Where I’ve been and why I’m not running the half marathon tomorrow

As I sit here munching on some dry cereal before yoga class, I feel a flood of emotions feelings that I cannot pinpoint…but I will do my best to try:

Uncertainty. Hope. Sadness. Frustration. Anger. Jealously. Happiness. Exhaustion. Fear. Ambition.

These last 6 weeks since I updated the blog have been a surprise and an adventure to say this least. I’ll take this quick minute to give a shameless plug for my Instagram (@blackbeanqueen), which I update much more often than here, so some of you may know a little more about what’s been going on. So, check there if you want more frequent running updates and random pictures of my food (like the one below) 😉

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(Santa Fe Scramble: tofu, black bean cakes, salsa and hash browns from Tweet)

Anyway, before I dive into why I’m not running the half marathon, I’d like to give a dual life update and recap of the last several (subpar) weeks of training.  So in addition to my wedding in July, i underwent another major life change in October: I got a new job! I was pretty happy with my old job and wasn’t actively looking for new positions, but when an awesome biotechnology company found me it was too great an opportunity to pass up. I’ve been working there for about a month now. 🙂

It was a bit of struggle with my old job and now with my new job, to figure out training since the hours (at least initially) are not very regular and I have a pretty long commute. Regardless, I did the best I could and tried all kinds of methods to fit in training: morning runs in the dark, super late runs after work in the dark (sometimes with my husband), treadmill runs, and doing most of my runs on the weekend (I do not recommend), but it was still a struggle when my hours were not regular. On the days I had to report to work at 8 am, a morning run was not feasible as I woke up at 5 am as it was just to run before 9 am start days.  I couldn’t draw myself out of bed at 4 am when I was going to bed at 11 pm-midnight, could you? Then, on the flip side if I don’t leave work by 5:45 pm I don’t even get home until 7 pm and that is really late and dark to run. I did it anyway many times, but it was not ideal from a safety standpoint and did not help me go to bed at an early hour. So, why am I sharing all of this? Does anyone care? haha, maybe not! The point is we are all human and life can be hard and get in the way, especially during a transition phase (i.e. starting a new job).

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(starting the work day with an early run: above & ending the work day with a night run: below)IMG_4294

In the last six weeks I’ve taken way too many rest days. I’ve stayed at work for long hours that making fitting in a  run tough. I  have not made sleep or training a priority and quite frankly did not put in the training needed to run a half marathon successfully tomorrow. Plus, sitting at a desk all day makes my muscles really tight and I was not counteracting that by doing yoga or increasing my time spent stretching after a run. Furthermore, I was not setting my myself for success by running low mileage all week and then doing a long run that is more than 50% of my weekly mileage or running a local 5k over the weekend. I will admit that the 5k was pretty fun, though! My husband and I won our races randomly. 😛

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(long run before my first day at the new job)

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(fun long run and relay race with Becca of the Rabbit Food Runner and the November project)

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(5K that my husband and I won)

I made a lot of training mistakes leading up to this half marathon and I should have known better because I ran in college (and trained smart then) and I’ve had some injuries in the past. I am paying for it now with some left knee/IT band pain. Nothing too serious and not a full blown injury, but I am taking it seriously and not running tomorrow.  As of this week, I have upped my cross training and started doing hot yoga. I am also starting to find my groove with the new job and figuring out how running/training fit into the equation. I actually talked with my supervisors about changing my hours to 8 am-4 pm/5pm,  which puts me on a similar schedule to my husband and it allows me to attend evening yoga classes, evening group runs, and decreases my commute time. They seem open to the idea and it will do wonders for my husband and I in terms of establishing a routine. I went in at 8 am multiple times this week and I loved it, but I’m also a morning person. 🙂

Right now, I am going to put all my energy into developing my strength and preventing injury (through yoga, more strength sessions at the gym, and cross training) and then slowly build my mileage again. My husband is going to help coach me and hold me accountable.  I am scared and excited about what my future  of running will bring. As for this weekend, it is going to be hard and I am a little sad (since I’m not running), but I will be in Madison, WI to watch the half-marathon and cheer for my husband and friend! Well, I’m about ready to head to yoga class and then my husband and I are going to pack up and head to the race expo. It should be a fun weekend!

I’ve been wanting to do more running related posts on the blog (product reviews, race reviews, training recaps, etc.) for a while. So, I’m going for it! 🙂 I plan on writing my first ever race recap for the Madison Marathon/half marathon with a special guest: my husband (who is actually running)! Be on the look out for it in the near future! 🙂 Are any of you racing this weekend? If so comment below. 

 

 

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Half Marathon Training Week #1 (13 weeks until the race!): Monday August 14th- Sunday August 20th.

Good evening friends! I hope you all had a fantastic weekend! My husband I are staying up late doing laundry and he’s finishing up his lesson plans for the week, so I thought I’d blog:) My half marathon training does not offically start until tomorrow, but I wanted to start my weekly workouts feature for fun and to hold myself accountable.

I’ve only run about ten times in 2017 and one of them was a 5k race that I ran without training…I have a history of not properly training for post college races. I did a half marathon in summer 2014 where I started training one month ahead of time. I only ran 3 days per week and my longest run was 8 miles. I think I was burned out from college and college running- I shouldn’t have signed up for the race in the first place. Anyway, I ended the race with yet another IT band injury and was unable to properly run without issues until I went through intense physical therapy in spring 2015. You can read more about my injury history here.

I will not allow myself to put anymore meaningless things before my favorite hobby or to run anymore races without training. I am officially committed to training properly for this half marathon! I am following the Hal Higdon Novice 2 training plan plus 2 days a week of strengthening exercises to protect/strengthen my hips/glutes/IT band. Despite my experience as a D-1 XC/track athlete, this is a good choice for me because I have not really been running this year and I have a history of injury, so I want to play it safe. Here’s the link to the training plan I’m using. My ultimate time goal for this half is under 1 hour and 30 min, but my realistic goal is 1 hour and 35 min.

So without further ado, here are my weekly workouts for my half marathon training. As a note, this was not the best week for me personally or training wise. My grandfather broke his hip 2 weeks ago and then unexpectedly passed away on Monday. 😦 I found myself unmotivated and sad early in the week, but then I found solace in running later in the week. Here’s a picture of my grandpa and I dancing at my wedding last month. Sorry for the low quality picture. Regardless, I am fortunate for this happy memory with him!

Monday August 14th: REST

Tuesday August 15th:
REST

Wednesday August 16th:
REST

Thursday August 17th:
3 miles at 7:53 pace (according to my Garmin) followed by stretching and hip strength exercises (see examples of what I do under Saturday’s training)

Friday August 18th: A late 2 miles after work at 7:51 pace

Saturday August 19th: hip and glute strength exercises at the gym:

-band walks (side to side and forward/backward): 3x 20 reps each side
-walking lunges: 2x 20 reps each leg
-squats with the large resistance band: 2×20 reps
-foam block balancing and raises: 3×10 reps each leg
-tipping bird: 3×10 reps each side
-clamshells with resistance band: 3×10 reps each side
-bridges with resistance band and 2 second hold: 2×10 reps
-leg raises with resistance band: 2×10 reps each side
-foam rolling and stretching: 10 minutes

Sunday August 20th: REST

Today’s questions: How was your week of training? What races are you training for? Do you use a training plan when you sign up for a race?

Weekly Workouts #2: July 20th-July 26th, 2015

Good afternoon and happy Sunday friends! I hope all of you had lovely weeks filled with fun, time in the sunshine, and some exercise.  I know I did!  Exercise-wise this week was a bit of roller coaster. It started out rough with a crappy four mile run, then a good run, then an okay run, then a wonderful bike ride, and finally best run I’ve had post injury. I think I am being too hard on myself with my runs. I was injured for 5 months, have only been allowed to run/walk or run for a month, and I just finished Physical Therapy a week ago, so of course I am going to be slow and feel out of shape. Sometimes, during a run, I forgot those things and wonder why 7:50 min/mile feels so hard, why my form feels off, and why four miles feels so far. I need to remember that patience and going slow (in terms of pace, miles per week, and number of runs per week) is important to prevent an injury relapse or a different injury.

Getting back into shape is going to take time and preventing an IT band injury relapse is going to  take dedication to my post- physical therapy strength exercises and to a slow return to running. I am up for this challenge! I need to remember that I am LUCKY to be running now. In March I would have given ANYTHING to be where I am today. I may not get back into shape, run my usual pace, find my running rhythm, or be able to race for a while. But I know I will eventually. I always do. Running is not always about the destination, sometimes it’s about the journey. I need to embrace my own  journey of getting back into shape and to be proud of how far I’ve come. 🙂 I will be back to my old, running self in no time if I am patient and grateful.

Weekly Workouts #2: July 20th-July 26th, 2015

Monday July 20th: Rest day.

Tuesday July 21st: Warm up: clams, band walks (side steps and forward), and 5 minutes walking. 4 mile run at 8:04 min/ mile. It was a hot day and my legs felt heavy and I felt lethargic. Not a good run. 😦 Cool down: walking, stretches with the stretch out strap, foam rolling, and 3X30 sec planks (front, right side, and left side).

Wednesday July 22nd: Warm up: same as Tuesday. 3 mile run at 8:14 min/mile. Felt pretty good on this evening run after work, even though it was slow. :/ Cool down: walking, stretches, foam rolling, and 2X 1 min front planks.

Thursday July 23rd: Rest day.

Friday July 24th: Warm up: The usual PT exercises plus walking. 3 mile run at 7:56 min/mile. Even though it was very hot and humid on this run I felt pretty good! Cool down: Walking, stretches, and foam rolling.

Saturday July 25th: 16 mile bike ride. I paced my boyfriend on the bike and carried water for him on his long run.  This was hands down my favorite workout of the week! It was a beautiful day and got to see some parts of the Lakeshore Trail I had not seen before. I of snapped a few pictures of my lovely views (see below). I am inspired by my boyfriend’s dedication as he trains for the Chicago Marathon this fall. He is also fast, but probably doesn’t want me to brag here. 😉 I am one proud girlfriend and am glad we both love to run and stay active together! 🙂

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Sunday July 26th (today): Warm up: the usual. 3 mile run at 7:37 min/mile. I am finally running a bit faster and feeling closer to my old self. 🙂 This was a good run and it felt effortless! Cool down: walking, stretches, foam rolling, and planks (3×1 min. front planks and 3x 30 sec. right and left side planks)

Totals: 13 miles running + 16 miles biking

I hope all of you have a wonderful Sunday! I am looking forward to some time to relax and read before the work week starts again tomorrow.

What books are you currently reading this summer and recommend? I just finished Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty and I highly recommend it! I loved it because it was unpredictable! Today, I  just started Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn and hope it’s as interesting as Dark Places. I can tell it will be a quick read though, so I’d love some recommendations!

Happy blogiversary, my return to running, and 11 things I learned after a 5 month injury

WOW! Hello friends! It’s been a long time…I NEVER thought 2015 would be my longest hiatus from running (or blogging). But all that matters is that I am back now!! 🙂

Happy Blogiversary!

Since I’ve been gone, this blog turned one! On June 28, 2014, this blog started as a place for running, healthy tips, vegetarian recipes, and random musings from my life to all come together in one place. I’d like to think that over a year later, that is still the case. So, I am going to throw it back to my very first blog post to celebrate Black Bean Queen turning one.

Moving forward, I hope to focus even more on running  on the blog.  This post in particular is a special running update. I have not posted much about running here, because in the year I’ve had this blog I have spent over half of that time injured. 😦

My five month IT band/lower back injury

Let’s travel back in time to the winter of 2014/2015…I noticed some pain near my right knee in late December, so I took a few days off. I thought it was weird because I had been running pain free since August. After some rest and stretching, it seemed to be okay so I resumed running, but I was cautious. I kept my mileage extremely low, cross trained, and noticed some twinges now and again, but nothing that alarmed me.

In early February, I agreed to do a 5k in late February with my boyfriend. During the last half mile of the 5k race I noticed a sharp pain in my right knee and I pushed past it to finish the race (mistake #1). I could barely walk or run a cool down with my boyfriend without pain. I still stubbornly tried to go for a run the day after the race. I didn’t even make a mile before the sharp pain in my knee returned. I knew right then and there that I reinjured my IT band. I also noticed lower back pain after the run, which was something I’ve never had before.

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(http://www.lavackfitness.com/blog/2014/01/17/shoe-implications-for-injury-reduction-in-running/)

I knew  I was in really bad shape, yet I was positive I could fix my injuries myself (mistake #2). For the next month I stopped running, but I tried everything I could think of. I foam rolled, did yoga, and all the old PT exercises that I could remember. Nothing was working. I knew I was a far away from running healthy and pain free as I had ever been in my life. Finally, at the end of March I swallowed my pride and sought help from a physical therapist (finally good choice #1).

My physical therapy experience

My physical therapist is wonderful. When she first assessed me in March, she was surprised I was even able to walk somewhat pain free. My glutes and hips were very weak and my running form was somewhat poor as a result of the injuries. All the years of college running and only barely healing my previous injuries caught up to me.  This IT-band/ lower back injury was the result of all my misalignments, weaknesses, and past injuries all in one. I remember thinking to myself, how would I ever get better???? While it was a relapse of my prior injuries, it was also my fault I got injured. :/ I got lazy about my strength work. Core, glute, and hip strength are key to staying strong and injury free, especially in a society where we spend over half of our day sitting.

So, since the end of March I have been going to PT 1-2 times per week to aggressively  strengthen my glutes, hips, and core in order to realign everything, run strong, and correct my running form. Next week is likely my last week, though, as long as my measurements and strength tests go well.

In between sessions I do select exercises at home. In June, I started a four week, three times per week return to running program. In week one I started at 0.5 min of running, 4 min of walking x 6 and week four had me at three thirty minute runs. I completed the return to running program and now I am slowly building the distance of my runs and the amount of runs per week. I am at four runs per week now.

Now for fun, I did a list of  the 10 things I learned from this injury and hopefully it provides some inspiration and laughs for anyone out there who has had a running injury! 🙂

11 things I learned after nearly 4 months of physical therapy

1. PATIENCE.

2. Trust yourself, but trust the experts more.

3. Hard work. Just like you need to run various speeds and terrain to be a great runner, you need to do various strength and rehabilitation exercises to overcome an injury.

4. Do not skip your PT exercises at home. They will know! 😛

5. One minute of running is better than the zero minutes of running you will get if you try to return to running to soon. This will always be a tough one for me…

6. It takes a lot of glute strength for dogs to pee…I learned this after my PT added the fire hydrant move to my physical therapy routine. I look like a dog taking a leak and my butt is on fire all in the same move.

7. Bird dog is not nearly as easy as it looks if you are doing it correctly. I am still working on this one. I will be for life… How do the elites make it look so easy??

8. When in doubt do another set of clamshells and bridges. Glute strength is key for all runners. I will be strengthening my glutes for life…. but hey if I get to keep running injury free, that’s a fair price!

10. Change your goals and focus on the positive. So running the Chicago Marathon is off the table for me this year…but now my goal is to be able to do long runs by October. I am still working toward a goal that will make me happy, but is realistic.

11-1 million. PATIENCE AND TRUST IN THE PROCESS. After two months of PT I was unsure if I would ever be done and allowed to run. Now, four months later I am running, slowing building up my mileage, and I’m pain free!

Later today, I will be going for a beautiful run and I could not be happier or more grateful!  It’s tough for me to run slow now, but I am trusting the process. I just want to continue to run and I know that the speed, workouts, and races will come later when I am stronger. This injury has reminded me why I love running in the first place. Outside of competition, running is a time to breathe in fresh air, forget my worries, do something healthy for my body, and enjoy nature. Have a happy Sunday everyone. 🙂

Have any of you struggled with the same injury on and off for a while? Did you finally heal? What did you learn from your injury? I’d love to hear your stories too!

Simple Sunday #4: Guilt-free chocolate chip cookies

Some days you don’t just want chocolate, you NEED chocolate. Today was one of those days! My goal was to make a cookie that not only satisfied my chocolate craving, but was also relatively healthy. Since my IT band injury a month ago I’ve been focusing on eating less and healthier, since I can’t run and to aid in my recovery. I REALLY miss running, so hopefully after a few more weeks of PT I can run again. 😦

Well, after searching my vegetarian cookbooks, Instagram, and Pinterest for inspiration I found myself on Chocolate Covered Katie’s blog. She is the queen of healthy, vegan desserts. It was there that I found a great recipe: http://chocolatecoveredkatie.com/2011/04/27/worlds-healthiest-chocolate-chip-cookies/ . I have made a few modifications to the original, but she gets all the credit for an amazing recipe. I was skeptical to try an egg and butter-free cookie, but I was pleasantly surprised! They were delicious!  Plus at 80 calories per cookie you don’t have to feel guilty about eating one (or two or more 😉 )! So without further ado, roll up your sleeves and let’s get to baking this guilt free, quick, and easy cookie!

Guilt-free chocolate chip cookies

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Yield: 9 cookies

Nutritional analysis: see below

Ingredients

Dry

1/4 cup whole wheat flour

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

dash of salt

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 tablespoons cane sugar (I used Trader Joe’s, which is vegan)

2 tablespoons (or more) semi-sweet chocolate chips (Ghirardelli are vegan)

Wet

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 tablespoon canola oil

4 tablespoons unsweetened vanilla almond milk

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray.

2. Mix the all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl, expect for the chocolate chips.

3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry mixture. I recommend adding the almond milk tablespoon by tablespoon.

4. Roll the dough into 9 balls and place on the greased baking sheet.

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5. Press the chocolate chips into the dough balls.  (NOTE: You may want to use more or less than 2 tablespoons, which is fine! Just know that the nutritional analysis below was performed for cookies with 2 tablespoons of chocolate chips!)

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6. Bake for 8-10 minutes until slightly golden brown.

7. Remove from the oven and let cool for a few minutes.

8. Enjoy one (or a few)! 😉

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NOTE: The chocolate chips here are not melted because the only chocolate chips I had at my apartment were the frozen ones my boyfriend and I use as a topping for Greek Yogurt. If they were room temperature chips they would have melted in the oven!

Nutritional Analysis (from MyFitnessPal): Calories: 81; Fat: 2.6 g (0.7 saturated); Cholesterol: 0 mg; Sodium: 57.2 mg; Potassium: 5.6 mg; Carbohydrates: 13.4 g; Fiber: 0.7 g; Protein: 1.2 g

What is your favorite type of cookie? It’s hard for me to chose one…but if I have to, I’d say any type of peanut butter cookie. Have a great night everyone! 🙂

Motivational Monday #4: Don’t let the weather stop you

Good morning friends! I hope all of you had wonderful weekends. I had a great one, but it went by way too fast. :/ I went home Friday morning to visit my family and my boyfriend’s family (we are from the same home town) and then I had a family reunion on Saturday in Wisconsin. It was a busy weekend full of boating, time outside, bonfires, bags, and eating (of course)!

Unfortunately between Friday and Sunday, I only ran yesterday when I got back to Chicago. I am upset with my laziness now that my IT band is healed. I The weather was not even rainy like it is today so I had no excuses (although weather is a poor excuse). I had busy days with my family and my boyfriend’s family, but I could have woken up early to run! I thought for today’s running motivation I thought I’d pick a quote to remind us that the weather is never too snowy/rainy/windy/bad enough to skip a run (plus there’s always the treadmill :P).

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I hope all of you have excellent runs or workouts today and do not let the weather stop you. It could always be much worse than rain. MUCH. WORSE. It could be the polar vortex with a balmy high of –15 degrees. Remember that when you think of skipping today’s work out.

I am still  trying to take it slow so I don’t reinjure my IT band, but two days in a row off of running (unless I am cross training) are no longer part of my plan. I’m aiming to get back to running 5-6 days per week and cross training on the 7th day or taking a rest day when needed. Today calls for a 4 mile easy run this evening. I am running in the evening to give myself 24 hours between consecutive runs. I do not worry about run timing except after a recent injury. I am hoping to get up to 5 miles or so without IT band pain by the end of this week.

Well, it’s time for me to grocery shop and then go to a coffee shop before my run tonight.  My boyfriend is going to read for his summer class and I am going to read for fun since I’m finally done with my summer class! 😛

What kind of run or workout do you have planned today?

Motivational Monday #4: Don’t let the weather stop you

Good morning friends! I hope all of you had wonderful weekends. I had a great one, but it went by way too fast. :/ I went home Friday morning to visit my family and my boyfriend’s family (we are from the same home town) and then I had a family reunion on Saturday in Wisconsin. It was a busy weekend full of boating, time outside, bonfires, bags, and eating (of course)!

Unfortunately between Friday and Sunday, I only ran yesterday when I got back to Chicago. I am upset with my laziness now that my IT band is healed. I The weather was not even rainy like it is today so I had no excuses (although weather is a poor excuse). I had busy days with my family and my boyfriend’s family, but I could have woken up early to run! I thought for today’s running motivation I thought I’d pick a quote to remind us that the weather is never too snowy/rainy/windy/bad enough to skip a run (plus there’s always the treadmill :P).

b5f0d1a8f162e0eb35948319c9f65dcb

I hope all of you have excellent runs or workouts today and do not let the weather stop you. It could always be much worse than rain. MUCH. WORSE. It could be the polar vortex with a balmy high of –15 degrees. Remember that when you think of skipping today’s work out.

I am still  trying to take it slow so I don’t reinjure my IT band, but two days in a row off of running (unless I am cross training) are no longer part of my plan. I’m aiming to get back to running 5-6 days per week and cross training on the 7th day or taking a rest day when needed. Today calls for a 4 mile easy run this evening. I am running in the evening to give myself 24 hours between consecutive runs. I do not worry about run timing except after a recent injury. I am hoping to get up to 5 miles or so without IT band pain by the end of this week.

Well, it’s time for me to grocery shop and then go to a coffee shop before my run tonight.  My boyfriend is going to read for his summer class and I am going to read for fun since I’m finally done with my summer class! 😛

What kind of run or workout do you have planned today?