Category Archives: running

Running: fueling the hunger

Running is going well… very well. I’m following the plan and completed 10 miles last weekend. But hunger level has been crazy since the week my long run was 9 miles long.

I’ve been running for 2.5 months, my weakly mileage has increased from 15 miles to over 25 miles now. I don’t recall I’ve been this hungry during my previous half marathon training nor when I was breastfeeding Sofia, so the only explanation I can think of is that it is the combination of the two that drives up my hunger level.IMG 1250

My weight has melted off quite rapidly 1 month after I started running so for the last 2-3 weeks I’ve been increasing my food intake consciously, aiming  400-500 cal. more daily.

As many other runners, the day of my long run I don’t get extra hungry, but the following day, specially after midday, I’m insatiably hungry. I’d eat every hour and still seems impossible to calm my hungry.

People would think running allows you to eat more which would be great! But let me tell you, this hunger is not like the normal hunger that builds up slowly, instead when it comes, it comes with all force and I can’t focus on anything until I eat.

I’ve been testing different things around to see if I can avoid it. So far I’ve tried to eat more the day of the long run even I don’t feel like. And the following day, eat more during the day. Basically eat up the energy burned during LR that was not refueled that day. It helped a bit.

Although I eat more to fuel my running, I don’t crave junk food, instead I still prefer whole food with a lot of vegetables, protein and whole grains.

Breakfasts have been toasts with eggs and/or turkey slices and LC

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lunch has been larger than normal, a combination of protein, healthy carb, and vegetables.

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(butter seared scallops, roasted asparagus and japanese yam)

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(cauliflower rice, asparagus, scallops and japanese yam)

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(cauliflower rice, asparagus, kabocha and baked beans)

I have 2-3 snacks a day, such as corn

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banana protein oatmeal bar

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goat yogurt with raspberries and brown rice crisp

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protein waffle with PB

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oatmeal with PB2

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I am still trying to find the right way to fuel to sustain my training and breastfeeding. I want to do it in a healthy way because from all I’ve read, that’s what elite runners do, eat real foods because that yields the best performance.

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Running: morning routine

I’ve developed a routine for my morning runs, something that I look forward to everyday from the moment I wake up.

5:34am I wake up by myself (rarely need an alarm)

Step 1: check weather, both temperature and humidity (hate when it’s above 70). It was hot already and humid!!!! Well… more will power from me then.

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Step 2: check how I slept, particularly deep sleep. Whenever I get more than an hour of deep sleep, I feel rested. Not that day. More will power then!

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Step 3: check how Lizzy is sleeping to know whether I should nurse her first or pump.

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Step 4: pump and store

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Step 5: drink 1-2 big glass of water. On that day, it was long run so I had a packet of instant oatmeal with maple and brown sugar. I also prepared the water to carry on.

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Step 6: choose the podcast. It is so important to have a good podcast for my runs. I’m obsessed with Run to the Top. I think I’ve listened to 90% of them and there are over 100.

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Step 7: put the shoe and get out!

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Step 8: select the workout of the day and run! (just noticed that my garmin has the wrong date, it should have been a sunday!)

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Sun was just coming out. It was a quiet morning but beautiful.

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After my run.. I came home… drunk more water, stretched and showered. Then it was fueling time. I’ve been doing toasts with goat cheese or LC, with turkey or two sunny eggs.

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I don’t get hungry usually after the run so I don’t need an extra large breakfast. But I make sure I eat within an hour to help with the recovery. But the day after the long run? ITS RUNGER TIME. That needs another post. 🙂

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Running: why running is so for me

I’ve started running again since 6 weeks postpartum. I didn’t think too much about it when I started. Since I was walking every morning since 4 weeks postpartum and seeing other runners in the trail, it seemed natural thing to do after I was clear up by OB. I didn’t have a goal in mind, I simply enjoyed the quiet moment for myself every morning. I looked forward to it everyday. I started running 10 min a day, then progressed to 20 min and then 3 miles. Each each seemed easier, each day seemed more natural as if I was born to run.

Then one day after the run when I was in the shower, the memory of running a half marathon and the 2.5 months of training leading to it came to my mind. It was good memory, wonderful memory. I wonder: what prevent me from re-living it again? And I realized nothing indeed. So why not run another half? Since I was already running almost everyday, wouldn’t it be great if I run with a purpose? The idea stuck in my head.

I re-read all my running posts related to the previous half marathon. I missed it even more. Although life by then was very different. I was living alone in DC, last year of my Ph.D, having plenty of time to rest and do whatever I wanted. Now, I have two kids, a husband and parents living with me. I have more obligations, my time is not mine alone. But is it really it? I knew the answer. If I truly wanted, I’d always find the way.

I wanted! Then I asked my friend Sarah if she wanted to run a half with me. She immediately said yes but she couldn’t do in September (perfect weather for half) because she was traveling to home in August. But then I really wanted to run in September, maybe the same race I ran first time because September is not too far away and I’d be doing most of the training still in maternity leave. So I asked Agustin who ran with me last time if he’s still running and racing. He said of course and might be signed up for the Park half already. Few more messages after, it turned out both Agustin, Carlos who ran with me last time are running this year again, together with Ghada (Agustin’s wife) and Belen (another common friend). Perfect! I signed up too.

More excitement! I got to pick a training plan next. I considered doing the same training I did last time, the Hal Higdon plan for novice. It requires 4 days of running, 3 weekday short run and Sunday long run. It’s totally manageable and doesn’t get technical. Just run. But then I read “the new rules of marathon and half-marathon nutrition” and enjoyed his approach. It came with a training plan together with nutritional advice. It’s very similar to Hal Hidgon’s, only difference is specific purpose for each run: speed interval, fast finish, foundation and long run. It also suggests cross training for the other 2 days and 1 mandatory rest day. I liked the idea of having a purpose for each run and I believe it will prepare me better.

My schedule is like the following:

Monday: Rest

Tuesday: Speed run

Wednesday: Biking

Thursday: Fast finish

Friday: Foundation run

Saturday: Rest

Sunday: Long run

Tomorrow’s long run is 9 miles. Every time I go for a long run, I feel excited for the challenge. I know I will finish. I just wonder how I’ll finish. Also, I haven’t found a fueling strategy during the run that doesn’t upset my stomach. For the last two weeks I’ve done energy blocks. It makes me uncomfortable and doesn’t give me the push until 20 min later, when I’m about to finish. Will try the beans and the gel next.

I feel that this time I’m even more serious that last time I was consistently running. I read two books already and tons of blogs for tips and tricks. My favorite thing to listen to when running is Runtothetop podcasts. I even invested in a garmin 620 and happily found out that my VO2Max is 46, which is superior for my gender and age. I knew running was my thing. 😉

The more I read, run and think, the more realize why running is so my thing. Running is hard, running is a challenge but it gives me the result as much as I put in. Nobody can bear the pain for me, nobody should either because it will take away the joy too. I love running because it coins my philosophy in life. Work hard, it will pay off later. The harder I work to accomplish it, the more I’d enjoy the prize. 

My therapist asks me whether I enjoy running during the running or when I finish. It’s not an obvious question and I didn’t know the answer on the spot. But then I savor it when I run, and I enjoy it. I enjoy the feeling of being warn up after the first mile, I enjoy the moment around 3-4 miles that I feel running is easy, I enjoy the moment when I’m half way through and turning back, I enjoy when it’s only 2 miles away, 1 mile left, and finally I enjoy the moment when I’m done. Running gives me a feeling of accomplishment everyday. It’s easy, cheap, but the return is priceless.

Running has a new purpose for me. I’d love my girls to enjoy running too. Because it will teach them the value of hard work, persistence, and how they can achieve whatever they want if they decide to put in the effort. Sofia is already in the age of wanting to imitate everything I do. After that race, she asks me to take her running. We did it this morning and we both had fun. That will be our “saturday dates”. 🙂

The race is getting closer and I know I’ll do fine. My big goal is a full marathon. That has been in my bucket list for years. I thought once I have two kids, I’ll do it. And now it is the time. My friends are running NYC marathon this year. I think I’ll try to do it next year. 26.2 miles is intimidating but I know hard work will prepare me for the physical strength, I just need to work on the mind.

More running talk next time.


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