If you like me, movement and running are a very important part of your life. Thankfully it’s not all of my life and I try to live a balanced life although there are times all I’d do would be running, hiking and biking.
But life is not an Instagram feed and we all have to squeeze sport to sometimes busy schedule. Here’s an example of my winter week of running
Monday rest day,
Maybe the one and only rest day. God had a free day on Sunday but who am I to rest on the same day as God? I’d rather take Monday as it is hard enough for million different reasons. Monday is when I recover after a long Sunday run. I’d like to tell you I go for a massage or sauna but let’s be real. My osteopath is on sick leave and I don’t trust anyone else plus I have a lot of races to plan so the budget is tight so..I’ll go for foam rolling and tumeric tea (and some tiger’s balm for aching muscles, it’s the best!)
Tuesday easy run
run in the fog and since it was also a short one I’ll do and abs or legs workout afterwards. I’m sweaty anyway so why not take advantage of that?
Wednesday speed work
That run left me unsatisfied but hey at least I have a goal to reach for…a quick strengthening workout for legs and I’m done. Shower!
Thursday rest day
so I’m squeezing in a longer session of mobility and strength exercises. Honestly: I hate them, at least part of them but I guess these are the ones I need the most.
Normally I prepare some falafels or veggie burgers in batch to freeze and have them ready for those days I need to have a quick lunch.
Thursady gives me a breath of fresh air, I needed a day off. I promised myself to foam roll this year..I’ll do it tomorrow.
Friday I feel the air of weekend and everything looks brighter on Friday so I do my quick’ish run in the park and quick abs at home. TGIF!
Saturday is kind of rest day but I fit in a yoga session if I can and it’s quite demanding one but I’m on a break up terms with yoga nowadays so one class a week is better than nothing, right? So yoga it is. A walk around town to relax, carbs for dinner thinking ahead of my long run tomorrow. What’s your carb of choice before long run? It used to be pizza for me but somehow in the past year my legs are so heavy the day after that I decided to go for risotto
Sunday runday funday which means long run. In winter I stay longer in bed because heading for a long run early in the morning means cold air and my hand and feet suffer a lot in winter..Plus I need a bit of sleep and laziness sometimes, right? I like long runs, they are like a treat for me and on Sunday I don’t need to be nowhere.
Then a good lunch afterwards, trying to put in some proteins #teamtempeh and later in the day…foam rolling finally! I should do it more often, right? But it hurts!
If I’m in a right mood I’ll go for another yoga session, maybe a yin yoga, my latest discovery and I have to say it’s the best after a long run. Steady and focusing of different muscle groups.
That’s it! I’d love to hear your week in sports or whatever you do to keep moving! Isn’t that amazing what we can do in a week?
Are you on Quora?
Quora in an online platform where people can ask questions and other users who deem themselves experts or just think they know the answer can reply. I like to read and comment on Quora and reply to questions about running. I’m not an expert, I just ran a few marathons and running is a passion of mine. I thought it would be fun to post a few questions from Quora I replied to. If you like them please follow me on Quora https://www.quora.com/profile/Hanna-Gierzynska-Zalewska or just give a look on the website!
Why do people pay to run a marathon? Why not just run the 42 km on any other day?
Because you want to measure yourself on a given day on that distance and have a proof of that. And a medal. And photos.
You want to test your luck, maybe you’ve trained but on that day you will suck anyway.
Travel: you want to run where you’ve never ran before. Sometimes running a race is a cherry on top of your training.
The best way to know is to run a marathon or watch a marathon in person.
What it means to ‘hit the wall’ in the marathon?
When you finish your physical and mental energy. I would argue that it’s mainly your brain because when it senses that your finishing glucose it just goes on energy saving mode to save itself. There’s enough glucose for the brain so it says to your body to shut down. Which sucks cause you mentally and physically feel like you can’t go any further BUT
You actually can, you just have to tell your brain ‘I know what you’re up to, you’re not fooling me’ and go on.
Will anyone ever run the marathon under two hours?
Humanity is getting there and the latest record in marathon (Eliud Kipchoge 2h 1 min in Berlin Marathon) shows that we’re close.
I’m quite positive that it will happen.
Is it important to monitor the heart rate while running? If yes, why?
It could be very useful as it gives you a feedback on intensity of your workout or your overall health. If you don’t have a special heart condition it’s just something you might use not something that is necessary. Many runners look at heart rate monitor too religiously.
When I would strongly advise running with a heart rate monitor? If you’re running while pregnant as you must keep your heart rate way lower that before pregnancy.
Should I treat life as a sprint or a marathon?
Orienteering but without map and compass.
I’ve been shying away from social media recently.
Because I got bored and annoyed.
We all know that Instagram photos are not all real, most of them are filtered and for many people it’s a daily job so they work hard on light, angle and perfect shot.
I know and still I got bored of people who yesterday were normal and today they’re trying to sell me proteins.
So I stop following or paying attention to merchandise and I ask myself
Who do I look for on social media?
A lot of people I follow on social media are athletes, entrepreneurs or creatives so mostly people that inspire me, that are in the position I’d like to be one day. I look into their insights, I look for their advice and I’m jealous in a healthy way. What it means? I envy but at the same time I think how to get one day in that same spot they are in.
Then I follow people who are not super humans but make me smile and never fake a smile themselves.
Sometime though I have a weak moment and all I want is peace and quiet and I don’t mind being vulnerable.
That’s why people I follow must be authentic. If they show me 24 hours of their day or 7 days of their week I can’t believe it’s all smiles and roses. I’m not looking for drama so I don’t need to see your tears but don’t sell me motivational quotes all the time. Authenticity, weakness and getting up after you fell. And celebrating your victories.
You might say I look for a real life online while we all know real life is elsewhere. Social media are a huge part of my life so yes, I want realness on social media as well. I look for humor, art, information and opinion. There are no more boundaries between real and online life and we’d better get used to it and make online world better.
I don’t mind people having their accounts set like a pieces of art but that’s quite evident and you know what to expect. I don’t mind people putting some filters on their photos or telling their stories in a certain way.
Just tell your story, choose your filter, choose your soundtrack but be true.
I trained, I was ready, I couldn’t wait. And when the race day came all went wrong. I wasn’t enjoying myself, I was tense and my pace followed. The race I ran twice the third time wasn’t that magical and fun as I remember. I finished with the worst result in years (1h51min) and I was quite down. Still am. What next? Am I as good (relatively) as I imagined or maybe I’m a fraud? After the last sentence you can imagine how I feel. But life goes on and I want to run. Have you ever been in a similar situation? How to get out of this post failure funk? Here’s my personal list, apply this to every failure
Analyze&learn. This is the worst part for me but maybe not for you. What went wrong and how to prevent it next time? Mental part, execution or some detail that ruined the whole thing? When running some things are predictable, routine, like e.g. eating before and during the race, clothes you’re wearing, your pace strategy. Other things like weather or sudden gastric issues are out of control. What you do when unexpected happens? When I got late into pre-race area I panicked and tried to surpass everyone. I was so tense for the first half and then… I just stopped caring? I still have to figure that out.
Give yourself a break In Italy people use to say ‘not all doughnuts come with a hole’, that means not everything you do will be a success. It’s a part of life and although it seems so deep and philosophical please remember that you shouldn’t identify with your failure. It was a moment in time and it passed and you should pass over it. You’re not your mishap, it just happened to you.
Put things into perspective. Will you remember this particular event in a week, month or a year? Maybe but will it matter and will that weigh on your overall happiness? It will if you choose to dominate your life and change your attitude. Make a list of things that go well in your life and list of things that are more important in your life than this event that went wrong.
Focus on next goal Every time something bad happened to me I look amazed at nature. Somehow I expect that the world should notice I feel bad and stop for a while. It’s stupid, naive, but sometimes with all the violence and conflicts that happen around the world I wonder how come the globe turns with no regards to what is happening.
Still, the sun rises and so should you. If failure left you with no love and passion for what you were doing you need to move to the next thing that will make your heart beat faster. But if you still love what you failed at then ‘dust yourself off and try again’ as the one and only Aaliyah used to sing.
In my case running is always raising my heartbeat so I’ll stick to it. I’m used to trying over and over again.
Do you dwell on your failures? How do you get out of the post failure funk?
Are you a new runner or you’re already a runner but races are not your thing? Then you’re probably a bit afraid of your first half marathon. 21km, 13 miles, it’s not a bike ride. Even on a bike 21km is a good distance, imagine running it.
Well, I’ve done so many half marathons I don’t even count them any more.
Run baby, run!
And I’m still afraid of half marathon. Why?
Let’s face it, I’m a slow type of runner. Of course you can discuss that, everything is relative, my pace can be fast for someone or slow for another runner but in my standards I’m slow. I’m not negative, I can recognize my strengths: I’m resistant and I recover quite fast. Speed- not my forte. That’s why half marathons are a really serious test for me.
When it comes to running, the shorter the distance, fewer excuses you can have.
In the marathon or ultra everything can happen, you start at the top of your form and then, after 10-15 km something happens because it takes time to cover the distance and the load on your body is major. 10 km or half marathon..a little bit of strategy but in essence you give what you have,the faster the better.
For someone who used to race every other weekend (yep, I’ll tell you about it in another post) I ran not a lot of races last year. And I have to say it was good for me, last year was, from the personal point of view, really stressful and delusional. As a result I had little to none motivation to go out, race, ecc.#life You can imagine that in this situation standing on the start line with thousands of people wasn’t something I was looking for. #anxiety #stress #life
Now I feel better and my objective for 2019…
aaah, you thought I had no resolutions for 2019? Think twice.
Is to do things that scare me. A bit. It’s like with exercise: a bit of stress in small doses is good, too much too often.
So half marathon it is. Or two half marathons. I’ve signed, I’m sealed (training hoping to be ready) and I hope to deliver.
What’s the distance you’re afraid of?
Are you preparing any race this year?
Are you more stressed or emotional before a race?
Any pre-race routine to calm down?
Weather you live in Italy or you’ve been here on holidays you know it’s a beautiful country: each region is different, food and wine are amazing and people are kind.
What you probably don’t know is there are different running races you shouldn’t miss. I could babble for hours but let me introduce you 3 amazing marathons I ran in Italy that should be on your bucket list!
When? At the beginning of April.
Course: mainly flat road race with some bits of pebble-like road (called sanpietrini from San Pietro, Saint Peter, a patron of the city)at the end of the race. Nothing dramatic but just be aware. What is incredible about this race is the beauty of the course:most of it crosses the most iconic places in Rome. The weather is almost always perfect for running and the arrival at Colosseum is worth every mile you sweat.
I ran it twice and every time I couldn’t believe it’s a race you can just sign in without a ballot. Just sign in and think later.
Around the race: best part of running marathon in Rome? The food! Go and have a dinner at ghetto and order fried artichokes. Life will make more sense afterwards.
Rome is in Lazio, central Italy. If you have spare holidays visit Rome and then take a short trip to Tivoli and Frascati.
When? At the end of October
Course: I know, I know, you probably expect all ups and downs as it is Venice and it’s known for its bridges and canals. It’s partially true. The marathon starts outside of Venice and at the beginning you run along the Brenta canal but it’s flat and you can admire a lot of beautiful villas. Before the arrival to the city itself you see the industrial part of Venice, then you cross the Freedom Bridge (il Ponte della Libertà) around 32 km (and it seems incredibly long) and the last 10 km are in the Venice itself. 10 km of bridges, ups and downs and it’s a pure torture. Worth it, trust me.
Around the race: it’s easy to walk a lot in Venice but save it for later. It’s hard to eat well in Venice a s it is a very tourist town but look for ‘chicheterie’, that is small bars where you’ll be served popular and simple finger food, snacks accompanied by wine. I personally recommend “Alla vecia carbonera” or “Al mercà”.
Tip: book your accommodation waaaay before the race, hotels, b&b and all that stuff cost a lot in Venice
When? At the end of November
Course: has been changed in the last few years and became more flat and more ‘urban’ that means you can see more of the historic city center along the way. That doesn’t mean you won’t experience a bit of outskirts of the city. There are pros and cons to this; while outside the city center is probably not the part you hoped for (less picturesque) when you signed for a race but it’s the less problematic,flat part of the marathon. City center means bridges, road that sometimes is flat asphalt but sometimes huge pebbles (like in Rome).
Of course the historic city center is one of the most beautiful you’ll see in Italy
Around the race: Florence is in Tuscany, one of the most well known regions of Italy. Make the most of it and if you can go and visit Siena, San Gimignano, Pisa. If you stay only in Florence take a stroll around the town, visit Duomo, Uffizi and taste the amazing Tuscan wines: Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino, Morellino di Scansano and amazing but still under-rated white wine, Vernaccia.
Have I convinced you? I think running those races is one of the best things you can do in your running career. The views, the food and the wine are amazing, you don’t have to sign in for a ballot and the bibs cost way less than for the world’s majors marathons. Plus you can bring your family and friends along and all of you will have a great time. Win, win, win.
I rarely listen to music when I run (ultimately I rarely listen to music, I have to change that!)
but I always listen to podcasts.
This is the last post of the year so instead of hammering you with New Year’s resolutions which I kind of did last week I’d like to share my favorite podcasts of the 2018. I have a lots of them but I give you 5 because it’s a perfect number for Friday.
Check them out and take them with you on your walk/run/commute.
At the end of each show description you’ll find a type of run I’d combine:
For those who are interested in nutrition explained by a specialist
The Funk’tional Nutrition. Don’t despair, it’s not an academic podcast. Erin and Kyle are both nutritionist who know how to explain the most burning issues about nutrition and understand that nutrition is not only about food but how we approach both life and our health.
Recommended run: uphill or sprints
For my ladies (and gents) who love cruelty free beauty products and a good laugh
Natch Beaut, a podcast by Jackie Johnson, a comedian passionate about all things beauty. What’s different about this podcast? This podcast is about cruelty free products and Jackie is a personality! I’m always for a good laugh and I’m quite sure that even if you don’t care about cosmetic industry you’ll love the show!
Recommended run: intervals
For those who love cinema and a good interview
Off Camera with Sam Jones. Sam Jones is a photographer who worked with many celebrities. Thanks to his unique talent to connect with people he manages to make great photos and great interviews. I discovered that many people I wasn’t interested in have a very interesting things to say (#life).
Recommended run: long run with steady pace
For those who love sports, adventure and new ideas
The Rich Roll Podcast. An old favorite that never fails to bring an inspiring content. Rich Roll is an athlete, speaker and author who talks to other athletes, doctors, scientists and inspirational figures. You’ll be inspired and amazed, trust me on that!
Recommended run: tempo run or broken miles
For those who want to change the world one step at a time
Ways to change the world Maybe it’s the Krishnan Guru-Murthy’s soothing voice, wide array of guests (writers, musicians, politicians, actors) or in depth, meaningful questions but every time I listen to this podcast I feel compelled although every episode is a quite easy listen.
Recommended run: steady relaxed run
What are your favourite podcasts? Do you listen do podcasts or prefer music on your run/commute?
I hope you’ll find my suggestions interesting!
New Year’s resolutions
Wait, what? Aren’t we supposed to give up resolutions? You’re right, resolutions sounds so 2010, let’s call them running objectives that is much more athletic and professional.
We run for new PBs, we run to be in shape and most of all we’re running because we like it, we love it, it keeps us sane. Our running objectives change throughout the year and we can have as many as we want. Let’s make a list and draw a simple plan so all this won’t seem so unachievable.
Not all of us are fitness junkies (WOOT?!) and we just can’t make it. Or can we? It’s a matter of priorities.
HOW? Make a small, humble and doable plan. I know, we all want to feel like a superheroes and that means running a half marathon like it was a piece of xmas cake but the TRUTH is that everyone focus on that big race, huge medal and pain is temporary and other glory related quotes.
Nobody tells you that squeezing 15 minutes every day into your schedule to do the strength work or 20 minutes run is the fabric that superheroes are made of (make a t-shirt with that phrase. Or pyjamas).
Once you’re no longer suffering doing that add minutes to your walk or run or add another session.
Getting fitter is all about controlled suffering. Once your body adapt you must make it suffer some more so it will adapt even further and you will become a badass.
Oh, you can’t do that? I apologize, I thought it’s a fast course to become a badass.
Dat DIET thing
OMG, don’t make me even start on that, you should eat cabbage and drink only water with apple cider vinegar all day long! What do you mean you like pizza and fries and beer? Stop!
HOW? In a ideal world I’d told you to throw away all the junk food from your pantry (and give it to me, no food should go to waste). In real world I’ll tell you that if you really want junk food you’ll find a way to get it. Get that chocolate, one piece of chocolate and make it a good quality, same with peanut butter or premium quality chips. Which doesn’t mean you should have it all the time, just as an emergency. Before the emergency occurs, prepare. Get the whole bunch of fruits and vegetables you like, not that fancy kale nobody knows what to do with. Everyone likes potatoes, tomatoes, carrots, apples, bananas. Buy those and buy good spices or soy sauce, something that will make it taste better without a load of calories.
Don’t plan elaborate recipes, cook a batch of good rice or quinoa (it’s good, I swear, you probably cooking it the wrong way!) to have it in the fridge.
Let’s face it, it’s hard to survive in this world without some support (wink, wink). And supplements, at least the ones you should care about, are still legal. Consider including some into your diet.
Don’t throw yourself on million things before blood test cause some supplements might be bad for you (like iron) and you can spend this money on junk food (joke: spend it on kale or beer). What you can experiment with (all drug related conversations starts with this phrase) is (drumrolls)
vit D3 combined with vit K2 because there are high probabilities you’re not having enough of it. D3 means healthy bones and vit K2 put that calcium only into your bones and not into your veins (horror story, just take that vit K2 with D3, okayy?). Anything else? If you’re an athlete try carnosine monohydrate that will help your muscles recover and stay in top form or build muscles if you’re a gym junkie.
I don’t mean only abs. But abs are a good thing to look at so..your choice.
Still if you’re an ambitious athlete you can’t just do your sport without well shaped abs, glutes and legs (ok, add shoulders as well) because flappy muscles are the reason you get injured and not training sucks and we get angry and hungry. And abs.
HOW? The tactic is quite similar to the running regularly plan with the small twist: it’s completely different. If you make time for running you should get time for doing your abs or legs exercises. But probably you don’t like it or you think that running will solve everything, even the world’s peace issue. The solutions for you cross training phobia are two: you make time for abs (see the first point of this post) or you take up a new sport. Swimming, cycling, judo..anything that will make you happy and make that muscles work! Choose your happy path, that’s an advice that will get you far, my friend.
I hope I gave you some ideas for getting better, happier and putting that resolutions into practice! At the end of the day it’s your will to change and some strategy to put things into practise that make that resolutions work!
Last week was a bit hard on me and I couldn’t wrap my head around any serious subject. That’s why I leave you with a Christmas related Q&A and I’d love to know your answers!
Are you the one that starts Christmas preparation in the mid November or you’re more of a Christmas hater?
I love Christmas but I start my feast fever at the beginning of December, when I can I get Advent calendar and I decorate the tree around the 8th of December (as for tradition in northern Italy where I live).
What’s the best part of Christmas?
Waiting for Christmas!
Favorite xmas music?
It used to be all about Frank Sinatra, Jackson’s 5 and Destiny’s Child.
Now? I decided that I’ll dedicate this slow-is Christmas time to discovering some oldies (like Elton John)
or some new releases (Anderson .Paak or latest Hozier album).
Giving or receiving gifts?
I’m a bit embarrassed when receiving gifts but I don’t know if I prefer giving them.
For sure I’m all into self-made presents or small but thoughtful presents
Favourite xmas tradition.
I love decorating xmas tree and making gingerbread cookies to hand on my xmas tree.
Best xmas ever?
All Christmases at my grandma’s house were the greatest, always with a huge and natural tree
What’s your xmas tree this year?
Gingerbread cookies made by me, wooden red decorations bought by my friend and a huge sparkling red star on top.
Favourite xmas dish?
My mom’s pierogi, she makes them only in this period and the recipe is well kept in the family!
What’s your Xmas menu this year?
I haven’t decided yet! I’d love to make a traditional Polish dessert with farro and poppy seeds but the rest will be Italian dishes, still undecided between some fancy risotto and pumpkin (of course home-made) pumpkin gnocchi!
And now it’s your turn! Choose whatever question you like and leave me your reply in the comments!
My marathon went great and I can enjoy my downtime! Good news, you can enjoy it too!
Seriously, can we ease into the new year slowly? New year will surely have another challenges for us.
‘It’s the most wonderful time of the year’ so let’s give these words some meaning.
Are you one of those people panicking during the Christmas time? Presents, polishing the house, preparing the dinner, traveling to find your family? In theory this should be the most amazing time of the year, in practice it’s a source of anxiety for many of us.
Let’s face it, we don’t need presents as we probably get what we want ourselves and probably your family don’t need luscious gifts as well. But if your loved ones are different and require something expensive…honestly you shouldn’t fall for it. Take a look at some charity websites and see how much you need to pay for a Christmas dinner for a homeless or elder person, how much it costs to feed a homeless dog for a month. I don’t want to seem a Mother Teresa here but it puts things into perspective and doing good (make that donation!) makes you feel really good.
If you want to make a present I would suggest giving an experience (travel, race enrollment, dinner or drinks together) rather than an object. We all have too many stuff but not enough great memories!
I know some of you are doing ‘run every day in December’ project and if it makes you feel good, let be it. Me, myself and my two legs are taking some easy time. Training for a marathon has been tough for me mentally because I love logging miles but the pressure of great performance wasn’t easy. That doesn’t mean I won’t be running, I love it! Possibly I’d like to maintain my pace if not getting faster but I’d like to dedicate some time to strength work and yoga. My right tendon is begging me for some attention and I’ll do my best to send away the inflammation I have.
And of course I’m dreaming of next year races, I have something big planned for the second half of the year but springtime is free in my book…Send me some race suggestions, I love to plan!
Are you having some downtime? How are you using it? Are you loving Christmas or you just can’t relax in December?
Health is boring. It’s not sexy like well made Instagram photo. Health is simple yet not easy like a grandma recipe for a homemade broth.
Eat better. Sleep better. Move more. Don’t be a dick.
Sleep better. Going early to bed and wiping your mind of all thoughts or prioritizing your sleep over something else (morning run or mindlessly scrolling through your Instagram feed. Yes, I’m pointing finger at myself. Guilty AF) is, in my opinion, one of the biggest changes in your life. Actually, it’s life changing.
Last year I made a post about morning running and I’m still a morning runner but I’m no longer a ‘run no matter what’ type of runner. I’m not lazy when it comes to running and I think many times an additional hour of sleep would have done me more good that a 10 km. Sleep deprivation and a consistent sleep deprivation, I mean 1 or 2 hours of less sleep for more than a week is a real negative game changer. You feel sluggish, you miss things, you’re negative, you’re more hungry! Try to get in at least 7 hours of sleep and go to bed before midnight.
Eat better. I said better, not perfectly. Nobody eats like people on Instagram, most of them do those photos because this is their job. Yet, it’s nice to have a great meal. You’d probably never have a perfect meal plan, because life happens. Or you just tired and you want this cake, pizza, fries and eating better is a process. How to change this? Again, I’m not an expert, I can only speak for my experience and I will in the future. For now I’ll just leave you with this concept, quite new but already supported by scientific research: your gut controls your behavior. Sounds spooky, I know but in short your gut bacteria have a huge impact on how you react. If you eat poorly your gut will be populated by type of bacteria that not only will damage your immune system but also affect your brain and probably your emotions. In short if your gut is populated by wrong type of bacteria it can lead not only to obesity but also to depression.
If you’re interested read more about it here:
Move more. Don’t roll over your eyes, moving more does not mean running or power lifting. Movement is everywhere, join in. 30 minutes a day of a brisk walk. You can do that after lunch or after dinner. And yes, use the stairs when you can. Movement is disguised in different moments of our day, don’t think about it as a workout, think about it like taking some fresh air, giving yourself some space and time to breath. Switching from one closed space (office) to another (supermarket and then home) will never help. Speaking about time to breath: there are 3 extremely powerful methods to free your mind for at least a while. Put down your phone, try to count your breaths for few minutes and not to think what to do next, try to prolong your inhale and exhale time staring from 4 (you could arrive up to 6 or 8 if you want). I like to think about breath work as an ‘internal shower’ for your body.
Don’t be a dick. What that has to do with health? It’s not difficult to get. Our health is also our mental health, our wellbeing and it’s influenced by everything we get into our bodies, that is food and emotions and what we give out, like the energy we spend and give to others. I can bet it’s not easy to sleep, digest or think when you’ve argued with someone or had a stressful day. We’re nurtured by everything: food, air, relationships, news. If you’re eating a macrobiotic clean diet but you’re a nasty little prick to others it won’t work. You can have a 6 pack-abs but in a long term it won’t work because this perfect little picture of yours is false. So don’t be a dick.