Lessons learned from my first half-marathon

I’ve been planning to run a half-marathon since 2015, but sometimes life and injuries and stupidity comes in the way. And because life comes unexpectedly in the way, it makes it more of an achievement. This spring I had all the luck and dedication to make it work. Here’s what I learned.

On training

Most of the people I met hadn’t had any training at all and were hoping to finish. This made no sense to me. If I run a race, I don’t do it just to cross the finish line. I do it for the training. I do it for the motivation. I like to have a goal and work towards that goal.

On discipline

I found a 10-week plan online and tried to follow it. Midway through my training, I was running more often on the treadmill than outside, because Norwegian winter can be tough, but I was still running all my long runs outside. Outdoor runs were hard. I wore spikes for the ice and multiple layers of clothing and was still cold sometimes. It wasn’t satisfying. Indoor runs were boring and I was replacing most of the easy runs with interval training. Looking back that was my biggest mistake, because intervals make you tired. And as time came closer to the race, I became exhausted, both mentally and physically. Had I followed what my plan said, I wouldn’t have gone through that level of exhaustion. Lesson learned.

On nutrition

I was thinking that I could lose some weight (not that I have much to lose) during my training, but I was so wrong. I had to eat enough to fuel all that intense training and in the end I ended up gaining a bit of weight. It’s not smart to try to lose weight, while training for a race. Eating enough nutritious food is important.

On race day

Race day is a new day. When race day came, I knew I had to let go of whatever happened during the training. I could forget all the hard runs and focus on my plan for the day. It would be stupid to think of all the things that could hold me back.

On my body

Both my body and my mind coped very well with the distance. I had minimal pain while running, my mood was great and I didn’t feel tired at all when I crossed the finish line at 2 hours and 12 minutes. Talking about it later on, I found out I could have run faster, but being a first-timer I was too scared to go full on. I don’t mind a bit though.

On the next day

Or actually what happens next. I didn’t want to continue training that hard, but I still wanted to run another half-marathon in the future. I did a bit of research, gave myself two weeks of minimal running, enough time from my brain to miss running, and ended up with a more personalized plan. For now, I’ll let my body get used to the kilometres. I won’t do any speed work, but rather focus on building base, many slow kilometres every week.

Do you plan to run any race anytime soon? I’m already thinking of the next half…

ps. Photos from my trip to Athens, where I run my first half-marathon on March 19th.

10 things that make me happy: 03│2017

The past weekend I went skiing in Åre with my colleagues and came back with many new experiences and a big purplish blue bruise on my thigh. In other news, March went by so fast. It was an athletic month. I run my first half-marathon in Greece, something I’d been working on throughout winter. (By the way, running a half-marathon was way easier that alpine skiing.) It took me 2 hours and 12.5 minutes, which was faster than what I was expecting. Since then, I’ve been enjoying running much more than when I was training, but I’ll talk about that on another training-related post.

While I was in Greece, I celebrated my brother’s birthday and visited Stavros Niarchos park in Athens. The weather was lovely and I had the best time. On my way back to Trondheim, we had the last winter days and then spring (or the Norwegian definition of spring) came. And now, it’s almost easter. Here’s what made me happy this past month.

– When I come across dog owners who look like their dogs

Another episode of Criminal (!!!)

– Take the chair ski lift

– Go on a weekend ski trip in Sweden

 – Finish my first half-marathon

– Run for fun, not for training

– When someone I like is happy

– A cup of coffee in the morning, preferably in bed

– That Jo Nesbø published a new Harry Hole novel

– Feel productive

ps. Photos from the weekend in Åre.

A park in Athens

Last week, I did a quick trip to Athens to run the half-marathon, see the sun and enjoy the warmer temperatures. On Monday, I drove all the way to Piraeus to visit the Stavros Niarchos park. I’d heard so many good things about it, I just had to see it for myself. I wasn’t disappointed. I arrived there a bit before sunset. The views were stunning both towards the city and towards the sea. The building itself will house the national library and the national opera. But if you’re more into the park, then you may want to rent a bike. I’ll be definitely back soon. But for now, enjoy some photos from my visit.

Why I’ll never become vegan

Or be in any restrictive diet for no medical reason.*

Veganism has become a big trend. I realized how big it is when, few days ago, I found vegan burgers and minced vegan meat (wtf?) at my local supermarket in Norway (which carries a very small variety of products anyway). More and more vegan and vegetarian restaurants pop up in Athens. I have nothing against vegans or vegetarians and I enjoy a good vegetarian dish every other day, because you don’t necessarily need animal products to have a delicious filling meal. However, I don’t see myself committing on a vegan lifestyle anytime soon. Here’s why.

Note: If you get offended easily, please skip this. These are my personal opinions on why I won’t follow a popular lifestyle. If you do choose to be vegan or vegetarian or anything really, good for you.

Because I don’t think I can become vegan and still have a balanced diet. Veganism can be healthy and beneficial for the body and the health. However, I have a healthy balanced diet that includes animal products and doesn’t include an abundance of processed food and sugar. Changing that would require a trial and error period that I’m not going to put myself into. It would also require much more effort from my part to sustain a healthy lifestyle getting all the nutrients I need in such a restrictive diet. I’m just not into it. I like to be able to eat everything. I like moderation, not restriction.*

Because vegan doesn’t mean natural. Vegans nowadays have access to the same processed food options as omnivores. Vegan cheese, vegan bacon (?!), vegan butter and vegan meat don’t sound that healthy or natural. What about normal vegetables, grains, beans, fruits? You don’t need vegan cheese.

Because I like the taste of meat and fish and eggs. And cheese (even though I am lactose intolerant). I don’t eat a ton of meat every day. I don’t even eat meat every day. But sometimes I do and I like it.

Because I come from a country whose traditional diet includes animal products. In Greece, people traditionally eat meat in moderation and our diet is supposed to be one of the best ones. We also have plenty of vegan recipes, because we’re not supposed to eat meat or fish every day. Moderation is key.

Because a vegan lifestyle is not better. For me or for the planet. I follow a very healthy lifestyle. I try to eat whatever is in season, source my food locally if possible and waste as little as possible. Vegan is not necessarily better, if you eat out of season vegetables or buy food that comes from far away.

Because I believe that eating a variety of foods (both animal products and not) will provide me with a variety of different nutrients. By definition veganism reduces the variety of foods one can eat.  In my mind, it is very straightforward. Eating a bigger variety of foods will result in getting a bigger variety of nutrients. No?

How do you feel about veganism?

* I cut down on refined sugar few years ago, but I still eat chocolate (that contains sugar) every so often. So, moderation.

10 things that make me happy: 02│2017

February was a month with a lot of stress and many sleepless nights. On top of that, half-marathon training exhausts me week in, week out. I’m having days with 10K interval runs and days with extra long runs in snowstorms wearing spikes. On top of that, I think all of this may be more tiring on my mind rather than my body. Maybe if I wasn’t doing it in the middle of winter, I’d enjoy it way more. Should I quit two weeks before the race?

On the highlights of the past month, I bought a new camera lens which makes me so excited to use my camera again, I found a new podcast that I listen to on the way to work, when I cook, when I get ready in the morning, everywhere really, and I dressed up as a deer in a recent Carnival party. Here’s a more extended list with links and the rest.

Read more and more books from my bookcase

A new camera lens (it’s an addiction!)

– Try a fresh food delivery service (the Norwegian version of Blue Apron)

Rebecca Louise

Criminal

– The cappuccino machine and the fruit basket at work

– An empty trash can

– Good hair days

– The sound of bubbly beverages

– When I look outside my window and it’s snowing

I’m hopeful for more sunny days and clear night skies filled with northern lights (like the ones we had last night), I’m hopeful for spring and I’m hopeful for happiness (that comes from within). Happy March!

ps. Here’s my training plan by the way. I’m already at week 8 and thankfully past that 19km run (I do my long runs on Wednesdays). Is it too much?

Jamie’s avocado on toast: part 2

I’ve through a complete uninspired phase with my breakfasts lately. Half-marathon training makes me really hungry, especially in the morning, and while I was never eating toasts for breakfast, now I’m all over them. Today I’m going to share two more of my favorite avocado toasts (still cooking through Jamie’s 15 minute meals).

Avocado and egg

I can eat an egg on top of everything. Fried potatoes? Yes. Burger? Yes. Steak? Yes. So, of course I likes this toast. Avocado + egg  + toasted breast = match made in heaven. Will I make this again? Yes, yes, yes!

avocado-toast-2-1

Avocado and smoked salmon

It’s very common to eat smoked salmon for breakfast in Scandinavia, but for me this was a no-no. I didn’t like the pairing with avocado either. I’d rather have it in a tortilla with cream cheese and watercress. Will I make this again? No.

avocado-toast-2-2

Do you have any other ideas for open-faced sandwiches to share? I’m all ears!

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