Taper and nutrition

This is the first Sunday in a while I haven’t spent the majority of it running. I thought I’d miss it more, but to be honest, I’m ready for taper. It feels like I just got home from Texas, and yet here I am, another race is 6 days.

Many On The Genny was really fun last year, so I am looking forward to it again this year. The park is beautiful, the people are great and it’s a good day to be outside. I would like to better my time from last year. I am more trained, so if I rest appropriately this week, I should make it a good effort.

In other areas in life, I have a bit of interesting nutrition changes to delve into. A few weeks ago, my coach and I had a discussion about belly fat and the weight to power ratio in running. I had noticed personally that I have developed a gut. Not in a negative way, actually I don’t really mind the changes my body has gone through. I only asked him about it in regard to my running. I didn’t feel like it was something I wanted to change, or rather I felt like it was something I wanted to accept.

My friend Danielle and I often say, having a gut is worth it for food freedom. I whole-heartedly mean that. I also realize that having more meat on me is largely what keeps me injury free. I don’t mean if I fell off a cliff I’d bounce back, but in the overuse or repetitive sense, having some cushion for the pushing is a benefit.

I do not feel like I have let myself go or that I am getting fat. Not at all.

When talking with my coach, he said having my gut is not a hindrance to my training nor would not having it make me much faster at this point. I am training my body to go all day, not to set a PR in the marathon. Having more energy stores, wherever they are, helps in that area.

That said, I would be lying if I said it was easy to accept this all the time. I have moments where I wondered if I was going a bit hard on the bread (I was) or if I should pay a bit more attention to my nutrition (I do). Rather than just look at this negatively, I looked internally and intuitively. What does my body want right now? Am I listening to what it needs?

Intuitive eating is a struggle for me only in the sense that I eat what is automatic and what is available. I work at a sandwich and bread shop, so that is what satisfies both those requirements. I simply eat a lot of bread. That is what it is. When I looked at what my body was craving, to be honest, bread wasn’t it. Sure, a good sandwich seems nice, but I wasn’t making that choice because I wanted it, I ate it because it was there and it was automatic.

This past week, I decided to change it up a bit and see where my energy levels were and how my body responded. I traded peanut butter and jelly sandwiches at breakfast for yogurt with protein powder (controversial for me, but I am open to change) nuts and berries. I traded my lunch sandwich for a burrito or a wrap. I traded my third daily sandwich at dinner for oatmeal with banana, peanut butter and berries. My snacks changed from scones to Clif bars or smoothies.

All these things were dependent on what I actually wanted. I had to change from automatic to asking my body what it wanted. I did not cut out all bread or carbohydrates. I wouldn’t do that simply because it’s a lot of work and I don’t really think that’s appropriate for me. I simply changed my eating to what I thought my body wanted.

I don’t say I was craving these foods. I’ve worked hard and now it’s easier, to avoid the craving trap. I eat all types of foods, I don’t go too long without food and so therefore I feel lucky that insatiable cravings for things are not normal. I’ve allowed all foods into my daily diet, so I don’t think of one meal, snack or type of dessert at a cheat or satisfying a craving.

Actually, when I splurge on good tofu or veggies at Greenstar or a breakfast sandwich from Ten Forward, the only reason it’s a splurge is financial. I look forward to those things simply because they are out of the norm, I don’t make them for myself and it’s fun to treat myself to a meal out.

Anyway, this past week, I went with it, and here’s what I’ve found:

I enjoy it. My body has responded well as long as calorically I eat the same amount. I don’t crave bread or miss it, because if I want it, I’ll have it. Bread was automatic and it seemed like a daily staple, but I realized it didn’t have to be if my body didn’t want it.

I also did not go all or nothing. I still at my breakfast sandwich on a biscuit from Ten Forward yesterday. I still ate bread in the form of burritos and wraps. I still ate the same amount of calories, the macronutrients were just different.

And this is ok. I’m not changing much to be honest and it’s not really a big deal.

Bodily wise, I have the same amount of energy, actually I think my hydration is better because I’ve eaten more fruit and hydrating foods. My gut is still there, but I feel a bit more trim in the mid section. Who knows if that’s actually true as I don’t stare at my appearance in the mirror. I also do not weigh myself regularly, so this is purely based on feel.

My clothes fit the same. I was not going for extreme changes, I was simply trying to listen to my body a bit more.

Breakfast: yogurt with protein powder, berries, nuts and flaxseeds

Running: 60 minutes

Alone time, running and Ten Forward!

If you’ve never listened to the Billy Yang Podcast, do yourself a favor and download it. Try it out. Think Rich Roll meets Ultrarunner Podcast. Long form interviews (60-90 minutes) with athletes mostly, and a few entrepreneurs thrown in.

The most recent episode with Zach Miller got me thinking a lot about how I live as a vandweller. He spoke about living remotely at Barr camp in Colorado. It’s 6.5 miles up a mountain and from the nearest town. He lives mostly alone, and he’s ok with it.

I resonated most with the feeling of being with people, and how awkward it feels sometimes. I do have a social job, but I love going back to my van at night knowing I will be alone. I loved my friend Lesley and enjoyed her company when I lived with her and her boyfriend Mark, but it also taught me that I want to live alone. I enjoy it.

I can go out and see people or stay with someone if I want (just as Zach spoke about going to town and hanging with people) but I don’t really want to. We both enjoy our routines and honestly if I went to a bar tonight, it would feel weird. Not me. As if I was faking it or trying to do what normal people do.

It’s just not me. Maybe I (as Zach also stated) are sort of a loner at heart. Sure, I am great with people and enjoy them. I like company. But I also crave alone time. I think the reason I am so good with people is because I know I will have my time alone later.

Resonating with Zach (and others I’ve spoken with) is very comforting.

This past weekend was another good one. I woke up Sunday and ran for a while. I got in about 29 miles both trail and road before making it back to the van and calling it a morning. The weather was perfect for it, between 60 and 70 degrees the whole time.

The third hour was rough, I considered stopping after 4 hours. I was a bit mentally fatigued and just feeling off. It ended up being a low point, and I decided to get out of the parks and run around the city for my last hour. It made the difference, just a change in scenery.

After my run I wanted some breakfast, so I went to Ten Forward (second time that weekend haha) and branched out to try their new tofu scramble. I had my friend Alex burrito it up for me with some cheese and veggie sausage. Delicious, a must try if you’re in Ithaca.

That afternoon I called my mom and sister and talked to them, did a bit of work for Agava, and read. I tried to maximize the time I spend sitting or laying. It was quite nice.

On Monday I went for a 15 mile run, then to geriatric yoga. My legs were trashed, so the yoga flow and rest there helped. It was a good two days of training.

I’m off today, and I believe I’m tapering for my race in two weeks. I can’t wait for Many on the Genny! It was so fun last year!

Breakfast: yogurt with walnuts, flaxseeds, blueberries and protein powder

Running: Zero

Unproductivity is the best

Yesterday I ran for 4 hours.


With no real route or plan.

My instructions were to run for 4 hours. No roads.

So I ran. For 4 hours. Around Buttermilk for 2 hours, then at Treman for the second 2.

I listened to Ten Junk Miles. I ate and drank. It was easy.

Easy like Sunday morning.

Those are the days I live for. The climbing. The peace. Feeling at peace while I’m out there. With no real expectations. Just go. Slowly. Eat when I can. Drink always. Just enjoy the time.

Sometimes when I get these instructions, I still hold some expectation in my head of the mileage I “should” get. Or the time I want to spend out there. This season I’ve been trying to let go of any “shoulds” or what I used to do.

I am a different runner. I enjoy the sport more. I am trying to listen to my body more. I am listening to my coach.

Just run Ellie.

After my 4 hour jaunt, I literally had the day free. It was glorious. At about 3PM I realized I had done NOTHING productive yet that day, and I was oddly satisfied with it. I haven’t had a true down day in a few weeks, so spending my day running, reading and watching some YouTube was lovely.

I finished my run at Wegmans, and got breakfast there. I went to Ollies and got a few interesting granola bars (they are a bargain outlet so they have the flavors that didn’t sell in the store), read for a few hours before realizing I wanted to get my favorite breakfast sandwich. I went to Ten Forward and they hooked me up quite nicely.

I just sat there for about an hour, nursing my sandwich and coffee, talking to Tammy and Alex who were working, just relishing in the slowness.

By the time I finished it was around 4PM. I went up to Agava to finish a few projects I had for the week, nothing strenuous and I could have done it remotely if I had to. I called my friend Carly and talked to her about our latest book and TV show obsession.

Then I went into my van, closed the doors and just vegged out for a few hours. I watched Where Dreams Go To Die from the Ginger Runner, a couple Mountain Outhouse news programs and really just laid there.

I got dinner from work, and talked to my coworkers for a bit. It was an amazingly unproductive day. But the best part, I didn’t feel like I needed to be productive. I gave myself grace both in the run that morning and in my day to take it easy. It felt good to release myself from that daily grind.

I’m ready for Monday.

Breakfast: bananas with almond butter and flax seeds

Running: 57 minutes

Peak week training

The passing of graduation for both colleges in my town always makes me happy. Not only do we become a smaller population, but Ithaca summer truly begins. It feels like our town.

This past weekend was a doozie but in the best possible way. I didn’t know it, but I hit my peak training volume in addition to working 6 of the busiest days of the year for us at work. This is wonderful, because it provided additional training stimulus for my legs. When I ended this segment after my long run on Monday (Memorial Day), my coach informed me that I had run 96 miles in the past 8 days. I had also worked each of those days. I am not saying this to brag, but to remind myself that I can do it.

I can train higher mileage, and work, and not injure myself. Not only that, I can keep myself fueled and happy.

The past two days have been rest/mobility days and I woke up today itching to run again. Tomorrow shall be fun!

However, before I look too far ahead, remembering what I did last week will remind me to still take it easy even if I feel like I should run or find some use for my extra time/energy.

Last week I had two workouts, one 8×800 meters alone and one 5 mile tempo with my speedster friend Bailey. Both were challenging, yet I didn’t feel like I gassed myself. Meaning I paced appropriately, not that I skimped on effort.

I had two medium long runs, one of 13 miles and one of 11.7 miles, each at about 8:10 pace, effort based easy runs. I had one 6 mile run mid week that was at about 10 minute miles. Very good use of my easy miles, and I didn’t get lost.

On Sunday I met up with my buddy Rich and we trekked around for 19 miles on the Cayuga Trails 50 course (a race we will both be doing in July). It was muddy, rainy and humbling, but I got through it. Having him with me to show the way and talk to was crucial for this run. I don’t mind running through calf deep mud or pouring rain when I’m with someone. Heck, it was fun!

On Monday I did 18ish miles on the Black Diamond Trail, which is easy to go for your legs, but always challenges me mentally. It’s out and back and kind of boring, yet my legs needed to learn that fatigue. I ended it at GreenStar for breakfast tired, but happy.

Each of these days last week I also worked 8 hours on my feet. Some days (like Sunday and Monday) the last thing I wanted to do was keep going, but someone’s gotta fill the van with gas am I right? I also know my coach builds my training on the assumption that I’ll be on my feet all day.

It works for us. It will get me ready for ultras.

All in all, I am proud of the week. It went well and I think I am handling that training without burn out or injury. I was itching to get out there today, so I went on a hike to see how my legs were feeling. They needed some warm-up, but soon they felt normal. I believe I will be running tomorrow, which excites me. I miss Bailey and the ass kicking she gives me 🙂

Running the CT course reminded me how much more I need to train on that type of terrain. I am not confident on technical downhills, especially when they are wet and muddy. However, I know I can do them, it just takes time and practice. I also need to address my show selection. Rich thinks I need faster shoes for my ability. The ones I have are great for gripping and going all day, but I could use something faster for races. I will be trying new ones out soon.

Honestly, I didn’t do too much else last week besides train and work. It was a good week, but not one I can do often. I simply would rather spend my time in other ways, and I know it’s not sustainable for my body.

Things I need to practice would be run nutrition. I was thankful Rich was there because when he ate, I ate and when he drank, I drank. Not exactly a good strategy since he will be miles ahead of me in our races. I simply still go with the mindset that I will eat after, which DOES NOT WORK in runs over 2 hours. I am usually good about it during races, but long runs I just suck. For the next one, my strategy will be every half hour, take a chomp. I think I can manage that.

Breakfast: yogurt, oatmeal and trail mix bowl, apple and coffee

Running: Rest, I hiked and did some core

Volunteering and injuries

I want to talk about something today that crossed my mind when thinking about past injuries. I’ve signed up for races I’ve been unable to do because I was burned out or injured to the point of not wanting to run.

That sucks. If you’ve been there, you know. As a person who hold running closely, not being able to run for any length of time is challenging both mentally and physically. I thank the Lord I am not dealing with that right now, especially as the weather gets nicer.

When I have been injured, logically I have been told and think to myself “oh, instead of running the race, I can just volunteer instead.” As if that is somehow a replacement to feeling and being fit to race.

Don’t get me wrong, volunteering is really fun and totally necessary for our sport, however it is not a substitute for running the race, especially if it was something I had been training for. To be honest, volunteering at said race puts me in a worse spiral emotionally than I had already been in, because it reminds me of what I lost, what I don’t have, and how much better other people are than I.

Sure, I could work really hard to be positive, but in my raw emotional state, it ain’t happening and faking it as a volunteer at the race makes things worse.

This is why I do not volunteer at races I had signed up to run. My good friend and teammate summed it up quite nicely this morning for me when I asked if she was still traveling to Europe even when she is unable to run. She said “No. I do not want to spend the extra money when I am not racing. Not to mention the depression it will put me into.”

Jesus that’s so real. She still does what she can and volunteers with other events and organizations, like I do when I’m injured. However I support her and also do not want to volunteer to help at events we should be and trained to be racing. It’s actually a hindrance to our emotional recovery, and subsequently our physical recovery.

Breakfast: PB&J on sourdough

Running: 60 minutes