Weekend recap: FOOD! (recipes from Run Fast, Eat Slow cookbook)

Oh the things I do for performance gains. Good sleep, proper recovery, mobility work and eating!! Seeing that food is fuel, it should be no added extra to your day to make sure that good food gets inside your body in order to give you energy and to nourish your many working systems. Cooking should not be seen as a chore, like cleaning your bathroom or taking out the trash. Sure, it's something on your to-do list but it is a skill that should be learned and appreciated through all the years of life.

For me, I love to eat the food that I cook and I love eating the food that Karel cooks but I also love being inspired by food that is prepared by others. I really enjoying trying new creations but more than anything, I love real food. I really value where food comes from, the effort that goes into preparing a meal, the presentation of a meal and knowing the purpose of the meal (nourishment, fuel or pleasure). Cooking is a process and although it does involve time, patience and effort, there's absolutely no reason why any athlete should not enjoy cooking.

My hope is that you will make the effort to spend a bit more time in your day to cook your food. Seeing that you are so busy, try to utilize your weekend and be creative with your time during the week. Considering that you are overburdened with work, squeezing in time for training early morning or late at night (or on your lunch break) and still making time for your family, spouse/significant other and friends, it's no wonder that you feel "too busy to cook." But the truth is that you can't expect "cooking more" to just happen. It's a lifestyle habit that you have to work at and make time for. It has to be part of your day, with no excuses getting in your way.

Remember why it is important to cook. Because it's a skill that keeps your body well, it's a responsibility to your body as an athlete and when YOU are in charge of the ingredients, you are more likely to eat better and feel better. 

Adapted from pg. 54

Not only do you save money by making your own granola but your house will smell AHHmazing when this delicious crunchiness is ready. I love adding granola to my pre-workout snack or to my yogurt. Plus, it's great for those high volume workout days when you need to pack in some nutrients with energy dense foods but you don't want to lose the nutritional value of those extra calories. Blackstrap molasses is a great source of iron for vegetarians and a great addition to the diet for athletes due to its nutritional value.

3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup finely shredded unsweetened dried coconut
1/2 cup shelled pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup raisins
2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp pink Himalayan salt
1/3 cup virgin coconut oil
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup blackstrap molasses (provides your body with a dose of iron, B6 and magnesium)

1. Preheat oven to 275 degrees F with the rack in the center of the oven.
2. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
3. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the oats, coconut, seeds, raisins, ginger, cinnamon and salt.
4. In a small microwavable bowl, stir together the coconut oil, honey and molasses and microwave on low until slightly melted.
4. Pour the liquid over the dry ingredients and stir until evenly combined. 
5. Spread out in a smooth thick layer on the baking sheet. Bake and stir every 15 minutes (I set the timer to remind me to stir every 15 minutes). Bake for 45 minutes. Granola will be moist at the end of baking but will turn crunchy. (After 45 minutes, I removed from the oven and covered with a towel and kept it out overnight and it turned nice and crunchy). 

Cranberry Orange and Chocolate Pomegranate Scones

In case you were wondering, scones will not make themselves. Karel provided me with this ground breaking information as my hint to refill our scone container as it was empty after a few days from my first batch. No surprise, Karel loved the lemon blueberry scones that I made so I decided to change things up a bit with the add-ins. I used the same Lemon Blueberry scone recipe from pg 59 of the book but instead of using lemons and blueberries I added dried cranberries (about a handful) and a splash of orange juice. For the chocolate pomegranate scones I used a handful of frozen pomegranate seeds and a handful of chocolate chips. YUM!

Pg. 99

The picture of this salad in the cookbook looked oh-so-good so I could not wait to make this dish. Karel and I were invited over to my friend's/athlete's house, Meredith for a pizza party with the Greenville Trimarnis on Saturday evening and I was told to bring something healthy. I figured this had all the ingredients for something healthy to go along with a yummy slice (or two) of pizza and a cookie from our neighbor Joey for dessert. Although this is named a recovery salad, I won't be eating this too close before or after a workout due to all the roughage in the salad but it's a filling, crisp and flavorful meal option to bump up the nutrients in your diet, perfect for lunch time. Plus, how colorful is this salad? It will definitely be a show-stopper at a party/event or when you bring your lunch to work.

Ingredients1 cup quinoa
3/4 tsp salt
3 cups loosely packed, finely chopped kale, stems removed
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 Jalapeno chili pepper, finely chopped, wear plastic gloves when handling (I removed this since I was bringing this to a party)
1/2 small red onion, chopped
1/2 cup chopped cilantro leaves
1 can (15 ounces) black beans, drained and rinsed
1/3 cup lime juice (I used 1/4 cup lime juice and the rest fresh squeezed lemon juice)
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil (I used 1/4 cup olive oil)
1 avocado, sliced (I didn't have a ripe avocado :(
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds (it called for toasted and I used sunflower seeds)
1/2 cup grated Cotija, crumbled feta or chopped olives (I omitted the cheese since we were having lots of cheese on our pizza)

Directions1. In a medium saucepan over high heat, bring to a boil the quinoa, 1 1/2 cups water and 1/2 tsp of the salt. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, until the quinoa is tender and all the water has been absorbed, 15-20 minutes. Transfer to a large salad bowl, fluff with a fork, and set aside to cool. 
2. Once cool, add the kale, red bell pepper, chile pepper, onion, cilantro, black beans, lime juice, oil and the remaining 1/4 tsp salt to the quinoa and toss to combine. Taste and add additional salt, if needed. Chill in the fridge until ready to serve.
3. Just before serving, top with the avocado slices, pumpkin seeds and the cheese or olives.


Weekend recap: Training

I'm sending a big thank you to my body for giving me another week of quality training. I never take a day of training for granted. It's been 3 years and 8 months since I've last been injured and 10 years since I've had a cold/sickness. Not a day goes by that I don't thank my body for letting me do so much with it.

The overall training volume hasn't changed a lot over the past few months but I've noticed a bit more intensity throughout the week lately. I've worked hard to build a strong foundation since starting my training back in late October so my body is responding well to the added training stress. 

On Wednesday morning I had a tough hill run workout. Although the intense intervals only totaled 8 minutes, it was a leg burner and cardio stressor. 

For 20 minutes, I ran EZ on some of my favorite roads around where I live, which included no shortage of hills. After listening to a Facebook LIVE 75-minute educational chat with running expert Chris Johnson, PT, I used a lot of his running cues to keep me focused on my running mechanics during warm-up. 

When I arrived close to the street where I was going to perform my main set, I first did a pre-set of 5 x 30 sec build to fast strides w/ a 30 sec walk in between. 

For the run main set: 
8 x 30 sec strong uphill effort w/ 1.5 min recovery (jog/walk/rest) in between

5 min EZ
8 x 30 sec strong uphill effort w/ 1.5 min recovery (jog/walk/rest) in between
Then jog home (about 15 minutes). 

It was a great workout and I felt super strong.

In the evening, I tested out my new Tacx Neo smart trainer with a good workout that Karel wrote for me. My legs were still a little tender from the morning run but it felt good to spin them out and test out the CycleOps Virtual Training app on my ipad. You can see from the picture that my iPad is standing up on a microphone stand that Karel ordered for me. It was a cheap way to hold the iPad, where I control my trainer.

Wednesday night bike workout:

WU: 20 min EZ

Pre set:
2 x 4 min
2 x 3 min
2 x 2 min
Odd Z2, fast rpm
Even Z2/Z3, slow rpm, 55-65
5 min EZ

1 x 4 min build effort to strong, choice cadence
4 min EZ
3 x 3 min Z3/4 slow cadence (slop/resistance mode)
3 min EZ between  3 x 2 min high power/high cadence 100+ rpm, 3 min EZ between (slop/resistance mode)
3 min EZ between

CD: EZ spin

As for Thursday morning, I had about 1 hour and 45 minutes of fun on the trainer for my first real workout. The trainer is super quite and very smooth. There is no sticky pedaling, especially as I increase the slope or resistance.

WU: 20 min EZ

Pre set: 4 x 4 min (odd Z1/2 build rpm to fast, even Z1/2 build rpm to fast)

MS: 4 x 10 minutes as:
2xs (3 min Z2, rpm 100+, 2 min Z3, 45-50 rpm)
4 min EZ

Post set: 15 min Z2/3 - steady effort, gradually decreasing power and increasing rpm.

Whew, what a great workout, especially after the tough run on Wednesday. I've been super diligent with my nutrition before, during and after workouts to ensure that my body can stay consistent with training and to give me confidence that any fatigue that I feel is normal fatigue and not from underfueling or poor recovery. So far, I'm feeling very energized, strong and healthy and I hope that feeling continues to last as I am expecting a lot from my body in April and May.

I did a very short swim (1900 yard)  swim workout at lunch time to knock out my 2nd workout of the day because I had nutrition consults the rest of the afternoon through early evening.

As for Friday morning, Karel was off to NC to the A2 wind tunnel with our athlete Joe so I had to swim solo. Karel has been swimming almost every swim workout with me so it was kinda lonely swimming by myself, especially for this endurance tracker main set.

500 warm-up

Pre set:
4 x 200's w/ snorkel and fins

10 x 25s w/ paddles fast w/ 5 sec rest

35 x 100's on 1:30 at 85% effort

Total: 4900

I was feeling tired during warm-up and pre-set so I wasn't sure how the main set would go but after 6-8 x 100's, I started to find my rhythm and the set actually went by really fast!

Then I again, I was really excited to eat my homemade banana bread when I returned home from my swim.

Here are a few pics that Karel took of Joe in the wind tunnel. Joe is a 3-year Trimarni athlete and recently won the HITS Naples Half Ironman. When Joe started working with us, he was far from the athlete he is today. Joe is an engineer so his mindset is often to analyze everything but he has trusted us as his coaches since day one and he is not one for excuses. Joe and his wife Erica just had their first baby 9 months ago so it's been neat to see them both balance it all. This wind tunnel adventure was a fun experience for both Karel and Joe, just to test his position, along with other gear like his clothing, calf sleeves, helmet, wheels, bottle placements, etc. Karel and Joe learned a lot! The wind tunnel testers were impressed with Joe's attention to detail but also very impressed with his position on the bike (fit by Karel).

I wrapped up my day with a light strength session in the late afternoon, followed by a long Campy walk.

We received a nice package from our friends at Mg12 over the weekend, which came at the perfect time as we use this stuff regularly. I just love this line of products for recovery and the quality ingredients.

As for the weekend training, the fog and big chance of rain made it hard for us to get in the workouts that we wanted to get in outside but we dealt with what we were given and still had a quality weekend of training.

Joe, Karel and I headed out on our road bikes around 8:15am on Saturday morning hoping to get in a solid ride but as we headed on the trail out, the fog was rather thick so we decided it wasn't safe to ride (even with lights on our bike). Instead, we just spun on the trail and had more of a social ride for 90 minutes. 

Joe headed back to Jacksonville after our ride and Karel and I followed up our ride with a run. Karel ran outside and I ran on our treadmill for an hour. For me, just a nice form focused run with no hard efforts.

After an afternoon of working on the computer and making a beautiful looking Mexican-themed quinoa and black bean salad for our evening pizza part at Meredith's house (picture and recipe on tomorrow's blog), I finished up my long run with another hour on the treadmill. After not getting in our long ride on Saturday, I had planned to do two runs today instead of one long run to reduce the overall training stress with the previous training.

Sunday morning was a trainer ride with a main set that looked easier on paper than what it turned out to be. Nonetheless, a great trainer session for 2:20 followed be a 30 min EZ run on the treadmill.

Bike workout:
WU: 30 min EZ spin (build from Z1-Z2)

Pre set:
5 x 5 minutes Z2 (1 min at 70 rpm, 1 min at 80 rpm, 1 min at 90 rpm, 1 min at 100+ rpm, 1 min choice cadence)

6 x (2 minutes Z3/4 at 40-45 rpm w/ 1 min EZ choice rpm between)
2 min EZ
6 x (1.5 minutes Z3/4 at 45-55 rpm w/ 1 min EZ choice rpm between)
2 min EZ
6 x 1 min Z3/Z4 at 55-65 rpm w/ 1 min EZ choice rpm between)
5 min EZ

Post set:
15 minutes Z3 steady effort, choice RPM

Cool Down
Hope you had a nice weekend and you are finding yourself building confidence in your training/exercising and nutrition to move closer to your health, fitness and performance goals.

Never compare yourself to other people. Discover what makes YOU happy and then direct all your energy on yourself so that you can focus on being the best version of YOU. 


Healthy, delicious homemade banana bread

I love bananas. Karel calls me a monkey.
I certainly didn't take after my mom who has a slight banana allergy but instead, my dad just loved his daily banana (or two).

It's no surprise that I would love banana bread simple because it contains bananas. Plus, I hate wasting food so when my yellow bananas turn spotty, throwing them in the freezer for a future smoothie is a great option but I can't go wrong with making them the star ingredient in banana bread.

I'm still having so much fun with my Run Fast Eat Slow cookbook and I was literally waiting all week for my bananas to turn very ripe so that I could make the Spelt banana bread recipe on pg. 183 of the book. 

To learn more about Spelt, you can read more here. 
Spelt is an ancient form of wheat (cultivated since 5000 BC) and contains much less gluten than wheat so it may be tolerable for those who are gluten intolerant (but it should be avoided by those who have Celiac disease). 

Like many other grains, spelt contains fiber and protein, along with iron, copper, manganese, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, zinc, selenium, B vitamins and folic acid.

I hope you enjoy this delicious recipe. It is super moist and satisfying with just enough sweetness to excite your taste buds.
I adapted the recipe from the cookbook and modified the ingredients just slightly. 

Spelt Banana Bread

1 1/2 cups spelt flour (or gluten free flour)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp pink Himalayan salt
1 stick salted butter (Plugra or Kerrygold are our favorite butter brands)
1/4 cup brown sugar (yep - that's it!)
2 eggs
2 large very ripe bananas (mashed)
1 tsp vanilla extract
Handful of unsweetened shredded coconut (optional)
1/2 cup chopped pecans (or walnuts)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Use cooking spray to grease a 8 1/2 by 4 1/2 inch loaf pan (or use butter).
2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt.
3. In a separate mixing bowl, use a handheld mixer or stand mixer to beat together the butter and sugar on low until combined. Add the eggs and continue to beat for 1 minute. Add the bananas and vanilla and beat just until combined.
4. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and stir until combined. Fold in the nuts.
5. Pour into the loaf pan and shake the pan to spread out the batter evenly. Sprinkle the top with coconut if using.  Bake in the center of the oven until the top is golden brown and a toothpick in the center comes out clean (about 50-60 minutes). 
6. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and cool for 15 minutes. Use a knife around the edges to loosen and to carefully remove the loaf.