Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Running for a Cause: The Food Trust

For my first marathon, I wanted to run for something bigger than myself. I looked at all the major charities, like Team for Training, and the MS Team for the Cure, but the major problem with most of those is I don't feel personally affected by any of them... *knock on wood* but I've been very blessed to have healthy people in my life, and no one very close to me has ever been affected by leukemia & lymphoma, aids, diabetes, cancer, etc... granted, my grandmother did die form cancer, and one of my cousins currently lives with cancer, but overall I don't feel that passionately about it to the point where I want to dedicate my running efforts to raising money for the cause. I wanted to run for a cause I TRULY believe in and TRULY feel very passionately about.

I believe wholeheartedly in good nutrition and exercise. So I did some searching online, and that's when I discovered the Food Trust. The Food Trust is a NFP located in Philadelphia that focuses on easy access to affordable, nutritious food for everyone, everywhere. Now here's a cause I can really stand behind!! I firmly believe in the life-long benefits of healthy eating, especially wholesome, nutritious foods. It was a perfect match! I kicked the idea around for a while, waiting to see how my marathon training was progressing before I committed to anything. In the meantime, I wrote to the Food Trust and asked them for help, suggestions, etc... I told them what I was planning on doing and they were beyond thrilled. They offered to help in any way they could. They even sent me a tee-shirt in the mail, along with a packet of newsletters that I could send to my prospective donors. Encouraged by their enthusiasm and support, I wrote an e-mail to all my friends, family, past co-workers, contacts, and acquaintances asking them to donate to the Food Trust. I think what they are doing is truly incredible, and more cities should model organizations after them! Regardless of how much $$ I raise, my main goal was to get the word out about the Food Trust. My hope is that with increased publicity, more people will be aware of the increasing problem of poor access to healthy nutritious food in low-income areas throughout the United State.

So, without further adieu... here's the letter:

Dear Friends,

In approximately one month, I will be running the Philadelphia Marathon in Philadelphia, PA. This is my very first marathon (26.2 miles!), and along with my commitment to training, I am raising awareness for The Food Trust, a non-profit organization based in Philadelphia that works to ensure everyone has access to affordable, nutritious food.

The Food Trust is working to lower the rates of diet-related illnesses, including obesity and Type 2 diabetes, by improving access to healthy food in low-income communities. In addition to operating 30 weekly farmers markets across Philadelphia, The Food Trust partners with over 100 schools and educates children about healthy eating. Their school-based programs, including the state-funded Kindergarten Initiative, have already reduced the incidence of childhood obesity by 50%. The Food Trust also works with city and state officials to increase the number of grocery stores located in lower-income neighborhoods through the Fresh Food Financing Initiative. (To learn more, visit www.thefoodtrust.org.)

In my opinion, The Food Trust addresses a glaring issue in modern society and espouses an extremely worthwhile cause - one that I care deeply about helping. As a runner and certified fitness professional, I subscribe to the "food as fuel" mentality. I also advocate eating healthy, wholesome, fresh, whole foods brimming with essential nutrients. It pains me to see the lack of access to fresh food in society today - and even worse, a lack of knowledge about the importance of good nutrition.

I wanted to run my first marathon for something larger than myself. That is why I chose to promote The Food Trust through my training efforts. I believe that given the right resources and widespread support, the Food Trust is leading the way in eradicating the nutritional crisis – and all the resulting health problems - in America today. I invite you to join me in supporting them and hope you will consider making a donation on my behalf. You can go directly to the website: http://www.thefoodtrust.org/php/donations/index.php.

Although I've been a runner for years, 26.2 miles is extremely intimidating and it is going to take hard work and commitment to get there. I am blogging my progress: http://community.active.com/blogs/julierunsphilly. Check back often for updates! Thanks for all your love & support.

In good health,


PS – Please spread the word!

Monday, October 13, 2008

A Reality Check

so it's been a while since I updated. to be perfectly honest, I've been completely exhausted. training is going pretty well. at least I thought it was going well until today... I've ran or cross-trained every single day for the past 9 days. I was very excited to be getting back into a routine.

the problem occurred today when I decided to look at a legitimate marathon training schedule. I have 6 weeks left. At this point, I'm supposed to be up to 30-40 miles per week. I haven't run more than 20 miles per week in the past month...

I AM SCARED that I'll never get up to the mileage I need & still have time to taper before the marathon. I'm not sure what to do. Should I jump up to 40 miles next week and pick up the training plan from that point? or should I gradually increase my mileage and do whatever I can, but peak at 30 miles per week? when should I start to taper? I want to make sure my muscles are fully recovered before the marathon... I've only done 2 "long" runs up to this point... a 12-miler and a 15-miler. I still have to fit in at the very least ONE very long run of 18 or 20 miles (ideally, I should have done anywhere from 2-5 of these over the past 4 months), and I have to do this before 2 weeks prior to the marathon. yikes! I know my fitness level is gradually improving, but I'm fearful for my running ability and the pre-marathon timeline. this training business is turning out to be a much bigger commitment than I ever anticipated.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Getting back into Pilates

my calves are screaming. they've been screaming at me ever since I finished my "hill" workout yesterday. It seemed like a good idea at the time...

so I decided it's time to throw a little cross-training in the mix. I thought it would be wonderful to do some pilates. In theory, this sounds like a great idea. I can relax, exercise, get a little cardio workout, and stretch out all my muscles. I turned down the lights in the spare room, popped in a relaxation CD, rolled out my pink mat & got all set. BUT... one small problem. I legitimately haven't done a full hour of classical (Joseph-pilates) Pilates since I moved... back in February... a whopping 8 months ago.

When I tried the exercises today, I couldn't believe how tough they were!!!! things that I used to do with complete ease were so difficult! My entire body is stiff, I have tight hamstrings and hip flexors for the first time in my entire life, my shoulders and elbows kept cracking, and my core strength is practically non-existent. Even my back hurt, and I definitely felt it in my abs! My fitness level decreased dramatically. I didn't even attempt to try the advanced stuff like the rollover and jacknife!! And I had to stop without even doing the side kick series because I was too exhausted. I couldn't understand why I was having such a hard time. Pilates used to be completely effortless. Then, I realized that before I moved 8 months ago, I was practicing Pilates regularly, teaching anywhere from 2-4 classes each week. Back then, it all seemed so easy. Looking back, I now realize how incredibly strong I was. I just couldn't believe how hard it was. Then again, 8 months is a LONG time.

Now I know what it's like to be a beginner again. If I learned anything from today, it's that I definitely can not ignore cross-training. Otherwise, I will be setting myself up for serious overuse injuries. ah, the perils of running.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Hitting the hills

to mix things up a bit, today I did a "hill" workout on the treadmill. basically, I experimented with the gradient, raising & lowering the incline and speed to match my comfort level. I had no idea that treadmills could be so steep!!! the maximum gradient goes up to 15.0 (what is that measuring anyway, degrees??). At that incline, I could only jog along at a 12-min/mi pace... it was so steep!!! I did this for about a minute, then gradually lowered the incline until it was down to 10 (degrees??), then when I caught my breath I jumped right back up to 15, lasted there for about a minute, then had to gradually lower again, and repeated this process 3 times over 20 minutes. this is great practice though. it definitely gets your HR way up. I can't wait to do it again!

"hills are speedwork in disguise"... I will never forget these words of some famous runner (of course the famous runner is so famous I forget his/her name, but that's beside the point) the important part is the sage advice. you have to put in a lot of extra effort to go up a hill at any given speed. so when you get accustomed to exerting more effort and working harder, and put that same amount of effort on flat ground, you will go even farther. it's a basic physics principle. something about work and distance, but of course I forget the exact formula... after all, that was 7 years ago...

on another completely un-related note, I have a cramp in my right forefoot, which is incredibly annoying.