Picking the perfect pre-race breakfast

(via Pinterest)

After months of training, I am now three days away from running my first ever half marathon. I can’t believe how fast it has come but I feel so confident in my training and ready to run happy. However, one of my biggest concerns this past week has been how to fuel my body before the race.

I asked some friends and sought advice from Runner’s World and Active.com and the one major take away from everything- don’t change anything. I’ve known this all along, the worst time to try something new is on race day but I have a problem. In my training thus far, I really haven’t had much to eat on long-run days besides a cup of coffee and some water. Even when I did my 14-miler, the only thing I ate beforehand was a pack of Chomps and Gatorade.

However, I have fueled before some smaller races before with a slice of whole grain toast, some fruit (usually strawberries or oranges) and some coffee. This has always been a pretty good pre-race meal to me so I think I’m going to stick to this for the half as well.

After further research however, I had questions like, how much time should I leave between breakfast and start time. The answer I found from Runner’s World was at least two to three hours before. Although this will mean a very early morning for me (the race starts at 8 a.m. but I’ll have to be there at 7 a.m. and it’s an hour away) but it will allot enough time for digestion so I can start feeling nourished but not full and heavy.

According to the Runner’s World article as well I should sip water up to a half and hour before the race starts, this way I’ll be hydrated but not over-hydrated and have to stop at a port-a-pottie along the course.

Since I’ve basically already decided on doing my toast-fruit-coffee routine, I’m not planning on trying anything different but I’m interested in why this has worked for me in the past? According to an Active.com article, a solid pre-race meal should consist of 80 percent carbohydrates. The article said the type of carbs isn’t as important but many runners, like myself, tend to choose more bland foods like a whole grain toast or some runners like oatmeal.

Some ideas for pre-race fuel could be:

  • Bagel or toast topped with either peanut butter or a low-fat spread– many people eat this for breakfast routinely so it’s always good to stick to routine come race morning. Also, bagels and toast are chalk-full of carbs which are needed for fuel during a race.
  • Bananas– lots of runners love bananas as an addition to any pre-race meal (personally, I hate bananas so I can’t speak to this very much) but they have 30 grams of carbohydrates, low in fat and high in potassium which is lost while sweating during running.
  • Energy Bar– a lot of runners eat energy bars before a race but this is something you really have to be careful with in terms of not trying anything new. Stick to a bar you know that’s rich in carbohydrates but not too high in fat or protein (save those bars for after the race).
  • Shakes– there are a lot of runners who like to make a real-replacement shake before a race. I’ve never tried this but there are tons of recipes out there for these kinds of shakes.
  • Oatmeal– this is another good fuel-boosting carbohydrate option. It’s bland but won’t upset your stomach while racing.

I would also recommend drinking some kind of caffeine if you’re a frequent morning caffeine-drinker. I have coffee every morning so I try not to change this on race day but sometimes I’ll opt for caffeinated tea on race day instead of coffee (because I like cream in my coffee and that can be weird).

As always, DON’T try anything new on race day. A poorly picked pre-race meal could possibly wipe out all of those months of training and preparation. Stick to what you know, race hard and look forward to that amazing post-race meal!

What is your go-to pre-race breakfast fuel? Share your thoughts with me in the comments section below!

I’m now an editor at Runner’s World

I am very pleased to announce I recently accepted a position as associate editor of multimedia at Runner’s World and I literally could not be more excited! This news is truly a testament to how running has completely changed my life during the past year. Before I started running, I was committed to becoming a traditional journalist- maybe breaking into the political journalism realm- but, as I continued to run and blog about health and wellness I realized how huge of an impact health and fitness journalism has on communities.

As more studies develop in regards to health and wellness, making exercise and nutrition accessible to everyone is becoming more and more important. Once I started to recognize this, I made a decision to focus on health and wellness reporting so I could make exercise, and especially running, accessible for anyone. Although I’ve never claimed to be an expert, I think through reporting on different issues pertaining to running, people are able to get the information they need to start their own “journey to fit.” Runner’s World is dedicated to educating and informing readers about all-things running and is focused on speaking to all runners, regardless of skill or experience level. I am really looking forward to becoming a part of a team that has such a strong dedication to spreading the message of health.

While accepting this position means I will be leaving my family and my closest friends to move to Runner’s World headquarters in Emmaus, PA, it’s going to be an amazing opportunity that I’m sure will open up doors for my career. I just wanted to send out an update to everyone and to thank all of my friends and family (and my dedicated Fit Girl Happy Girl readers!) who’ve been so supportive of me during this whole process!

Monday Motivation: keep running

I’ve always said my running goal has no finish line because my goal is to be a runner for life. Sometimes this is hard to remember when I get really excited about registering for a new race or when I get hurt while training. But I’ve found that the most important thing to remember is to have balance and listen to my body. If this means I have to take a day off for whatever reason so be it but in the long run I just want to keep running. Have a great week of running everybody and check back later on for my big announcement!

Week 16: Half-marathon training update

(via Pinterest)

I can’t believe my first half-marathon is now only one week away! That being said, this past week I started to taper my miles so I’ll be prepped and ready to go for next weekend.

This week as super busy and hectic for a variety of reasons, one of which I will announce tomorrow because it’s a HUGE deal!! But training-wise I did pretty well. I’ve never run a half obviously so it was weird to taper because after running a 14-miler last Saturday I just wanted to do it again. But in the spirit of not getting injured and storing my energy, I did what my training plan told me to do and tapered.

Monday was my crazy busy day so unfortunately I only had enough time to do a quick yoga session and ab workout in the morning. I was on the move for the rest of the day which I will talk about later..

On Tuesday I did a 2-mile pick up run with quicker paces of 8:03/mile and even some 7’s thrown in there. I was really tired from work and the day before but I knew I had to get this run in so I sucked it up.

I had planned to run 3 miles on Wednesday but my foot was really bothering me for some reason so I ended up just doing 2-miles (and change). However, because I cut my mileage I decided to do some strength training which included squats, lunges and some lifting. Also, I did ab work as well.

Thursday was shaping up to be another busy day at work (I had to cover a meeting until 10:30 p.m.) so I knew I could only get in a quick workout in the morning. I did two Tone It Up workouts, as well as my own arm workouts and abs.

I got out of work early on Friday so when I got home at noon, I quickly changed into my running clothes and went out. I did a quick 3-mile run and the route included some pretty ridiculous hills so this run gave my buns a run for their money. It felt really great though to push up the hills.

Saturday I had to work all day so I couldn’t get in a run but decided I needed a rest day after the week I had.

I went out for my “long” run on Sunday and I put “long” in quotes because the run was only supposed to be 6 miles, which felt like nothing compared to last week’s 14-mile run. This run went really well though and I tested out a new route which is always exciting. I took it really easy pace-wise with this run because with the half only a week away, I’m not taking ANY chances.

Overall it was a really great week for training. I’m looking forward to the half-marathon next Sunday because I feel like I’m really prepared (knock on wood!) Also I can’t wait to tell everyone my big news tomorrow so be sure to check back here to find out!!

How is your training going? What are your thoughts on tapering before a big race?

Twitter talk: can’t-live-without, favorite running gear

If you’re a runner you know we love our gear. I’m always stopping by my local running store to see what’s new, reading gear reviews on other running blogs and obsessing over the latest and greatest new product. But we all have our favorites and I wanted to know what are the absolute favorite, can’t-live-without running accessories and gear from my Tweeps! For me, I really don’t think I could live without my Zensah compression sleeves or my foam roller. Without them I’d be running with hair in my eyes and cramps in my legs. Here’s what my Twitter followers had to say!

Due to technical difficulties on Storify’s end, I could not export the story to my blog. To see what people thought visit:

Twitter talk: favorite running gear and accessories

To take part in my weekly Twitter Talk, simply follow me on Twitter at @FitHappyGirl and be on the lookout for my question of the week every Thursday from noon to 6 p.m.

Week 15: half-marathon training update

Oh my goodness I am so sorry this has taken me so long to post! Last weekend was a tad bit crazy for me and work has been out of control but I really wanted to update everyone on my training last week because it was nothing short of AMAZING!

For one, I hit a huge milestone and ran the farthest I’ve ever run- 14 miles! It felt so incredibly amazing, I almost didn’t want to stop (but my legs clearly had other plans!). I also was about to do the first track workout I had done in a very long time and that was pretty amazing as well. Before I go on, let me backtrack.

On Monday I started out my day with a little yoga for recovery on Lululemon’s YouTube channel. I wanted to do this because my legs were a little tight from the weekend before. After work, my cousin and fantastic training partner, met me at my office and we headed over to the local high school track to do a sprint interval workout. Neither of us had done this in weeks so it really felt great to get “back on track” and do some sprints. Her legs were also tired from the weekend before so we took it easy and did 4×800 sprints at 7:12 pace with about 400m of jogging in between.

On Tuesday I did some more yoga, as well as weight training for my arms and core exercises. Last week I didn’t get a chance to lift as much as I like to because I had some late nights at work, so I tried to get in some lifting on “rest” days.

On Wednesday I was able to get up early and head to the gym. I ran 4 miles at 9:33 pace and then did 1 mile on the elliptical. After that I hit the weights and did some squats and lunges. I also did a bunch of core exercises.

Thursday I did yoga and core exercises in the morning before work. I had to stay late for a meeting so I wanted to get in some exercise before. I did a power vinyasa yoga exercise and felt great after.

I drove up to my cousin’s new apartment in Marblehead on Friday because we had a long run planned for early Saturday morning. We had a great night checking out the local digs and carbo-loading, if you will, at the Barnacle, located right on Marblehead Harbor. However, we probably stayed out a little too late because the Saturday morning alarm clock came way too early!

Saturday was a big day for me because I had my longest run ever planned. My cousin is also training for a full marathon right now and according to her training schedule, she had to run 14 miles on Saturday. She wanted me to run it as well, and so I thought, 14 is only 1 more mile, why not? Our friend met us to do the run as well and we left the apartment around 9 a.m. (an hour after our planned start time.) We ran at a very comfortable and conversational pace and I felt like the miles just flew by. We made it to the halfway point and I couldn’t believe it was almost over! We had one problem though with hydration at mile 10. We had planned to quickly stop at a local beachside shack that usually has water but as we approached it, we saw that it was closed. Lucky for us the owner was standing right outside and said she would go in and get us water! After we had our water in hand we had some gels and were off again.

The last 4 miles were definitely a little more difficult after stopping but once the gels kicked in I felt great. The views on the run also helped to motivate us because we ran along the ocean and the weather was perfect. I was so excited to have ran a full 14 miles and it gave me even more confidence in my upcoming half marathon. I think it’s official, I’m addicted to distance running.

I took a complete rest day on Sunday after the long run the day before because my calf muscles were pretty sore.

Overall, it was a really great week of training. I felt strong and had tons of energy for my runs. This week I’ll be tapering in preparation for the half marathon which is now only a week and a half away!

What are you training for and how has it been going? Share your training stories in the comments below!

Thank you to Oiselle for amazing service!

I want to send out a huge thank you to the lovely ladies over at Oiselle, a women’s running apparel company based out of Seattle, for sending me a complimentary Start Line t-shirt! I had ordered the On the Fly shirt a few weeks ago but the color I ordered was on backorder. I was completely fine with it when I found out because I knew it would be worth it but I was very pleased to receive a personal e-mail from an Oiselle customer service representative asking me if I’d be alright with the delay. Talk about customer service! The generosity doesn’t end there though folks.

After my Fly t-shirt arrived in the mail I was so excited to wear it! The cotton was super comfy and the fit (I ordered a size small) was perfect. What surprised me even more however was two days ago when I came home to find a package adorning the beautiful light green and bird patterned packing tape, waiting for me. I immediately thought they had made a mistake and accidently sent me two of the same shirt. But I was wrong. I opened the package to find the very cute Start Line t-shirt with a note from the ladies at Oiselle. The note read:

Compliments of Oiselle. So sorry for the delay on the backordered t-shirt- thanks so much for your patience!

Seriously. Talk about customer service! Not to mention the shirt was also very comfy and I absolutely LOVED the starting line graphics. Needless to say I will be ordering much more running gear from Oiselle in the future. Not only do they have a commitment to running but also they have a commitment to serving their customers and I think that’s something any consumer can appreciate. Thank you Oiselle and as your saying goes “Head up, wings out!”

ENERGYbits review for runners

A few weeks ago I started noticing a very active Twitter handle pop up on my Twitter feed. It was from a Boston-based company called ENERGYbits and they were tweeting back and forth with a lot of the runners and bloggers that I followed and before I knew it they were following me as well. They asked me if I would be interested in sampling their product and writing a review, and based on reviews and comments I heard from other runners I thought, “For sure!”

Turns out one of the brand managers is actually a fellow UMass Amherst alum so I knew it was a good idea! According to their website, ENERGYbits are natural algae tabs that are designed to boost endurance, energy and enhance health. As a runner, I thought these bits could be a great way to fuel before a run, especially a long run, to keep me going until the final mile.

ENERGYbits are made of 100 percent organically grown spirulina algae. Now when we think algae we think of that nasty stuff that floats to the top of ponds and lakes during the summer, but it turns out that nasty stuff has some amazing health benefits. At just one calorie per tab, the spirulina in ENERGYbits has the highest concentration of protein in the world- three times the amount in steak. These tiny little bits also contain 40 vitamins and minerals, Omega-3s and 64 percent protein.

Nutritional information via ENERGYbits’ website.

I decided to try ENERGYbits before my long run two weeks ago to see if they really did help me with endurance and energy. I set out for a long and slow 8-mile loop through nearby neighborhoods. Before heading out I took the recommended dosage of 30 ENERGYbit tabs. You’re probably thinking, 30?? That’s an insane amount of tabs! But really it wasn’t that bad. The tabs are so tiny and easy to swallow, you won’t even notice there are so many. However, one word of caution- they do not smell good and they taste even worse. The people at ENERGYbits suggest you swallow the tabs with a liquid as opposed to chew them as they are an acquired taste. But who chews vitamins anyways? I took them with some juice and could barely taste them.

Once I was good to go for my run I set out the door with my Runmeter tracking my run and waited for the results. I didn’t notice a huge difference in my running but I felt very comfortable and energized, but not in that jacked-up caffeine-high kind of way. I just felt very awake, which was great considering it was 7 a.m. on a Saturday morning. The real dealbreaker was at the end of my run when I checked my Runmeter to see I ran 8 miles in 1:05. What. That was an 8:08 average pace. Insanity!?

I can’t say for sure ENERGYbits caused me to run like the wind but they must have done something right because I’ve never run a long run that fast in my life. Moral of the story? If you’re looking to boost energy and endurance in a natural way be sure to check out ENERGYbits. They worked for me and have worked for countless other endurance athletes, so they might work for you too!

There are also three other bits in the Boston-based company’s inventory: RECOVERYbits, VITALITYbits and SKINNYbits. They are also all made out of algae but serve different purposes. If you’re interested in trying them out use the code BLOG at the checkout to get 10 percent off your purchase!

You can also find ENERGYbits on Twitter @ENERGYbits and on Facebook. Have you tried ENERGYbits? If so, let me know what you thought about them in the comments section below!

DISCLAIMER: ENERGYbits sent me a complimentary sample to review. I did not receive compensation for the review and they were not guaranteed a positive review. All opinions are my own.

Week 14: Half-marathon training

Last week was a pretty amazing week for training for me. To start I ran four days in the week (haven’t done that since I hurt my knee!) and I placed FOURTH for my age group at a local 5K I raced on Saturday!

While I didn’t have a long run this week according to my plan, I was really happy to get out there four days during the week to run. Now I wish I could make it five but baby steps for now. Overall, I’m becoming much more comfortable with my form. It’s starting to feel less awkward and I no longer have to concentrate on it as much which is good. Don’t get me wrong, I still focus on lifting from the core, leaning from my ankles and “gun-slinging” my arms but it’s becoming more natural as opposed to something I have to always consciously think about.

I started off with an easy 2-mile run on Monday. I finished the run in 19:35 which wasn’t bad but I wish I could start getting a little faster. The weather was less than desirable and I definitely went out for my run way too soon after breakfast, causing cramping but overall it was a good run.

On Tuesday I just did a half an hour of yoga and then ab workouts including planks and other core exercises.

I had to run after work on Wednesday unfortunately because I much rather run in the morning. I did what was supposed to be an easy 4 mile run but ended up being a 3.5 mile run ending with my legs cramping up like you wouldn’t believe. It was only 80 degrees out but the humidity was at 80 percent. It was unbearable! I followed up this run with a ton of stretching and some yoga to help my muscles calm down.

Thursday was for cross-training and strengthening. I did some yoga and worked on strengthening my arms and legs, as well as ab work.

Friday I rested and just did yoga and abs. I had my race the next day so I wanted to make sure my legs were fresh.

Saturday was race day! I signed up for this race late but am so glad I did. I hadn’t raced in awhile but I thought this race would be a great opportunity to race before my half-marathon but more to meet other local runners. I tend to travel for running partners but I wish I had some local running friends to go on long runs with.

The race ended up being a lot hotter than I expected but overall it was really great. According to Cool Running, my finish time was 28:07 and I came in fourth for my age group which was female runners ages 20-29. I’ve never been high up in the rankings for a race in my life so this was a huge accomplishment! I went into this race thinking I wasn’t going to race hard, because I don’t want to risk getting injured before my half-marathon, and I really didn’t but now I’m wishing I had gone a little harder, maybe I could have placed higher!

Either way I’m proud of my accomplishment, even if I could’ve gotten a much faster time! Another great thing about racing locally is most of your family and friends can make it out to see you race. My parents came to the race on Saturday and lucky for me my Dad was there to take a pretty embarrassing post-race video of myself. I’m not ashamed and I’m not envious of the two 12-year-olds who beat me. Take a look:

Sunday I really wanted to work on controlling my form and my pace. With the new form I tend to run really fast, which, believe me is not a problem! But when I go out for my 10, 12, and 13 mile runs I tend to get out of breathe around mile 8 because I’m going at an 8:03 pace. So I took to the gym to try my new form out on the treadmill so I could manually control my pace. I did a quick 4.5 mile run at varying paces so I could feel the difference in each pace. I think it went pretty well and I’m hoping I’ll be able to try it out on my long run this weekend.

Overall I felt really great last week. I am hoping to have another good week this week and I honestly cannot wait for the half-marathon to be here! Eighteen days and counting!

What are you training for? How is it going? Share your training with me in the comment section below!

Monday Motivation: Dream big

I’m usually not the biggest fan of semi-cliche sayings like “Dream Big” but lately, it’s constantly running through my mind. As I look back to March, when I couldn’t even run a mile, and now I’m getting ready to run a half-marathon, I really can’t believe it. I also can’t believe how much running has literally changed my life. Things I never thought would happen for me are finally happening and I’m just so proud of how far I’ve come. I also am a believer in the fact that big dreams should be a little scary but if you have enough confidence in yourself, they aren’t impossible. So as the saying goes “Dream big” because as big as you can dream you can achieve greatness. Happy Monday and good luck with your training runs this week!

What are your big dreams for the week? Share them in the comments section!