Week 1 of Marathon Training!

marathon memeAs always, marathon training did not exactly get off to a smooth start this year (suspiciously, just like every year so far) but hopes are still high. I kicked off the first of my 12-week training plan to get ready for the fabulous Honolulu Marathon on December 10th. I’m all about supporting my city and running on my own turf, through a course I know all too well by the time race day rolls around.

This marathon will be lucky number 5, and I’ve got myself on a pretty fun plan of preparatory races leading up to the big day. I’ve got my absolute favorite – the Xterra Gunstock Trails Half Marathon – at the end of October, as well as the Val Nolasco Half Marathon – which mimics the final leg of the real deal – in November.


I’m coming off a sprained ankle a few weeks back, so I’m treading carefully and doing my super boring ankle exercises when I actually remember to do them. On the bright side, my first long run – eight hot & steamy miles around Honolulu – went by super quick & easy. So, there’s that.

Anyways, I’m using this super flexible plan from He and She Eat Clean to train. I chose it because it’s 12 weeks (sweet!) and works in tons of cross-training, which is the only way I can mentally handle preparing for a marathon.

NB Marathon

Training While Injured


It’s been almost two weeks of non-soccer/non-running existence and let me tell you – the injured life is not a fun one. With lots of life changes like moving apartments & possible career shifts, it’s been a major struggle not being able to run through it all. Running is my mediation, my quiet, precious ‘me’ time, and I’m going a little bit crazy without it.

In a nutshell – resting ain’t easy.


To keep myself in shape for a busy marathon season, I’ve been supplementing as best as I can with bike riding, swimming, and lifting at the gym. The only good news is that I’m able to lift a lot heavier than usual because I’m not running. So, I’ve gotten to play around with compound movements like squats and snatches to keep myself strong.

I’ve also been stuck with the very boring task of ankle PT. I can’t explain why I hate it so much, but I totally do. I hate every second of it. I know it helps, but it’s so boring it’s like watching paint dry, except you have to be an active participant. Ugh.


Anyways, I just go cleared to ‘lightly jog’ for a few minutes and come back next week to get the final go ahead. I’m still benched from soccer, which starts this weekend, and banned from my Old Pali Road race this Sunday. So, for the next week, I’ll still be grumpy and difficult but hopefully will get my happy time back soon. 🙂

Happy Healing!

Nicole

Coconut Chase 8K & Injured Struggles


I had an awesome time at the Coconut Chase 8K last weekend, where I breezed through two easy, beautiful loops along Sand Island’s beautiful coast. Locals tend to think of Sand Island as the greasy, industrial peninsula that is is, for the most part. Unbeknownst to me, there’s a picturesque recreation area that runs along the southern tip that’s a runner’s idyllic dream.


I felt very on pace that day and watched the revived few miles fly by. Since the race was so short, I never had the deep sense of panic that surfaces during the early miles of half and full marathons. This was my first 8K and I felt strong, sexy and fast.

After I got my results, I was ecstatic to learn I placed 11th in my age/gender group and hit between an 8:30-8:57 mile pace the whole time. For me, that’s huge. I’m a naturally slower paced runner, clocking in 9:30-10 minute miles with pride and effort. So, I’m definitely doing my happy dance over this one 🙂


However, said happy dance is difficult given the injury that occurred very shortly after crossing the finish line. In typical all-or-nothing fashion, I went to play soccer and totally rolled my ankle. So much that I missed work and found it warm, buzzing, and swollen since that fateful wrong step.

I’ve spent the last few days going crazy not being able to run. I have another short but sweet 4.4-miler on Old Pali Road coming up on September 10th, followed quickly by my favorite race on the island – the XTerra Gunstock Ranch Trail Half Marathon in October. SO, I have a lot of healing and training to figure out in the very limited meantime.

My plan is to replace my runs with swimming and stationary bike workouts, coupled with physical therapy and weight lifting. Hopefully, I’ll be able to have more happy finish line moments in the next few months!

Happy Healing,
Nicole

Half Marathon Training & Coconut Chase 8K!

As all runners know, the onset of fall means one thing, and one thing only: RACE SEASON. The marathon organizers were kind enough to at least schedule most of them in the fall, during the cooler, breezier, and run-friendly weather that autumn brings. Not to mention the magical experience of running through a cacophony of swirling red, orange and yellow leaves. Even here on the island, where the leaves don’t change, the weather sure does. It’s cooler and windier and way less intense than the terrible month of August. Ugh.

Normally, I’m gearing up for the Marine Corps Marathon, which I’ve sadly decided to forgo this year. In January, I suffered a difficult back injury that kept recurring due to my refusal to stop playing soccer and rest. So, as injuries tend to do, I ended up unable to do anything for quite some time, and missed the critical buildup period for my MCM training plan 😦

Instead, I’ve spent the summer building back up to my normal strength and speed and have signed up for a litany of fun, short-distance races throughout the fall. The first being the Coconut Chase 8K along Sand Island, which kicks off this Sunday (yay!). It will be followed by a buildup of races each month, ending at the Honolulu Marathon in December:

  • Coconut Chase 8K (August)
  • Old Pali Road 5-miler (September)
  • XTerra Gunstock Trails Half Marathon (October)
  • Val Nolasco Half Marathon (November)
  • Honolulu Marathon (December)

I’m thrilled to test out the short-distance waters and build my confidence back up after being set back by such a tough injury. I’m prepping right now for this weekend, which will be my first short-distance race I’ve ever done. Surprisingly, I’ve stuck to full and half marathons and not really dabbled in anything less. As I’ve gotten older, though, I’ve started to consider smaller races and shorter distances.

Wish me luck on my race this weekend! It’ll be along the beautiful shoreline of Sand Island, an easy, hot, and flat terrain.

Happy Running!
Nicole

Motivation Monday: Keep Fitness in Your Life

  
Life is crazy: crazy-stressful, crazy-frustrating, crazy-difficult, crazy-exhausting, crazy-unpredictable. Maintaining your sanity is tough enough. Now that I’m in a different stage of life, I truly see just how real the struggle of day to day adult life can be. My love for health and fitness – and refusal to give up on nurturing both of those interests – adds another element of difficulty to the mix.

Going to the gym, making meals and eating right in college is easy. Even if you work or play sports and have a heavy class load, it’s phenomenally easier to maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle when you’re in school. Once you work a 9-5, you realize just how precious and sacred a lazy Wednesday morning or Thursday afternoon are. Once you get in a ryhtm of wake up, work, come home, sleep & repeat, it’s tough to figure out where exercise and meal prepping fit in.

But here’s the brutal, honest truth: YOU HAVE TO DO IT.

If it’s important to you, you will figure out a way to make it happen. Whether you wake up at 5 a.m. to workout before work, or stash shoes & clothes in your car to  go on a run afterwards, it’s critical to keep exercise in your life – if it’s important to you. Personally, being healthy and fit and capable is a major part of my outlook, personality, and sense of self. And when work is busy and stressful, it’s really hard to make the time for it. I’m mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausted. The last thing I want to do is lace up my shoes & go for a run. But I find that if I don’t, I feel even worse. And when I do, I somehow feel significantly better.

My revenge on life’s ups and downs and stressors is my own happiness. Yes, things might be rough – but I can carve out an hour today to empty my mind and soothe my soul. That is something only I can control – and my health is something no person, place, or job will ever be able to take away.

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Why Cheat Days Don’t Work (For Me)

cheat

Ah, the cheat day. That lustrous, wonderful day at the end of the week where hard working, iron-pumping fitness die-hards can go batshit crazy. It seems a little too good to be true that you can eat clean all week and then bask in a sea of pizza, ice cream & cookies without derailing your fitness goals.

4304b14c6fc0b00076fe4251540adb9fThe idea is that eating a bunch of junk once a week ‘confuses’ your metabolism, making it work harder and burn faster once you’re back on track. But does it really work, or is it just a euphoric myth? Wouldn’t it be it be better to not cheat at all, or perhaps just a teeny bit?

Like most things, the answer depends on who you are and what works for you. Some people do epic cheat days, some indulge in cheat meals, and others skip them altogether. For me, personally, they just don’t work.

Cheat days, or even meals, mess me up psychologically, emotionally and physically. I feel incredibly guilty, as if I’m undoing the week’s hard work with each spoonful. My guilt probably stems from the fact that I’ve been fighting my genes since middle school; I have to work really hard and eat reasonably well  in order to stay healthy. I know what foods like chips, cookies & ice cream do to my health and self-esteem; most of the time, it’s not worth the short term pleasure to compromise a week of work and years of habit.

Furthermore, I don’t even really like the cheat day food (except for pizza!) and I don’t find myself enjoying it most of the time. I’m not just pushing to hit a number on the scale; I can’t shake the knowledge of all of the artificial dyes, sweeteners, coloring, chemicals, animal products and GMO’s likely lurking in whatever processed delicacy I’m going HAM on. 

29a30600dbcd5723768ad0791b31cc3eEven when I am seriously craving pizza, I can’t help but think – how can i make this healthier? Maybe I’ve spent way too much time on Pinterest, but I feel like the balance of hard work and enjoyment come from enjoying cheat foods that serve as a compromise. They’re as delicious as the real thing, but made from healthier, fresh, real ingredients. The perfect example would be making or buying a vegan, gluten free, veggie-topped pizza! Which I do treat myself to quite often 🙂

Lastly, I usually feel like complete shit the next day. Food hangovers are real. Post-cheat day (or even just cheat meal) I’m bloated, tired, gassy, emotional and just generally miserable. And feeling that bad isn’t exactly a great precursor to starting the next week off right.

I know that everybody needs to bend the rules, which is why I believe in cheating with boundaries; for example, one day, i might put in an extra-tough workout and allow myself to hit a certain number of calories. I do this all the time when I have potlucks at work, family parties, or friends’ birthdays or weddings – that way, I can indulge without the guilt and without hindering my progress.

How do you guys feel about cheat days?

Motivation Monday: Train for a Race

I’ve seen quite a few articles lately about training like an athlete. Competitive athletes have a totally different mindset & approach to fitness; they view their bodies as machines, work outs as a way to fine-tune, and food as fuel to keep their engines humming. We mere mortals, on the other hand, tend to see things differently. Our bodies are stubborn things that won’t do what we want or cooperate. Workouts are often the answer to burning off last night’s brownies. And food? Yeah, that’s a different story.

I’ve been an athlete up until my last few years of college, so competition and training are pretty much in my blood. The only way I know how to workout is to make it competitive. While I’m technically still competing with myself, nothing gets me working harder than an actual event. Hence, today’s topic: races.

My last 12K race - the most fun I've ever had running!

My last 12K race – the most fun I’ve ever had running!

I wrote a post last week about Reebok’s Spartan Race, one of those crazy mud, rope and fire-filled events that require a six pack to participate. (Note – the giveaway for free entry is still on! To enter, click here!) Well, I’m competing in one this August on the island! It’s my first outdoor race, and my blood is already pumping as I’m re-drawing training plans and enlisting the help of friends that I’m usually too scared to work out with. It’s sparked the active diva within almost instantaneously. It doesn’t have to be an outdoor race – even a 5K is enough to get the competitive spirits flowing. There’s so many couch-to-5k/10k, half marathon, marathon, and training programs out there for events. Most of them are even free.

Why do an event?

  1. They gets you in the mindset of an athlete.
  2. They’re perfect motivation over a long (or short!) period of time.
  3. They’re fun and totally addicting.
  4. Your entrance fees go to charity.
  5. You get free stuff (coupons, gift cards, food, t-shirts, beer, etc.)
  6. You might get handed a beer at the end!
  7. They boost pride, confidence & self-esteem.
  8. You get to look like a badass on instagram/facebook/whatever, especially if you do an outdoor race.
  9. Just trust me, they’re worth it!

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As noted, I’m still having a giveaway till Thursday for free entry into any Spartan Race! Click here to enter.

I also have a discount code for 15% off a Spartan Race! Ta-da: http://bit.ly/spartanwarrior

Happy racing!

Nikki