How To Run Longer and Faster


I semi panicked when faced with the task of picking out this week’s Trader Joe’s Night dinner. So many choices – where do I even begin?

Some pre-made Lasagna caught my eye pretty early. Nah, too cheesy. Manicotti? Even Cheesier. Ooo what about that Macaroni & Cheese I tried when they were sampling it last month? Dude – enough with the cheese!

A quick stroll through the “exotic” section of the freezer aisle later and BINGO. The second I spied the Naan – it was ON. Indian night!


Frozen Indian food? I know – total risk – but I went for it! For him: Chicken Tikka Masala over Cumin flavored Basmati Rice.


For her: Paneer Tikka Masala over Spinach Basmati Rice.


This classic, vegetarian Indian dish pairs paneer (Indian cheese – I know, cheese!) with a luscious sauce of tomatoes, cashews and butter, and fluffy basmati rice studded with big chunks of spinach.


Ok – the salt & fat contents were quite alarming, but I can look past it for an occasional dinner. The calorie count was pretty low and I loved that there was 9 grams of protein in there!


At first glance, the frozen meal looked similar to most others, although I DID appreciate the fact that the paneer tikka masala was separated from the spinach basmati rice, because…


you can dress it up and pretend that it didn’t come frozen in a box – muwahaha!


Ok – I’m going to come right out with it – 10 out of 10! Devoured this dinner!!


The sauce had that unique Indian spice blend that I just adore – slightly spicy, slightly sweet and super complex. Plus the basmati rice was soooo fluffy.


And the naan that started it all? Light as a cloud!


It actually comes frozen too – 4 to a pack.


I was bummed to see that 1 piece had 190 calories and so much sodium,


but the ingredients were right,


and MY GOD – it takes 1 1/2 minutes to cook?! Yes please. :)


I tore the giant piece of garlicky, fluffy bread in half, and dunked it in the generous amount of tikka masala sauce accompanying my paneer.


Heaven. HEAVEN! I could barely finish the piece either (that seriously N-E-V-E-R happens to me – I belong to the clean plate club) so you definitely don’t need more than one piece per person.


Ben and I were both starving tonight so he started gobbling before I could take a shot. His review:

There is nothing better than good rice!” (He liked the rice)

This is the best frozen, Indian dinner I’ve had.” (How many have you had before?!)

I could kinda tell the chicken was frozen dinner chicken, but I can look past it.” (Details.)

7 out of 10.” (He has a more picky palette than me. ;) )

WHEW I am stuffed! I will definitely be purchasing at least the paneer tikka masala for lunches in the future. Delish! :D

How to Run Longer and Faster

In other news, after posting a treadmill routine that included sprints at 8.0 the other night, a reader asked me how I built myself up to doing that. Great question!

First of all, I want to clarify that I don’t see myself as a fast runner. There are plenty of people around me at the gym that warm up at the speeds I top out at. On the other hand, I’ve worked hard over the years to be able to run comfortably at 7.0-7.5 on the treadmill, so I’m proud of that too!

Anyways – I’ve been running consistently for about 5 years now, and I can clearly remember trying to get in really good shape for my wedding in 2008 and absolutely MAXING myself out at 6.0 mph on the treadmill. I literally thought I was going to die if I pressed that little arrow to 6.1.

The women on the treadmills around me, seemingly the same age and in the same shape that I was, were running comfortably at 6.5 and above. Why couldn’t I do that?

It was then I realized that in order to run longer and faster, I had to run longer and faster. Just like weight lifting – if you don’t lift heavier weights, you won’t get stronger. I had been running the same distance and at the same speed for years, definitely NOT pushing myself to the limit, and thus, wasn’t growing as a runner.

It took some time, but I gradually – gradually – added 2 minutes, then 4 minutes, then 6 minutes, etc onto my runs, then increased my speed by .3, .5, .7, etc, to get to the point where I am today.

So yeah, it took about 2 years of running approx 3 times a week to get here, but it feels so good to look back at where I was and compare it to where I am today.

Push to improve. Anyone can do anything for five minutes. You won’t fall off the treadmill. Your brain is wrong and Nike is right – just do it!

The end.

Long answer to a short question. What do you think?

Off to watch Thursday night’s “must see tv” with the hubbie!

ps: did you hear? Will Ferrell coming to the office??!! He’s literally the only person I can think of that could save that show after Steve leaves – ahhhh!

Talk to you tomorrow!


What’s your workout history? Always been a runner? Just getting into it? Prefer to attend classes or workout outside?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...


  1. Seriously, everything from Trader Joe’s is amazing. My husband and I like to pick out new things each week also, and we’ve only come across one item that I did not like: spinach pie. It was…odd!

  2. Sarah 01.27.2011

    Thank you for this! 1. I LOVE Indian Food. 2. I’ve been looking for a way to increase my speed and endurance on the treadmill. I can’t wait to go push it up a few notches. Thanks!

  3. Lauren 01.27.2011

    Thank you for all of these great TJ’s reviews. I’m putting them all on my list. :)

    I definitely had to work my way up to running. I will never forget going to the gym and pushing myself to my limits for 30 min. I thought I would DIE after 30 min. Now I can comfortably run for over an hour on that thing.

  4. Great advice on the treadmill running!

  5. Melissa 01.27.2011

    I just started running about 6 months ago and I struggled to run even 1 mile at 5 mph. I have gradually pushed myself just as you have, Kristen and I must say I feel the satisfaction you get when I look back at where I started. I force myself to increase my distance and speed everytime I run. some days, its a battle, but others are not so bad.

  6. Not a natural runner- I actually loathe it! :( I don’t like Indian food per se, but I LOVE naan. Dying to try the TJ’s!

  7. LOVE Trader Joes AND Indian food!!

    I am really impressed with your advise on running farther and faster because this is the same philosophy I have been living by since I re-started running. Now I feel like I have some backing!! I advise my friends to do the same thing…increase their runs by a couple of minutes rather then by focusing on miles. It’s a lot easier to say ‘instead of running 20 minutes today I’m going to run for 22 minutes’ then it is to say ‘I’m going to run an extra half mile today’. A while ago I was at a running plateau and was seeing no improvements in time, distance or my body even though I was running 5 miles a day 4 days a week…my body had adapted and was so efficient that it stopped ‘improving’. I started doing HIIT, which is just like your intervals, and am now running faster and further then ever. And the best part, I have been injury free (knock on wood) and actually feel GREAT! Wonderful post!!

  8. Your food rating system should run from 10-20 :). I mean…what DOESN’T TJ’s excel at??

  9. Imwaytoobusy 01.27.2011

    I had not heard this Will Ferrell news! That’s a game changer! I used to love that show, but have fallen off the train. I will definitely be tuning in!
    *Loved the running tips! I’ve been running again lately and have been pushing myself to increase speed. My biggest fear is doing “too much, too soon” and straining something. Any tips there? So far, so good on my end but I’ve been at 6.0. ;)
    As always, great post!

    • Iowa Girl Eats 01.27.2011

      Doing too much too soon is definitely enticing but a great way to get discouraged. I gradually increased my speed and length of time running with great results. Being patient sucks, but is worth it in the end!

      • Imwaytoobusy 01.27.2011

        I will heed your advice! I guess it won’t do me much good if I wound up unable to do anything ;) Thanks for your input!

  10. I love Indian food! I dont know why I dont keep some in my freezer for moments of craving. Note to self: Buy frozen Indian food ASAP

  11. I started running during my sophomore year of high school, but always hated it and couldn’t do it very well. Last year around this time, I started running on the treadmill and still hated it, but made myself do it anyways because I thought it would help me “become a runner”. Over the summer, I found my love for running and since have been running 3-4 times a week, cross training on the other days and I love it! Your advice is so true, NEVER try to jump to something above your skill level! Working up to it slowly is better for your body and more realistic.

    p.s. Girl, yous a speed demon! I can’t run past 7.2 right now:)

  12. Slow runner here. Thanks for the helpful tips.
    I hate to say this, we don’t have DVR, so I’m cheating on The Office with Real Police Women of Cincinnati. Got to support the hometown heroes. :)
    Thank goodness for Hulu!

  13. I grew into being a runner during college and have done a couple of races, but it’s not my primary means of exercise. I still do prefer doing the elliptical and stationary bike at the gym, weightlifting several times a week, and attending classes, although I don’t belong to a gym right now. Working out outside is GREAT…when it’s not 10 degrees out!

    Where’s spring?!

  14. Caroline 01.27.2011

    Do you ever run any races or are you planning on signing up for any? Just curious!
    I love Trader Joes!

    • Iowa Girl Eats 01.27.2011

      I ran a half marathon in 2009 and have done some 5ks here and there. Looking to do more in the coming season though!

  15. Shannon 01.27.2011

    I’m not usually brave enough to give frozen dinners a chance, but both of those look so good. LOVE LOVE LOVE Indian food. I can’t believe I had never tried it until a year ago. And NAAN?! THE BEST. Completely necessary to make sure you don’t miss a drip of sauce… I cannot leave sauce on my plate, that’s my favorite part of any meal.

    I’m not sure about the Will Farrell on The Office thing, but I’m definitely going to have an open mind.

  16. I love naan…so good! I’ve never tried the TJ’s brand before…I’m going to have to find it!

    I used to be at a point where I could absolutely hang on at higher speeds and dropped off of running. I’m currently working on getting speed back at longer periods of time! I just keep telling myself to take it slow!! :)

  17. Lee 01.27.2011

    I’ve had that naan before. It’s so good!

  18. Kelly 01.27.2011

    Definitely loved hearing your history with the tredmill! Gave me some motivation to get back at it & push myself harder, longer, and faster.

  19. New runner 01.27.2011

    I use a great app called couch to 5k to get back into running. The program is nice because it starts with interval training–1 minute running, 90 seconds walking. This eventually builds up to a 5k run. I’m now going through the program a second time, using the running intervals for sprints at 7.5-8.0 and recovering at 4.0. I am now running comfortably at 7.0–something I never thought would be possible.

    I definitely recommend interval training for running on the treadmill. Breaks up the boredom and the time flies by!

    It’s so true about slowly building up by a minute or two on your workouts or even just .1 on your speed. It takes patience to get where you want to be, but is so rewarding when you can seriously see and feel the progress!

  20. Going to TJs tomorrow, so I’ll have to pick up that dinner! I used to be a runner, but now I workout at home and take a class from time to time. :)

  21. Stephanie 01.27.2011

    Ahhh! I didn’t see this naan at TJ’s in WDM last week. Maybe I wasn’t looking hard enough! I need to get back there next week…this dinner looks fab.

  22. sara 01.27.2011

    Where did you get the great treadmill workouts you do?

  23. Maggie 01.27.2011

    Kristin, do you run road races? If so is there a training website or magazine you would recommend? I am planning to run the Bix 7 in Davenport this year. However, I just started back running in the past six months after having my kids. I feel like a need a guide or more info on how to increase my endurance and overall prepare for road races. Y

  24. AmyLou 01.27.2011

    Hi! Thanks so much for answering my question!!!!
    That is an excellent point about adding a couple extra minutes rather than thinking of it in terms of mileage!! If you used to max out at 6, then there’s hope for me yet! I just started running this past summer. I’ve increased from 4.5 mph steady (no sprints) to 5.0 easily with the 6.2 sprints. I really want to take it up a notch but am scared a bit of falling off the treadmill. Your advice at the end is excellent, because you’re right – I CAN do it for 5 minutes, I just have to DO IT!!!! Can’t wait to give it a shot this weekend!!

    (p.s. LOVE LUV that you read all of your comments so thoroughly and then answer them!!!)

  25. Trader Joe’s = Heaven!! It’s amazing how good a frozen meal can look when put onto a plate!! Those running tips are great!! I’m trying to get better!

  26. I’ve been a runner for years, but just recently have been training myself to go faster for longer with the help of the treadmill. It’s become my new BFF. Today’s speedy 20 minutes on the TM:
    10 min @ 7.5, 8 min @ 7.8, 2 min @ 8.0 – bam… plus 1 mile around the track.

    speed –> strength –> toned muscles –> wahoo!

  27. I just starting running a couple months ago, and I definitely need to step it up. I just overcame some knee tendinitis so I’m a little nervous about getting faster now. I’m just trying to get back to what I used to do ugh. I’ve never cooked any type of Indian food, but this looks so good!

  28. sassy molassy 01.27.2011

    I agree with your thoughts on running longer and faster – you just have to do it! For a long time I himmed and hawed about joining a local speed group for thurs night workouts. Finally, i started attending and realized I wasn’t the slowest person out there and all my friends were there!

    And eventually (i’ve been running with the group for a few years now), I saw serious increases in my speed. ANd when I skip workouts for a month or two, i see my speed drop again. Bottom line, pushing the pace will bring up your overall average pace! And a variety of speed workouts and distances help. A lot of towns have running groups or running stores who have local runs, which can be GREAT resources.

  29. Lindsay 01.28.2011

    I have always been a runner, but I always ran outside and when I wasnt running outside I was involved in other team sports like swim team or gymnastics. Due the fact that I was training inside, I didnt have to worrie about hitting the treadmill. Once I graduated from high school I stopped swimming on the swim team and gymnastics wasnt my thing either. So I headed to the treadmill and it was horrible. I couldnt stay in the machine for longer than 30 minutes. I kept watching the clock and I ended up quitting. I know attended fitness classes and I LOVE them. I love the energy of the teachers and I LOVE that I have someone telling me what to do! :)

  30. I started running just over a year ago. After this long, I still don’t really like running much (well, I like it less than I did in the fall because my asthma + the winter air is making it tough), but it’s such an efficient form of exercise that I keep doing it. I also use exercise DVDs (Mostly Jillian Michaels), and make sure to take a lot of long walks with my husband (my favorite way to exercise! It doesn’t even feel like exercising).

  31. Hope 01.28.2011

    I’ve never had Indian food before. I’ve always been interested in trying it out. I like the fact that TJ sells some amazing looking and sounding Indian food. Thank you for sharing your opinions on these Indian dishes. I think I am going to have to try them the next time I go to TJ. Plus, that Naan bread looks amazing! Must try it! :)

  32. Kimi 01.28.2011

    HS & College I was an uber running participating in CC & track. After college I discovered I could finally enjoy some other things as well. Now I like a mix of running, yoga, DVDs and am really getting into cycling as well. It’s fun to mix it up!

  33. Amber 01.28.2011

    Next time you are craving naan, check out the ‘fresh’ naan at Trader Joe’s – it’s stocked with all of their other bread. It’s a bit healthier than the frozen stuff – and seriously, just as good!!

  34. Beth @ bethcooks 01.28.2011

    I think that is definitely true about the running. I have had hip problems, but I used to run half marathons, and I loved it!
    I really love spin and INSANITY- such great workouts. Interval training goes by really fast with videos!

    Also, you need to try the garlic naan in the bread section. THE BEST BREAD I’VE EVER HAD! EVER! You toast it up and it is the chewiest, most delicious thing. No joke.

  35. Mimi 01.28.2011

    I’ve always identified as being a runner, but I still go through phases of how long or fast I can go. There are a lot of factors that play into it for me.

  36. Kristen 01.28.2011

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who’s super excited Will Ferrell is coming to the office, woohoo! I have just started hitting the treadmill, thanks for the advice!

  37. i’ve been a runner since junior high- so going on 14 years! yikes. my advice is to get outside. i think it can be really easy to get discouraged with the treadmill (though there is a place for the treadmill on dark, icy winter days) and running outside can be so exciting! i also think it helps to use a training plan- hal higdon, runner’s world, etc. have some great ones & then use it to run a 5k or another summer race. :)

  38. Anna 01.28.2011

    I agree with you and your training methods. I was a max at 6.0 for a long time. I started some speed work this fall (1min @4.0, 1min@8.0, 1min@4.0, 1min @ 8.1, etc.) and it totally helped me to where now if I run my usual, I almost feel like I am walking. I’ve upped it to 6.3 with bursts to the 7’s like you, but I am not yet up to 5 minutes at 8. That’s just darn hard!

  39. Erin 01.28.2011

    You inspired me! I usually just run my time between 8 mph and breaks inbetween at 7 but this morning after reading your post I threw a couple of 9 mph bursts in to shake it up! I can do anything for 5 minutes! I just have to repeat that to myself over and over while I think I’m dying :)

  40. Lori 01.28.2011

    The TJ’s frozen chicken tikka masala is by far the best frozen dinner I have ever had. I love it! I just wish the serving size was a little bigger!

    I started running a few years ago. I started by having a hard time running around the block. I found that once I committed to getting better at running it didn’t take long to increase my endurance. My friend who is a runner recommended trying to tack on minutes to my running rather than distance. This has helped me stop obsessing about my miles. I set a goal for 30 minutes and I just increase my speed as I am able during those 30 minutes. It works for me!

  41. Kath 01.28.2011

    I don’t like most frozen meals, but I really, really love TJ’s Paneer Tikka Masala!

  42. […] thanks to Iowa Girl Eats most recent post about how to run faster, I feel I can probably create my own treadmill workout. So here’s my […]

  43. jen 01.28.2011

    OMG…I had not heard about Will coming to the Office! That is the best news I’ve heard this week!

    It’s funny that you wrote about increasing your speed, because I’ve been working on that lately! Actually, I stepped it up this morning. I’m working on running my shorter runs faster, but allow myself to go a little slower on longer runs.

    I’m an on again off again runner. Right now I’m on, and I’m determined to keep at it! I feel so much better when I’m running, and it gives me such a sense of accomplishment.

    Thanks for your tips! ;)

  44. I love that TJ’s Naan! We have some in the freezer:)

    And I 100% agree with the running. I started running a little over a year ago and would have DIED to see 4 miles on a treamill, and now I’m training for a marathon. How? I just gradually built up mileage!

    Did you see that Gabriela (UneVieSeine) did sprints at 10MPH the other day? DANG GIRL. I think she’s tall though. Long running legs!

    • Iowa Girl Eats 01.28.2011

      I did 30 second sprints at 10mph once and *literally* thought I was going to fly off the back. Scariest 30 seconds of my life!!!!!

  45. Caitlin 01.28.2011

    IGE: heard of Live Healthy Iowa’s 100 day challenge? It’s a fun way to motivate! We started an office team and are trying to wrack up those minutes of excercise. It definitely runs through my head under snuggly covers in the early am when I’m desperate for the snooze button… gotta get my minutes!! I’m doing treadmill these days since it’s still dark out when we’re up but I’m an outdoor runner at heart. More to look at, less likely to get bored and quit early. Way to go w/ the 1/2! Ever thought of a full? I did Grandma’s full in 2009. Thought I’d die but I love the 1/2 distance:)

  46. Great Post, thanks for the tips!

    My progress has been the same as you……..a little here and there and I too used to struggle to run 6mph (10 minute mile) but not anymore I can do it for over 2 miles now, plus I am trying to work my way up to 6.6mph (9 minute mile). =)

  47. […] just read a great post called How to Run Longer & Faster by Iowa Girl Eats and loved her advise so much I wanted to share it with you all!  =)  As it was right on and hit […]

  48. Runeatrepeat 01.28.2011

    I used to be obsessed with the Amy’s frozen Indian meals, now I’m all about TJ’s stuff – better priced too!

  49. I prefer other workouts, like yoga, weights and dance. However, there is something about running that draws me back from time to time. Usually, the bug hits me, I run for 2-3 weeks, start getting comfortable in the early 6s, get excited about the possibility of a sub-60 minute 10K, and then my attention wanders right to another workout. It’s a vicious cycle, but I am sort of happy in it :)

  50. Jessie 01.29.2011

    I LOVE TJ’s paneer tikka masala. I had to down a huge glass of milk while eating it because I have zero tolerance for spiciness, but so delicious! and naan is always a good choice.

Leave a Comment