Calling The Inner Spartan Within You

Jannine Myers

Some of you may have heard of the Spartan Race series, and if you have you’ll know that it’s a series of obstacle races designed for those who enjoy testing their limits in both endurance and strength. Consisting of races varied between 3+ and 12+ miles, each race involves water, mud, and signature obstacle challenges. Not quite what we’re used to, compared to our Saturday morning trail runs, but the Spartan team must think that the members of WOOT are up for the challenge, because they specifically reached out to us with an invitation to try one of their events.

Since all of the Spartan races are held in the States, this post will mostly appeal to our Stateside members (and friends), although many of us here in Okinawa travel back to the States fairly often and some of us (no need to mention names) have been known to plan their travel around races. Getting back to the Spartan series, there are several races coming up in the next few months, including:

Spartan races are not for everyone, but they are for those who have an adventurous spirit and a strong desire to push past “normal” boundaries. And for outdoor and adventure enthusiasts, they’re sure to please.

For more information on upcoming races, as well as daily Spartan workouts (and nutrition tips) to help you train for a Spartan race, visit the Spartan website. Also, as an incentive to draw out the inner spartan in you, Spartan has given us the following code to use for a free race: BOP70962971 - this code will work one time for any open heat (non-confirmed start time) in any Spartan Race in the continental US. In addition, the code SPARTANBLOGGER can be used for 10% off any race.




 – Reebok Spartan Race, voted Outside Magazine’s Best Obstacle Race in 2012

Guiltless Pumpkin “Pudding” Muffins

Jannine Myers

Last year around this time I shared a “pumpkin muffin” creation:

pumpkin muffins

and since pumpkin is a popular ingredient in many Thanksgiving desserts, I thought I’d share another pumpkin muffin recipe. I love this one for several reasons:

  1. These muffins are REALLY fast and easy to make
  2. They contain NO flour
  3. The only oil in the recipe comes from the tahini that is used
  4. The end result is a combined cake and pudding-like texture that makes them taste like a delicious pumpkin molten cake, but without all the extra sugar and fat

The only negative is that they taste so good that it’s hard to stop at just one!



  • ¼ cup tahini*
  • ¾ cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 egg
  • 4 Tbsp. agave nectar
  • ½ cup gluten-free oats (or your choice)
  • 2 Tbsp. ground flaxseed
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. ground nutmeg
  • ½ tsp. ground cloves
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • ¼ cup mini chocolate chips


  1. Preheat oven to 375F and prepare grease or line a muffin pan (this recipe will only make 9 cupcakes).
  2. Add all ingredients except for chocolate chips to a blender and blend on high until the batter is smooth and creamy. Stir in chocolate chips by hand.
  3. Pour batter into prepared muffin pan, filling each cavity until it is about ¾ full.
  4. Bake for approximately 10 minutes, then cover with foil and bake for a further 3 to 5 minutes. The cupcakes will not be firm and may appear to be under-baked, but this is exactly how they should be.
  5. Allow cupcakes to cool, and then store in refrigerator.

2014 Hug-A-Runner Day

Jannine Myers


Following on with Anna’s theme of “altruism” and “paying it forward,” I thought I would highlight an upcoming annual event that some of you might enjoy participating in. It’s called GO HARD, which stands for Globally Organized Hug A Runner Day!

GO HARD was created by Olympian runner Adam Goucher, and former elite college track athlete, Tim Catalano. First launched in 2011, GO HARD has evolved quite a bit, but the essence of it, summed up below, is still the same:

  •  “From cross country and track runners to weekend joggers, all runners are kindred spirits enjoying the gift of running so let’s wrap our arms around all of them!”

Next Thursday, 20th November, is the official date for this year’s event. You’ll have the opportunity to not only celebrate your love of running, but to also make a donation to an organization that uses running as a platform to develop self-esteem and confidence in young girls. Know which organization I am talking about? GOTR (Girls on the Run), of course.

If you’ve been a member of WOOT for some time now, you’ll know that we’ve mentioned Girls on the Run in previous posts and that we value the objectives of their program. One of our State-side WOOT coaches, Amy Hester, has had a lot of experience working with GOTR, and her sentiments about this organization are as follows:

  • We’ve all heard the statistics that girls who are involved in a sport are less likely to try drugs, be promiscuous, stay in an abusive relationship and are more likely to make good grades and show leadership skills. Girls on the Run promotes all this and more with their mission – “We inspire girls to be joyful, healthy and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum which creatively integrates running.” Girls on the Run teaches girls how to love and accept themselves, support the people around them, and be a contributing member of their community. I’ve seen this program at work and it is completely possible to change a girl’s life over the ten week season.

If you think Girls on the Run sounds like a great organization to support, you can make a small contribution when you register for the Virtual Race.

In addition to donating to GOTR, you can also participate in this year’s GO HARD event in nine other ways:

  • Send at least 3 hugs to your running friends by clicking here
  • Join their Facebook group to keep up to date on all the happenings and surprises
  • Register for the Virtual Race
  • Get the GO HARD shirt and Finisher Medal. Available at their store or when you sign up for the Virtual Race
  • Download the Race Bib and wear it on every run this month. Don’t forget to take pictures!
  • Post pictures and videos hugging runners on their Facebook page.
  • Organize a Hug A Runner Group run on or around November 20th.
  • Tell your friends! Invite as many people as possible to celebrate on November 20th.
  • Don’t forget to hug the people who support you as a runner even if they are not runners themselves. Send them “Thank you hugs” from the GO HARD website.

I encourage you to have some fun with this event, and if hugging another runner seems a little too awkward for you, don’t worry – Tim and Adam put together a “how to” video for you. Watch this, it will make you smile :)

Benefits of altruism: Why to pay it forward

Paying it forward and doing good for your community, or those who may be in greater need than you at the moment. It is a great feeling, altruism. And there are benefits to you, too:

  • Doing good for others can have a powerful, positive effect on the immune system.
  • By contributing towards the greater good, self-worth and self-esteem improves.
  • It can prevent you from becoming isolated, encouraging you to meet new people and step outside of your comfort zones.
  • Positive energy flows from giving to others and studies have revealed that kindness helps relieve stress.

Being part of our WOOT group, we have been able to give back through some great events:

* 100 Miles of Trail challenge: through the heat of the Okinawa summer, we held this event during 2014. The challenge was to get 100 miles of trails between June 1 and August 31. There was a $30 fee and those that completed all 100 miles received a unique WOOT, 100 miles, car sticker. Those donations went to the Yomitan kids’ sports fund, which supports kids who aren’t able to afford the required sports uniforms, and to help pay for their sporting events. The mayor of Yomitan gave WOOT an official receipt and thank you and asked that we provide GPS coordinates for a trail run, so they can use it for future planning.

from city office

from city office

*UNICEF WOOT run: we held this run back in 2013 and asked for WOOT’rs to grab a partner and raise money to give to UNICEF. Teams came up with fun names, and stopped at 8 different locations around the hills behind Camp Lester. Some teams were close friends, some had new WOOT moms pushing their babies, and there were kids out as team members too. With a minimum donation of $20, the teams received a WOOT drink cup. The top team won a prize from wootcoaching, including a month of free coaching service. All donations went directly to UNICEF and we all had a great time!

woot unicef

* Running Boston for Wilson: you may not know Jaime Patterson, as their family had to relocate to the States last summer after her 1st grader, Wilson, was diagnosed with a very aggressive form of leukemia. She was a WOOTer during her Okinawa time and had so much fun on trail with us. We set up a donation location and ran Boston for Wilson, raising money to help offset some of the incredible medical costs.

* Baby girl clothes drive for the Patterson’s: Jaime spent much of their family time getting treatment, seeking new treatment and praying for good news. When we heard the good news of the pending arrival of a bundle of joy, WOOT asked for baby girl clothes donations to help her just a little bit. And now baby Willa is here and is such a cutie and Wilson is a great big brother!

willa and wilson

That we are able to help is a blessing. Thank you all!!

Eating Too Soon Before Your Race Could Slow You Down

Jannine Myers


Photo by

One of the first things I remember having many questions about when I first started running, is how to fuel for long runs and races. Admittedly, even after several years of training and racing, I still feel as if I am learning about fueling – there’s obviously a lot of trial and error. But one nutrition principle I always follow is one that has been vetted and supported by various nutrition experts, and yet it’s surprisingly unknown to many runners.

If you’re a marathoner (or half marathoner), you’re probably well aware that a high carbohydrate meal before an endurance race will help you go the distance without hitting the wall. What you might not know, is that eating your pre-race meal a couple of hours before race-time can actually hinder your efforts. Here’s how:

  •  Studies have shown that high glycemic carbohydrates, or simple sugars, consumed at least 3 hours prior to an endurance event results in greater resistance to fatigue (versus when no meal is eaten at all). But when such a meal is consumed within two hours of commencing exercise, performance may actually decrease.

  • When food enters the body, serum insulin is released to help sugar/glucose (from the foods we eat) enter cells. Glucose is then broken down to provide energy. However, when it’s mostly high glycemic carbohydrates that enter the body, blood sugar spikes rapidly, causing excessive insulin production, and in turn causing a low blood glucose level.

  • Excessive insulin levels also inhibit the body’s ability to burn fat, and in endurance events, optimal fat utilization is desirable when glucose stores are eventually depleted.

  • Finally, high insulin levels push blood sugar into cells, forcing an increase in carbohydrate metabolism, which equals faster depletion of glycogen stores!

The best way to avoid all of the above is to eat at least 3 hours before races, allowing for insulin and blood glucose levels to return to normal. If eating 3 hours before a race seems impossible (due to an early morning start time for example), you can get away with consuming a small snack about 5 minutes before the race; one or two gel packets, or half an energy bar for example. In this case, glycogen depletion shouldn’t be a problem because you’ll already have started moving by the time blood sugar levels are elevated and insulin is released.

For a more thorough explanation, read this report by Hammer Fueling Expert, Steve Born.

Other Reference:

Kraemer, William J., Fleck, Steven J., Deschenes, Michael R. Exercise Physiology: Integrating Theory And Application, 2012. Print.

Coconut Cacao Cookies

Jannine Myers

Shredded Coconut - although fairly high in fat, shredded coconut has some admirable nutrition benefits. It contains some fiber and protein, as well as iron and zinc; adequate amounts of iron and zinc support the immune system.

Raw cacao powder - contains natural chemicals called flavanoids, a type of antioxidant that promotes good health by 1. destroying free radicals in cells and tissues, 2. improving circulation and lowering the risk of heart disease, and 3. potentially impeding the development of cancer.

Honey - besides it’s natural energy boosting benefits, honey is also believed to contain antioxidant and anti-bacterial properties; it is used as a natural remedy for various ailments.

Coconut, cacao, and honey – put them all together, add just two eggs and a swish of vanilla extract, and here’s what you get:

Delicious Coconut Cacao Cookies



2 cups unsweetened finely shredded organic coconut (do not use the baker’s sweetened coconut flakes)

1/2 cup organic cacao powder

1/2 cup honey (Manuka, if possible)

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Grab small handfuls of the mixture and flatten into cookie patties. Place each “pattie” on a baking tray, and bake for 15 to 18 minutes.


[Original recipe here]

Dip a toe or Jump right in!

One of the topics I love to talk about is having fun on trail. What does it take to go out and go for a full body Bath in Nature?

Letting gooooo….

You’ve sung it once; you’ve sung it a hundred times, Let It Go. The “It” is up to you. Is it letting go of the fight you just had with your spouse? Maybe your coworker is driving you crazy? Your teen is being unreasonable and surly? You have so many things to do; there isn’t a notepad that can store it all.

Or maybe you’ve been bitten by the negative bug. The “It” here can be negative thoughts about your ability: I’m too slow to run with these women, this is going to be too hard, I’m not good enough.

What is a trail running woman to do? You got it, let it go and enjoy the moment.


Running free….

One of the questions we often get is how to remain injury free while running and racing year after year, sometimes with mileage between 40-65 miles. The answer dear friends, is running without GPS.

GPS shows how far I have ran and what pace I am going, current and average. If I am very tired, this is a mental mind screw: really? Not even mile three yet?! And that pace, I may as well walk.

If I am feeling well rested and ready to go fast, I may hold myself back and question if I can maintain this pace.

Running free lets you use your greatest tool, MINDtm, featured in a nice write up on Runners World:

Your brain is the most sophisticated device, ever. If you’re thirsty, hungry, tired, overheating, chilled, exhausted or energized, your brain lets you know.

And putting your brain on Nature opens up the pathways that are normally closed in our tech heavy world. On trail, your brain gets to experience all 5 senses that it was born to practice: smell the clean oxygenated air, hear birds singing away, see the sunrise breaking through the trees, feel the crisp air on your sweaty skin, and taste the fresh water from your bottle.

Dip a toe, or jump right in. Let Nature get all over you with WOOT!


A Different Spin On The “Runner’s High

Jannine Myers

I hear it all the time; I hear runners say that they get a certain high when they run, that it’s addictive, that it’s their daily fix. I got to thinking about this because a client recently asked how she could motivate herself to run again, knowing that her years-long running sabbatical had significantly affected her former, and much faster pace. I’ve addressed the issue of motivation before, but for some reason, my thoughts drifted this time towards the “runner’s high.”

What is the runner’s high? And why do runners refer to it as if they can’t get enough of it? Because if that’s true, then maybe that’s what motivationally challenged runners are missing. A lot of runners describe it as a feeling they experience partway through a run, where the sensation of physical and mental exertion somehow diminishes and running takes on a kind of euphoric feeling. It sounds like a nice experience right? But is that what draws people back to their running shoes, day after day after day? Or is it the emotions felt at the end of a run, a different kind of runner’s high? I believe so.

When I set out to do my runs, I sometimes start them with enthusiasm, sometimes not. I always, however, have a fixed goal in mind, and even if I start out a little slow or with a negative mindset, I somehow get it together as my legs and body start to warm up. No matter how short or long, easy or intense, every run eventually turns into a mind over matter experience, where my mind takes control and influences my body to do whatever my training goals call for it to do.

As I wearily finish each run, and hit “stop” on my garmin, that is the moment that I encounter my true runner’s high. I don’t mean the feeling of triumph, though that’s part of it, but rather the residual benefits that follow. It’s as if runners have an invisible power source available only to them, a source that they earn the right to tap into it every time they finish a run.

This “power source” zaps a runner with so much positive energy that it actually has a spillover effect; you’ll recognize a person who’s high from a run because they can’t help passing their positive vibes on to those around them (word of advice however, kick them out for a run as soon as you notice the positive energy starting to wane).

Seriously though, if you’re a runner who has lost that instinct and desire to get out and run, I suggest that you start spending time in the company of other runners. Their infectious “can do” attitudes will have you lacing up your shoes in no time.

Runner woman tying running shoes

You’re almost there!

Anna Boom

Just kidding, You are not even close!

For anyone who has raced a longer distance before, you have seen the signs and heard the chants…”you’re almost there, keep going, it’s just around the corner”…

This could be at mile 20 of a marathon or 10 of a half marathon. From the spectators point of view, that is logistically correct; you’ve run more than three quarters or more of the race, just a few more miles to go. You are “almost” there.

From the racer’s perspective, the pain that sets in during those later miles is intense. Our legs are screaming, our mind telling us to give up already, you’re not a runner anyway! 6.2 miles, 3 miles, or the last mile are usually brutal.

So when I saw this sign of Amanda and her daughter, I had to laugh out loud.

photo cred: Shirley Thomas

photo cred: Shirley Thomas

You’ve heard it before, it is not the finish line, it is the journey. At that moment, laughing at this sign I thought of myself feeling pain, and saw it was really just uncomfortableness. It was hot, humid, the summer Okinawa sun was glaring, it was on pavement and I wanted it to be over. Instead I changed my mind and enjoyed the moment. My friends were all over the course that day: running in front of me, behind me and cheering on the sidelines. I got to run that day and that is really worth the effort, isn’t it?

Continuing on our journeys, the struggles we go through, the pain we endure and get over, it is all part of this amazing life. We don’t know if we are close to the finish line and hopefully, we are not even. Lets make it a good one.

More “Baking With Bran” Recipes

Jannine Myers

I’ve been doing more baking lately, mainly because my 10-year old loves her sports and has a pretty full extracurricular schedule that keeps her metabolism humming along nicely – in other words, she’s always hungry! And since we often have limited amounts of time between activities, I want to feed her snacks that I know will provide enough energy without leaving her feeling weighed down, or alternatively, hyped up from too much sugar.

Since I also battle with her when it comes to making her eat more fruits, vegetables, and complex carbohydrates (which in turn impacts her fiber intake), I decided to add a decent serving of wheat bran in this week’s snack recipes. Wheat bran is not only high in fiber, but it’s vitamin, mineral, and antioxidant content is pretty impressive, and furthermore, it’s bulk helps to stave off hunger – which is just what my daughter needs in between activities when she doesn’t have time for a full meal.

Recipe One: Banana-Choc-Nut Bran Muffins



  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 medium, mashed bananas
  • 1 cup buttermilk (or just mix a little lemon juice with regular milk)
  • 1 cup unprocessed wheat bran
  • 1/8 cup canola oil
  • 1  teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1  3/4 cup all-purpose flour (or flour of your choice)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts


  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Coat 12 muffin cups with cooking spray.
  2. Soak bran in buttermilk for at least 10 minutes. Then, whisk eggs and brown sugar in a medium bowl until smooth. Whisk in bananas, buttermilk and wheat bran, oil and vanilla.
  3. Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the dry ingredients; add the wet ingredients and stir with a rubber spatula until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips and walnuts.
  4. Bake the muffins until the tops are golden brown and spring back when touched lightly, 15 to 25 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Loosen edges and turn muffins out onto a wire rack to cool slightly before serving.

Modified version of this recipe

Recipe Two: Oatmeal Raisin Bran Cookies



1 cup gluten free flour

1 cup gluten free oats

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice

1/2 cup organic raisins

1/3 cup walnuts

1/4 cup wheat bran

1/3 cup almond butter

1/4 cup (high quality) maple syrup

1/4 cup coconut sugar

1/4 cup milk (any kind)

2 tbsps ground flax

1 tsp coconut oil

1 tsp vanilla


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Soak the bran in the milk for 10 minutes.
  3. Mix dry ingredients (flour, oats, baking powder, salt, spices, coconut sugar, and ground flax) in a large bowl.
  4. Whisk together the almond butter, coconut oil, vanilla, and maple syrup. Add the milk and bran and mix well.
  5. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and combine. Add the raisins and walnuts, and stir together until a dough forms.
  6. Scoop small ball-sized pieces of the dough from the bowl, and shape into cookies before laying them out on a baking tray.
  7. Bake for approximately 10 to 12 minutes. Allow to cool.