Training solo vs. Training with a buddy + Running gear must have’s

I read somewhere, it was probably Runner’s World, that finding the perfect running partner is a lot like finding the perfect mate. At first I laughed, thinking, that’s a little creepy but the more I thought about it, the more I totally agreed. I’ve spend 90% of my running life alone. There have been partners here and there, for sure, but none of them have quite measured up. I got tired of constantly pushing, constant cheerleading and the tireless quest to get them to my level. It was exhausting. And I always felt my goals suffered because of it. For the last half marathon I trained entirely alone and I’ll admit, it broke me a little bit. Those long runs can be mind blowing and heart breaking. Two weeks before my half, for the final long run, I met Allison, a person who I instantly felt a running/life connection with. I remember thinking after that 10 mile run: “Wow, everything feels different now.” My spirit didn’t feel as broken. I was looking forward to the race. I had a renewed sense of confidence. And, in typical “dating” fashion, I contemplated when the best time to contact her again was, waiting a week or so. When we exchanged phone numbers, I found myself holding back a little. I didn’t want to be like a stage 5 clinger. I approached running dates with Allison as if they were actual dates with a man, finding that the same rules really did apply. As time went on I found her to be: considerate, motivating, punctual, and willing, everything you need in a running partner. Since we are training for the same race, our training has been almost perfectly synced. Truly, I have never felt faster or stronger. I have never felt so eager and willing. I have never been so excited to see where my legs can take me. It’s about 3 weeks till the BAA Half Marathon and every single day I feel and see results. My body, mind and heart are indeed, changing.

Yes, it took 15 years of running to find the one person in this world who can stand me/keep up with me and a majority of days I feel like I am trying to keep up with her, which is great. The right training partner can change everything. And while those solo runs are still super important for a multitude of reasons, the support on scattered days, means the world. So I encourage you all to find a running group in your area, which is where I met Allison and many other VERY motivating people in my life right now. The right one will fit like the perfect shoe and will inspire you to get out of your comfort zone and push yourself to new and invigorating places. If you live in Maine, go hop on the Maine Track Club’s website for a complete list of running groups.

Running Items Above:
1. Run Inspire Crop II $92.00 (www.lululemon.com)
2. Kick Asphalt 2 in 1 Short $56.00 (www.athleta.com)
3. Happy Hatha Hour Bag $118.00 (www.lululemon.com)
4. Garmin Forerunner 10 (Can buy them at most athletic stores, about $110.00)
5. Mizuno Wave Rider 16 (purchased mine at Maine Running Company, $120.00)

This gear, for me, has made a HUGE difference. The bag is large enough that I can tote all my running items and fashionable enough that I can bring it out if I need to. The Mizuno Wave Rider’s have made a really difference in my gate and are the perfect balance of light with support. And of course, the two in one shorts are lovely for those of us who still have that little bit of thunder thigh. No shame in that though ladies.

Have a great Wednesday! Happy running everyone!

Boston 2014 & A Little Facelift

Boston 2014 & A Little Facelift

The idea of running a full marathon has always blown my mind. Like, completely blown it. A full marathon is two half marathons smooshed together and I’ll be honest, after a half marathon, I’m pretty tuckered out. I admire all those have completed this amazing feat but until last year, I had absolutely no desire to run one myself.

Let’s be honest here, the Boston Marathon bombings changed things for a lot of runners last year. It made most of us a combination of angry and inspired. It was such a sad incident on what usually is an extremely uplifting day. It couldn’t have happened to more resilient people. Let’s face it, when you are born in Boston, you are born with a fighting gene, combine that with a runner’s spirit and one is left with something very unique. Personally, that day left me with a desire to run the 2014 Boston Marathon and I think that’s the case for lots of people who never had the urge to run it prior. While qualifying is completely out of the question, I know there is a way to get in through charity, today I received the first e-mail about the application to the Dana Farber Team. I’m scared shitless. But I’m excited. I’m going to fill that application out to the best of my ability, say my prayers and hope for the best. The journey will be a long one if accepted on the team but that’s ok, I’m ready for it. I want this bucket list item so badly. To prove to myself that I can do it. To prove to others that I can do it. And, to support my hometown of Boston on the one year anniversary of a terrible tragedy.

Which brings me to the facelift. After two years, I think I have finally figured out what this blog should “be.” I’ve had countless ideas and tried to implement some of them but the truth is, ideas are better when they are focused. Ideas suffer when you try to spread them out too much. So, I’ve decided to omit things like: restaurant reviews, product reviews and give-a-ways. I’ve decided to steer this blog away from being a place where I support businesses for the sake of supporting local businesses and just talk about the things I love. Right now, my life is geared almost entirely towards running and cooking, of course, after that, there isn’t much room left over. On my hopeful journey towards Boston 2014, or whatever race takes its place, I’ve decided to steer this blog primarily towards running, diet, training and recipes. I have added the “EAT&PLAY” tab which has several sub categories: cook (recipes, not really geared towards runners specifically), eat (my favorite indulge spots, restaurants, bakeries, etc.), juice (juicing tips and recipes for active people) and recover (recipes geared specifically towards runners and how to treat your body well while training).  I have also added a “TRAINING” tab which will include sub categories: playlist material (current music I love to run to), training diary (my personal journey through training for a specific race) and training plans (training plans which I have used in training that have worked well for me). A lot of this material is new to the site and will take a little while to build but from this point forward “Put That In Your Face” will be about the active person, taking care of themselves, taking care of their body while still going for the good stuff every once in a while. I think being more streamlined will help to create a better sense of community, amongst men and women across the globe who embody the “runner’s spirit.”

I am also going to change the header and possibly the layout. I think the site needs a little bit more color. I am feeling a change. Let me know your thoughts if you have any, I welcome any and all feedback.

I welcome you on this journey with me and I hope it will be a really positive one.

Till next time my friends.

xoxo, Jenny

Buzz words don’t make you fit folks.

I feel like a few years ago Food Inc. was released and everything changed. From that one documentary (although I am sure there were many prior to it)  came like, a zillion documentaries, all trying to scare us into eating differently. From those zillion documentaries came all these buzz words that people associate with making better choices in their lives. There have been a million fad diets laced with a trillion ways to eat like our ancestors to guarantee a better, fitter you. Juicing, fasting, no carb, low carb and the latest and greatest Paleo Diet which to me provides the biggest chuckle. Paleo is sometimes referred to as the caveman (or women) diet, taking from the hunter/gatherer way of foraging for food. It emphasizes things that come from the earth: fruit, veggies and meat and excludes things like grains and legumes. It’s controversial for sure and lots of people, doctors included, have many different opinions about whether or not it is a healthful way to live. (By the way, I’m not picking on this diet, just merely using it as an example) When things get tough in the food industry and the heat is on the health, everyb0dy wants to run for cover and usually, the cover happens to be whichever way our ancestors once ate. For some reason, we have it in our minds that their way was the right way. But here is what we are all forgetting, those folks, didn’t live that damn long. They had much shorter life plans because of their limited diet. It sometimes took them days if not weeks to find protein. And they walked hundreds of miles in search of food, never staying in one location for too long. Women today are running with this diet, consuming much more protein than needed and not doing the amount of activity that those old folks once did. Face it people, we don’t live in a society where we walk anywhere. I mean, some people do, sure, that live in cities. And some people bike, I get that too. But really, most of us spend our time in cars, driving one or two miles down the road or on a treadmill staring at the wall, completing the same bat shit crazy behavior over and over again. We don’t share common ground with our ancestors at all, so lets not try and eat like them.

To me, the biggest problem is that everyone wants a biological, sensible, way out of our own problem. But here’s the thing: there isn’t one. We have to face the facts. We don’t hunt. We don’t gather. (Spare me with the some of us hunt crap, you hunt, sure, but it’s not the same and most of you have like granola bars in your bags as you hunt) We go to the grocery store, we buy everything, we whip something up, we slap a healthy name on it and we think we are awesome. Some may say that I am just as guilty with some of my vegan desserts recently. But I’ve always been open and honest with you guys, I’m not a vegan and I’m not trying to be one (but I am inspired by those who are), I’m just your average girl trying to feed herself and her kids the best way possible. I fully understand the issues in our food industry and I try and find my best way out of them. I try not to participate when possible. I try to grow my own when I can and I try and support those locally who grow their own as well. There is no way out of this mess, until we are all willing to remove the labels, look behind the curtain and take a long, hard look at OZ.

So you may be asking, ok, Jenny, woman who claims to know everything, what makes you fit?

Being fit isn’t about having a definition for your diet. Being fit, eating clean, eating well is all about searching for the freshest, wholesome, real food out there and then consuming it in the most basic way possible. By basic I don’t mean it needs to be raw, under flavored and boring but basic enough that you have accented the food well in a straight forward fashion. It’s about eating meat less because no, we are not programmed to eat meat seven days a week, multiple times a day. It’s about removing the packaged food completely when we can and are ready to make that commitment. (This includes granola bars, protein bars, gel packs, I mean, please, look at the labels, YUCK). It means eating grains that are in their natural state, that are not refined. It means drinking water rather than juice or soda, which has no nutritional value. (unless you are making the juice yourself) It means letting yourself indulge, healthfully, once in a while when you feel the need but then stepping back from that and rounding out your diet with something healthful. It means getting outside and breathing in the air while doing something with your body. It means whatever you want it to, as long as it respects the temple you live in, your body. You only get one. We were given the tools and we turned our backs on them. Rather than deal properly, we want to demonize the situation and find a name for it. Atkins: I hate you. South Beach Diet: I think you are stupid. Weight Watchers: I get why people use you but I don’t agree with your philosophies and Paleo: No, I just don’t think you are based on a good core ideal.

I realize that its easier said than done. I battle with this everyday. I have two kids and sometimes, I just have to give them something like Goldfish. I feel badly about it. I do. But I don’t always have the time to make everything from scratch and I have to accept that some battles I just have to let go. However, 90% of the time, my kids go for the good stuff. They don’t drink juice, unless someone else gives it to them, they have never consumed soda and they know what healthy living looks like in this house. We have lots of normal meals, last night we had spaghetti and meatballs, may not seem the most healthful but I bought my meat locally, everything else was organic when possible and we had hand made, locally sourced bread. There is a balance that can be achieved when sought after. I’m not about to live a life of deprivation but I do want to know where what I eat comes from. You should too.

Don’t take the good stuff away. Just swap out the choices. Enjoy well made, artisanal, local cheese. Enjoy fresh milk. Enjoy good wine. Enjoy meat that you can state where it was raised and where it was killed. Enjoy a slice of pie, that you made with good ingredients, but just one slice.

Eliminate your barriers. Food is love. Give it to your body as a gift. And enjoy it.

Have a great Sunday everyone. Eat something good.

Portland gets fit with spinning


I recently discovered that Portland is now home to a brand spanking new Spinning Studio: Quest Cycle. It’s a state of the art spinning experience that just can’t be beat. I discovered it the other day while driving home from Whole Foods. It can be difficult to spot so I’m not entirely sure how it jumped out at me, but needless to say, it caught my eye and I perked up immediately. I have been looking for a new place to spin as World Gym seems to not fit “me” anymore. And let’s be honest, Portland is still coming to age with its fitness facilities. The only place I know of that sounds interesting is the Body Architect but who wants to pay like a hundred bucks for a gym membership with classes that only involve yoga? Not me. What I need is something with a go-to, one hour, kick my face in experience and Quest Cycle has completely given that to me. It technically opens tomorrow, however, they have had FREE demo classes all week and I went to two of them. These were at 5:30 A.M. but their schedule is really flexible with a variety of classes that could fit almost anyone’s schedule. The facility is small but, let’s be honest, it’s just spinning, how much space does one need? But they have utilized the space well. It has a huge projection screen where the instructor plays a video of a mountain or a road to accompany your ride. Then there are the colorful lights flashing about that are usually placed on at the halfway point of the class. Oh and let’s not forget the giant fan that blows wind in your hair as you ride your little heart out. The instructor this morning (Paul, loving him!) really put us all to the test and I left feeling like I had really laid it all out. I felt good. I felt like I could conquer anything.

To me, the sure sign of successful exercise is when I feel athletic. It’s when I can visualize myself in another place at another time, doing something really fierce. It’s like visualizing myself in a Nike commercial, where I am lacing up my shoes and ready to roll with the big guys. This morning, there was this one song, no idea what it was called but it resonated deep with me. It made me feel powerful and real. It made me feel like I was in a place where I could stomp through puddles and high-five all my friends. The feeling I had when I left was more than just accomplishment, I felt inspired.

I know everyone goes through cycles where they feel like they can and then they can’t. It’s important to help seek out the one thing that can lift you up to new levels. Spinning for me has always been that one thing that just brings me back to earth. When I’m tired of running or frustrated with running, when I am feeling like I want to break up with running, I go spin. Then, I feel as if everything has been placed in perspective. I release the demons and that makes it easier to return to life on the pavement, step by step. Every runner needs a cross training activity that works well with their routine, this is mine.

We are almost out of winter people, clearer skies are coming, I can just feel it. Soon we will all be out in T-shirts, wondering what life was like with all this snow on the ground. But meanwhile, go to one of these classes, you won’t regret it. It’s not an easy class but it’s a rewarding one. And if you do happen to treat yourself to something like a cupcake (which I did last night), spinning helps you to feel a little better about it.

Quest Cycle

132 Marginal Way

Portland, ME

*You can sign up for classes on their website which is great for busy folks such as myself.

In deep with the distance

Long_Distance_Running

I started my training for my year of racing months before I really had to, running 8-9 miles for my long runs just for the sheer hell of it. Generally, when average folks train for a half, long runs become true long runs close to the event. For me, I have found that I genuinely love long runs just for the hell of it. However, it has been years since I have run this aggressively and my body at 29 does not seem to be holding up as well as my body at 25. In my height of running I experienced: black and blue toes, toe nails that fell off and wouldn’t grow back, deep bruising on my legs, constant cramping and spasms as well as horrifying terrible shin splints. In the height of my issues with my heart while running I experienced: random blacking out, labored breathing, and spots in my sight that would last for hours. When you take some time off from a sport, these “problems” tend to fade from existence, making you love it all over again. It’s like child-birth, no one would have more children if they remembered clearly what it was like the first time. I mean, it’s one of the worst things ever. You would need to bury it deep to want to return to it. My point is not that running is ruining me. Because it’s doing the opposite, it’s making me feel really strong and confident. But there are definitely downsides to distance running. As human beings, I’m not sure we were absolutely meant to run for absurd amounts of time. And, I’m only concentrating on half marathons, I can’t even begin to imagine how marathoners feel. My bodies reaction to distance running when I was younger made me feel accomplished, now I’m feeling a little different about it.

My body right now just feels a little tired. I take more rest days than most, running an average of 4-5 days a week and anywhere between 20-30 miles. Some people only take like 2-3 rest days a year. Those however, are people who are running to win. I’m running to prove something to myself and not to anyone else. As you all know, running is deeply spiritual for me. When I was 15 and I was told to stop because of my heart, I knew even then, it wasn’t going to happen. I can’t survive without it. But right now, I think I need to listen to my body and take a day where I need a day.

Lots of runners get so entangled in their “training” that they forget to listen to their bodies. Your body is the smartest device around. Aches and pains are its way of asking you to pay attention. When I was younger, I ignored it, now I think I need to watch closely. My GPS watch and my training plan on my fridge shouldn’t dictate how I feel. But as I said, it’s easy to get too wrapped up in the schedule. Let’s be honest, no one ever died because they took an extra day off. And no one’s running ever suffered from letting a more organic plan take course. If you get that focused, the fun gets removed from the running. Then, you are running because you have to, rather than because you want to. That’s a dreaded eventual for me and I don’t want to ever reach that point. So, I’m going to start taking better cues from myself. Example, my toenail is seriously about to fall off one of my toes and the whole tip is black and blue, perhaps I should allow myself to take it back a notch. No one looks attractive without toenails.

As we all race towards our goals, we have to remember to revisit the why, at least every once in a while. Why am I running? Why am I holding myself to impossibly high standards? Why am I not rewarding myself for a job well done when it’s well done? All runners do this, we look at our GPS watches or our tracking devices and we sigh after a run. We could be two seconds off our pace and we beat ourselves up for it. How about this: you made it outside and you ran, who cares how long or how fast. There are people out there that would die for that chance. Let’s just be glad we did and we can. On this blustery weekend I am going to run for the sake of running and give my body the room that it needs to breathe. I am going to high-five myself for a great year. And I am going to take a moment to look around at the things that envelop me, like I once did. Do the same. You all deserve it.