April Goals

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Happy April 2nd. Most people post their monthly goals on the first, but I was still creating my training plan then. The next 6 weeks are going to be intense. First up is the Newport 10 Miler on April 28th (4 weeks away), then the United Healthcare Half Marathon (Part of the Cox Rhode Races – 6 weeks away), and then the icing on the cake for spring – Reach the Beach (7 weeks away).

While creating my training plan it really dawned on me just how important it is going to be to keep my body healthy and happy, which is what my April goals are all about.

1) 96 oz. of hydration per day. Water, Nuun, decaf tea – anything to keep me well hydrated. And of course, laying off the alcohol. I’ve been doing very well with this since mid-March. I will have a couple of drinks on the weekend but that’s about it now. (118 oz. yesterday!)

2) Make sure I’m eating enough. I read an article the other day about female athletes and dietary needs. It outlined the dangers of high activity levels versus low caloric intake. It was definitely an eye opener, and I honestly don’t think I’m eating enough. I am now tracking my meals with a very specific calorie goal per day that is tailored to my activity level (including at work, at home, and my workouts). I can’t wait to see what the difference is in my energy levels and my muscle tone once I start eating “enough.” I met that goal yesterday without a problem, and felt great!

3) Keep up with #30for60. Last time I ran the #30for60 challenge I wasn’t a very good leader – I didn’t even complete all 60 days. This time I will definitely complete all 60 days – and with the training plan I’ve created so far for April, that will not be a problem!

4) Yoga. Once a week. I went to an all levels yoga class last week for the first time in 2 1/2 months – and boy could I tell I’m out of practice. I used to take a power basic class every Thursday night, but I’m not so sure I could handle that right now. I want to get back to, and beyond, the point I was at last spring before I stopped going regularly.

5) Take up indoor rock climbing. My best friend Jen goes indoor rock climbing regularly. I’ve been once, but I loved it. I even bought a climbing harness with the REI gift card I got for Christmas. Now I have to commit to doing it – I’m sure I can get her to help  me see to that.

6) Run at least 75 total miles. That’s about 30% more miles than I ran in March, which is my highest distance month since August. I know as long as I take care of myself (stretching, foam rolling, The Stick…), that I can do this. I just have to be careful.

That’s quite the list of things to do this month! This is all on top of my training schedule which gets really crazy around Mid-April. That’s when I have to start focusing on training for Reach the Beach by doing some crazy stuff like running twice a day!

What are your goals for the month of April?

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Running after Baby

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/Disclaimer: I love the concept of Stacey’s post, but I am in no way, shape, or form with child. This is, however, extremely important and useful information for those of you that may be pregnant and/or may be thinking about it for the future (I know a few of you who fit into both! *squeal*) /end disclaimer

Hello readers of Running & Cupcakes! I’m so thankful for Samantha for allowing me to guest post today! I’m Stacey and I blog over at Here’s to Life which is a blog about giving thanks, fitness, celebrating life, beer (mmm), and, most recently, becoming a new mom. That’s me below at the height of my running career (post-marathon!).

Me_Photo1

My baby boy arrived eight weeks ago via c-section and, per doctor’s orders, I’ve been doing a lot of resting, recovering, and relaxing. While I waited for the man with a medical degree to tell me it was okay to exercise, I had dreams about running again and took my little baby on a lot of walks. Although, I do have to admit that it was kind of nice to have a break from my usual sweat sessions. And, spending all my time with the sweet little guy took my mind off jogging.

When I got the okay to start exercising again, I eagerly laced up my sneakers and hit the pavement. Turns out….it was hard. Like, really really hard. I only ran 2.2 miles (in about 25 minutes) and it took a lot out of me. I had to take walking breaks, I was extremely thirsty, and I started….uhm….leaking through my sports bra.

During my cool down, I realized I made a few rookie mistakes. To help other new moms avoid a not-so-pleasant first post-partum run, here’s a few tips:

1. Get permission from your doctor to start running again. Regardless of the type of delivery you have, it’s important to let your body rest and heal after having a baby. Be sure to get the OK from your medical provider before you lace up.

2. Hydrate! Hydrate! Hydrate! Obviously runners need lots of aqua but, if you’re breastfeeding, you are already in need of extra H2O. Make sure to drink up before you head out and bring a small water bottle with you.

Hydrate_photo2

3. Feed the baby before you run (breastfeeding moms). You’ll be a lot more comfortable if your jugs aren’t full of milk when they start bouncing around. Plus, you can avoid the embarrassment of springing a leak.

4. Dress appropriately. The running shoes you wore while still hitting the pavement at 7 months preggo probably need to be replaced. Your foot has most likely swelled while pregnant, stretching your kicks and breaking down the support, so invest in a new pair.

Dress_Photo3

Also, be sure to wear a supportive sports bra. If pre-pregnancy you were small-chested and are now enjoying the ‘perks’ of being a mom or were big-chested to begin with and just trying to manage your mondo-boobs, you’re going to need more support. Get fitted for a running bra to keep the girls comfy.

5. Be patient. Your body just went through the ultimate endurance test….childbirth. While you may be mentally prepared to log miles like you did before getting knocked up, hormones are still surging through your body causing all sorts of changes physically. Start slow and take breaks. It’ll take awhile to get back to where you were pre-baby, so don’t put high expectations on your body. Pat yourself on the back for getting started and you’ll get your stride back in no time.


The Importance of Hydration

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Now that the warmer months are approaching, I thought I’d take this time to express to you the importance of proper hydration. But first, a little story…

Once upon a time there was a Little Cupcake (we’ll call her LC for short) who drank nothing but soda. And not diet soda, but full blown, straight up, high fructose corn syrup loaded Coke (or Sprite if I she was going caffeine free). LC had chronic problems with urinary tract infections, headaches, and not feeling well in general, but she couldn’t figure out why. So LC took a trip to her doc. Doc asked LC, “Do you drink water?” LC, befuddled at such a question, told the Doc “No, I do not drink water.” Lo and behold, lack of water consumption was the root of LC’s problems. From that day forward LC drank water all the time, aside from her morning coffee and her lunch time soda. No more UTI’s, no more headaches, no more icky feeling.

I love a happy ending. So, why am I telling you this? Because you need to hydrate. Especially during the summer. Which is quickly approaching (YAY!)

Why do we need to hydrate?

1)  The lower a persons percentage of body fat the higher their percentage of body water is. (Source) Okay so, we run, we work out, we lower our body fat and increase our body water. With a higher body water percentage to keep up, you must hydrate.

2) Insufficient hydration fatigues your muscles, reduces your coordination and causes muscle cramps. (Source) Not something you want to experience while running or working out, amiright?

3) Water is the most important nutrient for life and has many important functions including regulating temperature, lubricating joints and transporting nutrients and waste throughout the body. (Source) Without proper hydration you’ll overheat. Transporting waste throughout your body – waste, like lactic acid that builds up during a hard workout or a long run.

Enough science already. Science was never my strong suit. The point is – the weather is getting warmer and we’re all taking our workouts outside. Please make sure you hydrate properly. Signs of dehydration include:

  • Dry mouth (Do NOT wait until you are thirsty to hydrate, thirst is a sign that you are already on your way to dehydrating!)
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Dark urine and/or lack of urination

If you experience any of these symptoms, grab your closest water bottle/glass and chug! It is incredibly important in order to avoid situations like LC in the story above.

My tips for staying hydrated:

  • Carry a water bottle with you wherever you go. I keep one at work, one in my purse, alright I keep them everywhere. I’m a water bottle hoarder.
  • Freshen up your water – add ice, lemon, lime, a splash of fruit juice. 
  • Try to avoid feeling thirsty, and try to avoid having dark colored urine. Monitor your water intake if you’re not good at drinking it.
  • Make it a habit. It took me a long time to get used to drinking water all day long. Now, whenever my water bottle is empty, I immediately refill it and just sip throughout the day. Most days it adds up to over 100 ounces. Yes, I pee a lot, but my body is happy.

With that being said, I am here to kick start your hydration habits! Yup, you guessed it, giveaway #4 has to do with hydration. My favorite way to hydrate pre-run, mid-run (and workout), and post-run.

Nuun

I keep Nuun everywhere.

Nuun Gym BagNuun Purse

Nuun Kitchen Cabinet

I’m never without it. Why Nuun you ask?

(From Nuun’s Website)

  • Zero sugar
  • Important electrolytes
  • Under 8 calories
  • Easy to use

Drop a tab in the water, wait 2 minutes for it to dissolve, drink. Easy peasy.

And, I’m here to tell you that one lucky reader will win 2 tubes of Nuun for your own hydration needs!

THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED!

Here’s how:

1) Follow me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/runcupcake (Required)

2) Follow Nuun on Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/nuunhydration (Required)

3) Tweet: I know how important it is to stay hydrated, that’s why I want to win @nuunhydration from @runcupcake! http://wp.me/p25oLf-JD (Optional)

The flavors that I’m giving away are two of my favorite flavors – Grape and Strawberry Lemonade.

Leave a comment for each entry.

Giveaway is open until Noon, Friday, May 4th.

Nuun is providing two tubes to one winner.

Open to all US and Canadian residents.

I hope you all had a happy Wednesday. I’m off to bed, final taper run tomorrow morning!

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Five for Friday: Marathon #3

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This edition of Five for Friday is brought to you by:

MARATHON #3! I know I’ve mentioned it a whole bunch of times, have I made an official announcement? I can’t remember…if not, here it is:

ON MARCH 4, 2012 I WILL BE RUNNING THE ROCK ‘N’ ROLL NEW ORLEANS MARATHON!

Five things I’m taking into consideration training for this race:
  1. Set long run paces. When I trained for my first two marathons I just went out and ran my long runs. If I petered out, I petered out. If I felt strong, that was great too. Not this time. I have set paces per mile for miles up to 10, from 10 to 15, and greater than 15. When I get to mile 15 of a 20 mile run and I feel like I can’t push on, I will push on. I will strive to keep the pace set for me. I know I need this mentally and physically so I can run my best on race day. 
  2. I will not overhydrate. I run my long runs while wearing my Fuel Belt; however, I refuse to wear it during a race. Honestly, I just don’t like it. I only use it because I have to. With that being said, I found myself overhydrating because the liquids were readily available. Come race day, when liquids are only available every couple of miles, I suffer because I can’t drink whenever I want. I’m going to train myself to hydrate based roughly around how the water stops are located for the race. I’ll load my pockets with gum and gummy bears to keep my mouth happy the rest of the time. 
  3. I will not stop taking Gu at Mile 15 just because I’m too worn out to think and still have 5 miles to go. I know the Gu is going to push me through those last 5 miles, so skipping it is not an option. 
  4. I will train for a 4:30 marathon finish time; however, I’m going into this race with an open mind because it is a Rock N Roll event. It may be wicked crowded, or I may just want to have fun with it. I won’t know until race day comes if I’m going to actually try for 4:30 or not, but I will be ready.
  5. (Coachy will like this one).  I will not miss a long run unless I have a damn good reason. I wussed out on my training for Marathon #2 – I was tired, it was hot out, my foot hurt, blah blah blah. No excuses. If I want to run a good marathon that I can say with pride I gave every ounce of my being to, I have to train for it.
I want to look like this at the end of Marathon #3:

Me and Coachy crossing the finish line in Vermont – My first marathon
Does anyone else have anything I should add to this list? Things to keep in mind while training for a 4:30 marathon?




Guest Post: Alexandra and Kymberly from Fun and Fit

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Hi Friends! Today’s guest post is brought to you by identical twinsAlexandra and Kymberly at Fun andFit. They have been teaching exercise for over 25 years, and try their bestto put fun into fitness. 


I chose this post from their wide array of posts, because I always worry about fueling and hydration for long runs and races.  



Running a Half Marathon: Hydration Belt or Water Stations? Gels or Sports Drink?

Dear Fun and Fit: So, I signed up to do this half marathon in October.  I’m scared to death, but seem certain this is something I need to do.  I’m required to maintain at least a 14 min/mile throughout or be disqualified.  So, I need to finish in 183 minutes, basically.  I’ve found training that seems to be working for me and my knee issues that allows me two short runs, an easy walk and a long run during the week.

At any rate, I’ve bought a hydration belt and have been using it. I’m wondering
a) if you think it best to wear it for the race and (keep to) my drinking schedule instead of relying on water stations (except the chocolate aid station. This is Hershey’s!).
b) do I need energy gels or just go with Gatorade in one of my drink bottles
c) anything else?
Amy, Hershey, PA

Alexandra: Dear Amy: First of all, my condolences. In my vast experience of running races (none), I believe that’s 13 miles. My first reaction is to advise you to drive–you’ll definitely meet the 14 min/mile rule. But you seem intent on actually running. Sigh. You know that cars have been invented, right?
During your race, if you find energy gels to be more convenient or mentally a “boost,” choose that. Researchers tend to differ, but it does seem that most of them held hands, sang “Kumbaya” and decided to agree that you are just as well off with a less expensive alternative. Say, you can even put some grape jelly into a baggie, then cut a hole and squeeze that into your mouth during the race. Urgle – I feel saccharine-sweet just thinking of that! Heck, the Stone Research Foundation even recommends a Pop-Tart over an energy bar!
Jelly for running energy
Grape jelly has been around longer than marathons it seems!
Pop-Tarts everywhere
Pop-Tarts: an almost natural color!
Kymberly: As to the decision about Gatorade or water, we will say that the most important aspect is taking in carbohydrates and electrolytes when engaging in a true endurance activity. So a sports drink is probably better than water since you’ll be running for 183 minutes, which is essentially two soccer matches. Now we’re talking!

A: As to the chocolate station, forget your troubles, come on get happy, ‘cause chocolate milk is a good post-exercise recovery drink.
chocolate milk as post-race recovery fuel
Chocolate Milk – the perfect post-race fuel
K: We asked a few of our experienced running friends to comment on the hydration belt issue. They had some great comments:
  • “If you’re in a very specific or exact hydration routine, then I would recommend carrying your own water. If nothing else, it’ll be a nice safety net for if something goes wrong (super-warm weather, big crowds, lack of supplies, etc). I’ve had several races where I wished I’d brought my own hydration and zero where I was sorry that I had.” Dawn Dolobowsky
  • “Always stick to what you do in training. Wear the belt.” Sarah Stanley
  • “I’ve found that I need to drink when I need to drink and having the belt has been a life saver.” Erika Howder
  • “If you have your own belt, you drink when you need to AND you can always use course-provided fluids if/when needed. If you use something like Heed or other electrolyte replacement you can carry your own and not worry about the race-provided fluids causing GI distress.” Amanda Brandon
Running Readers: is it all about distress or de-stress when entered in a half marathon?
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You can find thetwins at @KymberlyFunFit and @AlexandraFunFit and at their Facebookpage. You can check out the original post and all reader responses here.
Tell me, my friends and loyal readers, what do you do? How do you fuel and hydrate for big races?