Monthly Archives: June 2015

New Running Shoes!

I just got new running shoes!! These bad boys are the Hoka Clifton 2’s.

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I’ll admit right off the bat, they look a little strange. A couple of years ago, no one knew of Hokas. Then, some ultramarathoners started wearing them. Now, they are a very trusted, tried, and true long distance shoe (yes, I did rhyme on purpose there, sorry!)

The Hokas look super heavy, but are actually extremely light, lighter than any of my other shoes. They fit a narrow foot well, and they’ve got a 50% drop. This means that if you place them on the ground and pick up and drop the toe, they rock forward. It’s like they want me to run.

The bottoms have a ton of cushion, but Hoka also makes another version that’s more cushioned if you prefer. They’re perfect for my midfoot striking, but I’ve read some other reviews online of people who heelstrike using them and loving them too.

They also don’t wear out as quickly as some shoes – you can get around 500 miles from these, although of course that will depend on where you’re running and how you’re treating them. If you do decide to get these, don’t worry about wear you see on the tread.

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This is the bottom of my shoes after 6 miles. I seriously freaked out because of that wear on those upper white sections, thinking I would tear through these in no time. But that wear is normal for Hokas. The bottom material is so light that it does wear like that, but the cushion, the crucial part, sticks around for a while.

And the best part? They were less expensive than a lot of other shoes I tried on. I was expecting to have to pay a lot for shoes this great, and willing to do so, but these Hokas met every criterion. After putting in 35 miles on them, I’m pretty confident that these Hokas are here to stay.

The one caution I will put in is that these shoes have some height to them. That takes just a little getting used to. If you tend to drag your feet at the end of a run, you might find yourself tripping in these. But, per my experience, adjusting to the height is well worth it for these!

As a result of my new shoes, I wanted to share some shoe reflections… or should I say sole/soul reflections?

1) It’s good to be picky.

The wrong shoe can mean the difference between a good, pain-free run and a run that causes anything from blisters and black toenails to ankle pain, knee pain, plantar fasciitis, achilles tendonitis and more. If you’re going and getting fitted for a shoe, don’t buy the shoe the salesperson thinks is best for you. Take their wisdom and expertise into account, but also take into account how the shoe feels to you. You’re the one who’s going to be running in it.

2) Don’t be afraid of buying the more expensive shoe.

It’s okay to buy the $130+ pair of shoes rather than the $30 Target brand. It’s an investment in your health. Of course, if inexpensive sneakers work for you, more power to you. As for me, I bought new shoes at Target, developed ankle pain, and ended up shelling out the equivalent of nicer shoes to go to Physical Therapy. Buying nicer shoes from the start would have saved me time, money, and pain. Now, I go straight to a running store.

If you’re in the Atlanta area, I recommend Big Beach Running Company. They are super friendly, reasonably priced, know their stuff, and are willing to help you with anything. I’ve walked in several times with a running question, chatted, and then left. Of course, I make sure to patronize them with my business when I need to buy shoes/gear/nutrition.

3) Replace your shoes often.

The general rule is that you should replace your shoes every 300-500 miles. Of course, this is going to vary based on how you run, where you run, and what kind of shoes you have. But I really don’t recommend tacking on an extra 50 miles to a shoe just to save money. While your wallet might thank you, your body won’t….. which might lead to worse wallet problems down the road.

If you don’t keep track of how many miles your shoes have, a good rule of thumb is this: if you run 3 times a week, replace your shoes 3 times a year. 4 times a week, 4 times a year. And so on. This rule won’t work if your weekly runs are, for example, 1 mile, or 20 miles, but generally it plays out.

4) You won’t always see signs of wear.

Your shoes are likely going to be worn and ready for replacement before the tread is completely gone. This is because you’re buying a shoe for so much more than the tread. While you need that tread, you also need the cushion, the elasticity, of the shoe. That takes a pounding after hundreds of miles, and you won’t see it just from looking. But you may start feeling it in your knees or feet.

5) Don’t be afraid to try new things.

We runners get really set in our ways. We know what works for us – we have to. We have to know that bananas work for us before a run but apples don’t, or that gu is the only thing we can ingest during a long run, or that we’ll go crazy without a running partner, or that we only like running in the morning/evening.

All these things are important to know and to trust yourself on. But there’s also something to be said for branching out and trying something new. Would I have ever picked the Hokas on my own? No. Are they the greatest shoe I’ve ever run in? Quite possibly. Some things are worth trying.

6) You must get good sock too.

Good shoes without good socks will lead to blister-filled misery just as much as bad shoes. Do yourself – and your feet! – a favor and invest in some good socks. I like these. They’ve got good cushion and breathe really well.

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Wearing these socks has taken me from being a girl who runs despite blisters to a girl who runs just to spite blisters!

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10 Things that are Better to Watch than Your Weight

We are told all the time that we need to be watching our weight. Not to mention how ego-centric that is, there’s a lot of better things out there to watch.

1. Watch a sunrise.

Get up early. Stop. Find the skyline and breathe. Allow beauty and awe and peace to wash over you. Repeat often.

2. Watch how you treat others.

May you build up, strengthen, and encourage.

3. Watch a documentary.

Learn something new.

4. Watch a child at play.

And see pure, un-ADULT-erated imagination in all its colors.

5. Watch an old couple walking down the street, hand in hand.Still flaming after 40 years. Sadly, this is becoming rarer and rarer these days.

6. Watch a young couple on their first date of many.

The spark is there. The smiles are there. Life is there.

7. Watch how you use your time.

They say you can’t take words back, but really, every action, once done, is done. You can’t cross the same river twice. You, and maybe also the river, will be different.

8. Watch what you say.

Words affect both the listener and the speaker.

9. Watch out for those who can’t watch out for themselves.

Go volunteer at a food bank. Don’t be afraid to speak up if you see a crime happening. Speak out for the marginalized.

10. Watch Netflix

This is still infinitely more productive than watching your weight.

What would you rather watch?

Soy Ginger Salmon

I love a good challenge, but sometimes I need a meal that’s super easy without a lot of fuss. Sometimes I have time for fuss. Often I don’t.

So without further ado, I introduce an easy salmon recipe! This bad boy can be whipped up on a weeknight in 15 minutes!

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Soy Ginger Salmon

Serves 1. Total time: 10-15 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 oz. salmon filet
  • 1/2 red pepper, sliced
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced
  • 1/2 cup green beans
  • 1/2 cup chopped broccoli
  • 1/2 tbsp brown sugar or honey
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp ginger, finely chopped
  • salt
  • pepper
  • olive oil

Directions:

  1. Brush salmon with olive oil and season with salt and pepper on both sides. IMG_1807
  2. Chop up the onion.IMG_1810
  3. Toss the salmon and onions into the oven at 400 for 10 minutes. OR, put a little oil in a pan and sear it, then toss in the oven with the onions for as long as it takes to finish it up. Whichever you prefer – this is your salmon after all.IMG_1812
  4. While the salmon is cooking, chop up the peppers and broccoli. Saute with the green beans. IMG_1816
  5. In a small bowl, combine brown sugar/honey, soy sauce, and ginger.

    I haven't yet added the ginger, but don't forget it!
    I haven’t yet added the ginger, but don’t forget it!
  6. 2 minutes before the salmon is done, drizzle salmon and onions with sauce. If you’ve got it in a pan that will retain the sauce, use it all. If you don’t, brush the salmon and onions and retain half the sauce.
  7. Place veggies on plate, top with salmon, drizzle with remaining sauce. IMG_1818

Voila! Easy, delicious salmon!

You can serve this with a roll, or mix in some rice with those veggies. If you’d like more sauce, double the sauce ingredients. Also, you can saute the veggies in soy sauce if you’d like more flavor to them. Enjoy!

 

Kale Me Crazy…..

Today I went to Kale Me Crazy with a friend. It’s apparently the #1 Juice Bar in the Nation! Despite that accolade, I didn’t try their cold-pressed juices. I came in to try an acai bowl after having heard about them. Needless to say, I will be back to try some of their juices and smoothies.

My friend and I split their kale salad and their acai bowl, and both were delicious! The salad had a ton of delicious add-ons, including quinoa, craisins, carrots, crushed peanuts, and more. The acai bowl was like a sweet smoothie, topped with granola, banana, and coconut, and then drizzled with honey. It’s the type of treat that would make an excellent breakfast.

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The menu at Kale Me Crazy is great. It’s packed with delicious smoothies, wraps, salads, and juices. It’s also totally hip, including things like hemp seeds, goji berries, and spirulina. But it got me thinking about how our culture pursues food in crazes and fads.

A couple years ago, coconut was bad for us. Now coconut oil is proscribed in 2 tablespoons per day doses. Quinoa (KEEN-wah) and acai (ah-sigh-EE) were discovered… although people are still discovering how to pronounce them. Kale is practically passe. If you just have a green smoothie, you’re not nearly as committed as someone who juices. The grapefruit diet was followed by Weight Watchers was followed by Atkins was followed by Paleo. (Check out this link here for a good history of fad diets in America: http://www.latimes.com/health/la-he-diet-timeline-20150228-story.html).

What is it about us that makes us always seek the next thing? Is it the desire for a magic bullet? Is it the rush of a craze? Is it the feeling of being a part of something, no matter how brief, superficial, and short-lived?

Years ago, people knew how to live and eat well. Some people did so and some people didn’t. Today, we still know the same. Some people do so and some people don’t. We know that veggies are good for us and that McDonald’s isn’t top of the list. We know the food pyramid, that we need a myriad of types of food. Eat the rainbow… and I’m not talking just Skittles!

But I want to be clear. There is no good food. There is no bad food. There is just food.

Take fat for example. You need it. You need to eat it; you need to have it on your body. You actually can’t survive without fat. A diet (meaning a way of eating, not a fad) without fat is actually unhealthy, just as a diet with only fat is.

Somehow, we’ve tried to turn food into something that isn’t not. We’ve turned food into a reflection of our worth. We think that if we’re eating kale we’re doing good, and if we’re eating ice cream we’re “bad” or “cheating” or “have to go for a run later to work off those calories.”

How trite! How easy!

It is easier to make your worth dependent on food. Then, after a day of WholeFoods-type eating, you have had a good day. Don’t regard the fact of what happened during your day. Don’t ask whether you loved your neighbor, cared for your co-worker, or smiled at a stranger from the sheer joy of shared human experience. Don’t ask whether you were a better parent, child, sibling, worker, student, writer, dreamer, runner. Ask no questions, and you won’t have to face the harder truths.

Problem is, it doesn’t work. We don’t stick to the fad diets. We measure our worth in food and calories but don’t feel any better at the end of the day. Rather than get stuck on food, we need to get stuck on the things that really matter.

Eat the whole pyramid. Enjoy food. Have your kale and your acai, but not because it makes you a better person. Have salad because you like it, and have chocolate because you like it. And then go use your energies to make the world a better place!

What foods do you like? Any cool foods I need to know about?

What are you going to base your sense of worth on?

Lean Into It

It wouldn’t seem that there’s much to say on running form. You just run, right? Kids know how to run. People who walk into caves that house hungry bears know how to run. You just put your petal to the metal (or your rubber to the dirt), right?

Right, kind of. You also need to care about how you’re putting your rubber to the dirt, especially if you want to avoid injury.

There are 4 areas of running form to pay attention to.

1) Posture

Keep your head up and your back strong. Do some core exercises. A runner’s strength comes from their core as well as from their legs.

2) Foot striking

There are generally 3 types of striking, heel, midfoot, and forefoot. Heel striking is what you do when you’re walking. Forefoot striking is used by sprinters (and people running from bears). Runners tend to use either heel striking or midfoot striking when they run. Midfoot striking, however, has been shown to be the type of striking least prone to create injuries. It’s the striking I use and it’s what got me into running in the first place. (more on striking later….)

3) Cadence

You want to be light, but not bouncing. Either pounding the pavement or bouncing along it will cause you to expend much more energy than you need. This isn’t so much of a problem if you’re going out for a 3 mile run, but if your cadence is suffering, you will be too after a 12 mile run.

4) Lean

You want to lean into your run, but don’t bend into it. Lean from the ankles, not the waist. Think of yourself as a board and your ankles as the hinge, pushing you forward.

I got to thinking about leaning the other day. I was running leaned back because I was tired. However, leaning back only made the run harder. When I leaned forward and really engaged in the run, the run got easier.

Sometimes I think pain can be like that.

We typically shy away from pain. I mean, I don’t know about you, but I don’t know anyone who wakes up in the morning and says, “Yeehaw, I really hope today is a painful day!” (Then again, I don’t know many people who say “yeehaw”….)

We all have our defense mechanisms. We put up walls. We retreat, whether in time and space or into our own minds. We get aggressive and angry. However we cope, we often are trying to put distance between us and the thing causing the pain.

Sometimes, however, we have to lean into the painful things of life. It must be felt, raw and hard. It must leave our eyes red and our noses runny. We must plump the depths of the painful moment so that we may better understand it and ourselves, so that we may grow.

I’m not saying that pain is justified by growth and character-building. Some pain just hurts. But if you are present under it, bearing it as a burden on your shoulders, you will come out stronger. You can’t not. The sheer fact of going through that has made you a different person.

Will you let it?

10 Things that Happen When You Run in the Summer

1. You will be able to run at almost any time you feel like it.

The sun is practically always up! You can be a “night” runner at 7:30 and still have the sun with you.

2. You will avoid noon running like the plague.

That aforementioned sun? It’s merciless in the 12-3 block.

3. You will develop some interesting tan lines.

Socks? Armband? Shirt or sports bra? Check, check, check.

4. You will have to start shaving more frequently (assuming you’re a girl who shaves her legs).

Goodbye pants. Goodbye running leggings. It’s been a good run – pun intended!

5. You will take your shirt off while running at least once.

Not because you’re vain, but because it’s so hot. You may be running in the doomsday heat of 12-3. You may be somewhere extremely humid. You may be trying to fight the strange tan lines you’ve been getting (Hint: it won’t help).

6. You will feel like a gazelle springing across the serengeti.

Strong. Graceful. Majestic.

7. You will pant like a dog.

They might be on to something….

8. You will forget to bring water. Once.

Never again. You dehydrate faster in the heat, and by the time you feel thirsty, it’s too late.

9. You will get to fuel and hydrate at the same time with watermelon.

Sugar and water in one neat little package. Perfect for after a run. Or any time.

10. You will seriously contemplate chasing an ice cream truck.

Running after ice cream is completely sane. Channel the gazelle and go for it.