Adventures with Squash

Let’s talk about this week’s running for a moment. Side note: The best thing about having a blog is that I can be as narcissistic as I want. Anyway, the beginning of this week was light on the mileage, mostly due to a late night at work and unplanned rest day. As you might imagine, unplanned rest days make me act like something that rhymes with witch. Fun for all! But, seriously, it puts me in a bad mood. Luckily, I managed to post some decent miles later on thanks to a Wednesday double and a Thursday tempo.

  • Monday, Jan 17 – 5 miles
  • Tuesday, Jan 18 – OFF
  • Wednesday, Jan 19 – 8 miles a.m., 5 miles p.m.
  • Thursday, Jan 20 – 10 miles incl. 6 miles at tempo pace
  • Friday, Jan 21 – 4 miles
  • Saturday, Jan 22 – 14 miles
  • Sunday, Jan 23 – 10 miles
  • Total: 56 miles

Finally! A 50+ mile week. It’s been awhile. As in over 2 months.

So, Thursday night’s workout was a 6 mile tempo with CPTC. The route was one loop of Central Park, so it may have been 6.05 or something (if I actually wore my Garmin, I would know this, but I didn’t). I finished in about 42:37, an average of 7:03 pace if we’re calling it 6.05 miles. It wasn’t an awful workout, but it also wasn’t super awesome either. There was a 2 mile warm-up and then (approximately): 7:10, 7:00, 7:03, 7:20 (umm yeah), 7:00, 6:40 and then about 24 seconds for the last .05. Followed by a 2 mile cool-down. I was able to significantly pick things up on the last mile, so that was encouraging, but the prescribed workout was “6 miles at half-marathon pace” and 7:03 is not my half marathon pace. If I want to run 1:29:xx, my half-marathon pace needs to be 6:52, no slower. However, I was thinking about this and right now my 10k PR pace from December 2010 is around 6:50 (and honestly, that felt tough). Does this mean that my 10k pace should be faster? Probably. But still, I suppose expecting myself to run only 2 seconds slower than my 10k PR pace was a little ambitious for a workout. I finished the workout feeling meh and proceeded directly to a bar to make good decisions and hydrate with beer. I mean, what?

Anyway, Friday was an easy day. 4 mile lunch time runs are the best – I don’t have to wake up early AND I’m free to go home after work. Unfortunately, the time crunch always make them a little stressful.

In order to crack 50 mpw, I knew I had a big weekend ahead of me. NYC got a fair amount of snow, sleet, and freezing rain on Saturday morning and so my plans for a long jaunt in Central Park were foiled. Sure, I could have still trekked outside and got it done, but I know myself and I would have been miserable. The fear of falling on ice and breaking a bone, wet, slushy snow in my shoes, having to run 10 or 11 minute pace due to poor footing, Reynaud’s syndrome (a.k.a. numb fingers) – it’s just not worth it to me. I try not to do it too often, but every once in awhile a treadmill long run is just so much more preferable. I know some people hate the ‘mill, but as they like to say on Jersey Shore, “You do you, Imma do me.” I’m fortunate (or crazy) enough not to mind the treadmill. And that’s all I’m going to say about that.

So 14 miles on the treadmill…It definitely takes a different approach – mind games are necessary. If I start out thinking I need to run 14 miles, it can be too overwhelming and I’ll be defeated before I even start. Instead I break up the run into parts. The first 4-6 miles are always the worst mentally, but once I get past that, it gets a lot easier. I just keep telling myself “run 1 more mile and see how you feel”. And once I finish the minimum I’ve told myself I have to do (6 miles in yesterday’s case), I usually want to do more. It feels like extra credit or something. I also alternated between 2 miles at 8:00 pace (which is a teeny bit uncomfortable for me for a long run) and then 2 miles at 8:30-8:40 pace which felt much more relaxed. And I took a little break after about 10 miles to get a drink of water and switch treadmills. Then I only had 4 miles to go – nbd.

14 miles in about 1:58, ~8:25 pace

I ran another 10 miles today (Sunday) as part of my new “double long run” plan. The idea is to stack mileage over two weekend days and fatigue the legs. This should hypothetically mimic a longer run such as an 18-miler but with less stress on the body and more recovery time. I won’t do this when I actually start running 18-22 mile runs, but I’m experimenting a bit with this method now in the early training stage. In the past I’ve almost always followed a long run up with an easy day (i.e. 4 miles), but I’m thinking that stacked miles might produce some training benefits.

The goal for next week is to run around 60 miles total, complete a track workout on Tuesday, and not embarrass myself during Saturday’s 10k. Even though I don’t really feel “in shape”, I should be running under 43 minutes (let’s be honest, probably even faster than that), no excuses.

Are you still here? Or did I send you into a training log induced slumber? Since I’ve upped my mileage a bit, I’m also trying to be good about other parts of the training puzzle – adequate sleep, quality foods, less beer (let’s forget about the 3 beers and 4 hours of sleep that happened post-tempo run, ok?).

Part 1 – more high quality foods, less crap. Meet my new favorite thing – Mr. Kabocha Squash a.k.a. Japanese Pumpkin!

It is so sweet and delicious and I love it. Once I hacked it open, I rubbed the squash halves with olive oil and roasted it (cut side down) on a baking sheet for about 25 minutes. When it’s fork tender, you can even eat the skin. Yay fiber and beta carotene. I used most of the squash in a recipe based on Northern Spy’s Kale Salad. Very seasonal, very nutrient dense.


  • 1 bunch of kale, washed, de-ribbed, and chopped
  • 1/2 roasted kabocha squash, chopped
  • 4 oz sharp cheddar cheese, chooped
  • 1/3 cup walnuts, toasted
  • homemade dressing – 1/4 cup evoo, juice of 2 lemons, salt and pepper to taste, whisked together

Mix everything together in a big bowl and voila! Easy meal(s). And since the kale is so sturdy, it keeps for days in the fridge without wilting.

Another thing I’ve tried to pay attention to this week are my recovery drinks. Now, if you ever see anything about a juice cleanse on this blog, it’s safe to assume it’s been hacked. That is so not my jam, BUT I did pick up a cashew milk juice by the Blue Print Cleanse peeps to drink post-long run: 300 calories, 7g protein, 5g fiber, and full of zinc (good for the immune system!). I liked it. I followed it up with a glass full of tart cherry juice and seltzer. Apparently tart cherry juice has been shown to reduce post-workout inflammation and muscle soreness. I need all the help I can get!

Alright, this post has gone on long enough. I’m off to go foal roll or something.

But tell me, what’s your go-to long run recovery drink?

  • That salad looks great!

    Wow, 14 miles on the treadmill is impressive. The longest I’ve ever gone on the treadmill was 10 miles once last summer. I did five miles, went back to my apartment for a nap (the gym is in my complex) and then did the rest. This was after 8 miles outside that I started too late and the heat was unbearable. I pretty much only use the treadmill when the weather isn’t ideal.

    Yum, tart cherry juice sounds good! My go-to recovery drink is chocolate milk made with Ovaltine. Cheap and easy. 🙂

  • My favorite drink post-long run is a smoothie with almond or coconut milk, frozen banana, peanut flour for protein, and cocoa powder just because the banana pb chocolate combo can’t be beat.

    I have one of those squashes sitting on my counter and didn’t really know what to do with it. That salad looks delicious!

  • That salad looks amazing! I actually have all the ingredients in my fridge now and just might have to change up my dinner plans. I still can’t believe you could do 14 miles on the treadmill!! Amazing!

  • That salad looks awesome! I have kale in the fridge, and winter squash on the counter… Sounds like a meal for this week to me. 😉

    My long run recovery drink is chocolate milk… mmm…

  • My parents grow a lot of their own vegetables. I’ve had kabocha squash before and love the taste, but had no idea what it was called until just now.

    I used to love Shamrock Farms Rockin’ Refuel milk. It comes in chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry. It’s not sold where I live now which is the only reason I don’t drink it anymore.

  • OMG I love Kobacha Squash.  I fell in love a couple years ago.  My normal Seattle haunts (read: grocery stores) are out! Please send me one!!  I can’t imagine how much shipping is on those bad boys! Anyway. Nice one on the 14 mile treadmill run.  I’ve done some long ones but not that long.  Do you feel like bring a sign that explains that you are a runner with a mileage goal and not crazy? Or maybe we are crazy!

  • I absolutely love winter squash!  I’m going to the store tonight and getting everything to make this salad pronto! I heard that cherry juice is getting good zzz’s at night too.  As for my recovery drinks, I’m still stuck on good ol’ chocolate milk

  • Chocolate milk. Always. I love any opportunity to drink chocolate milk and have it be a real grown up thing to do. 

  • Anonymous

    nice running, friend! And props to you for the treadmill running – I don’t think I could have done it! Also interested to see how your double longish run days work out for you – I’ve thought about doing something like that but am a little hesitant because of my injury prone-ness. 

    Post run I like milk of some sort, or a few sips of yogurt smoothie to hold me over until I eat breakfast. I’ve never made that kind of squash – where’d you get it? I think I must try.

  • Anonymous

    i got the squash from my (slightly) sketchy neighborhood grocery store “Trade Wise”. i bet Fairway or Whole Foods would have it though! it’s sometimes called calabaza or Japanese pumpkin 🙂

  • Anonymous

    haha, i definitely needed a sign yesterday! i’m sure some people thought i was a crazy over-exerciser.

    nope, just a crazy marathoner.

  • Grace

    We were hit by snow in the Seattle area too, and I’m with you on the whole “not running in snow” thing. It’s challenging and cold and not very fun at all. Kudos for 14 miles on the treadmill. The most I’ve ever done is 7 and by then I’m bored and annoyed so I usually stop. 🙂

  • Diana @ frontyardfoodie

    Jeez way to work the week of runs! I’m seriously impressed, no seriously.

    I’m so blah about running right now since I’m pregnant and my hip hurts but sometime I’d like to not be so blah and I’m inspired for that day now.

  • While marathon training, I went to the old stand by…Chocolate Milk!

  • I am interested to hear how the tart cherry juice helps.  Post big workouts I usually drink some sort of smoothie with banana + soy milk + hemp seeds and maybe a little stevia or nut butter. I had a vega shake this morning with soy milk and it wasn’t bad.  I would definitely eat it again.

  • Anonymous

    Hi Amanda,
    I think the anti-inflammatory properties in cherry juice have to due with their antioxidant anthocyanins. More info here:

  • is it wrong if I say diet coke?

  • Nice job on the runs! I’m also a treadmill supporter – especially when the weather is bad. Yes, I know it might make you hardcore to be out there running in all weather, battling the elements. But honestly? I don’t want the run to suck, and I’d rather be able to do a long run or a speed workout at a good pace than run super slow while trying to dodge snow, slush and cars. Especially since there aren’t any good places to run in PVD in the winter.

    Anyway…moving on… I’m really interested to hear how your double long run days go. I’ve thought about doing that in the past but then my lazy side gets so thankful for a rest day after a long run that I can’t imagine pushing through another one…

  • Well hello! Way to go with the mileage. And I hear you with the treadmill running in winter – I am so not a fan of being cold when I run, so I’ve been frequenting the treadmill a bunch lately. SUPER impressed, however, that you managed 14 miles on one! My max was 10 and it sucked. I actually was able to run outside this morning which was such a nice changed. So… how many months till summer?
    Also, interesting theory on the double long runs to fatigue the legs – how did you feel yesterday? Will have to keep this in mind when I begin NYC marathon training.
    Recovery drinks are a big deal to me. Huge fan of recovery shakes with whey protein. Hmmm… will have to check out this Blue Print Juice…

  • Anonymous

    my legs felt way tired on monday, but i think they probably would have felt fatigued regardless because it’s been awhile since i’ve done a long run over 10 miles. the premise of the double long run theory is that instead of a 20 miler, you do something like 16-12 or 14-12, to reduce stress on the body and allow for more recovery time. i’m still figuring it all out…it’s a new idea to me. i’ll report back! 🙂

  • I think doing your longer run on the TM helps too as it won’t beat up your legs as much as it would doing back to back longer days on the streets.  I like this idea & think if you play your recovery right you could see big gains in your training quickly.  Keep us updated!!

  • Nice workout, lady! My Garmin said 6.06 so you’re just about spot on. My 4th mile was also weirdly slow, hurray. I don’t understand why beer and no dinner isn’t an acceptable post-workout recovery choice? 🙂 

    How are you feeling on stacking the double ‘long’ runs? Curious to see. I’ve never tried Kabocha squash, but it sure looks tasty. 🙂

    See you at the workout Thurs night?

  • Anonymous

    i’m actually going to the Armory tonight (omgggg) and skipping Thursday because i’m racing a 10k on Saturday morning.

    oh track hack, how i’ve missed you!

  • Pingback: Kale and mizuna salad with delicata squash | Gourmet Veggie Mama()