Sometimes trails can tricky and I know this seems like a very obvious thing, but watch your step!
When running on trails, part of the fun is turning the corner and being surprised at what lies ahead. In this case a giant hole in the trail was up ahead that took out two feet of this single track trail (which doesn’t leave very much behind.) This trail obviously has seen some better days, and with one wrong step I would have slid down the slope unexpectantly.
When I started running years ago I didn’t know too much about different products that could help or deter you from being a better runner. I would always go out in my pair of Adidas whatever’s that didn’t fit just right because they were not a half size bigger, my hat and usually my iPod. My shoes were nothing fancy because I was not willing to spend a ton of money on shoes to run in. Plus running is running right? You just get out there and do it.
So I ran like this for a while, and suffered. I constantly had sore, bruised toes and blisters. I also was unable to run any distance farther than 3 miles because the problems with my feet would really kick in. It occurred to me that I would not be able to run this way forever, and maybe shoes were the issue. So I got a bigger pair of New Balance shoes. The difference that a bigger shoe could make was amazing! I didn’t suffer from the same problems, but also was not too happy with the change. It seemed to me that a traditional running shoe, which is what these New Balance were, were what you were supposed to run in. All the added cushion and support was going to allow for your foot to be able to strike the ground for longer periods of time, without causing issues. The shoes were going to add a layer of protection against whatever type of road or dirt path you were running on, and the majority of the running community wore shoes like this. It was the norm.
It was not for me. I was still unable to run any farther in these shoes, and I actually didn’t feel like I was running. With each step my foot landed in this cozy little box, protected from all elements while the rest of me was working hard. My foot is big and with each step my foot was confined and restricted to spread out to where it should due to all that cushioning. Plus these shoes were heavy, and I was used to walking around barefoot or with very thin sandals. It didn’t seem right that I was shoving my foot into these things.
I knew that barefoot running was out there, but I also didn’t know if that was for me. Not that I didn’t think that I would like it, but is it not uncommon for me to run in places where their would be broken glass all over the ground or other types of things that I was not going to let my foot strike the ground and get into. I did like the idea of less is more though. Running this way you can feel with every step; it feels like running.
So I needed some form of protection, with nothing more. Then I discovered minimalist shoes.
My first shoe of choice were the Brooks Green Silence for more than one reason. First, they are made with recycled materials. Since I heart the earth, I loved this attribute. Second, they are lightweight. At only 6.9 oz, it felt like running with no shoes on. I actually found that I was running faster 🙂
Third, they have mesh upper on them that allowed for my foot to breathe and move freely as it wanted.
These shoes are considered a racing flat per Brooks’ website. These shoes allow you to run fast, and that is their intention. I am a chicken when it comes to running on dirt with shoes that have minimal to zero grip and these definitely fit into that category. While they allow you to run quickly on pavement they don’t work so well on a trail. The bottom of these shoes are flat and have no teeth or lugs to endure a trail (they aren’t made for trails). Maybe that’s an obvious observation but I felt it was necessary to point it out.
Also I found that after just a few times out with these shoes signs of wear and tear on the tread of the shoe already show. I am unsure if this is because the shoes are made from post consumer materials or what. It makes me think that in the long run, replacing the shoes would happen a lot sooner than with shoes that are not made from the same materials.
My favorite thing that I learned from these shoes is how to run freely. While wearing these shoes I ran fast and far all with the feeling of running with no shoes at all. Best of all, these are the shoes that I wore while achieving a half marathon PR (personal record.)
These shoes helped me change the way I look at running and for that I am forever grateful.
Ok so maybe I’m not really drinking a beer for breakfast right now, but it certainly is breakfast time, and I’ve got beer on the mind.
So when I announced my 30 day plant-based diet challenge 3 days ago, I was instantly bombarded by friends who know me with one serious question:
This made me appreciate the fact that these people do know me so well, and are very aware that beer is something that I do.
It occurred to me that I had to do some research because I became super concerned with my decision. I came across a few websites that contained valuable information on the subject.
The Vegan Connection – This site is a no frills website with great information and a whole tab devoted to just vegan beer! Score! I also browsed through their recipes and they have a “101 reasons to not be a vegan” list which is intriguing.
VegNews – This site has the most comprehensive list out there that I have seen. I really appreciate that their beers are organized by brewing company so I don’t have to wonder if the certain beer from the brewery on the list qualifies. It is researched and stated for you. And to my surprise many of my favorite beers are on that list.
So my recent research brings new hope to the challenge. If I can still have my beer, then everything will be okay.
“Vegan is a dirty word.” – Robert Shackleford.
The word vegan, or veganism, is similar to vegetarianism in the sense that meat is not part of your diet.
In a vegan diet though, no animal products are consumed. That means that first you don’t get to eat chicken, pork and anything that was once alive, and secondly you also don’t get to eat eggs, milk, cheese or any other type of food that was once derived from an animal.I have been considering giving the vegan diet a try for some time. I am not a picky eater, and for those of you who know me know that I probably will eat anything placed in front of me. The idea of attaining all nutrients from non meat sources intrigued me as well as the ability to show non support for meat processing and packaging facilities. Plus I like to experiment with foods.
A year ago I tried a pesco-vegetarian diet. This meant that I was able to consume everything that a vegetarian could in their diet with the addition of fish. I don’t care for fish too much, but I felt that it would give the advantage of additional protein where other wise I might struggle to find it. I did this diet for about 6 months, and really didn’t crave meat at all. Since I enjoy all types of foods, especially fruits and vegetables, I knew I would be able to do it. Eventually I started to eat meat again, in smaller amounts, simply for the fact that I always had to prepare two meals for my family. I live with a meat-eater who was not totally on board with my decision because of the way it could affect the food he eats. So it lasted for a while, but meals became more work. Not that I don’t love cooking, but I honestly don’t have all day to do it. Not to mention that I actually eat food, not processed food crap.
I recently started reading Scott Jurek’s book, Eat and Run. For those of you don’t know, Scott Jurek is an ultra runner with numerous wins and course records under his belt. He also is a
vegan plant-based eater. While reading his book, I imagined that I would be able to consume the foods that he ate, and that I would still be able to perform at my current running abilities, if not better. In other words, I might be able to do my best and feel as amazing as he does. Scott is not vegan so to say but instead a 100% plant-based eater. This is where that quote by my friend Robert Shackleford a.k.a Shacky, comes into play.
A plant-based eater is someone who actually fills their plate with foods that are or once were plants. They are able to eat vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds, fruits and legumes. This means that eating a bunch of processed food crap is out of the question. Someone who consumes a vegan diet can easily get away with eating foods such as potato chips, and McDonald’s french fries (yes, I know french fries come from potatoes). Neither of these are foods I care to eat. These items may not contain animal products, but that doesn’t mean they are good for you. Processed foods like these most likely contain high fructose corn syrup, trans fats, artificial food coloring, and not to mention lots of additives that are unwanted in the body. If you chose to eat vegan why would you fill yourself with preservatives, additives and crap? This is why Shacky says, “Vegan is a dirty word.” If your diet consist’s of plants then let’s call it what it is, plant-based.
So here is my challenge. I don’t eat a lot of meat as it is, nor do I consume dairy products, and definitely try to stay away from processed foods. I am challenging myself to eat a clean, plant-based diet, rather than a vegan diet for thirty days. I don’t think I will have a problem with the exception of eating eggs and imagining new foods to eat. Getting enough protein now is going to be a challenge in itself, because that’s where the eggs played a role before. The health advantages to eating this way are huge. The risk of developing diabetes and heart disease among other diseases can be greatly reduced, granted you keep up the protein intake with beans and legumes as well as consume the proper amount of vitamins and minerals. It will keep me on my toes as far as what I choose to put into my body, and maybe, just maybe, I will become a better runner because of it.
Could you challenge yourself like this? Comment and let me know why.
Stay tuned for updates on my new challenge as well as fun recipes that I may dream up 🙂
This past weekend I headed out to some local trails, for an afternoon full of running adventures. The weather was starting to cool, but in some parts of the trail, the sun was very bright and warm. So after running past native shrubbery, horses, and rabbits, I turned the corner and heard a hiss like noise that sounded the way a bush would sound if it were really agitated. Now, while running on the trail, hearing bushes shake and sounds 3-5 feet off the trail is completely normal. There are plenty of animals that are camouflaged in their natural habitat that we never see, but that get startled as you run by. This was a different sound, probably because it wasn’t 3-5 off into the bushes jus off the trail, it was more like a foot away from where my foot just struck the ground. I looked down, and there is was sitting there in the sun… a rattlesnake.
My reaction to jump steps back happened before I could even gauge what was going on, which I was thankful for. Then I remembered, among all the types of animals you would see on a trail in Southern California, rattlers are one of them that you should never forget about. It’s easy to though. Once you get going in your own running adventure, without actually seeing a threat on the trail, you can tend to forget that these things are out there. So after announcing to my running partner what I had just discovered, we stood there and watched it watch us for a bit, until it decided that it was safe to slither away.
We stood amazed as how beautiful it was, and how scary it was at the same time. After it went on its way up the hillside is when we continued on the trail. This was the first time my partner had ever seen a rattlesnake out there on the trail, being that she just moved here from the other side of the country. I was glad that she got to see what kind of nature we have here, but then she asked, ” what would we do if it bit one of us?” Well, we would surely be in trouble is what I told her.
So this got me thinking. Considering the fact that I run on trails, and that these things live in trails, I really should know what to do if I (or anyone else) suffered a rattlesnake bite. So I did some research. I by no means am a doctor or any other type of certified rattlesnake expert, but here’s a bit of information that I discovered.
In Southern California, rattlesnakes are common in rural areas, but it is not uncommon to find them in residential areas that are located near hills and open land. Just because you may not be on a trail doesn’t mean you could never encounter one. Here’s what to do in a bite situation.
These snakes live out on the trails, so it’s not fair to harm them when we enter into their territory, but it’s important to know how to coexist with them. If you are running and run into one like I did, stop and step out of its way a good 10 feet. These animals don’t want to bite you because doing so will waste energy on something that they are not going to be able to eat, but they will if they feel threatened. Calmly walk away, but remember where you saw it as to warn others that are approaching in the area. Also check out this site for more information on the topic, Wildlife Encounters – Part I.
Be careful out there on the trail!
The hunt for Rapper Ridge, well officially Raptor Ridge, began a little over a week ago when my friend Trisha and I planned on running on the course that our upcoming respected races would be held on.
Since becoming friends with Trisha, her and I have run in places together that I would never venture to, Raptor Ridge included. So while waiting for the date to come around of our planned attempt to do damage on said location, I looked up maps and trails to make sure we would not get lost, even though I knew of the general area. Trails can be tricky sometimes, and during an exploratory run I would be all over the place looking for the coolest trails, but we weren’t doing that. We were specifically going to annihilate Raptor Ridge. In my searching for anything related to the trail I discovered that Raptor Ridge is simply the name of the hill, not the name of the trail.
So we headed out on planned date and time, ready to do work on this hill. It was a warm and sunny day, but that didn’t discourage us. It was decided that this particular trail would be great for heat acclimation training due to the complete lack of shade in the first 3 miles. The beginning of the trail was easy enough though, just a flat straight trail that headed toward some hills.
Usually running on trails includes some climbs to actually make you feel like you worked, and some interesting scenery. This trail had neither one of those elements. We only planned to run 5-10 miles, so actually destroying the hill seemed out of reach, but funny thing is, we never even saw it. Apparantly my complete lack of direction showed itself during this run, and we ran 4 flat miles before turning around. Beer was on our mind from the get-go. There will be other opportunities to find the hill, and all of that can be discussed over a nice cold beer.
This breakfast or anytime meal is super easy to make and kids love it too. Sometimes I like to add in pureed fruit or vegetables such as sweet potatoes, butternut squash or carrot into the egg mixture to add additional flavor and nutrients. This recipe is very adaptable, hope you have fun with it like me.
Here We Go:
Happy Eating 🙂
I love running shoes. They allow me to do what I love, run. They shield me from rocks, mud, horse shit. They serve their purpose. What I don’t love is buying new running shoes. Knowing what size you’re going to fit into in a certain style is hard and stressful. What if your running in the middle of a trail and they start to irritate you in a way that you could never have known while test running them in the store? I also don’t like to spend my money, and lets face it buying running shoes for a hundred bucks a pop gets pretty old. Then I look at my shoes again.
I have spent the majority of my running time over the last 9 months in these shoes. While wearing these shoes I managed to change their color to a dusty gray, PR in a half marathon, splashed through the mud and run up some gnarly hills. And these babies helped me fly down from them. I love these shoes and I knew I would before I bought them. There is no saving them now. I had the idea of fixing them up with bright green duct tape and I was informed by my son that doing so is definitely not cool.
So off I went to Road Runner Sports in San Diego to go buy a new pair of shoes. I was going to go waste a huge chunk of my day off spending money and I was definitely not excited about it. I had a gift-card to the store so it would not be so painful, but still.
So at this store they have a clearance section of once worn and well-loved shoes. This is where I go most times because at this store you have the ability to return a pair of shoes you did not fall in love with after one use, and in my opinion these shoes are still new for the fraction of the price.
This is where my day went from great to awesome. Before heading out to the clearance section, I knew what I wanted. A minimalist trail running shoe. After browsing the 1000’s of pairs of shoes, I found them.
These shoes stuck out to me for good reason, and I can’t resist anything orange. It was meant to be and they had my size. Call me a happy camper! Then I found another pair that I thought I would try, and for $25.29 I’m not going to pass it up, especially since it took me thirty minutes to get to this store.
The second pair I found are a men’s shoe, but when you have as big of feet as I do, you can do that.
For under $100 I get to add these two pairs of shoes to my collection and hope that I run as many miles and create as many memories in these shoes as I did with my Brooks Green Silence. For some reason I don’t think I’ll be lacking in either one of those areas.
I love tacos and in honor or Taco Tuesday I decided to have breakfast tacos!! These are super easy and quick to make and also very low-fat. Yummy!!
Wanna make your own breakfast tacos? If you don’t have the same veggies or fruit on hand just use what you have, which makes this recipe a good one to clean out the fridge 🙂 Here’s how I made mine:
1/4 cup diced bell peppers
1/4 cup diced onion
1 whole egg
1 egg white
Trader Joe’s Olive Oil cooking spray
2 corn tortillas
Trader Joes Serrano Salsa fresca
1 cup strawberries
Dogs are great companions and can also be some of the best running partners. A dog’s natural instinct is to run, and if you have a dog chances are they are full of energy that is just waiting to be released.
Here are some tips and suggestions to turn your dog into an amazing running buddy.
Depending on your dog’s level of energy, some practicing may be in order. Just because the dog is high energy, it doesn’t mean he has a high level of endurance. If you have access to a large area that the dog can run in, take advantage. Go out and get him running whether it be after a ball or with you. Once you see signs of the dog slowing down, or getting tired, take a break and play later. Activities like this will make the dog stronger and get him used to running for longer periods of time.
Teach Leash Manners
If you have taught your dog how to walk on a leash this part will be much easier than if not. If your dog runs every which way while going for an afternoon walk, it becomes dangerous for both of you if you start running together without fixing this issue. Teaching your dog to walk on one side of you only helps to eliminate them tripping you up while running, and take it from me, it’s not fun to skid down the sidewalk on your shoulder because your dog jolted in front of you. If you have a dog who pulls ridiculously I recommend getting a leader. When he pulls you during the run, the leader will force his head to turn to the side. Dogs don’t like this and they learn very quickly that the pulling action is what is goofing them up. After using this for a few runs the dog usually gets the picture.
Teaching your dog key words will also help them understand what it is that you want from them. Telling them to “Stop” or “Wait” means the obvious and can be used when approaching a stop sign or street.
Running Off Leash
If your dog follows commands and is not animal or people aggressive running off leash can be an option. I definitely would not recommend doing so in area of high traffic whether it be cars or humans with other animals. Just because your dog listens to you, doesn’t mean that other dogs listen to their owners. I don’t run with my dog off leash simply for the fact that I know he won’t listen to me if approached by another person or animal. I have encountered numerous dogs that are just running around and harassing my dog and I while trying to get our run in and their owners think it’s funny. If your dog does the same thing, keep the leash on.
Having adequate amounts of water for both you and your dog is important. If you plan on going on a long run take a hydration pack with you with water for the dog also. The time of day will also play a factor in how much water you should bring. Dogs are unable to sweat so they cool themselves off by panting. Take breaks if your dog is panting excessively and remember to get fluid into them when they need it. Dogs can’t tell us if they are feeling bad, but with practice you will be able to assess their condition.
Most importantly, have fun! This should be a great bonding experience for you and your dog. Go on adventures with you dog, and I guarantee you he won’t complain. Dog’s love to be with you and this will certainly make them feel special and like they are doing their “job.”
Running with your dog provides you with a level of protection, a great way for both of you to get exercise, and an opportunity to have fun together.
Earlier this year I made a goal for myself that I was going to run my first ultramarathon by the time I turned thirty. You’re probably thinking two things.
To answer these questions.
For you to understand where this crazy idea came from I think its important to know the background information.
It all started in the beginning of 2011. I was a member of active.com advantage due to the registration of my son’s baseball season. I had been on the active.com website a handful of times before, perusing the different races as well as articles they had to offer for runners. I received an email one day that in 15 minutes they were going to give away a free race entry to the Carlsbad 5000 taking place on April 2nd. So I thought, what the heck, I’ll try it and I probably won’t get it. Nothing to lose, right? Fifteen minutes were up and I clicked that mouse as fast as I could. To my surprise I had won a free race entry to the race!
Let’s go back. In 2006 I started running. I began with the blocks around where I lived to lose extra baby weight and enjoy time to myself. I had a pair of running shoes and an iPod downloaded with a podcast running program narrated by Bas Rutten. After building confidence and ability to run 1 mile straight through, I moved on to 2, and then 3. After 3 miles I was pretty proud of myself. People that I knew didn’t do stuff like that and I stuck with it. After almost 3 1/2 years of running 2 or 3 miles at a time, and nothing more, I figured that was as far as I could go. My feet would hurt, and blister everyday at about this point, and I knew I couldn’t run further with daily problems like that. I made myself think that I was content with that distance and called it a day. The problem was that I needed new shoes. My shoes did not fit me the right way and I was just beating up my feet every time I ran. Once I finally found a pair of shoes that worked for me, my world of possibilities opened up.
Fast forward to 2011. When I got that free race entry to the Carlsbad 5000, I was still running but the consistency as well as the distances were not all the same. Some weeks I might have run 1 time, and others maybe 4 times. It wasn’t consistent and honestly I wasn’t quite sure how to prepare for a race. I ran when I had extra time. I figured I just had to keep working hard and do my best on race day.
The day of the race was hot and I was amazed at the amount of people there. My race strategy was to do my best and actually try to run faster than I did at home. I knew I could do well. I ran the entire course and finished strong in the end. I certainly did not come anywhere close to winning the race, but got a nice shiny medal that was handed out to the first two hundred and fifty finishers. YEA ! And then I got two free beers at the beer garten 🙂 DOUBLE YEA!!
So whats so important about this story? Well that day something happened to me. I was emotionally tied to this race without knowing it, and it makes sense. This was my very first race with other people. It was a huge event. And here I was just this girl wearing a green shirt and new balance shoes. I came in faster than I had than ever during my best runs at home. Was it the race jitters that did it to me? Was it the fact that I knew their was beer at the end? Was it because my family was watching? I don’t know what it was, but the feeling of accomplishment was so overwhelming I almost started crying as I crossed the line. I was proud of myself. I did something that doesn’t seem so big, but the fact that I did it all by myself was amazing.
Days following this race I couldn’t wait to do another and signed up to run America’s Finest City 2011. Not only did I feel proud of myself for running and finishing a race, but I also developed (or maybe it was there all along) a competitive side. In my training runs I pushed myself to beat my times, and I made time to run instead of relying on extra time. And next I was going to rock a half marathon!!
So how does this relate to my goal of running an ultra before I turn thirty? So after completing my first half marathon in August of that year, (2011) I had dreams of going big. Years previous I had no idea I was capable of running a half marathon. That was 10 miles longer than I ever thought I could do, but I finished 3 half marathons after than. This only proved to me that I am going to be what I push myself to be. Running an ultra is a huge far-fetched goal and I made it mine. I have never run a marathon and I’m making a jump from a half to a 50k. Who knows how I’m going to feel after I run a marathon. I may absolutely hate it and never do it again. But how am I going to get to my ultra without running that distance over again. I’m not. So I decided to skip the marathon and go straight for the ultra!! I would much rather spend my time and experience running that distance on trails than on roads anyway 🙂
On October 28th, 2012 I will be running in my first 50k at Lake Hodges Trail Fest. http://lakehodgestrailfest.com/. It is going to be phenomenal. And what’s great about it is that I am going to be completing my goal a whole year before its due date!! I’m not really crazy, and their are a ton of people out there in the running community who do stuff like this, and now I’m going to be one of them. 🙂
Running is a huge part of my life. I am not great at it, and do not have the most experience, but the memories and feelings I get out of it are all mine. This blog will serve as a platform where I can document my experiences through running. People run for many different reasons, whether it be to lose weight, cure boredom, running from something or someone, and because they simply love it. I run for the pleasure of knowing that I can. I run for health benefits as well as feeling connected to a better me.
Here I will include all things that interest, inspire, and encourage me and I hope you will join me on my travels.