“Don’t Dream it. Be it.”

Dr. Frank-N-Furter.

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I’ve been dreaming. Mostly I’m running. I dreamed I fell into the ocean off of Highway One while racing in Big Sur. I also dreamed that I completed the miraculous transition from Bakasana (Crow Pose) to Chaturanga, over and over and over.

The following morning, when Roy took requests at his 7:30am All Levels class, I asked for crow. And lo and behold, you know what happened? I floated from bakasana to chaturanga. And then I went home and did it again.

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Kathryn Budig says:

This is a transition that can be extremely mental for most of us. We get stuck in our heads or tell ourselves that we can’t do it. So, the first step is to tell yourself you can.

I admit, on first read this ”power of positive thinking” stuff can sound, to my ears, corny at best and pseudo-scientific at worst. But how can you possibly disassociate the body from the mind? I think about the times when I’m struggling to hold a challenging yoga pose, or in the last tough push of a race, and what forcing a big smile can do for a bit of pain relief. This New York Times article from February describes how Olympians use imagery as part of training.

So I’m trying to carry through the experience of dreaming (ie – visualization and mental preparation) in the lead up to Sunday’s marathon in Big Sur. Not only to rehearse my plan and calm my nerves, but also to perform optimally. So I’ve been reading this great course description from the Clif Bar Pace Team blog, and trying to internalize the terrain, scenery, and recommended strategies. I’m beginning to meditate on how I’ll feel, what I’ll do, and ways I’ll focus.

I’m becoming a little obsessive about everything but I suppose it’s natural at this stage in the game. While the nerves are prevalent, the excitement is also kicking in. I’m reminding myself to focus, relax, and enjoy the build up. It’ll be over before I know it.

“Instead of telling the world what you’re eating for breakfast, you can use social networking to do something that’s meaningful.”

Edward Norton. Sorry dude.

Nutrition is hard y’all. Among my weaknesses are cookies, cheese, french baguettes, beer and bourbon (and gin and wine). And I think that I love pizza only slightly less than I love my own flesh and blood, Darwin.

Lighten up, Darwin — I’m just kidding!

Lighten up, Darwin — I’m just kidding!

But one of the things I’ve got going for me is that I like to eat a healthy breakfast just about every day. Er, minus the Himalayan-sized amount of french toast I was served at brunch this weekend.

Really, this was an obscene anomaly.

Really, this was an obscene anomaly.

Normally I have 4 rotating breakfast options and I wake up actually looking forward to making and eating them. Like many folks I was a breakfast refuser for so long, but since getting into the habit a few years back I find it’s not only the full belly that I enjoy, but also the ritual of just sitting down in the morning at the table and spacing out a bit before the day starts.

Breakfast Taco

Sonoma-Organic-Wraps

These corn tortillas by La Tortilla Factory are worth waking up for. Add a scrambled egg, avocado, salsa, and a generous shake of Burn Baby Burn hot sauce (aka the best hot sauce ever), fold it up and munch away.

Date Shake

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I’m koo-koo crazy for dates lately, and I’m happy to have found this simple and flexible recipe from Food Doodles. This is a great basic shake with 3 ingredients — dates, almond milk, and banana — making it easy and fun to add creative extras like ground flax, chia seeds, greens, almond or vanilla extract…

Kefir, cereal, and fruits

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Probiotics! I make my own kefir, which I find has a more pleasing texture than the store-bought stuff.

On long run days I make a loaded oatmeal with peanut butter, chia and flax seeds, banana, and currants.

Toasted Ezekiel Bread Topped w/ Good Goodness.
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Almost always an avocado and hummus, and sometimes a fried or boiled egg or leftovers (like the greens above).

Do you have a breakfast repertoire or do you wing it?

“I have a lot of fun doing this but I don’t necessarily think that it’s good for you.”

Josh Spector. Ultrarunner.

“The benefits of running decrease after a certain amount of time…I do it because I love it…”

Talking about exercise with a friend last week, he warned: “Don’t make me run and don’t make me do crossfit.”

I don’t know much about crossfit, but I wouldn’t be recommending it to anybody based on what I do know. At the same time, while you’d expect that my enthusiasm might make me an evangelist, I don’t recommend running either.

There’s no shortage of conflicting evidence concerning the benefits and dangers of running, but recent research suggests that those running more than 20 miles per week (or frequently run faster 8 min/mile) may have shorter life spans.

In other words, when “increasing mileage and pace, the benefits of running seem to disappear,” cardiologist Martin Matsumara told The Huffington Post over the phone this week.

Interestingly, this closely echoes some of Josh’s musings during his 135 miles in the above video and the quotes I’ve referenced. But:

Matsumara says that people should absolutely not stop running. “Runners in general enjoy longer and better health,” he said.

You can see in that little documentary that while Josh is clearly under physical and mental distress, these kinds of experiences are not only enjoyable, they practically define him. He describes running as an integral, non-negotiable part of his existence. The majority of us are less fanatical of course, but I think that many runners understand the kernel of this passion.

I’m learning that overall fitness is a holistic effort that is largely personal. For me this means strength training for the body, yoga for the mind, and running for the soul.

At the end of the day, it’s what works for your body, mind, and soul.

“The waiting is the hardest part.”

Tom Petty.

Another running post, naturally, as I near the big day: April 27 and the Big Sur International Marathon. This will be my second crack at the 26.2 distance. So what’s cooking for April? Well, of course there is a chunk of running involved, but I’m also trying hard to focus on some of the peripheral but crucial components of training:

1. Nutrition

breakfast toast egg kale avocado

breakfast must include tabasco sauce.

Balanced Eating. What a nice thought. This is by far the most difficult ambition, as I’m prone to intense bouts of marathon munchies and cookie cravings and lust for pizza.

I’ve approached this this from so many angles. Eat a bigger breakfast/eat a smaller breakfast. Several small meals/3 square and no snacking. Count calories/eat intuitively. The fact is that healthy eating requires a kind of extra discipline that simply put is just not fun. But keeping a true pencil-and-paper food diary seems to be most reliable for me, along with some periodic myfitnesspal calculations to make sure that my macros are in check. 

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healthy days but sadly devoid of pizza.

2. #yogaeverydamnday

Consistent practice has been so beneficial in this training cycle. As a result of yoga and weight-lifting I’m stronger, faster, and more focused than ever before. My fitness regimen feels wonderfully holistic — intensive endeavors like running and regular vinayasa classes balanced with casual activities like commuting by bike and taking extra long, hilly walks with Darwin.

But even so, I’m sadly not very religious about an old-fashioned post-run stretch. With increasing weekend mileage, followed by eight-plus hours sitting on my ass at work, even just 15 minutes of daily yoga does wonders to keep things loosey-goosey. I love yogaglo.com for making it super easy to find a sequence that suits my needs — from an invigorating morning practice to a simple hamstring/hip stretch before bed.

3. Soak

I firmly believe that a classic warm bath will cure most common ailments. Including and especially sore legs. Epsom salts + essential oils = boom. That said…

4. More Ice

ice bag coconut water

they love me at the local corner store.

A hot, bubbly soak is delicious, but there are days when a bathtub full of ice is the responsible choice. I pretty much have this down to a science. Base layer, sweatshirt, down vest, fleece beanie, bikini bottoms, hot tea, and an ipad — but I still need a pair of these:

booties surfing

feet freeze sucks.

Finally…

5. Massage

A double-edge sword.

Christine at Deep Massage = good ($10 off for marathoners and triathletes this month!)

Foam roller = bad

pure terror.

I can’t believe it’s almost time to taper, but I guess that’s what happens when you begin training a month late. I’m getting squirrely already. Will my minimalist approach to be enough to keep me smiling to Carmel?

Apart from submitting to the will of your prescribed mileage, what do you do to prepare in the weeks before a big race? Any thoughts would be appreciated!