Plant-Based Protein Powders and How to Choose One

Plant based protein powders IG post*Note: I am not a doctor or medical professional. I am studying nutrition and on the path to become a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN). Please, contact a practing RDN or other healthcare professional with any questions or concerns before adapting a new way of eating.

Good afternoon friends! 🙂 Every week I receive multiple questions in my Instagram inbox about eating plant-based or being a plant-based athlete, so I figured it was time to start addressing those questions here on the good ‘ol blog!  As a future Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and an aspiring sub-elite runner, I am drawing on both research AND my personal experiences to share this information with you, so as usual, contact a licensed healthcare professional with any questions or concerns! Once I am a licensed and practicing RDN I will be more than happy to help you, though! 🙂

So without further ado, let’s get to it! Today’s topic is plant-based protein powders.🌱 I want to start off by saying a protein powder should never be a replacement for a food in your diet, rather it should be an ENHANCEMENT or a SUPPLEMENT to your current diet. It is always best to get most of your daily calories and protein from whole, real foods (1). A protein shake is not meant to replace dinner or breakfast. Although, no judgment if you’ve done that before, as we have all been there 😛 But generally protein powder does not make a very complete or balanced meal unless it is added to a smoothie with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, etc. Of course there are certain times when a protein powder may be appropriate: during a major illness where you need extra protein to help you heal, during a heavy training phase as an athlete, or when you are struggling to meet your daily calorie and protein needs with food alone (2). Always talk to your healthcare provider before beginning a supplement, because yes, protein powder is considered a supplement!

 

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There are a variety of reasons why an athlete might chose a plant-based protein powder: dairy allergy, vegan diet, or taste preferences. I personally am vegan and whey never sat well with me even when I ate dairy, so that is why I chose to consume a plant-based protein powder. I did not start consuming protein powder until 2019 because I used to be against it to be honest. But after running my highest weekly volume ever this summer to train for my second ever marathon (the Chicago Marathon this October), I can attest to the recovery benefits of consuming a high-protein shake or smoothie after a long run or tough training session when my stomach is otherwise not ready to eat a full meal rich in carbohydrates and protein. All I have to do is dump some water or almond milk and protein powder into my Blender Bottle, shake well, and sip as I stretch and foam roll.

So what are some key differences between whey based and plant-based protein powders? Well for starters, whey protein is a complete protein, meaning it has all 9 of the essential amino acids that your body cannot produce on it’s own (3). All animal based proteins are complete, but only quinoa and soy products are complete plant-based proteins (3,4). So before you panic, remember that you do not need to eat complete proteins at every single meal and snack, but rather throughout the day. Or you could do some good ol’ fashioned food pairing, i.e. the classic combination of rice and beans together contain all 9 of the essential amino acids in the proper amounts! So how does this relate to plant-based protein powders? Well, unless you are consuming a soy protein powder, which is already complete,  most plant-based protein powders will achieve a complete amino acid profile through the pairing of multiple plant protein sources, i.e. pea protein, chia seeds, cranberry protein, pumpkin seeds (4). The use of multiple protein sources just adds to the nutritional benefits of the protein powder! Whey protein powder is relatively low in nutrients besides protein, but a plant-based protein powder will often have some iron and other minerals, such as phosphorous or zinc (4). Pea protein powder is among the most common plant-based protein powders, but I’ve seen many types over the years, from hemp seed to combination plant protein powders.

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As an athlete there are two additional considerations I use when choosing a protein powder. I check the ingredients to see if the plant-based protein powder contains sugar alcohols and if it is NSF Certified for Sport or Informed Choice (6,7). I check for sugar alcohols because for me and many others, they cause GI distress (5). I cannot even chew gum because of the sugar alcohols! I am fine with stevia though, but I honestly wish more protein powders just used a bit of regular sugar…but that’s a topic for another day 😛

I then check if the protein powder is NSF Certified for Sport or Informed Choice because supplements are not regulated by the FDA, so how do we know that our supplements actually contain what they say they contain (6,7)? The NSF International’s Certified for Sport program was created to test supplements and make sure they do not contain any banned or illegal substances, contaminants, and that they actually contain what they say they contain (6).  To receive the NSF mark the supplement has to be tested twice in a calendar year (6). I  also love that NSF has an app with a barcode scanner, so I check check supplements easily when I am on the go or at a store.

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Informed Choice is similar in that third party tests supplements for banned substances, but it is not the gold standard or recognized by major athletics teams, such as the MLB, like NSF certified for Sport (7). NSF Certified for Sport is especially important for elite athletes who are subject to random testings before/during/after competitions, because how would it feel to get disqualified because of your protein powder? I may be exaggerating here, but it’s still good to know exactly what is in our supplements, so even as an aspiring sub-elite athlete, I will only consume supplements from brands I trust and ones that are preferably NSF Certified, but at least Informed Choice so I know that they have been tested by a third party.

All 3 of my recommended protein powders below are NSF Certified or Informed Choice!

My top 3 favorite protein powders (in order) are linked below with pros and cons. 

 

1. Garden of Life Sport Organic Plant-Based Protein Powder: Chocolate or Vanilla

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  • Pros:
    • NSF Certified for Sport
    • Informed Choice
    • The chocolate is tasty in milk or water
    • Contains all the essential amino acids (complete protein)
    • 30 g protein per serving

 

  • Cons:
    • Expensive, but at least it lasts a while
    • Vanilla only tastes good in smoothies in my opinion
    • Contains stevia, which I am not sensitive to, but some of you might be or you may not like the taste of
    • Can be hard to mix unless you use a shaker bottle or a blender

2. Tailwind Rebuild Recovery Chocolate or Vanilla

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  • Pros:
    • Informed Choice
    • Tastes good even in just water (I prefer chocolate over vanilla in plain water)
    • Easy to transport if you get the single serving packs
    • Mixes very easily just by shaking
    • Contains electrolytes in addition to carbohydrates and protein, perfect for immediately after a run or athletic event
    • No artificial sweeteners

 

  • Cons:
    • Not NSF Certified
    • Most expensive option
    • Vanilla is not very tasty in my opinion but some may like it
    • Not as high in protein as other options (only 10 g)
    • High in sugar compared to other protein powders (39 g)

 

3. Vega Sport Premium Protein in Chocolate, Vanilla, Berry, or Mocha

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  • Pros:
    • Informed Choice
    • Can buy as a tub or individual serving packets
    • Tastes decent even mixed with just water, but is best in smoothies
    • 30% DV of iron
    • 30 g of protein

 

  • Cons:
    • Not NSF Certified
    • Vanilla only tastes good in smoothies in my opinion
    • Contains stevia, which I am not sensitive to, but some of you might be or you may not like the taste of
    • Can be hard to mix unless you use a shaker bottle or a blender.

 

Do you use plant-based protein powder? If so, which brand and why? Do you have a question you want to see on here next? Do next hesitate to comment below, contact me on Instagram, or e-mail me at blackbeanqueen@gmail.com ! 🙂

 References

  1. Plant-Based Sports Nutrition by D.Enette Larson-Meyer, PhD, RDN & Matt Ruscigno, MPH, RDN
  2. Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook by Nancy Clark, MS, RD
  3. What is a complete amino acid profile? by Kelli Shallal, MPH, RD
  4. Whey Vs. Plant Protein by Abbey Howarth
  5. Artificial Sweeteners and Other Sugar Substitutes by Mayo Clinic 
  6. NSF International Certified for Sport 
  7. Informed Choice
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Strava: the social media for endurance athletes

Disclaimer: I will receive an annual Strava Summit subscription and Strava merchandise to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

What is Strava?

Strava is a free platform where you can track or add your runs, bikes, and swims. In short is is a social media platform for endurance athletes. You can also join virtual clubs and challenges if you are the type of person that finds extra motivation that way- I know I do! You can like each other’s activities (it’s called giving kudos) and write comments on them, similar to Facebook and Instagram.

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You can also add photos of your runs (I’m known to share  photos of my beautiful Lake Michigan lakefront runs :P) You can also find new routes, which is especially useful when traveling/running in a new location.

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How Can I get Started on Strava?

All you need to do is create a free account with a valid e-mail address or your Facebook account-it’s that easy. You do not even need a smart watch to use Strava. Something I did not know until this summer. But a lot of people connect their activity trackers to Strava anyway, especially in the running community (So many of us are rarely seen without our Garmins, even on dates. haha). I’d also recommend downloading the free iPhone or Android Strava App, so you can upload or track activities, and give kudos on the go.

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Features of Using Strava

  • Ability to transfer activities from other devices onto Strava (i.e. run with a Garmin or Suunto watch and  then upload your run to Strava)
  • Track your activity without a smart watch (I did not know Strava could do this until my Garmin died mid-run a month ago and I was able to track the reminder of my run on my smart phone via the Strava App. You can track your entire run (bike or swim) via Strava if that is your jam
  • Get awesome metrics from your workouts that you didn’t know you needed, but you’ll soon wonder what you did without them (and use them to inform training decisions):
    • Distance
    • Pace
    • Time
    • Elevation
    • Calories Burned
    • Heart Rate
    • Cadence

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  • Track your activities to see how many miles you are covering or minutes working out each day, each week, each month, and even each year. This can help you see how far you’ve come or how you’ve trained for previous races as compared to the current race you are training for
  • Track the mileage on your shoes, so you know when you need to retire your current pair and get a new one

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  • Add friends that you worked out with when they forget their watch or phone. This only works if the friend is a current Strava member. My husband did this on an easy run while ago when my Garmin watch refused to connect one run and it saved me because as many of you know, I have to keep track of my running  #typeA
  • Create groups based on running clubs, cycling clubs, swimming clubs, traithalon groups, or other common interests and run challenges within the group (i.e. highest weekly mileage or longest time spent working out). I created a group for people who have the goal of running 2019 kilometers in the year 2019 and it’s been a nice little group. Feel free to join if aren’t already in it. 🙂
  • Join challenges to keep you motivated. Each month I join the monthly 5k and 10k challenge at least, but then they have many other ones from climbing to cycling to virtual races. Earn trophies when you complete the challenges!

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  • No matter where you live, there are sections of road or trail where people run frequently and there is a leaderboard showing how fast people have run those segments. So if you are competitive (like me 🤣) you can try to be the leader of the segment! Strava will automatically rank you anytime you run a segment. Even if you are not the leader, it is interesting to compare what time you’ve run on that segment at different points of the year or during previous years. Segments are all in good fun!
  • Privacy filters, so people cannot see where you live if you frequently run from your home
  • Advanced Strava features for a good price through Strava Summit. Some of the features of Summit include: weekly goal setting, training plans, workout analysis, just to name a few.

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So what are you waiting for? Join Strava today! Or if you are currently on Strava share your profile below if you want me to follow you! 

I Love the 90s 5k 2019 review

Disclaimer: I’m reviewing the I Love the 90s 5k as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

When BibRave gave me the opportunity to run a new-to-Chicago race called I Love the 90’s 5k, I knew I could not turn it down! As a 1992 baby, the 90s hold some special memories. And yes, I know I was 8 at the turn of the century, BUT I still have many memories of scrunchies, overalls, choker necklaces, crop tops, and, of course, Gameboy!

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Anyway, let’s discuss the 5k race! I was not sure what to expect going into this race. Since it was a new race, I thought I may have a shot at placing in my age group, but I also had not been doing 5k targeted speed work, so I did not put any pressure on myself. Furthermore, my true goal race is the Chicago Marathon and the Rock N Roll Chicago half is my “check-in” race, so I’ve been running some serious (for me) mileage. I had been in the 50 miles per week range going into this race and the legs were feeling tired, so I just told myself to give it the best effort I could.

I was lucky that my husband and sister-in-law were willing to spectate and warm-up with me since I did not know anyone going into the race. We ran around 1.10 miles  for my warm up and then I made my way  to the start line. I put an extra scrunchie on my wrist, tightened my hat, chit chatted with people at the start line and then the racing gun went off…

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After the first 400 m it was clear I was going to be running a lot of the race solo. Two guys pushed ahead, then me, and then a sizeable gap before the next group of people. Had I known it was going to stay like this most of the race I would have pushed harder to be near the top two guys, which I think I could have done…but more on this later.

The first mile passed pretty unremarkably. I kept the two top guys and the lead biker in my view and ran a 6:09. I was going for a 6:10, so I was happy with it. I’m guessing the two leaders went out around 6 minute pace. I was feeling decent, despite my high mileage week. Soon after the first mile I saw my husband and sister-in-law. They cheered for me and snapped the photo below.

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Then, mile 2 was the most eventful mile by far. For those of you that know me in real life, the next set of events will come as no surprise. 😛 I was in 3rd place overall in the race and the two lead guys had gained some ground on me, so I could no longer see them or the lead biker. I came to a cross roads just before mile 2 and the arrow on the ground was partially etched away, so it was not clear if it was indicatin to go straight or to turn right…I guessed and started going straight as I screamed out “which way do I go?”, but heard no response because no one was near me… I had a sinking feeling I was going the wrong way and about 15 seconds later I looked behind me and saw in the distance the 4th place person (a guy), go right by that arrow. I quickly sprinted back toward the crossroad and made a right to go back on the course successfully adding on approximately 25 seconds to the race official 2nd mile (my watch hit the 2nd mile in 6:23). I was feeling frustrated that it was not clear where I was supposed to go and now I was in 4th place… I later hit the 2nd mile on the race course around 6:45. I was also feeling frustrated because I think I could have stuck closer to the top two guys and then I wouldn’t haven’t gotten confused at the cross roads, but I (falsely) figured they were running around 17 minute 5k pace, which is not the shape I was currently in. The photo below details how I was feeling.

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I vowed to put my 2nd mile behind me and just focus on the final 1.1 miles I had left and give it my best effort. About 200 m into mile 3, I passed the 4th place guy and was once again in no-(wo)man’s land running all alone. Thankfully the rest of the arrows were clear and I even saw a race photographer on some sort of electric scooter, which made me smile. Around 300 meters to go I saw my husband and sister-in-law, and told myself I was going to have to really kick it in to still be under 20 minutes with my course mishap during mile 2. I knew my true time was in the low 19 minutes, but what could I do, except kick at this point? I was determined as you can see from the photo below.

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I hit mile 3 at 6:25 according to my watch… And then I saw finish line in the distance and felt confused when I saw an unbroken tape. I knew I was not going to be the winner, there were two guys for sure ahead of me. Then I realized it was for me, because I was the first place female! I tried to sprint it in even more as I approached the tape and put my hands up because I had never broken a tape before and that’s what I saw all the pros do when they won a race. 😛 I ran 5:40 pace for the last 200 m, which is not really a sprint (for me), but I tried, okay?!

I crossed the finish line in an official time of 20:06, knowing very well that I had run an extra 200 meters with the mishap during mile 2. My Garmin showed that I ran 3.21 miles in 20:06, putting my actual 5k well under 20 minutes.

Regardless, I was 1st female and 3rd overall, which is pretty cool! And if anyone is interested, my 5k was actually around 19:28… 😛 I calculated that by putting in my Garmin pace to a pace calculator as seen below.

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When I found out 2nd place was 19:04, I thought to myself that I could have run that time or pretty darn close. Usually I don’t go out with the very lead guys in a race because the lead guys are typically under 17 minutes and I am certainly not in that kind of shape right now. But, what I do know, is that it is harder to push yourself when running alone, which is what I did most of the race and you just have to do your best! I probably would have had a more successful race (and would not have gotten confused during mile 2) if I stuck with those 2 guys. But oh well, I still had a fun race! 🙂

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Overall,  the race was awesome! The medals were cool, there was a costume contest for the best 90’s costume, and I won a free entry for next year, so I can try to defend my title. haha. Plus, the other top two females were super sweet and it was fun to meet them and take a photo with them at the awards ceremony. I also loved all the 90s music on the course and at the awards ceremony-I still have Barbie Girl in my head weeks later 🤣 I will definitely be back next year, it’s free for me after all 😉 And they will also be debuting their 10k race next year, if you are into 10ks more than 5ks! 😛

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Did you run the I love the 90’s Chicago 5k or do you plan to do one of their races in a different city!? If not, want to join me in Chicago next year?!

It’s the Shamrock Shuffle 8k race week: training update & goals!

Disclaimer: I’m promoting the Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8k as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

Happy Wednesday friends! I cannot believe it’s already race week 😱 Time is flying this year, it think it is because I am school and we just had midterms 😛

I’ll be honest and say my training has not been going great. With my busy school schedule, work, and the long commute it has been tough. I am doing the best I can! Sometimes the best I do is a little core or lifting, rather than a run. But, the fact that I am running injury free is a reason to celebration in it of itself 🙂 I’ve been averaging 5-20 miles per week since I’ve recovered from injury in late December. I’ve only done 2 or 3 speed workouts. My longest run has been a touch over 8 miles. You can see just how little I’ve been training below or if you follow me on Strava, you know 😛 Although, I’ll be honest, I sometimes forget to update Strava, but as of recently it is up-to-date! No judgement on my lack of training please, I am well aware 🙃

My last two weeks of running (or lack thereof 😂):

Monday 3/4/19: OFF

Tuesday 3/5/19: OFF

Wednesday 3/6/19: 6 miles with a 2 mi w/u, ( 2 min on, 2 min recovery jog) x 6. Paces were 6:40, 6:35, 6:31, 6:21, 6:18, 6:15, and then a c/d for the remaining miles

Thursday: 3/7/19: 6 miles with Ben

Friday 3/8/19: OFF

Saturday 3/9/19: 8 miles with Janna and Marisa

Sunday: 3/10/19: OFF

Total miles: 20 miles

Monday 3/11/19: 7.8 miles with Danielle

Tuesday 3/12/19: OFF

Wednesday 3/13/19: OFF

Thursday: 3/14/19: OFF

Friday 3/15/19: OFF

Saturday 3/16/19: 8.2 morning miles with Marisa

Sunday 3/17/19: OFF

Total: 16 miles

My goal races are the Chicago Spring Half in May and RnR Chicago in July, so this 8k race is honestly just for fun. But of course I still have a goal for my first post-injury race this year 😉

So what is my goal for the Shamrock Shuffle 8k?! Well, first and foremost the goal is to finish! Any race finish after injury is a celebration. I am corral A and that means you are supposed to be able to run under 7 minutes/mile. So that is my second goal, a 7 min/mile pace or faster. This could be tough with my lack of training, but we will see! I would have loved to go after a 6 min/mile pace for this race, but that I just not realistic at this point. That will be the goal once I have a several months of solid training under my belt. 😛 Moving forward my goal is to run more days/more consistently (even with my crazy schedule) because I have the Boston 5k in less than a month and the Chicago Spring half will be here before I know it 🙂

Regardless, I am excited to run the Shuffle with so many of you! I am going to expo on Friday 🙂 Let me know below if you are running the Shuffle and if so, which day you are going to the expo 👇🏻

19 goals for 2019

Happy New Year friends! 🎉I hope 2019 is off to an amazing start for all of you! 🙂 I’ve seen a few people share their 2019 goals over the last few days and I love reading other peoples goals (is that weird?! 😂), so I thought I would share mine as well. 😛

I’ve seen a lot of people pick 19 goals for 2019 (#19for2019), so I decided to do the same. The #19for2019 is from Gretchen Rubin’s Happier podcast, I believe. I do not listen to the podcast, but I have heard good things, so maybe I will start! Anyway, the point of 19 goals in 2019 is to pick several smaller, more manageable goals and/or changes to implement over this year and to periodically check-in with yourself. Last year, I had 15 goals and tried to check-in with my goals each season, so I will strive for the same this year.

My goals are a combination of running, marriage, hobby, and life goals. It helps with accountability to have specific goals and to pick when you will check-in with them. I aim to check-in with my goals in March, June, October, and the end of December 2019! So let’s run into 2019, with speed, determination, and enthusiasm toward our goals 😉

19 goals for 2019:

1. Read (or listen) to 24 books

2. Read (or listen) to a book for at least 10 minutes/ day 

3. Write 2 new blog posts/ month 

4. Maintain my paper/pen running log (I use the Believe Training Journal) for the entire year 

5. Go to bed earlier (ideally before midnight, but this will be tough with night class)

6. Crochet or knit at least 1x/week 

7. Try 3 new workouts this year

8. Strength train 2x/week (at least 20 minute sessions)

9. Yoga 1x/week (at least a 20 minute session) 

10. Glute strength/hip strength/pre-hab exercises 3x/week

11. Foam rolling/ Roll Recovery before OR after every run for 5 minutes 

12.Run 2,019 kilometers this year (1,254.5 miles)

13. Embrace cross training 1x/week to help prevent future injuries 

14. Run a race (any distance) in a state that is not Illinois

15. Sub 1:30 half marathon 

16. Sub 3:10 marathon 

17. Focus on saving-double our savings account

18. Cook 1 new meal/ month with my husband

19. Try 5 new veg-friendly restaurants 

What are your goals for 2019? Did you also make a #19for2019 list?! Let me know here or on Instagram, so I can cheer you on! 🙂

A long overdue Chicago marathon training update

Hello friends!

I’m really struggling. REALLY. STRUGGLING. And then I saw this e-mail… but only after I dug through my junk e-mail folder before emptying it.

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It’s like the Chicago marathon knew that seeing this e-mail would not be in my best interest, so it went right to junk. But I saw it and it’s already something I’ve been considering since late last week.

So yes, it’s true I’m considering NOT running the Chicago Marathon as my first marathon. I know this may come as a complete and total shock to you..especially if you follow me on Instagram. There you see that I update my training pretty frequently, but that is not the whole story, especially lately.

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I offically made the decision in April 2018 to change my path and pursue my dream to become a Registered Dietitian. At 26 years old, you could say I’ve never been one to do things conventionally 😉 But my former jobs will only make me a better RD in the long run. I’m two weeks into my classes and new job as a nutrition assistant. I’m loving it, but things have been tough. I don’t want to sound ungrateful-I’m so fortunate to have the ability to take out loans and go back to school, be healthy enough to run, chase my dreams, and rely on the support of others, especially my husband. I could not make this dream a reality otherwise.

But, there have been a lot of doubts.

I keep questioning myself: “Is it worth it to change my career after I already have a BA in a related field and MA in a different field? How do I balance sleep/ training/ work/ classes? What does it say about me if I chose sleep after a late night of studying versus an early run? Am I passionate enough? How can I utilize my time more effectively on my 2.5-3 hour commute? As a future RD, isn’t it ironic that I struggle to eat enough to fuel my training/life sometimes? How can I expect to run a marathon on 30 miles per week when I was doing better mileage  earlier this summer?”

Then, I feel like I turn these personal questions into EXCUSES, EXCUSES, EXCUSES…

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(My longest run last year since college almost exactly a year ago that resulted in another injury)

I spent most of my college running career and the years after nursing injuries/not running. I got hurt again last year at this time when I was trying to finally make my return to running! I later realized the key for me to staying healthy is doing most of my runs at a very easy pace. It took me until this year to master that. I’ve spent years just wanting to get to this point of healthy, consistent running! And now I’m there (or was, except for last two weeks of training)…

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(throw back to 2011 college cross country)

In college, I had a demanding science major, a very part time job (I was allowed to do my homework during it :P), cross country practice (sometimes twice a day), and a few other extracurriculars.  So, now that I’m older, back in school, and healthy, it’s frustrating that I am struggling to balance my schedule. But I’m only on week 2, so it will get better! It doesn’t help sometimes that when I am talking to other people training for a marathon in person or on social media I see so many who juggle even more than me crushing their training. And the first thing I think after being inspired and excited for them is, how? What is their secret? I don’t mean for that to sound pessimistic. But it’s hard to not to play the comparison game. I know I’m not the only one.

But my husband reminded me that some of you may look at me here, on social media, etc. and think that I too am crushing it and have the perfect training/life balance. I assure you I don’t! I am a firm believer in less is more, but America teaches us to be busy, busy, busy. Who can work the longest? Who can eat the healthiest? Who can run the most miles? Who can do the most extracurriculars? Work the most jobs? etc. etc. It’s not realistic to do everything, all the time, and you never know the whole story until you ask someone. We are all just trying to figure it out.

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I pride myself on being honest in the hopes that others can relate. Last week I ran only 35 miles (instead of my goal of 40-45). I struggled with the timing of runs with my new classes, my 2.5-3 hour commute to school, and the heat/humidity/weather. This week I started working on top of my classes and that further complicated things. I’m still trying to get in the rhythm of a good schedule because this is all new to me. I’m only at 8 miles this week and may reach 25-30 miles depending on the next 24 hours. I’ve been demoralized about my paces during runs and I feeling worn down on more runs than energized. Also, I’m competitive and put a lot of pressure on myself to run a certain time. Yet, I know no one will judge me if I run a 3:15 marathon or a 4 hour one because it’s amazing to just finish one! Although, I cannot decide if I have enough training to still run Chicago, especially if this trend in my training continues…This is why I desperately wish I had a coach and/or team. 😦

I thought it might help me decide to reflect on the majors lows and highs of my training so far. Lows first, then highs because I  am doing my best to remain positive!

Training lows:

The Rock ‘n Roll Chicago half marathon (week 8) where I ran much slower than I expected, but it was a tough day for all in the monsoon-like conditions:

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My first “true” long run of training cycle was 14 miles (week 10) where I learned that 12 ounces is not enough water, you need to wear sunscreen, and one gel is not enough:

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Last week’s long run (week 14) that was supposed to be 14-15 miles and I only completed 12. It was my worst run this training cycle and left me feeling defeated and questioning if I have what it takes:

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Training highs

The first tempo run in the training cycle (week 11) that felt good/strong. I did a 4 mile tempo in 6:51, 6:54, 6:40, and 6:49:

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My first ever 16 miler (week 11) with my husband while on vacation in Michigan, where I nailed my nutrition and first started feeling like the possibility of me running a marathon was not so crazy:

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My mile repeat workout during week 12 of training where I exceeded my expectations and ran a 6:24, 6:13,  6:11, and 6:22. I realized I am in better shape than I thought! Nowhere near where my mile repeats in college, but this is a new era of running for me, so I was proud of myself that day:

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My 18 miler (week 12) where I ran 12 miles with my old college teammates and 6 miles on my own. I nailed my nutrition on this run! The run made me realize I am tough and can run further than expected:

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My 20 miler during week 13 done all on my own. I nailed my nutrition on my run and ran it at an easy pace, but was able to pick up the pace a little at the end, despite it being 85 degrees out.  The run was actually pretty fun and it made me realize I am mentally and physically strong enough to run farther than I though!

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The Nike race last week (week 14) where I ran a decent 3.4 mile race (22:04) in the middle of my first week of school where all my other runs that week were subpar. It was fun! It reminded me that I miss racing, especially the shorter ones and training with a team. The positive energy at the race was contagious!

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If you stuck around to read this…thank you! 🙂 It was helpful for me to formulate how I have been feeling. I have until Sept. 18th to decide what to do. As of tonight, I do not know the best decision, but know that your support of my running, my new career path, and me means the world. Know that whatever I decide about Chicago, I am still rooting for all of you! Keep crushing your runs and workouts! At the end of the day we run for fun, so what’s the point if it’s not fun? I am taking the pressure off myself and thinking through this decision. I have a feeling that even if I don’t run Chicago I will find another race to do since I have increased my fitness a lot the last few months 😛

Have you ever deferred a major race (or any race)? Why did you make that decision? 

 

Knockaround Polarized Premiums Sunglasses Review: A Deal You Can’t Beat

Disclaimer: I received two pairs of Knockaround Polarized Premiums sunglasses to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. I received the black sunset Premiums and the white monochrome Premiums. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check outBibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

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I want to start my review by saying running with sunglasses is not optional for me (unless it’a really cloudy or I want to be in pain). I had a corneal abrasion in 2013 (super fun with contacts let me tell ya 🙄) and since then my eyes have been very sensitive to sunlight. Even before the corneal abrasion, I noticed my eyes feel better the rest of the day if I wear sunglasses when I run. Plus, it’s just a good practice to protect your eyes when you run. 😛

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My only issue is that I tend to misplace my sunglasses (usually they are found months later in a random bag, drawer, or the car glovebox). This means I do not like to spend a lot on sunglasses, because there is a chance I’m going to loose them. 🤦🏼‍♀️ I get way too attached to my sunglasses, though, so it’s always sad when I do. 😦  Another thing that is important to me is quality- I need sunglasses that actually protect my eyes from the sun and stay put on my tiny face. So basically I need high quality sunglasses, that are also reasonably priced. I’m not high maintenance or anything… 😛

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My demands seemed impossible to meet until I met the Knockaround Polarized Premiums sunglasses!😱 Here’s why:

-Knockarounds are super easy on the wallet: only $15 for non-polarized and $20 for polarized. So, if you end of losing a pair it is not the end of the world…but still sad nonetheless. 😦

-They are designed for use (and can take a beating). I’ve dropped my sunglasses on the ground, the Lakeshore Path, sweated all over them, stashed them in random bags, etc. and they have come out unscathed.

-The polarized lenses really protect my eyes! As mentioned previously, I wear contacts and I had a corneal abrasion a few years ago, so this is especially important to me.

-They fit my tiny face. They are still a little big, but that’s what happens when your noggin is the size of a child’s.  😂 Yet, they stay on when I run. So I consider them a win! It’s nearly impossible for me to find perfect fitting lenses anyway (in sunglasses and eyeglasses), so good enough works for me. If you have a larger head there are still pairs that will fit you!

-Last, but not least they come in fun colors/styles! You can even design your own! 🙂

Bonus: They were super fun to wear to a SNL trivia night that I attended. Can anyone guess who my husband and I were?!

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So what do you say? Have I convinced you to get your own pair? You can receive 20% off of a SINGLE order by using the code BIBRAVEKNOCKS at checkout. Please let me know if you try them out below! 🙂 Also, tonight only, head over to the BibRave Twitter at 8 pm central to participate in #BibChat and try your hand at winning 2 pairs of Knockarounds! I hope to chat with all of you there!

Finally, don’t just take my word, see what other BibRave Pros have to say about Knockarounds below:

Amanda (not me, a different one! :P)

Bradley

Corey

Jeannine

Karin

Kevin

Ralph

Stephanie

Tedrick