Sunday Funday

Oh my goodness, is there anything nature can’t cure? Sunday funday was absolutely the best.

Hike1.jpg

We spent half the day on a winter hike with the sun shining on us and spectacular views.

llbean2.jpg

Finn bounced around, wagging his cute little nub of a tail, and having a blast listening to all the sounds in nature.

Finn1.jpg

One thing I know I can count on when I’m sad or stressed is the fact that nature makes me feel like me again. It brings me back to a calm, centered, and mindful state. This Sunday wasn’t necessarily a “No Phone Sunday” which we’ve done in the past, but it was a Sunday Funday for sure – only thinking happy good thoughts and staying in the moment instead of focusing on work, school, and everything else.

hike2

It’s the last few weeks before my first race of the year. As you may know my training has been all over the place with the winter weather and long work days, but I’m going into it to have fun and get back into my groove with racing. I’m officially signed up for 2 other races after this, but that will likely turn to 3..maybe 4 or 5… You know how it goes if you’re a runner! Here’s the training plan for this week!

Fitness Plan

Now that Spring is officially here and it’s lighter in the evenings, it feels a little easier to have running goals in mind. Sunshine is a magical thing, is it not?

 

 

Good Morning Muffins

I would love to say I have the time to make and sit down to eat a healthy filling breakfast every day, but that’s just not true. I think the only day I have time to do that is Sunday. So, I wanted to create something that I could bring to work that’s healthy, filling, and tastes good. I worked on these muffins for a few weeks (my freezer is stocked) and came up with what I think is a great version of these muffins. I grab these to bring to work for breakfast as I’m always in a hurry in the morning. I also eat them to fuel for workouts either in the afternoon for an evening run or in the morning before a longer run.

They’re so good and healthy – packed full of zucchini, carrots, and almond flour. These are gluten-free too! I highly recommend doubling up the recipe and putting them in the freezer.

I plan to create some new versions of this that will add even more of a nutritional punch to these so stay tuned!

Muffins.jpg

Good Morning Muffins

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups almond flour or almond meal
  • 1 cup gluten free oats
  • 1 cup shredded carrots (about 3-4 carrots)
  • 1 cup shredded zucchini (about 1 large zucchini)
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted (coconut oil could also be a replacement though I haven’t tried this yet)
  • 1 Tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2- 3/4 cup of chopped almonds and pecans
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup of dried fruit (I used cranberries, raisins, and chopped dates)
  • Optional: These would be great with a few dark chocolate chips sprinkled in, but I haven’t added them into my muffins yet. I find they’re perfectly sweet already.

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

Add the almond meal, oats, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg to a bowl.

In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, add the zucchini and carrots and stir. Add the vanilla, maple syrup, and melted butter and continue to stir until well mixed.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until everything is well mixed. Add in the chopped nuts, dried fruit, chia seeds and if using the chocolate chips.

Spoon batter into lined and greased muffin cups (I recommend greasing the liners because the muffins do stick to them).

Bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes. Or if using large muffin tins it may take 35-45 minutes. Make sure a toothpick comes out clean and then you’ll know they are ready.

Enjoy! These went fast the first time I made them so I learned my lesson and the following week doubled the recipe. These freeze well.

Enjoy!

Muffins1

 

 

 

Sub-8’s

This weather has been brutal. As a Vermonter, I know that we are not truly past winter until the end of April. However as a runner that’s kind of over the icy, snowy, negative temperatures, I’m disappointed every time I look at the weather forecast. It hasn’t been pretty lately… Okay so maybe it has been visually pretty, but really unappealing for running.

14

We had a tease of 50-70 degree days and then it went back to snowstorms, ice, and negative temperatures. So, it has been a matter of accepting it and just trying to work around what winter is throwing at me. I try to run 5 days a week and sometimes only get in 3-4, but I make sure those runs count. I include speed work, a long run, interval/hill training, and 1 easy pace day on the weeks I can’t make it outside 5 times.

I’m happy to say though the speed is finally coming back. I finally did two entire runs this last week at a sub-8 minute pace. One was a 10 miler and the other was an 8 miler. The 8 miler I got closer to an average of 7:30 while the 10 miler was closer to 7:55.

I haven’t been able to do that since my knee injury in October, but I’ve been signing up for races and training, so it was time to get out there and get closer to the pace that I want to race at. Despite the fact my training has been allllll over the place for this first race, I’m feeling like I’ll run a decent time. Maybe not a PR, but we’ll see on race day! It’s less than 4 weeks out so I’m trying to make the next 2.5 weeks count before tapering.

Capture

Here’s the plan for this week! We’re supposed to get hit hard Tuesday/Wednesday with a snowstorm, but I’m hoping to get out early in the morning on Tuesday and then late in the evening on Wednesday. Then we’re supposed to get more snow Saturday and Sunday (winter please stoooooop…please). I need to get that 14 miler in though so hopefully it’s not too brutal.

Dear Vermont, Finn would like it to be summer already too. How can you say no to that face?

img_7873

 

Quinoa Cakes with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

Back over the summer, I had quinoa cakes with a roasted red pepper sauce at a restaurant and knew I wanted to recreate them. It took me awhile to get around to it, but I made these last weekend and they were a big hit at our house! I made an avocado salsa on the side in addition to sautéed spinach.

IMG_8363

Ingredients:

Roasted Red Pepper Sauce:

  • 2 Red Bell Peppers
  • 1 cup almond milk (I bet this would be great with coconut milk)
  • 1 Tablespoon corn starch
  • 2 Scallions, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 2 Tablespoons nutritional yeast

Quinoa Cakes:

  • 1 cup quinoa cooked
  • 1/2 zucchini shredded
  • 1/2 carrot shredded
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • handful of parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4-1/2 cup almond flour
  • salt and pepper to taste

Avocado Salsa:

  • 1 avocado, diced
  • handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • handful of cilantro, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

For the Roasted Red Pepper Sauce:

  1. Preheat oven to 500.
  2. Cook red peppers whole for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and wrap in foil for 10 minutes to soften.
  3. While the red peppers are cooking, saute the shallots and garlic together until golden brown. Add to a blender.
  4. Remove the skin and seeds from the red peppers and add to blender with the shallots and garlic. Add in 1 cup of almond milk, corn starch, nutritional yeast, and salt and pepper. Blend until smooth. Then pour into a sauce pan and heat until thickened.

For the Quinoa Cakes:

  1. Add together all the ingredients (cooked quinoa, zucchini, carrot, parsley, eggs, almond flour, garlic, and salt and pepper) into a bowl and stir until everything is well mixed.
  2. Heat up oil in a large frying pan. There should be enough oil in the pan to fry the quinoa cakes.
  3. Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, scoop out the mixture and drop it into the frying pan. Cook about 5 minutes on each side.

For the Avocado Salsa

  1. Mix together the avocado, cherry tomatoes, lime juice, salt, pepper, and cilantro.

 

To serve, spoon the roasted red pepper sauce on top of the quinoa cakes and add the avocado salsa on the side. I added sautéed spinach to my meal for added veggies!

Enjoy!

To Work or Play

Can we all just agree that adulting is a little ridiculous sometimes…most of the time? I’m constantly in go-go-go mode so it’s really hard to break free from that. I accept that because of all the extra things I’ve taken on in my life, I will be busy more often than not, but that doesn’t mean I can’t and shouldn’t designate time for fun.

So when Tuesday was a holiday off from work, I knew that it needed to be fun day despite the rainy gloominess. I started off with a relaxing morning drinking coffee in my pajamas before taking Finn pup for a looooooooooong walk. He had a blast running around and wore himself out – so proud of this pup for working on his off-leash skills. We weren’t sure he’d ever get to this point when we first rescued him, but as always – he surprised us with his mad skillz.

IMG_8413.JPG

He also has mad napping skillz.

IMG_8329.JPG

Then after stopping quickly at my friend’s apartment to take care of her plants, I did a long yoga session.  I generally just have time for 10 minutes of yoga here and there, but it felt so good to take an hour and a half to really stretch out and then do some meditation on top of that.

IMG_8436

After spending some time signing up for two of three certifications I’m working toward this year, it was time for a run in the rain. It actually was kind of nice despite the crazy wind and rain along the lake.

IMG_8432

After that, Finn pup was up and ready for another walk so we headed out again for a second hike. I’m so lucky to live in such an incredibly beautiful place.

IMG_8433.JPG

I decided to relax a little under an electric blanket while I ate a chocolate peanut butter smoothie bowl with homemade granola on top and worked on school work.

IMG_8434

And then after a couple hours, I made dinner (Spaghetti Squash Pad Thai).

IMG_8435

Unfortunately on Tuesdays, I don’t see Damir until 9 at night so I put his dinner in the fridge, packed my breakfast/lunch/snacks for tomorrow, and cuddled up on the couch with the pup while doing some more school work. Then when Damir got home we all cuddled up together until I crashed into bed. The perfect way to end an active, relaxing, and fun day.

It’s so easy to get caught up in everything we “have” to do. Both my work and home to-do lists are miles long and never-ending, but that makes it even more important to take time to yourself. Sunday is designated as fun day in our house and sometimes no-phone Sunday which is incredible. Then when I have a random holiday or day off from work, I often just work through it, but taking the time to just enjoy the day was the right call. I highly recommend it!

Happy Wednesday!

 

Being Comfortable With Being Uncomfortable

Remember how I threw out my running plan last week? Yeah I still don’t have one and I’m okay with that. This Vermont winter has been unforgiving with the snow, ice, and negative temperatures and while I run in it as much as possible, I also recognize when it’s not safe for my health to be out for extended periods of time. This has meant it’s been really hard to follow the running plan I designed for this first race of the year.

My training has been all over the place, but that’s okay. It’s the first race of the year and the first race helps you get back in the swing of things and remember what’s it like to race 13.1 rather than just run it leisurely.

Once the warm weather hits, it’s going to feel great to train again. Until then, I have a solid base of mileage that I’ve been maintaining. This week will be a 45 mile week! Crazy! Here’s the plan for the week that I literally decided two minutes ago (I had to move last Saturday’s 14 miler to the beginning of the week due to a wind chill advisory over the weekend).

3-5

 

Sure, I’m going to want a PR in this first race of the year, but let’s be real… If you want to race at a certain time you have to train at that time too and I have not been until the past couple weeks. Recently, I pushed myself for about 5-6 miles of an 8 mile run to go at a fast pace I haven’t done since last year before my knee injury. It DRAINED me (shh don’t tell the fast people in my running group that… because you know… runner’s ego).

It felt great at the same time though. I miss speed work and pushing beyond my comfort zone with my running. The greatest lesson I’ve ever learned with running is to become comfortable with being uncomfortable. As soon as I embraced that (and it took me quite awhile to embrace it), my times started dropping considerably. If you don’t push yourself to that point, you’ll never know what you’re capable of in a race.

Of course, that being said. You should never push yourself through injury, sickness, or if something just doesn’t feel right. There are limitations and taking care of yourself is more important than a PR.

Happy happy Monday!

Nutella Banana Muffins

My partner loves Nutella. Actually, that sentence is an understatement. I do in fact have to keep it hidden sometimes, but some days call for a special treat. I leave for work a couple of hours before my partner gets up, so on valentine’s day I left these on the counter with a little note. Unfortunately during the week, it seems we see each other very briefly before crashing into bed for the night, but little sweet gestures such as these are commonplace in our house and it’s truly the little things that make my heart melt.

nutella-banana-muffins

These are by no means a health food, but everything in moderation. If I’m making these for myself, I use applesauce instead of butter, whole wheat flour, oats,  and a homemade or natural version of Nutella. However, my partner can always tell when I make these “healthy” so when I make them specifically for him, I use the good stuff (aka butter and white flour).

Nutella Banana Muffins

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour (I prefer whole wheat)
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 4 ripe bananas mashed
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted (can substitute applesauce)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (can substitute honey or maple syrup and/or reduce to 1/3 cup)
  • 1/4 cup Nutella (or homemade Nutella/natural hazelnut spread)

Directions:

1.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees

2.) Mix together bananas, butter, eggs, and sugar in a bowl until well mixed.

3.) Add flour, oats, baking soda, and cinnamon and stir until everything is well combined.

4.) Spoon batter into lined muffin tins.

5.) Add Nutella to each muffin and cut through with a knife to make sure it mixes well into the batter.

6.) Put muffins into oven and bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean!

Enjoy!

I Threw Out My Training Plan

Well I didn’t physically throw out the training plan as it’s on my computer, but I deleted it. A year ago, I would have never done something like this – I’m someone that will follow a training plan exactly after I make it, but this plan just wasn’t working for me. I found myself unmotivated, having to add rest days because of snow and ice or my knee, I often had to change the days of the week I could do my runs, etc. The plan just wasn’t working and I had to step back from it. And, you know what? It’s totally okay to do that…even if your stubborn runner’s brain is telling you otherwise.

I do have a race in about 5 weeks, so it seems like a weird time to reinvent a plan, but that’s what I’m doing! I’m also using this first race of the year as a stepping stone for the several other races. It will be a way to just get my body and mind used to racing again as the first race of the year always feels a little rusty.

Anyway, here’s the plan for the week. I’ll be making a plan for the rest of this cycle before my race later this week. Until then, I’m just going with the flow!

feb-27

Happy Monday!

Stress Relief at Work

Let’s face it… Work can be stressful and being an adult can also be stressful. I’m prone to feeling physical and emotional symptoms of stress when my schedule is overbooked. So I take steps to prevent stress whenever I can throughout my day. This often starts the night before. Any night I’ve packed my breakfast/lunch/snacks for work and packed my running clothes/set out my work clothes, my morning feels like it goes smoothly. I even prep Finn pup’s snacks and treats for the day and put his peanut butter Kong’s in the freezer.

This means in the morning, if I get up at 4:30, I can do a little schoolwork, walk and take care of Finn, make coffee, and then get ready to go. If I have to add in prepping meals and snacks for the entire day, I’m already stressed before I head out the door.

My commute is another source of stress. I check the weather always and make sure I know the road conditions, I put podcasts and upbeat music on my phone to help me get through the long drives, and I use the time to try to relax (easier said than done, but I’m working on it).

At work, there’s a lot you can do to reduce stress. Some great things I’ve discovered are:

1.) Write out to-do lists: I’m a big fan of handwritten lists that I can cross things off. Though some people use their computers or phones, I still enjoy physically checking things off a to-do list. Plus, writing things out helps me stay focused and organized throughout the day when there’s 500 things going on.

2.) Take your breaks: I am so bad about this one. I just don’t take the breaks that I should. Many days I find myself in a meeting, health coaching, or something comes up and then suddenly it’s 3pm. Getting away from your desk makes a world of difference. Bonus points if you walk in nature and get some fresh air. Or go get yourself a nice cup of coffee or tea from that coffee shop you’ve been meaning to try. Treat yourself!

3.) Take deep breaths. If you can’t get away from your desk and you can feel the tension from your head all the way down your shoulders. Close your eyes and take deep breaths for a minute. Really focus on breathing and letting go of the tension.

4.) Aromatherapy. I keep a stress relief stick at my desk. I don’t know that it does all that much, but the scent is very soothing and relaxing to me and because the scent is so comforting, I calm down instantly.

img_8288

5.) Stay Hydrated. Dehydration can make it difficult to concentrate and be productive. It can also give you physical and emotional symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, and irritability. Keep a water bottle by your side throughout the day. If you’re bored with plain water, add fruit to it!

img_8290

6.) Add personal touches to your desk or office. I work at a cubicle so I don’t have much space. That being said, I have a plant that doesn’t need much care (since I travel a lot for my job), photos of my wonderful partner and our rescue pup, art from Haiti, and some art work my students in Japan made me. Just looking at the photos of my adventure family instantly makes me smile.

img_8289

Next time you’re feeling stressed, try out some of these tips and see if they help you. Happy Wednesday folks!

A Spring Weekend

40 degree weather two days in a row this weekend? Oh my goodness, running was such a blast in the warm weather. After feeling frustrated with winter training that’s exactly what I needed to feel confident again with my training. Annnnnd then today it was back to the cold and ice. 🙂 Oh Vermont….

This week is looking promising weather wise and I’m feeling good about the training plan this week. My first race of the year is always a hit or miss. Sometimes I’m unstoppable and sometimes it’s a learning experience and a way to ease into racing season. I think once I get closer to the race, I’ll have a better idea of realistic time goals, but for now I’m just enjoying getting the miles in.

Here’s the training plan for this week!

capture3

As for the rest of the weekend, I’d love to say I was productive. I cleaned the house quite a bit, ran errands, made some yummy food, and tried to catch up on mountains of school work. To be honest my long run left me exhausted and once I sat on the couch it was game over. Once I start getting to 12+ milers after taking a break from those distances, it takes awhile for my body to adjust and it takes me awhile to remember how to fuel and refuel properly. Finn loved the cuddle couch time though so all is good!

IMG_7856.JPG

I’m hoping to catch up today OR maybe just enjoy the sunshine and forget about being an adult for awhile. 🙂

Happy Monday. If you have it off go enjoy it! The sunshine is definitely calling my name.