Runnerd, Geek Out! – The Essential Piece of Gear

I saw a meme last week that said something like, “All you need to run is running shoes and a good sports bra.” I thought…WRONG! There’s so much more that you “need.” Tech clothes. Fun socks. Water bottles. Nutrition supplements. Compression sleeves. iPod Shuffle. Garmin watch. The list goes on!

Ok, ok…so you don’t NEED any of those things to run, but they sure can make it easier, more fun, and maybe make you feel a bit more like a real runner.

There is, however, one piece of gear that I find essential, outside of properly fitted running shoes. It’s a bit underrated, and I never thought it would be something that I would spend so much time finding just the right one.

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Here’s a series of pictures from my 2013 races. Can you spot the one thing that’s in all of them? It might not be obvious at first. They are either on my face or on my head in all of them. My dependable Tifosi Optics Podium S Interchangeable sunglasses! I NEVER run outside without them.

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You are probably thinking…sunglasses are an essential piece of running gear? You betcha. Before I got these bad boys, I was wearing either my regular pair of cheapo tortoise shell big frame sunglasses from Target or the free ones I got at the Color Me Rad race. I would often notice a headache after my runs. I figured it was because I was still a new runner and my body was adjusting. Then my running coach, aka Daddy Man, suggested I look at getting a pair of athletic sunglasses. And as usual, when it comes to all things athletic, he was right.

The number one reason to get running sunglasses…they are insanely lightweight. I forget they are on my face. When I push them up when I’m done running, I forget they are on my head. I’ve gotten in the shower with them on before only to discover them when I go to shampoo. Lightweight sunglasses = no headache for this runner!

So, why did I choose Tifosi? When I first started the hunt for running sunglasses, I had three criteria…a pair that would fit my child-sized face, a pair that wouldn’t pinch my temples, and a pair with interchangeable lenses. I wear these when I ride my bike as well and on a cloudy day when I don’t need sunglasses I still want a set of clear lenses that I can pop in…because bugs in your eyes suck.

I looked at Oakleys, but they pinched my head and caused more pain than my cheapo Color Me Rad pair. They are also a bit on the pricey side. I looked at Smith Optics. I love the look of their sunglasses, but they are unfortunately made for people with average to large size adult heads…not me. I wasn’t about to drop $100 on sunglasses only to have them fall off my head.

In the end, I went with the Tifosi Podium S. They are a smaller size than their regular Podiums. I like the sleek look of them and the pop of color with the pink temple pieces. They stay where I put them, even if I wear them over a Bondi Band covering my ears on a cool morning run. The lenses are easy to change, and the set comes in a nice storage case. And they didn’t cost an arm and a leg. I got the whole set for under $70.

If you are a new runner, make a good, properly fitted pair of running shoes your first priority and lightweight sunglasses a close second.

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How Do You Do It? – Sometimes You Don’t

I love that the last post I did was about time management. Because for the last two weeks, I have struggled to juggle everything. So here’s my excuses… Blue turned five on the 28th, so we were busy for about three days preparing for birthday festivities. On top of that, work was crazy. I had a big program the first Saturday of the month. Planning this big super Saturday events at the library is akin to planning a wedding. And on top of all of that, Daddy Man and my training plans have increased. I’m up to running 24+ miles per week, including my first 9-miler on Blue’s birthday. Daddy Man has his first big brick workout this weekend. It’s non-stop swim, bike, run around our house.

Ok…so there’s my excuses. Oh wait, there’s a couple more… The past week was spent playing catch-up. The laundry piled up and I was forced to use overflow tubs. It was clean, but not put away. The sink always seemed to have dishes in it, but at least I was keeping up with cooking and we weren’t eating take-out every night.

So how do I do it? Sometimes I don’t. And thanks OK. Sometimes the laundry piles up for the sake of extra family time or extra miles in my running shoes. Sometimes the dishes don’t get done, but Daddy Man and I get an extra hour to watch TV together and go to bed early.

I have lots of fun things planned for the blog. I just need to get them out of my head and onto the computer screen. Lots of run stuff to share. Lots of funny things my kids have said or done. Stay tuned!

How Do You Do It? – The Big Secret

Dominic Toretto in The Fast and the Furious:

I live my life a quarter mile at a time.

I’m about to reveal my big secret for how I get so much done in the time that I have. I took some advice from Dominic Toretto. No, I don’t secretly street race cars. I do however live my life in blocks or chunks of time.

Think about your day. There’s 24 hours in it, no more, no less. What do you get done in those 24 hours? Maybe you take care of small children. Maybe you work fulltime or parttime. Maybe you are retired. Maybe you go to school. Whatever you do, you do it in those 24 hours. You have to find time to eat, find time to sleep, find time to clean, find time to workout.

I get a lot done in a 24 hour time frame. I get the boys to school. I run. I work at the library. I keep my house decently clean. I cook. I find time for myself. And I do it all in 30 minute chunks of time. Yep…that’s how I do it. I see my day as 30 minute chunks. Because you can do anything for 30 minutes, right?

When my house gets out of hand, I set a timer for 30 minutes. I clear the clutter, putting things back where they go. I start a load of laundry. I empty the dishwasher. I vacuum the living room. I go through the mail on my desk. And before I know it the timer is beeping at me. Maybe I’m done or maybe I need another 30 minutes. Either way, I made a dent in the mess that used to be my house.

People ask me if I liked running in the beginning. Most people might be surprised to learn the answer is no. It sucked. My pace was slow. I had to take frequent walk breaks. I used Couch to 5K which conveniently lasts 30 minutes (give or take a bit) per workout. You can run/walk for 30 minutes…you can do it! It might be tough. Your lungs and legs will burn. But it’s only 30 minutes…as long as a sitcom, as long as a waiting room wait at the doctor’s office, as long as it takes for you to check your social media.

You don’t have to use my 30 minute secret just to do housework or workout. You can use it to treat yourself too. 30 minutes is usually a decent break to clear my head. I give myself 30 minutes to cruise the internet, sit down with a book, or watch one of my favorite TV shows. Then I can tackle my next 30 minutes of whatever else I need to accomplish that day.

Once you master doing things in 30 minute chunks, you can take it another step and do things in one hour chunks or more. This is how I mentally prep myself for my longer runs. I know a 6 mile run will take me a little more than an hour, so I get through the first 30 minutes and then the next. My first 8 mile run took me three 30 minute chunks. Breaking it up makes it more manageable.

It seems simple but it works. You can be tough mentally and/or physically for 30 minutes. Self motivation. Self control. Mind over matter. It’s just about getting it done…30 minutes at a time.

A Look Ahead – Week 8

First things first, this happened this morning:

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Brown has been acting out a bit lately, both at home and school. Daddy Man and I finally figured out it was because he wasn’t getting enough attention. He’s our easy kid…good at doing things for himself, a good not-picky eater, mostly independent. We forget that he’s still just six years old and craves our attention. A 3 mile Sunday morning run with mama fixed that right up. And isn’t he the cutest thing in his little tights, running shorts, and shoes! Love this kid! He is a natural born runner. I can’t wait to see everything he can accomplish in running shoes!

Now let’s see…what do I have to do this week…

Tomorrow is what Blue calls a “Family Day.” No one works. No one has school. We have no plans yet. Daddy Man and I both have a 5 mile run, which we can hopefully do together. We don’t get to run together very often. I owe Brown a new running outfit from when he had strep throat and had to get an antibiotic shot, so we can go run stuff shopping, which is just about my favorite thing to do.

Tuesday is usually my off day, from both running and work, but I have a workplace violence seminar that I have a horrible feeling that I will forget about. I set an alarm on my phone, so hopefully that will help!

The rest of the week is business as usual. My long run this week is 8 miles. The weather is supposed to be wonderful all week, so I’m hoping I can do all of my runs outside. Maybe I can even get a 10 mile XTing bike ride outside.

And of course, I will try to get all of my blog posts done! I hope everyone has a great week!!

Week 7

Running: Week 4 of half marathon training is in the bag. I didn’t miss a single workout yet again. Ok…I didn’t do a Fun Workout last Sunday, but I did yoga the day before and decided it counted. I did a total of 21.75 miles! I got new running shoes, but haven’t run in them yet. Brooks PureCadence 2s. They are pretty and match my husband’s PureFlow 2s.

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House: Nothing really new. I’m a little behind on laundry, and the kitchen is a bit of a mess. But I haven’t been cooking much lately…hmmm. I need to work on that. We have a small goal to not eat out until next weekend.

Brown and Blue: The boys enjoyed Valentine’s Day immensely. Brown had his school party on Thursday because of parent teacher conferences, but he came home with lots of goodies from his classmates. Blue got to go bowling Friday morning with his preschool class and then had a party back at school. There is nothing cuter than 8 four-year-olds bowling with ramps and bumpers. Blue bowled a 74 and got one spare!

We went to the circus with the inlaws Valentine’s Day evening. The boys had a blast. They got to ride an elephant and loved the clowns. Of course, the highlight of the evening was when the elephants started pooping during their part of the program. Little boys think poop is the funniest thing on the planet! (Ok…I’ll admit it was pretty darn funny watching the guys scramble to clean it all up while the elephants were still doing their tricks!)

Books: I started Independent Study by Joelle Charbonneau, but I’m having trouble finding the concentration to sit down and read.

That’s it for this week!

Not-So-Wordless Wednesday

We had my grandparents over for dinner last night. I owed Grandpa roast chicken. I didn’t disappoint. And neither did Blue…

Blue is jumping on the couch.
Grandma: You’re gonna make your mom crazy!
Blue: She’s already crazy!

Daddy Man to Brown: Did you give a special Valentine to Grace*? Isn’t she your girlfriend?
Brown: Dad! I don’t have a girlfriend!
Daddy Man: Well, is she a girl?
Brown: Yes.
Daddy Man: And is she your friend?
Brown: Yes.
Blue: Then she’s your girlfriend! HAHA!
(Oh…little brothers!)

HDYDI – Meatballs, Quinoa, and Broccoli…oh my!

I did a 7 mile run on a MONDAY. Woah. I gave Jeff Galloway’s Run/Walk/Run method a try, and I am 100% sold. My legs don’t even feel like I ran this morning, let alone ran seven miles. I used a 4:1 ratio, and my overall pace was 11:23, which is nearly 20secs faster than my normal long run pace. Mind blown! This makes my goal of a half marathon at 2:30 completely, totally, and 100% possible! BRING IT ON!

I forgot to write my look ahead post yesterday. Oops. It turns out that was a good thing because the phone rang at 5:30 with a recording letting me know that Brown didn’t have school, which threw my whole week off track. The trace to two inches of snow we were supposed to get turned out to be closer to four inches. It only took me four tries to get out of my driveway to go to the gym this morning, after calling Blue in “hookie.” Brown and Blue love that word. The roads weren’t too bad though. I’m getting good at snow driving. As long as we have snow and no ice, I’m good.

Anyway, my “How do I do it?” post today will be to share a recipe. I cook from scratch whenever I can. And I LOVE meatballs. I used to buy frozen meatballs, but have you ever looked at what is in those suckers? MSG. Lots of sodium. And who knows where they get the meat for them? Ick. So I make my own meatballs and freeze them. Viola…meatballs whenever I want!

I adapted this recipe from the “Everday Italian Meatballs” from Eat What You Love by Marlene Koch. Awesome book. I should really own a personal copy because I check it out from work at least four times a year. I love this recipe because I always have all of the ingredients on hand.

My Meatballs

1 lbs lean ground beef
8 Ritz crackers (put in a ziplock bag and smash them with your hands, or let the kids do it!)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1.5 Tbsp dried minced onion
1 Tbsp dried parsley
1 large egg
2 Tbsp water
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Preheat oven to 400.

Using a stand mixer, combine all ingredients together. If you don’t have a stand mixer, get one and mix your meatballs in it. It will blow your mind. Or use a bowl and spoon/hands, and dream of using a stand mixer.

Form into 1-ish-inch balls. I use a food scale and make 1.1oz meatballs. I’m a bit OCD about them. I usually get around 20-22 meatballs.

Place meatballs in an 8×11-inch baking dish and bake for 25 minutes, or until tops are browned and the meat is cooked through.

Ok…so you made meatballs, now what do you do with them? Most people probably think spaghetti and meatballs. Yes, we do this with them quite often. But what else can you do with them?

This is my current favorite thing in the world. I have eaten it for lunch at least 50% of the time for the last month. I wonder what I ate before I discovered the joy of quinoa and broccoli. I cook my quinoa in just chicken broth, and I steam my broccoli in my waterless cookware. Hello, lunch!ou could also make BBQ meatball sliders. Think cheddar cheese and King’s Hawaiian rolls. Or meatball subs with jarred pizza sauce and hoagie rolls. Or Swedish-style meatballs by making a simple beef gravy (remember, I’m dairy free) and serving it over egg noddles.

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So how do I do it? I keep homemade meatballs ready to go in the freezer at all times. 🙂