After race blues… What to do?

Just in time for a lot of our WOOT’rs completing races all over the world, this week’s blog is by Corinne Williams. Thank you, Corinne!

“Your race is simply a victory lap celebrating the completion of your training.”

By the time I toe-the-line, I have put in several hours, days, months, and even years of preparation for that moment. Whether reading about running, strength training for running, recovering in preparation for running, drinking less alcohol so I don’t feel crappy while running, eating healthy to fuel my running, or even spending fewer hours with friends and family to get to bed early for early morning running, the months leading up to race day hold one main focus… running. Maybe not the most healthy approach to life, but it pays off come race day.

Race day comes…Races are a celebration to the human spirit and strength. Most races are even promoted as parties on the go! With bands blasting music, spectators banging cowbells, kids giving high-fives, and volunteers passing out treats. It’s hard not to lose yourself in the excitement of race day. Plus, you’ve worked so hard to get there. You’ve earned that celebration! No matter how tough some parts of that race may get, you’re relentless, forward, progress gets you to that finish line. Now is the time to revel in your triumph.

…and goes.

So now sometime has gone by and everyone you know, plus a few random strangers you’ve cornered at the supermarket, have heard your “fascinating” tale of triumph on the race course. Plus, your husband and kid are worn thin by the constant reminders of your greatness (haha…okay…that just might be my family that is now sick of hearing about my awesomeness!). Now what? That after race glow is starting to fade and turn dark…no plan, no goal, no focus. Race day is over and done with. It’s easy to get stuck in a funk, but we must move on.

What to do? Depending on your circumstances and needs, here are a few options to cure those post race blues.

Fun with WOOT friends. Post-race recovery.

Fun with WOOT friends. Post-race recovery.

Recover: Take at least a week to recover from your race! That means no running! Okay, I know most runners, including myself, will ignore that advice. So, if you choose to run, take it easy. Go out with friends, or run with your family. Just take it slow. Let those toenails grow back and those chronic aches fade. This is your time to allow your body to heal and refresh.

Catch up: Take the extra time to catch up with other things you’ve missed while training. Have a looming project deadline at work? Put in those extra hours into finishing it. I take this after race period to get in some spring cleaning. Sometimes the deep cleaning is put on hold while in the midst of peak mileage and the home gets be be a bit chaotic. Put your work and home life in order! If you don’t have to worry about work, sit back, guilt-free, and catch up on binge watching that favorite show of yours on Netflix.

Socialize: No early morning Saturday runs! Take advantage of your break and get out to socialize. Contact all those non-runner friends (if you have any left) that you have not had the time for and go out! Build those friendships up, so when you slip into training mode again, your friends will understand and forgive.

Develop: Developing your hobbies may save your sanity if, God-forbid, you’re ever out for an injury. This may be a good time to get out all those old race shirts and make them into a quilt. Volunteer for a local race or kids athletic program. Or, bake a pie, and eat it! After all, you need to replenish all those lost calories!

Plan: Sometimes after races, I feel invincible and want to immediately jump into the next race. But I find that I go into the next race stronger and better prepared if I take some time to pause, reflect, and build a plan based on lessons learned from my previous training. Instead of flowing directly into the next “A” race, maybe plan on running a few races that work on your weaknesses. If you love the long slow trudge of endurance races, try a shorter race to work on speed. Or, if you love the fast pounding of the pavement, try out the challenge of trails. Examine your old race plan. Figure out what worked for you and build upon that with your new training plan.

Celebrating with amazing training partners and friends.

Celebrating with amazing training partners and friends.

Celebrate: Yes, the big race celebration is over and done with, but that does not mean you should be over it! Continue celebrating you and all you’ve accomplished. Even if it wasn’t your greatest race, you still took on that challenge and that should be celebrated! Find a special place to display your medals or rearrange your trophies. Frame your favorite race photo and put it on display. Once all your non-runner friends are over your race day memories, go out to lunch to replay the race memories with your running partners. Celebrate your running partners for their part in getting you fit and excited to race! Don’t stop celebrating your awesome accomplishments and prepare for many more celebrations to come!

Looking forward to your next race day...After the all the planing, preparation, and final culmination of race day, you’ve earned some rest. Embrace it! Don’t let the down time after race day bring you down. Use this rest time to recover, catch up, socialize, develop, plan, and celebrate! This lull in hyper vigilant training will help give your life balance and prepare you for the next big race.

 Great ideas for recovery and those pesky post race blues. Congratulations on your amazing finish at the 2016 HK100, Corinne!!

Coconut Cacao “Hammerite” Bars

Jannine Myers

Here’s another recipe for those of you who like raw and wholesome “energy” snacks, and if you are as keen on Hammer Nutrition products as I am, you’ll love that I included Recoverite powder in these bars. These are super easy to make, but quite decadent, so don’t eat them all at once; I like to grab one before I exercise, and/or immediately after (to hold me over until I have time to eat a proper meal).

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Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 1/4 cup flax seeds
  • 1/4 cup raw whole almonds
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 2 scoops Recoverite (any flavor will work – I used Strawberry in these bars and they were delicious)
  • 1/3 cup coconut cacao spread (I used this product, but if you can’t find anything similar, just substitute with something like this organic hazelnut/cocoa spread)
  • 2 tbsps melted coconut oil
  • 2 tbsps agave syrup
  • A dash of sea salt (optional)

Directions

Simple: just pulse all the ingredients together in a food processor until a dough-like consistency is achieved, and then spread out in a rectangle shape on a parchment-lined tray. Cover the top with more parchment paper and place in the refrigerator to set for a couple of hours. Cut into approximately 16 bars and store in a sealed container, either in the freezer or refrigerator.

[About Hammer Nutrition Recoverite: if you’ve never tried Recoverite before, it’s a powder-form recovery drink that has been especially formulated to provide the ideal 3:1 ratio of carbohydrates:protein. The 3:1 ratio is necessary for optimal replenishment of muscle glycogen and muscle tissue rebuilding. Recoverite also contains all natural ingredients, as well as electrolytes and other nutrients beneficial for recovery. Available in strawberry, orange-vanilla, vanilla, and chocolate, it’s a great tasting recovery drink that will tremendously enhance your recovery efforts and reduce post-exercise soreness. For more information on pricing and where to purchase, click here].

Use Your Race Mistakes To Hone Your Next Training Plan

Jannine Myers

Some of you may remember a post I wrote last summer; it was about my disappointing second place “loss” at the annual Futenma Magic 10-Miler race. It was disappointing because I had held the lead for almost the entire race, but ended up losing to a fellow competitor who basically had more stamina and energy. As we turned the corner towards the finish line, I simply didn’t have the power and speed to maintain the lead. As disappointing as that was, I decided to learn from that experience and focus on strength and speed-specific workouts for my next race – which was the Courtney Tengan 10k a few months later.

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Winner of the Magic 10-Miler

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Second place

Determined to do better in the 10k race, I set my focus specifically on strength and speed runs; I delegated Tuesday to speed runs and Thursdays to hill runs. Furthermore, I never strayed from my plan. One of the key factors I believe – maybe even the key – of a successful training plan, is simply being consistent; there’s wisdom in  the saying, “practice makes perfect.” I didn’t run a lot during that training period, but I did keep up with my two hard runs a week, as well as a semi-long run on weekends. Here is an example of the types of speed and strength workouts I did:

Hill Workouts for Strength

  • 6 x 1 minute uphill (on a moderate incline) at a pace that forced me to reach fatigue by the end of each repeat. I slow-jogged back down and started the next repeat either right away, or after a few more seconds to allow for a proper recovery. I challenged myself each week by either increasing either the intensity, number of repeats, or length of time (for example, 8 x 1 minute, 5 x 90 seconds, 4 to 6 x 2 mins).

Various Intervals for Speed

  • I did a variety of interval workouts, ranging from 8 x 400m with 200m recoveries, to 4 x 1000m with 400m recoveries, and always with an easy warm-up and cool-down mile (or two) at the start and end.
  • I also did a variety of tempo workouts where I would run, for example, a total of 60 minutes and break it up as follows: 15 mins easy, 3 x 10 mins fast with 5 min recovery pace between each set. Or, a 70 min run with descending intervals: 10 min warm-up, 20 mins/15 mins/10 mins with 5 min recovery pace between each.
  • On long run days, I sometimes did progression runs where I broke up the total mileage into thirds and progressively ran each third a little faster. Or, I sometimes picked up the pace significantly over the last half mile/mile; I don’t have a strong finishing kick, so a better strategy for me was to try and improve my speed and stamina over a slightly longer distance, versus trying to sprint the last few hundred meters.

Doing one hill workout and one speed workout once a week, consistently and without slacking on effort and intensity, I was able to do what I set out to do. I not only won the Courtney Tengan 10k race (which has a horrible hill at the end of the first loop and again at the end of the course) and finished several minutes ahead of the second-place female, but guess who that second-place female was? My rival from the Magic 10 mile race!

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[For more tips on how to train for increased speed and stamina, read my Futenma Magic 10-Miler post]

A Recipe For Matcha Lovers

Jannine Myers

On a trip to Taipei last November, my girlfriends and I sampled the most amazing matcha cookies; tasting those cookies led to a brief follow-on phase of matcha-flavored cravings. I came home from Taipei, bought some matcha powder and tried a few different recipes. One of the recipes I tried was raw matcha cacao bars; I made them right before I left for New Zealand during the Christmas break and rediscovered them in my freezer last week. I don’t know if it’s because they have been sitting for so long and the bars have been thoroughly infused with the combined green tea and cacao flavor, but the taste has improved significantly from the day they were first made. I’m really enjoying these bars at the moment, and if you’re a green tea lover I think you’ll enjoy them too.

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Ingredients

1 2/3 cups pitted dates
1/3 cup cacao powder
2 /3 cup raw whole almonds
2 tbsp matcha powder
2 tbsp coconut oil (make sure you melt it if it has solidified)
1/3 cup unsweetened, shredded coconut
2 tbsp agave nectar
2 tbsps cacao nibs
Directions
Put all the almonds into a food processor and pulse into roughly grounded pieces. Next, add the remaining ingredients to the food processor and pulse until completely combined. Once all the ingredients are thoroughly combined, transfer to a piece of parchment paper and use your hands to press the dough into a large rectangle or circle about 1 inch thick. Wrap in saran wrap or parchment paper and chill on a baking tray in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours before cutting.
Cut into desired size of bars (or use a cookie cutter for fun shapes!). Lightly dust with a bit of matcha powder. You can store the bars (layered between parchment paper if you want to avoid them sticking together) in your refrigerator, or do what I did and keep them in the freezer (I have been taking a few pieces out each morning and letting them sit at room temperature for a couple of hours). Enjoy!

Dietitians Are Not The Only Authority On Nutrition

Jannine Myers

dietitian

Some weeks ago, after advertising on social media an offer of Nutrition Counseling services, I was contacted by an R.D. (Registered Dietitian) who asked me to remove my ads. He explained that nutrition credentials of any kind – with the exception of an RD certification – do not provide a legal license to give out nutrition advice. He also added that if I were truly interested in giving out the best possible nutrition advice, then I should become a Registered Dietitian.

As it turns out, he is partially correct – the laws vary from state to state. In some states it is actually illegal to practice as a nutritionist without an RD certification, while in other states a person can practice either with a license from a Board of Nutrition, or with no certification at all. But legalities aside, I’d like to suggest that the best nutrition advice doesn’t always come from a Registered Dietitian.

Here’s an article for example, about a man with Type II diabetes, who was skeptical of a dietitian’s advice to eat a low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet. He followed up with some research of his own and chose instead to eat a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet. As a result, he lost a significant amount of weight and was eventually able to stop taking insulin.

[Read his story here – and take note of who some of the major corporate sponsors are of The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Notice also how this man received a warning (much like mine), to remove or make changes to his nutrition posts published on his blog diabetes-warrior.net.]

A personal story of my own involves a visit with my 12-year old daughter to see a hospital dietitian. My daughter is a physically active girl with a very picky appetite and an aversion to “her mother’s” advice, so I thought that some guidance from a dietitian might be better heeded. I was disappointed however, when the dietitian told her that because her height and weight fall within the “normal” range, that she can afford to eat whatever she wants; he reasoned that the source of her calories really shouldn’t be a concern while she is still so young and active.

Later, when I brought this up with the dietitian privately, he agreed that while it would be ideal for her to find a balance in regards to healthy eating and appropriate meal composition, he felt that discouraging her from eating certain foods would likely result in negative food associations and ultimately, in poor dietary choices. His argument makes sense, although I’m not sure why he didn’t focus instead on the flip-side of the equation and encourage a wider choice of foods.

Another issue I had, was the dietitian’s recommendation that I continue letting my daughter eat a particular brand of yogurt that she enjoys; I stopped buying it once I realized that they contained Red #40 and other ingredients most likely derived from GMOs. The dietitian argued that I should resume buying these particular yogurts, even though they contain known carcinogenic ingredients, because they would add such minerals as calcium, potassium, magnesium, and phosphorous, to my daughter’s diet. I simply don’t agree with that line of thinking because there are so many other safer food options that also provide those minerals.

My point is this: don’t be afraid to seek advice from any nutrition advisor – dietitian or not – but, make it your goal to base your selection criteria on compatibility with your health and lifestyle needs. For example, if you want a weight loss plan from someone who will also motivate you, then a personal trainer or fitness coach who also offers nutritional consultations might be exactly who you need. Or, if you’d prefer someone who will be empathetic and supportive of your commitment to eat mostly organic and non-GMO foods, then seek a like-minded nutritionist.

A Registered Dietitian doesn’t always have to be your authority on nutrition; just be smart about it and make appropriate decisions. Obviously, if it’s a special diet you need help with (you need to reduce high blood pressure or cholesterol for example), or if you’ve been referred to a dietitian by your family practitioner, then such cases warrant a consultation with, specifically, a certified RD. The main thing to always keep in mind however, is that any time you receive advice from any health professional, and it doesn’t sit right with you, don’t blindly accept it; go and do your own research and/or seek further opinions!

Spicy Red Lentil Soup

Jannine Myers

It’s getting so cold now that my food cravings are for hot and savory meals. Last night I pulled out my crockpot and threw together a very simple but flavorful spicy red lentil soup. I let the ingredients cook slowly overnight, and I enjoyed a delicious hot soup for lunch today. This recipe contains quite a few ingredients but it really is fast and easy to prepare.

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What you’ll need:

1/2 cup dried red lentils

4 cups organic low-sodium chicken broth

400g diced tomatoes with green peppers, celery, and onion

3 cloves garlic, crushed

1 small onion, sliced

2 small carrots, sliced

1 medium orange sweet potato, chopped

1/4 cup Thai Yellow Curry paste (add red pepper flakes, or use a spicier curry paste if you desire more spice)

1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt (optional)

1/2 cup cilantro – loosely chopped

Directions:

Rinse and clean lentils. Combine all ingredients except yogurt and cilantro in a 4-5 liter crock pot and cook, covered, on low for 6-8 hours, or on high for 4 hours. Season to taste and garnish with yogurt and cilantro.

If You Want To Get Faster, Run Faster!

Jannine Myers

I received an email in my inbox this week; it was a running tip and reminder to not always try and break a record on every training run. A lot of runners actually find it difficult to run at an “easy” pace, mostly because they are afraid that they won’t gain any training benefits if the workout doesn’t feel hard enough. But easy-paced runs are written into training plans for a reason, the main ones being to develop the aerobic system and to prevent injury. I appreciated the reminder because I’m one of those runners who tends to go faster on my easy days, however the email made me also think of those runners who never go fast.

There is another group of runners who stay in their comfort zone and who never run faster; they always run at the same pace. They may increase their weekly mileage, or consistently run several times a week, but their pace never changes. If you’re in this group of runners and wondering why you’re not getting any faster, then read this simple but effective advice from running coach Jason Fitzgerald:

No pace variety. If you don’t ever run fast, you won’t ever run fast.

Without varying your speed, you’ll inevitably fall into a rut and have only one gear (most likely, SLOW!). There’s three great ways to introduce more speeds into your running:

  • Do a faster workout 1-2 times per week, like a simple fartlek workout
  • Run your easy runs SLOW and your distance and long runs moderate (but still comfortable)
  • Run strides a few times per week

By fixing this one pacing mistake you’ll feel a lot better on your runs and get a helluva lot faster.

[For more detailed advice, click the highlighted links above]

Make it your goal this year to get outside your comfort zone and try some faster-paced runs! Just as one of our WOOT stickers says: “Run WOOT, Run Hard, Run Harder!”

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Lessons Learned At The Kunigami 19K Trail Race

Jannine Myers

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I not only got to run the Kunigami 19k trail race for the first time a couple of weekends ago, but it was also my first time to actually run the course. I knew from previous comments and conversations that it was going to be a tough course, but “tough” might be a slight understatement.

Having run the Kunigami course now, I would recommend the following training tips for anyone contemplating either the 12k or 19k race:

1. Do take the advice of former race participants who tell you to spend a lot of time running and walking up and down sets of stairs. Luckily for me, I did listen, and while I never once set foot on Stairway to Heaven, I did spend some of my training time on another set of stairs closer to my house. I would run to the stairs from my house – about 30 to 60 minutes depending on which route I took – then do several up-and-down stair repeats (for approximately 30 to 40 minutes), and then run back home on tired legs. Training in this way really paid off for me on race day!

2. Also key to doing well on the Kunigami course is training on similar terrain as often as possible. If Kunigami is too far to travel for your training runs, then Mt. Ishikawa is a good alternative, and failing that then any of the other trails on Okinawa.

3. Make sure you plan – in advance – your electrolyte and fuel needs! Last year’s runners experienced very cold weather, but this year it was quite warm. After a couple of hours of running in warm weather, over a very intense and challenging course, I started to feel the effects of mild dehydration. By the time I finally came off the trail path and headed back towards the finish line, my legs were starting to seize and cramp up. I’m pretty sure I would have hit the wall if I hadn’t planned accordingly.

4. Do some ankle strengthening exercises, especially if you have injured an ankle (or both) in the past. I have a weak right ankle from rolling it pretty bad on a trail run several years ago, and during the Kunigami race I felt a twinge of pain more than once as I slightly lost my footing on some of the downhill slopes. And that brings me to the next tip:

5. Practice running fast on trail – downhill! The more practice you have at downhill trail running, the more confident you’ll be at running downhill at “race” pace.

6. Definitely add strength work to your training routine! Focus on strengthening your legs (front and back), as well as your core and even your upper body. The constant change in pace, as well as switching of muscle groups as the trails take you up and down, will really test your physical strength and ability. The stronger you are going into the race, the better your performance will be.

7. Stability exercises will also benefit you! Much of the course takes you over some pretty uneven terrain and your stabilizer muscles will be working hard to assist the primary working muscles so that you don’t lose balance.

8. I recommend wearing a garmin or timing device. I didn’t wear my garmin on race day and it could have prevented a couple of minor inconveniences. Twice during the race, I was stopped by race officials who debated over which way to send me. If I had been wearing my garmin, I think the data on my watch may have helped them to solve the problem a lot faster!

9. And last but not least, make sure your toe nails are well-trimmed and your shoes have some extra room in the toe box. Two weeks later and the nail on my large left toe is still quite tender.

Re-Energize With A Healthy Chicken And Vegetable Soup

Jannine Myers

Starting to feel run down with all of the pre-Christmas chaos? The last couple of weeks have been pretty crazy for me and I’m starting to feel the effects of a far-too-busy schedule. To try and boost my immune system and stay healthy until the madness ends, I’ve been eating as healthy as possible. One of my favourite winter go-to’s when I’m craving hot food with lots of vegetables, is soup! Here’s a recipe that I have been enjoying this week and thought I’d share with you; it’s a classic chicken and vegetable soup with a bit of heat (from added curry powder and red pepper flakes):

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Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • Olive oil, about a tbsp
  • 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, cut into bite-size pieces
  • Fresh spinach and parsley – as much as you want
  • 1 green apple, peeled and diced
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • Sea salt – a dash
  • 4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 3 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Directions

  1. In a large saucepan, cook the chicken in olive oil for 4-5 minutes (or until no longer pink), then remove from pan and set aside.
  2. In the same saucepan, saute the onion and carrot for a few minutes, then add the apple and cook for a couple more minutes. Combine the flour and salt and sprinkle over the vegetables; cook and stir for 1 minute. Gradually stir in the broth and tomato paste. Bring to a boil; cook and stir 1-2 minutes longer or until slightly thickened.
  3. Stir in the curry, ginger and pepper flakes. Return the chicken to saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 8-10 minutes, then just before taking off the heat, add the spinach and parsley and heat through for a couple more minutes. 

[I modified this soup from a recipe I found in an old Taste Of Home magazine]

Meb’s Strength Exercises – Part II

Jannine Myers

Following on from my previous post, Meb’s Strength Exercises – Part I, here is one more video demonstration of a set of eight easy strength exercises that you can easily fit in to your training routine. Alternate them with the exercises in Part 1, and try to do 10 to 20 repetitions of each exercise. The key to most of these exercises is making sure you resist during the exertion part of the movement, and holding for one or two seconds at the top of every contraction. Some of these exercises can be made more difficult with the use of a resistance band or an ankle weight, and you will need an exercise ball for some of the exercises.

[FYI, sorry for the quality of the video recording – had to ask my 12 year old to do it!]