New to Trail? Start here

Ahh, fall is here. Our runs start later, we dress in layers and sometimes question getting out of bed on those rainy, chillier Saturday mornings. I know, I understand. But right now is the perfect time to try something, switch out of the old, come out on trail.

For new women trail runners, here are some tips on what, where and how.

WOOT runs trail. Good thing that is part of our name, eh? The terrain we cover ranges from:

What Where
Paved road Kadena and Futenma Habu trail
Farm road Yomitan farmer roads, Top o The World
Random paths Zakimi Castle ruins, Maeda point trail
True trail Yamada castle ruins, Spider loop, Nago Mt., Kunigami trail

On all of these, except for paved roads, there is uneven terrain. There are loose rocks, branches (both fallen and hanging), and roots. There is clay, what Okinawa is built on, coral rock covered in red clay. During the rainy times, the clay is slick. We often run through puddles and mud too (white sneaks don’t stay white for long!).

Spider can get muddy.

Spider can get muddy. Hey Kirsten!

If this is the first time you have run on uneven terrain, be prepared to go a bit slower. You will have to watch your footing and concentrate a little more on where your next foot fall will land. During and after your trail run, your feet, ankles, calves, and buns will need some time to adjust to this new challenge. Trail running takes you to a new level of challenge, mentally and physically.

Happy WOOT

Happy WOOT with Jannine leading the pack

There are plenty of resources backing this up. Just do a search for training and trail running to find the 1001 links. From my own experience, I have had my best races since running with WOOT. And more than that, I have had met my best training partners and friends. There is something that we share, a common bond: waking up early to run, maybe getting lost, finding a new path. It is something unique and quite odd :)

So how about the when? Every Saturday morning, as the sun rises, you will find WOOT’ers out climbing, running, laughing and challenging ourselves to a whole new plateau.

The OK plateau

Anna Boom

How to be better than you are.

So you’ve been training for awhile now. You’ve run some races, conquered some tough training schedules and feel like a decent runner. It seems like no matter what you do, you aren’t improving. That you have reached your running potential. But have you ever wondered, can I get better?

While listening to Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer, he introduces the idea of the OK plateau. The theory goes that maybe you are just as good as you allow yourself to be. Quick synopsis on the book, he is a journalist who is tasked to cover the World Memory Championships and becomes so interested that he starts training for it. At one time on his journey, he gets stuck at a certain time for memorizing a deck of cards. No matter how much he trains, he never beats that time. He does a little digging and talks to other memory champs and they bring up the OK plateau theory. It’s a pretty interesting concept for us to consider in our running too so let me describe it.

The OK plateau is the point you reach, where it seems you cannot get any better. Think of something like typing on the keyboard. How often do you do this? Think of how much time you spend typing everyday. Shouldn’t we all be amazing typists by now, emails and blog posts finished in moments flat? And yet we are not amazing typists, most of us are just average. Why is this? The theory is after we first learn to type better than finger pecking, we get to a place where we are just good enough and we stop getting any better. We have become OK and there is no reason to spend more brain power on getting any better. We reached the OK plateau.

Mr Foer. brings up an example that made me think of myself as a runner—expert ice skaters. The amateurs go out on the ice and practice the jumps they can land successfully. The experts go out and practice the jumps they cannot land, and the do it over and over, until they can. It is the failing part that teaches our human brains how to improve. The fail makes us see where we are going wrong so our brains can then learn how to get over that barrier.

How can we improve then and get off the OK plateau? A few ways that experts do it:

  1. Avoid autonomous runs. How often do you go out and run the same run, same pace because it feels comfortable? One way to change this is to try running trail. There isn’t anyway you can zone out and fall into your easy run while you are out on trail. You will be too busy watching your footing, changing your pace as you run up or down hill, and must stay present in the moment.

  2. Stay engaged in your activity. Again WOOT! Out on trail, you are challenging every part of your run from mind to toes.
  3. Do the thing you dislike to do. For me, sprints. I have written speed work into every run I do now. There are no simple running days. Every workout has a goal, not just for miles or time.

by Alicia Bolan

by Alicia Bolan

If you are finding yourself on the OK plateau like I was, try the above tips. You may find yourself running at the next level, beyond what you ever believed you could do before.

Get em!!

p.s. Mr Foer went on to win the US Memory Championships that year.

Did You Say “Freak-Ey?”

Jannine Myers

Did you say “Freak-ey?”

Yes I did! Only I was referring to the new hot super grain called “freekeh.” Just when you thought you had been introduced to all the new super grains, and even learned how to correctly pronounce the word “quinoa” (keen-wa), along comes another new grain with another weird name.

Much has already been written about this new super grain, which by the way, is young green wheat that has been roasted. I’ll let you read what Registered Dietitian, Frances Largeman-Roth, has to say about it, and then show you a couple of different recipes so you can see how versatile this grain is for meal ideas.

Recipe One – Freekeh Hot Breakfast 

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Ingredients

1 cup water

1 cup 1% milk

1 cup freekeh

1/3 cup goji berries

1 tbsp coconut oil

1 tbsp honey

dash of cinnamon and nutmeg

Directions

Bring water and milk to a gentle boil, then add freekeh, goji berries, and coconut oil. Bring to a boil again, then turn heat to low and simmer for 15 to 20 mins. Remove from heat and stir in honey and spices. Serve with a little extra milk (or yogurt), and top with a few nuts and fresh fruit. (modified version of this recipe)

Recipe Two – Freekeh Vegetarian Meatballs

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Ingredients

1 cup uncooked freekeh

2 1/2 cups water

1 small potato

1 medium onion

2 garlic cloves

1/2 cup chopped parsley

1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs

1 cup oats

1/2 cup shredded mozarella and 1/4 cup parmesan cheese

3 eggs

salt and black pepper, to taste

Directions

Add water and freekeh to a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Then cover, turn heat down and simmer for approximately 20 mins. Take off the heat and let cool.

Add all ingredients, including cooled freekeh, to a large bowl and mix well. Refrigerate for at least an hour.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease two baking pans. Take the freekeh mixture out of the refrigerator and roll handfuls into generous sized balls. Place on the baking trays.

Bake for about 20 minutes, or until nice and golden. Enjoy with a little marinara sauce.

(modified version of this recipe)

Come and run away with us…

Anna Boom

School has just started again and already many of us are feeling overwhelmed by our kids’ schedules.

Everyday, we (as moms of elementary school kids, most school work is “we” based) have to read a section together and do homework. There are the projects, practicing piano for recital, getting to swim and soccer practices, fitting in a sit down family dinner, keeping our house clean, doing our chores, and not stressing about falling behind in all the life stuff.

Anyone else feeling stressed?

Come and run away with us…

How you handle stress matters. We have choices: bury our heads into a gallon of ice cream, turn on a season of reality TV or pull the covers over our head and go back to bed (or all three!).

But best things we can choose instead:

a) relax with good friends and family. Many of us are removed from our families here and make our own with like-minded women. Love seeing the women who develop deep life friendships through running groups such as Stroller Warriors and WOOT and WOOP.

b) Meditating. Always a great choice to sit and breath.

c) Exercise! My favorite and if you run with us, most likely your’s too.

Running is one of the most effective exercises to quickly burn calories. It takes little to do, running bra and good shoes. Socks, running skirt or shorts and a tee, also a bonus. And determination.

by Alicia Bolan

by Alicia Bolan

 

With all that we do, all the things we are supposed to do for our families and for ourselves (have you stretched, exfoliated, styled your hair, organized your sock drawer, etc.), running gets it done quickest by de-stressing you and keeping you healthy and able to handle the all the life stuff.

So come and run away with us. Promise you’ll come back healthier, happier and sweatier.

Check out for more info: http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/the-truth-about-belly-fat?page=2

Introducing Women Out on Trails

Anna Boom

because you may not always be on Okinawa…

Trails. Women out running together. WOOT. That is what brings us together every week, on Saturday mornings, Tuesday and Thursdays at lunch.

If you have run with us, we hope you felt supported and encouraged and challenged. We have loved sharing our time out there together with you and so many amazing women. Thinking back over the miles and smiles, it is simply awesome.

But military life…we don’t stay in one place very long and so many of you have moved on or will move on.

taking the WOOT love with you, when you go…

Some of our running group, moved on to the San Diego area and started a new group out there together, introducing WOOT San Diego. And to match the new group is the new acronym, Women Out on Trails.

wootsd

 

If you are heading that way to visit or on a move, please contact their group and introduce yourself. The trails in SoCal are much different from Okinawan jungle, think deserty, longer and with much more variety. You may have to drive farther to meet up but you’ll have your trail buddies ready to go.

miramar

Where are you going next? Maybe North Carolina? WOOT NC, you say ;)

update since publishing the post: WOOT NC is here and WOOT Hawaii is on the aloha horizon…

 

What To Do With Tahini – Part Three

Jannine Myers

This is the last post in a 3-part series on tahini. In the first post, I shared a recipe that uses tahini as one of the seasoning ingredients. In the second post, I shared a recipe that uses tahini as one of the main ingredients in a dressing. In this post, I will be sharing a recipe that uses tahini as a key dessert ingredient. As you can see, tahini is extremely versatile and can be used in both savory and sweet recipes.

This final recipe is by far my favorite. I stole it actually, from my friend Laura King, who is an amazing cook and baker. I changed things up a little, but the modifications I made resulted in a very similar-tasting dessert. It’s not very often that I find a recipe that is enjoyed by everyone in my family, but this one is a winner and I think your family will enjoy it too.

Laura’s Frozen Tahini-Banana Raw Dessert

Base Ingredients

1 cup raw, unsalted almonds

1 cup gluten free oats (or regular oats)

1 tsp vanilla extract

dash of sea salt

1/4 cup pure maple syrup

1 to 2 tbsps coconut oil

 

Put all of the ingredients into a food processor or blender and pulse until a nice crumbly dough forms. Add tablespoonfuls of the dough mixture to a muffin/cupcake pan. Press the mixture down firmly.

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Topping Ingredients

2 bananas

1/4 cup tahini

1 tbsp almond butter

6 dates (and 2 tbsps honey – optional)

1/2 cup Greek vanilla yogurt

 

Add all of these ingredients to the food processor or blender and pulse until nice and creamy. Pour the mixture over the crumb bases, then place in the freezer for at least 30 minutes.

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Melt a couple of handfuls of dark chocolate chips and drizzle over the frozen desserts. The chocolate will set right away.

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Either store in an airtight container in the freezer, or if you’re like us, start eating!

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 For another variation, try Laura’s version – Base ingredients: 1 1/2 cups almonds, 1/4 cup oats, 2 tbsps coconut oil, vanilla extract, salt, 1/4 cup honey. Topping ingredients: bananas, 1/4 cup tahini, 1/4 cup maple syrup, 1 tbsp peanut butter

 

What To Do With Tahini – Part Two

Jannine Myers

For a recap on why I am posting about tahini, read my first post here, otherwise keep reading to see what the next recipe is. Besides being a staple ingredient in hummus, tahini is great for adding flavor to main dishes, or for creating delicious sauces and dressings. This next recipe, like the one in the first post, also comes from dishingupthedirt.com. It’s a light and fresh green lentil and spring vegetable entree, with lemon-tahini dressing.

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Ingredients

1/4 cup tahini
1/4 cup water
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. Dijon-style mustard
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 small shallot, minced
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup uncooked French green lentils, picked over and rinsed
1 bunch of asparagus (about 2 cups), ends trimmed and sliced into 1-inch pieces
3 cloves garlic, minced 
5 cups Spring greens (a combination of spinach, kale, arugula, and swiss chard)
1 small avocado, diced
4 radishes, sliced into very thin rounds
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
4 Tbsp minced red onion (I don’t recommend the red onion – it was a little overpowering)
1/4 cup pine nuts (I also added 1/4 cup dried tart cherries – these added a really nice burst of sweet/sour flavor)

Directions

  1. Prepare the dressing by combining the first eight ingredients (tahini through salt and pepper) and whisking until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Set aside.
  2. Combine French green lentils with 3 cups of water and bring to a boil. Boil for three minutes, and then reduce heat to low. Cook until lentils are tender but not and mushy, about 20-25 minutes (test lentils about 18 minutes along).
  3. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the asparagus and cook for about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and continue to cook for about 1 more minute, stirring often. Add the Spring greens and cook until they begin to wilt. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Divide the lentils and asparagus between four plates. Top with diced avocado, radishes, red onion, and pine nuts. Drizzle with the lemon-tahini dressing and enjoy.

 

What To Do With Tahini – Part One

Jannine Myers

Have you ever bought a jar of tahini with good intentions of using it, and then remember a couple of months later that it’s still sitting in your pantry – unopened? I hope I’m not the only one who has done this, but I have to admit that I’ve done it more than once. So why do I even bother buying tahini? Well, I’d like to think it’s for all of the following reasons:

  • “Tahini contains more protein than milk and most nuts. It’s a rich source of B vitamins that boost energy and brain function, vitamin E, which is protective against heart disease and stroke, and important minerals, such as magnesium, iron and calcium.”  Source: Joanna Blythman, for The Guardian

Tahini is a paste made from ground sesame seeds, and can either be made from unhulled or hulled seeds. Tahini made from unhulled seeds is often called sesame butter, and although it’s taste is more bitter than tahini made from hulled seeds, it’s nutritional value is greater. Both are good for you though, and if you’re not sure which one to buy, just make your purchasing decision based on your taste preferences.

But getting back to that unused jar of tahini, I’ll be posting three recipes this week that include tahini. The first two recipes are definitely not going to appeal to some of you, but if you enjoy minimally processed, and light cleansing-type meals, then you may want to try these. The last recipe, which I’ll post on Friday, is my favorite and was stolen from my good friend Laura King – you won’t want to miss it!

Recipe One – Lemon and Cauliflower Couscous with Roasted Chickpeas

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I served this over a bed of organic salad greens

Ingredients

2 cups cooked chickpeas (rinsed, drained, and patted dry)
2 Tbs. olive oil, divided 
1 large head of cauliflower, cored and broken into florets (about 4 cups)
1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
1 medium cucumber, cut into ¼-inch pieces
1 large avocado, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/3 cup raisins
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
Pinch of fine sea salt and black pepper
1 Tbs. tahini
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbs. lemon juice
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
½ tsp. honey
1/4 cup parsley, minced
Pinch of fine sea salt and black pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425F degrees. Toss chickpeas with 1 Tbs. olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Place on a baking sheet and bake until lightly browned on all sides, about 18 minutes. Toss chickpeas halfway through cooking time.
  2. Pulse the cauliflower in a food processor until it’s “riced” (i.e., the size of couscous) Be careful not to overprocess—you don’t want to purée the cauliflower.
  3. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add remaining 1 Tbs. of olive oil and toss in the cauliflower “couscous.” Let it toast slightly, stirring often, and remove from heat after about 2 minutes.
  4. Combine the last seven ingredients (tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, mustard, honey, parsley, salt, and pepper) and whisk until smooth. This works best with an immersion blender or food processor. An immersion blender or a food processor will deliver the smoothest consistency, but a hand whisk will work, too. If the dressing is too thick, add a little more olive oil.
  5. In a large bowl combine the cauliflower “couscous” with roasted chickpeas, tomatoes, cucumber, avocado, raisins, pine nuts, crushed red pepper, and a pinch of salt. Drizzle with dressing and toss until well combined. Divide among four plates and enjoy!

Recipe from TheKitchn.com

Are Meal Planning Services The Answer For You?

Jannine Myers

A few weeks ago, one of our members asked if I had any “dinner recipe” ideas. Meghan Walsh is pregnant, with an under-two year old at home, and not much in the mood lately to put much thought into her family’s dinner-time meal. But, she says, her husband has probably had his fill of grilled chicken and salad, and would probably appreciate some menu changes.

I think Meghan’s problem is one that is shared by a lot of busy moms, and as athletes it can be a source of added grief because we want to make sure that we’re feeding ourselves and our family members a diverse and nutritionally dense diet. Often, the key obstacles that get in the way of our efforts to do so include: a ) busy schedules, b) small children to tend to, and c) a lack of ideas.

As I thought about Meghan’s dilemma, I was reminded of another conversation I had several months ago with one of our other members, Corinne Williams. During one of our weekend runs, Corinne asked me if I had ever tried using the Fresh 20 program. I told her no, that I had never heard of it, and she proceeded to give me the run-down on it and how she and her husband and son had been regularly subscribing to the program for some time.

The Fresh 20, described online as “Budget Friendly Meal Plans For Busy Families,” is exactly that. It’s a meal planning service designed to help families and singles eat fresh, healthy, and inexpensive meals each week. They take care of all the guess work for you, so all you need to do is buy the ingredients and prepare the meals, which by the way are so simple that your kids can help. Or if they’re older, you can even have them prepare the meal for you. Corinne occasionally asks her teenage son to cook dinner if she’s busy; she simply leaves her IPad open on the recipe page and he follows the directions.

Meal planning services might be just the solution for busy moms and also for those of you who are single active duty members. Listed below is a comparison of five different meal planning services – take a look and see if any might be a compatible fit with you and/or your family’s needs:

the fresh 20

The Fresh 20

  • 20 ingredients/20 minutes – should take less than 20 minutes to do all your shopping. Nothing is processed or frozen, to ensure that you are not eating preservative-free foods.
  • Step-by-step guide is provided to help with preparation for each week’s meals
  • Meal plans are posted on Fridays – that gives you the weekends to shop and prepare for the following week
  • 5 meals per week
  • Options for Classic, Gluten-Free, Veggie, Dairy-Free, Kosher, and Singles
  • 3 months for $18, or12 months for $54

Cook Smarts

  • Mission is to help anyone, even those who have never cooked before, to learn how to create quick, healthy meals. Jess Dang, the founder of Cook Smarts, describes the program as being like the “Home Ec” class that you never got to take.
  • When you subscribe to Cook Smarts, you get access to all their meal plans, dating back to May 2013. That means you can switch out any meals that you don’t like from your weekly meal plans.
  • Four meals are posted by Friday morning of each week; you’ll receive an email in your inbox. Paleo, Vegetarian, and Gluten-Free options are all available. When you click on the link, it will take you to the menu and once you check the selections you want, a grocery list will be generated for you.
  • A “Make Ahead” option is available for those who would prefer to spend a little time in the kitchen on the weekend preparing in advance, and less time on week nights making the meals.
  • Short videos are available for you to watch and follow along as you cook the meals; the idea is to teach you how to cook as you go, i.e. how to dice onions, or slice chicken breasts, etc.
  • Average weekly cost of groceries is around $75 for a family of four
  • Not the best service for singles (cooking for one)
  • Cost for 3 months of meal plans is $21, 6 months $42, one year $72 (Best Value)

The Six O’Clock Scramble

  • Meals for each week, including sides and a grocery list
  • All meals should take no more than 30 minutes to prepare, and some take as little as 20 minutes.
  • Recipes and instructions are easy enough to be followed by younger members of the family, or teens at least. Or, maybe your spouse likes to cook too.
  • Recipe modifications are provided for picky eaters, and also for adventurous eaters.
  • Meals are balanced, healthy, and budget-friendly.
  • Meals can be customized to accommodate the following needs or concerns: weight loss, vegetarian, food allergies, gluten free, kosher, dairy free, and low sodium
  • Cost is $29 for 3 months, $49 for 6 months, and $97 for 2 years

No More “To Go”

  • 5 meal plans, with sides plus a bonus weekend recipe
  • A grocery list that’s sorted into categories to make shopping quick and easy
  • Tips to help you modify the meals if you have Vegetarian, Gluten-Free, or picky eaters in the family
  • A variety of different cuisines – using lots of different proteins, as well as fresh, seasonal produce and ingredients free of preservatives
  • What’s unique about No More “To Go,” is that all the meals are first taste-tested by real families (tested by all age groups – adults, teens, young kids), and only approved if they pass the “dinner table” test.
  • Cost is $7 for 1 month, $18 for 3 months, $34 for 6 months, or $64 for 12 months

Deliciously Organic

  • Recipes each week for 5 dinners, 1 or 2 desserts, and 1 snack
  • Emphasis is on organic meats, vegetables, organic dairy, healthy fats and oils, seeds, nuts, some fruits, and unprocessed sweeteners
  • Options available for Gluten-Free, Paleo, and Grain-Free
  • An organized grocery list is provided, as well as tips for getting food on the table quickly
  • Cost is $6 per month for the Classic, Gluten-Free, Paleo, and Grain-Free plans, or $8 per month for an All-Access plan which includes meal plans for all four categories.

Most of these services offer sample meal plans that you can try for a week or two before deciding to commit to a subscription or not. I tried the Fresh 20 Gluten-Free weekly sample plan and was really impressed with the quality and taste of the meals, as well as the ease involved in both shopping for the ingredients and preparing the meals. If you’re tired of stressing over dinner-time meals (what to make that’s healthy and delicious, and how to feed your family without breaking the bank), then I encourage you to try one of these meal planning services for at least a month and see if it doesn’t make a difference.

Happy Cooking!

 

 

 

 

Product Review – Saloman Park Hydro Handset

Jannine Myers

Last year I reviewed the Simply Hydration hands-free water bottle and wrote great things about it because I loved being able to run with a bottle that could sit securely on my waist (held up by just the waistband of my shorts), and have my hands completely free. This year I am pleased to write more great things about another water bottle that’s not quite hands-free, but almost!

The Saloman Park Hydro Handset is a 16oz. soft flask that wraps around your hand and wrist with a velcro strap. It can be worn on either the top or underside of the left or right hand. One of it’s unique features is that because it’s a soft flask, it “deflates” as you drink from it. It’s also unique in that it has a spill-proof lid with a bite valve that allows for a higher flow rate. All of these features make it really easy to drink while running, but without having to disrupt your run pace.

Additionally, the Hydro Handset comes attached to a mesh zip-up pocket that’s large enough to hold a set of keys and an ID card, or a gel if you are planning on running a little longer. This flask, while it may look a little bizarre to some, is in my opinion one of the best hydration systems available for short runs in hot and humid weather.

If you don’t like hand-held bottles in general (because you detest running with anything in your hands), you might be pleasantly surprised with this particular product. I sometimes run with my Amphipod hand-held bottle (usually on mid-distance runs), and although I have gotten used to running with it I still tire of having to “hold” it; the Hydro Handset solves that problem entirely. Overall it’s just a really great product and one that I highly recommend.

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If you’d like to try this handset, use our WOOT discount code and order from RunningWarehouse.com – you’ll receive 15% off and shipping is free :)