Sweet Silver Lining

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Running Advice September 24, 2009


A couple of friends have asked what one should do to start running, so here is my advice for any of you out there who might like to start:

1. Find a couch to 5K running plan online, even if you don’t intend to run a 5K in the future. These plans advocate starting out slowly with combined walking and running to help the beginner get adjusted to running. So many people go out and try to run a mile the first day they decide to try to run, they can’t do it or they almost kill themselves trying to do it, and they give up shortly afterward. That is not a wise way to begin running.

2. Slow down! Most new runners want to run at an all out effort and then wonder why they don’t get very far. If you want to run distance, you must learn to pace yourself. The best way I found to do that is by buying a Polar heart rate monitor. I could set it to beep when my heart rate got too high, letting me know that I was pushing myself too hard and that I needed to back off. You don’t have to get a heart rate monitor, though, if you’ll just learn to listen to your body. I just found that the heart rate monitor was the easiest way, but I don’t even use it anymore for runs. I have learned what it feels like if I am going too fast.

3. When starting out, it is best to focus on time rather than mileage. Your goal should be 30 minutes of walk/run intervals 3-5 days per week. You should be challenging yourself each week to make the run intervals longer and the walk intervals shorter. A couch to 5K program will stress this.

4. Buy good shoes. The people at Hibbett’s or other sporting goods stores are usually not runners and don’t know crap about running shoes, pronation and supination, arches, how body weight affects the type of shoes you should buy, etc. The best money you will ever spend for running is to go to a specialty running shoe store, such as Fleet Feet in Jackson, and let them watch you walk and run, look at the wear of your old running shoes, etc. These people have been trained to fit runners in the best shoe for them. Also, they provide a risk-free period so that if they aren’t the best shoes for you, you can bring them back. I suffered from shin splints from wearing cheap New Balance trail shoes that I bought from The Shoe Dept. Because I didn’t know any better, I continued to run on them, thinking that shin splints were just a part of running and would go away once my legs got used to it. I could barely walk by the time that I found out differently. I headed on down to Fleet Feet soon after I could properly walk again.

5. Back to the 5K. Running a race can be a little intimidating, but if you have a goal set, it will motivate you to continue running, even when it’s hard and you want to stop. There will come a time when running becomes a great experience that you love and crave, but until then, you need to keep your motivation up. I hated running when I first began, but I was determined to lose weight and become healthier. It took a while to find my love for running. Until you find a love for it, make some goals. No one says that you cannot walk some during a 5K. In fact, lots of people take walk breaks, so don’t let that keep you from trying one. It’s a really fun experience, especially if you can share it with someone.

6. Strength train. Strong muscles equal a strong run. You will get faster if your muscles are stronger. Also, muscles burn more calories (even at rest!) than fat. Strength training can also help prevent injury from poor running form or from weak muscles, such as at the hips and knees. Strengthening your core muscles is an absolute must for runners. Every runner needs a strong back and abs.

7. Once you have built up a base and can run continuously for a mile or two, mix up the types of runs you do. One day per week should be your long run, which is the run of the farthest distance that you can run. Do not increase this distance by more than 10% of your weekly miles each week, though, or you risk injury. For instance, if you run 5 total miles per week, don’t increase your long run distance by more than half a mile for the next week (so if your long run is 2 of the 5 weekly miles, don’t run farther than 2.5 miles the next week for your long run). Another type of run is the tempo run, which is a comfortably hard effort of two to four miles with short recovery periods at a slightly slower pace. It teaches you to run faster by training you to run through the discomfort of reaching your lactate-threshold. I only do tempo runs once a week. Hill repeats also help you become a faster runner by strengthening your leg muscles. About once every two weeks, find a decent sized hill on your route (or bump up the incline on the tm), and after warming up for 10 minutes at an easy pace, run up the hill at a hard effort and run easily down it. Repeat this about 4 times, and then run easy for the rest of your route. The rest of my runs are moderately easy “fun runs,” a little faster than my long run pace, and are used to just build endurance and burn extra calories.

8. Last but not least is nutrition. Do you put garbage into your gas tank? No? Well, you should not do it to your body, then. Your body, after all, is way more precious than your car. You will run stronger and feel better if you work on your nutrition. I’ve also previously blogged about calorie counting, which is a must if you want to learn to eat smaller portions and lose weight. I eat 5 to 6 times a day, but they are small meals. I rarely feel hungry this way. It is best to stay away from fast food and restaurants in general if you are using running as a weight loss tool. I do eat out at restaurants occasionally, but I try to choose my food wisely, I don’t eat everything on my plate, and I only go out to eat every once in a while.

I am definitely not the most knowledgeable about running, and I’m sure I have probably left out some important points or left you with more questions. Read up on running at www.runnersworld.com and www.coolrunning.com These sites are where I learned most of what I know about running. The beginner’s forum at Runner’s World was indispensable help to me when I first started running. There are people on there much more knowledgeable than I am that can answer just about any question you may have.


Tofu September 19, 2009

Filed under: food,hEaLtH — dragonfly180 @ 10:47 pm
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Tofu is soy curd. It is to soy what cheese is to milk. Tofu sounds and looks so nasty and unappetizing, but it really isn’t bad. I don’t mind it at all in egg drop soup. I have been so afraid of it otherwise, though. For one thing, why is it that tofu seems so intimidating to cook? Mostly, it is a fear of the unknown. Tofu was definitely not a food option in my house growing up. I was an adult before I even tried it.

Since my hubby has been having some health problems related to nutrition and has had to cut way back on meat, I decided to give tofu a try. We need our protein. I looked up some great recipes for tofu on www.sparkrecipes.com this afternoon and found so many that I didn’t know which to cook first! I found out that the coolest thing about tofu is that since it doesn’t really have a taste, it takes on whichever flavors you put it with. You can make it sweet, savory, smoky, etc. After saving a long list of tofu recipes to my online cookbook, Jamie and I headed to the grocery store. My hubby really loves lasagna, so I decided to try tofu lasagna.

I bought a block of extra firm tofu from the produce section at Wal-Mart a few days ago (and it was surprisingly cheap!), and I learned online that you need to press the excess water out that they package it in to keep it fresh. So I laid it in a plate on top of paper towels, put paper towels on the top of it, and sat a saucepan on top of it all to kinda press it out. Meanwhile, I boiled my lasagna noodles and rinsed them. Then, I crumbled up the tofu and added it to my pasta sauce. I made several layers of my pasta sauce/tofu mixture, low fat cottage cheese, and lasagna noodles. I topped it off with low fat shredded cheese. I baked it in the oven for 45 minutes at 375 degrees. It was so delicious! The crumbled tofu was about the same consistency as the cottage cheese, so I couldn’t tell that I was even eating tofu, especially since tofu doesn’t really have a taste. tofu lasagna 075

I am so glad I tried cooking tofu. I am excited to try some of these other tofu recipes!


treadmill mix September 13, 2009

Filed under: entertainment,fitness,hEaLtH — dragonfly180 @ 7:56 pm
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The following songs are from my run mix on my ipod. I listen to these if I’m stuck on the treadmill and want something to get my mind off the monotony of running in one spot. Some are fast and some are slow, but all of them get me pumped b/c I love ’em.

girls just wanna have fun – cyndi lauper
comedown – dreampilots
you’ll find a way – santigold
promiscuous – nelly furtado
shine – collective soul
who got the hooch – everything
jump around – house of pain
take me out – franz ferdinand
black water – doobie brothers
untouched – the veronicas
are you gonna be my girl – jet
let it rock – kevin rudolf
use somebody – kings of leon
smile – lily allen
zombie – cranberries
psycho – puddle of mudd
shut up and drive – rhianna
whatever you like – T. I.
blister in the sun  – violent femmes
check yes juliet – we the kings
don’t trust me – 30h!3
shove it – santigold
wild thing – tone loc
get over it – O.K. go
fat bottomed girls – queen
blind man – black stone cherry
cupid shuffle – cupid
careless whisper – seether
one thing – finger eleven

What are your favorite get-up-and-move songs?


Beauty Products I Cannot Live Without: Part 1 September 9, 2009

I love love love trying new beauty products. When I was in high school and barely making enough money at my part-time job to buy insurance and gas for my car, I’d always go to Wal-Mart on pay day, scouring the shelves to find a great makeup item or hair care product. All women love to know what products their friends swear by, so I thought I’d blog about my current favorite products. Maybe you’ll find one on my list that you can’t live without, too! I’ve noted this as part 1 because I’m sure at some future point, I will have new products to review.

eyeliner eye
Liquid eyeliner (no particular brand; I think I bought Mary Kate and Ashley b/c it was the cheapest!) – this stuff is great because it doesn’t make my eyes itchy like pencil eyeliner, and it stays on all day (probably because I’m not rubbing it off!). Beware, though! You can easily mess this stuff up and have to start over. You can also make your eyes look really strange, so stay close to the lash line and don’t use it on the bottom lash line! I also sometimes like to “make” a liquid liner by wetting a small makeup brush in water and rubbing it in some dark purple eye shadow when I have more time. This makes a less stark line of color.
Organix Pomegranate Green Tea Conditioner – this conditioner is affordable, smells soooo good, and moisturizes my hair pretty well. I use the Organix Tea Tree Mint Shampoo with it for a nice aroma contrast in the shower.
Neutrogena Micromist spray tan – I have abandoned the tanning bed and only get to get out by the pool a couple of months out of the year, so I battle my ghostly paleness with this great and affordable spray tan. I use a can or less per month (@ about $10 each), so it’s cheaper than the tanning bed and soooo much better for your skin! But just like you can overdo it with the tanning bed, so can you with the spray. Don’t go orange! Leave the Oompa Loompas in the Chocolate Factory!
OPI nail polish – although pricier than the basic nail polish, this stuff is definitely worth it. It doesn’t chip the next day or two like most nail polishes, so I guess you could say it saves you money because you don’t have to apply it near as often. And the time it saves is worth every penny! I usually by the Sephora OPI nail polish.
sensual amber trio
Bath and Body Works Sensual Amber shower gel – I absolutely love the smell of this shower gel. I even have this fragrance from Bath and Body Works. It’s a nice, spicy fall scent.
Deseo perfume – although I am a self-described perfume jumper, I have stuck with J. Lo’s newest perfume for several months now. I love it!
Neutrogena On-the-Spot Acne Treatment – everyone knows that benzoyl peroxide zaps those zits, and this cream is 2.5%, which is less irritating than those products with 10%. I spot treat my face and leave it on while I sleep.
Feria Color Moisturizing Treatment – I don’t color my hair, but I do buy this deep conditioner to use occasionally when my hair needs some extra moisture. This is the same as the conditioner that Feria includes in their color kits. You can get it at beauty supply stores like Sally’s Beauty Supply.
clarins lotion
Clarins Moisture-Rich Body Lotion – I have ridiculously dry skin, especially in the winter, and I use this super moisturizing lotion on my face daily. It instantly gets rid of flaky, dry skin. It’s a little heavy for summer, so I only use a teeny bit at night then, but I use it twice a day during the winter. It costs a lot, but a tube of this stuff lasts me just over a year since I only use it on my face.
Healthy Sexy Hair Pumpkin Potion Leave-in Conditioner – I love the smell of this and smooth it in my damp hair every fall and winter. It’s like hair food.
Aphogee Keratin and Green Tea Restructurizer – This is another product that I get at the local beauty supply store. I use it before I blow dry my hair, and it works well as heat styling protection and leave-in conditioner.
rimmel stronger
Rimmel Stronger Base Coat and Strengthener – I have terribly brittle nails and when I started using this stuff, I grew long, pretty nails for the FIRST time EVER!
black amesthyst
Bath and Body Works Black Amethyst Body Cream – This is my new favorite scented lotion. I sometimes wear it instead of my Deseo perfume.
John Frieda Shine Shock – this gives shine without making hair greasy-looking or weighing it down.
Soothing Care Chafing Relief Powder Gel – I love this little multitasker. Not only is it great for chub rub while running in too short running shorts, a makeup artist advised me to use it as a makeup primer under my foundation. It fills in tiny lines and also keeps your makeup on longer. It also helps the makeup blend easier.

Beauty Product Advice?

So here’s a question for you. I have dry skin and ashamedly use bar soap to clean my face. I bought Olay Hydrate and Cleanse, and while I like the gentle exfoliators in the cleanser, I don’t like the way it feels like I’m slathering on lotion just to then rinse it away. It feels like my face isn’t getting clean (maybe this is in my head from years of using abrasive soaps?). I have mild breakouts and somewhat sensitive skin, so I need something that won’t irritate my skin too much and make it worse. I use a clay mask occasionally, which seems to help with breakouts, and I of course use benzoyl peroxide. So is there a really good cleanser out there that you swear by?

Also I have been trying to find a great mascara since a friend gave me a tube of the awesomest of awesome mascaras, Versace Gorgeous Curling Mascara. I can’t get it anymore, so I’ve been trying to find a good one since that makes really dramatic eyes like Versace did. I used Diorshow for a while, but it wasn’t all that. I also have tried a couple of Clinique mascaras, and they’re okay for the price. Does anyone have a super awesome mascara to recommend?


August and races September 5, 2009

Filed under: raNdOMnesS — dragonfly180 @ 9:34 pm
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The first month of school is over, and I’m getting into the swing of things finally. I’m teaching a new class, English II, in addition to English IV, theatre, and creative writing/mythology. I am also tutoring students who have not passed the English II state test.  The first of the year is always trying, but with a new (and tested!) subject to teach and so many children out each week with illnesses, it has been really hard. I was ecstatic for this long Labor Day weekend. I needed a break.

August was a fantastic month for exercise and running. I don’t think I’ve ever put that much time and effort into training. I tried lots of different gym classes at the Sanderson Center and found some that I really like. I ran almost 30 miles and walked almost 40 miles for August.

I ran a 5K today, the Prairie Arts Festival Mossy Oak 5K. It went pretty well, but it was very hot. The heat made the race such a mental struggle. I really enjoyed hanging out with Mary and Cindy, though. My next race will probably be the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure 5K in Tupelo in October. The following weekend, Mary, Cindy, and I are thinking about trying out the Freaky Friday 10K in Coker, AL, which is a night race where costumes are encouraged. It sounds really fun. Well, except for the 6.2 miles part! *lol* We have lots of training to do before then!