Posts tagged ‘Paleo’

December 8, 2014

Warm Winter Harvest Salad

Harvest Salad
I call this my “harvest” salad in part because it’s seasonal, but mostly because it’s my go-to meal for using up leftovers.  I seem to make one of these for dinner once a week, and it’s a perfect (and fast) post-workout lunch on the weekend.  The bulk of the kale and the fact that it’s warm make it hearty while still being light, and the flavor profile options are endless.  For the one I made yesterday, I used leftover roasted broccoli and Brussels sprouts that I had in the freezer, along with some butternut squash I had cubed and roasted the day before.  I was also having a bowl of my Turkey Bone Broth Soup, so I didn’t add protein to the salad, but I often thrown in leftover chicken or open a can of smoked trout.

My current favorite combos are:

Chicken or tempeh with peppers, onions, and chipotle seasoning

Chicken or turkey with roasted cauliflower, broccoli, and curry

Sliced beef steaks with Brussels sprouts and sweet potato




Warm Winter Harvest Salad

Total Time: 10 minutes

Active Time: 5 minutes

Yield: 1 salad



1 tbsp olive or coconut oil

2 cups curly kale, stems removed

1 clove garlic, minced

1-2 tsp tarragon vinegar or acid of choice

salt and pepper to taste

Additional spices depending on combo below – curry, chipotle, etc.


1 -1 1/2 cups cooked or frozen vegetables – cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, squash, sweet potato, beets, peppers, onions, etc.


1/3 -1/2 cup leftover chicken, turkey, beef, fish, tempeh, etc.



Heat a skillet over medium.  If your veggies are frozen, add them to the skillet with 1/4 cup of water and cover for a few minutes to defrost.  Meanwhile, wash, de-stem, and cut the kale into bite-sized pieces.  When veggies have softened, add the kale and drizzle with oil, tossing a bit to evenly coat.  Add more water if necessary so that there is about 1/4 cup in the skillet.  Cover and steam for 4 minutes, increasing the heat to medium-high.  Mince the garlic and add after about 2 minutes.  If you’re adding protein to the salad, put it in the skillet to warm, along with any additional spices.

After 4 minutes, remove the lid and allow the water to cook off.  Toss the mixture occasionally, but allow it to sit still long enough for some of the kale and vegetables to caramelize a little.  When it’s almost done, add the vinegar, salt, and pepper, and toss again.  Give it one more minute on the heat, and serve.


October 6, 2014


Last week was the final push of my overload month before the taper.  I had strength training Monday, intervals Tuesday, easy run Wednesday, tempo Thursday, and an easy run Friday, followed by the Yom Kippur fast on Saturday.  It took until Thursday for the soreness from the strength training to finally subside, and by Friday I was pretty wrung out and facing  26 hours without food or drink.  To top it off, I had my final 20-miler scheduled for Sunday, which gave me about 10 hours to fuel up and rehydrate.  Oh, and I needed to get a good night’s sleep in there, too.

I’m beginning to think that Paleo might be the answer to Jewish dietary laws, though… It’s easy to find dairy-free meat recipes, Passover is no sweat, and it turns out that being fat-adapted makes fasting much easier.  Friday post run I made sure I hydrated thoroughly, and I made us some Bulletproof herbal tea after dinner to kick up the fat-burning.  I got through it without too much difficulty this year, and as soon as it ended I started pounding water.  Sunday morning I felt surprisingly good, and it was time to get down to business, as I had a tight schedule to keep.

Grete’s Great Gallop – Race Report

I had signed up for Grete’s Great Gallop in Central Park, which started at 9, but I needed to get in another 7 make it a 20-miler.  I wanted it to be as continuous a run as possible, so I had worked out some fine-tuned logistics with Long Run Buddy.  Caveboy and I took the train into lower Manhattan, then started running up Hudson River Greenway toward Central Park.  I was hoping to hold a 9 minute pace for the duration, and getting to the corral on time put some pressure on holding pace.  LRB was also racing the Gallop, and had kindly agreed to pick up our numbers and shirts and handle the bag check.  I arrived at the park about 10 minutes before the start with three quarters of a mile left to run.  After a couple of out-and backs near the start I met LRB at our corral just as the Star Spangled Banner ended.  I was fastening the last pin on my number as our group shuffled toward the line, and we were off.

The weather could not have been more perfect for a race—it was 50 degrees and sunny at the start with a light, cool breeze.  My goal for the run was to do the 20 under 3 hours, and I was hoping the race atmosphere would keep me focused for a strong finish.  The course was just over two laps of the park, run clockwise (not the normal direction), presumably to emulate the end of the New York Marathon.  Looping that way, the hills are shorter and steeper, and I felt a little sluggish on the climbs for the first lap.  I tried to keep our pace right around 9’s, but like the Bronx run, the crowd and terrain made keeping a steady pace nearly impossible.  Also, LRB and I evidently don’t like getting passed.  Right around the start of lap two we caught the 1:55 pace group leader, who seemed to be running too fast and appeared to have largely lost his pack.  We decided to stick with him for a while, mainly just to outsource the pacing duties.  Maybe it was the psychological relief of knowing that I was ticking off each hill for the last time, but somehow during lap two I felt better and better with every mile.  We ended up passing 1:55 Guy a few minutes later and at that point I stopped checking the Garmin for the rest of the race.  I had a bit of a kick left for the finish, and by my watch it was 2:59:43 for 20.2 miles. I still haven’t come down from the high.

This week it’s on to the taper, and I’m planning to follow the Runners’ World recommendations here. I’ve never tapered for more than a few days for a half marathon, so I’m curious how I’ll handle two weeks.  If only I could apply all that excess energy and enthusiasm to cleaning out my closets.


September 24, 2014

A Very Long Run and My Paleo Power Smoothie

Sunday I had another 20-miler on the schedule and decided to reverse my usual route to avoid getting caught in the climate change march.  Perhaps to underscore the theme of the demonstration, the weather had turned unseasonably muggy and I was eager to get an early start.  

My run started with a loop of Central Park, then south along the Hudson River Greenway, over the Brooklyn Bridge, and up to Prospect Park. The uphill climb from the bridge was a bit of a slog, but when I got to Prospect I felt like a new person. I was at 17 miles at that point, and I decided to run the full loop and finished on the uphill, just for added fun. I was about 2 miles from home when I finished, but my legs still felt pretty good and I decided to keep running the rest of the way. I have to say that cutting the ‘unknown’ mileage on race day from 6 miles to 4 seems huge psychologically. We’re T minus four weeks to Baltimore, and I think I’m actually more excited than scared.

Now for the smoothie that fueled all those miles… My go-to recipe has evolved and over the years I’ve tweaked it to really optimize for long run fueling. The basis is black cherries, which have amazing anti-inflammatory properties.  The anthocyanins they contain protect connective tissue and may actually be more effective than aspirin as a pain reliever.  A few years ago I started using peach instead of banana for a little sweetness, as it’s lower in sugar and also high in potassium.  I recently replaced whey protein with gelatin, which has been getting lots of play in paleo circles recently.   In addition to providing about 6g protein per tablespoon, gelatin also protects joints and aids digestion.  The ginger root has been my latest tweak, both for its anti-inflammatory properties as well as its stomach-settling abilities.  For the liquid component I usually go with almond milk, but depending on your run pace and ability to digest fat on a run, you can swap in coconut milk.

I know there are a million paleo smoothie ideas out there, but I think this is worth adding to the mix:

Modernist Cavegirl’s Paleo Long Run Smoothie

1/3 – 1/2 cup frozen black cherries

1/3 -1/2 cup frozen blueberries

1/4 of one frozen peach, sliced

1/4 cup full-fat yogurt (if you abstain from dairy, throw in more peach for texture)

1 tbsp gelatin

~1/4″ – 1/2″ grated ginger root (I keep it in the freezer)

1/2 – 3/4 cup coconut or almond milk

Throw the ingredients through ginger root into a blender with about half of the coconut or almond milk.  Slowly blend, adding more liquid until desired consistency is reached.



September 4, 2014

Swamp Thing


This race report comes a bit late thanks to a jam-packed Labor Day weekend and the aftermath of digging out at work this week.  Now that the dust has had a chance to settle on I’on Swamp Road, though, I can say with assurance that this was one of the most fun races I’ve ever done.  The Francis Marion Dirt Dash was exactly what I was hoping for–a small race with a ‘for runners, by runners’ feel in an absolutely gorgeous setting.  To top it off, it was only about 73 degrees at the start and the dense forest provided good shade throughout the race.  It was humid to be sure, but overall I found the race conditions to be quite comfortable.

Per the race instructions, we parked at a visitors’ center nearish the start and caught a shuttle van across the highway to the park.  From there we walked back the access road about half a mile to the start line, which was literally just a heel-drag line in the dirt.  We got our numbers, milled around a bit, and I griped with a few other runners about the lack of satellite telemetry at our particular global position. Truth be told, I was a mite nervous about running in the heat without GPS pace information.  The trail ahead looked shady and cool, but I had no idea what to expect for the rest of the course or the weather.  I decided to approach the uncertainty as a training opportunity to run based on perceived effort, and though it did make the whole exercise seem more productive, it did little to calm my nerves.

Before the start

Before the start

The Caveboy was running the 12K race, so when the runners assembled for the start we wished each other luck and my Long Run Buddy and I positioned ourselves nearish the front for the half marathon.  At 7:00 sharp, Chad Haffa, the race organizer, yelled “Go!” and we were off.  We settled in at what felt like a comfortably fast pace for the first out-and-back leg.  LRB had MapMyRun going, so he called out splits for the first few miles.  We were hanging around an 8:20-8:30 pace, which was a little faster than I was aiming for, but it felt pretty comfortable.  There were few mile markers on the course (it actually only may have been at mile 2/11), but somewhere around three and a half miles in my watch found its bearings and I had pace data.  For the next several miles I tried to soak up the scenery and serenity of the place and just enjoy the run.  LRB and I split up around mile 7–he was ready to pick up the pace  and I was feeling like I needed to reign it in a bit.  I slowed to about an 8:40 and plugged along on my own for a few more miles.

I could only judge the distance left based on my assumed pace and overall time, but I guessed the next aid station I encountered to be about mile 10.  I tried to confirm this with the volunteers, but they cheerfully informed me that they had no idea where they were.  I for some reason found this to be quite charming and picked up my cadence a bit.  I passed another runner about half a mile later who agreed with the 10-10.5 estimate, at which point I felt much more confident about my pace to the finish.  The morning was definitely getting warmer, but I was happy with how I was running at that point.  I’ve never considered myself a strong heat runner, but I was holding my own at a faster pace than I expected.  With about half a mile left I passed one more runner, chatted briefly, and then focused on surging to the finish line.

I crossed the line in 1:53:26, less than 4 minutes off  my PR.  Given the trail, the weather, and the fact that I never really made myself hurt, I was thrilled with the race.  The sentiment was further reinforced when I was handed a cold can of beer before 9 AM.  (Breakfast of Champions.)  LRB had finished a few minutes ahead of me, the Caveboy was relaxing with his libations already, and soon we were cheering for the award of the giant pinecones to the overall winners.  (Seriously, best race trophies ever.)  The full results were posted Monday, and I came in second in my age group and was the seventh overall woman.

My one regret of this race was the untimely demise of my beloved gen2 iPod Shuffle.  I usually clip it to a loop I sewed onto the hip of all of my running shorts and skirts, but the stitching pulled out about a quarter mile into the race and I moved it to my bra strap instead.  I promptly forgot about its new location and proceeded to dump water on my head and down my bra at every aid station.  It actually continued to function for the rest of the race, but when I tried it the next day it was unresponsive.  Oddly, the following day it worked again, but has refused to turn on since then.  I tried packing it in kitty litter to dry it out to no avail (good Paleo girl that I am, I have no rice).  I finally gave in this morning and ordered a new (used) one on Amazon.

Anyway, the rest of the weekend was what the Caveboy described as “one of the most tiring, relaxing weekends we have ever had.”  We surfed, kayaked, and stand-up paddle boarded (which I officially love).  I also squeezed in a short barefoot run on the beach before our flight on Sunday.  I’ve been a bit off schedule on running this week, but I did a 5.5 mile run at my parents’ cabin on Monday, a 5-mile tempo at race pace and a 1% grade on Tuesday, 3 miles easy yesterday, and a 7 mile tempo a touch faster than race pace this morning.  My long run is slated for Saturday, and next week the final build up to the taper officially begins.

Happy Unofficial Autumn!


May 28, 2014

Hacking the Marathon


I’ve been working on the training plan this week, starting with setting my priorities for the marathon.  Obviously, getting to the start and finish as happy and healthy as possible are the most important things.  Rather than framing the race as the ultimate test of my training or some kind of referendum on the season, though, I’m trying to approach it from a broader view.  What kind of runner do I want to be at the end of this season, and how do I use this training as a means to get there?  

I’ve been thinking about this a lot over the past several days, trying to take a mature and objective approach to a mid-season evaluation.  I thought about what worked, what hadn’t, and what I could do better.  And it was intensely boring.  Eventually I realized, though, that what I was really trying to do was hack my training, and that sounded hardcore and awesome.  In that spirit, I recognized the following:

1. I love structure, but I start to get stressed out when I just can’t fit everything in.  

2. I run best when I trust my training 100%.  My schedule needs to allow some flexibility so that if I miss a workout or need a little extra time to recover that I don’t start to panic.

3. I like having numbers and data that I can use to evaluate my progress.

4. I tend to underestimate the need for, and benefit of rest.

In understanding how I work best and where I’m most likely to falter, I am aiming to create a training plan that plays off my strengths.  I know I will need a schedule that is highly structured (RLRF), but also has some slack in the system.  Given the choice between pushing through a scheduled run when I’m not feeling up to it or missing an important workout in favor of rest, I will always choose to push myself.  If I’m going to stay healthy, I need to give myself permission to take a day off when I need it.

With that insight, I returned to defining my big-picture goals for this year.  I’d like to get stronger in a way that I can quantify.  That means weight training, complete with logging weight, reps, and sets.  (Data, hooray!)  I’d like to be a bit leaner going into the marathon.  Again, this will probably take some dietary hacking, but shouldn’t be too difficult to quantify.  Third, I want to continue to build my confidence and work on my mental game over the next few months.  This one will be harder to measure, but I can at least be deliberate about the steps I take to get there.  If I can toe the line in Baltimore having accomplished those goals, the race will be a victory lap.  There’s just one teensy other thing that I want, and that’s a sub-four finish.  And that is totally doable.

May 19, 2014

2014 Brooklyn Half Race Report


I’m coming to realize that one of the best parts of running in New York is the train ride to and from races.   At any other time, subway rides are an exercise in pretending that the strangers who are occupying your personal space (and who could potentially fall and/or step on you at the next curve) don’t actually exist.  On race mornings, however, runners smile at each other and say hello, chat about race plans, and cheerfully dispense advice.  Sure, there’s the occasional guy talking way too loud about his PR and how he usually only runs ultras, or complaining about the starting time/location/corral system, but all in all it’s generally a friendly, happy bunch.  Saturday morning was no exception when we headed off at 5:30 to the Brooklyn Museum.

We had actually gotten out the door a little later than I’d hoped, and in my rush I gulped down my smoothie and pounded some beet juice faster than was probably wise.  I nursed some butter coffee on the train, but by the time we arrived at the start it was clear that my digestive system was not fully on board with the morning’s activities. Thankfully, the Caveboy offered to make the run to baggage check while I waited in line at the porta-potties.  We reunited briefly for quick wishes of luck and a discussion of where to meet after the race, and then he headed off to the Wave 2 start.

I had a long wait ahead, as the corrals closed at 6:20 and the race was not scheduled to start until 7:00.  I tend to get nervous and a little too amped up waiting in the corral, particularly with the aggressive jock-rock music that tends to be blasted there.  I’ve realized that if I plan for it, I can use that time to calm down, so I’ve started including some chill pre-race music in my playlists.  After saying goodbye to the Caveboy, I popped my headphones in, did a last gear check, and tried to get into my race mindset.  After the usual chitchat and shuffling, we finally ended up getting off about 15 minutes late due to a car parked on the course (?) near the start.

This was my first Wave 1 start, and due either to the extreme competence of NYRR or simply the speed of the runners ahead of me, we got out FAST.  There were roughly 12,500 runners in the crush through the starting line, and within the first 20 seconds I realized I was already running faster than race pace.  I had been vacillating all week about how hard to push it in this race–I already had two half marathon PR’s on the season and part of me wanted to run this one on cruise control and just enjoy the day.  Another part of me felt like I had worked really hard training for this and it was the perfect opportunity to really push myself and leave it all on the course.  I ultimately decided to try the latter approach, and was shooting for 8:30 splits, which would be good enough for another PR.

For some reason I was more nervous for this race than for anything else I’ve run this season.  I spent the early miles focusing on settling into a steady pace and staying loose, trying to keep my shoulders down and breathing deeply.  I could feel the slight pulling of a side stitch starting, but I did my best to breathe and stay focused and positive about the race ahead.  Somewhere in the third mile I realized that my mouth was really dry, and I grabbed some Gatorade at the mile 4 aid station.  I was starting to get hungry already (probably due to the, um, compromised digestion earlier).  I had brought two gels, but had really only planned to eat one, probably around mile 7 or 8.  I decided that I would have one at at mile 6 instead and then judge from there if my stomach could tolerate another around 9 or 10.

We turned into Prospect Park not long after the mile 4 aid station, and from there the course starts rolling gently uphill for the next mile or so.  I was holding just ahead of my pace and feeling good.  The only real hill of the course comes around mile 5 and rises about 300 feet in a third of a mile.  I run it nearly every week on my long runs–usually several times–and I’ve actually developed some affection for it.  I charged up it this time, pleased with the number of runners I was passing and probably speeding up a little too much in the process.  I crested the hill knowing the hardest part was now over and focused on recovering a bit and finding a good pace on the next downhill.  At the mile 6 aid station I had my first GU (chocolate mint) and grabbed some water to wash it down.  I don’t know if it was the slight change in my breathing when I ate, or just the effort of the hill sprint catching up with me, but the side stitch that had been threatening since the start suddenly kicked in with a vengeance.  Without slowing my pace, I tried to adjust my breathing and footfalls, hoping to alleviate the sharp pain.  I rarely get side stitches, but I had a similarly severe one during my last 10K that nearly doubled me over for the last two miles.  I was now finding it hard to breathe deeply, and after some agonizing, I decided that power walking as briefly as possible was preferable to potentially running the second half the race with that much discomfort.  I walked as fast as I could for about 30 or 40 seconds, lamenting that I was wasting a particularly speedy downhill in the process.  The stitch let go a bit though, and I was quickly able to resume the 8-ish pace I’d been holding on the downward slopes.  It still hurt a lot, but I told myself I could deal with the pain as long as I could at least breathe normally.

I started counting the exhales just to focus my mind, and got to about 56 before the ache started to lessen.  (Full disclosure: the last-minute addition of the perplexing Work, Bitch to my playlist may have aided in effectively distracting me at that point.  Has anyone worked out what the correlation is between fitness and living in France?) A few minutes later I was out of the park and making the turn onto Ocean Ave, which would lead us south to Coney Island.  Without the cramp and with some sugar in my system I was feeling really good again, and started doing some quick math as I approached the mile marker at 8.  I was still ahead of my goal pace and if I maintained an 8:30, I would finish around 1:51.  I had five downhill miles to go, though, and was already running 8:15’s.  I realized that if I could keep that up, I’d break 1:50.  Suddenly, the PR seemed trivial and cracking the 110 minute mark was all that mattered.

I hammered on with renewed resolve, which was probably good, since this stretch of the race is pretty monotonous.  I pulled over for Gatorade at mile 9, but opted not to eat the gel since the side stitch seemed to be reawakening every time I took in any nutrition.  This may or may not have been the best call, but at the time I figured I could hang on without any problem and refuel post-race.  I don’t remember much about the next few miles, but by 11 I was still holding the 8:15 pace, but starting to feel it.  My legs felt good, but I was working hard and starting to feel a little loopy.  I hadn’t sipped much of the Gatorade at 9 and I was pretty sure the added speed had already burned through what little sugar reserves I had left.

Through the next mile I kept checking the instantaneous pace readout on my Garmin to make sure it stayed below 8:15, but I couldn’t really summon the focus to compute how close I might be to 1:50.  When I passed the aid station for 12 I really wanted to grab a cup, but I was afraid that if I slowed down at all I wouldn’t be able to pull it back together for a fast finish.  I remember having a conversation with myself at one point as to whether I was willing to puke for this, and I decided that I was, if it came to it.  As I charged on I started to feel vaguely detached from my legs, which seemed to be doing a remarkable job of holding pace despite my mental fog.  It was kind of disconcerting, actually, and I tried to think as little as possible that last mile.  The pack around me slowed down a bit as we negotiated a narrow pedestrian ramp, and then we finally made the turn final onto the boardwalk at Coney Island.  I picked up the pace as much as I could for the final push, hampered a bit by fatigue, but mostly by the wet, sandy boardwalk, which was quite slippery.  I ran through the finish line and stopped my watch without looking down until I was clear of the chutes.  1:49:45!  I wouldn’t have wanted to cut it much closer, but there it was!


With a few days perspective, I have the following take-aways:

I am really, really happy with how I ran this race.  I was more nervous than I expected or would have liked, and it led me to slide back into micromanaging my race a bit.  Despite that, I stayed positive, confident, and pretty happy throughout.  I really fought for this one in a way that I haven’t been able to do before.  The sub-1:50 was a huge accomplishment for me, especially given that until last November I hadn’t run sub-2 hours since 2011.  The course was downhill and about as fast as you could get, though, so I’m considering it more of a course record than a PR.

The other major point that I learned on Saturday is that if I’m going to run faster paces, I probably need to consider including more starches and carbs in the week before the race.  Stomach issues aside, I maintain a pretty low carb diet and I clearly did not have enough glycogen in my system to really turn on the jets at the end of this.  I’m planning to reread The Paleo Diet for Athletes to get some ideas on how much and when to incorporate carbs and starches.  I also may start using Generation UCan, which I initially tried a while back but haven’t reordered.  If anyone has any suggestions for “safe” carb-loading, let me know!  This was the last big race of the season for me, and my plan right now is to take the next couple of weeks with reduced mileage to recharge, retool, and get ready for the next bid thing.  Details to follow.

P.S. My 8:23 average split is precisely my BQ pace.  I cannot imagine maintaining that focus and energy for 26.2 miles.  I am totally fantasizing about maintaining that pace for 26.2 miles.

May 14, 2014

Smoked Trout Power Salad

I really don’t have a grand plan for race week nutrition and I generally use it as an opportunity to experiment a bit.  This time around, I’m focusing on quality fats and proteins for most of the week and plan to ramp up the starches and fruit a bit in the last days before the race. 

For lunch, I usually bring a mess of fixin’s for my salads to work on Monday, and then combine as mood dictates.  Today’s creation turned out particularly well, and I thought I’d share.
Smoked Trout Power Salad
4 oz. tin of oil-packed smoked trout
2 small roasted beets, sliced
1/3 cup (or more) roasted butternut squash
3 cups greens of choice
1/8 cup crumbled blue cheese (optional)
2 tbsp. olive oil or dressing of choice
It’s a nice pre-race combo, as it covers the bases for quality fats, protein, and starches, with bonus points for some beet loading. For the greens, I had a half-and-half mix of baby lettuce and spinach, but I think this would also be fantastic on a bed of warm kale. Walnuts would also make a nice addition.   
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May 8, 2014

Does Your Iced Coffee Have Hidden Sugar?

New York City requires chain restaurants to post calorie counts on their menus, and when I was in Starbucks this week I noticed that their tall (12 oz) iced coffee is listed at 60 calories.  A tall brewed coffee has 10, and I was curious where those 50 extra calories came from.  According to Starbucks’ website, their regular iced coffee is “slightly sweetened,” to the tune of 15g of sugar.  As an alternative, one can order an iced Americano, which is not pre-sweetened, though it will cost you a bit more.  (Interestingly, both Dunkin Donuts and Seattle’s Best do not sweeten their regular brewed iced coffee, although SB does serve something called a “Frozen Birthday Cake Latte.”)

If you prefer to DIY, you can brew your own super-fabulous cold-brew iced coffee, and it couldn’t be easier.  I use a French press, but you can also use a jar and several layers of cheese cloth.  There is a batch of this in my refrigerator pretty much all summer long:

45g high quality coffee, fresh ground if possible

30 oz. cold water aerated water 

Put your ground coffee into the French press (or bundle in cheesecloth), pour in the water, and stir with a wooden spoon until all the coffee is submerged.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.  In the morning, press (or remove the cheese cloth).  If you’re using a French press, I like to pour the coffee off of the grounds and into another container if I’m not going to be using all of it right away.  

Cold brew coffee has much less acid than it’s hot counterpart, the cold process allows the more delicate notes of a good bean to come through.  For an added energy boost, skip the iced latte and instead soften a tablespoon of butter (pastured, please!), a little coconut oil, and blend it on high with a cup of iced coffee. You can add a little half and half or heavy cream if you want a creamier blend, and few dashes of cinnamon or cardamom is always a nice touch.  Throw in a few ice cubes if you want to capture that iced-blended coffee experience, and enjoy all those medium chain triglycerides.  I’ve been drinking a cup of butter coffee before my runs and I definitely feel like I’m getting a nice energy boost without the crash.  


October 22, 2012

Harvest Smoothie (Or What to do with Leftover Pumpkin Puree)

It’s been overcast for the past few days here in LA, which means that I get to pretend that it’s fall.  In that spirit, I made these wonderful pumpkin bars from Elana’s Pantry yesterday, and as is usual with pumpkin-based baking projects, I now find myself with leftover pumpkin puree in the fridge.  Luckily, I have the perfect solution for the problem—pumpkin smoothies. 

Pumpkin is fairly low in calories and carbs and packs a healthy dose of iron and vitamins A and C, which makes this a great post-workout snack.



½ cup pumpkin puree

1 scoop vanilla whey protein powder

6 oz. coconut milk

3 drops liquid vanilla stevia

¼ cup yogurt

1 tsp. cinnamon

½ tsp. nutmeg

Pinch of cloves

¼ tsp. fresh ginger

Add all items to blender and pulse until combined.


Substitutions and variations: I’ve made this with a teaspoon or two of honey instead of stevia if I need to replenish more carbs.  I’ve also used a couple of frozen peach slices to sweeten it up a bit without affecting the pumpkin flavor much.  The fresh ginger really gives it a great warmth if you have it on hand.  If not, powdered ginger will do the trick.

October 8, 2012

Week 1 Recap

Well, I survived Week 1 of training and I learned a few things.  I should start by saying that I had laid out a very aggressive training plan for the next several months that attempted to emulate what I did prior to running my half-marathon PR two years ago.  In the time since the PR, however, a few things have changed.  I’ve gone Paleo and had to completely rework pre-run fueling strategies.  I had the SI joint/IT band injury last year. Following the injury, I added two days of strength training, which I’m currently doing on my two running off-days.  Looking back at my training log, I was also a lot faster when I started training for the PR race, having just come off a decent spring half-marathon.  I was thus left with a bit of dilemma when I laid out a training plan this time.  I wanted to be aggressive with my schedule, and didn’t want to risk re-injuring myself, but I was also committed to keeping the strength training in the mix.

My initial plan (which I knew was somewhat suicidal) ran thus:

Monday – Strength

Tuesday – Interval (5-6 miles)

Wednesday – Easy (5-6 miles)

Thursday – Tempo (5-6 miles)

Friday – Strength

Saturday – Hill (5-6 miles)

Sunday-Long (8-15 miles)

The first thing to note is that there is no rest day in the mix.  The second thing is that I’m totally violating the 75% of mileage at easy paces rule.  I had laid out my interval and tempo workouts per the pace tables in Run Less, Run Faster, which I’ve used over the years and in the process, morphed into Run More, Feel Exhausted.  That scenario pretty much played itself out as I tackled the first week of the schedule.  I took the strength training pretty easy on Monday in an attempt to not be sore for Tuesday’s speedwork.  I was worried about getting off on the wrong foot and not being able to hit my paces in my first interval workout, but I did manage to push through it.  Wednesday I already had to pull back the pace, though, because I felt like my heart rate was getting too high for an easy run.  Thursday I banged out my tempo without too much trouble and felt great.   Friday was strength training again, and then a short hill run on Saturday.

I do most of my hill training on a scenic route through Santa Monica and the Palisades and I was looking forward to quiet streets and modernist architecture.  The route starts at a slight incline (maybe 1-2%) for about a mile, then becomes rolling with some nice climbs and drops of varying length and steepness.  I had been running for about half a mile when I realized that the almost imperceptible slope was already producing that dreaded running-through-molasses feeling.  I gritted my teeth and stuck it out, but it was not a particularly commanding performance. I did my best to shake off the crappiness, though, and was still optimistic going into Sunday’s 10-miler. Rather than being tired the day after a hill workout, I usually feel strong and energized.  Sunday dawned warm and steamy, though, and I quickly realized that I was going to have to rein the pace way in if I was going to make it through 10 miles.  Again, I felt like I needed to creep along at a snail’s pace to keep my heart rate in check.  Some of this, no doubt, was due to the weather, but I was really just not feeling sharp.  All in all, I’m proud of myself for having the discipline to run slowly enough to get through it.  A few months ago I would have taken off at my goal pace, burned out in a few miles, and totally beaten myself up over it.  I am forced to admit, however, that I am going to revamp this schedule to make it workable.

Professionally, I think I’m very good at prioritizing and distilling the big picture down into the critical tasks to be completed.  It is not a skill I’ve applied to running very often.  I realized that I need to approach this problem like I would any other deadline and ask the following questions:

  1. Which workouts are getting me the most bang for my mileage?  Which ones aren’t?
  2. How can I optimize my recovery time?
  3. Am I striking the right balance in types of workouts?

More to come…