Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Why I don't eat organic produce

Note: I would like preface this post with the fact that this is my opinion.  I do not believe that everyone should think the way I do or make the same decisions that I make. I believe that everyone should do what they think is best for them and their family.  Since this is a running blog and fueling is an important part of running, I wanted to discuss and see what others opinions were.

Running is a high priority in my life. I plan my days and weeks around running. But in order to run far and fast I need to eat. I have always been a healthy eater (thanks to my mom) but I never really looked into what exactly I was eating.  My mom would buy the food when I was growing up and I learned from her how to buy what I needed for meals and use what I had bought, not letting too much go to waste.

My mom taught me to be a budget grocery shopper. I take pride that I can feed Brian and I with weekly breakfast, lunch and dinners and not spend a fortune.  Each week I buy what we need and really try to stay close to buying what is on my list. And then we usually eat what I buy and if we don't, I freeze it for later.

On my grocery list each week is always a few things - A few (produce) staples that I always buy (depending on season).

Oranges and grapes (spring/summer)
spinach (summer)
tomatoes (spring/summer/fall)
brussel sprouts
lettuce and fixings (summer)
apples (fall)
Blueberries/strawberries (summer)

I try to buy fruits and vegetables that are in season.  Only if Brian requests something out of season will I buy it because often I don't want to spend the extra money.

And that is also one of the reasons I don't buy organic fruits and vegetables.  I can't bring myself to pay more for a fruit or vegetable just because it says organic. And just because it says organic - I really have no idea where that fruit or vegetable comes from or what exactly organic means for the farm producing the products.

That doesn't mean I don't buy organic. In fact I buy this big container of organic spinach because it is in fact cheaper than any other container of spinach at the store. And that spinach really seems to last a long time in the fridge. I also bought organic carrots a few weeks ago because the grocery store was out of regular carrots.  And I needed carrots - I was making carrot cake for Easter.

 I do frequent my local farmers market from May through October and buy local whenever I can. I support local farms but in all honesty I have no idea what kind of practices my local farms have. I always wash my fruits or vegetables before eating them in order to wash anything that may be on the surface but beside that I just eat it.  I am also lucky to have a great grocery store which often supplies its stores with locally grown produce. In fact - my grocery store also tries to help educate shoppers as to what fruits and vegetables are in season.

Part of me wonders about all these people choosing to buy organic - what did they eat growing up? I highly doubt that the previous generations (including my own) grew up eating Organic produce.  I certainly did not eat organic - I was raised on the very similar fruits and vegetables that I buy weekly, from the same grocery store in fact.   Do you think starting to eat organic food now at age 20 or 30 or 40 will somehow make your body better and take away from all that you ate or drank while you were young?  What about all that alcohol you drank in college? Will eating organic reverse any damage you did then?

My point in all this is that I personally believe that eating organic isn't worth it.  Who knows what "organic" really means or what "organic" pesticides are put onto organic produce.  I haven't done a lot of research on this subject (because I know there is a ton) but from what I have heard, apparently organic pesticides aren't that great for you either.

I just wonder what the generation of today's children will have to deal with when they have been raised on organic produce and years and years later we finally find out the harmful effects of something.  And I don't think that eating organic or not eating organic can specifically be linked to any diseases. There are so many different factors to weigh and so many different possibilities - everyone is different.  There is no real way to know what will happen when we are older based on what we eat right now.

And I could go on and on, but I wont.  Its a tough subject and there really is no wrong or right answer. Its basically just what is right for you and that is all that matters.  I have many friends and family who eat organic and that's the choice they make. I don't judge them or think they are wrong. And I hope they don't judge me or think I am wrong for my choices.

For further reading on this topic, I suggest reading this article or reading about this study.

Do you buy organic? Why or why not?

Monday, April 22, 2013

Cheating on Mornings, with Lunch.

It has been a rough couple of days.  First, two weeks ago Brian came down with this flu/cold that has been going around work.  Symptoms are a fever and cough with a runny nose.  Sounds awful and it was - it knocked out Brian for a good four days.

Just as I thought the sickness had left our house, I got a sore throat and chest congestion.  It was the worst thing ever and there were times I thought I would never breath normally again.  I suffered for over 5 days and finally was able to breath normally again a few days ago.  I wasn't totally knocked out like Brian was (thank goodness) but with the chest congestion, there was no way I could run and so I resigned myself to my longest streak of off days in over a year.

It was what my body needed.  Plus the weather was horrible.  A cold front blew in last week and we had snow. Not a lot of snow but there were flurries falling from the sky and it put me in no mood to be outside.

It feels like the last two weeks have just been a dream.  Before Brian got sick, we were planning to go to Boston.  Unintentionally I had scheduled a trip to visit my college roommate on the weekend of the Boston marathon.  We hadn't planned to be at the race on Monday, but I had really wanted to spectate.

The closest I have been to the Boston finish line
 When the bombs went off on Monday, I got a stream of texts. Many friends thought I might have been in Boston.  Thankfully we weren't.  It was horrifying to see the devastation and every time I re-watch the videos of the bombs going off (From the perspective of the runners) I get chills and have to look away. I can't even begin to think about what it was like to be there, to be a runner on the course, to be spectating.

So that has been the last two weeks for me. Nursing my husband back to health and then just trying to keep myself alive last week.  All in the midst of  watching the sport I love attacked.  It felt like I was in a fog for most of the week. Partially unbelieveing that something like that happened and then feeling so helpless because I couldn't even run when I most wanted to. 

But it feels like I am back now and feeling pretty good except for this lingering cough.  Hopefully in another few days that will be gone too.

This morning I had plans to get back into the groove of morning running.  It had been 3 weeks since I had run at 5am and even though the forecasted temperature was 30F, I thought I would definitely get out for a run before work.  30F in spring is wayyy different than 30F in winter, right?  Well seems I can't force myself to run in cold weather anymore.  I just have no desire to bundle up and I am so ready for warm weather. I am so ready to wear shorts all the time.

So the lunch run has returned this year and although it is tough to slip out in the middle of the day, it feels so good to run in the sunshine instead of the dark.  It is a great way to break up the day and get some fresh air and exercise. 

I am only running once during the week at Lunch and it usually happens to be Mondays but its a nice change from the dark mornings.  I am hoping to get back to morning runs this week - lets hope I can pull myself out of bed at 5am.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

AM Treadmill vs. PM Outdoors

Yesterday afternoon as I was trying to plan my Thursday workouts, I posted on facebook with a question -

"Which would you chose? AM treadmill run or PM outdoor run in 50F weather?"

I loved all the responses (If you didn't see the comments, you should check it out) but it didn't really help my delimma.

I guess I should have put in more background information.

On most Thursdays this is my schedule - 
4:35am Alarm goes off
4:35-4:50am Get dressed, brush teeth, pour coffee
4:50am Leave for gym 
5:00am Arrive at gym
5:03-5:51am Run on treadmill at gym
5:52-5:59am Walk to Total body class, set up equipment
6:00-7:00am Total Body class
7:03-7:25am Shower and get dressed at gym
7:25am Leave gym and drive to work

Its a pretty intense morning but after doing this for over a year now, I have the schedule perfected.  I pack my lunch and breakfast the night before and have my gym bag packed before I go to sleep. I lay out my clothes to be worn to the gym to make the morning go even quicker.

Not very awake at 5am at the gym
And this schedule works great in the winter because its cold and dark so I don't mind running on the treadmill.  Plus its pretty convenient to get a workout in - usually 5-6 miles - and then just walk up the stairs to the total body class.

But now that the nice weather has finally decided to arrive, I am torn between the AM treadmill run and the PM outdoor run.

On one hand, running before Total Body class is awesome because I get to run and I get my cross training done all before 7am.  Then I have my evening completely free to clean the house, do laundry, or whatever else I need to do around the house.  But on the other, I have to get up super early and run on the treadmill which is not so awesome.

Waking up to go to Total Body class in the morning and then coming home to run after work is just tough for me because 1) showering twice in one day is just not fun for me and 2) I hardly ever feel like working out after work no matter how nice the weather.

Today is supposed to be the first nice day in a VERY long time and I wanted to take advantage of the warm 50F weather by running outside but instead I got up at my usual Thursday morning wake up and went to the gym and ran on the treadmill.  It wasn't so bad to run on the treadmill this AM because it was super cold outside (25F) and the run was actually pretty awesome.  After warming up for 10 minutes, I ran a 35 minute progression run starting at 8 min miles (7.5 mph on the treadmill) and increasing every 5 minutes, ending at 7:20 min miles (8.1 mph) then cooled down for about 0.4 miles before I was out of time and had ran off to TBC class.

Of course I would have loved to run outside but it just seemed more convenient and time saving to run at the gym.  Maybe once the weather gets to be nicer in the mornings, I will try and run outside before TBC class.  

Which would you choose??

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Meditating while Running

Recently on most of my morning runs even though I feel half asleep, my brain is usually going non stop.  It can be annoying at times - I spend most of the run worrying about work or other things instead of just enjoying the run.

In the last couple of weeks of February it had become so bad that I knew I needed to find a way to turn off my brain while running.  I needed to find a way to refocus on the run and forget about all my worries.

I began to do a little research about mediation and meditation while running.  After doing some reading, it seemed like an easy thing to do.  For so long I had seen meditation as a religious thing but instead I suddenly saw it as a way to relax.

And I needed a way to relax.

I found that it was easy to start, I just need something to focus on while running.

I decided to try to remember to focus on my breathing.  That seemed like an easy way to start - it wasn't complicated and it was something I always did, especially while running.  I feel that so many runners use music to block out their breathing when they run when in fact it can be one of the greatest training partners that we have.

So I started to focus on my breathing while running in the morning.  Usually I would give myself the first mile to get into the run and warm up.  Once I was warmed up I noticed that my mind would start to wander and I would begin to worry about work or what I needed to do that day.  When I noticed this happening I would simply refocused by telling myself to pay attention (listen) to my breathing instead of thinking. I focused on each time I breathed in and out, sometimes I counted my breaths, and each time I refocused I forgot what I was worrying about and remembered to focus on the run.

This simple reminder to refocus was all I needed.  Eventually every time I realized I was worrying, my mind began to just think about my breathing.  Over the course of a few weeks it suddenly became instinct and slowly my morning runs were not filled with my mind spinning in worry, but instead of just enjoying the run.

On most of my runs, I have to refocus a lot. And by a lot, I mean at least 25-30 times for a 6 mile run.  Because running is my MAIN stress reliever and when I run my mind goes to things that I am dealing with.  I would often play out sequences of how I would confront a co-worker I was having a hard time with or I would replay a moment from my day and think about what I would have said if I had thought quicker.  The inner dialogue that I would have while running became out of control.  Bringing the focus back to breathing and running reminded me that there really is nothing I can do about my worries (or the past) while I am running and I finally was able to bring myself back to the reason that I run for stress relief.  I run to escape the worry - to have 30 minutes to an hour to be away from all the things in my life that are STRESSING me out! 

I encourage you to try this.  Call it meditating or just call it bringing the focus back to running and the purpose.  Life is stressful, running isn't supposed to be!

A few links where I did my research -
How to meditate while running
Runners World - meditating

Monday, April 1, 2013

40 mile weeks

I am not following a training plan.
I am not training for anything.
I am just running to run.

Then how come, every week I feel like I need to hit 40 miles?

Every since I started to hit 40+ miles a week consistently last year, I kept that as my focused weekly base mileage.  There have only been a few times when I haven't hit that mileage and it was because of either a) sickness or b) part of the training plan for race week.

But now there is no piece of paper telling me I should run 40 miles a week in order to train for a race and there is not race on the horizon to train for but I still feel this urge inside to run 40 miles a week. 

I feel like if I don't run 40 miles a week, I will start to lose something. Maybe I feel like I will lose a part of the runner I became last year.  But I know that runner is already slipping away as I am not running the way I ran last year.  I am not running two hard speed workouts a week and I am not running crazy long runs on the weekend.

It is a slow process to come to terms with not always pushing and training hard.  And all that I have given up in the past few months has been difficult. It hasn't been easy to stop running fast, long speed workouts or super long runs.  It hasn't been easy to just relax and run. 

I think I am holding onto the last part of a regimen I had for over a year. The final piece of everything I built last year and everything I accomplished.  I don't know if I can give up my 40 mile weeks just yet. I have already given up so much.

In the coming months as my schedule gets busier and busier with more and more events, there may be weeks when I just can't run the 40 miles and I hope I can be ok with that. Only time will tell.

Whats your weekly mileage? Is there a "number" of miles you strive for each week?