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.

Work-Life-Run balance?

Anna Boom

Running, working, raising kids, being a loving wife, being a good daughter and going to school: it is one big balancing act and some days it feels like the scale tips the wrong direction.

How can we manage all that we do without losing our minds?!

Some advice from other parents and runners:

– from Coach Jannine Myers, who has run Boston, ultra-marathons, along with being a writer, women’s running coach and loving wife and mother.

“…when both my girls were young and I was a working mom, exercise became even more of a priority for me because it gave me the relief and fulfillment I needed at such a busy time in my life. However, that meant that I had to sacrifice in other areas, and for me, the sacrifice usually meant giving up sleep. Which is what I mean by not necessarily giving the best advice – as sleep is just as important as exercise in terms of maintaining good health.”

– from Ultramarathon Man, Dean Karnazes much along the lines of Coach J’s advice:

He doesn’t let training infringe on family time (he has a daughter, 10, and a son, 7). So, after tucking his kids into bed on a Friday, he’ll run 75 miles through the night and meet his family the next morning in the Napa Valley for breakfast. Or he’ll rise early Saturday, run a marathon before breakfast, and another on Sunday.” http://insightfuldevelopment.com/inspired-must-read-story-dean-karnazes/

– from me. I have run a few ultras, Boston and some IronMan triathlons and along with the above two coaches, agree that you cannot have it all.

After I had my youngest daughter, I decided to run my first ultra distance. My training partner and I would meet every Saturday and Sunday morning, starting at 4:00 AM to get the miles in before the family woke up. Was it easy to get out of bed at 3:30 or earlier? Not.At.All.

I also knew I could not train for another IronMan while working full time with small children. It was too much time out on a bike or in the pool or out running. So I gave that up and picked the sport I love most, trail running.

As Jannine and Dean have both wrote, something has to give.

For all of us, it meant little to no social life past 8:00 PM. When 7:30 rolled around, I could feel the tiredness start to seep in. Our social hour shifted to our early morning running hour, which became our WOOT group. And that is why we get up and get going so early, along with the heat and sun and other family fun waiting at home for our return.

Work-life-run balance is possible but where your priorities lie, is what will get you going and keep you moving. And someday soon, you will get to that next stage of your life, kids grow up, school is finished, our goals shift. One foot in front of the other; you got this!

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-Ay?”

Jannine Myers

Did you say “Freak-ay?”

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 



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


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



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


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.



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.


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.


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.


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


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


 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