Recipes for Runners: Pimento’s Italian Meatballs

I’ll start off by saying, This one is for the carnivores! I’ve previously shared my kale salad and my minestrone soup recipes, both of which can be made vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, clean, dirty, paleo, or other fill-in-the-blank diet fad.

This recipe? Full of meat, cheese, gluten, and soul. Scrumptious. Perfect for those times during high-mileage training when your muscles are craving protein.

I’ve been known to pop a left-over meatball, or three, into my my mouth straight out of the fridge after a tempo run. They’re that good and so very hard to resist. You’ll definitely want your mouth all over these balls. And so will your friends and family.

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Do Runners Really Need Strength Training?

file_000-4Many of us assume that with all our running we don’t need to add more to our workout routine, that running alone will keep us healthy from head to toe. You might have heard that strength-training can help us avoid injury, but maybe you’ve been lucky enough to escape injury sans strength work.

There is another reason that it’s important, though: muscle mass starts to decline as early as age 30. This makes strength training an important exercise for everyone, not just runners.

Why You Need to Strength Train

Maintaining overall muscle strength can help prevent injuries in daily life as well as in running. Also, running creates some muscle imbalances that can be remedied through strength building exercises. You may think “I’m a runner-my legs don’t need any more exercise!” But surprisingly, runners can be weak in muscles of the hips and gluteus. Weak hips can cause more strain on other muscles, joints, tendons and ligaments, resulting in injuries. Strong muscles help carry some of the load so that other areas are not overcompensating.

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Better Late Than Never: A Chicago Marathon Recap

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Photo by Karen Mitchell

I believe the amount of time that passes between racing and writing a race recap is an indication of how many emotions you have about said race. Which is why it has taken me just over a month to write my Chicago Marathon recap. Admittedly, I was busy playing Trivia and drinking Bell’s Two Hearted Ale in Ohio with my siblings the following two weeks after the marathon, but I digress. I was attempting to sort out my emotions post Chicago.

I am pleased with a nice new personal best of 2:40:56. I am bummed I didn’t execute my race goal(s). Which leaves me feeling all sorts of incongruity.

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Should Runners Vote with their Dollars?

Voting with your purchasesIn case you were hiding from the news this week, last Wednesday a WSJ reporter tweeted out a quote from New Balance’s VP of Public Affairs, Matt LeBretton: “The Obama administration turned a deaf ear to us and frankly, with President-elect Trump, we feel things are going to move in the right direction.” Within an hour, sneaker head magazine Sole Collector got wind of the statement and incited angry, shoe-burning backlash from consumers with their coverage.

And while it’s true that the statement was and continues to be taken out of context by consumers all across the political spectrum, the incident has definitely raised questions among some of us about where our dollars go when we purchase products from Nike, Under Armour or NB.

For instance, according to a research piece for CBS Sports, Nike founder Phil Knight donated $133,400 to support Republican congressional candidates in the 2016 election cycle and Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank gave $2,700 to the Clinton campaign. If you want to dive into the records yourself, check out OpenSecrets.org, which searches public record donations. There, I discovered the president of Mizuno USA, Robert S. Puccini, gave nominal amounts to Republicans in previous election cycles but did not donate during the 2016 election. Blake Krueger, CEO of Saucony parent company Wolverine World Wide gave $6k to Republicans in 2015 and 2016. Laurent Potdevin of Lululemon gave $2,700 to Clinton last October 1st.

Would any of this information sway your decision to purchase products from one company or another?

Do your political beliefs affect the way you shop? Do you think it’s important to consider how a company or its leaders will use the money you spend on their products?

Happy Veteran’s Day: What It’s Like Running in the Army

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With Ben, one of my running partners in Kuwait, after a race

Everyone in the Army is a runner. Not always in the same way that we Salties are runners, filling our spare hours with training and our weekends with racing, but compared to the average population, Soldiers are runners. They have to be; it’s a job requirement. There are physical standards to get into the military, and physical requirements to stay in.

In the Army, the annual physical fitness test consists of pushups, sit-ups, and a two mile run, with time standards graded by age and gender. Soldiers generally have physical training (PT) every morning before the actual work day starts, usually from 0630-0730. On one hand, this makes for a long day, on the other, it’s nice to have time allocated to work out. Read more

Chicory’s Monumental Marathon 2016 Race Report

568175_241648323_xlargeTo start, my race plan was … non-existent. Coach and I had talked on Wednesday and stepped through a couple of the goal times I had out there. “If you run 3:03 [my original B goal, and four minutes off my spring PR], we’ll sit down and figure out what we need to change. 3:01 would be okay. 2:59:59 is a lot more exciting than 3:00:10, but don’t focus too much on the splits.”

But then he opened the door: “How far under 3:00 can you go? I’m not going to guess at that.”

There it was. It was on the table that he thought I was ready, and I thought I was ready, so … Ultimately, he said to “let the race come to you,” with which I completely agreed. I was worried if I went out explicitly trying to break 3 hours and hit 6:50 pace every mile, it would be overwhelming. And what if the course was long or my watch was off?

I needed to rely on my ability to assess my perceived effort.

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What Does Sub-Elite Mean?

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Sometimes being a sub-elite isn’t as clear as I wish it were.

I’ve been mulling over the words “sub-elite” and “elite.” While most of us have some idea of what an elite runner is, the concept of “sub-elite” is slightly less tangible.

There are differences between being received or perceived as elite, identifying as elite, and training like an elite, but no single item on this list necessarily qualifies a runner as being truly elite, does it? What about two items from this list? What about all? We like to compartmentalize, but I have a hard time creating categorizations and instead judge on a case by case basis, which might seem elusive or unfair, or maybe exactly right. According to the comments on a Salty Running Readers’ Roundtable, “What the *blank* is an Elite Runner?“, there’s no clear answer. As with most things, the top and the bottom are better understood than what lies between. Read more

High-Octane Nutrition: What I Learned From a Visit to the Nutritionist

Whether you’re a fighter jet or a long-haul Dreamliner, a sprinter or an ultrarunner, no one wants to run out of gas mid-air. But taking enough fuel on board, and making sure it’s the right kind, can be challenging.

Some time ago, I ran into this very problem. Between running, breastfeeding, and just having a busy life in general (like the rest of us!), I found myself hungry all the time. Worse, despite feeling like I was eating more and constantly, I was dropping off the wrong end of the BMI scale and at risk for secondary amenorrhea. Baffled, I kept a food diary for a couple of weeks to try and figure out what I was missing. Still no dice.

Finally I met with a nutritionist, Kelsea Gusk, who works with members of my gym, to talk about getting enough food and how to properly fuel endurance running. Here’s what I learned.

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What’s the Best Race Prediction Calculator?

running calculatorSetting a race goal can be a daunting process, particularly for marathons. You don’t want to see yourself short and set a goal that will leave you feeling like you could have pushed harder on race day, but you also don’t want to pursue a time so speedy that you crash and burn.

So you take a recent race time (bonus points if it’s a half marathon!) and enter it into one of the many race predictors available online. And now, Runner’s World promises that their new, Better than ever!, predictor will render an even more accurate prediction to help you set your expectations right for race day.

But just how accurate and practical is this new race predictor?

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Hope and Running: Why Everything Happens for a Reason

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The birch tree we planted to heal us.

Everything happens for a reason. These are at once the best and the worst words ever.

Usually, people say this when things don’t go their way, and they really don’t know what else to say. For me, it was all I had to hold on to ten months ago. It was what kept me going, even though I hated it.

One year ago, October 2015, my husband and I found out we were pregnant for the first time. We were ecstatic. Everything was going to be perfect. Until it wasn’t. At 12 weeks, we went for what we thought was going to be a normal ultrasound, and walked out completely blindsided. How could this happen to us, two healthy, young people who did practically everything right? Our OB kept our hopes up. She told us, it wouldn’t take long to get pregnant again. She told us to try to go back to our normal lifestyles once we let ourselves grieve and heal.

After a few months of grieving, naturally I decided to train to race a marathon. Read more

How to Customize a Training Plan

So many training plans to choose from!These days, runners seem to want personalization. And if you’re one of those people, all of those great running plans in books ranging from Advanced Marathoning to Hanson’s Marathon Method aren’t good enough for you. I hear you! Even though you really loved the Pfitz 55 or the Hanson’s plan, using the same plan you used last year gets old, and you need to up the ante if you want to get faster. Maybe it’s time to hire one of the billion online coaches to write a plan for you?

Hold it right there! That coach on the internet has never met you and is expensive, and that plan you used last year was pretty good! Instead of making drastic changes, why not just tailor what you already have?

There are easy adjustments you can make to any training plan. So once you find the plan you like, you don’t just have to own that training plan as it’s written, you can actually make it your own. Read more

Ski Down? I Prefer to Run Up! Benefits to Training and Racing Outside Your Comfort Zone

To say I enjoy running is an understatement. There is no better way to start my day than on Boston’s Charles River esplanade watching the sun come up and the rowers fly by. It makes me feel alive and clears my head before the day. However, even I feel the need to spice it up once in a while to prevent boredom and what I like to refer to as “route burn-out.”

It was that desire that led me to the Race to the Summit: a five mile, 2,000 foot elevation, off-trail race up to the summit of Loon Mountain on a course designed by former Navy SEALS. What could be more fun!? Many people say I must be nuts. I say embrace the nuttiness and jump on in.

Signing up for a race that isn’t in your comfort zone is a great way to break out of training boredom by forcing you to train and race outside of your well-worn rut!

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Readers Roundtable: What to Do About Harrassment

Scared woman runnerEvery day lately, there’s a new viral article about the harassment and threats women runners face when daring to run in public. It’s like suddenly publishers and social media users everywhere learned what dedicated women runners have known all along — women runners deal with annoying, intimidating, or even threatening harassment frequently. How novel!

So now the media has graduated from telling women what they should do to run without being attacked, while blithely ignoring helpful tips that would render all of those unhelpful tips unnecessary, such as telling men not to rape, murder, catcall, grope, comment, scream at, or make lewd gestures at women runners or anyone, for that matter. We’ve graduated to recognizing the problem is bigger than the few senseless murders that grab all the headlines. A step in the right direction?

If nothing else, this is a great jumping off point for further discussion. Here let’s start with a couple of questions:

  1. Have you ever felt physically threatened or been harassed while running? 
  2. Does the threat of harassment or physical harm factor into your decisions about running? If so, how? 

★ Join us at 7:00 p.m. EDT tonight (Monday) for #SaltyChat on Twitter, where we will discuss this very important topic in more depth. ★

If the Presidential Race Were a Running Race

Hillary and Donald RaceAll of us here at Salty love running and many of us love politics. No, we don’t all agree on everything, but we always have a lively and productive conversation. Sometimes, we’ve shared that with you. Back during the presidential primaries we considered which candidate was the best runner. We took a quiz to figure out who the best candidate for us was based on our running. And we expounded on how to Make Running Great Again™.

As election day draws near (finally!), inspired by all the debate zingers, we wonder what this campaign would be like if Hillary and Donald were running a race rather than running for president. So come along with Bergamot to an alternate universe where she cheers on the sidelines while our favorite NBC Olympic announcers, Tom, Kevin and crew, describe the race of the century, not for the White House, but rather an almost-expired gift certificate to the local running store and a plastic trophy shaped like a person with terrible running form.  Read more

North: The Lone Ranger

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It always comes down to Sydnie.

For four seasons, she has led North Rangers Girls Cross Country, this small team of underdogs who could always count on her to make them proud. When other teams dismissed them, Sydnie was there passing their fastest runners. When her teammates focused on keeping up and competing with each other, Sydnie was there claiming North’s place among schools with larger, faster teams. When her teammates looked to her for when to warm up, what to wear, what drill to do next, Sydnie was there, relying on herself to know and lead them. And when the season turned into the post-season, Sydnie was there, the lone Ranger, taking North to Regionals and, she desperately hoped, the State Championship.

After captaining her teammates for her last season, Sydnie traveled 80 miles to race without them at the Youngstown Regional Cross Country Tournament. It was her fourth chance to compete for a spot at the state meet and, as she was very aware, her final shot.
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