If I could give you a glimpse into this year from the not-so-edited or curated side, I would tell you that it’s been extremely busy, but even more rewarding. If you told me some of the things I now know are possible through hard work, creativity, and a very talented husband-- I wouldn’t have believed you, so you might not believe me, but I’m going to tell you anyway. Actually, I’m going to let Amy Carmichael tell you in words I couldn’t agree with more than I do in this moment--Read More
The Boston Marathon is a unique experience for anyone and to try to put the details that create the experience into words will always fall short of the real thing, but how can I not at least try?
I'll start by saying that this was my first Boston Marathon and I was determined to soak it up without adding pressures of paces or expectations on my performance and I couldn't be more pleased with the result. That mindset started in my training (or lack thereof) because if you know m history at all, my love for running has been slightly infringed upon by circuit training and more strength-based workouts over the past year. As Boston approached and most people were diving into their 20 week training cycles, I was doing very little differently than I had been in regards to my workouts. I have personally seen the benefits of strength training and I also enjoy the diversity of them more than strictly running at this point, so I stuck with them while adding in 10 mile runs once a week that were primarily longer speed workouts....and that was about it. I ran 2-4 miles a few times a week as a warm-up before a normal workout, but really didn't get into higher mileage than that which is unorthodox to say the least. But I trust the circuit training that I do and I know the workouts are building muscle and paired with plyometrics and high intensity bouts of cardio I was creating both anaeriobc (muscular) and aerobic (cardiovascular) strength. I can honestly say that I did not run more than 10-11 miles as my longest run in training for Boston because it just wasn't my favorite way to exercise at the time and I'm a big proponent of enjoying the way you move and I did. Ok, so with that being said-- Boston was going to be tough, I knew that....it's tough whether you've trained or not. Every runner's training should include strength, I'm more convinced of it than ever in creating a stronger and faster runner, BUT if your PRIMARY performance-related goals are running-specific, I do recommend more long runs than I was doing, but again---that's determined by your goals and mine currently are less running related.
As the race got closer and closer, people would ask me if I was getting ready and excited and I was, but it also kind of snuck up on me as I had been pretty busy creating workouts and content for Tighter Together, teaching school and traveling for Spring Break. I guess you could say that I had diversified a little bit prior to this point and no longer felt the tunnel vision of Boston that some runners have because their passions are so strictly running-related (and I absolutely respect that, it just wasn't this year for me). So yes, I was excited to visit a new city, excited that my parents and Drew's parents were coming, excited to experience the hype, excited that I would get to run in such a prestigious race, and excited to celebrate the fact that I had qualified to be there. There were some nerves that this might not go well and for one reason or another (marathon distance leaves a lot of room for variables) I wouldn't be able to finish, but I also consider myself a pretty determined individual and I knew it would take a lot before that happened.
Before I knew it, the weekend leading up to Boston had come and gone-- we had gone to a Red Sox game, walked parts of the city, gone to church, eaten delicious food, shopped for extra layers and tried to avoid listening to the weather reports that promised miserably cold, rainy and windy conditions for Monday. Before I knew it, I was going to bed the night before the Boston Marathon and really not knowing what the next day would hold, but at the same time, I had a feeling it would be memorable...just a hunch. The day feels like the three days in one-- the first is all pre-race and kind of a wet frenzied blur as a followed poncho-clad runners into lines, the lines into busses (where I met the nicest Charity runner Sean who made those 40 minutes fly by and I'm so thankful), from busses into a very muddy Athletes Village, and then somehow a porta potty and all the sudden we were getting into our corrals. I had been told that you would wait at Athletes Village for a while, and maybe it was all longer than I felt because I was overwhelmed with the mud and rain and trying to decide what to wear and what to throw away, but I never felt I had extra time.
The best description I can give to the .7 mile walk from Athletes Village to my start wave at 10:50 was that it seemed like we were all walking to some form of punsihment-- nobody really talked, instead, everyone kind of kept their heads down as the rain pelted our faces. It was almost a coming to terms with our new reality and how the next few hours were actually going to be. I will say that the excitement grew as we got to the start and as we actually started running--we were doing what we had come to do and as I got into that motion and people started lining the streets and cheering it become much more tolerable and even exciting--and it grew and grew from there. When a big gust of wind would come, a runner or two would cheer loudly as if to remind the others that we're tough and this is still Boston, so buck up! I wasn't running with ear phones in at this point so I caught all the cheers, the cow bells, the stereo systems set up under tarps along the route and enjoyed it all. I also haven't mentioned that my watch and phone hadn't fully finished upating from the night before and despite Drew's best attempt in a short amount of time, I had no way to track paces whatsoever. Normally this would throw me off, but if there was one day that I was truly going to try to run based on feel, it was this one. Drew had made me promise to 1) not go out too fast with excitement 2) drink at almost if not every aid station and I was determined to stick to the plan. I even drank so much in the first 7 miles that I stopped to use the bathroom (never done that during a race). Things were going fine, the miles were clicking by and I estimated I was running below a 9 minute mile but not by too much and with the elements what they were, I was happy with that.
I fumbled my phone out of my pocket underneath my poncho around mile 10 and Drew had texted me saying that my cheering squad (my parents who flew up for the day, Drew's parents who were with us the whole weekend and of course, Drew) would be at mile 13 on the right side of the road past a big American flag-- I was so excited, but I told myself not to speed up, but just enjoy Wellsley and keep my eyes peeled for them. I can't explain my excitement to see them and I don't think I have to because you can see below, but just to know that they were standing out there for the 30 seconds I would pass by just to hop in the car and get to another spot meant so much. I wanted to thank them with enthusiasm. It was heartwarming to see fellow runners connect with their loved ones along the course. There's such a support system behind these runners and many of them would never be toeing the line in Boston without many people in their corner. Drew informed me later that he takes credit for the next 3-4 miles because my pace increased to about 8 minute mile after seeing them-- it was the perfect boost!
Around mile 14 I decided I would try to break things up before the Newton Hills and the time I would see them next, so I put on a podcast...and I know that sounds like a snooze fest, but it was nice to hear something else for a change and was a welcomed distraction (my Spotify also wasn't synched on my new phone, so the technological issues persisted, but I really didn't care). I saw a few signs that notified me we were heading into Newton, so I mentally prepared myself for hills, and I'm sure there were some, but honestly it was nothing menacing or too difficult. Even at the end of "heartbreak hill" I remember thinking that it was really just a hill and nothing more. I felt strong and consistent through the whole race and I attribute that to strength training. In fact, when I saw my family for the second time, around mile 20 I really didn't know if I had gotten to them, passed them or was in the Newton Hills. I just knew that I was going to be fine and that this crazy day would end well despite the factors that could have caused many different outcomes.
Des Lidden (winner of the Boston Marathon) said it best, "the marathon doesn't start until Mile 20," and it's true. There's a world of difference between a 20 mile run and a 26.2 mile run and I can't explain it, but if you've done one then you know. You just have to find a way to keep going even though those last six can seem longer than all the previous. For me, it was miles 21-23-- they seemed unending, but by 24 it was just getting so close I could hear the crowds getting thicker and louder. Then the things you've heard about start HAPPENING. You SEE the Citgo sign and it's the prettiest thing to you in that moment and when the rain really picked up in those last two miles, it seemed to add to the drama of it all. Then before you know it you are MAKING THE TURN that everyone talks about.....but this time I was actually turning and I picked up speed, right and then left and the a straightaway to the finish and i just ran what felt like a freeing sprint (really only about 7'30 pace, but you know how that's different given your legs condition) all the way to the end passing people and it seemed like everyone was cheering for me....and then it was over. I smiled so big and had a twinge of sadness that it actually had to end, but it was all I could have hoped for and more. As I walked towards the capes the volunteers give you to keep warm, I realized how cold I actually was-- I couldn't really lift my arms up to find the arm hole and clumsily tried without success, but the elderly man volunteering just smiled and helped me until it was on, then turned me around and velcroed the top and didn't let me leave until I was situated. I just looked at him and for the first time the emotions of the day and all the people who stood out there for hours in the cold and rain for US with outstretched amrs, encouraging words, water and aid culminated in that man and holding back tears I just said "thank you, thank you so much."
The rest is a very cold blur until I found my family and then a very cold eurphoria set in until we made it back to the Airbnb for a hot shower, Italian food at Bricco, chocolate cake at Mike's Pastries and a very warm bed. I knew waking up on Monday morning that I would go to bed the same place I had woken up, and at that point I didn't know how the day would go, but I hoped there would be at least 26.2 miles in between and there were that many and each one filled with memories of a lifetime. God knit the love for movement deep inside my heart, and I consider the Boston Marathon another gift from Him.
I have purposefully steered clear of "one-time-macro-counts" in an effort to support and educate those who want to learn instead of a band-aid solution that requires more effort and time in order to be successful. BUT, summer is right around the corner and I think with the right perspective we can have a lot of fun, get in some killer workouts, have a deeper understanding of macro counting and get a lot leaner and tighter......TOGETHER. I'm 100% committed and will be following the plan each day with recipe ideas, workout videos and practical tips as we go! It's 30 days--- we can do anything for 30 days, right?!Read More
This blog is something that I hope to read when I’m 105, so reliving the glory days of young knees and sweaty runs will have to be documented in case I will have slowed down by then. I have no doubt I will look back on my life with thoughts of areas I should have given less attention to, and plenty to which I should have given more, but a love exercise is something God knitted deep into my heart with a purpose. I have a feeling exercise will have some very sweet memories of my kids, women I never would have met otherwise, and personal victories as I reflect some day.Read More
I answered over 200 individual questions about the Move Sweat Shred Guide on Tuesday’s post and I couldn’t have been happier to do that. I would never want to start something or spend money on something unless I had all the answers, so thank you for asking!
1. Can I Modify the Guide for 3-4 Workouts a Week?
YES. I guide is not all or nothing--it is NOT success or failure, it is NOT results or nothing. You WILL see results if you are consistent with these workouts even if it is not every day. The guide has 5 unique workouts every week (no repetition), but that does not mean you have to get them all in each week. You can also break them up and complete different cardio sessions with different resistance workouts--just as long as you get it in and are pushing yourself, you will see results.
(tip: I recommend skipping Cardio + Abs, since the other workout days incorporate those often)
2. Can the Workouts be Performed at Home? With What Equipment?
YES. There are women who have already completed the entire 8 week guide from home. You will need to modify about 5% of the guide, but I provide those modifications to you upon e-mail request (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Equipment: Step, dumbbells, kettlebell (dumbbell works also), medicine ball (5-10lbs) and resistance cables to be used in place of cable machines and an inflated exercise ball (although not required)
3. How Long do the Workouts Take? What if I only have 30-45 minutes?
People of average fitness level typically complete an entire workout in about an hour or a few minutes over. HOWEVER, circuit training is SO simple to follow that you can simply shorten a workout by not repeating a circuit and moving on to the next instead.
4. Does the Guide Have Weight Recommendations to Help Choose for Given Exercises?
What About Videos for Form Guidance?
Yes. It has suggested weights for exercises, but it also gives clear guidelines on how YOU can determine what weight is right for you. (Hint: the last two repetitions of an exercise should be very difficult). Each exercise is linked to a video so you can check your form to be sure you are performing properly.
5. Does the Guide Include Cardio Recommendations?
Yes. The guide has two HIIT (high intensity interval training) workouts a week, LISS (low intensity steady state) and steady state cardio that is not required, but recommended based on your goals. It is all outlined in each workout and found in the introductory information.
This guide is very “friendly” to runners and I’ve provided a detailed post on how I recommend incorporating it into a training program.
Below is an excerpt from the guide
6. Does the Guide Include Nutrition?
Will I See Results Without Tracking Macros?
My nutrition support is an 8 Week Macro coaching program, but I am currently full and not taking on new clients. Macro counting is NOT required to see results, but some people prefer to do the two together. As long as you are eating in accordance with your body’s caloric needs, you will see physical changes in performing the guide without macro counting.
If you are interested in the coaching for the future, subscribing to the blog notifies you of availability.
I’m not the most qualified person to have a blog that includes food because I really do creativity in this area.Give me a gym or even minimal equipment and I can be occupied for hours coming up with new workouts, but the kitchen….not as much. My Fitness Pal is proof that a lot of meals get repeated, but it’s ok because I like what I like and my energy and creativity is harnessed in other ways. Aren’t you just so excited to keep reading?! Don’t abandon hope just yet, because I have a brand new appliance that has sparked the experimental flame in the kitchen and adding some new flavor to my staple meals!
Best Choice Products was kind enough to send me an Air Fryer and to be honest, I wouldn’t have known what I was missing and would probably not have bought it on my own because as you know, I’m a bit of a minimalist in the kitchen. I think my minimalist tendencies actually work to my advantage with the air fryer because it is truly so simple and effective. I have tested a LOT in it over the past two weeks and I can safely say that it cooks most vegetables EXACTLY how I want to eat them--that roasty flavor, but with a crunch that I can’t seem to master in the oven. I would be lying if I said exactly how I know the little alien pod works, but from my end, I just cut the vegetables, spray with coconut oil and set according to the recommendation in the manual (usually 10-15 minutes) and it crisps them right up for me.
Probably one of the best examples I can give to describe the simplicity is that while I was babysitting last week (and too nervous to put the baby down for fear of disrupting the peace), I chopped a zucchini with one hand, threw it in, started it, got it on my plate and ate my dinner without a peep from my sidekick.
Another quick example is the dinner we ate last night. When I saw “we,” my sister is living with Drew and me while she finishes school and we love it when our dinner times coincide, but sometimes it means we are waiting on each other to finish using the oven since we usually eat different meals. Last night, we each ate something a little different, but all used the air fryer in some way:
Carrie: Pork tenderloin with air fried potatoes and asparagus
Madeline: Mexican cauliflower rice with roasted pepper, mushrooms, ground turkey and air fried zucchini noodles on top for crunch
Drew: Cauliflower fried rice, air fried butternut squash and air fried chicken cilantro wontons from Trader Joe’s.
Air Fried Meats
You may be wondering how the air fryer does with meats and to be honest, we have found that it’s better for smaller things like chicken nuggets, although the recipe book says salmon and steak are options as well (have yet to try).
All in all, it’s been a really fun new addition to our kitchen and I think it is 100% worth investing in if you prefer fried foods. I never cook with excess oil because of the unnecessary fats and to be honest, the mess and clean up. If you have a few recipes you can’t live without, this would be even more useful!
Lately, I have been simply tossing a big bunch of asparagus in the air fryer for about 12-15 minutes and the putting it with the rest of my lunch for the week in these glass containers provided by BC Products. Meal prepping my lunches is without a doubt the best use of an hour and a half on the weekends for getting ahead and staying on track throughout the school week. I really don’t like thinking about it each night before and wondering if there will be leftovers for dinner or if I’ll have to make something else, so I just do it all at once, measure it and log it into My Fitness Pal for the whole week. My schedule doesn’t allow me to go out for lunch, and it’s an easy way to save money by packing a lunch, so even if my job were from home or more flexible, I think I would still do it!
The Nitty Gritty: when it comes to weighing vegetables--
raw is most accurate.
My typical procedure goes like this:
1. Cut vegetables for the whole week into a bowl on the scale (example: 200g asparagus, 186g zucchini, etc....and write each one down
2. I'll make a new recipe in My Fitness Pal with all the raw ingredients and their weights (it doesn't take long at all)
3. Cook them up and divide them evenly by cooked weight into my containers (example: 5 containers with 150g cooked vegetables each)
4. Log into my daily lunch a 1/5 serving of the recipe that was created with the raw vegetables.
First of all, there is an amazing giveaway opportunity for someone to win a beautiful, wooden Jord watch in today’s post! I am wearing the Ebony & Sable watch from the Cassia collection. It was fun to swap my Apple watch for something a little fancier for the weekend! (I also have world’s puniest wrists and Drew loves to make fun of them and say he could snap them like twigs….thankfully he hasn’t tested the theory)
Some topics are disputable, but I think we can all agree that weekends are welcomed by everyone and never seem to stay long enough. This particular weekend is was extra special because Drew and I celebrated Valentine’s by staying at a downtown hotel and just spending uninterrupted time together (and if you’ve read this post, you know that’s my love language). I know you aren’t here for all those details, so let’s talk about some practical takeaways that might help you balance all the memories and life-giving experiences that the weekends bring without sacrificing your health and fitness goals.Read More
The “Self-Love” topic is one I never thought about until I got more involved with social media. I was not raised hearing my parents tell me to “love yourself, Madeline, because if you don’t....you can’t expect anyone else to.” They told me every day that they loved me. My parents showed me (and continue to) that I was loved with their provisions, their time, their correction, and everything else that I took for granted as they selflessly invested in my siblings and me. But honestly, nobody had to teach me about loving or prioritizing myself, that comes as naturally as my desire to eat (no problem there).Read More
For those of you who are familiar with the idea of tracking macros instead of calories (although they are similar concepts), let me offer some answers to BROAD questions that could help navigate a sometimes confusing conversation. I cannot answer extremely specific questions about what your personal macro count should be unless we work together in an 8 Week Coaching format, and that isn’t to be vague, it’s just that macros are the MOST individualized approach to nutrition and in order for your nutrition to accurately match all of the characteristics that make you who you are (height, weight, training style, goals, diet history, body type, carb sensitivity, non-exercise calorie expenditure, etc) I have get all the details to give you the best adviceRead More
This training technique marries two elements of training that are synergistic even though most people never bridge the gap. There is so much inner strength to be gained from the discipline of exercise, but there is also tremendous frustration when a person’s efforts seem futile in the results they are hoping to see outwardly. Strategic circuit training will change the cycle, accelerate results and have you excited for each new challenge.Read More