Sunday, February 22, 2015

My 5 Pre-race Rituals

Like most athletes, we runners are a superstitious bunch. Or maybe it's just me. There are things I absolutely must do in the days leading up to the race and I am certain I'm not alone. Sure, there are the things I do to help prepare for the race: taper, hydrate, eat clean, etc. But then there are the things I do that, in all honesty, probably have no effect on my performance. Since some friends and I are headed to Phoenix this weekend for the Phoenix Marathon, I thought it would be fun (and only slightly humiliating) for me to compile a list of my must-do pre-race rituals. Keep in mind, this isn't a "How to Prepare for Race Day" post. See my preparing for race day posts I did for the Carlsbad Marathon last month (this one and this one). This is a list of the silly and only-slightly-helpful superstitions and rituals I do before a race. To clarify, superstitions are items you have to wear, touch, etc., in order to be successful. Rituals are acts you do before an event that you believe will ensure success. Going through even the most ridiculous rituals is a way to deal with nerves. We have only so much control over what happens to us during a race, especially a marathon. Rituals and superstitions give us a little bit of control. Feeling like we're in control of something can help ease anxiety and fear. Of course, we need to keep things in check. If you can't carry out all your rituals, it doesn't actually mean you'll fail. You will be ok! At least I hope so ;)

Edited to add that I've linked up with the Tuesdays on the Run link up hosted by My No-Guilt LifeMCM Mama Runs and Run the Great Wide Somewhere. Thanks for reading!

Paint my toes. It's always a good idea to trim your toenails the night before your race. Even though your shoes should be large enough that your toes don't hit the top of your shoe, too-long toe nails can cause other troubles such as cutting the neighboring toe. I not only trim my nails but I paint them too. And I paint them red. A few years ago, I came across a number of articles describing research into what makes athletes successful. A lot of the research actually looked at the color red and when athletes wear red, they often win. Red is a color of dominance, after all. This may be the reason why I chose red as my company's color :) So while I may not outwardly wear red, I have it on my toes and it's a subtle reminder to myself that I will kick butt!

Wear my Go Meb shirt to bed. I got the above Go Meb shirt several years ago at the expo for the New York City Marathon. Sketchers, Meb's shoe sponsor, was handing them out and of course I needed one. Meb Keflezighi is one of best American distance runners in history. He won the silver medal at the 2004 Olympics (which was the best an American man had done in over 30 years), has won the New York City Marathon and most recently was the first American man to win the Boston Marathon in over 30 thirty years when he won last year. I think Meb's lucky number should be 30. Anyway, at first my Go Meb shirt was just another sleeping shirt since it's 1000 times too big. But over time it's become something that really inspires me. I wore it to sleep before a race that turned out to be a great one for me and it's been my pre-race lucky charm ever since. I don't know what I'll do when it's worn to threads.

Image from imdb.com
Mindless TV and Social Media. Most people don't like to wake up too early before a race so they can get as much sleep as possible. I don't usually sleep well the night before a race so I'm always up early with enough time to kill to watch TV. So while I'm eating, I watch mindless TV which typically includes reruns of Beverly Hills, 90210 on the DVR (don't judge me). Honestly, I can't even describe why I watch this show. I know it's awful. I do not believe it was the best show ever made. I think it's just a comfort thing. I watched it when it was first on TV when I was in middle school until its bittersweet end after I graduated from college. Watching it before a race comforts me and eases my nerves a bit. And I've been known to think about its ridiculousness at low times during a race. It has taken my mind off hard efforts more times than I can count. Why couldn't Dylan stay with Brenda? Why was Steve such a dork? How did this show stay on the air for so long? These are some of the things I've pondered during races.

And when I'm racing out of town or don't have a way to watch my beloved 90210, social media fills the space nicely. Mainly I linger on Instagram. As you can imagine, most of the people in my feed are athletes of some sort and it's pretty motivating to scroll through everyone's pics of their runs, races, motivational quotes and more. There have been a few quotes that get stuck in my head and I can chant them to myself throughout the race. It helps tremendously so you Instausers, keep posting your inspirational stuff!

Visualization/Meditation. This is one ritual that can actually help your race. Visualization is something sports psychologists recommend to athletes regardless of their ability and competitiveness. Everyone can benefit from visualizing their performance. It helps get you into the right mindset and even prepare the brain for competition. This can ease nerves and when you "see" yourself succeeding, you get a boost in confidence. I will start the whole visualization process well in advance of the race so I can start mentally preparing for it. I picture myself getting things together the night before, going to bed, getting up, eating, getting to the race, warming up, running, etc. It helps me feel more at ease with everything because I can "see" that it all works out. Meditation just helps center my focus rather than get all worked up about ALL the things I need to do for the race. It helps me prioritize what needs to be attended to at that moment and not worry about what can't be attended to until later. I highly recommend it as a way to ease stress not only for races, but life.

Scream. You read that right. I scream as a way to relieve stress. I'm not talking scary screaming at the top of my lungs. I let out some yips and yells here and there as I'm making my way to the starting line. I try to be discreet about it when I'm by myself because I don't want to scare anyone :) But when I'm with friends, I can typically get them to join me in some way and I definitely hoot and holler with my running program participants before their races. If I can't scream, I'll disguise it as singing. I'll sing silly songs as a way to relieve stress. I feel like it really helps me relax and it's just become one of those rituals I have to do before that gun goes off.

What are some of the rituals you perform before a big event, running or otherwise? If you race, what are some of your pre-race rituals?

Friday, February 20, 2015

Swiss Chard Roll Ups with Garlic White Bean Spread

I was on Pinterest this morning, which is something I never do anymore. Pinterest kind of overwhelms me. There is way too much good stuff on there and I get sidetracked way too easily. Let's face it, I like sparkly things (literally and figuratively). Before I know it, it's 3am, I'm sweating, my eyes are bugging out of my head and I need to go to bed.

This morning was just a quick romp through Pinterest because after I came across the blog Fork and Beans, I didn't go any further. Technically, I came across their recipe for fresh collard green wraps. Instantly I knew what I would be having for lunch.

I actually didn't have any collards, but I did have Swiss Chard. Swiss Chard is another dark green leafy vegetable that's high in many vitamins, minerals, fiber, anti-oxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties. You can use it like any other leafy green. Though, I get bored with just sautéing greens or adding them to soups, salads and casseroles. Making roll ups is so simple and since I had most of the ingredients for this recipe, or at least some variation of them, I could go with it. Instead of hummus, I made a garlic white bean spread. I actually didn't have any cooked garbanzo beans or tahini, so I improvised with white beans.



White Bean Spread

2 cups cooked white beans or 1 can cooked white beans, drained and rinsed
3 cloves garlic
2 lemons, juiced
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 tsp sea salt (I actually didn't measure this)

Add the oil and lemon juice to your high speed blender or food processor. Add the salt, beans and garlic. Blend until smooth.

For the roll ups, I removed the thick stems from the chard and kept the large leaves in tact. I cut carrot sticks and red pepper strips. Taking one leaf, I took one spoonful of white bean spread and drizzled it along the length of the leaf. I placed the carrots and peppers at one end of the leaf and rolled it up into a little burrito-like roll.

This is such a great way to get your veggies that is not as boring as a salad (my usual lunch). And my girls were in the kitchen with me and loved how fun it looked making the roll ups, so they got in on the fun too. The white bean spread was a little too garlic-y for them but otherwise they loved the roll ups. This is a great way to get kids involved with their meals and maybe even eat a vegetable or two along the way :)


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Mixing Up Some Trail Mix

My go-to snack these days has been trail mix. Sometimes I buy pre-packaged mixes and sometimes I buy it in bulk and portion it out. But it's actually really easy to make, especially if you tend to have trail mix essentials on hand already. All you have to do is mix up a batch and portion it out. Many people tend to shy away from trail mix because it can be high in fat and calories, but that's exactly why you should be eating it. The fats are the healthy version, which are essential for hormone production, protection of organs and serve as a virtually unlimited energy source. Trail mix doesn't have to be fancy and with a few ingredients you probably already have, you can mix up a nutritionally powerful snack that can satisfy your sweet or salty tooth, keep you full and prevent that 3pm slump by preventing spikes and crashes in blood sugar that other snacks can cause. 

When it comes to mixing up your mix, I'm of the Keep it Simple, Stupid mentality. Here are my go-to trail mix components:


Nuts
Nuts are a great source of unsaturated fats, protein and fiber, vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin E, calcium, magnesium, potassium and iron. Opt for unsalted and raw nuts if possible. If raw isn't your thing, look for nuts that are dry roasted. I like to stick with almonds, pistachios, cashews, peanuts, and walnuts but you can add others such as Brazil nuts, hazelnuts and macadamia nuts though these are higher in calories. I typically buy all of my nuts in the bulk food section of the grocery store, which helps to keep costs down. You can also buy them in bulk online at places like Nuts.com

Seeds
Seeds have many of the same nutrients and health benefits as nuts and offer a little more texture to your trail mix. Again, aim for raw and unsalted versions of your favorite seeds. My favorites include pumpkin, sunflower, sesame, hemp and chia seeds. You get a lot of nutritional bang for your buck when you add seeds to anything! I'm also lucky enough to buy my seeds in bulk at the grocery store. You can get the most common seeds online as well. 

Dried Fruit
A bag of nuts and seeds may not appeal to everyone, so adding some dried fruit can add a little sweetness, as well as more fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Make sure your dried fruit doesn't have any added sweeteners or preservatives as some manufacturers add them to sweeten the fruit and keep it fresher on the shelves. I like dried cranberries, blueberries, raisins, cherries, chopped pineapples and banana chips. Sometimes I'm able to get my fruits in bulk, but not always. Just make sure you're getting fruits without added sugars, fillers or preservatives. 

This is where I end when mixing up my mix. But I know many people like to add chocolate, coconut flakes and other sweet item. I recommend using mini dark chocolate chips or cacao nibs and only adding 1/4 cup per entire mix. This will add about 50-60 calories to your serving, so keep that in mind. 

What you can do to boost the flavor of your mix is sprinkle on your favorite spices such as sea salt, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, ground ginger, chipotle powder or cinnamon. Really, the sky is the limit with spices. 

Once you've made up your master mix, portion it out into portable containers or bags. The typical serving size for trail mix is 1/4 cup. It's not very much, but again, this is a snack and you don't need to eat more than 200-300 calories for a snack. Might as well make it a good snack! 

Here's the recipe in the photo:
1/4 cup raw hemp seeds
1/2 cup raw cashews 
1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
1/3 cup dried cherries, blueberries and raisins
Mix it all together. This makes about 4 1/4-cup servings at about 260 calories per serving. 

Have you made your own trail mix before? What are your favorite trail mix add-ins?   


Friday, February 13, 2015

The Six Secrets to Staying Motivated and Staying on Track

Ok, so they're not really secrets but I had an alliteration thing going on there with the title and I needed to go with it :)

Anyway, earlier this week, I hosted a Twitter chat with EnergyBits. I love hosting these chats. They are a great way to "meet" new people and pick up a few tips on whatever the topic may be. This week, we talked about staying motivated to workout in the winter. While we focused primarily on winter workout motivation, a lot of these tips can help at any time of the year. We all have motivation issues from time to time, even me. Believe it or not, winter in SoCal is hard too. While we don't have the cold issues, the days are still short and heading out for an early-morning or after-work run will leave you in the dark. What's even more ridiculous is that we're experiencing Santa Ana conditions right now. What does that mean? It's ridiculously hot, dry and windy. Yesterday the temp got up to 88, it was dry as a bone and the winds were 40-50mph at times. All that wind is kicking up a lot of pollen and other allergens, which is making it hard to breathe for everyone, not just allergy sufferers. Plus, we're just not used to this heat (it is February, after all) and things just seem more difficult. Runs have sucked this week for all the above reasons. So we SoCalers are having issues too. Which is why I thought it would be helpful to compile all the different tips and tricks we discussed in our chat. Hopefully some of you can pick up a new trick or two and stay on track through the winter. If you're here from the Tuesdays on the Run link up hosted by My No-Guilt LifeMCM Mama Runs and Run the Great Wide Somewhere, welcome! Be sure to check out all the linkup bloggers here.

1. Take your workout indoors. The number 1 reason most people don't stick to their workout plans in the winter (at least according to our tweet chat participants) was the weather. The cold temps, unsafe conditions outside due to snow and the decreased daylight were all reasons for falling off the workout wagon. If possible, take the workout indoors. If you're lucky enough to have a treadmill, bike, elliptical or other machine at home, use it. If you belong to a gym, go to it. Another option is doing some strength training routines, yoga, Pilates or other indoor workout that allows you to work up a sweat. While it may not be your sport of choice, at least you're moving. There are tons of subscription workout sites now, such as YogaToday, YogaGlo, DailyBurn and more. You can also stream or rent workout DVDs from Netflix or Amazon Prime Instant Video. Your own cable company may have some exercise videos or shows on demand. And for the old schoolers here, the library is also a great place to get workout DVDs. There are also several apps you can download for workouts such as the Nike+ Training app, FitStar, the 7-minute workout challenge and Yoga Studio. Some are free with in-app purchases, some have subscriptions and others you buy outright. Regardless, the winter months are a perfect time to try a new activity, especially if you can't workout outside the way you'd like.

2. Sign up for a race or other event. A great motivator is having something to train for. This goes back to setting goals for yourself as having realistic and attainable goals is the main predictor of your success. In fact, having races on my calendar is something I do to keep me motivated to log hundreds of miles each year. Having a race or other event on the calendar is a constant reminder to keep moving. And the financial commitment of paying for the race helps too. Take it a step further and tell people you've signed up for the race. This will keep you accountable. Trust me, when your friends and family ask you about your training, you're not going to want to admit you haven't been training. I recommend having a race every 3 months or so if you're new to racing. This way you have an ample amount of time to train and recover before the next one. Sure, you can do more than that, just be careful not to go crazy so you can avoid getting injured, burned out, or both.

3. Stay on top of your nutrition. One of the reasons given for lack of motivation was eating badly. Eating badly makes us feel like crap and can take away the desire to be active. Try to stay on top of eating well in the winter months. Eating whole, minimally processed foods will give you more energy and help you feel great throughout the day. When you feel good, you'll be more inclined to exercise. This doesn't mean go on a diet or cleanse (ugh!), it means eat real food all the time. It's the processed junk that causes all the issues and without it, you wouldn't need to diet or go on a cleanse. Just eat real food that doesn't come in a box and you'll be ok.

4. Enlist your friends. Having someone to workout with is a lifesaver. Just like having an appointment to go to the doctor forces you to actually go, having an appointment with a friend to go to the gym, run outside in the cold or to come over and do a workout with you at home, will keep you moving. Knowing someone is waiting for you will give you that extra kick to get out of bed. If you don't have anyone that wants to join you, consider joining a running group, a new yoga studio or take a look at Meetup.com for groups doing the things you like in your area. If you're not able to join a local group or meet anyone in your area, consider joining an online forum for like-minded fitness folks. Sites like DailyMile, which is like the Facebook and Twitter for athletes, can help you connect with people all over the world. Pretty soon you'll have virtual training buddies that ask you about your workouts, wonder where you've been if you haven't posted in a while and will cheer you on when you need it most. And if online groups aren't your thing, simply ask some friends to text you every now and then asking about your workouts.

5. Remind yourself of why you started. Some of you may have started on your road to fitness because you wanted to lose weight, you wanted to try something new, you need to out run health issues in your family, you want to keep up with your kids, etc. Ask 100 people what their reason is, you'll get 100 different ones. Whatever your reason is for starting, remind yourself of it daily. Especially in times when motivation is lacking. One tweet chat participant said she keeps old photos of herself on her phone so she can remind herself of what she used to look like before she lost weight from running. I like to write my reasons down and look at them from time to time so I can remind myself that my training is much more than logging miles and finishing races. It's about keeping my health in check. There are a lot of health conditions in my family that are chasing me down and if I can prolong and hopefully prevent them from catching up, I'll be a happy girl. But I also run so I can have the energy to get through my day, play with my kids, sleep well at night (which is a constant struggle), see my friends, and do something for myself. In addition to writing my reasons down, I do have my training log that I look at a lot. I even graph my mileage (don't judge me). And when motivation is lacking, reminding myself of how far I've come helps to keep me going further.

6. Remember what it feels like to have to start over. I understand that life happens and we sometimes need to take a break from our exercise routines due to things that are beyond our control. We get injured, sick, have life events, etc. Then there are the times you've fallen behind in training due to things that were within your control and you had to start over. Regardless of the reason, starting over really sucks. And it sucks even more when we are starting over because we just stopped what we were doing for no good reason. We've all done it before. A day off turns into two, then a week and then before you know it, you haven't run in a few months. Then you try to get started again and you're just kicking yourself for stopping to begin with. Don't let it get to that point.

If you find yourself having motivation issues now or at any other time, try the above tips and see which one works the best for you to help stay on track. Try something new. Google search new workouts. Read through some new books for inspiration (such as The Skinny Confidential which you can win in our giveaway!). Whatever you do, don't give up!

What are some of the ways you stay motivated during the winter or at any other times? If a friend was having motivation troubles, what would you tell them?


Monday, February 9, 2015

The Skinny Confidential

Several months ago, a friend of mine told me about this blog by a fellow San Diego health nut called The Skinny Confidential. I was immediately hooked. Written by Lauryn Evarts, the blog presents a lot of health, fitness and lifestyle information in a beautiful way. And let's be honest, Lauryn is pretty hilarious. She's fun and sassy and likes to throw around some curse words every now and then. A girl after my own heart :)

Recently, I was asked to participate in The Skinny Confidential's New Year New You Blog Tour, promoting Lauryn's book, The Skinny Confidential: A Babe’s Sexy, Sassy, Health and Lifestyle guide. I was excited to participate in the blog tour, of course, but more excited to read Lauryn's book. Therefore, it must be mentioned that while the below review is in my own words and my own opinion, I did receive the book from the publishing company.

The book is really beautiful. It's laid out in chapter format though it reads more like a conversation with a close friend. Lauryn provides tips and suggestions for making positive lifestyle changes including working it in ways to boost your confidence, healthy eating, exercise, skin care, fashion help and much more. I was particularly interested in her recipes and exercise recommendations as we're both fitness pros with certifications in nutrition. And her recipes didn't disappoint. There are several recipes for all three meals as well as snacks and even adult beverages. I especially love her recipe for The Holy Kale salad. I eat salads for lunch almost daily and even the healthiest of health nuts gets sick of salad after a while. What I liked about Lauryn's salad was the dressing. Salads are won and lost with dressing. Here's Lauryn's take on a kale salad.

I love her description of kale:
Ahhh, kale. If kale were a boy, I’d be crushin’!  (me too, Lauryn, me too)

2 ½ heaping handfuls of kale, chopped
1 handful of baby arugula, washed
1 tangerine, peeled and sectioned
1 tomato, sliced
1 cup purple or white cauliflower, diced
⅓ cup scallions, chopped
½ avocado, diced

Dressing
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 to 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
½ lemon
Sea salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste
Rosemary or basil, chopped (used as garnish)


There's just something about a lemon Dijon vinaigrette that just makes a salad. It's light, it's fresh and it really makes the veggies pop.

Now that you've got the healthy eating thing down, it's time to use all that good food to fuel some workouts. Lauryn provides some great exercises for total body and also provides some exercises for some specific, shall we say, trouble spots for women. She has a whole section on the lovely butt. And anyone that has ever trained with me knows I will recommend working that butt like there's no tomorrow. Many (many!) running injuries can be traced back to weak glutes and if you don't strengthen that butt, you might as well give up. Ok, maybe that's harsh but I think you catch my drift. My personal favorites that Lauryn includes are the J. Lo and the Smiley Ass.

The Smiley Ass in particular is a great one for runners because it targets the glute medius, which will help stabilize the hips as you run. This can help prevent knee and lower leg injuries.

Honestly, this is a great, fun read. Lots of great info without all the filler crap that a lot of DIY health books use to fill pages. Lauryn is straight to the point, telling it like it is, which I really appreciate. I think you will too. While I'm partial to the recipes and exercises, there's a ton of info on makeup, skin care, hair care and even some tips for the men in your life. And I really love that she ties most of the topics back to healthy eating and exercise. She even has recipes for face and hair masks using stuff from your fridge rather than your cosmetics store. There's something for everyone and you're sure to get a few laughs as you read through the book.

I'm excited to be able to share Lauryn's book with all of you! And one of you will win a copy of your own. Just fill out the Rafflecopter below. Please keep in mind that winners must be 18 and residents of the U.S. with a U.S mailing address.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, February 2, 2015

Run the Rock n Roll San Diego Half Marathon with Sole!

We are very excited to announce an all-new half marathon training program! Join us as we train for San Diego's premier event: the Rock n Roll San Diego Half Marathon! This is the first time we're training for this race and we can't wait to see all of our Sole Mates complete this great race in the heart of our beautiful city!

In this laid-back, supportive, non-competitive and FUN program, runners get a detailed training plan, weekly coached runs, unlimited contact with the coach, email newsletters, discounts on running gear, product samples, a technical t-shirt, a one-on-one fitness assessment and running form analysis with Coach Jenn (a $100 value!), as well as informational seminars on nutrition, injury prevention and much more! Race registration isn't included in the program fee.

Here are the details:

Sole Health Rock n Roll San Diego Half Marathon Training Program

What: 12 Week Half Marathon Running Program
When: March 15th through May 31, 2015
Where: Moonlight Beach, Encinitas
Time: Every Sunday at 8:00AM (some runs will meet on Saturdays instead, dates TBD)
Price: $100 (race registration is not included)

Register online: https://www.signmeup.com/106048

Program Logistics: We will meet Sunday mornings at 8:00am at Moonlight Beach, Encinitas. We will be training for the Rock n Roll San Diego Half Marathon on May 31, 2015. Head on over to our website at http://bit.ly/SoleRnRHalf for all the important details!