Tag Archives: Training

Eco-Saturday: Take your workout outdoors

In light of recent political events, I suspect the environment is going to need all the help it can get, and I strongly urge all of my readers to take every action you can to shrink your ecological footprint. To that end, it might be worth your time to search my archives or visit my Eco-Saturday, Vegetarian Friday and Tiny-House Preparations Pinterest boards to find ideas you can incorporate into your lifestyle.

This week, my Eco-Saturday suggestion also falls into the category of self-care, and it’s a fairly simple one to implement: Take your workout outdoors.

In the winter, it’s easy to look out the window and decide to skip the workout or move it indoors. Sometimes this is wise: If I can’t squeeze in a workout before I leave for work, I’ll hit the treadmill when I get home, because I don’t want to go jogging alone in the dark. If the snow is too deep or the streets are too slippery for a trip out on my Schwinn, I might put in a few miles on the stationary bike in my basement. But those indoor workouts always carry a heavier ecological price than a ride or run on the trail. The bike’s electronic display and tension controls sip a little power as I ride; the treadmill’s motor gulps it. More often than not, I could shave a few cents off the power bill and spare the environment a little strain if I simply made time to exercise outdoors.

Outdoor workouts come with an extra health benefit, too: This is the time of year when the days grow shorter, and your exposure to sunlight — which helps regulate moods — decreases, so any time you can spend outdoors will help offset that and reduce your chances of slipping into seasonal depression.

She is SO sick of my crap.
She is SO sick of my crap.

Today, Lillian and I incorporated an errand into our 45-minute walk with Ron and the rest of the pack. In her stylish new sweater, which reminds me of a certain Time Lord’s scarf, she helped me deliver a little Whovian-themed care package to the gentlemen responsible for installing the TARDIS in front of U.N.I.T. — er, Cape Girardeau Police Department — headquarters.



Vegetarian Friday: No-bake recovery treats

These are a good, quick recovery snack after a hard workout.
These are a good, quick recovery snack after a hard workout.

This recipe isn’t particularly glamorous or photogenic, but it’s an absolute godsend if you happen to be an endurance athlete, because it’s an easy make-ahead snack you can keep in the refrigerator and grab quickly after a long run or a hard hill workout to give yourself a nice balance of protein, fiber, and sugar to keep you from crashing and speed muscle recovery.


1 c. rolled oats
1 c. peanut butter, almond butter, or a mix
2 tbsp. honey
1/2 c. mini chocolate chips (optional)

Mix all ingredients thoroughly. Scoop out about a tablespoon of the mixture and form it into a ball. If the mixture seems too squishy, add more oats. If it seems too dry and crumbly, add more nut butter and/or honey. (The proportions aren’t precise, because the consistency of the nut butter you use will vary by brand, type, and oil content.)

Once you’ve adjusted the proportions as needed to make a workable texture, form the rest of the mixture into balls, place on a cookie sheet lined with waxed paper, and chill until firm. Store in a sealed container in the fridge for up to two weeks.


Vegetarian Friday: Frozen fruit pops

Packed with phytonutrients, my anti-inflammatory fruit pops are a great recovery snack after a hard workout.
Packed with phytonutrients, my anti-inflammatory fruit pops are a great recovery snack after a hard workout.

As an erstwhile distance runner, I (usually) (sort of) try to eat sensibly(ish). You can train for a marathon on Krispy Kremes and MaggieMoo’s, but it’s not pretty.

A few months ago, I read an article somewhere about foods with natural anti-inflammatory properties and how they help tired muscles recover after a long run. As summer was just getting started, I decided the best way to incorporate such foods into my postrun snacks would be to freeze them into popsicles, giving me all the inherent benefits of the foods themselves, plus an easy way to bring my core temperature down quickly without having to stop and make a smoothie while doing the dear-calves-please-don’t-cramp dance.

With that in mind, I picked up a popsicle mold similar to these at World Market and hit the grocery store for ingredients I could run through the blender. Here are the two best recipes I came up with.

This isn’t an exact science, so I didn’t get too specific with the amounts. Base your proportions on what you like, what you have on hand, and the capacity of your popsicle mold. My mold has 10 openings that hold about 2 oz. apiece, so I aim for 20 oz. of liquid in the blender when I’m done.

In a pinch, you can use ice-cube trays or small Dixie cups with lollipop sticks in them, but molds are much easier to work with and pay for themselves in a few batches. Also, frozen fruit works fine for this (obviously) and is usually cheaper than fresh.

Anti-Inflammatory Fruit Pops

About a cup of red raspberries
About a cup of strawberries
About a cup of cranberry or grape juice (or a blend)

Puree fruit in blender. Add enough juice to make 20 oz. (or whatever your popsicle molds require) and blend briefly to mix. Pour into molds and freeze. Unmold, wrap individually in waxed paper, and store in a big freezer bag.

The phytochemicals in the fruit make these a good choice after long runs or hill training.

Spicy Electrolyte Pops

2 c. seedless watermelon, diced
About a cup of orange juice
Chile-lime salt (available at Mexican grocery stores)

Puree watermelon in blender. Add juice as indicated above and blend briefly to mix. Pour into molds and freeze. Unmold pops. Lay each pop on waxed paper, sprinkle with chile-lime salt on both sides, wrap in waxed paper, and store in a big freezer bag. (Work quickly, as the salt will melt the surface a little bit.)

With the potassium from the orange juice and the sodium from the chile-lime salt, these are a good source of electrolytes after a hard workout on a hot day.


The advantage of cold weather

I hate winter. HATE IT. With every fiber of my being. HAAAAAAAAAAATE it. This blog pretty much owes its existence to my profound and undying hatred of cold weather and gray skies.

I can think of only three things I hate more than I hate winter: crowded gyms, flavored coffee and the designated hitter.

That first one put me in a bit of dilemma yesterday. I had a five-mile run on my agenda, and my options were: A.) run in 25-degree weather, or B.) go to the gym and dodge all the newbies who don’t understand why there are separate lanes for runners and walkers.

I decided colliding with a wrong-way walker would be more unpleasant than fighting the cold for a few miles, so I sucked it up and headed out.

HOOOOOOOOHHHHHHHMAHGAH, that first half-mile sucked. Wire-rimmed glasses, for the record, are NOT comfortable at 25 degrees with a headwind. That metal conducts the cold straight into your face everywhere it touches. Two blocks in, I gave serious thought to turning around, but I really didn’t want to go to the gym in January, so I gritted my teeth and kept going.

By the time I got to the trail, the wind had settled down, I had settled into a rhythm, and I had one of the easiest runs of my life.

I still hate winter, but it does make distance running easier, and I wouldn’t be terribly upset if I had subfreezing temperatures to run in every Saturday morning between now and, say, the end of February.

In other news, I’m not the only one training in our house. Lillian, who is completely flummoxed by the concept of a leash, had a meltdown and wriggled out of her harness last night when I tethered her to my waist to keep her from sneaking off to steal cat food or poop in the floor, so I put Scout’s old choke collar on her and marched her around the house, making her sit every few minutes. She was outraged and had several good tantrums, jumping and flailing and fighting the leash, but bacon bits eventually calmed her down, and now we have a new routine: When we’re home, Lil is tethered to one of us. She hates it, but she’ll get used to how the leash and collar work eventually, and I predict all will be well in a few days.



Lazy(ish) Saturday

I had an idea I’d run five miles this morning, but I finished painting my bedroom yesterday and then followed that up by wrangling a new shelf unit home from Kmart, assembling it and basically gutting my office closet and rearranging the entire thing, so I was pretty well tapped out by the time I woke up today. Throw in questionable dining choices yesterday (the homemade lasagna was a good idea, but the giant plate of dive-bar cheese fries was nothing but empty calories that didn’t last long enough to do me any good this morning) and the fact I’m driving to Southern Illinois this afternoon, and I decided I’d be better off refueling and rehydrating today and running tomorrow.

I will regret that decision when I wake up in the morning and my options are “run in 20-degree weather” or “risk an indoor track in January,” but nobody ever said marathoning was supposed to be easy, so I’m just going to enjoy my day today and suck it up tomorrow.

In other news, my bedroom looks awesome. For my next performance, I’ll redo the drywall joints in the office and repaint them.




I explored a new part of the trail today. Instead of running the section of the trail that goes north to the Osage Centre, I took the section that goes south to the Shawnee Park Center. A small section was flooded out near the soccer fields, but once it dries out, it will be a good route for shorter training runs, as it’s about a 3.5-mile loop from my house to the trail, around the soccer fields, and back to the house along a couple of streets.

I missed my five-mile run this weekend because the weather was terrible, and my schedule wasn’t conducive to running at the Osage Centre. I don’t feel particularly bad about it, because my long-distance running buddy — who is training on a treadmill on a submarine somewhere on the other side of the world — was on shore leave and missed two runs last week due to an erratic schedule, so I told him we’d just start over on the same schedule this week. (That might have been an inadvertent lie, though; when I’m feeling good and I have time to spare, I have a tendency to keep running beyond whatever distance I was planning that day.)

In other news, I put my bedroom back together. I still have a couple of walls to finish this weekend, but I really like the effect thus far; something about the color and the technique give the room kind of a La Posada vibe. Very soothing.


I’m thinking of doing the same technique in the office, only in shades of pale green so it feels like spring.

Oh, and I had kind of a breakthrough last night: I got stuck at the office late and ended up coming home well after midnight and sitting up until 3 a.m. — something I used to do routinely — and sometime around 2:45, I started to feel as gross as I do after I’ve pulled an all-nighter. There’s a point at which my body just starts to shut down because I’m overtired, but it usually happens around 6 a.m. I thought my circadian rhythm was shifting a little bit, and that just kind of confirmed it. My natural bedtime is usually somewhere around 3 a.m., but for the past few weeks, I’ve been getting sleepy enough to go to bed before 2. That doesn’t sound like much, but for me, it’s huge. Dunno if it’ll last, but it’d be nice if it did.



Easing back toward the veg life

As I mentioned the other day, I’m hoping to make the transition from a meat-heavy diet to a more plant-based diet this year.

My primary reason is athletic: Done right, a vegetarian diet is a near-perfect way to fuel a marathon training program. (When I say “done right,” I mean heavy on whole grains, legumes and minimally processed vegetables, not the classic “Beer and potato chips are vegan, right?” diet of my misspent youth.)

The contents of my freezer are sort of forcing me to ease into this slowly: I’ve got about five pounds of frozen chicken down there, a metric crap-ton of cheese tortellini, God alone knows how many pepperoni pizza rolls, and a pantry full of canned tuna. But Ron likes the pizza rolls better than I do, so I’m leaving those for him to make whenever the day’s menu involves something he doesn’t like, and I’m starting the transition by simply eliminating red meat from my own diet.

We made our quarterly trip up to Costco in St. Louis today in hopes of finding vegetarian convenience foods I could keep in the freezer for quick meals. They didn’t have the veggie burgers and fake corn dogs I wanted, so I wound up with a big bag of quinoa and kale divvied up into microwave-friendly steamer bags, a bag of edamame, and an eight-pack of canned organic black beans — not as much fun as corn dogs, but probably better choices for boosting endurance.

My menu for this week is split pretty neatly among vegan, lacto-ovo-vegetarian, and pesco-pollo-vegetarian meals, which is the easiest way to make the shift. If you’re interested in attempting a similar diet, here’s what I’ve got planned:

Sweet potato tacos

Chicken tikka masala (chicken breasts simmered in prefabbed tikka masala sauce, served over whole-wheat couscous)

Burritos (refried pinto beans, shredded cheddar, salsa in a big flour tortilla)

Lunch: Breakfast burritos (diced potatoes, scrambled eggs, green chile, shredded cheddar, salsa in a big flour tortilla)

Lemon-tahini pasta (this is a recipe I’m making up as I go, but it’s basically capellini tossed with tahini, lemon juice and garlic)

Beans and green chile cornbread

Vegetarian lasagna

To use up the tuna in the pantry, I’ll be making a lot of tuna salad — my version is a can of tuna mixed with 2 tbsp. each of mayo and dill relish and a couple of finely chopped celery stalks. I scored 5 lbs. of Clementines for $5.99 at Costco today, so I’ll be eating a lot of those as recovery snacks after runs. (Oranges are really high in potassium, so an orange sprinkled with chile-lime salt is a great way to replace electrolytes after a run.) I’m also a fan of nooch nachos, and the freezer is still well-stocked with ingredients for smoothies, so I see a lot of that in my future, too.