Recipes for Runners: Pimento’s Minestrone Soup

slack-for-ios-upload-30It’s fall, again. Time for all things pumpkin, boots, perfect weather for running and racing, and of course soup. Nothing caps off a long run or tough workout better than a runger-solving, soul-satisfying bowl of deliciousness that you can put in your food diary with pride. I’ve shared my recipe for my favorite kale salad before, and now that the temperatures have turned I find myself making big pots of soup at least once a week.

Maple gave us some great tips for meal prepping, and I consider making a large batch of this soup another form of meal prepping: left-overs for lunch for days! I didn’t put these click-bait terms in the title, but this soup can be vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, or omnivorous with just a few easy changes, and can even be made in a slow-cooker. Enjoy!

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Supplements, Doping, and You: What the Average Runner Needs to Know about Dope

imageWhen Olympic swimmer Lilly King waved her finger at a camera and accused Russian competitor Yulia Efimova of doping, it inspired conversations about how athletes respond to negative allegations against competitors, but also how exactly it was that Efimova allegedly doped. Most recently, she, along with fellow Russian tennis player Maria Sharapova and others, tested positive for the heart medication melodonium, prescribed to them by doctors. Efimova’s ban for this, her second offense, was ultimately lifted, allowing her to compete in Rio. But more importantly for our purposes, Yulia’s first doping ban came after she tested positive for DHEA, that she claims was, unbeknownst to her, in a supplement she bought at GNC.

If medication prescribed by a doctor or a supplement found on the shelf at a chain store in strip malls everywhere can almost ruin an Olympic swimmer’s career, what could that mean for you? Read more

To Race Well, You Need to Get Real: My Stanky Creek 25k Race Report

imageThe story behind my Stanky Creek 25k race is much longer and, frankly, more important than the actual race itself. For the most part, the hardest part of a race isn’t the actual race: it’s the months or years of training that lead up to it. But since I started running, and possibly with the exception of my very first marathon and 50 miler, I have struggled with meeting my race expectations after excellent training cycles.

In the year since I (barely) finished my first 100, Burning River, I had a lot of time to think and reflect on why this was. Part of it was, of course, that I simply wasn’t training hard enough or specifically enough; it is really easy to settle into a routine of slow, long runs when training for ultras. But the other thing is that I was sabotaging my goal race efforts with impatience and not training mentally to race at my peak. Stanky Creek was my first, but hopefully not my last time where I trained well, ran hard, and raced smart.

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Start Chopping! 5 Meal-Prepping Tips for Runners

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When it comes to your nutrition, if you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail.

This might be bold for me to say, but I consider myself a master meal prepper. I’ve been meal prepping on and off for the past seven years. I started in 2009, after finishing grad school when I realized that living on garbage for the past few years had taken a toll on my health. To fix my predicament, I started running and then I stumbled upon fellow Canadian and fitness enthusiast Tosca Reno and her Eat-Clean Diet books. The books appealed to me because they weren’t just about losing weight, but viewed the diet as part of overall fitness. Important for us, her plans emphasized the importance of meal prepping. Being the Type-A that I am, I loved the ideal of planning meals and being ready for the week.

Seven years later, and here I am running far more than ever and meal prep has become essential to balancing my running goals with the demands of daily life. Over the years I’ve refined my prep, and offer these five tips to meal prepping like a champ. Read more

How Yoga Can Actually Help Your Running

imageWhen it comes to yoga, I’m a streaker. Wait, that didn’t come out right. What I mean to say is that I tend to attend a bunch of yoga classes all at once, usually during a break from running, and then attend sporadically when my training ramps back up. Balance, you know.

I love yoga (yes, not all of us here at Salty Running hate it). I love it for the yogi’s high (is that a thing?), but also because it makes me a tougher runner. It makes me tougher physically: the exercises help me to build upper body and core strength and activate all the leg muscles that high mileage tends to make out of whack. However, the biggest benefit for me is that yoga improves my mental toughness! Yoga teachers may catch some flak for sounding kooky at times, but many are full of wisdom. Some of their advice might even remind you of Ginger’s tips for being more mindful when you run.

So even if you’re a yoga hater (*cough* Salty *cough*), here is why you should consider mixing in some yoga to your training.

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Readers Roundtable: Racing and Watches

imageWatches and racing. It seems like something so simple, but deciding whether to wear one, which one to wear, and what setting to put it on if you choose one with multiple settings can be a maddening process! As my husband prepped his race-day gear for his annual half marathon this weekend, he asked me what watch he should wear. We looked at the old Garmin, the new Garmin, the Timex, and considered whether he needed a watch at all. We went around and around considering all the options and he wasn’t even racing it competitively!

I know every time I race, I go through this same process. I’ve tried different things, but still don’t feel settled on what works best for me. I often feel like I need a watch, although is that even true? How does a having a watch help us race better? Might it prevent us from racing our best? Anyway, before I go down a hole, I’ll just ask you:

Do you ever race without a watch? If not, could you?

And if you race with a watch, do you go old-school with simple stopwatch or are you all about the GPS. Lastly, if you use your GPS, what display settings do you use for race day?

5 Reasons to Think Twice Before Run-Bragging on Facebook

slack_for_ios_upload_720-6I’ll start this by saying that I don’t care how uncool it is or how much better Instagram or Snapchat are, I unabashedly love Facebook. I’ve found long-lost friends from high school, stayed connected with family members from the other side of the country, and I get most of my news headlines there anymore. I also unabashedly love running, just like you do. I love reading about running and chatting about running and writing about running. I love to share funny or interesting things I think or read about running and I love it when you do the same.

But when it comes to running and Facebook, there’s a line in my mind that far too many people seem to be crossing. Lately, my feed is filled with data from my friends’ daily training runs: selfies with distance and pace printed on them, photo montages of your sweatiness and your post-run Garmin stats, or simply stuff like, Don’t you love it when you run 8 easy miles faster than your 5k PR pace? #blessed #runecstatic.

Not everything belongs on Facebook, and your daily run-brag is one of those things. Here’s why. Read more

North: Mentor Cardinal Classic

silhouette2All ten North girls, decked out in their new team warm-ups, descended from the bus on the first chilly morning of the season. In spite of a lingering cough, Sydnie slipped back into the role of leader for her team. Fellow-senior Ashleigh, done with her last summer obligations, was ready to kick off her farewell season. Lone freshman Cheyenne was sufficiently recovered from mono to make her high school cross-country debut. However, only eight were there to race, with sophomore Calina on the sidelines still recovering from a knee injury alongside newly-limping Vidhi.

As the runners hatched warm-up plans, the coaches plotted out their strategy. For North, this, the Mentor Cardinal Classic was the first race of the season with both a varsity and a JV race. The coaches decided that Cheyenne, Mollee and Caitlin would run in the JV race, so Cheyenne could experience less pressure in her first high school race and Mollee and Caitlin would have an opportunity to race with more runners at their level, rather than mostly alone like last time.

This decision left Sydnie, Natalie, Lydia, Ashleigh and Hannah together on the starting line of the varsity race. On paper, before this season, these five varsity runners would be seeded thusly: Sydnie, Natalie, Ashleigh, Lydia, Hannah. But so far, Natalie and Lydia have been leading the team together with Hannah holding steady behind them. How would the two seniors change the dynamic? Would everyone fall in line? Read more

When It Comes to Running, What Is Easy?

Easy is easier with friends.

Easy is easier with friends.

Easy runs aren’t the sexiest topic. They don’t generally impress anyone. There’s no ego boost when you jump off the treadmill having never clicked the accelerate button more than a couple of times. Heck, sometimes you hardly break a sweat. The worst is when you’re behaving and running really easy and some dude comes up behind you breathing loudly and slobbering with his feet slapping on the ground as he passes you all proud of himself that he’s running faster than a chick … pushing a toddler in a stroller the day after she nailed mile repeats, but I digress. You know what? Forget that guy. Sometimes slower is better, no matter what the cost to the ego.

But is slower always better? Is there a proper easy pace and if so, how does one go about finding it? What does “conversational” pace mean? What if what someone says should be your easy run pace is hard or feels way too easy? What is easy!? Read more

What Everyone Else Expects: a Race Report

IMG_6826The lumbering elephant of a school bus had been on its bumpy slog through the Black Hills of South Dakota for about 45 pitch black minutes when it suddenly slowed to a stop. I peered out the window and could only make out darkness and the outline of a few Port-a-Potties that were gently illuminated by the headlights of the school bus. When I stepped outside a blast of cold and nerves struck me and I began to shiver uncontrollably. I used the bathroom and climbed back into the comfortable blast of warmth coming from the school bus and took a seat next to my training partner Amie.

Then we waited.  We waited in the darkness with just our thoughts and our nerves for more than an hour. Read more

About Those Pre-Race Nerves and What You Can Do About Them

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The time is 11:30 p.m. You were supposed to be asleep at least an hour ago. Instead, here you are tossing and turning and fixating on the time that you HAVE to get up.

Alarm will go off at 5:30am.

I’ll snooze until 5:45am.

I have to rise by 5:45am.

REPEAT.

5:45AM!

Are you remembering that brain?

What if I don’t hear my alarm?

What if I miss the race?

Oh my God, it’s midnight now. I’m only going to get 5 hours of sleep, 5.5 if I’m lucky. That amount of sleep is definitely not ideal for racing a half marathon.

STOP. The first tip I have to offer in calming those pre-race nerves is to accept the fact that your sleep is likely going to suck the night before a race. That’s why it’s better to focus on getting a good night’s rest two or three nights out from race day. But the night before a race isn’t the only time we have to deal with those pesky pre-race nerves that Salty talked about a few weeks ago. The morning of the race can be pretty stressful, too. There are reasons for that; it’s not as all in your head as you think. Read more

My Experience with Racing After a C-section

cocoababyI came on board Salty Running late last year to share my experiences with returning to running after recovering from a Cesarian birth. I shared my first few training logs and three posts about running and C-section recovery:

8 Rules for Running after a C-Section

Does C-Section Recovery Time Apply to Runners

C-Section Complications and Runners

Now that it’s been a year, I wanted to share my experience with racing after a C-section too. I ran three marathons during my daughter’s first year: a half and two full marathons. Before I had my daughter, I managed to get my marathon best down to 2:57. My running goal after having her was to get back as close to that time as I could, if not exceeding it! Read more

The Time I Broke a 13 Year-old PR!

PoppyAt the beginning of the calendar year, I jotted down some goals for 2016 in my paper running log. Yes, that’s right, in addition to my online log, I still use a paper running log as well. It’s a very fancy composition notebook that I paid a whopping $0.97 for at Target.

Anyway, like I was saying, I wrote down some goals for the year. One of them was “PR at something.” It’s a pretty general goal upon first glance, but keep in mind that I’m 37 years old, have been running competitively for 24 years, and I’ve only run one PR in the past ten years, a 5-mile road PR in 2013. 

In the time since 2006, I have had several running-related injuries, a collection of health issues, and have had two children. My body has been through a lot. So, this goal of logging a PR was a long shot, but I wrote it down anyway. Read more

5 Salty Running Search Terms That Will Make You LOL for Realz

Slack for iOS Upload (12)Search terms sounds so boring, I know. With a site like this one, the search terms that bring people here are often dull, sure, but occasionally we get a winner.

“Marathon taper” – boring.

“Will I lose my toenail?” – slightly less boring.

“Running while breastfeeding” – wait! You can do that?

See, search terms aren’t always boring.

In fact, they can give us a glimpse into the minds of strangers … often strangers we’re glad we’ll never know, but it’s still fascinating (and occasionally disturbing) to know what these faceless people do in the illusion of privacy on the internet. While I could probably list weird search terms all day long, I’ve refined my favorites to a list of five that I thought were the most … uh … interesting.
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North to South

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Coach James escorts the North High cross-country team to the start.

Late August summer mornings are made for cross-country, with their damp warm air, piercing sun from the east shining down on lush, freshly mown grass. Though this particular late August morning wasn’t as hot as some, it was still hot. The course for the day’s race meandered through the mostly unshaded grounds of South High, either North High’s sister or rival school depending on who you talk to.

After the starting shots rang out, echoing against the school’s brick walls, the race swarmed off into the distance behind a speeding Gator. I pictured the North girls spread out behind it: Sydnie in front charting the course for Natalie, Lydia, Hannah, Vidhi, Mollee, and Caitlin, all scattered further back throughout the pack.

As I surveyed the school grounds before me, my focus broke when I spotted Coach James out of the corner of my eye. He hustled past with his clipboard in hand, jogging toward his chosen vantage point.

“Hey, Coach!”

“Hey! Salty!” he said with a hug and then blurted, “Syd’s out. She’s at the doctor, sick!”

Sydnie, the number one runner on the team, the one aiming for a berth at the State meet this year, but most importantly, Sydnie, the leader of the North girls’ cross-country team, was not there at the first big meet of the season.

“It’s ok, though! This is an opportunity for the other girls to step-up,” he said as he ran toward the sound of the Gator. Read more