Thursday, 1 January 2015

1000 Miles in 365 Days!

Happy New Year!
This year, I've decided to challenge myself just a little more!
One thousand miles in one year. It sounds pretty crazy, but I think I can do it! It is about 20 miles a week :D
Last year when I started logging my miles for my marathon, I realized how quickly the miles add up, so this year I thought about stepping up the challenge to 1000 miles in one year! A nice round number:)
No walking included, just running (or jogging!). Not even the walking warm up or cool down. And to keep a track of the miles, I will take a picture of the mileage on my watch or the treadmill.
To keep me motivated, I've decided to 'run for a cause' -  for a great charity Mosaic.

I have volunteered here and so I know that it is a great charity which does a lot of great work:)
My goal is to raise $1000 in the year (a dollar a mile!) which definitely will make the miles worthwhile!
Here is a quick link to the donation page.

Please let me know (in person, text, or message) how much you donated so I can keep a track! And I will of course be adding updates on my total milage! I'm excited to 'run for a cause'! (I chose not to go through a website like 'justgiving' or 'gofundme' as I wanted all the sponsor money to go directly to the charity).
Thank you for your support!!!

P.S My marathon in December was pretty good! I ran 4:50 and had rain on and off for the last hour, which wasn't too pleasant, but at least I missed the thunderstorms! It took me just a couple of days to recover, which isn't too bad. Now for new challenges!

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Give a special gift this Christmas

The festive season is here again after one of the quickest years ever. The months flew by before I even got the chance to get to know any of them. And now here we are once again scrambling to prepare for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year before it rushes past us leaving us with the start of yet another year. 

I've always had mixed feelings about Christmas. I love the family gatherings, the festive spirit and the loving and giving of the season. Yet I despise how commercialized and consumer oriented it has become. It overwhelms me to the point that I want nothing to do with it and just want to hibernate until the new year. It has become yet another stress in our lives, which is far from the real 'reason for the season'. 

This year, please give to charity. Any charity. Your choice. Give a little. Give a lot. Give whatever you want. Just don't give to me. I have more than I could ever wish for and I know some other person somewhere is in much more need of some Chrtistmas spirit than me. 

If you see Santa on his sleigh, remind him to make a special drop off at all those amazing charities out there that need some extra support over the festive season! :)

Friday, 15 August 2014

In Marathon Training!

The person who starts the race 26.2 is not the same person who finishes the race. 

I've committed myself to something too many people think is absurd and I'm scared I'm going to fail. I'm worried my hip flexor will scream at me and my feet will blister until the skin is raw. I have images of tripping and being trampled on by all the warriors storming up from behind me. All that could go wrong just might go wrong. To say I'm a little nervous is putting it mildly.

I signed up while ago thinking I have more than enough time to prepare myself. But then somehow the months rushed on by leaving me behind with only a three and a half months left to train and still about 16 miles left to cover. Even the thought scares and exhausts me. Yet, I'm an addict. 

Yes, it's tough and exhausting. But it is such a unique and satisfying feeling when you know you have given everything you have and there is nothing left. It's time to refuel and recover so next time you can hit it harder. 

There was a time when I hardly ever ran. Granted, I enjoyed it in my school days, but then as time passed and I entered my 20's I had a whole life to explore and running just wasn't part of that. Of course as time goes by we worry about our health and fitness and once again I started running again now and then. I remember my first 5k, and feeling pretty chuffed with myself. Now, I run a 5k on my easy days. My first half marathon followed not long after and I remember feeling absolutely devoid of energy at the end. I felt fantastic yet empty at the same time. Since then I have learned lots about training which should serve me well now as I add on the miles. Many miles. 

What goes through a runner's mind during those long miles? That's always a great question. For me it is me time. It's my own therapy. Time for me to enter my own world, put things into perspective, focus and push myself. Music is my companion and keeps my spirits lifted when I start to flounder.

So why take on the challenge? Well, why not? In the past I've often completed my smaller races with the goal of raising money for charity, but this time I'm just doing it for me. I'm doing it to reach a goal I have always dreamed of reaching. I have watched several marathons both on TV and in the streets and always hoped I would be one of them. To experience the joy of making it to the finish line. To become strong enough to make it to the finish line.  

For me to reach this goal takes dedication, organization, planning and sacrifice. I need to train nearly every day. Not just by running, but by including cross training and stretching into my routine. I plan my day to include my workout but sometimes it's a tight squeeze after a full day of work. At the end of the day I'm tired but I have to recover well as I have to do something similar the next day. 

So far I've remained relatively injury free, with nothing major holding me back. My knees and hip flexors are sometimes sore which calls for some nice long stretches and some easy runs to reduce the impact a little. I know when I've had a good run because I will come home and my legs will need several long, tension-relieving stretches. But after a little tlc they all seem to recover pretty well. 

As far as nutrition, I'm not following one specific plan, more like following general guidelines for healthy eating and nutrition for 'runners' (yes, I think I can now say I'm a 'runner'). Being a vegetarian/nearly vegan it's important to make sure I get some protein in my meals each day, which is especially important after my workouts. I'm not following exact measurements as I don't have the time or the patience for that, but I'm just being conscious about including it in my diet. Getting enough carbohydrates is more than easy as I love this food group! Sometimes I hardly have much time to whip together a meal, so the easier the better, but it also needs to be healthy and nutrient dense and junk free. I have several simple meals I rotate through, but I'm always looking out for new ideas to be thrown my way. I know there are lots of ideas out there, it's just a case of planning and having all the ingredients ready to go. 

One problem with all this running is squeezing in any other plans into your day. There is not much time left in the day after a full day of work followed by my run/workout. And the weekends aren't much different as that's when I have time for a long run, so my day quickly becomes filled up. Then when someone comes along and invites me to something, I flinch a little as I know I'm going to have to miss one or the other. And that's annoying. If you work out on a regular basis, missing a workout feels weird. It feels like I forgot something essential such as taking a shower or brushing my teeth. 

I really have to start adding up my miles in the next few weeks, and it's a little hard as it is Texas summer and blistering hot outside. I have to go as early as possible in order to pack in the miles before the sun starts to belt down. Running in the sun really seeps out all your energy, even with on the go energy supplements. I can't say I haven't asked myself "why on earth am I doing this?!" a few times. Then I remind myself it's one of my goals and I'll just have to deal with it until I complete it.

Well, all I can do is keep running and pushing just a little more all the time, and hopefully I remain strong all they way through until December, when the big day arrives. 
Just a little nervous. Only a little.... 

..... P.S. I'm now up to 18 miles. It was a relatively cool morning in Dallas... a fine morning for some running. I've never ran 18 miles before and I can tell you the last couple of miles were tough. My feet and hip flexors are now sore. 8 more to go. Oh my gosh.

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Going .... more or less ... vegan :)

It's been a long time coming. I have thought about it many times, and always considered it to be too difficult to achieve, so I've always decided not to try it out. But now, I really think it to is achievable, and I can do it, so I'm going to give it a shot. I'm going ... more or less ... vegan.
Of course I've always known many great reasons for turning vegan, as we all do. We all know fruits and veggies are good for us, and we all know the benefits of a healthy diet. What many of use don't know  - or even try to ignore -  are the facts and figures which prove this. I recently watched the documentary 'Forks Over Knives' which is all about the benefits of a plant based diet. Of course, there are several documentaries on very similar topics, but what interested me about this particular documentary was the facts and figures, and all the evidence that was put forward supporting a plant based diet. And of course, the healthy and active individuals who are living proof of its success. I encourage everyone to at least watch the documentary to see for themselves.
There are some points from the documentary which I want to mention. First is the link the documentary makes between animal products and cholesterol. All animal products, including dairy, contain a high level of cholesterol, which clogs arteries. What if we took out meat and dairy from our diet? Of course, our cholesterol level would more than likely lower. This would probably lead to a reduction in Coronary Artery Disease (and may other diseases) which is the biggest killer in the US.
Would we become deficient in any other important nutrients? Well, vitamin B12. However, generally people don't need a lot, and it can be taken as a supplement, and can be found in other foods such as fortified foods and nutritional yeast (which you may not have heard go read about!) Then there is Iron, which can also be found in vegetables, cereals, legumes, and whole grains. So, no animal products needed. Vitamin D can also be found in fortified soymilk and cereals, and of course, the sun. Protein is a big topic for debate. We all need protein, but it doesn't have to come from animal sources. Legumes, avocado, soy, seitan, tempeh, quinoa and nuts are all possible sources. I personally think we need to get away from the idea that we need animal products in our diet to live a healthy life. It's just not true. We just believe it because it is what we have been brainwashed to believe. But what about calcium? Milk is renowned for its calcium content, but once again, we often fail to realize that calcium can come from other non animal sources, such as green leafy veggies, soy milk, almond milk, tempeh, and more.
One other topic which the documentary mentioned what about protein and acidity in the blood. Basically, too much protein can increase the acidity in a person's blood, and to compensate, the body uses its calcium stores to neutralize it, taking it from bones, which leads to weak bones and osteoporosis. When researching this topic, I found a lot of discussion and debate surrounding this idea, however, I think it is definitely a solid reason to reduce animal protein sources in our diet, especially in older people, who may be more at risk of weak bones.
One other reason to go vegan is the impact that raising animals for food has on the environment.
A vegan diet would decrease pollution, global warming, rainforest destruction and save water. We don't even realize it, but eating meat is destroying our planet.
However, most of us would choose to ignore this fact when faced with the temptations of meat and dairy products on a daily basis.
Of course, the meat and dairy production industry is filled with disturbing facts and statistics about how animals are treated in order to feed us humans. Animals on top of one another fighting for space, cows artificially inseminated and kept pregnant to produce more milk, animals fattened before being slaughtered... We all know about it, many choose to ignore it, and others are ok with it. Some hate it but still cave in to the hamburger. But, animal cruelty doesn't have to be part of our food process. We can opt for a plant based diet, and stop the cruelty.
I've been surviving without meat for years now, that's not an issue. But, how do we survive without the delights of ice-cream? Or yogurt, and milk, and cheese...? Well, that's been my question for a long time. Finally, I have the answer. It was so obvious I didn't (or refused to) notice it. I realized that we really are controlled by what is presented before us. Big companies, advertising, and supermarkets promote what they think we would enjoy, and what they think is 'normal' to consume. Do we have to be brainwashed like this? Fortunately, now the plant based food approach is becoming more and more popular, and people are making educated health based choices, rather than being manipulated by the food industry. We can live without dairy, we just have to explore new options, and find new recipes, based on a plant based diet. We must learn to pull away from our old habits, and open our eyes to options which are natural, healthy, as well as delicious. We must do our own research, educate ourselves, and make informed choices about which foods we decide are best to nourish our own bodies.
So why 'more or less' vegan? Why not fully vegan? Well, of course it is possible, for everyone. And I will try. However, unfortunately we do not live in a vegan world, and I would on occasion put myself in a no-option (or very limited option) situation. Of course, I can deal with it. I'm used to it living in a meat eaters world. And the reason why I would cheat on dairy and never on meat is because of my values. I am a vegetarian. I am a near vegan. Cheating on meat would disgust me, whereas cheating on dairy on occasion would be manageable. Maybe that will change in the future. Who knows.
If going completely vegetarian or vegan seems an impossibility to you, it's always possible to take baby steps. Meatless Mondays, or only eating dairy/meat on weekends is a great place to start. Experimentation is key. Try new dishes without meat or dairy and see how they go. It's not impossible, and it's not a lot of work. It's just about habit. It's about educating yourself and making informed choices. Whatever you decide, do it out of compassion and love for your own healthy body.

Also, check out these links: