Weeknight Dinners

So, after about a year hiatus, I got myself back to the indoor track last night. I usually have no problem running tempos. I’m pretty good at grinding out a steady 4-8 mile run, but fast intervals? Ugh. Cue the anxiety.  Track workouts usually mean I’m flirting with anaerobic pace and the burning lungs, jelly legs, and nauseous stomach that goes along with it. Sounds like fun, huh? Well, the good news is – I survived the workout! And it actually wasn’t that bad. I’m currently training with the road distance crew (as opposed to the 1500m-5k runners), so the workouts are more about aerobic volume rather than pure speed. That’s not to say the workout wasn’t hard, but it’s a lot easier for me to run 5k pace at this point than say, mile race pace. I had an awesome workout buddy last night (hi Grace!) and our times were right on target. We were conservative for sure, but it’s been a long time since I’ve run anything this quick, so I wanted to make sure I didn’t blow up.

  • 2 mile warm-up (indoors, around the edge of the track)
  • 4 x 800m @ 5k pace w/ 400m recovery: 3:10, 3:09, 3:10, 3:08
  • 4 x 400m @3k pace w/ 200m recovery: 88, 89, 87, 85 <– I’m glad my legs remembered how to do this!
  • 2.5 ish mile cool-down (outside, 50 degrees!)
  • 9 miles total for the night. (And I really mean “night”…we didn’t start the workout till 8pm)

Most of the time I love the autonomy that comes from being a post-collegiate runner. As an undergrad, our coach told us what times we needed to run for every workout, how many miles we had to run each week, and as for rest days? Complete rest days only happened twice a year – 2 weeks off after the cross-country season ended and another 2 weeks after the outdoor track season was finished. At all other times throughout the year, “rest days” = 40 minutes in the pool. If you were tired or hungover or cranky, too bad. Basically, unless you were on death’s door, there was no excuse for missing practice.

So yeah, I definitely appreciate being in charge of my own training nowadays. I decide on my goal races, I determine my mileage and rest days. And while the CPTC coach assigns workouts, it’s up to me to figure out what kind of paces I need to run. It’s nice to have flexibility, but sometimes I miss the accountability and advisement that having a full-time coach provided. I hit the times I wanted to in my workout last night, but were the fast enough? Should I have been pushing harder? Back in college, I remember my coach assigning workouts that I thought were outside my realm of possibility, telling me to run races at times I didn’t think I was capable of. And you know what? I usually met or came close the what he asked of me. I guess that’s the goal of a coach…to push your limits, to help you realize your own potential. Does this mean I’m looking for a full-time running coach? I don’t know. I’m not in college or high school anymore. My life is a lot different now and I no longer have the luxury a flexible schedule. And let’s be honest – now that I’ve been given a taste of autonomy, I’m not sure I’m ready to give it up. I like running how much and when I feel like it and I can be a little stubborn when it comes to others telling me what to do. For right now, I think I’ve got a good thing going on, self-direction when it comes to miles and rest days, but some guidance from the CPTC coach when it comes to workouts. I want to become a better, faster, stronger runner and sometimes it’s hard to know what’s enough (or too much). Stay tuned.

When I’m not in serious training mode, I feel like I can skate by with a little less sleep, more questionable nutritional decisions, and less planning overall. But now that I’ve ramped up my miles and workouts (omg Boston is only 81 days away omg), I need to schedule things down to the minute. I always feel like I’m thinking 3 steps ahead: What should I pack for tonight’s post-work tempo run? Do I have any clean sports bras? How will I run 8 miles tomorrow morning AND get enough sleep? What will I have for dinner when I get home at 10:30pm? Should I bring clothes to work for a run commute this week? I enjoy training, but damn it’s a lot of work. For the next 12 weeks, I’m foreseeing a little less weeknight fun and a lot more miles, food, and laundry. It’s taken me awhile to get pumped, but I’m finally feeling excited about the hard work I’m going to put in over these next few months. I realize how lucky I am to 1) be healthy 2) have the motivation, desire, and time to train well. It’s not an opportunity I’m going to waste.

With my returned focus on marathon training, I’ve been trying to make healthy, quick, and fairly economical meals. Sometimes I fail and eat 8 homemade peanut butter chocolate chip cookies for dinner (yup, that happened), but I’m trying!

I’m not a vegetarian (we all know I love a good burger), but I rarely cook meat at home. There are a lot of reasons for this – it sort of grosses me out sometimes, quality meat can be expensive, and it’s a pain to cook for just one person. So usually I gravitate towards vegetarian dishes when I cook for myself. One of my favorite things to make is a frittata. On Sunday I caramelized an onion in a bit of oil, added some leftover roasted  kabocha squash, 3 eggs (lightly whisked), a grating of cheese, and salt & pepper. I let it cook in a large frying pan over medium heat until just about set in the middle, and then popped it into a 350 F oven for about 5 minutes until it puffed up. I had a little trouble getting it out of the pan, so it looks more like an egg scramble here, but it still tasted good. I used a little of my favorite butternut squash salsa (yes, really!) to top it off. The best thing about frittatas and scrambles is that you can pretty much add anything – it’s a great way to use up leftovers.

There’s been a lot of football talk lately (apparently there’s some big game next weekend?? hah!) and it got me thinking about buffalo wings. During my last Whole Foods visit, I picked up some tempeh (fermented soy beans, easier to digest than tofu), a bottle of buffalo wing sauce, and some blue cheese.

I wouldn’t really call this a recipe, but in case you want to re-create:

Buffalo Wing Tempeh (makes about 3 servings)

Ingredients: 

  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 1 Tbs canola oil
  • 8 oz tempeh, cut into 1/4″ slices
  • 1/3 cup buffalo wing sauce (more or less depending on how spicy your sauce is)
  • 1 head of romaine lettuce, washed and chopped
  • blue cheese crumbles for topping
  • optional: chopped celery <—I didn’t have this, but it would be a nice addition!

Directions:

  • Heat the oil in a large saute pan and add the onion. Cook over medium heat until softened, about 5 minutes
  • Add the sliced tempeh and allow to brown a bit on each side. Stir in the buffalo wing sauce.
  • Fill a bowl with romaine lettuce (and celery) and top with some of the tempeh mixture. Top with blue cheese crumbles.
  • I ate my salad with a few cornbread muffins and butter. Runners need carbohydrates, yo.

Do you cook meat at home? Only eat it when you go out to restaurants? Are you 100% vegetarian? Mark Bittman recently reported on why as a country we’re eating less meat in general (a 12% drop in 5 years to be exact)…..food for thought.

  • AR

    Please. Booze >>>> clean sports bras. That’s one sacrifice nobody needs to make! 

  • I’m the same, I rarely cook meat at home because dealing with raw meat grosses me out. Lately I’ve gotten better about easy things like turkey or salmon burgers on the George Foreman grill, though. 🙂 I could go easily go vegetarian with the exception of seafood…and bacon. haha

    So excited to read more about your marathon training! 🙂

  • Anonymous

    I agree. Also, sleep > showering. Once I got home last night, I knew I was going to be running again in less than 8 hours. Two showers within that time frame seems excessive. Yeah, I’m gross. Whatevs.

  • Made my first frittata the other week and was delicious!! Totally agree with it being a great way to use up leftovers.
    We’re not vegetarians in my house but definitely gravitate towards that more often…much more creativity there I think! I do crave a good piece of meat now and then though! (example: Traif…which you need to get to ASAP!)

  • I love buffalo sauce on anything. My latest obsession is on roasted brussels sprouts 🙂

  • I’m an almost always vegetarian — I choose not to eat meat almost every day of the year, but if I’m at a restaurant or at someone’s house and there’s no easy vegetarian option (or if something looks really good and I want to treat myself) I don’t beat myself up for eating meat. I’m not morally opposed to eating animals, but meat has lots of bad environmental and social consequences so I think of it as a once or twice a year luxury. Plus, veggies are so yummy that I’m quite happy eating vegetarian food all year long!
    P.S. I miss showers more frequently then I’m willing to say out loud. The nice thing about college is that it’s considered okay to walk around in exercise clothes all the time! No dressing up for work!

  • I’m a pescatarian (which I try to avoid saying because it’s so…pretentious). That being said, I rarely cook any fish at home, aside from cracking open a can of tuna.

    ps you are a running machine.

  • Anonymous

    it’s only been in the last 4 years or so that i’ve started eating seafood and i’m so glad i did. it’s a good option at restaurants when the vegetarian selection isn’t so great.

  • “Do I have any clean sports bras?” No. In my house, the answer is always no. 

    I don’t love cooking meat for myself. I’m especially weird about cooking poultry, so I’ll stick to a handful of recipes I know well or to meat I can watch cook (e.g. turkey in chili. hey, it’s browned. not going to kill me. done). Frittatas are my go-to single-lady dinner when I’m only cooking for one.

  • I very rarely cook meat at home. I just find it a lot less appetizing if I have to prepared it from the beginning. I’d much rather get it when I am out. 

  • ~Jess@Almost Over Now~

    I *try* to be vegan but struggle with eating issues so sometimes it doesn’t happen and I end up eating things I’m not comfortable with.  But I’ve been at least attempting some ‘better’ meals this week.

    That’s a cracking pace!  I’m always impressed by all of your training runs.

    At least you didn’t eat 8 homemade peanut butter chocolate chip cookies AND dinner, which is what I would have done.

    xxx

  • Meg

    I never cook meat either.  I’m always afraid I’m going to over or undercook it, or cook it wrong, or it won’t taste right, or i’ll have too many leftovers.  Plus I hate touching it. Gross.  I just nuke TJ’s chicken nuggets in the microwave.  HEALTH.

  • Anonymous

    ahaha, yesss. it’s been far too long since i’ve stocked up at TJ’s. they make good frozen turkey meatballs too!

  • Anonymous

    If i ever get to Traif, I promise I will be open to ordering anything! Yum.

  • Anonymous

    OMG you just gave me the biggest craving for Buffalo chicken delicousness. that stuff makes me mouth water! I cook a lot of veggie dishes too, even though I’m not a vegetarian – it’s so much easier sometimes! I cook a lot of fish and occasionally chicken too though.

    Nice track workout! I love that you’re excited to get down to business and rock boston training 🙂

  • i almost never cook meat at home, which is partially because i consider it to sort of be the “gravy” on top of my style of eating, so it’s not something i eat that much, and also because i’m scared.  i’m not worried about getting sick so much as i’m afraid of it tasting dried out and terrible. also, i don’t crave it all that often, so when i do, i’m more than happy to just order it in a restaurant.

    glad to see you feeling psyched about your training again. 🙂 you know who to hit up on easy run days!

  • RunTheLongRoad

    when i’m marathon training i’m a psycho planner.  i think you have to be to fit it all in!  

  • RunTheLongRoad

    when i’m marathon training i’m a psycho planner.  i think you have to be to fit it all in!  

  • Anonymous

    I’ve been 100% vegetarian my whole life. I guess I don’t really know any differently. There are some negatives like it is a lot harder to get iron. When I was tested I was pretty low. Supplements helped but I wasn’t taking enough bc my levels improved but not by enough. Still trying to figure it all out! I really should focus on making healthier food choices in general…too much pizza and stuff. Yum!

  • Kat

    I became a Vegetarian about 1 1/2 years ago…. but now I’m not. Lately I have been eating a burger or chkn when I go out to dinner. I almost never cook meats in my house anymore but now on occasion I will make organic chkn, my 12 yr old daughter requests it and of course I end up eating it! For me it was harder to become a Vegan letting go of cheese nearly killed me (true story) but I did that for about 8 months. I’m not 100% of either anymore but I will say it’s great to challenge yourself and try new foods, I love veggies so that wasn’t a problem. However, I made the mistake and ate a lot of pasta and rice dishes. Now I just try to monitor my eating without being to strict or hard on myself.

    ps- I love your blog! I’m going to make the Tempeh w/ buffalo sauce (maybe I’ll throw a few blue cheese crumbles too) 🙂

  • I don’t ever buy meat either to cook at home, for many of the reasons you mention. Unfortunately I’m guilty of eating way too many microwaved veggie burgers… definitely need to include more eggs in creative ways (like your scramble!) & move beyond steamed veggies & roasted brussel sprouts!

  • I’m a lot like you with meat.  I don’t make it at home often.  I don’t really know how to cook it and don’t care enough to find out, it grosses me out sometimes, I don’t like the smell in my studio apt and it’s toooo expensive.  I LOVE fish and splurge on fish tho.  Anyway.  I eat a lot of beans, tempeh, baked soy, nuts.  I do like some of the prepared meat stuff at TJs and Whole Foods like TJ Turkey meatballs and some chicken sausages.  

  • megmiller

    I’m kind of opposite- I almost never eat meat out, unless I know it’s a local and/or humanely raised, non-factory farmed, yadda yadda…which is becoming easier and easier to find.  I do cook meat at home, although the potential of contamination freaks me out a little, so I don’t do it often.  Meat’s tricky like that..  Of course, all rules go out the window if I’ve been working out a lot and am STARVING for protein…

  • Char

    (recently found your blog and i’m LOVING it! but i am a complete stranger, so i’m not really sure how you’re going to feel about me chiming in here…)  i work 4-10hr shifts which makes for amazing weekends, but awkward run scheduling during the workweek in winter.  i have started going to work fifteen minutes early, staying fifteen minutes late, and running an hour and a half at lunch.  buuuut no time for a shower.  i used to feel bad for my coworkers, but honestly, i don’t even care anymore.  also, patagonia makes WONDERFUL antimicrobial bras that i think are actually designed for backpacking and international travel, but i’ve found they make much better sports bras that can be worn repeatedly without washing. (serisouly, i’m otherwise very hygienic and clean, i swear!)

  • KateRunsForFun

    I wouldn’t call myself a vegetarian, more a ‘select’-arian!  I’m just pretty selective of what I put on my plate these days.  I find that animal products are dense and kind of weigh me down, so I try to limit myself to one serving per day.  So for example, if I want to have an egg or a piece of chicken for dinner, then I wouldn’t have any cheese, a yogurt or a milky coffee that day.  Sometimes that doesn’t exactly go to plan, but that’s my general rule of thumb.  I tend to do the same thing with whole grains and carbs….if I have oatmeal for breakfast, then no rice for dinner…one serving a day is pretty easy to keep track of.  The rest of the time it’s fruit and veg for me.  Although I have a major weakness for all nut butters! Yum!

  • Jdikosrd

    Awesome job getting in the late day workout!  Those are never easy to get started.

  • I love buffalo chicken.  It’s so delicious.  Such a guilty pleasure.  With a side of fries?  ahhh.

    I’m at the point with my laundry where I smell my running clothes and go, “hmm, I probably shouldn’t be wearing this again…but I’m running by myself so no one will notice, right?”  It’s pretty bad.  But laundry is pretty low on my priority list so it’s fine.

    I like your thoughts on speed work and being coached vs having coach guidance vs being on your own.  I think it’s good to have an outside input, but at the end of the day you’re still the one pushing yourself.  Having a team to push you also helps as well!

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