Friday, February 28, 2014

Athlete Spotlight: David Horton

I've known for a while now that I wanted to interview Dr. David Horton as one of my athlete spotlights, but I could not pinpoint why. There's just something special about Horton that makes him QUITE a memorable person. It may be his LOUD mouth, he can yell and carry on (all fun of course!) ...or his infectious smile, he is almost always smiling or saying something to make you laugh. Horton is quite the accomplished athlete and WELL respected by the ultra community, but his story and legacy goes far beyond that. His perseverance in overcoming recent health obstacles is inspiring, and his impact on the lives of students and athletes reaches far. I myself am incredibly thankful for his encouragement and influence on my journey (and my husband's!) as an ultra-runner and person. I almost do not feel worthy of interviewing him, so thank you Dr. Horton for taking the time to chat with me more in detail... and a big Happy (belated) Birthday to YOU!!!



*Warning: the interview is about as long as the ultra-marathons he has completed. But well worth the read I assure you! 


Tell us how you first became involved with running and what compelled you to pursue ultra-running specifically? What were a few highlights of your competitive ultra-running days?

I ran in high school to get in shape for basketball and football but not real running.   I ran one season of cross country and track in college.  However, I did not start to consistently run until the spring of 1977.   My Physiology of Exercise teacher was into running and he challenged me and others in class to run and also to be an example for the students that we would be teaching. I ran a marathon while I was still a student at the University of Ark., the Hogeye Marathon. I came to Liberty University in the fall of 1978 and over the next couple of years starting running a few marathons. In November of 1978, I ran the JFK 50 miler for my first ultra finishing in 7:43 for 24th place and LOVED it.  Thereafter I ran some more 50 milers then Old Dominion 100 Miler. Later I won OD 100 four times. I set the speed record on the Appalachian Trail in 1991, averaging over 40 miles per day for 52 days and 9 hours. In 1995, I ran the Trans-America Footrace placing 3rd place overall, averaging 45.4 miles per day.   In 2001, Blake Wood and I became the first Americans to finish the Barkley 100 Miler in 58 hours and 23 minutes.   I set the speed record on the Pacific Crest Trail in 2005, 2650 miles.   I ran my last ultra in October of 2009, the LeGrizz 50 Miler.  In 2011, I completed the Tour Divide mountain bike race from Banff Canada to Mexico, 2700 miles in 25 days and two hours.   I ran somewhere around 160 ultras and a little over 113,000 miles. <--- absolutely incredible...yes!


Can you tell me a little bit about your recent transition from competitive ultra-running to competitive mountain biking? What differences have you noticed?

I took up mountain biking in August of 2010. I had to do something because I had bone on bone in my right knee and walking was and is painful. I like mountain biking but I liked running better.  Part of it is because I was better at running than I have been at biking.   I don’t  like the cost of biking either. It is much more expensive than running and I think the crashes are more damaging as well. I use to really like running in the winter, mountain biking in the winter is a REAL challenge. Mountain biking has provided a way for me to continue to be engaged, and especially to continue to set an example for the students I teach. I much prefer the trails over roads.... there's nothing that quite compares to being out in the mountains and nature.

What are you currently doing ensure continued longevity in endurance sports?

Consistent running (33 years and 33,000 miles or more) allowed me longevity… Getting back into shape is always harder on the body. I am continuing to stay active and compete as a biker.  I am STILL an ATHLETE. Don’t ever stop… Consistency is key, getting back in shape is always harder than maintaining it.

Can you walk me through the process of the diagnosis of your heart condition, surgery and recovery? 

Regarding his heart surgery in 2012: In mid-fall, for 3-4 weeks during extended hard efforts I felt a gaseous feeling under my xiphoid process. I mentioned it to a fellow teacher medical doctor who recommended a stress test. I scheduled the test immediately… while many receive submaximal stress testst (up to 85% of maximal predicted HR, I was given a maximal stress test instead because of my athletic background. This was key because I didn't show symptoms until upper heart rate levels (~170) which showed a potential blockage in L side of my heart. The MD recommended I keep my HR below 138, follow a heart healthy diet and start medication treatment. I sought a second opinion. Just prior to Thanksgiving I requested catheterization (and stent placement) and came out of surgery realizing my condition was MUCH worse than we all originally thought. At that point I was recommended to have bypass surgery, which I scheduled a few weeks later after directing the Hellgate 100k. I received 7-way bypass surgery on December 10, 2012 and 3-4 months later I felt good as new, as if nothing happened.

My comment: Overall, Horton emphasized the importance of knowing and listening to your body when something is not right, and being your own health advocate in terms of seeking the treatment you need. 

How did your heart surgery change your perspective towards nutrition? Are there any major changes you’ve made in your daily diet since your surgery?

The only risk factor that I really had prior to my heart surgery was that my mother had 10 brothers and sisters who ALL died between 41 and 70 years of age.  I ate relatively healthy before and have continued to eat the same way.  My blood values are all very good now with taking a cholesterol lowering agent. My LDL is approximately 80-85, HDL 40-45, Total cholesterol about 150 after 6 months on Provostatin. While increased muscle soreness is a common side effect of cholesterol lowering medications, I have personally not experienced this and am thankful that I can continue to train hard as I did in the past.

You plan to undergo knee surgery later this spring. After taking appropriate time to recover, what personal athletic goals do you plan to pursue?

Regarding my need for knee surgery: I was running 6 days after my 60th birthday and all of a sudden I had a pain in the medial side of my left knee. I thought it was a torn meniscus and it was. I had surgery here in Lynchburg and then rehabbed and tried to run again and KNEW something wasn’t right. Later I went to a running doctor in Charlottesville and he tried a Synvisc injection. It did not work and a MRI revealed that I had more tears in my meniscus. Surgery then more rehab followed and I tried to run and could not. This past fall I went to Richmond and got PRP and Stem cells and they did not work. Right now, I am planning on total knee replacement that will happen in May at the Mayo Clinic.

After knee surgery this summer, I want to return to biking ASAP.  If I think I can, I would also like to start running some again.  I would like to finish at LEAST one more ultra to have completed an ultra in 5 different decades. 

My comment: What a stellar example of the perseverance that endurance athletes exhibit in other areas of their life, and what an example of Horton's dedication his athletic achievements.

Tell us a little more about your role as a professor at Liberty University, specifically your running class and how that had affected you and the community of runners in your area?

I work in the Exercise Science department at LU (~25 years of teaching) and have been teaching a beginning and advanced running class.  In the fall the advanced class has to complete a marathon. The spring class must complete a 50K or longer in the spring. This constantly is creating NEW NEW ultra runners and athletes. I have had 100’s of new ultra runners coming from my class over the years. 

My comment: Horton not only teaches these students about running and building endurance, but of the importance of being engaged in the ultra/athletic community and in maintaining and building new trails. His athletes and students are often found volunteering out on the course of his races or doing trail work on weekends, which is much appreciated by the athletic community!


His class is undoubtedly a FUN one to take!
What advice do you have for individuals who may be interested in ultra-marathons but are intimidated by the thought of running 30-40-50+ miles?

Runners should NOT be intimidated by running a 50K.   Actually, completing a 50K is a LOT easier (and easier on the body) than racing a marathon.  If someone wants to run a 50K, they need to get with someone else who has already completed on and learn from them. OR, take my running class.

As a race director of many ultra-marathons, what is the biggest obstacle you see athletes face in the pursuit of success or improvement?

I think the majority of ultra runners don’t run enough miles.  There is no FAKING the deep down strength that you get from running a lot of miles.


Horton seen in his many roles as race director!

One of the MOST huggable people I've ever met.
A congratulatory hug or handshake at the finish line is always worth the effort it takes to get there.
How has your perspective towards the role of nutrition in endurance sports changed throughout your career? What would you say is the most important lesson you’ve in regards to nailing down a winning race day fueling strategy?

Learning what you can eat and tolerate is and was the most difficult thing that I faced as an ultra runner.  I still think we have a LONG way to go and a LOT to learn in the area of what you can and should eat in ultras. If you are doing multi-days, it is usually not a problem. 50K to 100 miles is the tough area to deal with and nail down the correct nutrition combination for optimal performance.

We all know that the pursuit of excellence in endurance sports can be a very individual, time-consuming endeavor. Tell us how the support of your family has shaped your athletic career, and how you achieve balance between family time and training time.

Learning balance as a teacher, a biker, a Christian, a father, a grandfather is a delicate issue.  You really have to learn good time management, and if you desire to be the best or very good, you have to be a little selfish sometimes. I know that I have not always had a good balance but I work at it. 


Horton smiling in the mountains, doing what he loves!!!
Thank you Dr. Horton for being an inspiration to SO many athletes and for all of your contributions to the ultra-running community: as a race director, teacher, mentor, advocate for the sport and friend to many. 

Read about his 2005 Pacific Crest Trail record attempt here. He finished the 2,666 mile journey in a little over 66 days, averaging approximately 40 miles per day.

Of course, check out his website here, and feel free to sign up for one of his crazy races while you're at it :)

Check out previous athlete spotlights here !



Monday, February 24, 2014

Monday Mantra: Happy Feet, Happy Heart... Thoughts on Cultivating Happiness

After a bit of a rough patch and generally feeling exhausted, I knew I needed take a few steps back, breathe, recharge, refocus and generally refill my 'cup.' This past week, I've made a concerted effort to do what it takes to insert more 'happy vibes' into my life, because I knew I needed it! It's SO easy to get swept away by the rush and stress of life to the point that we forget what truly matters, or forget why we do all these things in the first place. With that, I've been pondering the pursuit of happiness: What does that mean and what does it take to be happy?

I most often associate happiness with running: happy feet = happy heart = happy Kristen. And yes, happiness can absolutely be found in the form of an effortless run in new shoes on a warm day, like I found this past week thanks to a mid-winter heat wave. If only each of those runs could be captured in a bottle and released on race day... Wouldn't that be amazing??
New running shoes (in pink!) + post-run cuddles = happy feet and happy Kristen
Happiness can be also found in the form of a cute puppy... (most) dogs are such a great example of being happy!!
Gosh I love her!
Of course, happiness can be found in the form of delicious food... like this pancake from last weekend :)


But I digress...As someone who used to have a more negative outlook on life, I feel as if I've come a long ways in terms of attitude, perspective, and overall ability to make the most of the suboptimal situations. I used to think that 'being happy' was something that had to be earned and reasoned that success lead to happiness, life circumstances shaped our ability to be happy, or at times, I just was not worthy of it. Now I realize that being happy is something we cultivate, a choice we make and often a byproduct of specific efforts.

I started this past week feeling especially tired, overworked and generally drained. Running on full cylinders can only last so long, so I made a conscious effort to put a smile on my face, scale back and relax more, indulge in doing more of the things I love and get back to that happy place. While the week still featured its share of stress, I forced myself to put it on the back burner for the sake of balance and long-term sustainability. While I had Friday off from work, it took a lot of self-restraint to keep myself from going in for "just an hour." Lucky me, we had a mini-retreat with friends on the schedule this past weekend and it was JUST what I needed.

Happiness in the form of friends, relaxation and exploring new places!
The weekend was perfect in that I was able to catch up with friends I've missed dearly, sleep in late, get outside and explore new and beautiful places and take time to reflect and think. We all define "success" a little differently, and this past weekend success came in the form of being flexible, putting my needs aside for the sake of quality time with others, giving my body what it needed in terms of a mental and physical break and taking time to reflect. After a short, personal yoga session on the deck, I took the time to jot down ways I cultivate happiness in my life... as a reminder for the future when I'm maybe not feeling so optimistic ;)


There you have it, my happy thought for Monday. How do you cultivate happiness?

Friday, February 21, 2014

Recipe Round-Up: Winter Comfort Foods

I know it's hard to constantly find inspiration for new recipes, and healthy ones at that! Pinterest is great for those who love it, but the choices are often overwhelming and please don't be deceived into thinking everything posted to Pinterest is healthy (nope!). Here's a few of my favorite picks for winter comfort foods...even though this weekend is feeling more like spring (yay!) Some are recipes I've made, some are ones that I'd like to try and yes, some are more of a splurge!

Enjoy a little inspiration.

Breakfast
Jumpstart your day off right with a hearty breakfast that will warm you from the inside out!



1. Spinach & Broccoli Quiche-- By Food Inspired By
    Make a batch on Sunday and eat throughout the week!

2. Pumpkin Oatmeal Casserole-- From The Gracious Pantry
   Another favorite to prep ahead on Sundays. Best topped with warm PB!!

3. Pesto Potato Skillet-- From Naturally Ella
    For the potato lovers out there

4. Spinach & Mushroom Omelette-- By  Season with Spice
    Hard to beat hearty omelette.

Savory Soups
And what could be more comforting than a hearty bowl of soup?!


5. Butternut Squash Curried Chili-- by Real Food for Fuel :)
    A personal favorite :)

6. Veggie Quinoa Chocolate Chili-- By Nutritionella
    Chocolate and Chili = winning.

7. White Bean & Vegetable Soup-- By Henry Happened!
    Plenty of filling fiber in this one!

8. Homemade Creamy Ramen Noodle Soup-- From Return to the Garden
    The hubby's favorite.

Main Entrees & Snacks


9. Zucchini, Black Bean & Rice Skillet -- From Ready, Set, Eat!
    Skillet dishes are quick and simple.

10. Roasted Garlic & Rosemary Pumpkin Hummus-- By Pinch of Yum
     Paired with warm pita slices? Yes please!!
     http://pinchofyum.com

11. Thai Basil Coconut Lentils-- By Pinch of Yum
      Turn up the heat with a bit of spice.
      http://pinchofyum.com

12. Chickpea & Butternut Squash Curry-- By Vikalinka
     A warm mix of sweet and spicy.

13. Baked Southwestern Egg Rolls-- From Annie's Eats
     A perfect appetizer for upcoming Superbowl Parties!


Dessert Anyone?


14. Cinnamon Streusel Coffee Cake-- By Martha Stewart 

15. Single-Serve Mug Cookie-- By Crazy for Crust


Hope this provides a little inspiration to try something new!


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Recipe: "Handful of Heart Health" Trail Mix

I think that there's a wide misconception that eating for long term health 'must' be complicated.

But really... it's not! 

My philosophy is simple: choose foods with functional benefits that provide optimal fuel and prevent long term chronic disease, and combine them in ways that are fun and delicious.

There's nothing more quick, simple and easily accessible as trail mix. A quick snack on the go, easily customizable to your personal preferences, and provides a wide variety of nutrients. With February being healthy heart month, I decided to restock our trail mix supply combining a few of my favorite foods that just so happen to also have heart healthy benefits.


Nuts are a great source of healthy unsaturated fats, omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamin E, protein, fiber and plant sterols. Nuts and seeds are known for helping to reduce LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol), reduce blood clotting and improve the lining of your arteries. Additionally, pumpkin seeds are rich in magnesium, a mineral known to help relax blood vessels and prevent heart attack and stroke.

Cranberries are rich in antioxidants, a potent anti-inflammatory and associated with higher levels of HDL cholesterol, the body's healthy cholesterol. Be sure to read the ingredient labs and choose a product with cranberries only and no added sugars.





Dark chocolate provides antioxidants in the form of flavanoids which can lower blood pressure and cut risk of heart attack and stroke... not to mention chocolate's stress busting benefits! Literally, daily consumption of quality chocolate is associated with lower levels of stress hormones. Aim to choose chocolate that is 60% cocoa or higher.





Granola and chia seeds are both a great source of fiber which functions to lower cholesterol. For the granola, look for a product that contains at least 3g fiber per serving and is low in sugar! Chia seeds also are a rich source of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, are a strong anti-inflammatory, contain antioxidants and protein too!

Here's how I combined these ingredients:

1/4 c. dark chocolate chips (60% or higher)
1c. walnuts or almonds (or both!)
1/2 c. whole grain cereal or granola*
1/4 c. dried cranberries
1/4 c. chia seeds
1/4 c. shredded coconut (optional)

*For the 'cereal', I prefer to use whole grain cheerios, Kashi Heart to Heart cereal, KIND brand granola or granola sourced from our local natural foods store, Eats.

Simple. Delicious. Quality and fast fuel for the busy athlete, professional, on-the-go individual or really anyone!

Throw a handful of this into a container of greek yogurt for an even greater calorie and protein boost!


Fuel up! 

And don't forget a good dose of exercise helps promote heart health too :)

Monday, February 17, 2014

Monday Mantra: Don't Forget to Breathe


You should know by now that I love my sports metaphors.

Lately when I'm swimming, I've been so focused on trying to use the correct form that I've been forgetting to breathe ... obviously, this quickly puts me into oxygen debt, wears me out and I'm eventually forced to either stop or slow down. 

Anyway, this sort of sums up how I've been feeling about life lately. While VERY happy with how things are going, my days have LONG and chaotic as of late. I've been highly motivated and working HARD, which has been paying off in a lot of great ways. Yet, I also know that running on 'full throttle' is NOT good long term... 

This past week I had big plans to intentionally slow down, yet life had other plans for me. Just ahead of the arrival of our massive snow storm (20" I think?!), I came home Wednesday afternoon and packed my suitcase, pillow and sleeping bag, toiletries, etc and headed BACK to work. Yup, I battled the snow 4:00 Wednesday afternoon to get back to work, because I knew I HAD to be there Thursday morning. In my job, I'm considered essential staff during weather events like such and for a good reason: the residents need to eat (and I want them too!). We ended up being very short staffed Thursday and Friday, which left me filling in new areas (which was neat), but also pushing my limits a little too far.  I mean, what do you do in these situations, other than to suck it up and keep your chin up and try to have a good attitude? 

I came home Friday mid-day with the intention of running and seeing the hubby off for his race
(before heading back to work for one final shift!)
The run was a bit of a fail but I caught a short and MUCH needed nap instead.
Nonetheless, I finally landed home (for good) Friday night after 8pm. I had barely seen the hubby since Wednesday morning (he had already left for his race at this point) and after three non-stop days of working, I walked into the house feeling empty, exhausted and alone. I finally broke down and had a good cry, being strong only lasts so long and we all need that from time to time :)

Saturday it was just me and the pup, so I enjoyed some quality cuddle time on the couch and enjoyed the snow (finally!) before forcing myself to get up and DO something. Three days of essentially no exercise, I knew I had to move to truly feel better.
SNOW much fun :)

One swim + trainer ride + short gym session + the return of the hubby and a belated Valentines dinner + a chick flick later... I was still pretty tired, but nonetheless in a much better mood. A low key day was exactly what I needed.

More cuddles and a chick flick. Yes please!
Life's a marathon, not a sprint. As an endurance runner, I know that running too fast results in recruitment of anaerobic muscle fibers which will fatigue much faster than those slow twitch, "meant to go forever" aerobic fibers. Just like a marathon, you have to pace yourself appropriately and 'fuel' along the way: adequate sleep, good nutrition, hydration and general relaxation are all important pieces of the puzzle. Last week essentially lacked all of those, so I know this week NEEDS to be all about the restoration of balance: Being mindful of how I am using my time, slowing down, remembering to breathe deep, taking good care of myself, maximal relaxation, having fun and all the little things that will refill the tank that I've exhausted these past few weeks.



This upcoming weekend, I am thankful for a mini-retreat with friends. The perfect opportunity to intentionally set the busy life aside and relax, reflect and reunite with some of my favorite people! It's exactly what I need and the timing couldn't be more perfect... a good end goal to get me through the work week.

Just another manic monday? Not if I can help it!!!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Recipe: Chocolate Covered Strawberry Smoothie

I've always been the type of person who feels as if rules are meant to be broken. To me, 'rules' are more like 'guidelines' than the law... and the same goes for nutrition!

So when it comes to having chocolate for breakfast (occasionally), I say "why not?!!"


This recipe was created on the fly. I was late home from my morning swim last Friday and needed a quick meal before work. I raided the fridge and threw together what felt right... chocolate included :) Which reminds me of another rule I enjoy breaking: filling my blender beyond the "max fill" line. I almost always do so as I happily toss ingredients into my smoothie, which of course results in a sloppy mess. Womp. Oh well :)


Ingredients

8oz vanilla soy milk
1 handful frozen strawberries
1/2 banana, frozen
1 tbsp dark chocolate chips
6oz plain greek yogurt
Splash of cherry juice (optional)
1 tbsp chia seeds (optional)

Directions

Blend until smooth.

Sip slowly...

and quickly forget that you're late for work...

After all, this is one meal not to be rushed!


Nutrition facts: 400 kcal, 48g carb, 9g fiber, 18g fat, 21g protein, 33g sugar


Post swim happy vibes...enjoying my smoothie of course!!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Monday Mantra: Believe You Can


So often, the difference between a good/mediocre workout or race and a great one is our mental soundtrack and confidence in achieving our goals.

Do you believe you can hit your goal times, or is it simply a wish?

Do you go into your workouts confident in your ability to put forth your best, or unsure of your ability to push yourself ?

I've had more than a few workouts lately where I've let anxiety get the best of me. They turned out fine, but inside I was a jumbled mess and on the outside, barely able to catch my breath. There are certain paces on the clock that I'm just not used to seeing, yet I can't expect to race at such paces if I don't truly believe I can run them.

I'm beginning to connect the dots in terms of what it takes to truly believe I can achieve times I'm capable of. Successful runs and races are not "by luck" or chance, they're the culmination of hard work (preparation) followed by trusting that such preparation will get you to the finish line with success. Success is about having the mental fortitude of giving 100% effort and believing in your capabilities, running a bold yet smart race and not being afraid of how much it might hurt or whether you might bonk (execution).

So this is my reminder to myself, with my first race of the season, the Blacksburg Classic 10 mile, this weekend followed by the Shamrock Marathon roughly a month later. 


I borrowed this from RunAbout's FB page last week... thanks for the timely post!

NOW... Go get the week!!!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Recipe: Quinoa Breakfast Bowl

In a breakfast rut? Tired of eating the same ol' thing every morning?

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and for me it has been even more essential in the past week. Work has been chaotic, with me working 10+ hours some most days, and with a marathon looming in the near future training has also picked up. I'm off and running from the moment I get to work and I've been doing a lot of 'fueling on the run' so to speak to keep up with it all. Starting the day off right with a big, healthy breakfast (okay, usually two breakfasts for me :) makes a huge difference in my energy levels and productivity AND ability to keep up with the calorie demands of constantly being on the go.

Quinoa... you not think of it as a typical breakfast food but I beg to differ. If you can eat breakfast for dinner, why not eat dinner for breakfast? Really, quinoa is a suitable alternative to oatmeal if you're looking to expand your breakfast choices and it's something I've been meaning to experiment with for a while. While quinoa is technically a seed, it's mainly consumed as if it were a grain and is a great main ingredient in many recipes from stir fry to 'pasta' salad to a breakfast bowl of wonderfulness! It's naturally gluten-free, high fiber and high protein... a nutritional superstar when it comes to being well-rounded :) The nutty flavor of quinoa pairs well with the apples, nuts and nut butter in this recipe while adding sustenance to your morning fueling routine.



Ingredients:

1 cup quinoa (dry measurement)
2 cups vanilla soy milk (or choice of 'milk')
1 apple, diced small 
1/4 c. craisins
1/4 c. chopped walnuts or slivered almonds
Honey or agave, to taste
Almond or peanut butter, to taste

Directions:

Boil soy milk in a medium pot on the stove. Once boiling, add in your quinoa and reduce to a simmer until the milk is absorbed and quinoa fluffy, approx. 7-10 minutes.. Please note: milk likes to bubble up and boil over easily when heated, so keep a close eye on this while it's cooking. Divide quinoa into bowls (to share, or to eat later!) and top with craisins, walnuts and diced apples. Drizzle with honey to taste, or as I prefer, with creamy almond or peanut butter (microwave on high for 10-15 seconds and it will be like syrup).

Makes about 4 x 1/2 cup servings.


1 cup of cooked quinoa offers up 220 calories, 8g protein, 40g carbohydrate, 5g fiber and 3.5g fat. It's also a good source of calcium, zinc, iron and magnesium. 

A warm and filling high-fiber, protein-packed breakfast to kickstart your morning.

Try something new to start your day off right and fuel up!!

To download or share a PDF version of this recipe, click HERE.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Things I'm Loving Right Now

While I'm not much of a shopper, I have to admit there are more than a few gifts I've received that I am absolutely loving right now... sometimes it's the little things in life, like a new lunch box, warm socks or a favorite mug that make all the difference in organization, comfort and making days a little easier. Here are a few "health related" products I'm loving right now throughout the winter months!


1. Thirty-One Lunchbox
A gift from a friend. I love the style, that it matches my work bag and of course that it's pink! It has provided the motivated I needed to get back to packing lunch regularly again :)

2. Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics Cookbook
Another gift from a few years ago, but I recently pulled this out again and am playing around with the recipes. Gourmet meals using real ingredients that are not over the top difficult... and not to mention the soup recipes rock!

3. Injinji Compression Stockings
Christmas gift from the hubby! They're a bit thicker than my other compression socks thus great for keeping my calves and tootsies nice and toasty through the winter. I mainly wear these after runs under my work clothes, which provides all day comfort, but they work well during runs too! I love the benefits of compression.

4. Weight Club Thermos
This was a gift for my contribution to the Burn n' Learn event last November. Not only can I rep my favorite gym, this thermos keeps hot soups and drinks warm forrrrrrever which is great for winter and us all day coffee drinkers. This worked out perfectly this past week: first on Tuesday when I dragged it to the pool and then Saturday when we did and out-of-town long run. I poured the coffee at 4:30am Saturday and it was still piping hot long past 11am when I was finished!


5. Hokie Sport Headbands
I live in these for workouts and casual days alike! I recently found them on sale at our local Kroger so I took advantage and restocked my supply. Functional, stylish and repping my favorite school all at once ... what's not to love?

6. Exercise Leggings
For traveling, after workout sessions or after a long day of work, I'm ALL about comfort these days and leggings have been my go-to lounging attire this winter! I love that these conform but are stretchy and warm. There are so many options to choose out there, but plain black works for me.

7. Ironman Yurbuds
The hubby found these at Wal-Mart in Pearisburg for $9. Quite a steal! Love the ear fit for listening to my tunes on runs. The logo is pretty cool too ;) ... I just broke out my 2nd pair since they get used so much... good tunes can definitely help to get through those cold or early morning exercise sessions!

8. Trader Joe's Miso Soup
Okay, this more of a "thing I'm wanting again right now" because we ran out weeks ago. The hubby and are obsessed with this miso soup and it makes for a quick, warm and comforting meals on busy nights or post long runs. I add diced tofu, soba noodles and edamame to bulk it up a bit...Nom nom. Hopefully dad will restock our supply when he visits here soon since there are no TJ's around here.


What little things are you loving right now?

Happy Monday ya'll !

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Little Victories: February

After reflecting a bit on my 2013 season, I realized that a year is quite a long time when it comes to training and racing! I recently took time to scroll back through and read my workouts for 2013, which was wonderfully enlightening in many ways. To see the ups and downs of training, the progress I've made along the way, all the fun workouts! Makes me very excited for what's in store for 2014. 

One new thing I'd like to do this year is to make monthly goals to break my larger goals into more manageable pieces and share them with you all. These are intended to be more action-based rather than results-oriented, so as to provide stepping stones along the way to achieving something bigger. Every step forward is a step closer towards where I'm going, and why not celebrate the journey as well as the end goal? That way I have 'little victories' that I can aim for and celebrate each month and to make the destination a little more attainable. Many goals will be training related, some nutrition related, and I'll probably include a few 'life' goals too :) Obviously I'm a bit late on January, so here are my successes for January and goals for February:

January Successes:

  1. Putting many of my ideas in writing a taking first steps to make them happen. January has been very much about brainstorming and getting organized in the form of making lists, schedules, calendars, binders, etc. I'm taking steps to "work smarter, not harder," which will hopefully go a long ways in terms of time management and stress levels in 2014!
  2. Packing lunches again on a regular basis... thanks to a little motivation from a new lunch bag from a friend, and a kick in the rear from the hubby who wanted lunches again too :)
  3. Getting back into the gym and putting in some quality workouts. I still have much work to do but it's a good first step in that respect.

February Goals:

  1. Get to bed on time (~10pm). After an exhausting week, sleep for sure needs to be bumped up on my priority list.
  2. Continuation of quality strength workouts at least 2x/week. I'm hoping to work in an additional home core session weekly too.
  3. Green smoothie daily! Usually it's my second breakfast and I just love the early dose of greens and the energy boost it provides + the extra calorie boost. Perfect for a busy girl on the run.
  4. Stretch daily. Even if only for 5 minutes, some is better than none! Foam rolling too would be a plus.
  5. Drink 50+oz water daily. I spend the morning drinking coffee then get busy at work and forget to drink water otherwise... I need to work on being consistently hydrated.
  6. Elbows up! (in regards to swimming...doh... gotta get this through my head ;)
Pictured here with one of my favorite magnets :)

My mini goals are posted on the fridge alongside my athlete training plan, providing a bit of long-term and short-term perspective to get me motivated through the harder days!!

How are you staying motivated through the winter ? What are some of your goals this month? 

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