Sunday, December 18, 2011

Training for a marathon

From the many blogs I read and the few people I have talked to about marathons, it is clear that there is not a golden training plan that guarantees the successful completion of a marathon. Rather, everyone has their own unique training plan that works best for their fitness level and end goal. For many first time marathoners, it is all about finishing! This is the case for me. I just want to finish the 26.2 miles and want to run as much of those 26.2 miles as I can. While it is completely acceptable to walk portions of a marathon, I would like to keep a steady pace throughout the entire race. I have not set a time goal for myself but may have a better idea once my long runs become longer.

Most marathon plans follow the same pattern. Short runs during the week with a mixture of cross-training, and a long run on the weekend that continues to get longer. For someone like me that has a hard time focusing on 26.2 miles, a training plan is vital. Since I have never run anything over 13 miles, it will be important for me to stick to a training plan that helps me build up to 26.2.

During the week, I want to focus on high intensity interval training, strength training and yoga.  It may take me a few weeks to get into a rhythm of what my workouts will look like during the week, but I am hoping to find a nice balance of workouts that will allow for recovery time and help me get stronger for my long runs on the weekend!

So my training plan looks something like this:
DATE
MILES
12/17/11
8
12/24/11
6
12/31/11
10
1/7/11
12
1/14/11
8
1/21/12
14
1/28/11
16
2/4/11
10
2/11/12
18
2/18/12
12
2/25/12
20
3/3/12
15
3/10/12
6
3/17/12
26.2!!!!


The great thing about running with a group like TNT, is that we meet at a different place each weekend for our long run. This last Saturday, we ran a 4 mile course (twice) starting at the Capitol Building, up the National Mall to the Lincoln Memorial and back down the National Mall to the Capitol. It is a run that almost every DC'er has done and a run that I could never get tired of! Something about running along side our national monuments that gives you just an extra boast of motivation.
You will have to excuse all of my pictures. They are all taken on my phone camera and in the early dawn hours....

I am still in need of someone to give me my first donation! How great would it be if you were my first donor??!!
To donate, click here! 



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Saturday, December 17, 2011

Spring Marathon-Team in Training 2011

As you may know, I have been waiting to run a marathon for a LONG time. I have signed up for a couple but when it came race time, I would have zero confidence in myself and my training and come race day I wouldn't follow through.  So knowing myself too well, I knew if I even wanted to complete a marathon I would need more of a purpose to run, not just to fulfill a goal of mine, but running for a purpose bigger than me and running with other people that had the same purpose.

So in comes Team in Training (TNT).  Most of you have probably heard of TNT before or have seen their famous purple shirts running around your city. They are an amazing organization that brings together people that train for endurance races while raising significant amounts of money to make a difference in the lives of cancer patients and their families. The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's Team in Training has raised over $1.2 billion to fund lifesaving cancer research! As a member of TNT, I will have the exciting opportunity for 3 months of group training to complete the Rock-n-Roll Washington DC Marathon on March 17th.

I had my first long run this morning and I am already convinced that my training for this race will be much different from other races that I have trained for by myself.  Not only do I get to run with other people that have the same goals as I do, but there we have a group of motivated coaches, support from families and friends and an overall camaraderie that will surely be needed when the runs become long and the weather gets colder. Our long run today was 8 miles and while it was certainly cold outside, you soon forget the numbness in your limbs and enjoy the conversation and laughter of your fellow runners.


So I am committed to training with this great group of people and putting in the time and distance to run my first marathon this spring in Washington DC.

Of course, in order for me to do that, I will need YOUR help! You can help me by donating to my fundraising efforts for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Any amount, $1, $10, $100....would help me reach my fundraising goals which allows me to run with my other teammates on March 17th in the Rock'n'Roll DC Marathon! And more importantly, your donations go to a great organization that is making a real difference in the lives of cancer patients.

How can you donate? CLICK HERE  or copy and paste this link into your browser.

 http://pages.teamintraining.org/nca/natl12/mhardinksx
 
At this page, you can securely donate plus learn more about my progress toward my financial goal!   You will receive a confirmation of your donation by email and I will be notified as soon as you make your donation. Each donation helps accelerate finding a cure for leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma. Nearly 958,000 Americans are battling these blood cancers.  I am hoping that my participation in Team In Training will help bring them hope and support.

I will blogging about my training here and on my donation page. So check back often to see how my training is going and how I am feeling leading up to race day. I need you to keep me accountable to my commitment and will need your support! I have never run more than 13 miles, so 26.2 will be a challenge!

As my family, friends, colleagues, friend of friends, I am excited to take you along this journey with me. And if you feel so inclined, sign up to run with me! There is still time to train! If you are not runner, but still want to participate, schedule a much needed trip to DC and come out to cheer me on! It will certainly be a celebration for all that are involved! I can even offer you free lodging!

In the season of giving, please make your donation today! THANK YOU!



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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Resolutions

Well, it is that time again. The time when everyone becomes overwhelmed with holiday shopping, countless office parties,  uber amounts of sugar-laden treats and the stress of wrapping up the end of another year.  The thing I love most about the end of the year is the perception that you can start the next year resolving to be a better person. Every year at this time I start to make my long list of resolutions for the coming year. The list almost always includes some sort of fitness goal, finance goal, career goal, and character building goal. The list tends to be very ambitious but it makes me feel accomplished to just get these things down on paper.

But I have decided my approach for 2012 will be different this time. I will not create an ambitious list of resolutions that will probably be forgotten by February, rather I am going to take things I did in 2011 that I enjoyed and made me feel better and do more of them in 2012!

One of the things I did in 2011 that truly changed my outlook on food and fitness is adopting a diet with "real food". Real food?? Yes, real food! Food that is natural like meats, vegetables, and fruit. Foods that are nutrient dense, minimally processed, with lots of naturally occurring vitamins and minerals.  I threw out attempts of calories counting and focused on foods that would help me maintain a heathy metabolism and reduce inflammation within my body. So what did I eat?

  • Lots of eggs 
  • MEAT! Beef, chicken, turkey, etc
  • Fruit 
  • Vegetables
  • Almonds
  • Fat Sources (olive oils, coconut milk, etc)
What don't I eat?
  • Grains
  • Pasta
  • Milk
  • Soy products
  • Processed/added sugar
  • Anything processed..
Now this might seem extreme for people that know me well. You know I love food and that my "death row" meal consists of homemade pasta and roasted tomatoes accompanied with a large side of fresh bread! While thinking of this meal still makes my stomach hungry, I haven't had this meal in over 6 months and would probably now pick a big hearty salad if given the choice between the two. 

This all started over the summer when I enrolled in the CrossFit South Arlington Nutritional Challenge.  While I was confident I could do anything for 6 weeks, I am a chronic dieter that has failed at any diet that restricted my favorite foods.  I tried Atkins for 5 days, have never made it past the first phase of South Beach, and was a vegan for 4 days. My track record was dismal. 

Before I agreed to start this nutritional challenge, I did my research.  I read countless blogs and the evidence was everywhere...our bodies need real food, our bodies thrive off on nutrient dense food! 
This nutritional challenge that I was about to embark on is based on the Whole9 Nutritional Program.  Whole9 is not a "diet",  rather they stress eating as much as needed to maintain strength, energy, activity levels and a healthy body weight.  

So after spending the first half of 2011 with some sort of illness, being diagnosed with seasonal asthma, and failing to meet any of my fitness goals, I know I needed a serious change. Not just a diet to lose weight but a wholesome approach to becoming a healthier person. I knew this challenge was something I couldn't pass up and owed it to myself to at least give my all-out effort to complete. 

I will be honest in saying this was hard! I spent the first week with sugar withdraw symptoms, the second week I had to fight to stay upright in the evenings, and by the third week, I was starting to feel normal again. By week 4, the changes started surfacing. I was falling asleep easily at night and waking up feeling energized, I had a great amount of energy all day, and recovery from my workouts was getting quicker. By week 5 my allergies were disappearing, any food cravings were eliminated and none of my clothes were fitting any more. By week 6, I was reaping all the benefits of this program! No allergies, no asthma, the best sleep of my life, high energy, and had dropped 20 lbs! 
And my workouts were also improving, my runs were getting faster, my knee pain had disappeared and my endurance was increasing! 

At the end of six weeks I had figured I would run out to the local pizza place and inhaled a large pizza all by myself and be back to my normal ways, but I love the way I am feeling too much to ever go back to eating the way I used to. (Disclaimer: The day after the challenge ended, I did go out for pizza and paid for it dearly the next day...ouch)

While I admit to having non-Whole9 food occasionally, especially during the holidays, I am quickly reminded how bad unnatural food makes me feel and I always go back to eating clean. 

I never realized just how much control we have over the way we feel! Sure some things are uncontrollable, but we contribute GREATLY to the way we feel inside and out.  You have the power to change things and invest in giving your body the best it deserves. GOOD, CLEAN, NATURAL FOOD!

So I resolve in 2012 to continue to eat as clean as I can! The great thing about resolutions is that you can make them at any time. Don't wait until the end of a year to resolve to eat better and become healthier, start now! 

Check out the Whole9 blog for an amazing amount of great information and a community of people that are supportive of helping you live your healthiest life.