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Labor Day Is For Sweating!

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Labor Day Is For Sweating!

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How did you spend your 2013 Labor Day ? I've been buried deep in book writing and there is nothing better to me than watching the sunrise from a mountain top to clear my head and heart. I knew climbing a 14er would be madness on a holiday (I like to climb in peace) so I decided to go to one of my favorite trails and watch the sunrise as I ran. I don't own a car but this week some friends are out of town and so I have wheels!

I got up early and hit the trail. There is something so peaceful being by yourself running in the mountains hearing nature come to life.

I reached the mountain summit (just a small summit at 7000 feet or so) just as the sun was rising. It was glorious. (See cover photo.) I turned my Garmin off and just sat on the rocks looking over the mountain range. I closed my eyes and focused on the sounds around me. If you are looking for some inner peace, I recommend closing your eyes and using your senses (smell and hearing are the two I frequently I use) to calm the mind.

I did a few yoga poses and then continued on my run. I ran up and over the mountain down into Red Rocks when I preceded to do a grueling stair workout. Red Rocks Amphitheatre is mainly used for summer concerts. And fitness workouts! If you've never done a stair workout at 6400 feet, you are missing out on enjoying the lack of oxygen!

 

Some stairs on the backside of Red Rocks (running them at 6400 feet makes you feel the thin air!)

Some quick facts about Red Rocks:

  • 6400 elevation
  • 380 steps connect the lower parking lot to the upper concession area
  • The amphitheatre has 69 rows which equate to running about 3 miles (assent or descent)
  • Stage to upper parking lot has 83 steps on the each side

It was awesome to see so many people working out on Labor Day morning! Working out in thin air is something Coloradans pride themselves on :)

I did a 40 minute stair workout in the middle of my 10 mile run. Box (stair) jumps, leg lifts, curtsy lunges, sprint stairs, sprint stair box jumps, reverse lunges, regular lunges, single leg hops, squats, frog jumps. My legs were on fire running back! And this is something I 100% love. It's so good to feel alive and breathing and enjoying the freedom of life!

Saw a 12 point buck. Lots of other sweaty people. Stunning wildflowers. Lots of stairs.

How did you spend the holiday weekend? Did you get active? Go to farmer's market? Do something health+fun? Share in the comments below, I would love to hear from you!

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Finish Line Wish List

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Finish Line Wish List

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FinishLine asked me to participate in their Wish List campaign this Christmas season. And I said yes! I created my Wish List with my passion of ultra running and my calling to help others. I run outside year-round so cold weather gear is essential (hence the neck warmer on the list!) I also wanted to get something for the children I sponsor in Africa. I'm sure they would appreciate some fun shoes!

Want to enter the contest and a chance to win a $300.00 gift card?

Find a product on the FinishLine website that is at the top of your wish or gift list and tweet that link on Twitter and use the hash tag #makinthelist.

Like this photo: Sarah Stanley FinishLine Wish List

Thank you and Merry Christmas!

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The Hidden Benefits of the Core

If you ever want to run faster in your next 5k, you might want to invest some extratime working on core exercises.  We all hate the intense burn and shake when we work our abs, but it is so well worth the burn for all the added benefits. Whether running for fun, fitness or to be fast, efficiency is key. Having a strong core plays an important part in translating the power of your legs to propel the entire body forward through space.  A strong core stabilizes your hips and pelvis when you run, enabling you to go faster and farther.    Your core is not only effects your speed but havinga weak core can also cause leg muscle fatigue to occur at a much faster rate. When the core is weak the body compensates by engaging others muscles to pick up the slack.   As a result it can lead to an increased risk of injury.

Some ofthe best core exercises are planks that engage your entire core, mountain climbers,bicycles and v-sit ups.  Due to ourmodern day sedentary lifestyles sitting for long hours at work causes weak abs to develop because our abs are not activated. In addition to adding more core exercises to your work outs there are other things you can do to activate your core during the day.

  • Sit up straight and put your hands on your lower ribs and inhale. Allow your ribs to expand and contract
  • Keep your low ribs wide when you exhale and pull into your navel to your spine. If you do yoga this is a similar breathing technique.
  • Continue to practice thesebreathing techniques and it will strengthen your deep abs and increase yourability to breathe deeply.

Runners—like all athletes—really should view the body as a functional unit composed of numerous sub-parts which work together and have roles to play in performing well and avoiding injury. The core is the body’s center of power and is deserving of serious attention. The next time you see all of the infomercials for ripped abs it should remind you to train your abs for efficient training. After all who doesn’t want a beautiful flat sculpted stomach? Try to incorporate core exercises two to three times a week for best results.

photo credit: Pooja's_Way

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Eat Right to Fuel Cardio

Whether biking, running or walking your body seeks energy from carbs and fats and in order to fuel your body correctly for these activities you need to eat the right foods. As you increase the intensity of your workouts your body switches back and forth from carbs and fats to give your body energy.   Choosing the right foods can often be a little tricky so to keep your stomach in tack for a long run or intense cardio here are some tips on what to eat before tackling cardio. Carbs, carbs carbs!  Eat plenty of complex carbohydrates because they are the primary source of energy that you burn during cardio.  What are complex carbs? Well there are several but some of the staples are oatmeal, quinoa, apples, broccoli, kale, and beans. After eating carbs remember to allow plenty of time for digestion before starting your cardio. The general time frame to allocate is about 3-4 hours, since your body takes about 2 hours to digest the average meal. Also remember to drink plenty of fluids meaning water before a long run or cardio session.   Before any type of endurance training you always want to stay hydrated to keep you energy levels up and keep fluids in your body.

Specifically for runners entering marathons, don’t give into temptation of taking offers under tents and handouts; stick to your plan!    So many runners make the mistake of gulping down Hammer Gels and rich electrolytes drinks and then a few minutes after running they have stomach issues.  Instead opt to eat good quality foods such as almonds, eggs, oranges, beans, salmon, walnuts or fruit to keep your stomach in check.   Happy Training!

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The Revolutionized Athletic Tape Getting All the Buzz

They were all over the Olympics with bright strips of tape decorated across their bodies like a fashion statement, some matching their uniforms and others choosing to opt for a modest look.  David Beckum, U.S. silver medalist in decathalon Trey Hardee, German beach volleyball star Katrin Holtwick, and even ping-pong players were reportedly wearing it.

It's called kinesio tape. The tape has been around for decades, but during the London 2012 Olympics, it has been spotted stretching and spiraling in interesting patterns on some athletes.Now that the Olympics has come and gone, kinesio tape has attracted more attention than ever as result of seeing their favorite Olympians wearing them.

Whether your training for a marathon, a gold medal or just participating in your favorite sport, there is nothing worse than getting an injury.  Fortunately, with the advancement of kinesio tape, athletes now have an alternative to the typical braces, athletic tapes and pain meds. The lightweight, flexibility, and comfort that kinesio tape provides makes injuries less of a burden on athletes and easier to treat.  Another draw is that Kinesio tape provides 24 hour relief per application for days at a time, its waterproof and they come in a variety of colors. Try that with a brace.

The primary uses of the tape are to treat and prevent hundreds of common injuries such as knee pain, shin splints, and tennis elbow. Most trainers and doctors use it to help improve balance in athletes, and prevent excessive protraction injuries -- in layman's terms, shoulder problems from activities including playing tennis. KT Tape provides stability and support for joints by providing an external layer of support around the joint. By applying the soft and stretchy cotton tape in the right area, the tape will pull at your skin when you start to overextend your arm, reminding you not to.

Kinesio tapes outweighs traditional athletic tape, not only from its thin and pliable texture, but the tape keeps  injured joints from bending to prevent further injury.  With all the strips of colors worn by athletes in all sorts of patterns it is easy to wear the tape incorrectly.  To understand the mechanics and how to apply the tape to injuries watch this short video.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HMqsdFNfwQU

Kinesio tape can be found at chiropractors and specialty sports stores.  For specific locations in your area refer to http://www.kttape.com/store-locator/

 

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High Fat Equals Endurance?

Carb loading is a common ritual among endurance athletes for pre-race preparation; however a new study suggests eating rice, pasta and oatmeal might not be the best method after all.  A new study published in the journal Nutrients, led by Hiroaki Tanaka, Ph.D., claims carbs are important, but misunderstood when it comes to eating on race day.

Based on the hypothesis of Hiroaki Tanaka and his team, they hypothesized that high fat consumption would jump-start fat metabolism during exercise, thereby preserving the body’s carbohydrate stores for use later during a race or long run.

How they came up with their conclusion

The researchers had eight male collegiate distance runners carb-load for three days with minimal exercise in order to maximize glycogen storage. Four hours before a treadmill test, the athletes were randomly served either a high-fat meal (1000 calories of 30 percent carbs, 55 percent fat and 15 percent protein) or a high-carb meal (1000 calories of 70 percent carbs, 21 percent fat and 9 percent protein). Just before the test they took a placebo, which is an easily digestible carb commonly found in sports drink and gels.  The placebo replaced the carbs used in the four hours between the meal and the treadmill test.

Each athlete then ran 80 minutes at marathon pace and then at their highest speed thereafter.  Once running was complete, blood samples were taken and gas exchange measured to monitor fat versus carbohydrate metabolism.  The study consisted of three trials with a week separation between tests.

The final conclusion of the study revealed that the athletes who ate a high-fat meal and the carb jelly increased their endurance on average  by 10 minutes—that is, they sustained the faster segment after the 80-minute warm-up longer. Time to exhaustion for runners who ate the high-fat meal but the placebo jelly was not statistically relevant, but all but one runner prolonged endurance by two to eight minutes.

According to this study fats are good pre-race day with subsequent ingestion of carbs, which many athletes will find very pleasing.  This study is very interesting and intriguing. I might just have that extra scoop of almond butter on my next run. What are your thoughts and opinions on this study?

I must also note that the study suggests that high-fat meals are only effective if your carb stores are full. The study cites improper carbo-loading as one key reason several previous studies concluded that high-fat pre-race meals did not extend endurance. Adequate digestion time is also important.

To learn more about this study it can be found at http://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/4/7/625/htm

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The $30 Tool That Every Athlete Should Use

If you go to the gym you might often see blue or white Styrofoam circular rollers stacked in a bin, or on the floor, and casually  pass by them not realizing the many benefits you are missing out on.  Who wouldn’t want a deep tissue massage while relaxing the tension in your muscles after a hard run or workout?  Not tomention for half the price!

Foam rollers are becoming more and more popular in gyms and provide numerous benefits beyond a deep tissue massage - The three primary benefits they provide are increase in blood flow, injury prevention, and they help improve spinal alignment.  Despite becoming popular, many athletes are still in the dark about how useful these tools can be if incorporated in their workouts.

Proper blood flow circulation is important in warming up the body and preparing your muscles to work and using a foam roller is a great tool to help accelerate the process.  By using a foam roller on the legs, back, arms, and shoulders, an athlete will have more oxygenated blood circulating throughout their body, and this can help improve athlethic performance. An athlete that has increased blood flow will also improve concentration, and notice his or her stamina increase as well.

Injuries are an athlethes worst nightmare and foam rollers are a great way to lower the risk. Using a foam roller is similar to getting a deep tissue sports massage, which helps prevent the onset of injuries.  By using foam rollers consistently, it helps the muscles become more flexible to prevent serious injuries and helps smaller injuries heal much faster.

If you suffer from back aches or poor posture, foam rollers can help you improve your posture. Foam rollers help stabilize the spine and help correct poor posture, which can help improve athletic performance.  Using a foam roller can also help an athlete decrease his or her back pain and muscle spasms, which are common problems associated with bad posture.  Someone that partakes in intense activity on a regular basis will be amazed on how much their back aches decrease by the use of this simple tool.

For athletes of all types, foam rollers are a great investment to have at home or use at your gym on a regular basis.  They price of rollers average about thirty dollars at most sports equipment stores, but most gyms typically have them to use. The next time you see foam roller, use them! You will feel great both inside and out and your muscles will thank you.  If you are unfamiliar with foam rollers Greatist.com created a great infographic for rookie foam rollers http://greatist.com/fitness/foam-rolling-infographic/ .  This infographic provides a comprehensive guide to exercises, benefits and types of rollers to use for all muscles groups to become a natutual pro.

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Improve Your Run Without Running

As kids we are always told practice make perfect, but when it comes to running, having a one track passion may not serve you well in the long run.  Yes the avid runner may love to pound the pavement, path or treadmill, but too much running can lead to burnout and cause injuries.  The best way to avoid injury is cross-training, ideally something that preserves your  fitness level, helps balance your body and provides some sort of pleasure.  For a runner, the ideal option is mountain biking because it creates less impact on the body and recruits various muscles, but still gives you a good cardiovascular workout.  By using various muscles it allows for less stress fractures; different use of leg muscles and increased strength if you incorporate hills and interval training.

Cross training is especially important as we age because our muscles have less shock absorption and our bodies require more recovery time.   Some other benefits for runners that mountain biking provides include:

1.)   great way to shed muscle toxins the day after a long race

2.)   Helps clear your mind

3.)   Helps build strength in running and biking

4.)   Helps in muscle recovery

5.)   Biking improves balance

Although biking is the ideal cross training option for a runner the differences are very vast.  If you have never biked before you should expect your muscles to be sore in different places than before and remember that biking can be extreme or easy as you want it to be.   An option for someone that is new to biking is to start with a spinning class at a local gym to get the proper form and alignment for your bike and get practice before hitting the outside trails.  Spinning classes at local gym allows you to ride on a stationary bike with music and an instructor that guides you through a series of intervals as if you were on anoutside trail that will provide the perfect practice for a beginner biker.   To become a better runner adopt a day to focus on cross-training whether  you try biking or another cross training activity the key is to find something you enjoy, uses a variety of muscles and provides a good cardio workout.

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Beat Your Competition and improve Performance with Mental Strength

Often in competition we are faced with other athletes with similar physical strength and background, but what truly enables one to outperform the other?   The answer is mental.   Your mind and how you think on a day to day basis has an amazing amount of influence on how you perform in life and in competition.   Some of the world’s best athletes such as Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods have attributed their success to mental toughness as the key to their success.   There is no debate that self-confidence is one of the most significant psychological factors related to sports performance.  As you approach a marathon, triathlon, race or any competition, think about what you are thinking about and use your mental strength to help you ultimately achieve your desired win.

There are several things that you can do to improve your mental strength and confidence.   Some of the most beneficial strategies are to join a club for running, triathletes or other designated sports.  Psychologically, through the association and involvement one is more likely to find the connection to other athletes to be a source of great encouragement.  Most experienced athletes in the sport enjoy encouraging and helping others along.   Another component is to set realistic goals; nothing destroys confidence more than setting unrealistic goals and failing to achieve them.  Set goals that are challenging, yet still achievable in a realistic time frame that are immediate, short and long term so the task don’t seem overwhelming.   By putting goals and place it will not only improve your confidence once you achieve them, but by achieving your immediate and short term goals, it will allow you to achieve your long term goals.

For whatever competition you are entering practice scenarios and envision the competition in your mind and how you want it to be.  Make a list of everything you have to do in order to successfully complete the competition and practice common scenarios.  A great method that I use that has helped me in achieving my goals was to create a vision wall of my goals and putting images of those achievements on my wall as if I had already achieved them.  By creating a vision wall and placing it somewhere where I can see it on a day to day basis, allows me to consistently think about my goals and working towards them each and every day.  As you approach competitions and daily challenges in life remember to think about what you are thinking about to beat out your competition in life and in competition.

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12x12 Project (Knoxville, Tenn. Part Two)

As 2011 was winding down, I began to think ahead to 2012. I've always received many requests from other runners that they would like to run with me. I started brainstorming one day while running and thought about that. How could I run with people, make a giving back project and be a part of the community at the same time? So with a little more running and a little more thinking, I decided that I would run with 12 people (selected via application) and each of one them would have to help someone else finish a race of a lesser distance. And each person also had to have a cause they cared about. I primarily wanted to help first time half marathoners, marathoners or a 50K. I would run each step of the race with them and get them across the finish line. And thus the 12x12 Project was born.

Hopefully you read yesterday's Part One. If not, read it so you are up to speed on things :). So this weekend is the first of 12 races I will be running with other runners.

Sunday, April 1, 2012. No April Fool's joke for me and all the other runners! It was time to run the Knoxville Marathon (and they also had a half marathon, marathon relay, and 5K). I didn't sleep all that great so getting up was a little challenging, but once I was up, I felt fine. I had my Gen UCAN, then got picked up at 6:30 a.m. and made our way to the race start line. It was a very foggy morning! I met up with Jay and tried to gage his race expectations. I remember my first marathon quite well and really wanted to put his nerves (if he had any) to rest. It appeared he didn't. His wife and kids were still sleeping so we hung out with all the other runners waiting to start. I've run a lot of races and I never get tired of the excitement in the air. So. Much. Fun.

Soon it was 7:30 a.m. and the waves started to take off for whatever race distance they choose. Jay selected a wave 4 (?) so we crossed the start line a little after 7:30 a.m. The race was chip timed (meaning that your time starts when you cross the mat), so we started our trusty and faithful Garmin's once we crossed the timing mat.

The race course started right off the bat with a nice little uphill. The University of Tennessee band got us up and over it. I cautioned Jay to take the hills easy. I knew we had a lot of hills left to conquer yet. But it's hard to so soon at the start of the race. You are excited and you want to run. The course ran through UT and it was beautiful. And let me just interject here that taking photos while running is not easy (I did it for the majority of the RnR races in 2011). I'm still trying to perfect this potential skill. Ha. We ran along the Tennessee River, up another hill (where I told Jay to take it nice and easy) and then past a record number of churches (remember we are in the south!) and by some lovely homes mansions. Then down through a neighborhood called Sequoyah Hills. This section was fairly hilly, but gorgeous and soon we passed the 10K mark.

It was awesome to have so many neighbors out cheering for us. I always try to give the kids (and adults) high-fives. It gives you a sense of energy and the kids usually enjoy it too. As we approached mile 9, we heard the music and people REALLY cheering for the runners that were in front of us. I knew without looking that we were approaching a hill. And sure enough, as soon as we rounded the bend, there it was. A nice big, ol' hill. I said to Jay "I highly suggest we walk this hill. I want to save your legs for the last 6 miles." Thankfully he agreed and we walked up the hill to high-energy music and soon it was over and we were running again. Just as we were approaching the top of the hill I saw my friend Jeff so we talked for a few brief seconds.

We then ran on the Greenway Trail and it was still foggy. Yes. Fog is good. Sun can wilt the best of runners. The hills were still a part of the course and I was seeing a lot of runners stop and complaining about their knees. Which meant their IT Bands. I asked Jay how his ITB's were and he said fine. Good answer. This section was also really pretty, we passed a little bridge and creek.

The course started to take us back into town which included a few more hills of course :). And the sun also decided to make its appearance. At least the first half was shady! Jay and I took the hills easy coming back to the World's Fair Park and soon 13.1 miles were down! 13.1 to go!

The water stations were well supported and all the volunteers were super friendly. I made sure to thank them all, including the police officers too. I only drink water on a marathon course plus Q Energy Drink at mile 13 and mile 20. And eat bananas and oranges if/when they are offered.

Jay was supposed to see his wife and kids when we ran back through the start area by World's Fair Park and Convention Center, but we never saw them.

I knew the next half would be challenging, so I put on my inspirational hat and kept Jay going. I also always like to encourage the other runners around me. You never know how a simple of word of encouragement can bring hope to someone! Part 3 and the final 13.1 miles tomorrow!

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12x12 Project (Knoxville, Tenn. Part One)

As 2011 was winding down, I began to think ahead to 2012. I've always received many requests from other runners that they would like to run with me. I started brainstorming one day while running and thought about that. How could I run with people, make a giving-back project and be a part of the community at the same time? So with a little more running and a little more thinking, I decided that I would run with 12 people (selected via application) and each of one them would have to help someone else finish a race of a lesser distance. And each person also had to have a cause they cared about. I primarily wanted to help first time half marathoners, marathoners or a 50K. I would run each step of the race with them and get them across the finish line. And thus the 12x12 Project was born.

Fast forward to April 1, 2012 and the first of the 12x12 Project participants - Jay Stancil. This was his first marathon and he was excited just like me! Although this was my 35th (? I've honestly lost track) marathon or ultramarathon distance, the love of running 26.2 miles is still awesome to me. 

I arrived in Knoxville, Tenn. Friday, March 30, 2012 and was greeted by humidity. Having just flown from dry Colorado, I wasn't used to this kind of moisture! The next morning I was pleasantly surprised by how GREEN everything was. March was the driest March in Colorado's history. In fact, when I left Colorado, vicious fires were claiming land, homes and lives. So it was a welcome change to see spring in full bloom!

It was so green, I was almost blinded by the brightness! I took a nice walk to the Knoxville Convention Center at the World's Fair Park. And my eyes found so many different things to take photos of. I love exploring and seeing new towns/cities!

Like this vintage bug. I have a 'thing' for them. This bug is a work in progress and will be used for a future article related to life. But I'm sure you already knew that :).

As I walked to the Knoxville Marathon Expo, it was a lovely, warm Saturday morning. It was great to be alive! The expo was great. Low key, quick bib pickup, fun music, friendly race volunteers everywhere and even a free chair massage. Always a great thing :). Afterwards, I wandered back outside and continued to explore the town. Did I mention it was a beautiful day?! I loved the park in front of the convention center, the flags (I have a 'thing' for flags too) and a kids park. I was searching for a pull-up bar of some sort, but didn't find any. The Tennessee Veterans Memorial was beautiful and sobering at the same time too.

The Market Square was cute and busy with people out and about enjoying the nice spring day. I was on the lookout for healthy food options and found it I did. I had a fresh spring greens salad with fresh red beets and salmon from Cafe 4. ANDI said no to the temptation (big, tall, moist cupcakes) :).

I was also on the lookout for some fresh veggies and after a few hit and misses, I finally found an adorable little market called Just Ripe. They had fresh, local, organic produce (and meat, eggs, dairy). I was delighted to score a sweet potato, kale, green beans, tomato, avocado (obviously not from Knoxville, but still fresh) and Applegate Farms turkey. I would have a fabulous pre-race dinner!

I spent most of the day walking around Knoxville and thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. Even hustling back in order to beat a heavy thunderstorm complete with vicious hail. There is nothing better than to explore a town/city then by foot. IMHO.

In the evening, my host and I went back to the Market Square and Old City and enjoyed watching the sun set behind the smokey mountains. Then it was time to hit the pillow. Knoxville Marathon and pacing Jay to his first marathon finish in the morning!

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Wellness Wednesday

Do you take your wellness seriously? Or do you have a give/take it attitude towards your health? Your health is something you can have a say in. Be it the food you eat (or don't eat), your ability to get your sweat on and of course, your perspective on life. All these things contribute to your wellness and overall quality of life.

According to dictionary.com, the definition of wellness "is the quality or state of being healthy in body and mind, especially as the result of deliberate effort."

Wellness isn't about being skinny, it is about being healthy in body AND mind. Sometimes we get so focused on the body that we forget all about the mind. Our brain controls everything we do. It has the ability to motivate us or discourage us. To forgive or hold on to bitterness. To get up off the couch and be active or continue to sit and watch life pass you by. Life - wellness - begins in your head.

Wellness is more than just eating your green beans, it's putting on that positive attitude each and every day. A positive perspective can change not only your mood, but also those around you. No one likes to be around a negative, grouchy person - not even them! If you are having a less-than-steller attitude, why not start to change that? It might just change your life!

When you are happy, life can take on a whole new meaning and outlook. Being happy doesn't mean that we aren't affected by sadness and tragedy that is all around us, it means that we can be there for the people in the crisis. Happiness is a state of mind or so the saying goes. If that's true, you better make sure that state is the size of Texas and not Rhode Island. Wellness and happiness go hand-in-hand. If you aren't happy, figure out why and take action steps to change that.

Wellness starts in the head. What can you do for your wellness brain today? Stress less, breathe more? Chase away sadness with a happy attitude? Stop comparing yourself to everyone around you? Go spend actual time with friends? Remember we were made for human connection and interaction. The digital world is great, but it can't replace real-life friendships and connection.

Be well - in body and mind!

peace, sweat, love: life

 

photo credit: Harlequeen

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Travel Tuesday (Eating Up In The Air)

I travel frequently. Frequently, as in buying so many plane tickets, I'm an A-list traveler. Code for spending a LOT of time up in the air and in airports. Anyway, I always get a lot of questions on how I eat healthy while being a road warrior. Here are my secrets. 1) Prepare

The few days leading up to my trip (OK, more like a few hours) I plan my meals out, how many days will I be gone, will I have access to any health food stores, farmer's markets, Whole Foods Markets, will I have access to a kitchen? I use Google, store Web sites and Yelp to find and research stores/restaurants in the area.

2) Pack

I actually pack a lot of my food(s). The great thing about plant and earth-based food is that they are packable. Nut and fruit based bars (LARA Bars, KIND Snacks, Bearded Brothers are my standbys), Amazing Grass individual packets of Wheat Grass or Amazing Trio or Superfood.

The second secret are small containers. They are invaluable for chia seeds, my own nut/seed mix, hemp hearts, ground flax seeds and brewers yeast. These are all things I eat on a daily basis. They store easily in my carry-on (I don't check bags) and easy to use. You can even pack a spoon if you need to.

The third secret are small Ziploc bags. You can make individual servings of nuts/dried fruit/seeds or any of the above earth-based food items.

Little containers and Ziploc bags are a staple of eating for health while on the road.

3) Plan

Planning is critical to making sure you eat healthy (and I realize that is a loaded word) on the road. If you know you are weak in a certain area, admit that and only allow yourself to have it one time or if having it just one time causes you to have more, don't have it at all. Hold yourself accountable. When I eat out, I make wise choices. If I am by myself, I will pick out a place where I have options. If I am with other people and the decision isn't mine, I pray for a Hail Mary. Kidding. I just do the best with what I'm given. For example, the other night the others wanted pizza. How does a person who doesn't eat grains, dairy or most meat, eat at a pizza place?! I didn't know, but I was going to find out! I was BEYOND thankful that this place had some options. It just took a little asking on my part. I ended up with a fresh veggie salad with straight tuna. Now, the veggie salad wasn't iceberg lettuce (no nutritional value), BUT fresh carrots, red cabbage, red beets, romaine lettuce, sprouts and from a can/jar black olives and artichoke hearts and I asked for avocado. Always ask for avocado. It's a healthy fat and you can usually count on it being fresh. They will probably up-charge you for it, but that's OK. I asked for no cheese and no bread and a pitcher of water. (And keep in mind that I just ran a marathon too.)

The key with eating for health while up in the air is being being prepared, packing and planning. And of course will power and dedication and commitment. Visualize the body you are working for in your head. Keep that in memory when you are tempted to have that cupcake!

Don't use the excuse that eating for health while traveling is hard- it. can. be. done. You just have to want it!

 

(Now. Disclaimer. When I visit Italy (TBD), my healthy eating habits may be a bit different :))

 

photo credit: woodleywonderworks

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Fitness Friday (A Core Runner)

It's Friday, and Fitness Friday at that! If you're a runner, are you training more than just logging miles? Your core is important too. So here is a core routine for you to incorporate into your running training plan. And if you're not a runner, that's not an excuse to not train your core!

Your core is more than just a six pack, it's your glutes, hips, hamstrings, lower back. A strong core is essential to your running performance and injury prevention. So a good standard core routine includes working all the core muscles! Here is one that I like to do at least three to five times a week. If you are new to these exercises, start off with one to two times per week and then build up from there.

The exercises:

  • Plank
  • Side plank
  • Bridge
  • One leg bridge
  • Superman
  • Wall squat

The workout:

Plank: Get on your forearms, back level with hips and neck (no spiking the hips up!). Depending on your current level of strength, start by holding for 30 seconds or 60 seconds. If your form starts to break, stop. It is better to have correct form then to finish the move. You should be shaking and feeling your abs, legs, etc., work to keep you stable. Challenge: work up to holding for minutes!

Side plank: Get on your side, forearm parallel to your feet.  Don't let your hips sag! Depending on your current level of strength, start by holding for 30 seconds or 60 seconds. As with the above advice, if your form starts to break, stop and remember how long you did hold it for! Challenge: work up to holding for minutes.

Bridge: Lie on your back, feet flat on floor. Bridge up so that only your shoulders, head and feet are touching the floor. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds.

One leg bridge: Just like bridge, lie on your back, feet flat on floor. Bridge up as with bridge. Lift one leg off the floor and while keeping hips level and not sagging, lift leg up and down (don't touch the floor) 10 times. Repeat on other side.

Superman: Lie on your tummy, arms outstretched in front you. Lift your upper body up and feet off the floor. Don't squeeze your butt! Hold for 15 seconds and work up to 10 reps.

Wall squat: With your back against a wall, walk your feet out so that your quads are in a table-top like position. Your knees should be over heels (not your toes). Your entire back (low back especially) should be flat against the wall. Put your hands above your head. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat up to 5 times. Challenge: work on increasing your time and reps.

You're on your way to a stronger core and running body!

 

photo credit: lululemon athletica

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Winter Mountaineering Adventure Recap (More Than Just Endurance)

Date: March 3, 2012 Peak: Spread Eagle Peak (13,423 feet)

Location: Sangre de Cristo Mountains in Colorado

Weather: 0 degrees on the ridge with 30 mph winds making it -25F degree windchill. Translation= bitter, bitter cold.

Character building on the scale of 1-10: 97

The day began at 12:30 a.m., after a 2.5 hour nap. Good thing I'm used to ultra training/racing! A few hours previously I made sweet potatoes mixed with chia seeds and hemp hearts and also energy triangles (almond flour, coconut flour, a little hemp and coconut milk, unsweetened coconut, chia seeds, ground flax seed, coconut sugar). So good!

Matt picked me up at 1:30 a.m., and then met Jed at the Park n' Ride to drive down to the trail head. Three hours later we arrived and met the other people that were also climbing with us. There were 12 (10 guys/2 girls) of us. Some VERY impressive climbers/mountaineers. The other girl (also named Sarah) has climbed all 638 peaks (584 13ers and 54 14ers). Today's plan was to climb five peaks. Insert laugh.

If you are like me, you're probably wondering what in the world a "13er" or "14er" is. I didn't know what a 13er or 14er was before I moved to Colorado so don't feel bad :). A 13er or 14er refers to the elevation of the mountain summit/peak. So the views are quite breathtaking - literally. Coloradans love their peaks!

And from an ultra running point of view, climbers/mountaineers are very similar. The only difference is the gear (especially in the winter). We are both up for an entire day (24 hours), both sports are physically taxing (exhausting!), challenging, and the people are pretty friendly. Both groups have their own unique qualities and it's a lot of fun to be surrounded by some seriously awesome athletes!

So at 4:45 a.m. in the freezing cold, we bundled up, ready for the adventure ahead. Little did I know what I was in for. Last summer I climbed one 14er (an easy one) and two 13ers on the same day (also known as peak bagging). Let's say right now that winter climbing is a totally different beast than summer climbing. While my fitness/endurance level is pretty good and my pain tolerance is quite high, today would teach me that me endurance has nothing to do with this sport. Gear does.

With our headlights on, snowshoes strapped on, we began the trek up the mountain. I was really excited. I love adventure. We started at a little over 9,000 feet, so we had a long climb ahead of us. My snowshoes were not staying on, so TWICE another climber had to help me secure them. Cold hands and a speck of light doesn't make it an easy task. There was some confusion over which summit route to take, but it was finally decided to take the left route. I'm sure it had a name, I just don't know it.

Now you would never guess there was a trail. Just a forest full of trees and snow, which means someone had to "break trail." Thankfully, that was NOT me. I was doing good enough to just keep breathing panting gasping (OK, maybe I'm exaggerating a tad). The faster climbers obviously broke the trail. At this point the other Sarah passed me and I told her this was my first winter climb. She asked me why I picked such a hard one (this should've been my warning signal). Now I was worried. I asked her how many she had done, and she replied "a few." My gut was telling me she was being WAY too modest so I told replied "it's OK, you can brag." I knew her reply, because when people ask me how many marathons or ultras or or how far I run, I reply the exact same way. She laughed and was soon out of sight.

Now let me attempt to describe the "trail." The trail is on a side of mountain cliff, feet of snow, weaving in and out of trees. So you're trying to navigate how in the world you're going to climb up a few feet with snowshoes on and not fall back down. Oh, and keep breathing too. A few trees were down in the "path," and trying to step over them made me feel like Bigfoot. As the morning wore on, I turned around a few times to watch the sun rise. It was beautiful. If I wasn't trying to keep warm I would've taken a few photos.

By this time, my feet had gone in/out of numbness and were freezing. I tried to ignore the pain. My hands were a different matter. As I using trees to propel myself up the cliffs, my three layers of gloves became wet. My hands began to throb then sharp, stabbing pain. I was almost in tears. I shook, clapped and rubbed them (which I learned later is NOT what you are supposed to do) and tried to keep moving. The pain gradually subsided. Getting out of the tree line was exhausting. I had no idea how I was going to make up the snow-banked cliff. Looking straight up scared the crap out of me. As if I needed anything more to take my breath away. I thought about Ed Viesturs and I have even more respect for his accomplishments. As I was inching myself up the mountain, I knew five peak summits were out of the question. I didn't even know if I was going to do one. There were a few times where I was thrown on my back and I wondered what in the world had I gotten myself into.

With my hands in a sad state of affairs, I couldn't unzip my backpack to get any food. And my water hose had already frozen ages ago. I knew I needed to keep hydrated, so I periodically ate some (clean) snow.

There was another climber, Brian, who we had been leap-frogging and we finally caught up together. He was getting ready to dump his frozen water out so he could reduce his weight and I gratefully took some frozen sips. There were a couple of very difficult spots where I had absolutely no clue how I was going to get up them. It took MANY tries, but I finally managed to do it. Funny how you think you can't do something, but if you want it bad enough, you'll do it. Might take falling down and picking yourself up, surveying the damage, and then moving on. Fascinating.

So when Brian caught up to me, I was at a part of the mountain that kept wanting me to give up and go back to the car. Every time I tried to get up, I slid back down. I probably spent at least 30 minutes trying to get up this itty bitty little section. Brian finally suggested that we take our snowshoes off and put on our MicroSpikes. I was ready to ditch the snowshoes. Moving giant feet up a mountain side was not a piece of cake. But it was still not easy going. He used his ice ax to make "steps" for me, which was SO nice. I got on my hands and knees for the hundredth time and crawled up the snow cliff. Why am I doing this again?

Remember too, that besides your body weight, you are lugging other weight - like your clothes/gear, including a backpack. I probably had an extra 50 pounds on me. Talk about a workout!

I remember asking Brian if I should just give up and he said no way- we're almost to the tree line. So I kept going with only God's grace. I inched my way up and finally the trees were gone and we were now in full head on wind exposure. We put our ski goggles on so the snow & wind wouldn't blind us. We carefully zig-zagged our way across the side of the mountain to the first ridge. It was amazing to see all the other peaks in their full glory. The snow made them majestic!

I was the one breaking trail this time, but at least I could see where I was going (I'm sure there is a life analogy in this). So up we went. My feet were still on fire (a different kind of fire than a month ago) and my hands were not in the best state of affairs either. We finally made it to the first ridge and sat down. With the wind whipping around us, we both eat and drank a little. My first food of the day and my second sip of the day. Because my hands were stiff, I couldn't get to anything previously during the day. It was around noon and that meant I had gone seven hours with barely anything to eat or drink, I was surprised I was still standing. As much as I wanted to stay sitting, I knew we had to get moving. The wind was NOT helping matters any. We later learned that is was 0 degrees and 30-plus mph winds. I thought I was going to blow off the mountain at least 177 times.

By this time, my hands were really, really, really bad. I was seriously considering calling it a day and heading back down. I've read a few mountaineering books and I remember a few things Ed Viesturs said. No. 1: Getting to the summit is only half the battle; you still have to get back down. No. 2: Always be safe. With the wind whipping me around like a kite, I was seriously questioning my safety. No. 3: Be off the summit by 12 noon. That had already come and gone. Lovely.

My hands were not in good shape and and I still had at least another hour to the summit. We met a few of the climbers on their way down and they all had just done one peak. My spirits picked up a little at that news. Matt gave me something to drink, said to be safe and he continued his descent and Brian and I continued our ascent. It was tough going. Picking our way across the ridge is not an easy task. We kept climbing. And my hands kept throbbing. Three more guys were on their way back down and Jed gave me some hand warmers and another pair of gloves. I trudged on. There was a false summit which totally demoralized my spirits.

With each step I took my hands (fingers mainly) were beyond the point of throbbing. It was full on PAIN. Pain producing tears. I fell down on a pile of rocks and knew I was done. I yelled to Brian and he came over and I told him my fingers were frostbitten. With only about 200 feet to go to the summit, it was heartbreaking to have to turn around, but getting back down was the first order of business. Brian was incredible and gave me his gloves (which I am buying a pair for next time I embark on this type of adventure). We were practically hurled down the mountain by the wind. Going down is just as hard as going up. Your footing is dependent on if the rock decides to stay or move. Talk about a little scary.

My only goal was to make it back to the car/trail head as quickly as possible. Ed was right. Making summit is only half the battle. Little did I know that the day was about to turn worse.

After finally falling down the mountain, we were approaching the tree line and the trail. Brian and I had made a mental note of where we had emerged from the tree line earlier in the day. To make matters worse, the wind had blown so much snow around that we couldn't even find the others foot prints. We were chin deep in snow and I was wondering if I was going to drown in the snow. Such a lovely feeling. With each footstep I took I had no idea how far I would fall. At times my legs were one direction and my head another direction. One leg shouldn't be by your head. At some points, I just rolled down the cliff like a panda bear right into a tree and prayed I wouldn't hit head first. You had NO control over the snow. None. It was kind of frighting to say the least.

Brian and I tried to find the trail head, but no such luck. We went left and then right. Breaking trail in chin deep snow is beyond the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. There were a few moments of wondering if SAR (Search And Rescue) would have to come find us. The pain in my hands was slowly beginning to subside, but my feet were another issue. I didn't have gators (another rookie mistake) and so hours of snow had accumulated inside my snow pant leg and skin. I knew I was getting cut with every move I made. I tried to put the pain out of my head and keep focused on the task at hand: getting back alive and in one piece.

Finally, Brian said we had two options. Keep going right, praying and hoping we would find the trail and abandon our snowshoes or go left and go down the creek ditch where we would eventually hit the trail. I voted for option 2. We had been going across the snow which was exhausting and we were making no ground. So we headed over to the ditch area and hoped for the best. I got to practice my glasading skills (if you can call them that). The snow was so thick that it kept piling up between my legs. So I kept having to push it away. Standing up was only worse. Not knowing if you were going to sink past your head or only to your waist can certainly be fearful. We slowly inched our way back down the mountain.

There were a few times that Brian was concerned about avalanches. One time Brain made a step and was suspended over air. We quickly moved left. We took turns breaking trail. I don't think I have ever used so many different muscles in my life at one time. It was a very good thing I was in shape. Having to lift your leg feet above your head so you could pick up your other leg and move a foot takes a lot of strength, determination, and energy. A few times I just rolled down, backpack and all. I'm sure it was a sight to behold. Soon we were in the thick of the forest and becoming one with trees was now a natural thing.

We kept moving forward the best we could praying we could make it out before dark (and alive). I was still in major pain, but when you are just trying to survive, your instincts turn off the pain meter. I was focused on making it down in one piece and no SAR call. After a few hours of this, we finally hit the trail. That was a nice perk to the day. It was still tough going because we didn't have snow shoes. Because I was lighter than Brian I kept falling way more then he did. It was so hard to take a step and not know if you were going to sink or not. The ice that had formed between my skin and pant leg kept reminding me that I still had a leg. I didn't even want to look at the damage.

At around 4 p.m. - now 11 hours of relentless forward motion - I finally stopped and said I needed to eat and drink something. So I had some of my energy triangles. We had no idea if we were minutes or hours from emerging into the promised land. We kept going on and then my left leg fell and I heard my knee pop. It really, really, really hurt. At first, I thought I tore it and SAR would have to be called, but I propped myself up and dug my leg out and hobbled on. Falling in the quad deep in the snow with almost each step I took. I never want to do that again.

Almost four hours later, my hands were finally beginning to calm down. Praise the Lord. Brian asked for his gloves back and I had this little bitty liners on for hand protection. Thankfully we knew we were almost done. We remembered different landmarks. That was encouraging.

And then finally, FINALLY! We were out of the deep, white, forest and making the way to the promised land, aka: car. When we reached the cars and the other climbers we all clapped and rejoiced. I said hallelujah and Praise The LORD. I then began to survey the damage. See photo for the proof. Brian told me that he was proud of me. He said most girls would have cried and gotten upset when we found out we were off route (aka, lost). But I kept it together and was stoic. I said thank you. Must be my ultra training :).

There were two other climbers who thankfully were able to bring our snowshoes back down with them. I hobbled over to the car and scraped my snow pants off, peeled my wet shoes and socks off and tried not to scream in pain as I did so. It is fascinating to me that you can make yourself get through some pretty awful stuff and then when it is done, your body realizes that you are finished (torturing yourself) and all the things you didn't notice before are now coming to light. My body was beyond wrecked. They all asked me if this was harder than running a 100 miler and my answer was YES. The main reason was that I didn't have the right gear for the weather and conditions. Gators, boots and gloves. Lesson learned, but I hope it isn't too late.

We went into town and the guys had pizza while I ate my sweet potatoes with hemp hearts and chia seeds. I was still shaking and couldn't get warm. I pulled my socks off and was shocked to see my left toes purple and black. I took a deep breathe and asked the others what I should I do. I stumbled over to the kitchen and got a tiny bowl of lukewarm water and crammed my toes in it. As the feeling started to come back, pain shot through my body. I almost fell out of my chair it was so intense. I have officially found new limits of pushing my body.

Finally we made the three hour drive back to Denver. It was a long ride. I was SO tired. Being up for almost 24 hours, 12 hours of that with intense climbing/surviving. I used every muscle in my body and then some. It was a full body workout times a million.

After getting back home close to 11pm, I scraped myself to the bathroom to get a warm bath. I had to help my feet warm up. I was still having sharp, shooting pain, but I was told that was a good sign as that meant the blood was trying to circulate again. But it sure hurt something fierce!

I collapsed into bed and promptly fell asleep (and prayed for no nightmares). The next morning I woke up to see my left ankle black and purple, very stiff and very swollen. Moving it was beyond the question. And the cut was way deeper then I had originally thought. My left knee where I felt the "pop" wasn't fairing much better either. And my fingers? The blood was trying to come back and everything I did HURT. You don't realize how much you use a body part till you can't or it REALLY hurts if you do. It hurt to type, turn the water on to wash my hands, hold my water cup, turn the door handle, eat- you name it, it hurt. I never knew how much my fingers did before then. I will never take them for granted again.

I spent the day trying to recover, drank a bunch water and replenishing my body with nutrients to help heal my body. And Amazing Green Wheat Grass is magic. I was feeling rundown and within hours after drinking it, I was feeling much better. I love how your body can heal itself with real food.

I've tried to think back over those 12 LONG hours. Many words come to mind, but I think a few of them sum it up well. Tough. Strong. Courageous. Insane. Freezing. Bitter cold. Character building indeed. I've done many challenging athletic things in my life, but this took the cake, ice cream, and kale chips. I guess almost losing your limbs qualifies (insert laugh & smile).

As of this writing, I can hardly walk, my left ankle is very swollen & stiff and dark purple about 3 inches in height around bottom of calf and top of ankle. We're thinking it is a bad sprain + frostbite. My toes are still numb and I'm getting used to not feeling my fingers.

I learned a few things and because this adventure report is already over 3734 words, I'll save it for another day :). In the meantime, never under estimate a mountain summit. And your will to survive.

peace, sweat, love: life.

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What's In Your Shopping Cart?

Each Saturday, we try to give you tips, food suggestions and recipes for the coming week ahead. I've received a few requests on Brewer's Yeast recently so I thought we would feature that today. Brewer's Yeast is a real-food based nutritional supplement (not a pill form). It is made from a fungus (don't let that gross you out) called Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Brewer's Yeast is recovered by the beer-brewing process. It should also be noted that Brewer's Yeast is not the same as nutritional yeast or baker's yeast. Brewer's Yeast is a fantastic source of minerals like chromium (helps body maintain normal blood sugar levels), selenium (antioxidant, helps immune system and regulates thyroid), protein and B-complex vitamins.

The B-complex vitamins include B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6 (pyridoxine), B9 (folic acid) and H or B7 (biotin). All of these vitamins help break down carbohydrates, fats and proteins, which give the body energy. They also support the nervous system, help maintain the muscles used for digestion and also play a role in keeping the skin, hair, eyes, mouth and liver healthy. It's also been used in studies to reduce LDL ("bad") cholesterol and raise HDL ("good") cholesterol. And some studies have shown it has helped to reduce body fat and maintain a healthy weight. Talk about a supplement!

Depending on brand, its taste has a nutty flavor. I personally love the taste, but if you aren't used to it, it might take a little getting used to. I also like it that is great source of protein. I buy the Solgar powder brand. It has the best taste in my opinion. You can find the Solgar Brewer's Yeast at Whole Foods and other natural food stores.

You can sprinkle it on eggs, sweet potatoes, salad - any dish really. I would recommend that you use on a moist or liquid dish vs dry as the Brewer's Yeast is dry to begin with. Try mixing it with applesauce to start with. You can also mix with a little water. But I think it tastes better on food. Or you can try mixing it with Hemp Milk or Coconut Milk too.

And if you have a dog, Brewer's Yeast is also great for them. They also need vitamins and minerals just like we do. Brewer's Yeast also helps dogs to repel fleas.

The photo shows a little glass dish of the Brewer's Yeast, so you know what it looks like :).

Eat for health!

(And if you are reading this on Saturday, March 3, 2012, I'm climbing/snowshoeing/mountaineering/panting my way up FIVE 13ers peaks!)

 

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Fitness Friday (Brandi)

Every Friday, we feature a real-life person who has embraced a healthy lifestyle from a former sedentary, unhealthy life. We hope their story inspires you to start living and breathing a healthy life! Today's feature is Brandi Heinz who is training for the Wisconsin Marathon on May 5, 2012. She is also a participant of the 12x12 Project. We are so excited for her!

Sarah: When did you start running? Brandi: I started running in Junior High - thank goodness, because I did not have eye-hand coordination. I tried soccer, softball, volleyball ... no success there. I joined the track team and started out wanting to be a hurdler or sprinter, but I wasn't very fast. One day, the coach asked for volunteers for the 1600m run and no one raised their hand. I volunteered, and I believe I took third place in the race. I was hooked!

Sarah: What do you like best about running? Brandi: When I was younger, I liked running for the mid-distance and 5K races, then strictly for fitness. Now, it's a great outlet for stress and a very healthy hobby. I love having another race on the horizon to train for, and I look forward to Saturday runs with my running club. I like that it's something I can do alone or with people, anywhere. And I even sort of like that people look at me like I'm crazy when I tell them how far I ran. :)

Sarah: You just ran the Austin Half Marathon this past weekend. What was that experience like? Brandi: The Austin Half Marathon is the biggest, toughest, hilliest half marathon I've run - yet I still ran my personal best. I really enjoyed myself during the race. They had live music throughout the course, and the fan support was amazing! The ninth mile marker was lined with Livestrong supporters: walls of yellow on either side, cheering and blaring Black Eyed Peas, high-fiving us. I ran this race with my two sisters, so it was really special to share that experience with them. We even met Bart Yasso during the expo. He was awesome - gave us some great advice for the race (like how to handle all those hills)!

Sarah: You live in Chicago; do you run outdoor or inside during the winter months? Brandi: This is the first year I've ran outside, and it has made a big difference! Joining a running club gives me people to run with at night and during the snowy days, so I always feel safe. Since I've continued running as the weather changed, I've never felt like to was difficult to get used to the weather. I never consistently ran during the winter months in the past because the treadmill was boring. I'm really proud that I've kept it up this winter - I love telling people when I've ran 10 miles in the snow!

Sarah: You are also training for your first marathon (YAY!), how has your training been going? Brandi: I feel like it is just starting, since I had my half marathon milestone that I've been working towards. On my way back from Austin, I mapped out my marathon training plan and realized it's only 10 WEEKS AWAY! I'm taking this week off, then next week I'll go right back into it with a 10 mile run. Over the coming weeks I'll run my farthest distance runs I've ever done, getting up to a 20-miler. I'm excited and nervous at the same time!

Sarah: Girls On The Run is a cause you care about. Can you share with us a little bit about what you do with them? Brandi: I've volunteered with Girls on the Run in a few different roles, but my favorite is being a running buddy. Girls on the Run is a non-profit organization that encourages young women to lead healthy, confident lives through an after school curriculum that culminates in a 5K run. As a running buddy, you run with a girl on a training run, then at the race. My first buddy was a 5th grader who was FAST! She kicked my butt during the race, I believe we were the first group from her school to finish, and it was amazing! She was so encouraging to every other girl out there, whether they were right behind her or walked most of the distance. My second buddy was a third grader who hadn't run before. She was very nervous and didn't want a buddy, but five minutes into our training run, she was chatting up a storm. We even Skyped a couple of times before the 5K. Again, it was amazing to watch her encourage her fellow runners and come out of her shell. Running one of the Girls on the Run 5Ks is like nothing I've experienced! Within five minutes I had my hair sprayed multiple colors, writing on my face and arms, and my race bib decorated. It's such a fulfilling organization to work with.

Sarah: And for fun, what is the first you want to do when you finish the Wisconsin Marathon? Brandi: Take a picture with my medal and share it with everyone on Facebook and Twitter! Then, maybe have some chocolate milk and an ice bath :). I love sharing my running journey online because I hope that it inspires other people to try something new. If you would've asked me a year ago if I would run a marathon, I would've looked at you like you're crazy! And now, here I am ... and I sort of think I AM crazy. But after talking to all the different people who have ran a marathon, I truly do believe anyone can do it if they have the right mindset and people around them.

 

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7 Ways to Have a Healthy Heart

Did you know that February is National Heart Health month (America)? If you did, congratulations and if you didn't, well now you know! Did you also know that heart disease is the number one killer of women according to the American Heart Association? More women die of heart disease than cancer! And both of these diseases can be prevented through the food we eat/drink (or don't eat/drink) and exercise.

Here are 10 ways to have a healthy heart - if you are a woman or a guy.

1) Sweat! Get out of bed and do something active! Run, swim, walk, yoga, Pilates, lift weights, CrossFit, Kickboxing. Something that will leave you feeling alive and ready to have a fantastic day!

2) H2O! Make sure your glass or water bottle is always handy. Drink water all day long. The benefits of hydration are huge. Clearer skin, less fatigue, naturally moisturizes, detoxes ... go drink up!

3) Eat Earth Based Foods! This is such an important one. Limit or avoid processed junk (I refuse to call it food) all together. Buy as fresh as possible (farmer's markets are a great option). The less chemicals, food dyes, preservatives and nitrates the better. Straight from the earth (soil, trees, water) are the best option.

4) Be Happy! This may sound like a pie-in-the-sky thing, but it's not. Being happy is good - no GREAT - for your heart. Your perspective can make or break you. Choose - decide to be happy!

5) Forgive! This might be the hardest thing out of the list to do. It can be easier to be angry, bitter, hurt or mean. It takes daily work to forgive those who have wronged us. And sometimes we have to forgive ourselves too.

6) Slow down! Life isn't about how fast you cross the finish line, it's about who you help along the way. Help someone.

7) Breathe! Take a chill pill! Smell the roses around you. Take a nap.

Go live with a healthy heart!

peace, sweat, love: life

 

photo credit: quilting2009

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40 Days of Not Giving Up

Today marks the first day of Lent and also marks the day that a lot of people give something up. Chocolate, drinking, candy ... kind of reminds me of Jan. 1. But sadly, the traditional meaning (prayer, repentance, fasting, etc) of Lent is usually forgotten. So this year, instead of giving something up, why not DO something good - something positive? Let's face it, the things that we are attempting to give up probably shouldn't be a part of our life to begin with.

So here are a list of ways to make a difference the next 40 days (and hopefully forever). Pick one or 10. Just pick something that you will be able to do every day. Leave a comment below for what you picked!

1) Give someone a compliment

2) Pray for a struggling friend(s) for five minutes before you start your day

3) Give your daily beverage money to a cause like World Vision or Blood Water: Mission

4) Forgive instead of being bitter

5) Send a note card (yes, snail mail)

6) Read a Lent and Easter plan from YouVersion

7) Invite someone to sweat with you (run, yoga, gym, etc)

8) Eat a green vegetable (kale, spinach, cucumber)

9) Don't beat yourself up

10) Think positive

11) Drink only water

12) Wake up happy

13) Smile intentionally

14) Pray instead of venting online

15) Be thankful for what you have instead of complaining

16) Do five pushups

17) Get in 10,000 steps

18) Speak kindly of everyone

19) Hold plank for 30 seconds

20) Breathe in, breathe out when you feel stressed, anxious or nervous

21) Call a friend or family member

What will you do to make the 2012 Lent season a positive one?

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How I Eat (Part 3)

Right now we are in a series called How I Eat. Today is part 3. The last two articles I wrote I gave you an overview of my food journey, my opinions & personal beliefs on food. And by now you know what I eat and what I don't eat. If you are new, here is a recap.
What I Do Eat/Drink
  • Fresh veggies (organic where/when possible)
  • Fresh fruit (organic where/when possible)
  • Nuts (and occasional nut milks/cheeses)
  • Meat/fish (organic, nitrate-free, farm raised)
  • Earth based supplements (hemp hearts, brewers yeast, chia seeds, flax seed oil, etc)
  • Water (herbal tea on occasion)
  • Eggs

What I Don’t Eat/Drink

  • Grains/legumes (beans, rice, wheat, corn, oats, etc)
  • Dairy
  • Sugar
  • Juice, coffee, alcohol, milk, sports drinks
  • Pasta, bread, cereal,
  • Most canned, boxed, packaged food

Now I am an endurance athlete and recently just attempted to run my second 100 miler ultramarathon. I've seen a lot of aid stations in my short years of running ultramarathons and it always baffles me the type of food they have out. From pizza to quesadillas to potato chips to gatorade to candy to ice cream to Gatorade to Ramen Noodles (yes the broth is a great pick-me-up at 1am, but watch the video below) ...the buffet is plentiful. NOTE: the food at aid stations has nothing to do with the wonderful volunteers that man them. They are wonderful.

I've been reading countless race recaps this past week and enjoying the tales, but the one common thread I've been seeing is that from the fast 100milers to the slower 50 mile & 100 mile finishers/starters is that they had stomach/digestion problems. I want to reach through the computer and share with them how the right foods will help them and how the wrong foods will hinder you!! But since I can't, I hope they will read this.

Here is a point to ponder and think about on your next long run. If you have to take antacids, Pepto-Bismol, or Imodium to control the issues that you are having, you are masking the problem, not treating it. If the foods/drinks you are putting in your body are fighting you, there is a reason. The "foods" we are eating are processed foods, not whole/real foods. If you haven't yet watched this video from a TEDx talk, please do so now. It will (hopefully) change the way you eat and drink.....by now you should be banning Gatorade from your life forever!!

To recap what the video showed, Brilliant Blue FCF (AKA: Blue 1) is made from a  synthetic dye made from aromatic hydrocarbons from petroleum. 95% of the dye can be found in feces. Now if that won't stop you from drinking the stuff I don't know what will!

So, if you are drinking Gatorade because you workout, running a race, or just for the heck of it, you might want to strongly reconsider drinking something else. But will I drink? Well, you can make your own electrolytes by a simple mix of water, pure cane sugar, salt, salt substitute, and baking soda. Veggies & fruits like potatoes and avocados are also great sources of electrolytes.

What is an electrolyte? A balance of  sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, chloride, hydrogen phosphate and hydrogen carbonate. Make your own or get in real food.

Back to ultra running food. Nutrition plays a HUGE role in running 50 miles, 61 miles or 100 miles. If runners actually put thought into the food they will eat while training and racing, they just not have issues. I remember feeling so sick during my first 100 mile ultramarathon in 2009. Now I feel like I have pretty good handle on what to eat/ what to avoid. Of course I am a work in progress and I'm always learning. I spent a month planning my race day nutrition. I made food I would eat. I knew what was in the food I would eat.

You shouldn't have to feel sick during a race or even in daily life. Have heartburn? What are you eating? Have indigestion? What are you eating? What aren't you eating? Like I always say, our body wasn't designed to digest chemicals, food dyes, additives, and preservatives. Fake, modified food. Eat real food. Eat real, fresh food.

During my 100 miler attempt I ate sweet potatoes that I made. With grated fresh ginger (helps w/ nausea), sea salt, cinnamon, a little honey, chia seeds, and hemp hearts. All real food. Homemade. I had pure, organic nut bars (four or less ingredients), avocado, oranges dipped in salt (electrolytes), potatoes dipped in salt (electrolytes), water (with Q Energy) and Gen UCAN. I stayed away from all processed "food". I have to say I never felt better. I encourage you to try it!

The food you eat and don't eat is a vital part of your life. Eat like crap, feel like crap. Eat for health, be healthy.

If you are running an upcoming ultramarathon and want help with a food plan, please let me know. I'm happy to help you!

peace, sweat, love: life

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