Injured, but staying positive.

You read that right. I’m injured. This is actually the reason I didn’t publish a blog post at all last week…I just had no desire write about eating healthy or being active as I wanted to eat whatever I wanted and I could’t run so writing bout running and exercising proved too difficult to be motivated to do.

So what happened? Glass…Glass happened. That’s right. No straining of a muscle. No tripping and falling and getting banged up. No stress fracture from my marathon training. Glass. Specifically, a broken bottle on the side of the road that decided to not get out of my way as I just finished mile 1 of my goal 10 miles for last Tuesday. Tuesday has been Tuesday-Ten Day for me lately and I was so looking forward to this run. It was a beautiful day too and I was feeling so, so good. I had just heard the faint ding-ding of my Garmin go off just 30 seconds prior to…the incident…and I had my eyes on the construction happening on the building that Under Armour has decided to move into here in Portland (that means Adidas, Nike, and UA will all have a strong presence here in PDX). Then, instantaneous pain.

6 Sorry for the graphic, but that’s what I’m dealing with. It’s the spot of the wound that is killer, because I literally haven’t been able to step down with any pressure until just yesterday (4 days after the injury). 

I’m still amazed by how quickly my body reacted to having stepped on the broken bottle, which prevented a much, much worse puncture wound. But there was nothing I could have done to prevent the puncture that already occurred and so the only thing to do was to heal…to recover. And while I accepted that there was nothing I could have done to prevent the injury, I still allowed myself to internally mope about it.

3 All swolled up.

The timing wasn’t great: At the time, I was  1 1/2 weeks away from my first trail marathon and approaching my middle phase of training for the Vernonia Marathon in April where I hope to qualify once again for Boston. I am still healing which is going very well (being engaged to a naturopathic medical school student has its perks), but while I haven’t been able to run yet, I have been able to stay in a good state mentally and to reduce too much fitness loss by getting on Val’s bike trainer as often as I can.

20 Watching some Sage Canaday vids on YouTube while I cycle.

Being injured has been downright annoying and sucky, but I’m so grateful that it wasn’t worse as most injuries that occur on a run generally sideline a runner for weeks if not longer. I am hoping that I can be back to running–heck I’ll take speedwalking–within a few more days. I know I’m going to be even more ready to get back out there as my  first stint as a head coach for a high school track team starts this week and I couldn’t be more excited (and slightly unprepared!).

I’m also excited to resume training for these marathons on my calendar as well as the ultramarathons I want to run after April 10th comes and goes. One of which is a race I ran last year and just missed winning by 30 seconds or so: the Pick Your Poison race by Go Beyond Racing.

pyp5 pyp3                                        VegStrong RunLong!

I chose that race to be my first 12 hour timed ultra and I had a blast! Henry Hagg Lake is incredibly beautiful; the organization of the race was excellent; the volunteers were outstanding; and my overall experience was a very positive one. I’m hopeful to race it again this summer and to get redemption at the 12 hour solo road option. The 24 hour option, the trail or road option, as well as the option to run the race on a relay team means that this race offers a little bit of something for everyone! You really do have quite the pick of your poison. Let me know if you plan on running! I’d love to see you out there!

pyp2 pyp4                                My best support system.

Being injured didn’t render me in a corner feeling sorry for myself; I was still out and about…

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Val and I had free tickets to the Portland Trailblazers game the evening I got injured. The plan was to get a great 10 miler in and go enjoy myself at the game…none of that happened, but I at least tried to enjoy the game. It was my first Blazers game, so that wa cool.

14 I couldn’t work the next day and I couldn’t run so the only way to turn my frown upside down was to treat myself to a lunch and some reading. I drove and hobbled over to Paradox Cafe for a delicious veggie burger and some of their house potatoes. #nomnom.

13  15

I did go into work two days after the injury occurred and I’m glad I did. 1) The school let me use a set of crutches to get around and 2) I was a mile away from Back to Eden’s SE Portland location. Normally I would have eaten my lunch and been completely satisfied, especially after having gone to Paradox the previous day, but it was 65 degrees and sunny and I would have been crazy to not have gotten some of their delicious dairy-free soft serve.

bw  Three days out and I can hobble just a bit better. Val had a black-tie fundraiser event at her school (National College of Natural Medicine) so we classed it up and enjoyed a Friday night out with friends.

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7 Saturday night we said, “Safe travels” to our friend, Kelsey, and I think the vegan taco night and the desserts at Portobello got to us a bit. Annette decided to turn my fiancee into…something else. At least they had fun! And now we have just another reason to head to Colorado sooner!

And that brings me to today (Sunday is when I’m writing this). Val and I slept in, then I hopped on the bike trainer for a little over an hour until we went upstairs to babysit for our neighbors. Carrie, the metaphorical pen and literal mind behind OurStableTable.com, and her husband Lance treated us to the most delicious gluten free and vegan blueberry muffins I’ve ever had. Not kidding.

2  3

I’ll just end it here and once again, because I can: #nomnom.

Hoping for a continued speedy recovery and getting back to training!

Happy (and safe) running everybody!

 

 

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Run Your Goal Race with Only 3-4 Days of Training a Week

I never studied exercise science. I’m neither a sports therapist nor a physical trainer. I am not a doctor of any kind nor an elite athlete or one who’s been in the game forever. What I am, though, is very confident that you can run your goal distance even if you just have time for 3-4 days of activity a week.

TAKE NOTE: You should only take this post to heart if you really only have 3-4 days of which you can dedicate some time to training. If you have the ability to train and be active for 4, 5, or 6 days a week, then, if you plan well and train smart, that may help you in your goal of finishing your goal race.

I am not speaking from experience. I generally run 6 days a week and I love every second I’m out there, but I want to keep stressing that I firmly believe what I’m saying. The catch, though, is that you can’t get away with just any 3-4 training runs or workouts that you want AND this opinion of mine may not be applied to distances of certain ultramarathons such as the 100k or 100 miler. Additionally, it may not get you to reach your goal time or PR. But…I believe…you will be able to cross the finish line.

Many people I know think I’m either crazy or that I have some sort of super power to be able to train and run marathons and ultramarathons. Let me put these beliefs to rest. I do not have super powers and neither do any of the marathoners and ultramarathoners that I know or have run with. Some may be crazy, though (I’m looking at you Marathon Maniacs). So how do we do it? Simple: Discipline. It takes a disciplined person to cross the finish line of any race so it’s not like only ultrarunners have a special claim on a unique form of discipline. Those who run or do any kind of exercise regularly and sometimes vigorously are disciplined in what they eat, when they train, how much they train, what social luxuries they may need to give up, how much sleep they might have to sacrifice or how much more sleep they have to get (we can never win when it comes to the Zzz’s).

tes

It’s not fancy and I can’t trade it or sell it or anything. But this is the most special medal I own because of how much I put my heart into what it took to cross the finish line in this 50 mile race–my first ultramarathon. You don’t have to run an ultra, but I know you can cross whatever line it is you have your eyes on.

I actually think it’s for some of these reasons why those who say things like, “Wow, you’re crazy,” or “Oh, my gosh! I could never do anything like that! I can’t even jog a mile!” You’re wrong, my friend. If you wanted to, you can indeed jog a mile and you can also run a 5k, half marathon, marathon, and ultramarathon just like I and others can. What is stopping you (and this may not apply to everyone) are the limitations you are creating for yourself. It doesn’t help to think that you can’t do something because it makes it more likely that you will stop yourself from trying or if you do try, you may stop or give up before you’ve really given it your all. When it comes to running, I think people’s time comes into play. Time is precious. I understand and I agree. I (like everyone who works and volunteers and has hobbies and loved ones and animal companions to spend time with) wish there were more hours in the day. But to cross that finish line, you don’t need to dedicate as many days to running as you may think.  You can take that 5-7 days of running a week–or what you think is required to complete your goal race–that is preventing you from taking the next step and turn it into 3-4 days of training.

What takes place during those 3-4 days?

  1. A medium-distance run. This varies depending on your goal race. Want to run a half marathon? Your m/d run may be 6 or 7 miles. Want to run a marathon or 50k? This run be between 9-13 miles (maybe up to 15).
  2. A long run. The long run also varies and is run at a slower pace than your goal pace (about 60-90 seconds slower is generally what I’ve come across). For the half marathon, your long run may be 9-10 miles. For the marathon and 50k, your long run will likely be between 14-20 miles (perhaps up to 24 or 25 for the 50k distance).
  3. A light run. Your light run can be something to just wake you up in the morning or just a nice evening pre- or post-dinner run or jog. If you’re goal race is the half marathon, a light run may be 3-5 miles and if you’re eyeing the marathon or 50k then your light run may be an easy 5-7 miler. I included the light run after the long run because some runners like to take a recovery run the day after they logged the long run, although this doesn’t have to be the case for you.
  4. A cross-training* day. This is a day to do something other than running, but the activity is still rigorous enough to make you work up a bit of a sweat and should be at least 45 minutes to 1 hour in duration (likely not exactly continuous). Cross-training can take the form of cycling, mountain biking, swimming, playing recreational sports, rock-climbing, hiking, Stand up paddle boarding (SUP), etc.

*I purposely didn’t include strength-training in this list because I think runners should be strength-training at least twice a week. A strong core, back, glutes, and legs are all important for running and staying healthy while doing it. There are many workouts you can find online through a quick Google search for something like “strength training for running” that will likely give you some great ideas or specific workouts to incorporate into your training regimen.

tes2 How do you get to where you want to be? One step at a time. 

So that’s it…3-4 days of training. I included 4, but the light run may need to be sacrificed if you really only have 3 days where you can dedicate time to training. Further explanation is needed, however: You need to build up to the long run. If your goal race is the marathon, then your first week of training might not involve a long run of 15 miles no matter how slow you run it. Your initial long run may only be 5 or 6 miles and may not even take place until after a couple weeks of running. Your medium-distance run, then, may only be 3 miles. Hopefully you get the idea…I just wanted to give you a gist of what it will look like when you are in a good place in your training. I still maintain that you can train 3-4 days a week even early on in your training to get you to accomplish your goal.

Something else: If you are shooting for a goal race and are adding a time-goal component that involves some speedwork, then the rough 3-4 day overview I presented will need to be altered to include training that will improve speed; this can be added into the 3-4 workouts or an additional day can be added if you are willing to manipulate your schedule to fit in some time on a 4th or 5th day for speed-specific training.

REMINDER: You should only apply this restricted 3-4 day training if you really only have 3-4 days of which you can dedicate time to train. If you have the ability to train and be active for more days each week or some weeks (not necessarily more days of running), then that may help you even more to achieve your goal of finishing your goal race.

Questions (especially about the 5k or 10k which I did not specifically mention)? I’d love to hear them! 

Happy Running!

Time to Be More Serious About Trail Running

I’ve run 4 ultramarathons, 3 of which took place on the trails. But…I’m not a trail runner. Yet.

I have made a goal to run on the trails a lot more this year than I have in the past. Even though I have run 4 ultras, I didn’t have the time (at first) or discipline (later) to train on the trails. What I mean is that in New Jersey, it was about an hour’s drive to some decent trails and as I was in college and worked on the weekends, I didn’t have the time to drive out that far and make it back in time for class or work or other commitments I had. When I moved to Portland last January (’15) I had no excuses anymore as Forest Park has trails that I can get to in a less than ten-minute drive, but I lacked the discipline to bring training from the roads to the trails.

33 33

I think I was a bit nervous, too, if I’m being honest with myself. I know the roads. I know how to listen for cars and when or when not to ignore the orange hand at the crosswalk. I know I can run the same way and not worry about tripping or taking a misstep. But on the trails, there are many variables to take into account. Many unknowns. There are no blinking orange hands to tell you to slow down. There are no signs that tell you “Slippery ahead,” or “Slow down! Sudden decline around the bend!” so if you aren’t aware of your surroundings or your body, things can happen. Not-good things. So you learn very quickly how to run on the trails because it forces you to learn quickly. You learn that you need to raise your legs up just a tad higher to avoid the roots and rocks because your brain remembers, quite well, that the last time you didn’t do that, you ate it and nearly left some facial skin for the trail to remember you by. Most importantly, though, you learn how to appreciate nature and how to truly run: like our ancestors ran.

bvtrail bvtrail2.jpg 

As I want to run a gnarly ultra this year–not sure which, but it will certainly be the most challenging one I would have completed after I cross the finish line–I needed to start running the trails and get off the roads as much as possible. With a pavement marathon in early April (on the Banks-Vernonia State Trail pictured above), I do still need to train on the roads, but the trail running will help strengthen my legs and many other muscles that, when strengthened, will benefit me even during a road race.

22 Adam.

What’s helped me break out of my shell so far this year has been finding a running partner to venture out with. Running with Adam, who also happens to be from New Jersey and a fellow vegan athlete, has been so much fun and nearly every day we’re talking about runs and trails we want to do that upcoming weekend or that year. Talk about motivation! I’m grateful for us connecting and for being reminded why I need to be on the trails if I’m going to take my ultrarunning a bit more seriously. How can I expect to run multi-day stage runs crossing desserts and forests and mountains, if all I ever run on are roads and the track? I can’t. So I’ve decided to do something about it and I’ve been loving the decision.

1 wet

I love running on the track and the Portland esplanade along the water, but just look at what the trails offer…

3  237 8

Ultrarunning is not easy. There’s a lot of sacrifices and training that goes into it, but even then, the effects of an ultramarathon can hit you hard.

2 Here I am after my first 12 hour run (on the roads..womp, womp) in July 2015. After 62.4 miles, my legs had it and so many leg muscles just seized up as soon as a I was done. Would trail running have helped prevent this and/or improve my time? Likely, yes.

trail6trail7trail5  TRAIL

My running will look very different than any other year and I’m so excited to see what it’s going to involve into this year!

If you haven’t tried trail running yet, I highly advise that you give it a shot. Don’t be like me and let a bit of a drive keep you from experiencing what running  on the trails is like. It’s great for your muscles for so many reasons and it fosters an appreciation for nature that running anywhere else just won’t accomplish.

 

7 Days of 10 Miles a Day: Why I Did It and What I Learned

NOTE: I’ve transitioned to just blogging about food and running, to actually practicing this professionally through my business, On Pace Wellness. I am a Nutritionist (Master’s in Nutrition Science) now and a certified running coach. Check out my website and services at www.onpacewellness.com and please reach out with any questions or if you are interested in working with me in-person here in Portland, Oregon or remotely. 

THIS POST HAS BEEN UPDATED FROM FEBRUARY 2016; UPDATED SEPTEMBER 2016.

Last winter, I decided to turn what was a three day streak of 10 (tempo), 13 (trail) , and 10 (slower) miles, into a personal challenge. The challenge was that I would run at least 10 miles a day for 7 days straight, including the 3 days I had just run. I wasn’t worried about having enough time. Even with work, writing, and other commitments, I knew I had enough time to log the miles. It would take up about 75 to 85 minutes of each day and I was more than willing to dedicate that time to running.

NS2.jpg

I got the initial idea for this challenge from a seed that was planted months before while I was reading Nick Symmonds’ book, Life Outside the Oval Office. Nick Symmonds is a phenomenal 800m specialist and has represented the US on numerous occasions, has many championship titles to his name, and is the 4th fastest American ever in the 800m event. In the book, Symmonds mentions running about 10 miles a day when he started to take his running more seriously and started to pursue qualifying for Team America for the next Olympics at the time. I wondered what running 10 miles a day was like. I’ve put in 80+ mile weeks when training for ultramarathons, but they didn’t consist of running 10 miles a day. What would my body feel like? How would I recover? What could I do to speed muscle recovery to avoid injury? Would I get tired of running after completing even just one week of that? I put these questions aside and went about my running as normal, but I couldn’t hold off any longer and I resolved to find some answers.

At the time of the beginning of this challenge, I had already run 3 days of 10+ miles and I was feeling great. What was 4 more days of it? Because I was entering the work week on that 4th day, I knew I would likely need to split my runs up. I figured this strategy would help me get through the runs without risking very unnecessary and unwantedr injury.

NS

There is also one other reason I decided to attempt this challenge. Sure, Symmonds’ book had planted the seed of 10 miles a day, but the seed to run repetitive long runs was planted many, many months before when I first started learning about stage racing. Stage racing, or multi-day racing, involves running x number of miles a day or per stage, for number of miles per each stage. As this truly is an endurance running event, the miles are not generally anything to laugh. Take, for example, the Grand to Grand Ultra race that is held in Utah at the end of September. Runners must run the 170 mile course, self-supported, in 6 stages; runners cannot go ahead and run extra miles a day as that is simply not what stage running is about. Here is the stage breakdown for Grand to Grand:

Stage 1: 30.8 mi

Stage 2: 26.9 mi

Stage 3: 52.6 mi

Stage 4: 26.0 mi

Stage 5: 26.0 mi

Stage 6:  7.7 mi

And here is elevation, which over the 6 stages, total ascent is 18,041ftCourse profile

Now I know that all of this may scare some people and people may think these runners are downright crazy…I just so happen to be okay with being crazy.

When I decided to start eating a vegan diet, the first thing I noticed was how quickly my body recovered. I went from only running 5ks here and there, to training for a triathlon on a vegetarian diet and then for a marathon on a vegan one and recovery was the most obvious change for me. I no longer had any knee pain which I occasionally experienced (most likely inflammation due to my diet), and I didn’t experience fatigue or low energy even after hard workouts. It was remarkable. Eventually, I signed up for my first ultramarathon a year after being vegan and I knew it would be a daunting training period, but I was up for the challenge. I went through back-to-back long runs of up to 5 hours each from July through September in addition to tempo runs and strength training workouts and I didn’t experience the slightest bit of injury or real fatigue (of course I got tired, but not genuinely fatigued). I was recovering from my workouts so well and I attributed all of it to 1) being a smarter runner and 2) my plant-based diet. All of this to say that I learned a few years ago that my body recovers rather quickly. When I learned about multi-day stage racing, I fantasized about someday putting my ability to recover quickly to the test.

watch2watch

The challenge of running that number, 10 miles for 7 days, may have came from Nick Symmonds’ book, but I committed to this personal challenge to see what I would learn, not to be like Nick. When I’m financially ready (some of these races are several hundreds of dollars or a thousand and that’s just for registration!) and have the ability to put in the training, I want to start running these events. I figured, repeating 10 miles a day would give me a very slight glimpse as to what it feels like to engage in this kind of training. I could have made it more of a challenge by committing to 10 miles straight each day without breaking up the mileage, but it was still a learning experience.

food5    food4

An important part of the recovery: making sure my nutrition was balanced. I increased my calories (I did so probably by at least 500, but I didn’t count) because I was naturally hungrier, but I would have done so anyway to ensure my body had the energy it needed to do its daily job of functioning properly and recovering efficiently. Some runs, like Day 5’s especially, were run with very tight calves, so an adjustment in my stride was required, but I still made it through each of those 5 mile runs (morning and afternoon) at just under 8 minutes/mile pace.

The week-long challenge was completed with a 10 miler which I ran straight thru. What was so great was that I had to force myself to not run on day 8 because of how energized I was to do so, but I knew I needed a rest day after running what turned out to be 80 miles in 8 days or, for the challenge, 73 miles in 7 days (I ran the minimum 10 miles a day for 7 days but the day before I started the challenge I had run 7 miles).

So what did I learn?

By taking care of my body, my body was able to get through the mileage–mileage I hadn’t run in over 6 months–and not result in getting sick or feeling any signs of injury or physical stress. I kept up on my nutrition–eating additional calories and eating more nutritiously–and stretched and rolled more which all helped a lot. Stretching was so helpful especially for not waking up sore and tight in the morning. I wish I got more sleep and I wonder how sufficient sleep would have helped me even more…maybe something to try out next time I embark on this challenge.

My best advice: find out how you best recover because no matter how much you train or don’t train, the ability to recover efficiently is the key to staying healthy and enjoying running and isn’t that the point of it all?

Happy Running!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Running Motivation: A Q&A with Ryan Good about taking on new running endeavors

I think it’s safe to say that we are still just beginning 2016. Let’s face it: We’re not really in 2016 until we all stop accidentally writing “2015” or “15” at the end of Today’s Date. Okay, maybe that’s not exactly true, but you get what I mean. I’m not one to make New Year’s resolutions, but I am one to set goals for the new year. One could say that this is just a matter of semantics and they may be right; all I know is that goals work for me. Resolutions generally do not.

One of my many goals for this year is to run my most challenging ultramarathon yet, but this it isn’t necessarily a difficult task to find a race more challenging than anything I’ve done as none of the four ultras I’ve completed this year have been very technical or involved any significant elevation gain. The race that checks this box off could end up being a 100 miler or a 24 hour timed run, or it could be a challenging 50 miler or 100k; whatever the distance, it will be great. And I will be prepared. Part of that preparation is actually one of my other goals for this year which is to take advantage of the trails surrounding me here in Portland, Oregon.

                  Some of the consquences of trailrunning. It’s not trail running if you don’t get dirty.

Back in New Jersey, I had to drive at least an hour to find a decent trail, and here I am surrounded by them, and I’ve only taken advantage a few times. No more of this! I love the roads and I will run on them a lot as I train for a personal best in the marathon (Eugene Marathon), but I will be incorporating trails into my training and focusing my energy on trails after the marathon in May.

But I’m not the only one with goals. You all have goals too I’m sure and since you’re on this sight, perhaps they are running, food, or health-related. If they are to exercise or run more or to just get started, I encourage you to consider trail running. Committing to trail running may not be as easy lacing up the shoes and running right from your porch (though it could), but you’ll likely find the extra energy to get to the trails worth it. Running with nature under your feet, by your side, and sometimes right in your face can, for many people, have much more to offer than running on the concrete of an urban jungle or the pavement of suburbia.

 

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Speaking of goals, running, trails, and ultras, I recently learned of a local Portland resident, Ryan Good, who completed his first ultramarathon, Deception Pass 50k, just this past December 2015. I reached out to Ryan to ask him some questions I had regarding his motivation, training, and experience. Fair warning, though: His fantastic responses and enthusiasm may result in you getting on Ultrasignup.com and looking for a race.

Enjoy the Q&A!

RG2

 Q- What was the longest distance you raced before the 50k?

A marathon, but not for a long time. Back in the 90’s I raced a lot and ran some marathons. Unfortunately, I drifted away from running consistently and seriously, for a number of reasons—injuries, career, parenting, other sports, etc. It was only last fall, when I decided to do the 50k that I started training consistently again. It wasn’t exactly off the couch—I’d been hiking, doing ultra-distance cycling, and running occasionally—but then again, it was almost off the couch, and my biggest fear was getting injured and having to bail. So I took it very easy in training and didn’t do any racing. I did run a trail half-marathon and a trail marathon as part of my training, but I didn’t race them.

Q- What made you sign up for your first ultramarathon?

I’ve wanted to run an ultra since I first heard of them which was so long ago that I don’t even remember when it was. And, years ago, I used to run with some “old guys” (they were about the age I am now, haha!) who were ultrarunners. They were just amazing athletes as well as being really quirky and fun to be around and to run with. It was a completely different experience from hanging out with the more serious roadies. I’m still close to a few of those guys today. That was part of it. Also, and probably more importantly, I’ve always been attracted to extreme endurance pursuits, to huge challenges. I’ve done a lot of backpacking, mountaineering, backcountry skiing, ultra-distance cycling, etc. and have always really enjoyed those events—at least in the way that one enjoys extended suffering. There’s a clarity, a purity, a stripping away of excess that I can only find when I push my body and mind as hard as I can. Also, I’m not fast by any means, but I can go and go and go for a really long time. I guess I’m just stubborn, basically.

Q- Why did you choose the 50k (31.068 miles) as your first ultra and is there any reason why you chose Deception Pass 50k as your first experience?

I chose 50k because it seemed like a distance that I could probably tackle, but was longer than anything I’d done before, so it was still enough of a challenge to motivate me. I’d done a marathon before so I knew I could do one again, and I wanted a scary challenge, but I wasn’t quite ready to commit to a 50 miler yet. A 50k seemed like a natural choice. I chose Deception Pass for a couple of reasons. On the practical side, it fit my timeline: I had a 16 week training plan. So I got on Ultrasignup.com to look for 50ks that were roughly 16 weeks out, and there it was: just 16 weeks and two days away. On a more personal side, I have spent a lot of time in that area (Deception Pass, Washington) over the years—bicycling, hiking, kayaking, camping—and it is one of my favorite places in the world. It seemed appropriate that I should fulfill this long-time goal in a place that so resonates with my spirit.

Q- How did you handle the training involved (e.g. nutrition, sleep, the added distance, etc.)?

This whole process has been really interesting, for a number of reasons. I have to remind myself that I’m older, for one thing. I was in my mid-twenties last time I was running seriously, and now, at 44, I constantly find myself being surprised at how differently my body responds to training: weight comes off slower; it takes longer to recover; I need way more sleep; etc. Another thing that made it an interesting learning experience is that I became vegan at the same time I started my training program, so I learned a lot about nutrition. I still have a lot to learn, and I still need to work on it. Running, at least running seriously, is, in my mind at least, less a sport than a lifestyle. I often say, only half-jokingly, that if all it took to be a good runner was to run a lot, I’d be a great runner! Because I love to run, and have no problem making time for running. But I fall short in areas more related to lifestyle: dialing my nutrition, not sleeping enough, not stretching enough, not strength training as much as I should, drinking a little too much, etc. Those are things I’m really working on now. They say in ultrarunning, you’ve got about 7 or 8 years of consistent improvement before you peak. Maybe that’s 8, or 10, or maybe 6, I don’t know exactly. But I do know that I’ve got a lot of room for improvement and I want to really commit to this thing and see how good I can get. Not in a competitive sense except against myself and against that little voice that always tells me to “just back off,” or “sleep in this once,” or “just have another beer,” but just to see what I can do. Watch out midpackers…I’m coming for you! Seriously though, it may sound silly, but getting back to serious (or at least consistent) running has been amazing for me. It’s given me a sense of purpose, focus, and excitement that I was missing before. I’m not saying life wasn’t good—it was—but I didn’t really have any goals that I was focusing on, and now I do. And that’s good for me. So all the changes I’ve had to make have been for the better, and that makes them easier to handle.

Q- Did you train solely on trails, mostly on trails or a combination of trails and road?

I did about half and half. Or maybe 60 roads/40 trails. I wish I could do all of my training on trails, but it’s just not practical living in the city. Also, I am one of those car-free types, who chooses to get around by bike and public transit (for a lot of the same reasons I’m vegan, but that’s a whole other story!), so getting to trailheads takes some planning. But I take the bus or MAX (Portland shuttle transit) to different Forest Park trailheads, and/or run to them on longer runs. I’ll tell you—I’ve gotten very, very familiar with Wildwood Trail (a trail in Forest Park)!

Q- After the long training, the post-race soreness, the somewhat limited socializing, will you run another ultramarathon? Why? What distance do you have in mind?

Oh, absolutely. The ultrarunning lifestyle definitely takes some adjusting to, and I’ve definitely made some sacrifices, but overall it’s been a wonderful experience. I feel way better both physically (despite the soreness!) and mentally. And, as I said earlier, I’m really looking forward to seeing how much I can do, how much I can improve. I’m doing another 50k soon, but my real goal right now is the S.O.B. (Siskiyou Out and Back) 50 Mile in July—I’m already signed up.

Q- Anything else you’d like to add?

I have a few things to add, and they might sound cliché- but I don’t care because they are absolutely true.

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First, there is no way I could have done this without my wife. Man, I think she had to work harder than I did! I mean, all I had to do was run, right? She stepped up with all the extra cooking (learning to cook vegan at the same time, no less!); laundry (lots and lots of laundry, as any runner knows!); massaging my feet and legs; not minding that I was basically an absentee husband every weekend because I was gone running all the time, or sleeping when I was home; listening to me drone on endlessly about training strategies, nutrition, shoes, etc.; encouraging me when I was down or had doubts. Really, she deserves as much or more credit than I do. Ultra-spouses are the unsung heroes of the sport- it’s like being a race volunteer 24/7, and not even getting a t-shirt! So seriously, runners- thank your partners.

Second (and I really mean this): If I can do it, anyone can. I am as Average Joe as you can get. I’m not athletically gifted at all, unless you count being healthy enough to run, but that’s it. However, Bill Bowerman said, “If you have a body, you’re an athlete,” and I really believe that. I was only able to do this because I kept putting one foot in front of the other, which you—yes you, reading this!—can do just as well as I can.

Lastly, running, to me, is an act of gratitude, in so many ways. How can I not feel thankful? At some point during almost every run I think of how fortunate I am that I’m healthy enough to run for hours on end; that I have the time to do it; the money to buy shoes, gear, and pay race fees; time and money to travel to races; beautiful places to run; and supportive people around me. And mostly, I’m thankful that I can experience the purity and simplicity of moving slowly through this beautiful world under my own power—to me, that is the essence of running.

Chocolate-Covered Banana Bites

Part of the About Me page talks about how you’ll find some recipes or posts that may cause you to question how I can call this a space that promotes a healthy lifestyle in addition to an active one. This may seem like one of those posts, but as the About Me page explains, sometimes being well and choosing to eat mindfully does indeed involve allowing yourself to enjoy sweet pleasure food (I dare not call these treats junk food) every once in a while. Heck…I enjoy a dessert almost every night, but what I’ve come to call dessert is not what most people think. For example, half a banana (or carrots) and some peanut butter will satisfy my dessert-craving just as a cookie might.

I love bananas. This needs to be well known. I don’t eat nearly as much as I know some people do(especially some high carb athletes and fruitarians who eat 10+ bananas a day), but for the average person, my 3-5 bananas a day is up there. But my body loves them and I know to listen to my body when it comes to healthy foods that it craves. The only thing is that while my body loves bananas (among many other good, nuritious foods), my brain loves chocolate. And so does my heart. And my tastebuds. So I’ve combined these two foods and others to treat me and Val to some healthy-ish dessert bites for when the chocolate craving hits.

These banana pops are not just your simple chocolate-covered bananas—that wouldn’t be ERaD-worthy. I had to make them a bit more nutritious.

So, what are the ingredients?

Bananas

Semi-sweet chocolate chips (nondairy)

Crushed almonds

Almond or peanut butter

Hemp seeds

Smidgen of coconut oil

Love.

(Adding diced goji berries or soaked chia seeds would be an incredible addition for both taste and nutrition. I would sprinkle them on top of the peanut butter along with the hemp seeds

How’d they come to be super delicious?

  1. Use as many bananas as you’d like and cut them however you’d like, but the smaller the better. Smaller slices will help you minimize how much you eat in one sitting. If you use a whole banana, you’ll likely eat the whole chocolate-covered banana when you may have been satisfied with only a couple bite-sized slices.
  2. If you want, insert popsicle sticks into the larger banana bites (banana halves or thirds work best) to make some chocolate-covered banana pops.
  3. Place parchment paper on a plate (I used a large bamboo cutting board) and spread the banana slices on the parchment paper. Place the plate with bananas in the freezer for 2-3 hours.
  • ba1Two options: 1: Put peanut butter into a separate bowl or mug. Mix hemp seeds in with the nut butter. Put a smidgen of peanut butter on banana slices. 2: Spread nut butter on the banana slices and sprinkle hemp seeds on top. When done, put the banana slices back in the freezer for 20-30 minutes.
  • Put the crushed almonds on a plate or in a bowl nearby.
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  • When the bananas are nearly ready to be removed from the freezer, pour the nondairy chocolate chips (I used 1 cup for 3 bananas and had plenty of melted chocolate leftover, but I didn’t cover 100% of any of the banana slices) and ½-1 teaspoon of coconut oil (I prefer to minimize oil at all times so I used ½ a teaspoon at most) into a pot/sauce pan. Don’t let water come into contact with the chocolate chips or the pot so as not to interfere with the melting process. Melt the chocolate chips and oil on low heat and stir until smooth.
  • When chocolate is melted, remove the frozen bananas from the freezer.
  • Begin to cover the banana bites/slices in chocolate, but as you do so, sprinkle the crushed almonds on the chocolate before it hardens. Cover as much or as little of the banana in chocolate as you please.
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  • When done coating the bananas in chocolatey goodness, place the plate of bananas back in the freezer for another 20-30 minutes to enjoy frozen or enjoy them right away, as is.

Because you can make these treats bite-sized, they can be perfect for the sweet your craving after dinner or when your around on the weekends and want to eat out of boredom. The only part that isn’t particularly nutritious is the chocolate so you can use carob chips or dark chocolate instead of the nondairy chocolate chips for some kind of added nutrients, but I’m sure, at least with the carob chips, that the melting process will be different so look into that before you follow this recipe!

What’s your favorite snack that you like to prepare or have prepared from someone close to you?

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Gear Up for Winter!

It’s already well into winter here in the U.S of A, so this post is kind of late, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be helpful to some. Sometimes what prevents people from running out in undesirable weather conditions is because they don’t have the proper gear for the occasion.

Running in cotton t-shirts in the heat of summer is not optimal for many which is why moisture-wicking running shirts are so popular. In the winter, t-shirts are obviously not going to be the only clothing worn (for the most part), but even long-sleeves are likely not going to be enough to prevent the cold from settling into your bones.

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When I made the transition from 5k’s and 10’s to long-distance running, training in the winter became something I now to be a bit more particular about. It’s one thing to run 2-3 miles on a treadmill to avoid the cold. It’s another to run 10 miles on one. The same goes for running outside in the cold, rain, or snow. Long-distance running and training meant that I needed to be properly equipped to take on the conditions that may Mother Nature set forth for me and that meant being smarter about my running gear.

The following section includes my five items that, for me, are essential for winter running. Without them, I likely wouldn’t be as consistent with my training as I’ve learned to be and I most certainly would not enjoy winter running nearly as much.

Thermal headband

The headband is essential. Like…very essential. We all try to layer up in the winter because we want to stay warm, but because heat escapes through whatever is not clothed, wearing something on your head is kind of necessary. I don’t need a full on beanie, personally, but my ears do need to be covered and it helps that my forehead gets to stay warm as well. I’ve had this Nike thermal headband since high school and it’s travelled with me so many places, I have no idea how I’ve never lost it. Yikes…please tell me I didn’t just jinx this!

Gloves

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Heat would escape the body through the hands as well—just as explained above—but this isn’t really why I wear gloves. I wear gloves not because I want to keep the heat inside my body, but rather to keep my fingers from becoming painfully numb. I know what you’re thinking: How can they be numb and yet I still feel the pain? Let’s just leave that one be, shall we?

I have two pairs of gloves for running. The ones here are my heavy duty gloves I bought a couple years ago when my old gloves could no longer keep my hands warm on a 20+ mile run in the bitter cold or snowfalls of New Jersey. I still kept those older gloves though (again, I’ve had them since high school) and I’m glad I did because I don’t really need the heavy duty gloves while here in Portland…not yet, at least! I highly recommend you invest in a good pair (or two) of running gloves if you are running or planning to run regularly. Your fingers will thank you.

Winter running jacket

The old soccer warm-ups were no longer cutting it. It’s crazy how much I’m just realizing how much my wardrobe/gear has changed since transitioning to running longer distances. I used to run in soccer warm-ups all the time and be just fine. But two years ago I got a gift card for Dick’s Sporting Goods for Christmas and I decided a top-quality cold-running jacket was what I needed most and I’m so glad I made that decision. This Nike Storm-Fit is the best winter apparel item I own and I wouldn’t have made it through half of my winter runs without it. It cost a pretty penny, but it was worth it. If you are on a budget, do some research (this includes reading reviews) and try and find a good winter running jacket that is appropriate for use in the temperatures you’ll be running in…That’s right: they aren’t all made for a one-size-fits-all winter. This Nike one has a bit of ventilation so I don’t get overheated, but not to the point where I feel any cold air coming through. And I bough it in orange for the extra visibility. 🙂

Very good moisture-wicking long sleeve

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A good long sleeve is also essential. A clutch winter jacket is important, but not every run requires one. Sometimes all you’ll need is a long-sleeve to go under a lighter jacket or your favorite running tee and you’re good to go. When those times come, it helps to have a go-to long sleeve that wicks moisture away from your body (this keeps your body from being overheated, but also from being chilled from wearing a wet shirt) and is comfortable for faster runs as well as slower, longer ones.

My go-to is surprisingly from a brand I’ve only ever found at Marshall’s (Hind) and boy do I love this shirt. I wear it in the dead of winter as well as when the seasons are transitioning from warmer to colder and from colder to warmer temps. It was a cheap buy, but one of those rare gems that you are so proud of yourself for finding!

Light

I never used to wear a light when running, but that’s because I didn’t need one. I could run my 3-5 miles in the daylight no matter the time of day and keep it during daylight hours. Nowadays, a long run can have me taking off before the sunrise or have me still trekking through when the sun starts to set or after it’s already dipped below the horizon. Just as you get annoyed when a car doesn’t have its lights on when driving, so too do drivers get annoyed and downright angry  when they don’t see you because you have no reflective gear or lights. Safety is important. Purchase a light and/or good reflective gear. There’s really not much of an excuse, especially if you are a runner of the darkness. This light by Nathan cost me $10 at a local running shop (Foot Traffic) here in Portland. It clips on to almost anything. It’s light and doesn’t bounce. And it has a bright still-light and an option to have it strobe.

Gear up and enjoy the winter running. Could you tell that I like running with something orange?

Oh, and I figured I’d share my favorite online store for running apparel and gear: www.RunningWarehouse.com

Happy Running!

A Break from the Solo Run

I’ve been doing pretty great about keeping up with my running and training since I’ve been back in New Jersey. Val and I are here visiting family and friends for the holidays so I wasn’t sure how much I’d find the energy to get out for all the runs I’ve wanted to when time is so limited before we leave. Luckily, it hasn’t been an issue. I’ve hit the track twice. I put in a 10 mile tempo run with a negative split (finishing the second half of the run faster than the first half). And I ran a 16 miler with Val’s uncle which I’ll get into shortly.

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It’s been great spending quality time with those we’ve deeply missed.

Saturday night was when the left image was taken and of course they decided to order in from a new Thai restaurant on Main St. in Metuchen. What made it even worse was that the host said they could cook several enticing dishes without fish sauce making them completely vegan. Knowing we’d be eating dinner rather late (7:30-8pm) and that I had to be up early for a long run, I opted for white rice instead. White rice?! Not brown rice? Nope. I knew white rice would be easier to digest and I knew my body could use that energy much more readily in the morning.

friends3  So white rice was my carb-intake and Olivias vegan coconut macaroons provided the fat. 🙂 Wonderfully delectable, Olivia!

I called it a night while Val went out with friends after dinner and tea…and more wine. I enjoyed a nice dinner, stories, and laughs with family and friends and I knew I shouldn’t be tiring my body out even more and then asking it to run 20 miles without proper sleep so I know I made the right call for my overall well-being. I got right into bed and about 6 hours later I was up for a run.

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Up at dawn and felt great! If I wasn’t feeling it, the last thing I’d do is grab my phone for a quick pic, so you know I’m not lying!

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I wasn’t running this run solo, though, which is how I’ve run all of my long runs for well over a year. In fact, I’d say 99% of my runs have been solo runs. It’s not that people don’t like me…I just don’t like them! Kidding!!! I think I’m just training so often which makes things a bit easier when I only have to rely on me. But this run, what I thought was going to be at least 20 miles, was going to be a dual effort with Val’s uncle, Tim. Tim is set to run the Watchung 50k on 1/9/2016, his first ultramarathon, and wanted me to join him for a long run. He forgot he had to meet someone in Connecticut by a certain time so our 20+ mile run was altered to a 16 mile out and back route that to us to the top of Washington Rock before we turned around.

What was so great about this run was how FAST it went. I don’t mean that we took the run fast, because while we went faster than we would have if we had run 25 miles or so, we didn’t run at a pace thatprevented us from conversing. What I mean by “fast” is that the 2+ hours flew by thanks to the great conversations we had throughout the run. We talked about family, work, our fitness goals for next year and everything in between. Before I knew it, we were approaching the point that would bring us to a 1 mile ascent up to Washington Rock and present us with a beautiful miles-long view of New Jersey before us. Too bad the iPhone 4 he brought with us couldn’t capture any pictures that would do any justice to the beautiful view we had.

It was a very welcome break from the solo run that I usually run and I’m glad I had the accountability there as well. Had I not have had plans to run this long run with Tim, I likely would not have wanted to run more than 10 miles in the 30 degrees we ran in. Heck, I probably would have just woken up to coffee and Val’s mom making us breakfast and there would have went my hopes for a long run.

Moral of the story: It may help to break away from the solo run every now and then. The runs go by quicker when you’re with someone. One of you is likely to have a stronger run (Tim thanked me for pushing him especially up the 1 mile hill and during the last few miles when I like to finish strong). And lastly, the accountability  that comes with planning to meet up with a running partner or group really helps on the days when the weather is just downright crummy. I wrote a post not too long ago about this last benefit as one of the ways to help one stick to their fitness goals so feel free to check it out if this aspect interests you.

 

12 In the beginning of our run we were greet by 4 deer and with a mile and a half left, 4 wild turkeys graces us with their presence. Funny enough, 4 turkeys also decided to cause Val’s family’s dog to bark incessantly while we were having breakfast. Maybe we should have just played this lucky number and perhaps won it big that night. “And tonight’s Pick-6 lottery winning numbers are: 4. That’s it!” Ha! I wish.

4 We kept it real classy for our coconut waters after our run. I have no idea why Tim grabbed wine glasses for our postrun hydration beverage, but I wasn’t upset that he did.

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All hydrated with water and coconut water meant that I could enjoy several cups of my favorite morning delight. If we were keeping it classy with the coconut water wine glasses, then we kept it real fancy with the espresso machine.

 

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Val’s aunt knew the way to our hearts. Kasha (buckwheat), shitake mushrooms, and avocado was on the menu for the morning. Then they opened the bag of everything bagels and my heart beat 5x faster. Then I saw peanut butter and my heart beat 10x faster than that. 

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Did you get a good look at that breakfast meal? I’m salivating just staring at that food! Plant-based and incredibly delicious…and nutritious.

Well, that’s that. Are you a solo runner? Do you ever divert from being the lone runner you’re used to? If so, what is that experience usually like for you?

Happy Running!

 

Foot Traffic Holiday Half & 5k: Lessons Learned

This weekend was the 5k I’ve been looking forward to for the past month or so: the Foot Traffic Holiday Half & 5K in Portland. When Betsy’s Best Bar None agreed to sponsor me for this event, I opted to run the 5k as I didn’t think I had enough time to race the half-marathon distance and achieve a personal record (PR) finish. I did, however, think that I could achieve such a result in the 5k distance and that was the plan going into Sunday.

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After the Portland Marathon on October 4th, where I qualified for Boston, Betsy’s Best sponsored two 5k’s, one during each of the weekends following the Portland 26.2 race. I recovered well during that week following the marathon and would have achieved 2 consecutive official PR’s if it wasn’t for an error in race organization in each of the races–the first race involved volunteers sending me the wrong direction, not realizing that I was finishing my final lap and the second race lacked a sign at the turn-around point, causing runners to run further than 3.1 total miles, in addition to a passing train that forced many runners to what was about a 3 minute halt.

 

Heading into this past Sunday’s race, I was sure that my training was going to pay off big! I pushed myself much harder on the track; included more hills into my training; and did everything else I needed to do to ensure I was healthy and strong in my training. I made sure to hydrate more during the two days before the race and made sure to eat smart as well. I had my potatoes for dinner which is my go-to pre-race dinner food that I’ve learned my body really responds well to. Turns out…none of that made a difference. I didn’t run a PR time at the Foot Traffic Holiday 5k, but I did take some lessons with me as I do after every race no matter the result.

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And we begin! 

The following are a few of the lessons I learned  from the Holiday 5k:

  1. Designate and dedicate at least 15 minutes to a proper warm-up. I jogged out and back for maybe 3 minutes and then did some strides and dynamic exercises/stretches to loosen me up. I then finished with some strides to get my heart rate up before the start of the 5k, but it just wasn’t enough time. Allowing for a proper warm-up with just enough time to rest and recoup before the start is great for priming the body for the fast pacing that racing a 5k requires.  Perhaps what distracted me from dedicating more time to my warm-up routine was my running into Alberto Salazar and an Oregon Project colleague while they were discussing Galen Rupp’s race strategy. I’m pretty sure I wasn’t thinking straight after Salazar responded to my question with a response suggesting Rupp’s sole goal was an Olympic marathon trials-qualifying time–something I’m not sure many track news agencies could confirm before Sunday’s race.                                         8
  2. Don’t second guess the racing strategy. Going into this 5k, I knew that I needed to go out and hit the first mile mark at no slower than 5:22. I knew I could do it, but I allowed the slight inclines of the first mile to slow me down and cause me to second guess the strategy. That resulted in a 5:35 first mile and I found myself in 2nd place with an increasing gap while I rapidly tried to recreate a racing strategy that undoubtedly ended up using more of my energy and caused me to slow down while I figured out a plan instead of focusing on my pacing and mechanics. It would have been great if the new strategy ended up working, but it didn’t and this was a most valueable lesson that I learned and I’m glad I did.
  3. If an elevation profile is desired, but not provided, go and run a preview of the route. Even though I would have liked to have known what the course would have looked like as far as inclines and declines, the organizers did not provide a profile map on their website. Because my event was a 5k, I completely understood why the elevation profile is not too significant due to the shorter distance and the course being a relatively flat course. Since I did want to know, though, I should have taken the time to drive the 10 minutes to the race route and run it as a preview. Had I done that, I believe I would have been prepared for a possible headwind during the last mile of the route due to the exposure of this neighborhood section to the Willamette River with no trees to block the winds.

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I may not have run my best race, but I had a great time running and representing Betsy’s Best Bar None. I gave it a decent effort, learned valuable lessons, and  got to be a part of a great event put on by Foot Traffic that gave thousands of people the opportunity to come together and celebrate health, running, and community…three of my favorite things!

What are your most valuable lessons that you’ve learned from a race that you’ve completed, attemped, or perhaps did not get to start? Let’s talk in the comments!

 

This Rain Isn’t Getting Me Down (+Oat Balls Recipe)

Note: This blog post has been slightly updated since its original posting in December 2015.

I have been LOVING 5k race training for the past 3 weeks or so. I know I briefly talked about that in my last blog post, but I just can’t get over how much fun it has been to include more speedwork and  shorter distances into my regimen. A runner I know just recently talked to me about how much harder it is for her to work on speed than it is to work on endurance. I totally get where she’s coming from.

When I’m training for a marathon or ultramarathon, I am not worried about my back-to-back long runs; there is nothing really too discomforting about them. Sure, I get tired at some point and want to stop because I’ve been running for 3+ hours for the second day in  a row, but I’m not gasping for air in desperation. When I’m running long distances in training for marathon or ultramarathon distances, it’s at an aerobic pace (I’m getting enough oxygen to my muscles) so lactic acid is not really being produced or is not produced at the rate of it building up and slowing me down. But when I’m doing speedwork or training for shorter distance runs, most of my runs (weekend “long” run not included) and all of my track sessions involve lactic acid building up and breathing becoming not as easy as it was. Simply put: I totally understand why incorporating actual speed work (not just running fast) isn’t on people’s favorite-things-to-do list. But I love it anyway. And I think I love it and appreciate that feel-good burning sensation in my legs because I’m seeing improvement. When I’m on the track and running hill repeats, I feel so much stronger than I was when I was ultra or marathon-training just a few months ago.

Part of why I think my speed is improving is that I really took to heart something that I read recently and I’ll recall the phrasing to the best of my ability:

Runners often limit their improvement and running potential because they tend to run their slow runs too fast and their fast runs too slow.

It didn’t take me long to realize that that statement can explain so much of my previous training. In my previous periods of training, I’ve completed track workouts and fast workouts without feeling the exhaustion I used to feel when I was running track back in high school. In high school, I would feel like I was DYING after each repeat of an interval session, yet when the coach said to get back on the line, we all did it and managed another 200 or 400 or 800 meter repeat no matter how “dead” we were. And we got faster. I’ve been thinking about that quote and my track experiences during all of my workouts lately and using them to guide me and I’ve seen the results in my training.

This showed me that no matter how long I’ve been running or how much I love it and think I know about the sport, there is and will always  be so much room for learning and improvement. And that improvement was going to take hard work and minimal excuses. One excuse I learned quickly that I had to eliminate from my bag of excuses: rain.

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I knew that when Betsy’s Best Bar None agreed to sponsor a mid-fall race that I’d be looking at most of my running taking place in the rain. Heck, just moving to Portland meant that most of my running was going to be taking place in the rain. I’ve had to really get back into the mindset that I had as a kid or even when running track: running in the rain can be enjoyable. What may prevent it from being so, though, is the back-and-forth questioning and self-induced stress about getting wet that takes place in our head. In my opinion, it’s easier on you and better for you also to just throw on a water-resistant layer,  lace up, and go.

Recently, it’s been quite the rainy weather here in the Pacific Northwest, but I can’t just not run and I dislike running on treadmills. After a dentist appointment the other day I met with Betsy from Betsy’s Best at a track to pick up the new shirt. I’ll wrap up this post with the following pictures and captions.

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It’s quite an improvement from their previous design. The images of their bars and natural ingredients definitely make the shirt stand out more.

 

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I don’t know if you can tell, but I’m definitely smilng strangely here. This is maybe 20 minutes after some restorative dental work and I’m all numbed up from my right cheek to the middle of my lip, including the right side of my tongue, but I could not be stopped from getting in a quick workout. 

Holy Oat Balls!

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The ingredients:

1 1/3 cup rolled oats, 1/3 cup chickpeas, 2 tbsp peanut butter, tbsp nondairy yogurt, your preferred amount of mini chocolate chips, tbsp of chia seeds, 1/2 tbsp cacao powder, dash of cinnamon, and about 1/4 cup of nondairy milk.
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Blend chickpeas, nondairy yogurt, nondairy milk, and peanut butter until somewhat smooth. Mix with remaining ingredients. Form oat balls with mix. Place on nonstick baking pan. Bake at 350 for about 10-15 minutes.

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Enjoy!

Why did I make these and use these ingredients? The protein from the chickpeas, oats, peanut butter, chia seeds, cacao powder, and even some from the nondairy yogurt and milk that you choose, makes for a great way to recover from a hard workout! The low glycemic indices of these ingredients/foods makes these great for long-term energy so you can enjoy a couple as your breakfast (great with nondairy milk or coffee) to fuel you for your later-morning or afternoon run.

What is your favorite food for fueling and recovering? Have you ever tried making your own oat bars or “energy” bars before? What’d you use and why? Do you avoid running in the rain? Do you love it or at least tolerate it for the sake of meeting/maintaining your fitness goals? Let’s talk!