How To Power Through Tough Workouts

by Angela (Oh She Glows) on May 20, 2009


I tried beets in my green monster today!

Bears Beets Battlestar Galactica. I can’t say beets without that popping into my head!

Oh, Eric and I finally watched last week’s office episode last night. OMG! Jim and Pam!

This is not a green monster! Imposter!



  • 2 organic kale leaves
  • 1 cup Almond Breeze in Original
  • 1 T flax
  • 1/2 cup frozen pineapple (forgot I had this!)
  • 1/4 cup raw beets (washed but not peeled)
  • 1/2 frozen banana

The taste?

  • Ick!!!! I could taste the beets pretty strongly. I don’t know, maybe I just don’t like the taste of beets! But I didn’t like this smoothie very much. I had a hard time getting it down! Maybe it was the combination of the bitterness of the beet and the tartness of the pineapple??

Note: Joanna tells me that they are much more bitter raw, so perhaps I would like them better cooked first??

However I drank it like a champ! All I had to do was think of beet’s amazing health benefits:

  • Decreased risk of cancer, especially colon
  • Decreased inflammation
  • Decreased risk for cardiovascular disease
  • Protection against birth defects (from the folate)

You can read all about beets over at World’s Healthiest Foods.

Then of course I had to have a vegan doughnut with my breakfast!

I had half of this large one since I was missing the green in the morning:


I wiped some of the sugar off because it was way too much sugar for my liking!

Yum yum.


Powering through tough workouts

The weather here has been beautiful and hot and is supposed to be that way all week. All I wanted to do yesterday was to get outside for a run, but since I had just run 5 miles the day before I knew that wasn’t a wise decision. I was feeling a tiny bit stiff in the groin region so I made sure to do lots of stretches for that area (clam, lying down and pulling knee to chest, etc).

I really didn’t want to workout on the treadmill, but I told myself that I could 1) Put The Doctors on, 2) Read Runner’s World, and 3) Listen to my music…loud! With all of these distractions, I was able to get started and get going. It usually takes me a while before I am in the ‘zone’ as I call it. On bad days I’m not feeling in the zone until minute 25 or 30, on better days as soon as minute 10. Yesterday I felt in the groove pretty fast, and I think it was because I had a bunch of distractions.

What works for me is breaking up longer cardio sessions into smaller bouts. I say to myself, I will get off and take a break after 1 mile. This worked for me yesterday.

  • I walked at incline 15% at 4.0 mph on the treadmill

For some reason my heart rate was much higher yesterday that previous days when I did this workout. That always makes me wonder why that is so. Is it just from being more tired? Or because it is a different time of the day?

After 15 minutes (1 mile), I got off and allowed myself a quick 1 minute break. I drank some water and lightly walked around. Then I jumped back on the treadmill for another mile. Repeated the same break and got back on for the last mile. This last mile was the toughest!

I decided to do some visualization for the last mile. Visualization is a powerful tool and is used by top athletes to get through tough workouts and competitions!

Here is what I visualized:

  • I visualized myself running the 10k that I have planned on June 14th. I imagined myself running my first race and feeling strong and fit. I imagined what I might feel when I cross the finish line and think about the journey it took to get there and think about who I was running the race for. Then I imagined how I will design my running outfit. What I will write on the back of my tank or my shorts. The thoughts ‘For Chris’ brought tears to my eyes. I wondered how much money Shop 4 A Cause was going to raise and how I could proudly write the amount on the back of my tank. I imagined a beautiful sunny day and lots of people cheering from the sidelines. And I completely zoned out.

It was a good 5 minutes later when I ‘snapped out of it’ but it was just enough to make my workout more meaningful and power me though it!

Runner’s World (June 2009) also offers some of their own tips:

  1. Remember your strengths (think of all the other challenging workouts you’ve gotten through in the past)
  2. Workout with a purpose (Fill in this blank…”I’m working out because ______”
  3. Repeat a Mantra (“Go!”, “Do this now!”, “Power”)
  4. Know it will pass (When pain is not related to injury it will always pass. Pain comes and goes)
  5. Think of the payoff (When a workout is tough it means that you will get that much more payoff!)
  6. Distract yourself (Focus on something else- make your weekly to-do list, plan a party, etc)

My workout Yesterday:

  • Duration: 49 mins (including 3 quick breaks)
  • Speed 4.0, incline 15%
  • Distance: 3 miles
  • Max heart rate: 173 bpm
  • Avg heart rate: 160 bpm (much higher!)

I was a sweaty and happy mess when I was done! :)

On that note, today I get to go outside for a run!!! whoot! :) It is already 21C/70F so I better get out before it gets super hot!

By the way it looks like Shop 4 A Cause is going to be held on Thursday June 11th. The race director has agreed to put the auction in both of their flyers going out on May 28th and June 10th to 10,000 runners. I hope that it gives the auction more publicity!!! Afterall, the only goal is to raise as much money as possible! And yes, there is still time to submit items to be auctioned off!


Today’s question: How do you power through tough workouts? Do you ever say any mantras to yourself? How do you distract yourself?

See you this afternoon for more thoughts from yesterday’s hot topic! And boy was it a hot topic!!!

Let's get social! Follow Angela on Instagram @ohsheglows, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest

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{ 35 comments… read them below or add one }

Jocelyn May 20, 2009 at 9:55 am

Hey Angela
Kudos to you being a champ and takin that beet smoothie..I couldn’t do it lol

Just curious but during your research have you ever came across Jogging training for people with asthma?

Since I’v lost a bit of weight I’v always been curious about jogging…but every time I get into it I wheeze and wheeze and huff and puff and my doctor said it’s reccamended for thoes who have asthma to walk..simple as that lol but I dont want to miss out on the benefits…ah well! Just curious :) Perhaps I will do my own research!

Have a nice day!

No, I havent come across any research on it persey, only that I have heard the same as you- to avoid it all together. Please be careful! ~Angela


Ashley May 20, 2009 at 10:00 am

This post is amazing. I think your survey really helped you to focus your writing. I have always loved your blog, but something about this post really resonated with me. Thank you for writing all that you do.

Thank you that was really sweet! ~Angela


Joanna May 20, 2009 at 10:01 am

Oh no, you didn’t like the beets?! That’s because they are really bitter when raw (so maybe grate a small amount into a salad with other sweeter veggies, like carrots). But they are fantastic when baked or boiled! You can make tasty soups with them (a staple of East European cooking), dice them with goats cheese, mint, and walnuts for a warm salad, OR – my personal favourite – bake them into a chocolate cake (bake in an oven for 40 mins then grate)! Seriously, they add a rich moisture and texture (I use them instead of any butter or margerine), complement dark chocolate, and you can fool kids into eating a vegetable they would otherwise avoid like the plague. Just don’t give up on the little purple fellas just because they don’t go well in a smoothie!

Thanks for the tip! That makes sense. I do used cooked beets in my chocolate cake and it tastes amazing!! Maybe I will try adding cooked beets to the GM…~Angela


Alison May 20, 2009 at 10:13 am

I make Purple Monsters for my girls! They help me make GM’s and then we make them purple monsters…. (I don’t rinse the blender between “Monsters” so they still get a little green hehehe!) but it’s usually frozen organic blueberries that makes our purple though, not beets! :) Good girl for drinking it anyway!

I picture Jillian Michaels screaming at me to power through tough workouts! Works every time.


Mara @ What's For Dinner? May 20, 2009 at 10:13 am

A few things:
1) The color of that “green monster” is gorgeous… but probably better as paint!
2) i HATE beets, no matter how they’re cooked
3) I want a donut


e. May 20, 2009 at 10:15 am

Beets are super sweet when they’re roasted, as Joanna pointed out above. If you want to use them raw, juicing them with apples, carrots, celery, parsley, ginger, etc. is a good way to use them. I’ve never had them raw, so you’re braver than I!

When I’m dragging around and not wanting to go to the gym, I like to go to YouTube and watch Nike commercials (I love Michael Jordan, I’m a dork). I also LOVE the Lance Armstrong commercials where he parodies his “tough competitor” image. When I am dragging on the treadmill and I want to quit, I think of this commercial and I kinda crack up to myself:

FEED THE WARRIOR TWENTY POUNDS! Hahaha, sorry, it just makes me laugh.

bahaha I LOVE that video!!!
That is my new mantra “FEED THE WARRIOR!!!” :) ~A


Kiersten May 20, 2009 at 10:32 am

Try roasted beets, they are delicious! I suggest peeling them next time too, but that is just my personal preference. When I do a tough workout (or am just feeling lazy) I keep telling myself to just “suck it up!” I listen to music on my ipod during my workouts too sometimes because it seems to give me more energy.


Allison May 20, 2009 at 10:34 am

I find my HR is much higher in my morning workouts than in the afternoon. I read somewhere that through your normal day to day actions (breathing, talking, singing haha) you build up your oxygen supply. When you wake up in the morning, your oxygen supply is lower, so your body is has to work a bit harder, at least for awhile.

Visualizing myself running a race is pretty much my number one go-to technique for treadmill work!


Elisabeth May 20, 2009 at 10:39 am

Since I am officially on a “training plan”, I had a 6 mile easy run scheduled for yesterday. I did NOT want to do it. I was feeling tired, and the idea of running 6 miles straight was not something that I thought I could mentally cope with. However, it turned out to be a fun run because of how I did it.

I did a 2 mile loop from my house, and took Dog #1 (Maya) with me. I called her the “short leg” of our little relay run yesterday. She doesn’t have the greatest endurance…by the end of the 2 miles, she was slowing me down! =) We stopped a couple of times to say hi to other dogs. I was talking to her the whole time. I’m sure that my neighbors think I’m insane.

Maya and I got home just as my Garmin beeped “2 miles”, and I ran inside, did a quick dog change, and brought Dog #2 (Nikko) outside for the “long leg”! It made it fun because it was like we were in a puppy relay race…in the transition from dog 1 to dog 2. Silly, I know.

So, Nikko ran the remaining 4 miles with me…to the lake, one loop around the lake, then home. We stopped to look at ducks, and we rested for a while as Nikko and I worked on “staying” while other dogs and people passed by. I talked to him the whole time too. Now, the entire community probably thinks I’m insane.

I would have HATED every step of that run if I didn’t make it fun by bringing my puppies. They really got me through it, and it was great exercise for them!

My mantra: “You don’t have to go fast…you just have to get there”


Holly May 20, 2009 at 10:45 am

Could those doughnuts look any more amazing?

I love your blog, love your perspective on things and enjoy reading it every morning. Have a fabulous day~


Katherine May 20, 2009 at 10:47 am

Hi Angela,

I agree with some of the other commenters that roasting and peeling the beets might help! I know it probably decreases the nutrient value since they won’t be raw anymore, but the taste is so much better (to me, at least!) and I like to think you still get some of the benefits.

As far as getting through tough workouts, I have a couple of techniques:

1. If I’m running outside, or doing a program on the treadmill with varying inclines, I never allow myself to stop on an uphill portion. I always tell myself I’ll reevaluate when I get to the top and have taken a nice deep breath. And you know what? I never end up stopping!

2. For other cardio workouts, I focus on my breathing (alternating inhale/exhale with L or R foot and then switching) or I make deals with myself – check your time after this song if you’re still tired, etc.

3. As far as looong runs go (longer than 6 miles or so), I stick with music and a running buddy who will tell me to suck it up! :)

Thank you so much for your wonderful blog. You’ve inspired me to start making green monsters every morning and I’m looking forward to experimenting with different combinations. Have a wonderful day!

PS Let me know if you do start selling your delicious creations internationally. New York City needs some of your Glo (and least I know I do!)!!


Christina May 20, 2009 at 11:00 am

aw sorry you didn’t like the beets. Maybe you put too much in? I’m not a huge fan of straight up beet taste either.

Ah the auction is when I’ll be in Aruba. I’m hoping I can find an internet cafe there!


Chelsea May 20, 2009 at 11:01 am

Wow, I can’t believe you drank a beet smoothie. I’m still working myself up to try the spinach green monster. I’ll get there one day :).

My absolute number one tip for getting motivated to workout and to do a tough workouts is to do it first thing in the morning. Get up; get it done. No thinking allowed, lol.

If my schedule dictates I have to work out in the afternoon here are a few things I’ll do if I’m having trouble getting started:

1. Tell myself how proud I’ll be and how good I’ll feel when I’m finished

2. Bribe myself with TV and magazines either during or after

3. Make a compromise that if I just start I only have to do X time, and I can stop after that if I’m really not feeling it. Usually by the time I get to X minutes, I’m feeling good and want to do the whole workout.

To get through the hard part of a workout, I like to thinking about sprinting to the finish of a race, repeat a mantra, concentrate on my breathing, and, again, think about how proud and good I’ll feel when I’m finished.


Sarah (lovINmytummy) May 20, 2009 at 11:20 am

Love the workout, since I am currently limited to elliptical or those incline treadmill walks for my cardio. I just got done with my incline walk, and it really is NOT a bad workout at all if you, like me, are limited to low impact cardio.

My workout mantra is, “I can do anything for 30 minutes” (or 60 minutes, or however long my workout is). I figure if there are 24 hours in a day, I only have to be uncomfortable for one, and then I’ll be done!


Amy May 20, 2009 at 11:21 am

…I talk about FOOD! haha

On long distances though, we had to implement a “No talking about food until the last 5k” rule because we were starving!

Common questions are:

1) If you could have any donut right now, what would it be?
2) What will we have at Starbucks today?
3) What will our refueling meal be today?

Clearly I run to eat, not eat to run! :)

Have a good day!


Bronwyn May 20, 2009 at 11:28 am


There are definitely a few things I do to get through a tough workout.

1. Repeat a mantra. Sometimes it’s as simple as just counting my steps, “1, 2, 3, 4.”

2. Pick a goal, like a telephone pole and tell myself I only have to get to that pole. Then when I’m there, I look at the next pole and say I only have to get that far.

3. If I don’t even want to start working out I tell myself I can just go super slow and do a half-ass workout… That will get me there, and just as you said sometimes it takes 30mins but I get into it and it becomes good.


Evey May 20, 2009 at 11:28 am

Whenever I’m doing a tough workout and I just want to quit I just keep telling myself, “I can make it one more minute”. I repeat it until its pretty much the last minute. I zone out quite a bit. Especially in spin class. Is it weird that I have to close my eyes in spin, just seems to make it so much easier. Pressure cooking beets is one of the best ways to bring out their sweetness. Enjoy the rest o your day.


Wiggs (The Beholder) May 20, 2009 at 12:03 pm

Normally I think about what I’m going to be able to eat – guilt-free – if I keep the workout going. I always reward myself for a tough workout with something delicious and forbidden. I also remind myself of how much better I feel about myself when I’m in-shape and strong. But most of the time I just have to tell myself “this is only an hour of my life. I can waste this hour sitting on my computer in front of the t.v., or I can do this and feel proud of myself afterward.” It doesn’t make the workout easier, but it keeps me going.


Amanda May 20, 2009 at 12:06 pm

Often when I am having trouble with a run, I will just tell myself to slow down and the feeling will pass. I usually try so hard to do my best at all times, it is nice to just slow my stride and take in all of my surroundings! I also think about what I’ll have for dinner because that’s usually what follows my workouts!


Help Meghan Run May 20, 2009 at 12:07 pm

Great tips, Angela! I will definitely be keeping those in mind with my half marathon workouts coming up. :)

www. HelpMeghanRun .com


Diana (Soap & Chocolate) May 20, 2009 at 12:12 pm

Your baked donuts really do look life-changing! I’m pretty sure I would have my bf’s undying devotion if I made those for him – he likes Dunkin Donuts a little too much and would probably be glad for a healthier version.

I have never made/bought beets for myself, but when I have them in restaurants they’re always deliciious, but I think they’re cooked first, so maybe that’s why they tasted icky to you. I had beets and goat cheese on tiny mini muffins at brunch on Sunday and I can’t stop thinking about them!


Natalie M. May 20, 2009 at 12:17 pm

Awww Angela don’t give up on the beets! I basically had to condition myself to like them and now I absolutely adore them. I think if you add fruits such as strawberries, or blueberries in combination with the beets it takes a bit of the bitterness away. I mainly use the Living Harvest vanilla flavored protein powder to cover up the bitterness of the beets.. vanilla flavored almond milk is a good mask as well.. just keep repeating the health benefits to yourself :)


Leah @ Simply fabulous now May 20, 2009 at 12:49 pm

I love beets but somehow I don’t think I would like them in a smoothie :)

Getting thru my workouts?
I simply just reason with myself by saying how it is such a short amount of time in the grand scheme of the day. I figure if I am awake 16-18 hours a day, surely I can spend up to an hour exercising.

Also, I ALWAYS remind myself how awesome I feel afterwards.

I never ever regret a work out.


Susan May 20, 2009 at 12:51 pm

Like everyone has suggested, cooking the beets will sweeten them up a little. I’d say boil them for a good 15-20 minutes, peel and chop, then keep them in the fridge for your smoothies :)

I ALWAYS think about food when working out. So when I have to push through a particularly tough workout, I think of what I’m going to treat myself with when I finish!


Menden (SkinnyMenny) May 20, 2009 at 12:53 pm

Great post, Angela!

I’m definitely not a runner, but I’m trying to get better, so I always have to keep motivating myself when I’m running to get through it!

Good music definitely helps. I also tell myself that “if so-and-so can do it, so can I!” For example, when the Biggest Loser was on, I was floored by how much running they could do! If they can do it, I can too :)


Robyn May 20, 2009 at 1:21 pm

That’s too bad about the beets! (bears battlestar galactica). You’d think they would make it sweet, but who knew you had to cook them to derive the sweetness? I’d never think of that!

Ok, now that I got the comment about the healthy food out of the way…

Those donuts look AMAZING. Vegan baking sure has come a long way!


Fitzalan May 20, 2009 at 1:55 pm

It depends if I am running outside or doing cardio inside. If I am out running I try to distract myself. Think about a book, think about people I need to call, what I want to have for dinner, anything except what I am doing when it hurts…you are right, it will pass.

If I am doing cardio inside and I have totally hit a wall, I make myself do a “triathlon” instead. If I have started on the treadmill and I am miserable, I will only run 10 minutes, then switch to the bike, do this for 10-15 minutes, then switch to the stairmaster for the last 10-15 minutes. By knowing I only have to do something for 10 minutes more, I can usually push through.

Happiness Awaits


Fitzalan May 20, 2009 at 2:08 pm

whoops–i posted that on the wrong post. Will you delete it? :)


Jenna May 20, 2009 at 2:37 pm

seriously beets are one of my favorite foods!! the are so perfect roasted in a little bit of EVOO.


maggie b May 20, 2009 at 2:50 pm

my family has a garden and we grow beets. they are soo delish! i would definetly give them a second chance.
they are yummy boiled. you just trim the leaves off and place the whole thing in boiling water. let them cook for a while and then the skin (which you do not eat) peels right off. They are soo good that way and super sweet.
They are also great juiced with carrots, apples, kale, chard and ginger!!!


Heather May 20, 2009 at 4:34 pm

Sorry to hear that the beets weren’t green monster approved. At least you were brave enough to try them! ;)

Adorable donut to start out the day!


april May 20, 2009 at 4:56 pm

i love beets! I’ve never eaten them raw however! I usually slice/cut them up and put them on a baking sheet sprayed with non-stick cooking spray and cook them for about 40 minutes at 400 degrees. Yum!!


shannon May 20, 2009 at 5:26 pm

do you put ice in your green monsts?


AGS May 21, 2009 at 8:47 am

Hmmm. Why didn’t you peel them? Try them with apple and carrot as a combination. Also, try peeling them and grating them to add to a green salad. Just lovely.


Sri May 20, 2010 at 6:03 am

Beetroot as we call them in India are darn yummy. Shall I send you a very south Indian recipe for them? You’ll get addicted!! Also a restaurant near where my parents live in Bangalore does a very healthy, fresh produce beetroot and apple soup that tastes divine!
And the best juice place on the planet, in Mumbai- a hole in the wall called Pishu’s serves a skin clearant juice that has spinach, beetroot, apple and some carrot. And it actually cleared up my skin in just two days of drinking it.
Peeling the beetroot helps the taste too.


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