Sunday, January 8, 2017

Love at first Bite: Baking from "Run Fast. Eat Slow."

Alright now, don't get too excited. I'm not sharing any recipes from the New York Times best selling book, you'll have to buy it yourself. Or borrow it from a friend or the library.

When a Oiselle teammate gifted me Shalane Flanagan and Elyse Kkopecky's cookbook, Run Fast. Eat Slow., in our holiday gift exchange, I was thrilled. I'd been hearing rave reviews from many runners over the past several months and two of our teammates brought baked goods from the book to our team holiday party that were both delicious. After one bite of the sweet potato breakfast cookie, I knew it would be one of the first recipes I'd make.

While I won't be able to try all the recipes, there are a good number that are vegan or can be altered slightly to be so. I do love that the book focuses on whole foods that naturally provide the nutrients we need as runners and athletes through tasty dishes. It proves once again that healthy food and delicious food are not mutually exclusive!

Before they get into the recipes, there's a section that provides information on foods we should all have in our pantries and eat often - with explanations of why the food is good for us and tips on how to select and/or store it, which is really important. Another section called "Runner's Remedies" is devoted to looking at different issues runners face and how food can help us deal with them. As someone who believes strongly in the idea that "we are what we eat" I believe that how we eat has a direct impact on how we feel and that many ailments can be addressed - at least in part - by focusing on our diet.

Okay, back to the sweet potato breakfast cookies...

Early Morning Run - Sweet Potato Breakfast Cookies

I've been known to eat cold sweet potatoes with nut butter on early morning flights, so the idea of sweet potato in a cookie recipe sounds genius to me. They're packed with vitamins and fiber and, in my opinion, are simply delicious. Here they naturally add a sweetness to the cookies.

The recipe is pretty easy but you do have to plan ahead since baking the sweet potato and giving it some time to cool is important. It always take me longer the first time or two that I make a recipe because I read the instructions and measurements about a million times to make sure I don't mess anything up (I've done it before). Thankfully it still didn't take too long because I'd not a big fan of overly complicated recipes that take a long time to prep.

Early Morning Run - Run Fast Eat Slow recipe

Mine turned out a bit different from the ones I tasted at our holiday party, but both versions were delicious. The recipe calls for 11 ingredients, most of which are probably in your pantry and there are no refined sugars. With the benefits of sweet potato and ginger, these are delicious and healthy.

While not highlighted in the name, these cookies are vegan. A major benefit of vegan cookies is that it's perfectly fine to eat the raw cookie dough left on the spoon!

Early Morning Run - Run Fast Eat Slow recipe

I hope you give the book a try - if you haven't already. If for no other reason than it's always good to switch things up and try new recipes once in a while.

If you have the Run Fast. Eat Slow. cookbook, what's your favorite recipe? * Do you prefer to bake or cook?

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Holiday Packing Tips for Runners

A lot of us will be packing up and traveling this week for the holidays. I recently read an article listing the 10 things not to pack when you go on a trip and about halfway down the list was "workout clothes." I get it, there are probably people out there who pack workout gear thinking vacation is the perfect time to start a workout routine, but these aren't our type of people.

Approximately half the space in my suitcase is devoted to running gear when I travel. You get me, right?

Like many other things however, running and packing to go running tends to be a bit more complicated when traveling for the holidays. Winter weather is likely to require more gear than during other times of the year and running shoes, watches, and sweat wicking clothes compete for space with holiday gifts, winter boots, and big wool sweaters.

Here are a few of my holiday packing tips for those of us who will be running this week away from home:
1. Double duty. A lot of running clothes are nice enough to wear out to coffee with friends or when visiting family. So wear them for holiday activities one day and the next for your run. You're just going to get sweaty anyway, so does it really matter if you wore for a few hours already? 
2. If you're staying with family and can use their laundry machine, take advantage. This way you only need to pack enough gear to wear for a portion of the days you'll be gone since you can wear, wash, and wear again! 
3. And to that point, if your host has it, don't take it. If you usually roll out after your run (which you should do), ask your host if they have a foam roller or even a tennis ball or softball, which I find work well as a replacement. You can also spend a few minutes with your legs up the wall after your run to help with recovery too. You'll save major room in your luggage and still keep your legs fresh!

4. Use a bag to corral your hats, mittens, buffs and other gear. A spike bag or even a plastic shopping bag will do and it'll save you time when you're trying to get out the door and get your miles in before the rest of your family wakes up. Everything will be in one place, easy to find.
5. Don't forget to check the weather forecast before you leave and think about what it really means where you're going. The dry atmosphere and intense sun in Colorado means 30 degrees here feels very different from 30 degrees in Michigan where the sun rarely comes out between December and April. Having the right gear means you'll be more likely to get out there. 
6. Be sure to take one day's worth of gear and your shoes in your carry-on just in case your luggage ends up in a different city. Especially important if you're on a run streak like me and don't want the airline to dictate when it ends.
7. And of course, take snacks with you! If you rely on Picky Bars or HoneyStinger waffles before or during a run, don't count on having time to find them when you're away from home. Pack what you're going to need. You'll have a little more room for gifts on your way home since you'll have eaten them because you went running!
Bonus tip: If you think the weather might keep you from running and you want to get that workout in, put Google to work and see what gyms are close to where you're staying. Find out in advance if they have drop-in rates and what the hours are so you aren't trying to figure it out at 9:30pm the night before you want to go. (From experience, I can say it's not very fun.)
I hope you enjoy the holidays, eat great food, laugh a lot, travel safely and find some time to run a few miles and reflect on all you have to be thankful for and all the amazing adventures ahead in 2017!

What are you most looking forward to over the holidays?

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Tips to Keep Your Run Streak on Course

Day 30. I have run at least one mile a day for 30 days in a row. And I'll be out there again tomorrow.

Before this, I've never run more than 6 days in a row, and that wasn't all that long ago.

If you've known me for a while, you know I've had more stress fractures than I can keep track of, which scared me into a routine that only allowed for a few days of running each week. Thankfully it's been quite a few years now since my last and I've been feeling pretty good about how things are going (knock on wood), so earlier this fall I decided to test it out and run 6 days a week, or close to it.

Since that was going well, when the Runner's World holiday run streak popped up in my Twitter feed, I decided to give it a try. Adding just one more mile a week didn't seem like such a big deal and my schedule is a bit more flexible than usual right now, so this was the time to do it.

Since today is day 30, you can probably guess it's going pretty well and I'm enjoying the extra day of running. Running is my time to clear my head and soak in some energy from the warm Colorado sun and crisp air.

For me, I think what's helped is rolling out and stretching religiously to keep my legs feeling good, switching up my routes often and running with a friend.

Being a first-timer and looking ahead to holiday travel, I know I have to be strategic and plan ahead to make this work. And since we're half-way through #RWRunStreak, I decided to ask a few friends who are much more experienced at this than I am, for their tips and why they run every day.

Here's what they had to say:

After giving birth to her first baby in July, Lindsay is taking on this run streak as a way to get back into running and take care of herself. Lucky for me, we've been able to log some miles together these past few weeks, making the miles go by a bit faster. As a wife, new mom, and NFL reporter who spends many weekends on the road, fitting in a run each day can be tricky.
Mix it up. Running every day can get really stale if you travel the same route from your house every day. There is something nice about knowing that one-mile loop from your house when you need to squeeze it in early morning or at lunch or after work, but if you can, get out and explore. Try a new park or a new trail, it will help make the streak seem less monotonous. During my first two streaks, I ran through the NFL season/postseason. That included lots of travel, so I got to run in so many different cities from coast to coast (and the airport in Amsterdam!). Lots of business travelers might look for interesting restaurants or bars to visit while away from home. I look for cool running spots.
Listen to your body. Even if you have a good base, running every day, even if some days is just a mile, is a shock to your system. Expect to feel tired, heavy legs. Expect to feel some weird twinges and soreness and maybe some pain. But really pay attention to notice if something is just sore or if something is an injury coming on. Don't feel bad about dropping down to a mile for a couple of days to see if the pain goes away. I did not do this during my longest streak and kept running as pain got worse in my foot. I ended up with plantar and had to take some time completely off running. I kept going too long just for the sake of the streak and probably made it worse in the process.
Engage on social media. Find other streakers on Instagram or Twitter and use them as motivation. There will be days when you don't want to get out there, but if you check the #RWRunStreak hashtag and you see other people who have already run in the snow or the dark or pushing the double stroller, you'll be more likely to get out there and join them.  
Read more about Lindsay's run streak adventures in this Zelle article by our teammate Anica.

Lisa and Jenna in NYC

Jenna, an off-Broadway theater exec from Brooklyn, and the sweetest bad ass I know, is approaching the 3 year anniversary of her run streak. What started as a challenge to see if she could stick with something, has become her daily check-in with her body and her time to meditate. She knows that even on a tough day when it feels like nothing has gone right and she hasn't accomplished a thing, she has finished that mile. It's her ongoing commitment to have running in her life, even when life and other priorities take the spotlight.
Do it in the morning. Do. It. In. The. Morning. You never know where your day will take you, and even if you are fairly certain you will have time for a longer run later, get that single mile in during morning hours. You don't want to be painfully jogging 1600 meters at 11:30pm after Vietnamese dumplings and cocktails (been there...). The easiest way to do this is to make a mile route from your home and have that be your go-to that you can reliably run sans watch and GPS.
On days when you're only running the minimum mile, give yourself permission to fixate on something that's bothering you. Be it a work project or a social conflict or any other kind of stressor, allow yourself to give in to the negative thoughts just while you're running, and tell yourself you have to snap out of it at the end of the mile. More often than not, you'll end up either finding a solution to the problem, making a productive plan, or just venting out the negative energy. A single mile can be a productive time!
Mindy - 4 year run streaker
Photo Credit: Mindy Morain
A lawyer, mom to a most adorable Corgi, and 7-time marathoner, Mindy is on day 1,483 of her streak. Yes, you read that right. She's been going strong for more than 4 years. When you're celebrating New Years Eve, please toast to Mindy and her 1,500 day of running. I'm in complete awe of her dedication and commitment. Through a demanding work schedule, travel and training for races, she's become addicted to the streak.
Why she runs each day: "It's a guaranteed 10 minute daily self check-in"
What's most difficult about the streak: "Getting started, the longer I go, the easier it is"
Top tip: "Always run early
So there you have it. Tips from three great women and pros when it comes to run streaks, who I'm thankful to call my friends and teammates. Now, lace up your shoes and go for a run! (Just a mile is all it takes!)

Have your own favorite tips or reasons for run streaking? Share them with us!