Friday, February 27, 2009

Runner's High: He Will Make A Way

I've made no secret of the fact that I'm not exactly religious. My church is the Church of the Long Run. And I'm okay with that.

I used to be. I grew up as a conservative, Evangelical Christian. Amazing how coming out of the closet throws a monkey wrench in all that.

I'm finding my way back, slowly but surely. Actually, I prefer to think I'm finding my way forward. Because if I just go back to what I was before, what was all the suffering and confusion and questioning and all that for?

At any rate, I still retain some of the edifices of my former belief in my everyday life: a desire to reflect, a sense of fairness that I just can't shake, and Christian songs in my running playlists.

There's one song that keeps coming up, run after run. I mean, of course it comes up; it's on the playlist, it's gonna come up. But it always sticks with me, gives me encouragement to run a little faster, and (dare I say) kind of speaks to me. Don't know what it is about this song; it's sweeping and epic and the lyrics are exactly what I want to hear in the last 2 or 3 miles. Here it is.

He Will Make A Way
Kathy Troccoli
I know that you're discouraged
But you're not alone
There is absolutely no situation
Out of his control
One door may close
Another will open
Jesus is healer of all that is broken

He will make a way where there is no way
He will bring his peace where there is no peace

Watch him put together what's been torn apart
He can soften up the most hardened of hearts
He will make a way where there is no way

Don't you go believing lies
He's not forgotten you
There's gonna be another higher, greater place
He will take you to

Watch him move mountains, ride you through the way
He can deliver in the darkest of days
He will make a way where there is no way
He will bring his peace where there is no peace
There is no war he does not will
When you're at your end he's just beginning
He will make a way where there is no way

Our only hope is in him
No matter what this life can bring
Jesus stands alone
As the god of impossible things

He will make a way where there is no way
He will bring his peace where there is no peace

Watch him move mountains, ride you through the way
He can deliver in the darkest of days
He will make a way where there is no way
He will bring his peace where there is no peace

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Beginners' Guide: Cold Weather Gear

My first winter training in Kansas, I half-heartedly looked for a guide to how much money I would have to drop for cold weather gear. I asked schoolmates from colder climes (i.e. Chicago) what they wore while running in the winter. I looked for articles on Trifuel and Ontri. I browsed forums. I wished for a blogger who would tell me all I need to know.

So to prevent my newbie readers from having to work so hard, I've collected what I've learned since returning from Southern California (where "cold" was anything below 60* and "windy" was gusting to 8 MPH).

Even with a wetsuit, don't bother. The water is going to be too cold for any but the most brazen, and there's no reason for you to swim in the open water, anyway (other than earning valuable badass points). Stay in the pool and work on your technique. You can wear your wetsuit there, if you want to (if you have one).

Ah, the gear required for biking--it makes paupers of us all. Presented in order of importance (in my experience), with options for those of you who have no money (or who spent it all on your bankruptcy-inducing bike).

1. Tights. Cheapskate option: wear a pair of running tights (or two or three) over bike shorts.

2. Hat/ear warmers. Cheapskate option: wear an old stocking cap, if you don't care about moisture control.

3. Full-finger gloves. Cheapskate option: wear a pair of $1 knit gloves over cycling gloves.

4. Toe warmers. Cheapskate option: put plastic bags (like the kind your newspaper comes in) inside your shoes to block the wind.

5. Balaclava. Cheapskate option: tie a scarf or bandana snugly around your face, and pull your ghetto stocking cap down all around it.

6. Wind vest/jacket. Cheapskate option: any wind-resistant jacket will do the trick, although most won't breathe as well as technical apparel.

And if it starts snowing? You're screwed anyway (for road biking, anyway; there are plenty of people who ride in the snow, but not usually on road bikes).

Possibly the least pleasant activity to do when it's cold and windy (right behind swimming and cycling). Most of the equipment you'll need to run comfortably (or rather with as little discomfort as possible) can cross over between bike and run. The one thing on which I strongly advise you to drop money is a pair of quality thermal tights. They should be fuzzy on the inside (you might want two pairs: one thermal and one light). Layering is a must. Smart Wool is, well, smart. Gloves, stocking cap, balaclava, all can be used for biking and running. If you're dealing with a nasty wind chill, wear pants and a jacket that will cut the wind (I wear a pair of $20 Adidas warm-ups when it's windy out). You might want to wear two pairs of socks (both wicking! not something that you can skimp on!), and the plastic bag trick works for running too.

Note on safety
Snow is okay; ice is not. If the road is slick, suck it up (buttercup) and get on the treadmill or the trainer. I know, I know, it's super boring. You can alleviate the boredom by downloading one of my (awesome) podcasts, though! Hurray! In all seriousness, be sensible. If you're going out when it's cold, bundle up, use common sense, and (always always always) let someone know where you're going and when you'll be back.

The coldest weather I've braved for running was temps in the teens with a negative wind chill; the coldest I've been out on the bike was in the high twenties. It can be done, and with relatively little up-front investment, but you kind of need a badass mindset to begin with. If you don't really, really want it, you're never going to get outside and run when it's below freezing. Then again, if you don't really, really want it, you probably wouldn't be doing this crazy sport.

I should also mention that Kansas has had a run of unseasonably warm days. By which I mean it's 10:00 p.m. and 60* F (with no wind, WTF?). So if all else fails, you can come visit me.

And I'm not (by a long shot) training in the coldest weather here (although I'd bet money that I get the worst winds). Northerners, Bostonians, residents of Lake Wobegone, what do you think? What are the best cold-weather investments for newbies' money?

Why I Hate the Girl Scouts

Let's ignore, for a moment, my bad experiences with the Girl Scouts. Let's pretend that my troop leader's daughter was not an overachieving twit who always sold like a thousand boxes of cookies. I'll set aside the fact that said troop leader liked to publicly compare our relative achievements. ("Oh, looks like Jamie only sold 199 boxes of cookies; not quite enough to get [whatever the hell prize 200 boxes of cookies entitled you to]. Too bad.") And we can totally forget the fact that my dad was into camping and we did way more fun/cool stuff (camping! shooting GUNS!) as a family than I ever did in stupid scouts.

Why I really hate Girl Scouts is that every February, when I'm feeling down and draggy and really, really ready for spring, those damn be-sashed young women come bearing the comfort food of all comfort foods.

Those bitches bring cookies.

And between my pig-out on Oscar night (cheese! crackers! cosmopolitans!) and the boxes and boxes of cookies at my house (I got six, my brother got six, my parents each got four), I am going to gain back the five pounds I've lost in the last four weeks.

I'm off to the 24-hour Walmart to buy a padlock for the frickin' freezer.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Spinning Workout 5: Cadence


This workout focuses primarily on cadence, so you should keep your turnover constant. The roadmap for the workout is primarily climbing in the first half, primarily descending in the second half. However, you'll notice that the resistances stay within a relatively small range. So don't go crazy with the resistance; make your primary focus on keeping the pace and maintaining form. Once you've got that down, you can start to add more and more resistance.

Mama Told me not to Come (3:19) : Pre-workout
Strength, Courage, and Wisdom (4:57) : Pre-workout
Call in the Cavalry (2:26) : Warmup
Satin in a Coffin (2:37) : +(4) at 1st verse, +(5) at 2nd verse, +(7) and up at slow bit, --(5) increase cadence at 3rd verse to end
Detective (2:55) : -(4) pick up at cadence at beginning, down at 1st verse, +(5) at chorus, up at chorus, pick up cadence at instrumental, down at a cappella
Cheryl Tweedy (3:28) : in (5), find a steady cadence, pick up after chorus, +(6) and maintain cadence (attack on uphill) at 2nd chorus, back off after chorus, climb to end (try to maintain or increase gap
I Wanna Love you Forever (3:22) : -(5) and pick up cadence, down and maintain cadence at 2nd verse, jumps at bridge, down at last chorus and maintain cadence to end
We're Not Gonna Take It (3:34) : +(6) up at musical intro, +(7) at chorus, -(6) at 2nd verse, +(7) at bridge, --(5) at guitar solo, +(6) at bridge, +(7) at chorus
The Dirty Glass (3:38) : ----(3) spin it out for intro, quick legs at tempo pick up, sprint at first chorus, +(4) and up for 2nd verse, sprint at chorus, down at 3rd verse, sprint at chorus, -(3) and spin out, sprint at final chorus, maintain to end
A Praise Chorus (4:03) : +(4) and quick legs, +(5) at chorus, -(4) and up at end of chorus, +(5) at chorus, -(4) after chorus, down at 2nd time through "crimson and clover," +(5) at chorus, pick up to end
Overrated (3:12) : --(3) quick spin, sprint at chorus, +(4) and up at pre-chorus, sprint at chorus, down at bridge, GIVE PLENTY OF WARNING FOR seated sprint to standing sprint! go at chorus, stand at second chorus, back off after chorus, stay quick to end
Are You Gonna be my Girl (3:38) : +(4) and down, establish a quick rhythm ("Close to the end now!"), pick up at chorus, fast time trial through verse, pick up at chorus, accelerate through last chorus (about :40)
Bad Reputation (2:48) : maintain intensity from acceleration, last mile, maintain intensity to end, +(5) at modulation, quick quick quick! up at guitar solo, accelerate through last repetition of "oh no! not me!" (at about 2:28)
The City (4:44) : Cool down
Back to the Middle (5:11) : Stretch
Satan Lend Me A Dollar (2:45) : Post-workout
Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall (4:49) : Post-workout

Looking for more workouts? Go here!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Runner's High: Pool to Myself

Yesterday morning, I did my (measly) 1200 meters in the pool and I had it all to myself. Truly, when there's no one in the pool, and the water is still and reflects everything so beautifully, it's all I can do to resist jumping in and disturbing the water myself. Having the pool to myself takes the workout to another level. Makes it totally worth waking up at 4:30 a.m.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Race Report: Derby Not 4 Wimps 10-mile Trail Race

There is no race report.

Because I was too sick to race.


p.s. I promise this is my last post whining about how sick I am. I was, actually.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Recipe File: Umami Soup

A crash course on umami, the fifth major taste sense (the others are sweet, sour, salty, and bitter). This soup is vegetarian, but cooks up delightfully hearty, and completely delicious. Serve with sour cream and flat bread, or over brown rice.

4-5 tbsp olive oil (you don't really need that much; I just put in extra fat for the calories)
3 cloves garlic
1 small onion (you can use less onion, also; sweet onion is better)
1 cup of mushrooms (the more the merrier!)
2 stalks of celery, chopped
1 carrot, roughly grated
2 cups of stock (beef, chicken, or veggie)
1/2 cup of red lentils, rinsed
1 cup of cherry tomatoes, mashed (can also use a can of diced tomatoes)

Start by heating the olive oil over medium heat in a sauce pan. Add the onions and garlic and cook gently (i.e. don't let them burn like I always do). While you're letting the onions and garlic cook, combine the paprika, cumin, and coriander. You'll get the best flavor by using whole cumin and coriander seeds, toasting them, then grinding them together with the paprika (crushed red pepper or chili powder will also work, although paprika has a gentler flavor). When the onion has turned translucent, add the spices. The spices, onions, and garlic should mostly absorb the oil to form a rich, fragrant paste. After all that is well-mixed, add the veggies (celery, carrots, tomatoes, and mushrooms), the stock, and the lentils. Allow the soup to come to a boil, then back it off to a simmer. Cook until the lentils start to break up and the mushrooms are tender. Add salt and pepper to taste. Also, if the soup isn't tomato-y enough for you, you can add some tomato paste.

I never give measurements on spices, because I always kind of eyeball it. I would start with about a teaspoon of each spice cooked into the oil. You can always add more of one thing or another once it's simmering. It'll take some experimentation to figure out how you like it, anyway.

This recipe makes 3 servings (for me, anyway). For 3 servings, these are the (approximate) nutrition facts . . .

Calories: 403
Fat: 25 g
Carb: 32 g
Protein: 14 g
Sodium: 330 mg (not including salt)
Potassium: 792 mg

And you can always go here to figure out the nutrition facts for your recipe.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

DRC Pictures!

As promised, here are a few photos from the Derby Rec Center Indoor Tri . . .

And thanks to Alan Farrington for the photography.


Friday, February 6, 2009

Runner's High: Contentment

You know you're in a good place when you go to bed thinking, "Hey! I get to swim and run tomorrow!"

Yeah. I'm in that place.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Checking in

So every time I think I'm going to have a few minutes to sit down and write a post, I end up running off to do some workout. I don't remember 9 workouts/week feeling like so much last year. But then I wasn't seeing 6-10 clients per day last year, either.

Since I've been so long absent, let me just lay out for you what I've been doing over the past few weeks . . .

Not so much dieting as watching what I eat, actually. I want to be down 10 lbs and 5% body fat by the time base building is over. That'll put me at 140, 20% body fat. I can't wait to see what that does to my running.

Still setting my own training plan and schedule, although at this point I'd really like to hire a coach. But for now, that money needs to go into the bike fund. So looks like another year of self-coaching. That's what most of us do anyway, right?

Don't much care for it, anymore, so I've made my strength workouts as concise as possible. They consist of one-legged squats, deadlifts, (assisted) pull-ups, tricep push-ups, glute bridges on a stability ball, and a ton of core work. I don't know if it's making any difference, yet, but I do know that my strength training gave me a huge advantage last year.

Do I even need to say it? I was booked solid today (a mental health half-day is the only thing that afforded me the time to write this). I was booked solid yesterday, and Monday. I am booked solid on Friday. I do have some appointments still available on tomorrow. So if you're looking for a trainer, Thursday is your day.

Only occasionally.

Oh! And I even had a date a couple weeks ago! I know, it's outrageous. I was still home by 10:30, though.

So now you're all caught up. Not very interesting, I suppose. But I'm content. Even more--I'm happy.

And now that that's done, I'm off to catch up on all of your blogs . . .

Sunday, February 1, 2009