Gimme a cupcake (and a tempo run)

Although nutritionists and other experts may try to tell me otherwise, I am pretty sure that cupcakes make excellent running fuel. I mean, they’re basically the same thing as a muffin, right? Or a GU? Just agree with me here.

Anyway, I’ve taken a few cupcake baking classes at Butterlane Bakery and loved them, so I was super pumped to be named their “Blogger of the Week”! What does this mean? My blog got a shout out on their chalkboard AND I scored a free dozen cupcakes. Butterlane uses less sugar than other cupcake bakeries, so while still delicious, their cupcakes aren’t so sweet that they make my teeth hurt. The banana cupcake with peanut butter frosting is A++. I might have eaten it for breakfast.

I am a serious lover of baked goods and candy and luckily it doesn’t seem to be affecting my running (yet).  I know I should probably cut back on the sugar a bit, but sometimes it’s hard to do everything I’m supposed to, you know? I’ve been really good this week about getting a decent amount of sleep and saying no to happy hour, so that will have to be good enough for now.

Last week I struggled to hit 60 miles (I think I managed about 57 miles + a rest day), but this week has seemed almost effortless. I think part of the reason is that I’ve been rockin’ the run commute. I know I’ve said this before – but being able to run to or from work a few times a week has completely changed my routine for the better. The most direct route is a bit over 7 miles, but if I run over the Brooklyn Bridge instead of the Manhattan Bridge, it’s more like 9 miles. Getting in some miles + not having to spend 45 minutes on a subway car during rush hour = wonderful. Sure, it can be a little hectic (I sometimes feel like I’m in a game of Frogger in midtown) and it takes some advance planning when it comes to showering and work clothes, but it is 1,000% worth it.

The week, so far:

Monday, February 6- 8 mile run commute from the office to Trader Joe’s in BK

Tuesday, February 7- 7.5 mile run commute to work in the morning, 7 miles in the evening (including 6 x Cat Hill repeats @ 5k pace)

Wednesday, February 8- 9.5 mile run commute from the office

Thursday, February 9- 11.5 miles, CPTC tempo workout. 3 mile warm-up, 4 x 1.57 mi reservoir loops, 2.25 mile cooldown.

This week’s CPTC workout had us running 4 reservoir loops progressively faster for a total of 10k (1.57 x 4 = ~10k). We began the workout at marathon pace, progressed to half-marathon pace, and ran the last two loops a bit faster. The idea behind this workout was to practice keeping energy in reserves and finish strong. Just like in a race, if you go out to fast in the first loop (or first mile), you’re going to pay for it later on. I had a good group to run with and am pretty happy with this workout. After the second loop, a gap of about 100m opened up and I was running by myself for awhile. I knew I would have a better workout if I could catch the group, so over the next mile I just kept telling myself to “maintain contact” i.e. not get any farther behind and if possible, close the distance. It took me almost the whole 3rd loop, but I finally closed the gap. This is something that I think it really important in races – if someone passes you, it can be so easy to give up a little bit and slow down. If you can find a mantra like “maintain contact” or “close the gap”, it can really help you stay in the game. I am so grateful to have running buddies with similar goals – my workouts are definitely better and faster than if I attempted them on my own!

Loop 1: 11:51 (7:32/mile

Loop 2: 11:21 (7:13/mile)

Loop 3: 11:07 (7:04/mile)

Loop 4: 10:52 (6:55/mile)

Would I have liked loops 2 and 3 to have been a little bit closer to my goal half marathon pace (6:5x)? Of course, but I think our group did a really good job progressively getting faster. Those last 1.57 miles were very challenging – I didn’t have much (if anything) left in reserves. That’s all I can ask of myself.

So while I can’t explain it, this week has been incredibly good so far in terms of running. My legs have felt fresh and mentally I’ve been in the game. Of course, it’s not always like this. Just a few weeks ago, I was complaining about my lack of motivation and the winter blahs. That’s the thing with running – sometimes it sucks, but sometimes it feels better than anything else. The key is being able to get through those down times and make it to the other side.

My best running moment of the week occurred during my run commute home on Wednesday evening. It was snowing lightly, but there wasn’t any wind and it was actually sort of pleasant. I was feeling sort of sad by the end of the workday, but by the time I was a few miles into my run, my mood had turned around. As I turned up Fulton Street, I saw this and couldn’t resist pausing to snap a photo:

I’m a huge Biggie fan and seeing the lyrics to Juicy on this building put me in such a good mood. And how can you not love the message?

Remember in my last post when I talked about improving my post-run recovery routine? Well, I’m trying! I downed a chocolate Zico coconut water after tonight’s workout (yay potassium) and I’ve also started drinking sparkling water + tart cherry juice before bed. It’s almost like a cocktail, right? A few weeks ago, I mentioned the connection between tart cherries and their benefits for runners.

“In the investigation, 20 marathon runners drank either a tart cherry blend juice or a placebo drink twice a day for five days before taking part in the London Marathon and for two days afterwards.

The findings indicated that the group who drank the cherry juice recovered their strength more rapidly than the control group over the 48-hour period following the marathon. Inflammation was also reduced in the cherry juice group, as was oxidative stress, a potentially damaging response that can be caused by strenuous physical activity, particularly long distance endurance exercise.” 

Hey, it’s worth a shot, right? You can read more about the science behind tart cherries in the Red Recovery Report. Now for the real question: Do you think this will balance out my love of candy and cupcakes?

Do you have any motivational tricks tips or mantras for staying focused during a tough workout or race? Try the “maintain contact” tactic – I think it works!

  • http://www.runforyourlifeblog.com/ Emilia @ Run for Your Life

    Maybe that’s why I also loved Butter Lane cupcakes more than others…they’re more buttery! :) I love their raspberry and espresso frostings.

    I know most of you super-speedy runners aren’t that into racing with music, but listening to a good song helps me power through and pick it up in a tough race. I listened to “Til I Collapse” by Eminem and “Fighter” by Christina Aguilera during the Houston Marathon and felt so strong during those miles. :)

  • http://roserunner.blogspot.com/ Roserunner

    wha-wha-what!? your marathon goal pace is 6:5x?!? where’d that come from!  Daannngg, smoke Boston!

  • http://www.tashasdish.com/ Tasha

    Congratulations on being named blogger of the week!  It’s so fun to get recognition!

  • http://katiessweatylife.wordpress.com/ Katie

    I love Biggie and Juicy is my #1 favorite rap song of all time.  :)
    I also love this post!  Lots of good stuff here!  Congrats on being Blogger of the Week at Butterlane, and awesome running as usual.  Have a nice weekend. :)

  • Anonymous

    ahaha, oops. that was supposed to be “half marathon goal pace” not full marathon. maybe someday…

  • http://thepumpkinsdiary.wordpress.com/ Elizabeth

    Butterlane sounds delicious!  The other day I was out running 2x2mi tempo on an out and back route.  A man was running a good pace in front of me on the exact same route.  I spent my first 4.5 miles trying to catch this guy not thinking about how much I was dying, it was all about the chase.  By the time I got to my last mile of tempo I was running right next to him.  We were both dying, I think he was trying to not get hunted down and I thanked him for being my rabbit.  It’s hard when you’re your own coach to not back down from a hard effort when you’re feeling fatigued and because of this guy i was able to stick to my plan.  He made me realize I need some running buddies (I was anti run buddies in the past).  

  • http://www.naturastrideblog.com/ Kate @ NaturaStride

    Nice – glad you’re having a great week of running. It can be rough getting through these winter months. I like that, “maintain contact.” When I race I usually focus on someone ahead of me and try to stick with them or pass them, so I think that’s the same idea.
    Congrats on blogger of the week!! A dozen cuppcakes?! Jealousy! I am having a low-key night in alone, and am definitely picking up a cupcake on my way home.
    Interesting study on the cherry juice – what brand do you drink?
    I definitely notice a difference when I consciously consume the right recovery foods after running – whey protein is my go-to.

  • http://lesliebrandnewyork.wordpress.com/ leslie

    while i understand the necessity, you saying no to happy hour makes me so sad. i think we should have a weeknight cooking date as an alternative. i will help make sure you eat vegetables before the baked goods! :)

    every time i see that building in fort greene i get a huge smile on my face too. so much love for the borough. so much love.

  • http://aliontherunblog.com/ Ali

    YOU ARE FAMOUS AND I WOULD LIKE SOME CUPCAKES PLEASE.

  • http://www.yourdailygrace.com/ Grace

    I’m in ful agreement that cupcakes are great fuel! I ate two when I was carb loading for the Disney Marathon, it worked wonders very similar to cherry juice:)

  • Anonymous

    I love when you post your CPTC workouts because sometimes I steal them. And try my best so suffer through them! heh. I love cupcakes and think baked goods are excellent running fuel. aaand you just reminded me that I still have a butter lane cupcake in my freezer from the class I took in like November…oops?

  • Josie @ happycorredora.com

    Thats so awesome about the cupcake fame, not to mention the free goodies :) 

    I don’t have any tough training techniques, but in races I like to imagine I am being pulled along in a wagon behind a faster runner.  Sounds a bit funny but sometimes it works! 

  • http://www.insightfulappetite.com sofia

    yay butter lane! when i got my blogger of the week dozen i ate a cupcake every day for like a week. didn’t feel so hot after that, but it was totally worth it. BL c-cakes = love.

  • Anonymous

    i dominated 6 cupcakes in about 24 hours. yup. healthy living right hurrrr.

  • David Parkinson

    I just discovered the run commute too! It sure makes getting in the mid-week mileage a little easier, huh? Those cupcakes look like a pretty good reward for such a good mileage week.

  • Guest

     Cupcakes are a terrible choice for carbo loading, cal from fat >50%.

  • Gemma C

    I admire your ability to do the run commute thing…If I run to work i have to sacrifice bringing my lunch and breakfast from home..so it’s a balance of time vs money.
    Wish we had such amazing cupcake stores here in New Zealand.. the few we have serve very stale and non-exciting cupcakes so I end up making them myself alot of the time. Perfect way to get the exact flavour you are craving…
    For race motivation i play the numbers game…always trying to hit the splits and knowing that if you don’t you will only fall further and further behind. My new garmin has done wonders for helping me stick to my splits!

  • Jemma @ Celery and Cupcakes

    The run commute sounds like a great way to get your mileage in!

  • http://www.RUNNINGaroundmykitchen.com/ Beth @ RUNNINGaroundmykitchen

    Oh banana with peanut butter frosting sounds SO good!  Yum!  Now I really want a cupcake….