Tag Archives: Training like an Elite runner

What the Beets? Why Every Athlete Should Make Beets Part of Their Weekly Menu

When it comes to endurance events, such a running a marathon, biking a century ride, doing an Ironman, and so on, most athletes reach out to energy drinks and caffeine before the start of their events. But what if we can replace the above-mentioned with beet juice instead and boost athletic performance even more?




Photo Credit: Jaclyn Schmidt

My picture during Urban Cow Half marathon on Oct. 1, 2017, where I had a big PR, finishing in 1:43:56 with a 7:56 pace. I felt amazing during the whole time and the Super Beets powder that I mixed in my water and drank it before the race sure kept me steady and strong.


A study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology in 2009 found that individuals who drank beet juice experienced up to a 16% increase in endurance compared to those who did not. Also according to Jacqueline Ritz, founder of the Paleo Mama blog, beets fight cancer, lower the risk of heart disease, lower blood pressure, increase endurance in athletes, and they are also an aphrodisiac. Being a high nitrate vegetable, beetroot, the red bulbous part, has become the super food for runners, cyclists, and other athletes. What if you don’t like beets and don’t wish to eat it, but still want to reap some benefits in increasing your endurance? There are many products on the market, such as this powder I buy from Wholefoods.


I have used this before races and my running felt effortless. I just mix a scoop with water and take it about an hour before the race, or a long run. Love it!


How high nitrate foods enhance our performance:


Another thing you can do to benefit from high nitrate vegetables is to eat more spinach, arugula, radishes, celery, lettuce, parsley, and rhubarb. Talking about nitrates, Amby Burfoot, the author of In Beet Juice We Believe published in the Runner’s World, explains how our body processes beets and turns them into a superfood. Burfoot points out that beets get their endurance power from helpful mouth bacteria that convert the nitrate in beets to nitric oxide, which appears to be the miracle substance. Nitric oxide can substantially lower blood pressure and somehow extend endurance. I guess we runners should not need too much more convincing regarding beets, which are good sources of folate, manganese, potassium, vitamin C, and dietary fiber, since we all try to avoid the famous “wall,” when our body rebels and starts hurting.


Ways to eat your beets:


  1. My favorite one is borscht.



Best borscht I have ever had made by my awesome friend and best training partner Andrea Brizendine. She added quinoa,  carrots, potatoes, and onions to it. I gobbled it up with whole grain bread and hummus. Delicious! It also makes me run longer and stronger! Isn’t this what we runners want?


To try this recipe and cook the same vegan borscht that my friend Andrea shared with me, please go to https://natashaskitchen.com/2013/05/18/easy-superfood-red-borsch/

So easy to make and so healthy! For a quick glance at the ingredients needed to make this,  see below.


Ingredients for Superfood Red Borsch – vegan style:


12 cups reduced sodium veggie broth
1 medium or 1/2 large onion, peeled and cut in half (ends removed)
3 medium potatoes, sliced
1/4 cup quinoa
3 medium beets, peeled and grated
2 good handfuls of chopped kale leaves
2 bay leaves
3/4 cup sliced carrots
1 Tbsp Mrs. Dash
3 Tbsp ketchup
1/2 Tbsp lemon juice
Salt & pepper to taste


2. Roasted beets, which I cut up, drizzle with olive oil, wrap them in aluminum foil, and roast them in the oven till they are tender.


3. Beet salad, which I used to eat as a child and liked its sweet taste. To make this salad, I cut up the beets and boil them till they are soft and tender. After they cool off, I remove the skin and grate them. I mix them up with a little salt and pepper and drizzle red wine vinegar on top. I keep the beet salad in a glass container in the fridge and eat it with roasted potatoes and other meals that go well together with this salad.


Credit recipe goes to my friend Cristina Nagy.


How about you? How do you like to eat your beets? Any special recipes you would like to share? No matter how you choose to eat, or drink them, one good thing could happen: you will BEAT your race PR with the mighty BEET!


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!



10 Pros and Cons of a 101-mile week in the life of a regular runner!

Monday Run and the idea of running 100 miles

I started the week with a 14-mile run on July 18th so that I would get the long run out of the way. The morning was crisp and cool. The American River Parkway teemed with trotting, walking, jogging, running, and pedaling. I had a pretty good pace, but I made too many stops taking in nature, the animals, the river, and foraging for blackberries as the perfect energy snack.

Eating blackberries on one of my stops
Eating blackberries on one of my stops
I stopped first to catch my breath and then I saw the deer. Perfect stop!
I stopped first to catch my breath, and then I saw the deer. Perfect stop!

Around mile 10, an idea came into my head. I’m sure you all have experienced increased creativity on your runs and all kind of ideas buzzing around. I wondered if I should take advantage of this week with light work and decent weather conditions and try to run 100 miles and train like the elite runners  (I am pretty far off from them, but can try to imitate their good habits once in a while). It was possible if I could get a second run in that evening. I could already tell that elation got stuck to my running shoes like a waddle of chewing gum.

That evening, I went on a 6-mile trail run at my favorite park Ancil Hoffman.  After running a tough 14 miler that morning, I doubted I could do another decent 6-mile run, but I did it. I even came up with my own quote about doubting and pushing ourselves for more: “When you doubt you can do something, just do it anyway. You’ll be glad you did.”

Tuesday Run

I woke up at 6:30 to get in a 5-mile run before my doubles tennis match. I ran again around Ancil Hoffman Park and wondered how I needed to juggle the miles to get to 100 by Sunday. I also wondered if I should do it or not, but an inner voice told me to just stick to the plan and see what happens. After tennis, I managed to run another six miles and was surprised that my body responded well to this. My mind was calm and focused, and my Marathon Training Academy podcasts kept me great company.

Wednesday Run

I woke up excited and terrified of the 15-mile run ahead of me that I did on the bike trail from William B Pond past Sunrise Bridge and back. I even met one of my tennis friends on the trail. She biked right past me and said “Hi” to me surprised to see me huffing and puffing on the trail. My pace was good, but I felt the need to take a few picture and rest stops. See what I did here? I said picture stops, as if the pictures were more important than my rest stops. Who am I kidding?


Running on the 23-mile long American River Parkway, one of the largest trails in the country
Running on the 23-mile long American River Parkway, one of the largest trails in the country


On my way back to W.B. Pond, my starting point, I stopped to drink water and take a small break. A cyclist was also filling up his water bottle and we started to talk. I told him that I was running 15 miles that day and that I was going to run 100 miles that week.

“Wow!” he said and tilted his bike helmet back. “I don’t bike 100  miles a week,” he continued.

His comment boosted my ego- ha!ha! I started my run again determined to finish as fast as I could, as the sun burned through my tech shirt and made me a little sluggish. When I got back to the car, I felt totally depleted. I was super glad my run was over and headed home, where I fixed myself a salad topped with black beans and yummy corn meal pizza with mushrooms and olives. I sure needed my proteins and carbs for muscle recovery!

Gobbling down a whole pizza after my long and hot run!
Gobbling down a whole pizza after my long and hot run!

I could tell it was mid week, as my body was revolting at me, so around 2 p.m., I told the kids that I would take a short 45-minute nap. I fell asleep in less time than it took me to feel me sore legs. Head spinning at the next days’ high mileage still coming.

In the evening, I went to bed early. I knew I had to get 12 miles in the next day and that I was on the right path to accomplish my 100-mile week crazy running goal.

Thursday Run- shorter and sweeter trail run

I decided that a 12-mile trail run around Ancil Hoffman Park, or what I call my slice of Paradise, was just perfect. I was surprised that my pace was strong, even though my glut muscles signaled left and right that I was abusing them, but I wasn’t in the mood to cut them any slack. My run was buoyed by two people on the trail who told me that I ran fast and that I had a strong pace. Their kind remarks came at the perfect time and made me run faster. 

Nature at its best, including one coyote, many deer, and my foam roller for after the run
Nature at its best, including one coyote, many deer, and my foam roller for after the run

I had to run three loops to hit my 12-mile goal and that felt long, so I decided to stop and take a video of my 100-mile journey.

CarmenRunning_100 milesvideo

At the end of my run, I felt good and ready for my last three days of long running.

Friday wisdom thoughts

I decided to run another 12 miles today, which got me to 70 miles for the week. That meant I had to run 15 miles on Saturday and another 15 on Sunday, but I planned to continue doing trail runs, since they were a little gentler on my body, even though I had some hills to conquer.

I learned this week that training on softer and various surfaces allowed me to complete my crazy running adventure and this article from Runner’s World analyzes each surface and why we become stronger runners by mixing up road running with trail, sand, grass, and water.


Today’s run felt longer for some reason. I ran the same 12-mile loop at Ancil Hoffman Park and I stopped a few times. My favorite stop was sitting on the bench by the river with Richard, a gentleman in his 80s, whom I had met before. He recognized me and we started to chat right away. We talked about his walking, my running, and life. His blue eyes spoke in glitters of hope making up for his lack of body gestures. His much younger looking face shone mischievously and matched the sun peeking through tree branches. His hand held the cane loosely and gently, as if holding a delicate rose. His voice calm and soothing as the river made me listen to his wise words about getting older.

“When you are older, you are happier,” he said. “You live with joy and learn to accept a less stronger body and mind.”

His contentment and vibrancy filled me with renewed optimism for the future. His weekly walks and sitting on the same bench in front of the river turned into spiritual symbols that pointed to one direction: gratitude and happiness for the simple joys of life. That bench. This conversation. This closeness to nature and to the heart of matters. This inner peace that radiated out of his much younger heart than his actual age. The older age vibrancy that we should all strive to achieve as a result of a life well-lived, treasured, and cherished. I wanted to just stay there  and talk to him, but instead, I got up, said my good-bye, and bolted back on the trail.

My enchanted trail winding through Paradise
My enchanted trail winding through Paradise

On my third 3-mile loop,  I stopped at the end of the trail and met a wonderful lady who is a nurse. She told me about the project in Kenya helping women with their birth, as only one in 18 babies, make it alive, which made me grateful for having two wonderful children, a great husband, and two strong legs to carry me on these amazing runs.

Saturday beautiful Folsom Lake run

By the end of the week, I was  mentally and physically exhausted. I tried to connect with my friend Holly and my Trail Mix runner friends to run together, but our schedules did not work out. I ran by myself from Cavitt school on the Granite Bay trails twice to make my 15 miles goal. I loved seeing the lake and the beach below. I almost wanted to jump in and then continue my run, but I already had a few small blisters, so I kept on running with a few stops.

So many trails leading to wondrous places
So many trails leading to wondrous places
Folsom Lake
Folsom Lake

After my run, as I was driving home, I received a phone call from Family Fitness offering me three discounted training sessions. I thought to myself: “Whether I am on a runner’s high or not, the universe is sending me a message that I need to get my body stronger,” so I took the offer. Change is never easy, but you have to be willing to put the work into it and become a new YOU. Below I included a short video of my workout the week after all my long runs.


Sunday last long run- Celebration time and bragging rights

For my last run, I decided to do the Ancil Hoffman loops again. This time, I had to run four loops. They felt so long! The trails embraced me, but I was not going to embrace them back. I wanted to keep stopping, but I also knew that I would make it!

Last day of running with deer and the beauty of human nature
Last day of running with deer and the beauty of human nature

I even ended up with 101.9 miles for good measure. The realization that I had run a little over 100 miles that week swept me off me feet. It made me marvel at the strength and resilience of our human spirit. It also made me acquiesce that our bodies and minds were meant to work as a team and not against each other, as it happened to me a few times when I got tired.

I enjoyed the toughness of my running week and I would love to offer a few pros and cons about trying this as a regular runner, or as a mortal, as many elite runners seem immortal.

  1. Stamina
  2. Endurance
  3. Perseverance
  4. Learning to run on tired legs
  5. Increased mental strength
  6. Increased body strength, unless you get hurt
  7. Increased focus and concentration
  8. Long meditations in motion
  9. Meeting and talking to wonderful people during your runs
  10. The feeling that you are SUPERHUMAN after running 100 miles in one week, which not many mortal runners attempt to do, or ever do it.
  1. Increased risk of injury
  2. Physical burnout
  3. Mental exhaustion
  4. Fatigue
  5. Not eating enough to fuel those long runs
  6. Increased risk of becoming dehydrated
  7. Muscle soreness that slows down your pace
  8. Fear of running
  9. Lack of desire to run the next day
  10. Feeling DEFEATED.

My whole high mileage experiment brought me an increased respect towards the rigorous training of elite runners. I don’t think I want to do this again. Yet, it felt great when many of my runner friends called me an animal and a beast on Facebook after I posted about my crazy running week and thought deeper why I chose to do this and came up with 10 reasons, although there are so many more.

10 Reasons to run 100 miles a week for the first time as a runner:

  1. As a lesson in humility.
  2. To dispel any fears and doubts.
  3. To be an elite runner for a week.
  4. To fortify the body and the mind.
  5. To prove “you’ve got this!”
  6. To enjoy separate workouts and experiences by running twice a day.
  7. To experience bewilderment at your strong selves.
  8. To train your body to run when tired.
  9. To challenge your mind.
  10. To inspire others to go the extra mile in running and life.

Remember, when in doubt, do it anyway! Stretch your wings in life and running! You will be surprised how much you will learn about yourself and others. CHEERS!

BIGGEST LESSON LEARNED: When doing long runs every day and having a 100-mile week, you are going for quantity over quality. Therefore, doing three or four great quality runs a week will be better in the long run for your body, mind, and spirit.

My long running week - Oh, my!
My long running week – Oh, my!


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!