By now, you’ve maybe read from my introduction that I live with Crohn’s disease. My goal today is to shed some light on what exactly this disease entails, how it affects me and other runners who live with it, and what it means for our running routines. Read more >>
In true runner fashion, I love a good oatmeal. And as a breastfeeding runner, the oats are a good food to promote lactation—fun fact. But whenever I saw an “overnight oats” recipe, I thought it was too involved and too hard. Full disclosure: I never actually read the recipe. I’d see “overnight oats” and keep flipping or scrolling. Until a friend of mine sent me her favorite recipe and told me how easy it was.
In this new-mom-runner game I like easy; I like convenient; I like recipes that can be doubled or tripled. I tried it, and now I’m hooked.
Food, weight, and running: it’s not easy finding a way to talk about all three at once. Recently, we (Angelica and Cilantro) started chatting about eating disorders and weight loss in reaction to Allie Kieffer’s article on Self about the relationship between weight and running success. It turned into a tough dialogue. We came to the discussion of food and body image from two very different places that don’t often interact, especially not in women’s running: the perspective of those who struggle with disordered eating patterns, and those who do not and are seeking to lose weight to improve their running.
We came to wonder how we can talk about nutrition and running performance without reinforcing societal and cultural pressures, including those from the running world, to look a certain way or maintain a specific weight?
Running in cold weather with asthma can suck the wind out of your training, literally and figuratively. I’ve battled asthma since my early teens; some days, it is so cold that I step outside and instantly can’t breathe. For many years, my training would taper off significantly in the winter due to my asthma.
Asthma makes your airways extremely sensitive, and cold air is one of the triggers that can cause the airways to spasm. When that happens, your whole chest tightens up and you cough, wheeze, and gasp for air. I would try running in the cold with my face covered and only my eyes exposed, but breathing was still a challenge. I’d find myself stopping and coughing a lot. My inhaler didn’t help much, and the cold weather usually won. It’s hard to enjoy running when it takes so much energy just to breathe.
The first few years I was into running, I would just take the winter mostly off. I didn’t have easy access to a treadmill in those years, and the downtime didn’t bother me. However, I would run the same spring half marathon every year, and for a few years in a row, my finish time was almost exactly the same. The lack of progress started to get frustrating. I could see that to get faster, I would have to avoid such a long break in training.
“Caffeine is a perfectly legal performance enhancer. If you are serious about improving your race time, you are crazy not to use it.”
That’s pretty close to a direct quote from a conversation I had with my nutritionist. I originally started working with him to help with weight loss, but in the process, I’ve also learned an enormous amount about how to fuel while running. With marathon day approaching, my long runs are taking on more of a dress rehearsal aspect, hence our conversation about caffeine.
Back in October, I ran my 3rd half marathon post-baby, and I walked long stretches. Walked. I never walk in races. My body was telling me to slow down. I felt achy, tired, and just could not push forward.
Afterward, my body felt creaky, like an old wood floor. I hobbled around like I had just run for hours. Every step I took hurt my joints. My left foot had been hurting me for a few weeks, but now it was yelling at me. My friends asked me how it went, and all I could say was, “Today just wasn’t my day.”
But deep down, I knew something else was wrong. These aches and pains had been getting worse since I had my son, William, 6 months prior. I was experiencing swelling in various joints, too. Maybe I had overdone it? Pushed too hard post-baby? At first, I attributed my aches and pains to getting older (but really, I’m only 30! That can’t be it!)
My hamstrings have been awfully cranky lately. Am I sitting too much? Am I now officially decrepit? I’m familiar with the hamstring stiffness that comes from sitting at a desk all day, but usually it works itself out after 20 minutes or so of warmup jogging and I can do my workout with no issues. Lately, with the cold weather and wind, even a 40-minute super-easy warmup jog isn’t cutting it. My hamstrings bitch at me as I attempt to launch into 800m intervals on the track: their combined age is 82 years old, they’ll have me know, and they demand more respect!
For a moment, I feel like a fraud in my “Runner” sweatshirt as I set off on my walk around my adopted home of Budapest for perhaps the last time before heading back to the U.S. for the next six months. I have intentionally put on my walking shoes that I can’t run in (unless it is to catch the tram). I have no interest in running today. I haven’t for about a week. But I don’t want the guilt of being outside, in running-ish clothing, to push me to run when my mind and body are telling me to take a break.
I did want to run just a week ago, running up a mountain in Obuda on a whim, running around Budapest like a kid in a candy store. And, perhaps, I will feel the need to run again when I am back in the States, in the middle of another amazing, but stressful semester. I just don’t want to run now, even after I’ve finally found the “perfect” training plan.
Two years ago, this lack of motivation to run would have sent me into an emotional tailspin. “I don’t even want to run!” “What does this mean about my identity as a runner?!” “Who am I even?” And, worse, those echoes of my demons: “Oh no! If I don’t run, I’ll gain #alltheweight!” “How do I eat when I’m not running?!”
I checked the temperature on my iPhone again to see if it had changed in the last 30 seconds. Nope, still 18 degrees. Sighing, I pulled up my socks, reluctantly put on my shoes, started my podcast and headed out the door for a 6-mile easy run. I turned left out of my driveway and began to climb the giant hill. Quads burning, eyes watering and nose running, I audibly groaned. “Why am I doing this to myself?” I thought as I wiped my nose on my glove. “I thought this was supposed to be fun.”
Ah, running. It’s our biggest hobby and also our biggest pain in the ass. We knew it was hard when we started. All of us can remember the days when a mile was a huge accomplishment and we thought we’d have shin splints and blisters forever. We even enjoy the hard part. There’s nothing better than that feeling of accomplishment after nailing a hard workout, or finding that point in a workout when it goes from being impossible to manageable.
But what happens when running is ALWAYS hard? When we never find that sweet spot and every run is a struggle? Do we push through and keep suffering for its own sake? And if so, why?
I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes nearly 10 years ago, at the age of 32, and it made me a runner.
Immediately after my diagnosis, I began walking on a treadmill several days a week. As I built up my endurance, I started running and began entering local races. I finished my first half marathon, and then I started working on triathlons. Over the years I have added distance and speed and intention to my training. I train 5-7 days a week. I haven’t missed more than three consecutive days of training since I started, even through illness and injury (not necessarily always running, but always training).
Since my diagnosis, I have also cleaned up my diet. Over the years, I have cut out regular cookies (my addiction) and sweets, diet Coke (my real addiction), pop in general, and most recently, I cut out wheat. I have also added in healthy foods. My health has shown the benefits of exercise and diet, but while my medication has decreased over time, I still need medication to manage my diabetes. In the beginning, I was on Metformin and Glimpiride. The Glimpiride caused low blood sugar mid-morning and sometimes while running. I tried Januvia briefly, but it wasn’t managing my blood sugar the way it should. Then I was on Invokana (and Metformin) for several years, until I didn’t need the Invokana anymore. Now I am just on Metformin, and we (my doctor and I) continue to work on finding the most appropriate dose.
My disease is well-managed, but I still have diabetes and I always will. I have only lost 25-40 pounds over all the years and struggle to maintain my current weight. Nothing comes easily. As a runner with diabetes, I am well-aware of the stigma associated with having diabetes, much of it due to the disinformation about diabetes floating around the interwebs. To clear those up, I’m bringing you your friendly Salty Running guide to running with diabetes.
Oh, winter. As if the ice and snow weren’t obstacles enough, winter weather is hard on your skin, especially if you’re running outside. Even inside, the air is drier and causing all sorts of problems.
You might be facing peeling, itchy skin — especially on your face, which is usually exposed to the elements. Your sinuses may be struggling, leading to bloody noses (I had three in one day recently) and sinus headaches. Or, your eyes might be so scratchy that your contacts are taking their own vacation.
Short of moving to the Caribbean for the winter (although I’m not ruling it out), there are easy strategies you can employ.
It’s definitely soup season, and chili is a Salty Running favorite! Here is another chili recipe from Turmeric, a delicious sounding version that includes pasta and ground turkey!
Having a six-month-old, time is a bit limited these days! I’ve made President Obama’s favorite Chili recipe runner-friendly, and added bell pepper, carbs, and delicious healthy fats. I love a good chili, and making one with the super-spice turmeric was an added bonus!
- 1 T olive oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 green bell pepper, chopped
- 5 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 1 lb ground turkey
- 1/2 t ground cumin
- 1/2 t ground oregano
- 1/2 t ground turmeric
- 1/2 t ground basil
- 1 T chili powder
- 3 T red-wine vinegar
- One 28-ounce can peeled tomatoes
- 1 29-ounce can of dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 can light red kidney beans
- 1 red bell pepper
- Cheddar cheese to top
- Avocado (diced)
- Noodles or Jasmine rice
- Heat olive oil in pan
- Add onions, green and red pepper. Saute until crisp-tender.
- Add turkey and brown until no longer pink
- Add all spices and cook for a few minutes, stirring constantly to ensure the spices do not burn.
- Add all of it to a slow cooker OR keep on stove for 30 minutes
- Add all beans, tomatoes, red wine vinegar
- If using a slow cooker, cook for about an hour or longer on medium-high heat
Top with whatever you choose (I recommend cheese and avocado). Enjoy!
The next recipe in our Salty Running in the Kitchen series comes from Chicory! There are ways to think about chicory: leaf chicory, which includes a family of bitter greens including endive, escarole and raddichio; and root chicory, which is used as a coffee substitute in Europe. I love all these things — my moniker choice was no accident. There are tons of things you can do with the leaf version, but I love the chicory coffee you find in New Orleans restaurants.
Chicory has a fascinating backstory, too. Napoleon initiated a blockade that derived the French of most of their coffee in 1808 — sacré bleu! — that resulted in chicory becoming a common substitute. And that led to its popularity in NoLa, where it prospered during the Civil War when trade disruptions and blockades limited coffee delivery to the south. Coffee with chicory added remains a New Orleans tradition, and you’ll commonly find it served with beignets.
It’s also a natural decaf alternative to coffee if you’re on #TeamDecaf like me & Ginger. (For real, pseudonym game on point.)
One of my favorite ways to enjoy chicory AND coffee is with the Vietnamese coffee they serve at Pho Ba Luu here in Louisville. The wall of Café du Monde caught my eye on my first visit, not long after I became a Saltine, and I had to have it. And I love it.
This is a super-fun brunch recipe for a coffee-with-a-twist, or make it on your own. Café du Monde is available online and there are other brands around, too. This is my version inspired by my friends at Pho Ba Luu, who serve it iced. It’s equally good hot, especially this time of year, and I won’t blink if you add Kahlúa to it either.
Chicory Vietnamese Coffee
2 T ground coffee with chicory
2 T sweetened condensed milk
Ice (if you want it cold)
Per serving, scale as needed!
- You’ll need a French Press or a heatproof container and a coffee filter.
- Place 2 T chicory coffee in either the French Press or a heatproof container (like a glass Pyrex measuring cup). Pour 2/3 c boiling water over it and let steep for 4 minutes.
- While steeping, add 2 T sweetened condensed milk to a mug or glass.
- Press coffee and pour into mug or glass, or pour grounds through the coffee filter into the mug or glass. Add ice if you wanna. Or Kahlúa. Or both. Whatever, it’s the holidays.
- Drink heartily.
Dear City Council,
It’s past time to make our city a safe place to run.
Perhaps this is going to seem like it only applies to runners.
But hear me out.
I couldn’t wait to move here. I’d looked at average temperature for January, and it looked like I could run without risk of frostbite almost all season long. I dreamed of winter running, imagining how wonderful it would feel to be in shorts whilst the rest of the world retreated to the treadmill.
I was willing to put up with heat and humidity to have year-round running temps. I was excited to be moving to a small town where surely — surely — I could run without risk of bodily harm. Even though sidewalks aren’t common in the small-town south, I erroneously assumed that there would be roads here with a shoulder deep enough to run or roads less traveled where I could run without playing frogger.
I was wrong.
There is exactly one bike lane in town, approximately a mile long, where I can safely run from my downtown home. I have to run on the bike lane and not the sidewalk when I run back and forth on this stretch, because the sidewalk is so damaged (and completely blocked off in two areas) that I can’t physically access the sidewalk in places.
The rest of the town, with the exception of a very small downtown area, is either completely lacking sidewalks or the sidewalks start and end at will. It’s almost like sidewalks have been deposited here by a SimCity novice, placed just to get the residential zoning to grow. This lack of sidewalk might be okay if there were shoulders instead that were wide enough to run on. But alas, that is also not the case. Often the road’s edge ends so abruptly that the white line marking the edge of the road is eroding into the gulley. I don’t mind running on technical terrain, but even I can’t navigate that morass.
For fun, I did a little experiment to see exactly how much of the town was runnable. I embarked on this adventure one early morning run, as I resolved to only run on sidewalks and turn around when they ended. In 75 minutes, I had to make no less than 13 full stops to turn around. I didn’t count where the sidewalk was so damaged it should really be called scree. I ran through the places where bushes and trees had almost completely obstructed the sidewalk.
The price of this folly was a branch that slapped into my face so violently, it bled.
Adding to the joys of running here, I’ve yet to go on a run where I don’t get honked at, perhaps because I’ve chosen to run in a sports bra (on warmer mornings). Or perhaps because I’m dancing along a minuscule shoulder. Or perhaps this is just a friendly southern hello? All of the above?
Even better, it’s more often accompanied by catcalls and shouts. Every run is truly a delight.
So it’s not runnable. So what?
Well, if it isn’t runnable, it’s also not walkable. And definitely not bike-able. Recent research suggests that people feel more connected to their towns if they can walk from place to place. For a town trying revitalize the downtown, I think we want to encourage people to travel from place to place on foot, not dissuade them. Plus, moving at least 20 minutes a day is proven to improve mental, emotional, and physical health. Don’t we want this for all residents, not just runners and cyclists?
I hope we do.
To help, I have a few suggestions:
- First, build more sidewalks. It seems like a fairly simple solution, but then again, I’ve already noted I think city planning is like playing SimCity, so I’m no expert here.
- Second, create some marketing about how to respond to runners for residents. I think a quick reminder that it’s not okay to honk or shout at runners is a nice start. Suggesting that drivers get out of the way of runners would be a super bonus. In a family-centeric town, perhaps you might even ask residents to consider how they’d like their daughters, sisters, mothers, or other women they care about to be treated when they were running and behave accordingly.
- Third, truly delightful would be adding some more running and biking trails. I’ll even help. I’ll plan them, reach out for sponsors, find funding, sit in city planning meetings, anything.
And I just want to love our town and make it better.
P.S. You can reach me almost every morning along the bike lane. Depending on the day, I might be there for hours.
Has your community taken steps to be more pedestrian-friendly? Have you chosen where you lived based on its runnability?
Just in time for holiday party season, we’re serving up a bunch of recipes that pay homage to our own personal flavor within the Salty Running melting pot. I feel #blessed to have snagged avocado as my namesake as it’s one of my favorite ingredients (and let’s be honest, stand-alone snack).
Avo toast peaked sometime during the last year and is on a downward trend (though you’ll pry it from my cold, dead hands), so here’s something a little different to serve up for a party … or just a Tuesday. And good news, it’s almost as easy as smearing avocado on a piece of toasted bread. Almost.
This recipe is vegetarian but would be equally delicious with some shredded chicken. The quinoa adds some good protein, so if you’re looking for a meatless light meal or app, this play on deviled eggs is a quick and tasty option!
Prep Time: 20 min
Serves: 4 (2 halves per person — multiply as needed)
- 4 avocados
- 1 cup cooked quinoa
- 1 bell pepper
- 1 small onion
- 2 tbsp taco seasoning
- 1/2 cup black beans
- Lime juice
- Salt and pepper to taste
1. In a small pot, prepare 1 cup of cooked quinoa. Let cool slightly
2. Dice peppers and onions and sauté in a small pan. Once the peppers and onions begin to breakdown, add 1 tsp of taco seasoning. Cook until tender and slightly browned.
3. While onions and peppers and quinoa are cooking, cut each avocado in half lengthwise and twist apart. Remove the pit.
4. Gently cut the avocado in a cross hatch pattern, being careful not to cut through to skin.
5. Using a spoon, carefully scoop the sliced avocado out of the skin and into a bowl, breaking apart the small cubes. Set aside the skins.
6. To the bowl with the avocado cubes, add sautéed peppers and onions, black beans (rinsed), cooked quinoa, remaining taco seasoning and 2 squeezes of lime juice.
7. Scoop mixture into avocado skins. Drizzle with hot sauce of choice and enjoy!
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