A week in the life of a runner, winter edition


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!

Another run, another breathtaking view

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?

5 podcasts you should know

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!

Once you’ve decided..new goals you should put into practice

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.

Run/exercise regularly

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.

Supplements

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.

HOW?

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.

Cross training

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!


Downtime! No malfunction, just relax.

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.

Self care

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!

Training

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?

Few random Q&As on running

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.

Stereotypes about runners


How many times you’ve read an article on what people who are not runners hate about people who run? Runners brag  about running all the time, spend too much money and time on training and so on.

You know what? It’s not so easy to be a runner as well. We roll eyes every time we’re asked how long is the marathon and if we run every day and if we won the last race we’ve participated in. Because we’re tired being asked the same sometimes, let’s face it, really ignorant questions. Oh, I shouldn’t probably say that but common sense is for free. I don’t ask a mother if she wants to spend every second of her day with her children, or a fitness coach if he/she never eats chocolate.. Let me get through a short list of questions we get:

  1. You run you should have a professional runner’s body. That’s also a reason some people are afraid to start running, they’re just intimidated. And even if you run for number of months or years you don’t have to look like an athlete the way you imagine it. We’re tall, we’re small, lean, robust or overweight. We gain weight, we loose weight, we get injured and we’re out of form, then we get snatched or we don’t. Running is a privilege not an obligation. Some of us treat it less serious others get religious about training. We’re very diversified among us.
  2. If you run you should be fast. But we’re not professionals. Our capabilities changes as we get older, as we get stressed or have a blissful period of happiness and less stress.
  3. You’re runner, you have to run all the time. Actually rest is a part of training. To be honest even if I ran in the morning I will get jealous if I see someone running later that day but I think I’d hate running every day. Time off is a good idea both for your body and your brain.
  4. How come you take elevator, you’re runner. Because I’m tired. I do take the stairs quite often but yes, we runners do get lazy and we don’t think about our fitness all the time.
  5. You’re a runner, you ran a New York City Marathon, right? It’s one of the most popular marathons in the world and for sure someone who has a vague idea about racing has definitely heard about NYCM. Most of the runners would like to run it, some people who would like to run only one marathon in their lives will choose that one. This doesn’t mean though all runners have done it, there are millions of other, even more prestigious, races
  6. Marathon? You know, the first guy who did it actually died. Not true, Philippides was a professional and he ran more that a distance of a marathon, according to our standards he ran an ultramarathon and he survived as he was trained to run long distances. His job was to deliver messages on foot and horses ha to be spared for other tasks.
  7. You think less of all non-runners. No, we don’t. More time passes less we want to talk about running as we want to have other friends, non-runners and running is such a  natural of our life we don’t feel the need to talk about it all the time.

The conclusion would be that we don’t expect of people who don’t run to know all about running but we don’t like to be judged by the cover, that is our bodies, shoes and the term ‘runner’.

Knowing how long is a marathon is kind of basic knowledge, for the rest: be open and tolerant.  Maybe one day you could go out for a run and once you do..you’re one of us!

How to avoid injuries: 4 simple advice

The short answer is: you don’t

But of course the longer answer is: it depends. Experienced runners know what to do but it doesn’t mean they apply those rules. Why? Because we’re mad, we’re addicted and we always think that running will heal everything. Just another one, only 10 km and I’m done.

Runners: we’re different..

Pay attention

Injuries (I’m not talking about accidents) usually don’t come from nowhere. They creep on you, they come as a nagging pain, small ‘thingy’ that grow bigger until it becomes unbearable. Like taxes. But, unlike taxes, you can avoid them or mitigate the damage. Sometimes a day or two of rest will do the trick: you have a tense muscle and if you run on it you might pull it. Or maybe you should change your running shoes but you forgot to keep track on how many miles/kms you run in them. Pain that stays with you is always an invitation to stop and find a reason why. Or at least stop.

Don’t be greedy, good things come slowly

Most of us believe we’re made of iron (or rubber, you choose) and we can do whatever and our bodies will follow. News: you’re not a Superman, if you start running too much too soon you will get injured. It sounds so obvious but we still forget that your body needs to adapt to a load of workout. A small amount of it will make you progress and become faster and stronger but if your body will be subjected to too much too soon it won’t be able to process it.

Small addition of kms (miles)= you’re sore, big load too soon= you’ll be sorry.

Invest: foam roller, massage and maybe a coach.

Aah, investments..they said running was the cheapest sport of them all. But then you decided to run more, race, eat gels wear fancy shorts and have a smart watch that tell you that you’re slow.

To be honest you can skip most of the gadgets (keep the shoes and sports bra) but invest in foam roller. This torture device will give you a good muscle release, use it on your legs, glutes or even on your back. It hurts sometimes (almost always) but it works like a good deep tissue massage. If roller is not enough go to osteopath that may spot flaws in your posture and maybe give you some corrective exercises. Another good investment is a good coach. If you keep on getting injuries maybe someone should take a look at your running routine and goals?

Running is not enough

That’s the saddest and most interesting part. The saddest because running is fun and everything else is sooo boring.

Interesting because in reality there are a lots of other sports and activities that can make you move, be entertaining and even…wait for it..make you a better runner. Cycling, hiking, swimming will condition your muscles differently and will help you building endurance. Personally I consider very beneficial taking up activity that you won’t take so seriously as your other sport. You’re a great runner? Start dancing and laughing at your lack of coordination!

Ok, that’s it. I’m sure there’s a way to avoid injuries but they happen anyway to even the best of us. The art of dealing with it is another blog post…