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Living to 100+

One of my goals in life is to reach the triple digits. I want to live to see 100 and thanks to one of my students, I now have a better idea of how to accomplish this. Eat lots of veggies, daily activity, relax, socialize, and engage in meaningful activity.

If you have 20 minutes, watch this TED video. My favorite is the 104 year old lady lifting weights, riding her bike, and cruising down the freeway.




Happy Trails & Happy Running,


Running Update: I didn’t go as slow as I wanted to this afternoon but I did go slower than I normally would. have.  An average pace of 8:23 instead of 8:30. I’m working on the easy runs. Stats are here.


As my running is going better that I could have expected, I find myself starting to push a little harder on my runs. Today I know I went faster than a typical easy Monday run. Therefore, tomorrow’s run will be a goal pace of 8:30-8:45/mile.

One thing that I am doing in order to stay off the injured list (in addition to lots of  yoga poses and strength training) is paying closer attention to my diet. And all of these food documentaries we have been watching just reaffirm the power of fruits and veggies. I am getting a little stricter with my vegetable intake because I know it helps with my recovery and performance. I want to take care of my body and I need to give it the fuel it needs.

One thing I have been reading about is cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone that is produced in response to stress. Over trained endurance athletes (like myself) can experience elevated levels of cortisol and this isn’t necessarily a good thing.

First Endurance: 

Cortisol, known as the regulator of immune response, is a hormone controlled by the adrenal cortex. This powerful hormone is also known as an adrenalcorticol hormone, a glucocorticoid and hydrocortisone or simply cortisone. Cortisol has a catabolic (muscle breakdown) effect on tissue and is associated with a decrease in anabolic (muscle growth) hormones like IGF-1 and GH. Thus reducing levels of cortisol is ideal for an athlete to achieve tissue growth and positive adaptations to exercise training. Playing many different roles in the body, cortisol can have a negative impact on sleep, mood, sex drive, bone health, ligament health, cardiovascular health and athletic performance, potentially causing fatigue and inflammation.

As I was running home tonight, I was thinking to myself, What can I eat for dinner that will help keep my cortisol levels down? Well luckily there are quite a few options that I just happen to have in my kitchen. Green leafy vegetables, in particular those high in vitamin K, whole grains, and lean protein are all good options to keep your cortisol levels down. My dinner tonight consisted of spinach, kale, bell peppers, carrots, tomatoes, smoked salmon and quinoa. In addition, my afternoon snack was a kale, apple, celery, cucumber, and lemon veggie juice. So yummy!

I think my cortisol levels are feeling pretty low this evening.

Happy  Trails & Happy Running,


Running stats from today are here. Seven miles at a comfortable pace, although a little on the quick side. Tomorrow will be slower. And how do you like the pic of our breakfast yesterday morning? Delicious veggie juice 😉


This morning Mario and I watched another food documentary – Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead. If you’ve never seen it, watch it! You can watch it on Hulu, Netflix, Amazon, or iTunes. It’s only 1 1/2 hours and worth every minute.

I won’t say too much about the film, but it’s basically about two men who go on a juice fast for 60 days and the dramatic changes that they experience. While making the documentary, the main character, Joe Cross, talks with ordinary Americans about his fast and their current state of health. I couldn’t help but be completely bothered by the number of people who said I can’t do that, I don’t have the willpower, I’m not strong enough, or fast food just tastes so good. However, my favorite was a man who had already suffered a heart attack, saying that he would never change his greasy diet- ever.  I am only here for a short time so I might as well eat what I want. I think I might live to 55. He said this all while sitting beside his (I’m assuming) son. Not cool.

Watching so many people say I can’t over and over again, really got me thinking about willpower. As a society, do we really think we are that helpless? Do we really think that we are unable to take charge of our  lives and of our health? Are we seriously going to let food control us? And how to we go from thinking I have no self control to yes, I can do this? Now I am just as guilty as anyone else. When it comes to chocolate, I have it pretty much set in my mind that I have to have a piece every single day. Granted, one piece isn’t that bad, but it’s the thought that I have to have this that’s problematic. No, actually I don’t and maybe I should try skipping it every now and then.

Tara Parker-Pope:

The ability to resist our impulses is commonly described as self-control or willpower. The elusive forces behind a person’s willpower have been the subject of increasing scrutiny by the scientific community trying to understand why some people overeat or abuse drugs and alcohol. What researchers are finding is that willpower is essentially a mental muscle, and certain physical and mental forces can weaken or strengthen our self-control.

Studies now show that self-control is a limited resource that may be strengthened by the foods we eat. Laughter and conjuring up powerful memories may also help boost a person’s self-control. And, some research suggests, we can improve self-control through practice, testing ourselves on small tasks in order to strengthen our willpower for bigger challenges.

“Learning self-control produces a wide range of positive outcomes,’’ said Roy Baumeister, a psychology professor at Florida State University whowrote about the issue in this month’s Current Directions in Psychological Science. “Kids do better in school, people do better at work. Look at just about any major category of problem that people are suffering from and odds are pretty good that self-control is implicated in some way.’’

Willpower is tough, yes. But it’s not unattainable. Today, I had no chocolate and I survived. I might just try it again tomorrow. 🙂 It’s all about the small victories.

Happy Trails & Happy Running,



Life gets busier during the spring time. At least for me it feels that way. In addition to trying to run, blog, work, be social and keep the house somewhat in order, I’ve been working on a few other small projects. Wow, it can get overwhelming. There is little down time in the Rodriguez household but that’s okay. In order to make things happen, you have to work for it. Yesterday when I saw this video, I was reminded that hard work is always worth it. You just have to be willing to make sacrifices.



Happy Trails & Happy Running,


Running Update: Best 10 mile run ever! It’s amazing how great running can be when everything clicks. Your form feels great, your legs feel light, and you just feel like you can go on forever and ever. Those are the runs that make me believe more than anything that running is my sport. Stats are here.

Alkaline vs. Acidic Foods

In addition to teaching Spanish, I also lead the CHS Wellness Club at school. We do yoga, learn about nutrition, and drink veggie juices. I love it. (I’m also trying to organize a 3 mile run/walk fundraiser for the One Fund Boston but am still waiting on approval.) Today, the  local juice bar provided us with some samples of delicious veggie juices (kale, carrots, apples, celery, lemon, and all sorts of yumminess) and we watched this great video on alkaline vs. acidic foods. The impact it had on my students was profound and I think it’s worth the 9 minutes. As I told them at the end of the meeting, go PLANT POWER!





I don’t plan to go vegan again but I need to get on board with a few more veggies in my diet. I mean. if I plan to live to be 100 (God willing), I certainly want to be as healthy as possible Less meat. More veggies!

Happy Trails and Happy Running,


Backward Running

I don’t remember where I read it, but somewhere recently I read that running backwards was beneficial for the hip flexors. Then yesterday I saw in my new marathon book that one of the recommended drills is running backwards. So what did I do yesterday at the gym? Lots of running backwards. 🙂 I probably looked silly but I didn’t care. However, I’m curious… what are the benefits?

According to this article from Run Addicts, running backwards:

1) allows you to still run if you are injured

2) increases muscular balance

3) burns more calories

4) improves leg speed and performance

5) improves posture

6) heightens your senses

I don’t know how much backward running I’ll be doing, but I do plan to incorporate a few reverse jogs into my week. And how is this for interesting – the fastest 5K time running in the opposite direction is 19:31! I’d be happy with that time running in the right direction. Forget trying to run fast AND watch where I’m going!

Happy Trails and Happy Running


Back Opening Stretches

My return to running has been going much better than I could have expected 1 month ago. In addition to my strength training, there is one thing that I think is really helping me… back stretches. Going into my race in February, my left side felt congested and like it wouldn’t move right. It amazes me how much more freely it moves now. These are the three stretches I do morning, afternoon, and night – every single day.

1) Downward Dog

2) Bow Pose

3) Upward Bow Pose (although I do not look nearly as flexible as this guy)

Sometimes I think to myself I don’t have time to these poses. I should just go run. Then I remember my suffering at the beginning of the year. I make time. And that includes waking up at 4:45 am, doing yoga before lunch, and always stretching before bed. For my body and for my weaknesses, I know these three stretches are greatly helping my running form. And my running couldn’t be happier. 🙂

Happy Trails & Happy Running,


Running Update: Ran to the gym, followed by leg weights & abs, and then ran home. I was super impressed at how easy this run felt. Run stats here and here.

The Vegan Runner

Many years ago, I was a vegetarian. I was also once a vegan for about 3 months. Everyone thought I was crazy and I’d heard the same typical comments over and over again. Animals were put here for us to consume. If they aren’t treated badly, then what’s the problem? You run. You NEED protein. Eventually, I gave in and went back to eating meat. However, I am way more conscious of what I put in my body now. (All of the organic chicken is really putting a dent in our grocery bill, but I say it’s all worth it.)

Lately Mario and I have been watching quite a few documentaries. Most recently we watched Forks Over Knives and Vegucated. If anything ever made me want to go vegan again, it would be those two films. The power of plants is undeniable and as a wannabe really fast runner, I’m starting to question my diet choices.

Now don’t misunderstand me… I eat much healthier than your average person. I don’t do processed foods, my sweets consumption is limited to organic dark chocolate and my two worst habits are peanut butter and plantain chips. However, as I start to think about it, I don’t think I get enough nutrition from plant based foods. My typical veggie intake consists of spinach, carrots, cucumbers, avocado, onions, and maybe mushrooms. It never ventures far from this path. After reading this article from Scott Jurek, one of the most dominating ultrarunners of all time, I think I need to revisit the issue.

Scott Jurek:

[After going vegan] my performance wasn’t the only thing that improved.

When I went vegan, my blood pressure and triglycerides levels dropped to all time lows, and my HDL, or “good” cholesterol shot up to an all-time high. I had virtually no joint inflammation, even after miles of pounding trails and roads, and on the rare occasions I sprained an ankle or fell and whacked my elbow or wrist, the soreness left faster than it ever had before.

So it turns out, an athlete, even one who trains up to eight hours a day, can do just fine with a plant-based diet. It also turns out that spending a little more time and money to eat healthy is incredibly cost effective; I think of a plant based diet as essentially the cheapest health insurance around. Being vegan wasn’t a matter of subtraction, but addition. I discovered foods I had never known existed and experienced flavors and textures I had never imagined. Have you ever tasted a juicy lentil mushroom burger, or a savory bowl of veggie chili? If not, you should.

That’s something to think about: A delicious, affordable diet that will make you healthier and support the most difficult physical challenges you could ever encounter. Now that’s shocking.

I wonder how much a little tweak in my diet will improve my performance, if at all… I think I’ll go search for my vegan cookbook. 🙂

Happy Trails & Happy Running,


Tuesday run stats. 

Hard Work and Pleasure

I haven’t mentioned this yet because I don’t want to stress myself out… Exactly one month after Chicago I’m running the Las Vegas Marathon. (I know, not the smartest idea.) I’m running the Las Vegas Marathon to help raise money for the Multiple Myeloma Foundation. Our awesome neighbor, who lives two floors above us, leads a team every year and this time Mario and I decided to participate. I have no doubt this will be a fun and exciting experience.

Today both Mario and I received a training book, The Marathon Method by Tom Hollad. I briefly flipped through the pages and saw a few new strength training exercises to try. Then I also sat down to read the introduction. This was my favorite part:

Sigmund Freud postulated that we avoid pain and seek out pleasure. I contend that true happiness and fulfillment come from seeking pleasure through pain. Not injury – causing pain, but pain in the sense that your will is put to the test. You undertake something extremely difficult, entirely of your own choosing. You invest large amounts of physical and emotional energy based on faith and the belief that you can achieve something that is far from guaranteed. And the more you invest, the  more obtainable your goals and the more incredible the pleasure that waits for you on the other side of the finish line. 

This is why hard work is gratifying. The pleasure is so much more.

Happy Trails & Happy Running,


Running Update: I definitely did a run more along the lines of a workout than an easy run today. I drove out to the greenway so I could avoid the sidewalks and traffic to do an easy six miles. The only problem with the greenway is it is uphill both ways. I’m not sure how this happens, but it is HILLY no matter which direction you are coming from. I really got into the groove and had some Eminem to cheer me along. Plus the not running on sidewalks or having to stop for cars was awesome. I went faster than I probably should have but I was so proud of the pace I was able to maintain up the hills.There is some serious benefit to training on those hills and this might be my new favorite route. States are here.

Boston Memorial Run

This afternoon over 2000 runners came together to honor those affected by the tragedy in Boston. How? With a 3 mile run of course. In less than 1 week, the city of Raleigh, the local running stores, and local running groups organized an inspirational event with amazing crowd support. There were children, families, walkers, 2013 Boston participants, and every one in between. It wasn’t really a race but instead an opportunity for people to show their support. It was the perfect way to spend a Sunday.

Boston Memorial Run, Raleigh, NC

Boston Memorial Run, Raleigh, NC


A beautiful day for a wedding and a run. This awesome couple joined in as well.

A beautiful day for a wedding and a run. This awesome couple joined in the run as well.


Happy Trails and Happy Running,