Thursday, June 23, 2016

Five Reasons to Keep It Chill

Summer is in full swing everywhere and, if you're anything like me, you want to find ways to stay cool while on the run. I outlined some ways in a Friday Five post a couple of weeks ago but I'm still always ready to try different things to stay cool while running. And, just in time for summer, local company Running Skirts has just come out with a new line of stay-cool items treated with Xylitol. I thought I'd give the neck gaitor a try and share my thoughts with you!

Before I continue, I'm linking up with the Friday Five link up hosted by Courtney at Eat Pray Run DC, Cynthia at You Signed Up for What and Mar at Mar on the Run. Be sure to show them some love!

What's Xylitol? Well, xylitol is actually a sugar alcohol that is used to sweeten many sugar-free items. There is also research indicating xylitol can help keep cavities away. This is why Xylitol is added to sugar-free gum: it improves dental health, sweetens the gum and provides that cooling sensation as you chew. Now that technology has been added to fabrics. When the fabric is gets wet, either through water or sweat, it has a long-lasting cooling property. Since I have a lot of hot running and racing ahead of me this summer and fall, I picked up Running Skirts neck gaitors treated with Xylitol with the hopes of staying cooler out on the run. Here are my 5 reasons you should give them a try!

1. Cooling properties aside, they're super cute. Right now, they have a white and pink gaitor and a turquoise gaitor. The little hearts on the gaitor are treated with Xylitol. I couldn't decide which one I liked better, so I picked up both of them.

2. Sweating activates the Xylitol but dunking it in water is better. Last weekend, I wore the turquoise gaitor out on a long run that took us from the coast inland on the San Elijo Lagoon trail and back. It was hot and humid and there was plenty of sweating going on to activate the cooling hearts. But I dunked it in water as well, which really activated the Xylitol and helped to keep the gaitor cooler longer.

3. It's awesome around your neck. I kept the gaitor around my neck for the entire long run and I could definitely feel the difference throughout the run. It stayed cool for the whole 18 miles. I would turn it around every so often from the front to back and it would still be cool. Kind of like when you turn your pillow over every so often to get the "cool side." It was really nice to get a little coolness on the back of my neck.

4. It works as a headband. I wore the white one on a treadmill run this week. Our treadmill is in the garage. With the heat wave, our garage has been almost as hot as outside. There's just no sun to contend with. Anyway, I wore the gaitor on my head and I could definitely feel the difference as I got deeper into my run. I could turn it around throughout the run and could still feel it cooling.

5. Running Skirts also has tanks and arm sleeves treated with Xylitol. And every so often they offer free shipping on the Keep It Chill line, so be sure to check out the website and sign up for the newsletter to take advantage of the deal.

I usually run with gaitors (or buffs) on my wrist, around my neck, over my ears, etc. when I'm running for long periods of time. That's why this was an easy decision for me to try this product. I really like it. Aside from the cooling capabilities, it's soft and feels nice against your skin. I will definitely take it with me on all my long runs this summer, as well as my 100K in the fall.

Have you tried any products treated with Xylitol? What are your thoughts?

*I bought these gaitors myself and all options are my own. Running Skirts did not provide these products. 

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Five Smoothie Faves

One of my favorite ways to get all the vitamins, minerals, fiber, healthy fats, etc. into my diet is with a smoothie. You can get all of your daily requirements of every nutrient in one quick meal if you wanted! This is especially important for me as I don't get a lot of time in between my clients during the day, so I'll often make a smoothie in advance and keep it in the fridge at work for sipping throughout the day. And it's a GREAT way to get nutrients into my kids, especially my picky son. And with the warm weather firmly in place, smoothies are a cool and refreshing way to eat. Whether you have them for breakfast, lunch or snack, they are a great way to get the nutrients you need without having to turn on the oven! There are so many yummy combinations but I've narrowed down some of my favorites into the 5 below. I may have to do a monthly installment of my 5 favorite smoothies every month :)

Before I continue, I'm linking up with the Friday Five link up hosted by Courtney at Eat Pray Run DC, Cynthia at You Signed Up for What and Mar at Mar on the Run. Be sure to show them some love!

Here are the five smoothies I've been drinking up this week:

Pineapple Green Smoothie

1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1 cup packed spinach
1/2 cup pineapple juice
1/2 cup diced pineapple (I use a can of diced pineapple in 100% pineapple juice)
1 forzen banana
3 tbs hemp protein powder (or whatever your serving size is)

Place everything in the blender, adding liquids first. Combine until smooth.

PB&J Smoothie

1 cup frozen blueberries
1 cup frozen strawberries
2 tbs peanut butter
1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk

Place everything in the blender, adding liquids first. Combine until smooth.

Chocolate Banana Split Smoothie

1 frozen banana
1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk (I use vanilla but you can use chocolate almond milk as well. I just use vanilla more often and have it on hand regularly)
2 cup frozen strawberries
2 tbs raw cacao powder
1 serving hemp protein powder

Place everything in the blender, adding liquids first. Combine until smooth.

Apple Carrot Ginger Smoothie

1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1 apple, cored but not peeled
1 carrot, chopped
1 tsp ground ginger

Place everything in the blender, adding liquids first. Combine until smooth. I usually have this in addition to a breakfast, so there isn't a protein source here. But you could easily add a serving of hemp protein powder.

Super Green Smoothie

1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1 cup baby spinach
1 frozen banana
1/2 avocado
1 tbs chia seeds
Pinch of ground cinnamon
3 tbs hemp protein powder

Put everything into the blender, liquids first. Add ice if you want a cooler, slushier smoothie :)

Do you like smoothies? What are your favorite recipes? 

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Five Ways to Deal With Heat on Race Day

This weekend marks the 19th running of the Rock n Roll San Diego Marathon and Half Marathon. Runners can expect lots of great music, tons of beautiful scenery along the course and unfortunately, high temps. That's right, it's going to be hot this Sunday and runners need to prepare for that heat in order to stay safe while on the run.

Before I continue, I'm linking up with the Friday Five link up hosted by Courtney at Eat Pray Run DC, Cynthia at You Signed Up for What and Mar at Mar on the Run. Be sure to show them some love!

I have to admit, I really don't like running in the heat. Like, at all. Heat and humidity are my kryptonite and I have to just power through as best I can. Here are my 5 ways to deal with heat on race day:

1. Change my goals and/or plan for the race. Whatever my race plan may have been, it's immediately revised to JUST FINISH when I see the temps are going to soar on race day. There is no reason to push myself to redline to try for a goal that just may be impossible in higher temps. You can't expect to run your best in hot conditions, and it's even more out of the question if you're not used to running in those conditions. It can take weeks of warm weather running to get acclimated and going from cool temps to hot race conditions over night isn't going to be easy. Revise your race plan to something realistic to stay safe while still enjoying yourself.

2. Run slower than usual. I just can't expect to run at the same pace I do in cooler weather; it's not possible in the heat. There are plenty of theories as to what pace you should run depending on various temperatures and humidity levels, but just know that you should expect to run about 2-5 minutes slower when the temperature reaches 80*F and there is at least 60% humidity. Listen to your body, slow your pace and walk when necessary.

3. Hydrate appropriately before, during, and after your race. It's important to drink well all day, every day. Not just when I know I'm going to run. But it's even more important to hydrate well in the days leading up to a race that's going to have hot conditions. I hydrate as well as possible leading up to the race and supplement with Skratch's Daily Hydration Mix for the extra electrolytes without the higher sugar of the full training drink. I'll have one serving of this each day for a few days leading up to the race to be sure I'm not diluting my electrolytes with the increased water. Electrolytes are important for muscle and nerve function and when they're not balanced, you'll feel dizzy, nauseous, you may have muscle cramps and spasms. If you weren't planning on having fluids with you during the race, you may want to reconsider. An option is to wear a hydration belt rather than carry a water bottle. Your arms may get tired or stiff while carrying a water bottle, which can actually affect your running form. Try a belt that has a built-in holder for a water bottle and bring some water or sports drink with you. If you hate running with a hydration belt, think about a hydration vest or other system for your back. If you have never worn a belt or vest, be sure to stop at every aid station to hydrate. Every one.

4. Wear light fabrics and as little as possible to encourage evaporation of sweat. Don't forget: cotton is rotten and cotton clothing will absorb sweat and keep it next to your skin. This will feel horrible and prevent heat from leaving your skin, actually making you feel hotter! Remember, anything that touches your skin should be non-cotton, so that means shorts, undergarments and socks too! I will say that I prefer a tee to a tank in blazing sunny conditions just to save my skin a little. Whatever you wear, be sure it's moisture-wicking. There are plenty of options out there and even some that are cooling when they get wet such as Running Skirt's Keep it Chill neck gaitor. This little lovely can go on your neck, around your head, on your wrist, wherever you need it to keep you cool while you run. Running Skirts is typically at the RnR San Diego Expo so stop by and grab a gaitor. Whatever you do, at least wear a vented, moisture-wicking hat or a visor while running. This keeps the sun off your head and face and the sun out of your eyes. Run-of-the-mill baseball caps are not moisture-wicking and will hold the heat in against your head, making you much hotter than necessary. Try a cool, ventilated hat or visor and you'll feel the difference immediately. If a hat is not your thing, at least wear sunglasses. Most sport sunglasses like Tifosi and Rudy Project are light as air, have slip-proof nose pieces so they don't slide around when you sweat and have lenses with UVA/UVB protection.

5. Ice, ice baby. Freeze your water bottles the night before the race. Be sure to leave a little extra space at the top for any expansion during the freezing process (you should probably try this before the night before the race). If there is ice anywhere along the course, get it. Stick in your hat, rub it on your neck, put it in your bra. Wherever you can stand it, just to keep your body temperature down. I have even heard of runners taking a cold shower before the race so they can prolong their body temperature from rising. I have never tried this but I can see how it could work.

Remember to take it slow and listen to your body. I have dropped from a race I was using as a training run years ago because I knew the conditions were just going to be unsafe for me. Don't worry about what others are saying and doing. Do what's right for you and take the precautions you need to stay safe out there!

How do you deal with hot race conditions?