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Originally posted September 6, 2014. Written by Dena Evans.

Technology has improved our lives in myriad ways.  GPS devices have allowed us to track our endurance efforts, recording our pace, distance, heart rate, and many more metrics besides.  While providing a wealth of information, our relationship with the technology can become complicated and far more entangled than we could have possibly imagined.   These devices are best as a tool to help us train effectively and analyze where we have gone.  While possible that your GPS device can provide some accountability, take this quiz and see where you are on the spectrum of maintaining a healthy balance and perspective with your wrist-born tech.

 

Do you always round off your runs or walks to an exactly even number (5.00 miles, 3.50 miles exactly, 40 miles precisely for the week, etc), even if you are doing a lap around the parking lot or go up and down your driveway three times?

If your answer is yes, you probably enjoy order over chaos, and completion of your goals.  You might also like to look at tidy numbers on the screen. None of that is bad in and of itself, but it is always good to remember that training has a purpose and shuffling in circles for 27 meters to make a full mile doesn’t really make you any more prepared for the race.  Consider spending a week where you purposely don’t end on an even number in any run.  Encourage yourself that your achievement of the total includes the experience of the effort along the way and that your training need not be 100% perfect 100% of the time to be in a position to achieve your goals on race day!

Do you have a floor or ceiling pace under or over which you never go on training run / walk days?

If your answer is yes, you probably are trying to faithfully complete your training efforts at the paces prescribed by your runcoach pace chart.  However, always make sure that you listen to your body.  If you have a sore / tight muscle, feel tired from the prior day’s workout, are sick, or have another legitimate reason to be in true recovery mode, it is fine to slow dow.  Occasionally what felt like your easy pace turns out to be 30 seconds per mile or more.  Recovery is key to being prepared for the next hard day.  Sometimes, that requires doing a little less and easing off a bit (and being ok with that when you look at your watch).

Now that you have a GPS device on your wrist or in the palm of your hand, do you find yourself checking your pace almost reflexively every 50 meters along your route?

If this sounds like you, you might be just excited to have a cool toy to consult. But, with constant reliance on the watch or app (which is not always 100% accurate due to trees, weather, and other factors), you might also be at risk for missing a chance to understand and gain a feel for what your race pace or other paces might be.  While you might want to keep careful track of your mileage, occasionally pick a route you of which you already know the distance, and run it without your watch, gauging your effort based on what you perceive to be the pace.  You can log the miles accurately as you have measured it previously and using your total time, can figure the pace. However, you have taken an opportunity during the run to stay in touch with your instincts and listen to your body.

Do you avoid certain routes because of spotty satellite reception (and the shorter distances/ slower paces you might be given credit for on your device as a result)?

If your answer is yes to this one, you are human! We all like to see our best selves recorded and the greatest return on our efforts.  However, if the preoccupation with the numbers is causing you to miss out on tree covered paths, excellent trail running, and safe routes on bike paths that travel through tunnels, consider mapping these on the computer and manually entering in the distances, or just noting your estimated differences when uploading your info.

Data is helpful, but we should not become overly reliant on it.  As humans, we can use machines and technology to help us to our goals, but nothing replaces the individual effort and commitment we all need to achieve our goals on the day.  Continue to trust in your ability and instincts. Let your GPS devices and apps be tools, but only one of many, in your arsenal.


 

 


lambstuffedpeppersTime for an easy gourmet meal that is quick to prep and clean-up, but packs some great flavors and nutrition.  Enjoy this dish for lunch or dinner as it’s sure to impress your family or guests.  We take African spices of cumin and cinnamon and pair with some tasty ground lamb or buffalo, adding in short grain brown rice for a balanced and satisfying meal.

Cooking time: 30 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients

-        1 ¾ cups cooked short grain brown rice

-        4 medium to large bell peppers

-        1 pound ground lamb or buffalo

-        4 cloves minced garlic

-        ½ cup currants (look near raisins)

-        2 teaspoons ground cumin

-        1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

-        2 ½ cups vegetable juice (eg V8)

-        ¼ cup chopped mint

-        Zest of an orange

-        ¾ teaspoon salt

-        ½ teaspoon pepper

Cooking

-        Preheat oven to 350 degrees

-        Wash and cook brown rice as desired (boiling on stove top or in rice cooker)

-        Cut tops off peppers and de-seed.  Put peppers into over on cookie sheet or other casserole dish for 15-20 minutes

-        Cook beef in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, breaking up beef until no longer pink, 4-6 minutes

-        Stir in currants, cumin and cinnamon, cooking for 1 minute

-        Stir in rice and cook for 30 seconds more

-        Remove from heat and stir in ½ cup vegetable juice, mint, orange zest, salt and pepper

-        Spoon beef mixture into peppers, pour remaining vegetable juice into the pepper and serving dish and microwave for 1 minute.

Nutrition

-        Calories: 451

-        Carbs: 48g

-        Protein: 36g

-        Fat: 12g



risottoWe began with a great breakfast to jump start your day, then a tasty chickpea and egg dish for lunch or dinner. Now we have a flavorful vegetarian dish, perfect for lunch or quick dinner when you are on the go.  This is another crock-pot meal, so you can just throw everything in and have it ready when you get home in the afternoon.  It stores well in the fridge or freezer, making for a healthy, sustaining meal that is packed full of great flavors.

Brown Rice Quinoa Fennel Risotto

This dish, prepared with brown rice and pecorino, creates a gluten and cow dairy free recipe, while vegetarian, packs a lasting satisfaction with the addition of quinoa along with fiber.  Just 30 minutes to prep, then slow cook for 4-6 hours.

  • 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
  • 1 large or 2 small fennel bulbs, cored and finely diced, plus 2 tablespoons chopped fronds
  • 1 cup short-grain brown rice
  • ½ cup Quinoa
  • 1 small carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 large shallot, finely chopped
  • 4 oz. sliced crimini mushrooms - $1.69
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth, or “no-chicken” broth
  • 1/2 cups water, divided
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • cups frozen French-cut green beans
  • 1/2 cup grated pecorino cheese
  • 1/3 cup pitted oil-cured black olives, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste

Directions:

Coat a 4-quart crock-pot with cooking spray.  Crush fennel seeds and combine with diced fennel, brown rice, carrot, shallot, garlic, green beans, olives, lemon zest and mushrooms in the pot.  Add broth, 1 cut water, wine, and stir to combine.  Cover and cook until rice is chewy and risotto is thick and creamy.  On high heat 2 ½ hours, or low heat 4 hours.

Before serving or storing, stir in pecorino.  If it too dry, add water to loosen.

Servings: 6

Nutrition: Calories 353; Fat 8g, Carbs 56g, protein 14g



chickpea hashLast week we helped you make your own mixed fruit steel cut oatmeal, now we want to fuel your lunch or dinner!

Our next meal to help fuel your life, and make eating well easy for you.  This recipe takes a just a short amount of prep work, and cooks in one non-stick skillet.  Quick to cook and quick to clean up!

Bringing together some great tastes with vegetables, shredded potatoes, curry and ginger.  Topped with an egg completes the meal with a healthy dose of protein.  Easy to prepare and inexpensive on the wallet too.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups frozen shredded potatoes - $1.69
  • 2 cups chopped baby spinach - $1.99
  • ½ cup chopped onion - $0.99
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger - $1.50
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder - $1.99
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup olive oil - $5.99
  • 1 15 OZ can chickpeas, rinsed - $1.50
  • 1 cup chopped zucchini - $2.99
  • 4 large eggs - $3.00

Total cost: $21.64

Servings 4, Calories 382

What you’ll need: cutting board, 10 inch non-stick skillet with lid, cutting knife, can opener, measuring cup, measuring spoons, vegetable peeler, spatula/turner

Prep

  1. Start by cutting the spinach, onion, ginger, and mix with the potatoes, curry powder and salt in a large bowl.  Now chop the zucchini and open and rinse the chickpeas.
  2. Heat oil in a non-stick skillet on medium high and pour potato mixture in, pressing into the bottom.  Cook for 5 minutes, do not stir.  You want a crispy layer on the bottom.
  3. Reduce heat to medium low.  Fold the chickpeas and zucchini into the skillet, breaking up the crispy potato.  Press into a layer in the skillet and carve out 4 holes in the potato.  Crack eggs one at a time into the holes gently.  Cover and cook until desired egg type.  Soft yolk approx. 5 minutes, longer for fully cooked.

This is a great meal to satisfy your needs for a busy day.  Easy to make and clean up, so no excuses for ordering takeout.  You can even have extra for lunch on the go the next day.  Reheats in 2 minutes.



We're 2 months into the New Year.  Seems like a good time to revisit the goals we set on 1/1/15.  Here's a look back at a great article by Dena Evans from 2010.

Goals seem like a good idea at the time.  They motivate us to start, they provide good fodder for conversation, they keep us organized.   However, if they are truly going to be accomplishments we look back on with pride, these goals must also include the risk that we might not pass the test.



Winter Running

January 09, 2015
Winter has arrived!  The days are getting shorter, temperatures are dropping, snow is falling and roads are getting icy.  Are you starting to doubt that you’ll keep your fitness goals on track all winter long?  We’ve got you covered!  Here are some tips to maximize your training opportunities: 
  1. Apparel makes a huge difference! You don't have to spend a lot of money on expensive gear, but layering is key.  Plan to wear an outer layer that blocks the wind and an inner layer that wicks the moisture away from your skin.  If it's extemely cold, add a mid-layer.
  2. Don't overdress.  You'll definitely warm up as you start moving so pretend you are going to workout in weather that is 10 to 15 degrees warmer than it actually is.
  3. Run or walk in daylight whenever possible so you will be able to watch your footing.  If you must workout in the dark, always wear a reflective vest and bright clothing.
  4. Give yourself extra time to warm up.  Your muscles will need it.  Start out slowly and gradually increase your pace.
  5. We sometimes forget to drink enough water when it's colder.  Be sure to drink both before and after your workouts to avoid dehydration.
Treadmills can be boring, but if you can't find a safe trail or road, don't be afraid to head indoors.  Just keep these 2 tips in mind:
  1. A treadmill ‘pulls’ the ground underneath your feet, and there isn't any wind resistance.  Both of these factors make treadmill workouts a little easier.  Setting the treadmill at a 1 or 2% incline will offset these differences.
  2. Be careful not to alter your form.  It can be tempting to start leaning forward at the hips or to grasp the handrail.  Look for a treadmill in front of a mirror so that you can make sure you maintain your normal form and posture.


imagesThanksgiving Day has quickly become the single biggest day for road racing in America, outstripping runner-up July 4 by several hundred thousand participants.  According to industry organization Running USA, over 800,000 people participated in a Turkey Trot in 2012, with that number sure to rise.  With so many of us out walking and running this Thursday, here are a few tips for getting the most out of your Trot experience.

 

DO make it a family affair

There are few better chances to have your family participate in what may typically be seen as “your weird distance habit.”  Extended families are often together on Thanksgiving morning, and a multigenerational activity appeals to all.  With a morning start, a family Turkey Trot leaves plenty of time for food prep, football viewing and gratuitous consumption.  Light hearted family peer pressure can ease a reluctant exerciser through the threshold and even give them a goal for next year’s Thanksgiving holiday, while having a family group along eases your stress for bailing out and “missing out” while getting in your workout or race solo.  With kids races abounding, the little ones can get the wiggles out as well.

 

DON’T take yourself too seriously

Turkey Trots come on a Thursday, often after hectic travel and a scramble to get out of town at work and at home.  You might have even gone to the local watering hole on Wednesday night to convene with your high school friends.  While it is a great idea to get a workout in on a Thursday and give it a go, you might not be in an optimal condition for a personal best effort.  Keep it fun, think family first, wear a costume, get your heart rate up, but don’t sweat the outcome.

 

DO include service in your Trotting

Another great motivator for participating in a Turkey Trot and bringing others is the chance to incorporate service into the outing.  Many trots include opportunities to donate canned goods or other items for local families in need.  Even if not, the race may benefit a local organization for which the donation of a race entry or other contribution may make a big difference.  Turkey Trots can be a great way to visibly demonstrate your thankfulness for health, a roof over your head, food on the table to look forward to and other blessings.  Any way to pass it forward to others offers an opportunity to highlight your attitude of gratitude, even if that means visiting a soup kitchen or other volunteer effort as a group following the race.

 

DO enjoy the benefits of getting in workout before all that food

Even if you just feel a bit better tucking into an overflowing plate now that you have already gotten in a few miles that morning, setting the pattern of incorporating regular exercise and prioritizing it can help you navigate the tricky world of a holiday season that seems to encourage overindulgences around every corner.  Set the tone and follow through so you arrive at the new year without a big hole out of which to dig.

 

DON’T forget to adjust your schedule

Make sure you include your racing in your runcoach training calendar as well as on your Goals and Results feed, so we can make sure you have the proper spacing between this effort and your next challenging tasks.  Because a Thursday race is a rarity, your training rhythm may be a bit off from usual for the next several days.  Stay healthy and on track by making sure your schedule has all the information it needs to help you look back on your Turkey Trot effort as a positive day.

 



On the 12th day til Christmas, Lester “Trained With Friends
On the 11th day til Christmas, Lester “Followed the Plan” 
On the 10th day til Christmas, Lester “Checked his Gear” 
On the 9th day til Christmas, Lester “Dressed for the Elements
On the 8th day til Christmas, Lester “Listened to Coach Tom
On the 7th day til Christmas, Lester “Stayed Focused” 
On the 6th day til Christmas, Lester “Hydrated” 
On the 5th day til Christmas, Lester “Fueled Properly
On the 4th day til Christmas, Lester “Warmed Up with Meb Keflezighi” 
On the 3rd day til Christmas, Lester “Cross Trained"
On the 2nd day til Christmas, Lester “Recovered” 
On the LAST day til Christmas, Lester “Celebrated the Journey


63-Free-Retro-Clipart-Illustration-Of-Man-Carrying-Big-Bag-Of-Money-With-Dollar-SignWith the holidays around the corner, spending an extra few dollars on your next goal race or the gear to get you there can challenge the budget.  With so much giving to do, here are a few ways to stay on track by taking advantage of some great bargains.

 

Register early and save big!

In many cities, and for lots of walkers and runners, a big local race is often a yearly goal, regardless of what else is on the calendar.  Oftentimes, these races offer deep discounts for next year’s event when you are at the expo for this year’s race, or via email at what may seem like a far too early time to make the commitment.   Registering early can save a large percentage of the last minute or race weekend fee, and can help you commit well in advance and stay on track. Consider it, especially if you have maintained a pattern of registration for some of the same events year in and year out.

 

Want a fitness test without paying big bucks?  Try cross country or an all-comers track meet.

Many recreational runners and walkers don’t consider themselves cross country or track and field athletes, but these races are often low cost ways to mix things up and compete between big goal efforts.  Many all-comers track meets only charge $5-10 to compete, and provide the most fail-safe, flattest course on which you can measure your 5K or even 10K fitness – a track.  Although the change of scenery found on the roads may be more your style, an indoor meet during a snowy winter or a lit track on a dark night may prove a better alternative for a hard effort every once in a while.  Since cross country races for adults tend to cater towards club athletes and not the general public, they tend to have modest fundraising expectations and lower entry fees.  Cross country may also provide a solid shorter alternative to longer trail runs, with much of the same types of course challenges and fun.

 

Run a Relay!

You may want to take part in a local event, but may not be quite prepped to run the entire distance or able to justify the entire entry fee unless you are well prepared.  Some longer races offer relay options, which are a way you can both share the experience with friends as well as take part at a lower price point.  Again, the earlier you register, the better the price!

 

Crack the code!

Before you sign up for your next race, consider if there may be any discounts to that race for groups to which you already belong.  Check your email for discount codes you may have been sent through a running or walking club, a local retailer, a gym or fitness center, or another running connection you may have.  If you know you have a group of individuals or part of a club that may want to run a race, go ahead and ask if you can get a discount for bringing a group.  The worst the race management can say is no, and for a couple of seconds of checking your email, the worst you can find is nothing – this time.  $5 or 10% off might not make a big dent in your budget once, but over the course of a year or two, taking advantage of any code available to you can make a difference, particularly if you end up saving others a few more dollars.

 

Many races exist to help others, and there is a time when a full donation is the appropriate thing to do and is done gladly.  However, taking advantage of opportunities to save here and there can help allow each of us to race a bit more, which helps everyone involved.

 



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