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Heart-beet Smoothie

16 Feb

Hello there and happy weekend!

Whether or not you spent Thursday with someone else’s heart in mind, the first heart you should be caring for is your own!

Heart disease is serious business. It’s the leading cause of death in Americans. The good news is that most heart conditions (even if you have a family history) are preventable and food and fitness are your most effective arsenal.

One of my favorite heart-smart foods: beets! …Wait! Don’t close your browser yet. I know what you’re thinking: “This chick is a crazy freak of nature vegetable worshipper! If she thinks she’s going to convince me to eat beets, she’s out of her flippin’ mind!” Most people who tell me they despise beets are only acquainted with the gelatinous canned version of beets. They were forced to eat them as a child and still have nightmares of their mother dumping the cylindrical jelly glob out of the can and slicing it into circles of disgustingness (this is a real description from one of my clients 🙂 ).

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{Boulder, CO farmers market}

Beets are rich in nitrates which lower blood pressure and in turn protect your heart. Newer research boasts the benefit of beets for exercise. Nitrates reduce the amount of oxygen that is required during exercise which improves exercise performance.

When I think of beets, I imagine the vibrant red root vegetable roasted up with olive oil and spices or peeled, steamed and blended into a smoothie. Yep, you read that right- a smoothie!

Heart-beet Smoothie

adapted from Cooking Light

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup sliced cooked beets

  • 1 cup frozen mixed berries

  • ¼ cup plain non- or low-fat yogurt

  • ¼ cup orange juice

  • 1 Tbsp ground flaxseed

  • 1 tsp honey (optional)

Directions:

Place all ingredients into a blender and blend for 1 minute or until a smooth consistency is achieved. Pour into a glass and enjoy!

PicMonkey Collage

Still not a fan of beets? No worries, nitrates are found in many other veggies including leafy greens like kale and spinach, lettuce, parsley, and celery.

Now, go do something for YOUR heart today: take a walk, eat a beet, have a salad.

Thanks for reading 🙂

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The Minimalist Half-Marathon Training Plan

30 Jan

My relationship with running has been rocky and tumultuous. It is plagued with injuries, heat exhaustion, missed PRs and sprinkled with just enough triumphs to keep me coming back for more. After a marathon, many half-marathons, and countless short distance races, I took a substantial break from racing (almost 2 years). I’ve been working hard to correct my imbalances- strengthen where I’m weak and stretch where I’m tight- and I am ready to run again.

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JWD and I are running a half-marathon that is less than 10 weeks away. We have some pretty lofty time goals :), but our main goal is to train and race injury free. Although I want to train for a race, I don’t want to give up my other workouts, so we are following what I call a minimalist training plan. The plan is to only do three runs per week and continue our weekly strength training sessions and yoga practice. Here’s a look at our running schedule:

WEEK TUE THUR SAT/SUN
1 4×400 3-mi tempo 6-mi long
2 4×800 4-mi tempo 8-mi long
3 3×1600 5-mi tempo 10-mi long
4 6×400 6-mi tempo 6-mi long
5 3×1600 4-mi tempo 10-mi long
6 4×800 8-mi tempo 8-mi long
7 6×400 6-mi tempo 10-mi long
8 4×1600 8-mi tempo 12-mi long
9 3×800 3-mi tempo 6-mi long
10 4×400 2-mi tempo RACE DAY

based on http://www.runnersworld.com/race-training/first-half-marathon-training-plan?page=single

The key to minimalist training is making every running workout count, so there are pace goals associated with each run on the plan (check out the link above). I’m excited to get started!

Has anyone else tried a “minimalist” approach to race training?

Thanks for reading 🙂

Weekend Workouts and Pinterest Recipe Inspiration

28 Oct

Hello friends! Hope you had a great weekend. Today I slept in until 9am (!!) This is rare for me. I has yoga plans, so I shoveled a frozen waffle in my mouth and hurried out the door. A different teacher was subbing the class, it was hard but fun-  a lot of abs and a lot of crow practice. The soreness is already setting in. I’m afraid I won’t be able to get out of bed in the morning. The rest of the day was a typical Sunday of cleaning, homework, and prepping for the week. Oh yeah, and this happened…

I found these cookies on Pinterest and they’ve been on my “To Cook” list for a while now. The ingredients are simple (and bizzarre): peanut butter, honey, baking powder, vanilla extract, chocolate chips, and.. chickpeas! They are surprisingly delicious!

Let’s back up a bit and check out some recent workouts and eats…

The temps have certainly dropped here which made for a few chilly runs last week/this weekend. I am slowly trying to get back into running. I took a long hiatus due to a string of injuries and bad races, but I finally have the racing itch again!

On Thursday JWD and I squeezed in 4 miles before the rain hit. We averaged an 8:45 pace. Considering I am very untrained in the running department right now, I was happy with that 🙂

I planned on Saturday being a rest day, but I woke up in the mood to move so I bundled up and knocked out 6 miles at an easy pace. I was STARVING when I got home, so I showered and promptly inhaled an egg on toast and this leftover soup that I found on Pinterest. (highly recommend!)

Lower temps trigger the return of oatmeal cravings, so oatmeal has been my breakfast of choice lately. 

In this bowl: rolled oats, almond milk, bananas, stevia, cinnamon, and walnuts.

Snackage:

Plain greek yogurt topped with homemade pumpkin-flax granola, apples slices, and cranberry apple butter.

Love this Trader Joe’s butter!

Larabars are always in the snack mix 🙂

Chocolate covered espresso beans for afternoon pick-me-ups.

Bubbles!

Lemon sparkling water.

Now it’s time to put my sore body to bed. Thanks for reading 🙂

Addicted To Sweat?

9 Jul

Happy Monday! Hope your week is off to a great start. Today is the start of two weeks of insanity for me. Full explanation on all of that to come.

Let’s back-track to the weekend. JWD and I spent the weekend at his parent’s house. It was a good weekend full of family time and old friends (JWD and I grew up in the same town and have the same childhood friends, making trips “back home” a lot of fun). We went out with friends to see a band on Friday night. JWD was up bright and early on Saturday morning for a 7:30am tee time and my intention was to get up when he left at 6:30am… the next thing I knew, I woke up at 9:30 to an empty house and this weather report:

I haven’t slept that late in ages. I sat on the back porch sipping coffee for a good 20 minutes contemplating a workout in the heat. Hot yoga has made it easier for me to tolerate the heat and I was in the mood to sweat, so I downed some water and half a banana and hit the pavement. Since I was racing the rising thermometer, I went for a timed workout.

5 minute warm-up run

4 sets of 5 minute intervals: I gradually picked up the pace during each 5 minute interval until I hit a full sprint for the last 30 seconds, then returned to a slow jog to start the next interval.

5 minute slow jog to cool down

Total: 30 minutes

I was drenched when I returned, but felt much better.

Post-run overnight oats to cool me down. Loaded with blueberries, blackberries, and banana.

The increasing number of sweaty workouts in my life, my recent need for electrolyte replacement nutrition, and the countless loads of laundry we do each week to keep up with the piles of soaked workout gear brings me to this question: Are we addicted to sweat?

There is nothing more satisfying than wringing the sweat out of my yogitoes after my Vinyasa practices. Sometimes JWD and I will go for runs where “getting a sweat” is our only goal. I honestly feel like my day is not complete without breaking a sweat.

Awhile back, I read an article in the NY Times on this very subject. Hot workouts are all the rage from Bikram Yoga to heated spinning classes, but is all that sweating really a good thing?

Here’s what experts have to say about the claimed benefits of hot and sweaty workouts.

Is a “hot workout” a better workout?

Yes- to a point. Your body has to work harder at higher temps, but anything past 100* is entering the danger zone. Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are serious consequences of of a workout that’s a little too hot.

Does all that sweating detoxify the body?

Not really. Although sweat does contain trace amounts of toxins, heavy sweating is not a reliable method of ridding toxins from the body. The primary purpose of sweat is to cool the body, not detoxify it. Leave detoxification to your liver and kidneys.

Are hot workouts for everyone?

No. Exercising in the heat requires a certain level of fitness and slow acclimatization to higher temperatures. Exercising in heat could be very dangerous for someone with a low fitness level or who isn’t used to it.

The bottom line:

Extra sweaty workouts are best suited for those with a higher fitness level and should be eased in to. Hot workouts should not make you feel dizzy, light-headed, clammy, or nauseous!

If you’re going to amp up the sweat, it’s crucial to replace what you lose. Two easy ways to monitor hydration: 1. Check out your urine color- it should look like pale lemonade. Apple juice-colored urine is an indicator of dehydration. 2. Weigh yourself before and after a workout and replace 150% of what you lost (24oz. of fluid per pound lost). Include sodium and potassium-rich foods in the 24 hours post-workout, especially if you are a “salty sweater”.

For me, sweaty workouts are a way to turn up the intensity. I always compensate my sweat sessions with tons of water, coconut water, electrolyte powder, and foods high in sodium and potassium. I am a really salty sweater (my skin gets coated with a white, gritty residue when I sweat a lot), so that last part is important for me.

Between the sweaty workouts, the hot temps outside, and few nights of cocktails ;), the weekend left me feeling dehydrated. I had a headache most of Sunday, so I skipped my Vinyasa class and opted for plenty of water and rest.

On the drive back to STL, I picked up a Lemonade Vitamin Water Zero at a gas station. It has some electrolytes in it and it’s sweetened with stevia, so I gave it a try.

It was pretty good! I was disappointed when I checked the label more closely in the car and found out it doesn’t have any sodium or potassium (the electrolyte biggies). Case-in-point for why it’s important to investigate those front-of-the-package claims! Flavor-wise, definitely something I’ll try again. My state of dehydration was also a great excuse to partake in some salty Mexican food at one of our favorite spots back in St. Louis, Tortillaria.

I had one fish taco and my fare share of chips and salsa. The rest of the day was spent packing and doing some work. Today I am a prisoner of my desk and my lonnng “To Do” list. Lunch:

Almond butter and half a banana on Ezekiel bread and a peach on the side. It’s rare that my lunch is veggie-less. I foresee a giant green salad for dinner!

See you later in the week for an iced coffee post.

Thanks for reading 🙂

Half Full

13 Apr

First of all, let me direct your attention to the URL box ^^^ above. From now on, I will be blogging from the *new* Running on Sunshine website runonsunshine.com! Bookmark it, people! Or better yet, sign up for an email subscription –>

I also started a Running on Sunshine Facebook Page where I plan to post more casual, everyday photos and tips. Search “Running on Sunshine” on Facebook and “Like” the page! I have to have a certain number of “Likes” before they’ll give me a direct link to the page.

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I really love quirky t-shirts and one of my favorites in my collection is this one:

I wear it on days when I need a little inspiration, a little reminder to look on the bright side. This shirt will definitely come in handy this week as I pick myself up and brush off Sunday’s race.

It didn’t exactly go as I had planned. We finished, overall we had a good time, but it wasn’t pretty. I wanted to post this recap in hopes of helping someone else out there who had (or will someday have) a less than ideal race day.

In the cocoon, running is my thing. JWD’s thing is soccer, but my thing is running. Since college soccer has come to an end, I begged invited JWD to train for a race with me. I had this wonderful ideal in my brain of spending time training together, lining up on race day together, and setting a PR all while impressing him with my endurance and grit. 🙂

So, we trained. We ran on the treadmill, in the rain, in the freezing cold. I got faster (yay!) because I found it much harder to admit to JWD that my lungs were about to explode than to just.keep.running. I was confident that I could muscle through the race at the pace we had set.

I woke up on race day full of excitement. Usually I’m extremely nervous, but knowing JWD would be by my side calmed my nerves. We rode our bikes downtown to the starting line. The forecast predicted a high of 85* and I could feel that the heat and humidity had already started to set in. As I stood in our assigned corral stretching and waiting for the race to start, I noticed I was sweating. This isn’t that strange because I always sweat like crazy, but it was only 7am and I was already sweating!

The race started and the first few miles flew by. We were on pace and feeling great. Then it all went downhill. I started feeling really hot. I looked over at JWD who was drenched in sweat, and then looked at my own skin. It was dry, hot, and salty. Then I started to feel like I couldn’t breathe. I knew something wasn’t right, so I stopped and walked. I’ve never walked in a race before.

Heat and humidity impair your body’s ability to cool itself, especially if you haven’t had time to adjust to the heat. As I walked, I assessed the situation. I felt my PR slipping away and was beginning to feel the sting on my ego. But my body was overheating, and I had to listen to my body. I knew I could finish the race, but it would have to be at a much slower pace.

We did cross the finish line at the best pace my body could muster in those conditions. Needless to say, I did not get my PR. But I also did not have to be rushed to the hospital which is much more important.

Here’s How I’m Getting Over My Bad Race

  • I Shed a Few Tears. Yes, I cried over my race. When you pour so much effort into training, you are allowed to be upset. It’s okay to vent and sulk a little bit.
  • I Analyzed What Went Wrong. I reviewed the days leading up to the race- how much did I sleep? what did I eat and drink? how did I feel? My body probably just wasn’t used to the heat and humidity. Everyone’s body is different and will therefor react differently under various circumstances. Try to identify the variables that impacted your performance and realize that certain variables are completely out of your control. Anything can happen on race day- weather, illness, injury- and you have to learn to adapt.
  • I Identified The Positives. In every negative situation, there are positives to be found. I realize that under the circumstances, I did the best I could and I finished. Even though it hurt my ego, I was able to adapt to the situation and fight through it. I got to run my first race with JWD, and we will definitely never forget it. I was also able to watch many of my friends fight through the hot, hilly coarse and cross the finish line.
  • I’m Working On Setting New Goals. Now that I’ve put the less-than-perfect race day behind me, I can look forward to my next fitness goals. I can’t wait to start lifting again! Take what you learned from the bad race and use it to improve your training and mindset going in to your next race.

2011 isn’t over yet, so I have plenty of time and plenty of races to set a PR.

My glass is definitely half full (of coconut water).

Don’t forget to bookmark and subscribe to the new site and find Running on Sunshine on Facebook!

Thanks for reading 🙂

Workout of the Week Part II: Hydration

3 Apr

I can’t believe that my half-marathon is one week away! I hope the weather is as beautiful next weekend as it is on this fine Sunday. I’m about to knock out my last long run, and then comes the hard part- the week of rest before race day.

The week(s) right before a race, milage drops considerably and other activities like strength training are decreased to prevent excessive muscle fatigue. I kind of have ants in my pants around the clock, so physical “rest” is difficult for me. Anyone else have ants in their pants when they don’t get a sweat session in or am I the only crazy one? 🙂

To keep my sanity before race day, I turn my attention to other things like stretching, fueling, and hydrating. That last one is very important.

During exercise, water helps cool the body, maintain blood flow to the muscles, and rid the body of toxins. Dehydration can negatively impact your exercise performance.

Signs of Dehydration:

  • muscle cramps, fatigue & soreness
  • dry mouth
  • sweating may stop
  • lightheadedness or headache
  • dark yellow urine
  • decreased frequency in urination

Proper hydration is important for everyone, but it is especially crucial when intensity, duration, and temperatures are high.

Hydration For Exercise Rules of Thumb:

Before Exercise

Drink 20-40 fl ounces of water (about 3-5 cups) in the 2-3 hours prior to intense exercise.

During Exercise

Drink about 4 fl ounces (1/2 cup) every 30 minutes during intense activity.

*TIP: one “gulp” = about 1 ounce

After Exercise

To determine fluid needs for post-exercise, weigh yourself before and after exercise and drink 16 fluid ounces (2 cups) of fluid for every pound lost during exercise. Because this isn’t always convenient, do it once and use this as a guide for future workouts.

What Should You Drink?

For the average exerciser and workouts <60 minutes, plain water is the perfect rehydrating fluid. For athletes and intense workouts lasting >60 minutes, a sports drink may be beneficial.

A sports drink must have liquid for hydration, carbohydrates for energy and refueling, and electrolytes to replace sweat loss. Zero-calorie sports drinks don’t have carbohydrate for energy, so they aren’t a good choice for intense workouts. Plus they contain sugar substitutes. Yuck. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of drinks like Gatorade because they contain high-fructose corn syrup. Yes, these beverages are effective recovery drinks, but putting high-fructose corn syrup into my body makes me a little uneasy.

My Solution: Coconut water


Coconut water is the clear liquid that comes from the inside of young coconuts. Because of its carbohydrate and electrolyte content, it has been dubbed the “natural Gatorade”. You can find brands like Vita Coco, O.N.E., and ZICO in the beverage aisle of many grocery stores.

Coconut Water Ingredient List: 100% Natural Coconut Water

Gatorade Ingredient List: Water, Sucrose, Glucose-Fructose Syrup, Citric Acid, Natural Flavors, Salt, Sodium Citrate, Mono-Potassium Phosphate, Ester Gum, Yellow 5, Brominated Vegetable Oils, Yellow 6, Red 40, Blue 1, Caramel 1

The new Gatorade labels list “Glucose-Fructose Syrup” in the ingredient list, but there is no sign of the words “High-Fructose Corn Syrup”. Did they take out the HFCS? No! Glucose-Fructose Syrup is a less common name for High-Fructose Corn Syrup. Very sneaky, Gatorade.

The only problem with coconut water is its electrolyte balance. It is heavy in potassium and light in sodium, while Gatorade is the opposite. We lose more sodium than potassium when we sweat, so this makes coconut water a less ideal electrolyte replacer. My solution is to pair my post-workout coconut water with a salty snack such as salted pretzels.

A Few Hydration Tips:

  • Carry a water bottle with you at all times. I never leave the house without a water bottle in tow.
  • Sip water throughout the day. Try to remind yourself to drink every 1/2 hour – 1 hour.
  • Always drink water before, during, and after intense exercise.
  • When out to eat, order a glass of water along with your other beverage choice. Drink a glass of water along with your morning coffee.
  • Water can come from food too! Consume foods with high water content including fruits and vegetables. These help keep you hydrated and curb hunger.
  • Before reaching for a snack, drink a glass of water. Often, we confuse mild hunger with mild dehydration.
  • Monitor urine color. If you are properly hydrated, urine should be pale yellow to clear and transparent.

For exercise fueling tips, check out Part I

Happy Hydrating and Thanks for reading 🙂

Workout of the Week: Fueling Your Workout

20 Mar

This workout update is way overdue!

I just finished up week 9 of half-marathon training. With race training amping up, I’m a bit too sore to maintain my regular lifting routine. I’m still trying to make two dates a week with the weights, but yoga has taken priority this week. It feels so great to stretch my very tight, sore body.

Lately, some of my runs have been a little less than ideal. I haven’t been feeling my best, so I’m really focusing on proper nutrition and hydration. It must be working because JWD and I had one of our best long runs yesterday (we switched our long run to Saturday and rest day to Sunday this week). We had a great first 6 miles, then I got really tired and sluggish for the next 1.5 miles, and then I rallied and we finished with a strong, fast 1.5 miles. Whew I was tired afterwards.

Whatever spring race is on your agenda, you are probably settled in to your training program by now. But what about your nutrition routine? Proper nutrition is just as important to exercise performance as the training plan, and a poor diet isn’t going to get you a PR. This will be a two-part post for workout nutrition & hydration.

PART I

Here’s an exercise nutrition plan that’ll get you to the finish line in record time.

Pre-Workout Nutrition:

Pre-workout meals equip your body with the proper fuel to power your workout. Because carbohydrates are the body’s fuel of choice, pre-workout meals should be high in carbohydrates and easily digested. Easily digested meals are relatively low in fiber and fat. These two nutrients slow down digestion. If too much food is left in your stomach when you begin exercising, it will feel very uncomfortable and inhibit your performance. So when it comes to pre-run meals, timing is everything. Larger meals should be consumed 3-4 hours before a workout, while smaller meals can be consumed 1-2 hours before your workout.

Examples of pre-workout meals: toast with peanut butter and honey, oatmeal with fruit, or cereal with a low-fat milk.

Post-Workout Nutrition:

Post-workout meals are key to replenishing and repairing the body. For maximum recovery benefits, consume a meal rich in carbohydrates and protein within 30 minutes after completing your workout. This is your optimal recovery window, so take advantage of it! Carbohydrates help to replenish muscle fuel and protein repairs and rebuilds muscle tissue. Proper recovery nutrition after a run can help improve performance during your next run.

Examples of recovery meals: turkey/veggies/hummus in a whole wheat wrap, veggie stir-fry with tofu and brown rice, peanut butter and banana in a whole wheat wrap, low-fat chocolate milk and a banana, or a fruit and yogurt smoothie.

Other Tips:

  • Experiment. Early in your training program, experiment with different pre- and post-workout meals and meal timing. Everyone’s body has its own quirks, so there is no one-size-fits-all meal plan. Keep a journal of what and when you eat and how you feel during your workout. This can help you pinpoint the best meal routine for your body.
  • Practice! Once you’ve found your perfect meal routine, practice it throughout your training. Use long run days as dress rehearsals for the event. Practicing your race day routine, especially your nutrition routine, will help your body perform its best on race day.
  • Don’t be afraid of salt. When I sweat for an extended period of time, my skin is covered in a salty residue. Sodium is an electrolyte that helps with fluid balance in the body and needs to be replaced after hard workouts, especially if you are a salty sweater like me. You may even find yourself craving something salty after a hard workout. Listen to your body! Salty pretzels, whole grain pita chips, or salted nuts can help do the trick. However, this is not permission to devour a bag of potato chips every time you break a sweat. High sodium intake is linked with high blood pressure, so if you or your family have history of high blood pressure, sodium intake should be monitored carefully. Sports drinks also contain sodium, but we’ll save that for next time.

***Just an FYI– Running on Sunshine is moving to a new server, so she may be out of commission for a little bit in the next 24 hours. Hopefully everything goes smoothly and I’ll see you on the other side!

Happy fueling and thanks for reading 🙂

Workout of the Week: Half-Marathon Training

23 Jan

Running and I are pretty good friends.

We used to be best friends.

When our relationship was in its “honeymoon phase”, we spent a lot of time together. Running helped me survive a very transitional, rocky part of my life. Running was my therapy.

We had a great time together.

You see, I didn’t meet running until I was in college. First it was just therapeutic runs in the park. Then a half-marathon. Then a few more. Then a moment of almost running cross-country. Then a handful of other races. And then a marathon.

It was somewhere between the “handful of other races” and the “marathon” that things got a little turbulent. First a stress fracture. Then a run-in with infrapatellar tendonitis. Then a strained quad– between mile 6 and 10 of a marathon. *Ouch*

After that I decided to back off a little bit. Give myself some space. Get reacquainted some of my other dear friends, yoga and strength training.

But I never lost that itch to run.

So here I am finishing up week 1 of half-marathon training. I thought about running a marathon instead, but the truth is I’m having way too much fun experimenting with other types of workouts. So a half-marathon PR (personal record) goal is on my agenda this year. For this week’s Workout of the Week I would like to share my training plan.

This plan is adapted from a plan on Hal Higdon’s website. His plans are incredible. No matter the distance, skill level, or goal, he has a plan for you. He even has training plans for those that want to walk a race. Fabulous.

Because I am so injury-prone, I need a plan that allows me flexibility , builds milage slowly, and incorporates plenty of cross-training (for both my health and my sanity). I also want a plan that includes speedwork since I’m shooting for a faster time. This plan fits the bill. It is a slight variation of Hal’s (yes, we are on a first name basis) intermediate half-marathon plan.

Over the next few weeks I’ll be featuring the different workouts involved in race training plans as well as how I plan to (fingers crossed) get through this race injury free.

Is anyone else currently training for a race or have a 2011 race goal?

The snow is pouring out of the sky today in St. Louis. Looks like my first long run will be spent on the dreadmill treadmill. blah. And then veggie chili and football are in the plans– because we’re all-American like that. Who am I kidding, you’ll most likely find me in my lab (a.k.a. kitchen) whipping up some experiments. Too much of a busy-body to sit on the couch. Stay tuned 🙂

Thanks for reading 🙂

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