BambiRunsBey42K: The Training Begins

This is the 1st installment from the BambiRunsBey42K biweekly series covering the marathon training journey with NRC Beirut.

Warm-up Weeks
The first two weeks of the NRC Beirut Marathon training are done meaning we’ve got a few more months until #BambiRunsBey42K. Seeing that there are a lot of marathon newbies in the group (myself included), these were considered the warm-up weeks to the intense training that will kick-off as of this week. Every time the coach would say that, my brain would say, “Ha. It’s a warm-up. That’s cute.” and then I’d wring out my sweat-soaked jersey.

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Taken by Ricardo Chalhoub

Cross-Training on Off-Days
To properly train for the marathon, we need to cross-train on the off-days when we’re not running around Beirut. Cross training activities should be aimed towards strengthening our core and lower back muscles, mainly upper body since our legs are being put to the test the rest of the week.

I opted for swimming but my breathing and technique need work so we’ll see how this goes. I also need to add some lower back exercises after feeling the pressure building right above my bum as our distances got more demanding by the end of week 2. What can I say, Bambi got back.

Mark

Long Slow Distance Sundays
We’re tackling long slow distances 1x/week. During these runs, each NRCer runs at their own pace while also learning to be a self-motivator. Week by week, the long distances will get longer so the stretches when it’s just you & the road will get longer too. This also means that every Sunday, I’ll be hitting a new longest distance.

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NRC in Salaata, July 17, 2016 – Taken by Ali Itani

Our first long-distance Sunday was in Salaata, a town right before Chekka. Our starting point was 10K followed by a 12K in Mar Mikhael yesterday. You’d think that waking up early would be the most challenging part of this (sleep in your activewear, then you’re half done when the alarm goes off!) but it’s actually the heat of July/August. Which brings me to my next point…

Fuel & Hydration
The dedication that this training takes seeps into all aspects of your entire lifestyle. The way you eat, the hours of sleep you get, and how you think can all impact your performance and stamina on the track. We have to make sure we eat good carbs, drink lots of water, and refuel wisely. Avoiding alcohol the night before a run is advisable because of the high sugar levels and rewarding ourselves with honey chipotle chicken strips after a 10K is counterproductive. A banana and water will do.

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I’ve got to say though, some days I just want to have a halloumi bacon sandwich followed by an old fashioned doughnut smothered in sugar glaze. Luckily, none of the doughnut shops here do it right. That, and I can already feel my lighter weight translating to being lighter on my feet.

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Bambi Stats & Mini Victories
When I started running with NRC in December 2015, I could barely make it past the warm-up kilometer without needing to stop to walk. However, during week two of BM training, I ran 7km nonstop and I felt like a BEAST. My main goal now is to shave seconds off my pace. Based on the last 6 months, it should see a major shift after this program.


Just for Kicks

Every ~350K, you need to get a new pair of running kicks so that your feet get enough support and shock absorption. I used to think this was a marketing ploy to get you to buy more sneakers but after yesterday’s 12K, my shoes have hit over 310K and my feet got destroyed. After that much mileage, the cushioning is worn down and the soles start to suffer. With the numbers we’re adding to the roster, it looks like I’m going to run through 3 pairs by November. But it’s okay: the cost of being healthy, safe, and active is less than that of the hospital bills you’d be stuck with otherwise.

The Mental Madness

After the back-to-back training runs, I’ve come to accept that I will be spending as much time with my NRC family as I will with my own and that’s saying a lot considering I work/live with my parents. Previous participants say that the 42K is not as scary as it seems and I’m trying to think of it as a less intimidating series of four 10K runs instead of one long endless marathon. You’re going to need stretching/potty breaks in between anyway, no?

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Upon leaving the office to head to a Friday session, dad asked if I was running every day. When I explained that we were training for the 42K, he said, “but that’s like…from here to Saida. HOW are you going to be able to do that?”

I’ve got 16 more weeks to make sure that I can.

Support Your Girls: Invest in a Decent Sports Bra

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Like many other females, I would spend wads of cash on the lace & silk pieces from Victoria’s Secret but skimp when it came to activewear; I couldn’t justify dumping so much lira on undergarments that were going to be worn at the gym and eventually soaked in sweat. I’ve been reading up on the effects that running and hardcore training have on your body and one red flag went up when the articles started mentioning boobs.

Everything I read, I could relate to. Needing a bra that was secure enough to support the girls while allowing you to breathe and keep you dry, a bra that didn’t irritate or exacerbate chafing, a bra that was comfortable yet didn’t remind you of your grandma’s laban cloth bags in terms of style and material. For me, it was always too tight, too loose, or too…wet.

Next thing I know, I’m reading reviews on sports bras, realizing how many bad ones I have in my drawers, and worrying about my Cooper’s ligaments.

Wait, what are Cooper’s ligaments?

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These are the connective tissues in the breasts that help them retain their form or structural integrity. Basically, they’re the suspensory ligaments you want to strengthen to avoid having flapjacks with age. Many different factors can affect them but running and training without proper support can exert intense force on these tissues speeding up their deterioration, a problem that can be avoided.

Not only do bouncy boobs affect their shape in the long run (pun intended) but they also affect your form when running. Subconsciously, you may be altering the way you run to decrease bounce and you’re more likely to get injured because of this. According to Runner’s World, “Researchers at the University of Portsmouth in England found that excessive breast movement can result in heavier, injury-promoting landings.” Running and training without thinking about your girls would allow you to focus on what’s important: improving your pace, breathing, and stride.

Sports Bra Shopping Criteria Recap

  • Snug Factor: being aware of how tight is too tight, the bra should be supportive yet comfortable. You don’t want to feel like your bust is going to bust out.
  • Breathability and Sweat Absorbency: the material should keep you clean and dry, a bra that wicks away the sweat while staying in place is key
  • Workout Intensity: get the bra that corresponds to your workout regimen, what bra you need depends on whether you’re doing low-key strength training sessions or high impact sprints
  • Style: make sure you feel good in the bra you buy, it’s the most subtle form of motivation when trying to get/stay fit

One Year of El-Tanein Diet: 52 Weeks Later

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When El-Tanein Diet began, it was supposed to be a 6-month test to turn my life around and rectify the damage that my office job had done to my body. Once I had hit the 6-month mark, I wasn’t satisfied with where I’d reached and I extended it another 6 months. It was all in the hope that I would keep improving instead slacking off once the recording stopped.

If I were to assess my progress based on the original goals I had set for myself when I started ETD, I wouldn’t be able to strike through every single one of them. However, I will report what I did achieve because it’s even better than what I had in mind one year ago.

Below are the goals I hit + wins I didn’t see coming:

Went to a dietician and committed to a new diet: I wasn’t shedding pounds before I got my portion intake in line and started being conscious of what I was ingesting. Now, I’m slimming down, toning up, and my visceral fat percentage is in the safe zone. I didn’t want to admit that food was a big part of the process but it is. Only when I changed my diet did I really start seeing the results of my workouts.

Worked my way up to 7kg weights at my strength training classes: Up from 3kg, I don’t plan on going higher since I have a naturally muscular build so reps>weight for me.

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NRC’s Monday Beginner Session

Became a regular member of NRC: As Adriana Lima said, “For those who hate running, I’m sorry, but it really does the trick. I notice that my body really transforms from even just 30 minutes a day. If you don’t like doing it, find something to motivate you—cute new workout clothes, an amazing playlist, a great scenic path, or a [fitness] buddy.” The Brazilian hottie has a point. Running with this group has changed my opinion about it as a sport. Plus, I got my best 5K down from 39 to 35:13 and I regularly run at least 8K/week total. That wouldn’t have happened without NRC. I’ve even participated in races and I’ve graduated from shorts-for-men to the teeny tiny shorts for women. #ChubRub


Running 10Ks at the crack of dawn:
The road trip runs that were planned periodically with people who have contagious energy surprised me every time. Even now, when a run is proposed, I confirm before giving my brain time to punk out. The NRC group and the endorphins that accompany the runs give me the release and boost I need to push through the week. The workouts wear you out so sleeping is easier but they also make you feel better, faster, and stronger.

Gym/activity becoming a necessity: This may be because of my need to escape work and the daily drudgery that accompanies Beirut life but any form of exercise has become a much needed release. It’s my me-time where I can unplug and be one with the road. The pitch in Mel Gibson’s What Women Want pops in my mind whenever I’m running anything more than a 5K and all I can hear is my own breathing.

Running in foreign cities: I was once a person who would travel and chuck my gym routine out the window when abroad. Even if flying for work, I would enter vacation mode and eat my way through recommended restaurant lists. When in Barcelona, I depended on walking to stay fit. That doesn’t cut it anymore. Now, I’ve tried to be more selective about meals that are worthy AND I’ve taken the gym with me by using runs as a portable workout that also grants you free tickets to a resting city. Morning light has never been so flattering.

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Piazza Navona in Rome, Italy at 7AM (June 2016)

Registered for the Beirut Marathon 42K in November: I NEVER thought I would sign-up for such a thing voluntarily, much less commit to an intensive training program to prepare for it. But I have. I initially wanted to sign up for the half but Mark, NRC coach, convinced me that I might as well give the full thing a shot since I’ll be training for it anyway. If I feel like I can’t make it, I can always stop after 21K.

As a follow-up to this series, I will track the struggle, the pain, and the literal steps forward in a new biweekly series titled “BambiRunsBey42K” covering the marathon training that starts today. This series won’t be solely about my headway because it will be a NRC program: we operate as a team meaning their successes matter just as much as mine do.

El-Tanein Diet Week #52

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This is the final ETD report. Happy to say that I’m down 2.5% body fat and, as promised, a new series is coming as a follow-up. I’ll divulge more on that in the ETD recap post that will be published later today.

Workout Tally

– 3 NRC runs
– 30min elliptical

Outdoor Activity

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The NRC team was turned away from doing drills parallel to the Zaitunay Bay boardwalk (shocking) so we headed over to the Beirut Waterfront. I prefer its fresh asphalt anyway even if it’s not ideal for planking. Scuffed up forearms are nothing a little coconut oil can’t cure though.

Nike+ App

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I had some makis from Sushi Circle – a mango crab salad and 5 pieces. Gone are the days where I’d order by the dozen. Is it the diet or could my tummy actually be shrinking?

Other Highlights

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Eid in the South: Besides waking up at the crack of dawn to head to the border, the Eid breakfast and BBQ lunch was a good mid-week pause away from the city. We forget how much beauty this little place has until you ignore the emails, drive away from the office, put your phone down for a second, and just see it.

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Iris Beach Club: After last year’s successful day in the pool with vodka watermelons, we decided to have a repeat visit in 2016. Iris is one of the private pricey beaches in Damour; however, I designate one or two expensive beach days a month when/if deemed worth it. In other words, when it’s with a big group of friends who aren’t usually here or for special occasions. Blame it on the expats.

Workout Track of the Week

 

Cheese of the Week

I had manchego cheese with truffle oil at Bar Jamon this week. I miss Spain.

El-Tanein Diet Week #49 and #50

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It’s been a month since I flew to Rome. Where the heck are the weeks going? As of the beginning of July, El-Tanein Diet would’ve been running for exactly ONE YEAR. A recap is in order and, quite possibly, a conclusion. On to slimmer and brighter things?

Workout Tally

– 3 NRC runs (not all tracked because some were more training based than distance)
– 4 elliptical (varying between 30min-1hour) sessions

Outdoor Activity

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It has been disgusting out there. Humidity is making NRC runs really tough and I’m not fasting like some of my fellow NRCers. Not only do you sweat through everything but, even when standing still, you’re dripping from plain condensation. Sexy.

Gotta say that I miss gym classes but I haven’t been able to fit them in since I’m still catching up on work post-Rome and trying to rebuild my routine.

Nike+ App

Best Meal(s) of the Week(s)

A late night at Abu Hassan in Bourj Hammoud followed by too many Iftars these past two weeks including one with my NRC peeps at Beit Ward. I love a good gathering but my conscience keeps yelling at me for having an extra cheese roll with basterma. Mezzas, be it Lebanese or Armenian, are very hard to monitor. Batchig wins and I have no pictures because I was too busy inhaling mhammara.

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Did I mention Jammal?

Other Highlights

Beirut Marathon Training: Our runs and trainings have been shorter this month in order to make it back by Iftar but starting July 11th, the NRC crew will be kicking it into overdrive to start training for the Beirut Marathon in November with runs scheduled 5x/week.

Workout Track(s) of the Week(s)

Keke Palmer is the latest why-do-I-like-this-pop-nonsense track to hit my playlist. The video makes no sense and I can’t take her seriously after Scream Queens but at least it’s not a panda song by a dude called Desiigner. Just no. Track #2 is from the local boys of WKBL. Their latest album (Distant Rendezvous) has some good stuff, loving Mastercraft’s 80s vibes especially.

Cheese of the Week(s)

My new low-fat love is Candia light fromage blanc. It’s not brie or burrata but it’s still cheese. Hush, let me convince myself that it’s okay.

El-Tanein Diet Week #47 and #48

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View from the Borghese Gardens

I spent these two weeks in Rome and, upon return, learned that I dropped a kilo. Given all the gelato and cheese, I was not expecting that whatsoever. But I will say that I did not indulge to the max which changes travel as an overall experience. I tend to adore the foodtourism aspect of a new city but I want to stick to this new lifestyle choice of smaller portions.

Workout Tally

– 3 early morning runs around Rome

Outdoor Activity

I had no access to a gym but I made sure to get a couple of runs in before my workshop classes. I had been told that exploring a city while everyone’s still asleep as the sun rises is the best way to see it but I didn’t believe it until this trip. I felt like Rome was mine, even if just for 20 min before the eager tourists started to line up. How often do you get to see the Trevi or the Pantheon deserted in daylight?

Nike+ App

Best Meal(s) of the Week(s)

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A wooden slab of cold cuts and cheese with red wine.

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Cacio e pepe fresh pasta.

More on these two meals will be posted in my Rome Top 5 coming soon.

Other Highlights

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Meeting Arabs abroad and blending in with the Italians: We are everywhere. And we know how to spot each other. I’d feel all warm and fuzzy inside when I’d find a fellow Arab and trade stories as to why they’re in Rome. What was even better was being able to blend in like an Italian and be ignored by street vendors/avoid tourist treatment.

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Letterpress Workshop: Old school typesetting and layouts. The time and work that used to go into book production and print design makes you realize how easy we have it now with our Adobe, Kindles, and iPads.

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Two weeks with no 3G and I’m in love with Rome: Usually, getting a sim card is one of the first things I do upon landing in another country. This time, after spending my first day without it, I decided to forego constant connection and wing it. I would use Google maps to find a main destination and depend on my own sense of direction to find my way back after closing the app. Looking up instead of at texts or work emails allowed me to reconnect with my surroundings. Nasri’s latest captures what I felt in Rome. I should schedule when to be online anywhere, not just when away. If I was to cheat on Beirut, it would be with other Mediterranean cities. Barcelona. Rome. Akh. I love this sea’s people.

Workout Track(s) of the Week(s)

These tracks helped me stay up late working on a presentation for the workshop. I hadn’t done that since my uni days so that was a fun throwback. Not sure if my hotel neighbors thought so unless they had their own PJ parties to Chris Brown.

Cheese of the Week(s)

I made a trip out to Eataly Roma, the largest branch of the chain. This older man, after laughing at himself for speaking Italian to me while I remained clueless, was offering samples of cheese from his cow and ship (sheep). That ship makes great cheese and held me over on my late nights when I avoided searching for pizza.

El-Tanein Diet Week #45 and #46

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Taken by Random Dude by this “fountain”

I bunched these two weeks so I could report on some diet progress. First 10 days or so on my new diet and I’m down 3.2kgs but forget the scale – the bigger win is that my visceral fat area has dropped 23% so that’s great motivation to stick to this…which will be a challenge because I’m now in Rome, Italy.

I’m going to do my best to stay within the lines without sacrificing the chance to have authentic Italian gelato and pizza. I’m not kidding. I brought packs of light tuna and mustard with me. No joke. #wesleys4life

Mark Jibran, my NRC coach, has told me to run 3x/week while away to keep up the momentum. Let’s hope I don’t go into travel mode and get lazy. I’ve made progress with NRC BEY – can’t go back now!

Workout Tally

– 3 NRC runs
– 45 min elliptical
– SixPax, 30 min elliptical
– 1 Upper Body Gym, 30 min elliptical
– 1 Lower Body Gym, 45 min elliptical

Outdoor Activity

Last Thursday’s NRC run was such an ass-kicking workout. Over 9km of twelve sprints in increasing then decreasing increments. It was so painful emotionally that I would’ve preferred a waxing session but it made me feel less guilty about heading to Sour for the whole weekend. It was like I worked for the time off.

Nike+ App

Best Meal(s) of the Week(s)

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Le Phenicien in Sour. Octopus provençale, grilled calamari, that fruity crab salad. Oh yes, this place is good and, oh yes, we ate there twice.

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The best gelato of my life from Giolitti on my first night in Rome. Black raspberry and dark chocolate. Akh. This diet thing is going to suck.

Other Highlights

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Dar Alma & Weekending in Tyre (Sour): Cute boutique hotel with my gals. Lots of sunshine, sand, and vegetating. Feels like summer is here.

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Don Nino cappuccino and sfogliatella frolla, God help me

The start to my Summer Typography & Design Workshop in Rome: I’ll be in the Eternal City for the next 2 weeks with NYC’s School of Visual Arts. The workshop is lead by some kickass teachers from there and so far, my brain is quite happy.

Workout Track(s) of the Week(s)

Cheese of the Week(s)

I love double creme. My cheese section will be very G-rated now that I can’t go wild with the cheese platters & wine. Did I mention the burrata in Rome is INSANELY DELICIOUS?

 

El-Tanein Diet Week #43 and #44

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I combined these 2 weeks because I wanted my last post on Beirut Madinati to get as much screen time as possible. It’s had over a week so let’s get back to biz.

Gym momentum is still going strong but I gave up on policing myself with food. In other words, I went to a dietician. I’m not good at portion control and this was not easy to admit. However, after 6 months at this new gym without major results, I have to come to the conclusion that I’m probably eating all wrong. Blood tests are also being done as a precaution.

As of week #45, I will be on a diet so that my workouts aren’t done in vain and/or I don’t keel over from heart disease.

Workout Tally

– (3) NRC runs
– BodyPump, 20min elliptical
– BodyPump, 30min elliptical
– 60min elliptical
– 80min elliptical
– 45min elliptical
– Stairs drills at AUB

As you can see, the last two weeks was more elliptical than classes mainly due to convenience. The classes are more entertaining and effective as a workout though.

Outdoor Activity

 

I don’t know why I decided to jog the Chemistry stairs on the hottest day of the month so far. Those steps will always remind me of the days when I would use them to escape the misery of lower campus. I never thought I’d intentionally be going up (and down the tennis court stairs) them for no other reason than to do a loop and climb again. As the temperature rises, my fear of our moist summers increases.

Nike+ App

No records this time but maintaining my pace so far.

Best Meal(s) of the Week(s)


As my last meals before the real el-tanein diet moment that was yesterday, I did quite well: the buffet at Nicolas Audi at Ixsir Winery in Basbina, my favorite hummus beiruti and meat & cherries at Studio Beirut, and a quinoa salad at Casper & Gambini.

Other Highlights

Beginner Runs with NRC:
 Since the NRC group has been growing exponentially every Tues/Thurs, Nike has started a beginners group on Mondays. This group will be dedicated to new runners. Each run will be 3-4km and serve as an introduction to the NRC lifestyle. One caveat – these runs will not get you Nike loyalty points.

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Beirut Madinati & Election Day: Did I already mention this? Oops. #sorrynotsorry

Workout Track(s) of the Week(s)

One high tempo and one more chill for your cool down? What can I say, I’m too good to you.

Cheese of the Week(s)

I wish I was Bo. Not for the guy but for the fact that she can mange, mange, mange.

 

El-Tanein Diet Week #42

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Taken by Ali Itani

I really need to blog more. Bambi has become all about the ETD and that’s a shame but quite reflective of how life becomes when juggling work, fitness, and everything else. They say you can only have two of the three when it comes to time and activities. I’m missing my Bambi the Explorer days.

Workout Tally

– 2 NRC runs
– 10K Manara Race with Elite Running Club
– 2 hatha yoga sessions

Outdoor Activity

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I made it to Horsh Beirut! Ananda Yoga Center was hosting a free yoga session in Horsh Beirut this Saturday in support of Beirut Madinati. First off, the Horsh itself was a pleasant surprise – it’s a refreshing well-kept space full of families and people enjoying the warm weather. Second, there was a great turnout and strangely contrasting with the jaded attitudes I’ve been encountering in BEY lately. Yoga itself really challenges you to disconnect and there’s nothing like doing breathing exercises in a park while people are shooting off guns from rooftops not too far off.

Nike+ App


I beat my best-5K and 10K times! Mini wins every other week or so are getting addictive. If I can get my best-5K to be my time every 5K, then I’ll really celebrate but it feels good to keep knocking off seconds.

Best Meal of the Week

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Post-Manara race, I devoured one too many nachos at Cheesecake Factory but the best meal will undoubtedly go to Babel Bay and their shrimp fatteh. Or Ajami’s shawarma plate. Let’s just say that dad’s birthday comes with a lot of family lunches.

Other Highlights

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Taken by Dany Tannous


NRC takes over Zaitunay Bay:
 
After our Tuesday fun run, we invaded the marina for some sangria and chips. The group’s not just about breaking a sweat but also about mingling with new people from all over and having fun together.

Beirut Municipality Elections this Sunday: Real people who think about what Beirut needs should win this for the sake of all those who are losing the ability to hope for change. Although it is admirable that there are people still trying to push back, the rest of the country is tired and need proof that the efforts aren’t wasted – that we’re not stuck. If I could vote in Beirut, I would vote for Beirut Madinati. Check out this comparison by Habib at Beirut Report.

Workout Track of the Week

I feel like this has been in this section before but it’s better than something new by someone who hasn’t hit puberty yet.

Cheese of the Week

Turn on the English subtitles for this.

El-Tanein Diet Week #39, #40, and #41

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Week #39 was spent at Biel because I was on trade show duty for Wesley’s, the family biz. Although it was a successful business experience, it was horrible for ETD. Being in a hospitality industry atmosphere surrounded by food for 4 days straight does not a fit person make. Let’s skip that week and FFWD to weeks 40 & 41 where I got back on track…in terms of exercise.

Workout Tally

– (4) NRC runs
– Iron Core, 45min elliptical, 20min bike
– BodyPump, 30min elliptical
– BodyAttack, 30min elliptical
– Iron Core, 30min elliptical
– BodyPump, 30min elliptical

Totals out at 4 runs and 5 classes for 2 weeks. I’m working on an alternating schedule of classes and NRC runs with a weekend activity in between. The only downside so far is getting my food intake down now that I’m attempting to morph into a gymrat.

Outdoor Activity

Spending Nike runs all over Downtown Beirut and Mar Mikhael hasn’t been enough on the weeks when we don’t have out-of-city excursions. Sure, they count but I need more nature every week. MUST GET TO THE HORSH.

Nike+ App

I beat my best 5K, 1 mile, and 1K time in these two weeks. All records were thanks to my NRC crew’s constant encouragement. My average running pace has also been going down (-14 seconds from last month) steadily along with my average 5K time. Although you can’t tell from looking at me, it seems my body’s endurance is improving.


Best Meal of the Week(s)


A sushi burrito at Horeca and one too many Smoking Buns, a pricey lunch at é cafe in Sursock, and a BBQ extravaganza on a sunny Sunday would be my top 3 for this category. The sushi burrito, while I always love me some spicy salmon, is like eating a giant California roll. The pricey lunch was satisfying and refreshing but I wouldn’t go back unless my parents were footing the bill. Hi dad. Call me simple but I’d choose BBQ any day.

Other Highlights

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Missed out on meeting Chirine Njeim with NRC:
 Due to Horeca duty, I missed out on meeting our star athlete/Olympian, Chirine Njeim, the first Lebanese person to qualify for the Summer Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro.

Discovered Fayrouz is my sedative: I haven’t really listened to Fayrouz since my high school days when our driver used to play her every morning when we were still half asleep on the way up to Ain Saade. Maybe that’s why she soothes me, it reminds me of simpler times: IB stress and sweatpants.

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From Smoking Buns to Protein Bars: After Horeca’s debauchery, I shifted to eating Pro Bars and obsessing about calories & carbs. I’ve become one of those people who’s scared of tortilla chip bags. They follow me home.

Workout Track(s) of the Week(s)

 Multiple tracks of multiple genres have been on repeat these last few weeks. These combined with Fayrouz = my taste in music makes no sense whatsoever.
Conor Maynard’s cover isn’t as good as Drake’s original when it comes to something to get your butt moving but they’re both addictive.

Cheese of the Week(s)

Click here.