboro, TN, on a bit of a whim. I registered for the race for many reasons: I needed some motivation to stick to a running routine and run longer distances; I’ve never run a real race before and always wanted to; I was on the tail end of a pretty rough two years and needed something to get excited about; but mostly because of my crippling FOMO. I have 6 siblings and almost as many in-laws. 5 of them were signing up.
My brother sent me the training plan for, “experienced runners” provided by the race and I kinda sorta followed it. I’d never really trained for anything before. I’ve always been a pretty active person – fairly consistently running, practicing yoga, and climbing when I can – but always just for fun/my own peace of mind. So, sticking to a training schedule was a new experience for me and it taught me a few things. For example: it is important to wear a shoe large enough to accommodate your unusually large toes and the swelling of your feet – elsewise you’ll lose a toenail (or three); cheap Chinese takeout is not a suitable meal the night before your weekly long run; chafing is a real thing that happens and should not be taken lightly; and drinking coffee before a run is awesome and can provide a great energy boost but must be timed just right or things will get real sketchy around mile 3.
The training plan involved running three times during the week, cross-training once, and going for a long run every weekend. Honestly, I was lucky if I got in all three runs during the week and I rarely (if ever) got to the cross-training but I always made the long weekend runs. After several weeks of trial and error and two pairs of running shoes – I figured out what worked best for me. I’m proud to say I finished the race next to my brother in under two hours. The photos are heinous. I always thought I had pretty good form, but crossing the finish line I looked more like this. I will try to be more prepared for the paps at the next race…
Now, I’m training for my second race – The Country Music Half Marathon. At first, I was really hesitant. The race is on April 27th – that is RIGHT at the start of sandal season and my toes are just now recovering from the damage done training for the race in October. I decided to go for it anyway and am training with my brother again and a group of our fellow UT alumni. The second time around I am striving to be more diligent about following the training plan, though getting to the cross-training is still not so much happening as it is not happening. I like to think that since most of my mid-week runs alternate between me fighting Emmett (my 50lb pit mix) when he decides to sprint and pulling him along when he decides to sniff everything in sight that I am somehow getting an extra-tough workout and therefore need the cross-training less. Plus, I sit on an exercise ball most of the time at work so… don’t worry about it.
My basic running day routine is as follows:
Wake up an hour(ish) before I will be running and have an english muffin with peanut butter (maybe a tablespoon), a cup of coffee, and some water. I used to wake up with just enough time to scarf a banana, run, shower, and get to work but it’s been really nice to have the extra buffer to allow myself to fully wake up, do some reading, and enjoy a good digestion before going for a run.
Then, I run. The mileage varies during the week from 2 and 3 towards the beginning of the plan to 5 and 7 towards the end. I’ve tried a few different shoes (New Balance, Nike Free, Saucony, etc.) with mixed results and finally found my soul-shoe: the Brooks Pure Cadence 2. They are perfect for me – the perfect amount of support and a sock-like upper which is exactly what my toes need. Fingers-crossed my feet won’t be too wrecked after the race and I’ll be able to wear sandals with minimal shame. I also recently purchased my first running watch, the Garmin Forerunner 10, to keep track of my pace and have been really happy with it – it’s a rather basic model but it covers all the action I need.
When I get back from the run, I stretch for about 15 minutes, and make this green smoothie to enjoy on the way to work.
For dinner, I’ve been eating a lot of pastas and generally making sure to get a lot of protein and carbs – mostly carbs. This is really no different from my usual diet. If I could bake pasta into garlic bread, I would. In fact, I’ve seen it on pinterest and have every intention of trying it someday very soon. Every Friday night, in preparation for the long run on Saturday, we make this very fancy dish: Cheesy Rice and Beans.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- 6 eggs
- 1.5 cups brown rice (dry)
- an avocado
- 1 can cannellini beans (or great northerns if you can’t find cannellinis) rinsed and drained
- 3/4 C (ish) shredded Mexican-blend cheese
- A dash or so of garlic, salt, and pepper
- Tapatío to taste
Make the rice according to package instructions – a few minutes before the rice is done, get ready to fry the eggs.
Prepare the eggs over easy, sprinkle with salt and pepper, set aside and keep warm.
Stir the beans and cheese into the rice – add garlic powder to taste.
Cube the avocado.
Divide rice and bean mixture between two bowls, add avocado cubes, top with three eggs per bowl and as many dashes of Tapatío as your heart desires.
The beans and eggs provide plenty of protein and fiber while the rice gives you a solid amount of healthy carbs. The avocado is great for those omega-3s that are so good for your brain and the cheese and Tapatío are just delicious. I try to eat this as late as possible the night before a long run. It might be all in my head – but so far, it is the best night-before meal I have tried to date. So much so that I don’t even bother branching out anymore. Maybe I’ll consider it for the pasta-stuffed garlic bread…