Tag Archives: running and real food

10 Ways to Make Your Solo Runs Fun, Interesting, and Challenging!

“When you reach a dead end road, don’t despair. Instead, watch the sky, the swimming clouds, and the narrow paths that open up.  After this exploration, pick yourself up and elevate your soul and mind with jumping joy.” Carmen Micsa

 

Jumping with joy!

 

Let’s be honest: it is always more fun to run with friends, especially those long runs. Yet, many times we need to run on our own for various reasons, such as time constraints, pace desired, coming back from an injury, and so forth.  This Thursday, May 11th, I had a terrific solo 6-mile run in the high 8s and felt so great after not having run for more than a month due to my tendonitis. While running, I usually listen to some of my favorite podcasts, such as The Hidden Brain, Runner’s World, The Moth, The Nutrition Diva, and a few others. This time, I was ready for a selfie running video, as an idea came to my mind. I wanted to explore running and exercising alone and how we can make it fun and exciting.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ow3SAkci4DI

 

During my solo runs, I love to stop more often and capture the pretty views that unfold in front of me.

 

I took this picture at Ancil Hoffman Park on Good Friday before Easter. Only after I  looked at my picture, I saw the divine cross burning in the sky at sunset. I was thrilled with my discovery and took my time before getting back to my run.

 

Ever since I got into running, I felt that I needed to test my body and lungs on my own first. From that first day in 2015 when I ran down the street from my house for half a mile, or so, I have discovered different ways to enjoy my solo runs. It wasn’t always easy, since I am quite a social person and love company, but here are my 10 ways to make your runs solo more fun, interesting, and challenging.

  1. Turn your solo run into that much needed mediation in motion, which is why it is good to leave the headsets behind sometimes.
  2. Listen to interesting podcasts that you like, which feels like running together with an intelligent, fun,  and well-read friend.
  3. Make an appointment with yourself and write it on your calendar. You can write something like: “Running 6 miles tomorrow around Ancil Hoffman Park with my new podcasts to listen. ” By penciling the run on your calendar, you won’t dread going by yourself. It will almost feel that you are meeting someone and you have to stick to the schedule and be punctual.
  4. Combine workouts, such as speed workout with hill repeats, one of my favorite combinations. Another combo I like is tempo run on a hilly course.
  5. Wear a silly hat, or piece of costume around the holidays (Christmas, Halloween) and enjoy the smiles you get from other runners and walkers, as well as from the drivers passing by you.
Wearing my Santa hat and my Christmas top.

 

6.  Find a new running route and create as many different routes around your neighborhood to have choices and be excited to get out the door and start running.

7.  Solve whatever problems you are having during your solo runs and you will be amazed at your creativity and ease of finding the right answers and solutions.

8. Stop to talk to other runners and make friends, or even run together just like I did in Las Vegas when I met two wonderful guys from Canada. We ran down the strip up to Mandalay Bay Casino and Resort and it was wonderful to chat with them and run together. We have stayed friends and are connected on Strava.

 

Picture in front of Paris, Paris with my new running friends. They were kind, fun, and interesting to run with! They had the right pace, too! Runners are the nicest people!

 

9.  Allow yourself to be poetic  and philosophical when running in beautiful places. I love writing little poems in my head, coming up with my own quotes, which makes my run quite exciting and interesting.

10. Give yourself a weekly challenge, such as taking a beautiful pic of wild flowers, animals, taking a selfie jumping picture, etc. You can do the same challenge a few times that week and that will give you even more purpose and something to look forward to besides your tempo run, speed workout, or easy run that day.

 

Besides making your solo runs more interesting as I mentioned above, there are also three gifts that come from running alone:

 

In other words, running alone should be practiced weekly  for all the reasons above-mentioned and many more that you might have yourself, as well as to become mentally stronger for your races when you are mostly likely to run by yourself surrounded by the other runners.

 

  1. Running alone is the gift of solitude and peace that your soul needs on a weekly basis to recharge itself.
  2. Running alone is also the gift of gratitude, as it will teach you to be more humble and grateful for that great running friend and partner who helps you pick up your pace and lifts up your spirits the days you do run together.
  3. Running alone is the gift of good health and extended life, as it will offer you so many physical, mental, and spiritual benefits.

And to find out how running with others will make you a stronger and happier runner, stay tuned for my next blog.

For more info on running and real estate, whether buying or selling, please e-mail me at carmenmicsa@yahoo.com, or call me at 916-342-2446. Running for real estate with joy!

 

How to Lose Weight, Have More Energy, and Run Faster on Real Vegan Food!

Sports, Nutrition, and Energy

 

I loved sports since childhood and have been blessed with tremendous energy to keep going for hours, doing gymnastics, playing soccer, tennis, handball, basketball, and running, which has become my greatest passion next to tennis. Having been so fortunate to have all this energy, I never thought that I could increase my energy levels even more by becoming vegan, but once that happened, I was amazed. I also felt that I fully earned my nickname the “energizer bunny” that a lot of my friends bestowed upon me.  However, the main difference in my stamina came in 2012 when I decided to become pesco-vegan http://www.livestrong.com/article/98689-pescovegetarian-diet/ after watching Tamra, one of my tennis friends who is vegan eat after our tennis matches. She was my inspiration! One day after our singles match, I told her I was ready to become vegan, so she gave me many good pointers. I thus made the switch right away and turned fully vegan for the first month, after which I added the seafood to my diet.

The pesco-vegan diet

 

It follows the vegan diet, meaning no dairy products, no meat, no eggs, but adds seafood and wild fish, which are good sources of Omega-3s and are great for brain function.  In less than a month, after I changed my diet, my energy level doubled and I felt twenty years younger. I also lost weight, even though I was never big, but the belly fat after giving birth to our sweet children would not go away until I changed my diet and dropped from size 8 to size 4 in just two months.

As a pesco-vegan, I used to enjoy wild-caught salmon with a variety of side dishes. Always buy wild-caught fish if you decide to eat fish.
Salmon and sweet potatoes

 

The Fully Vegan Diet

 

In December 2016, while taking a Pilates class at California Family Fitness with Linda, a vegan for more than 27 years, I decided to become fully vegan and not eat any more seafood. Last year, I had a phenomenal year in running winning seven races in my age group and setting 16 PRs (personal records) out of the 18  road and trail races that I ran,  and I never ran low on fuel or energy. I also got accepted into the Sacramento Fleet Feet Racing Team, so fueling my body properly is super important. I have fun making big pots of lentil soup, vegan burgers, salads, pizza using the fresh herbs dough from Trader Joe’s, and pasta.

Pasta with mushrooms and zucchini.

 

Lentil and mixed whole grains- Yummy!
Carbs are great for runners and all other athletes!
Salads are great and so easy to make! You can top them with beans for extra protein, tofu, Quinoa, and seeds. Delicious and so healthy!

While all this sounds good, you might wonder why you should accept my story. How about other runners or athletes? Do they share a similar story with mine? Pretty much so!

Interview with Josh Fernandez, writer, English Professor at Folsom Lake College, vegan marathon and ultra runner who is on the Sacramento Fleet Feet Racing team

Josh will run Boston this year, 2017!

What made you decide to become vegan?

“At first, it was my friend Toni Okamoto, who runs a website called Plant Based on a Budget http://plantbasedonabudget.com/.  One night, I was at dinner and I called her and asked her about being a vegan. That night, she convinced me that I could easily go from being a vegetarian to vegan. Eventually, we started running together and we ran the Running With the Bears marathon where I met one of her friends, a guy named Dave Wiskowski. He was really cool an ended up running a lot of the race with me. He is an ultrarunner and a vegan. Actually, at the time, he was a fruitarian. An ultrarunner who only eats fruit! I love weird stuff like that.  Anyway, he’s a really amazing guy. A true inspiration. Together, they convinced me that cruelty-free eating is the only way for me.”

 How did changing your diet affect your running?

“I became a vegan several months before the California International Marathon in 2015. I thought to myself, “Well, this will either help me or kill me.” I started eating a lot of avocados, veggies, and pasta. I could feel a difference in my body right away. I felt leaner. I had more energy. I started training with very little fatigue. I got this feeling that I could run forever. Maybe some of it was a placebo effect, but it didn’t matter. I felt strong. That year I knocked almost 20 minutes off my marathon PR and qualified for the Boston Marathon.” 

 Was your experience as a vegan only positive?

“Yes. I used to get tired every day at around 3 p.m., like this really low energy, sluggish feeling, especially if I was at work. At 3 p.m., I would literally rest my head on my desk and struggle to get up. Then I’d pound a coffee, which would keep me up all night. I don’t get that tired feeling anymore and I attribute that all to being vegan. Dairy, especially cheese and lard, weighs me down quite a bit. Cutting that stuff out produces really beneficial and exciting results if you’re an athlete.”  

 What is your favorite source of protein after a long run? 

“I love avocados. I really like to eat a big fat sandwich with avocados, spinach, bell peppers, cucumbers, and hummus. I wash it down with a smoothie made with kale, celery, ginger, apple, garlic and a scoop of Vega protein powder. I think when you’re vegan for a while, your taste buds morph, so even sort of gross food (like garlic in a smoothie) is somehow incredibly appetizing. That’s what my wife says, at least. “

 Any pros and cons of the vegan diet?

“The only con is when people invite you over to dinner, you have to engage in the awkward conversation where you let them know they’re either going to have to make a vegan meal, or you’ll just “bring something from home,” which never happens. But luckily, when you’re vegan, nobody really invites you to dinner, anyway.” 

Any specific advice for runners or anyone else looking to change their diet and become fully vegans?

 “My friend Toni suggested (since I really loved cheese, like in a sick way, enough that I would sometimes eat a block of medium cheddar for lunch) that I should become a vegan in phases–first you get rid of  milk, then eggs, then cheese, etc. So that’s what I did and it really worked. I don’t miss cheese anymore. When I’m craving pizza, Amy’s makes a really good frozen cheese-less pizza that hits the spot, since I don’t like the taste of imitation cheese. You’d think with all the technological advances in the world someone would engineer a cheese that doesn’t taste like toe fungus, but I guess that’s not really a priority. Anyway, I think everyone loves animals, so I would suggest that everybody go vegan. Don’t make me bust out pictures of what happens at factory farms.” 

 Why vegan vs. vegetarian?

“For me, it comes down to two things: health and compassion. I feel my healthiest when I’m not weighed down by meat and dairy. I also feel the most connected to the world when I’m not causing pain to other animals.” 

Now that you have two opinions on turning vegan, I urge you to find out what works for you as far as your diet, consult a nutritionist, read more about the vegetarian and the vegan diets, and embrace the change.  I wish you a healthier, speedier, and more amazing 2017. You can do it!

For more info on running and real estate, whether buying or selling, please e-mail me at carmenmicsa@yahoo.com, or call me at 916-342-2446. Running for real estate with joy!