Reinspired?

I just spent the last hour re-reading the first few months of posts in this blog and reminiscing on some really great and some really tough times. I was truly moved by my memories shed a few tears. I also realized that I used to eat like shit and think it was healthy! I cringe at the amount of sugar, processed food, gluten and dairy I once ate!

So much has changed since 2011. I decided to temporarily leave Calgary and move home to Newfoundland to pursue educational goals and I am currently a full-time University student. It was time to get my credentials caught up to my career ambition and stop complaining about crappy career opportunities and being under employed. I am also single and taking this time to concentrate on me and figuring out what I really want in life.

I also FINALLY broke through some serious health and fitness barriers this past year. I cut out 95% of the dairy and sugar and gluten that I used to eat. I have lost 10-15lbs (depending on the day) and this has helped me get fitter and faster than any amount of junk runs ever did. Quitting sugar for a few months here and there last year was the very best thing I ever did for myself. I always failed at moderation. What’s that anyway? Cold turkey with a definite start and end date and treating it like a challenge (that had an end date) was the only thing that worked for me. Even after a sugarless month I might indulge and let’s face it, binge a little for a day or two, but as I cycled through five or six sugar free months last year I eventually changed my relationship with sugar. I overcame something in my mind, that little voice, that willpower thing… it grew! It grew and grew and these days I don’t even really think about sweets. I think overall I overcame a serious addiction to sugar. I am lighter, fitter, I have less acne and less fine lines than before. I am 31 and my best me ever.

I am training for my favorite 10 mile race yet again. This year will be the five year anniversary of my first running of the NLAA Tely Ten. Last year I finally broke 80 minutes and finished at 79:23 achieving a long-time goal of mine. I am nervous that I won’t PR again this year. Training has been ok, but it hasn’t been stellar. I have three weeks left to giver and I have to be ok with the possibility of being slower than last year. It’s a lesson in self-love and acceptance and knowing that just trying my best is winning. Running has taken a back seat as other things in life, like school, are currently front and center.

There are new sneakers on their way to me in the mail that I purchased online – a new style of Asics that I have been interested in trying for a while. Hopefully they will add the necessary pep to my step because I haven’t had new sneakers in over a year! Recent nutritional focus has been on clean eating to help overcome the somewhat off track winter months and get back to last summer’s racing weight. Summer is here and the days are hot and sunny; runs are sweaty and giving me the best runner’s high. I am reacquainted with my old friends Signal Hill and Quidi Vidi Lake. I have a lot to be thankful for. Life is good.

Two of the World’s Best-Ever Oatmeal Recipes

I am always on the hunt for an easy and healthy breakfast that I can pack and go. I usually make my breakfast at home in the morning in the 30 minutes total I give myself to get up and out the door – I’m a wet hair in a bun gal most days. Anything I can do to cut down on time to get ready means more time for sleep. And boy do I like to sleep. Like a toddler. So anyways, here are two awesome tastes-like-desert recipes for a fast, delicious and nutritious breakfast.

Blueberry Bliss Oatmeal

  • 3/4 cup of quick oats
  • 1 tbsp flax meal
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1tsp coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 3-4 drops pure vanilla extract
  • 1/3 tsp stevia
Blueberry Bliss!

Blueberry Bliss!

Awesome Chocolate Almond Oats

  • 3/4 cup quick oats
  • 1 tsp raw cacao powder
  • 1 tbsp sugar free almond butter (I like Blue Menu Just Almonds)
  • dash of cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp sliced almonds
  • 1 tbsp dried cranberries or half a banana
  • 1/3 tsp stevia

**warning this one looks like crap, literally, but tastes like heaven.

I mix all the ingredients listed in my smallest stow and go glass container and when I get to work I add boiling water, stir and let it sit for a minute before I scarf them down. I use organic ingredients as much as possible and I don’t really measure so my amounts are just estimates. I have tried so many times to like oatmeal and I think what was always missing for me was the fat. Coconut oil and almond butter really make these recipes so rich and creamy and I’m sure its the extra healthy fat that keeps me full until lunch time. Enjoy!!

I’m Back – Here’s my Eight Month Recap

It’s been 8 months since my last post (which was about quitting sugar). If anyone was reading my posts they may have wondered if I fell off the wagon and spiraled back into a sugary rut. I’m back to report just the opposite! Quitting sugars in April was not only a huge challenge for me it’s probably the best thing I ever did for myself. I kept it up through May and upped the intensity, ditching the faux sugar training wheels as well.

The major changes I made to my diet this year allowed me to lose almost 15lbs since January 2013. April and May were sugar free months and in June and July I practiced moderation. But  but by the time  August rolled around I felt like I had indulged too much and ditched the evil white powder again. Then in October I did the 12 day Wild Rose cleanse and stayed away from sugar again with the exception of a piece of  pie at a dinner party hosted by my new boyfriends parents (not so cool to be a snob in those situations). Moderation has never really been my strong suit and cold turkey worked great for me with a definite start and end date. I had a few binges here and there during non sugar free months and during November I ran every day of the month, but I ate birthday cake every weekend. Overall I cut down on sugar BIG TIME this year. Through the monthly challenges I proved to myself that yes, I do have will power, and yes, cutting out sugar will make an enormous difference. Everyone knows sugar is awful, it’s in everything, it’s hard to commit to cutting it out, but it’s possible and it will make an enormous difference to your health. Once you kick it the benefits are enormous; my skin is clearer, I have less fine lines, more energy and I’m less moody – and that’s in addition to weight loss.

I rocked my annual 10 mile race in July and FINALLY nailed it in under 80 minutes with a time of 79:23. I mainly contribute my increased speed to being lighter but also to training smarter – less long steady junk miles and more short speed workouts and hills. I did a lot more strength training in 2013 and started off every session with a mile on the treadmill as fast as I could – between 8 – 9 mph. The 10 miler was my only race of the year however. I felt like I needed to take it easy this year and not be all about work / school / running which has been my sad little life for the last few years. All work and no play lead to too much pressure and it was making me crazy. I played a lot more in 2013 and I feel it has benefited my overall health more-so than the intense training plans and strict schedules. This past summer I spent lots of warm nights out on the town, living it up and making new friends. I let go of some heavy things that were no longer making me feel alive.

2013 is over and looking back, it was a great year. There was a new challenge almost every month, whether diet or running related. I shook myself out of bad habits, challenged myself to break free of (some of) my stubborn ways and I lightened my load of emotional baggage. I wanted to devote the year I turned 30 to becoming a better version of myself and I really feel like I took it up a notch, or two. I’m still 30 for another 8 weeks though, so I’m devoted to going out with a bang before I welcome 31. It will be 8 weeks of sugar free, minimal gluten, booze free,  clean eating. I’ve also added ice skating at lunchtime, more frequent strength training at the gym and I’m still running outside in the beautiful (at times frigid) Calgary winter weather.

So what’s my excuse for temporarily abandoning this blog? I guess this year I was going through a lot of personal changes. I went on an inward journey and didn’t really feel like blogging about most of it. I wasn’t ultra-focused on running and hey, I’m no Olympian – just a normal 30 year old recreational runner. I face the same challenges in life that everyone faces. But I’m back and I’ve added some new categories and refreshed the look of my site. There’s more to life than chasing a Boston qualifying marathon time or striving for peak fitness. Here’s a photo recap of the last 8 months, enjoy!

IMG_20130628_180725IMG_20130629_102229IMG_20130706_191921me05    IMG_20130721_213458 IMG_20130722_212538 IMG_20130723_131731 IMG_20130723_200131 IMG_20130723_200717  IMG_20130729_090413 IMG_20130729_204938 IMG_20131031_211342IMG_20131027_151051IMG_20130802_141156 IMG_20131027_150800    IMG_20131228_005947

The Sugar Strike Continues

Hello runners and readers :)

Although I wasn’t very dedicated on updating about April’s challenge, I stayed dedicated to cutting sugars and I would like to report that it was a huge success!

2013 is all about monthly challenges for me and cutting sugar last month seemed pretty tough but I did it and looking back it wasn’t even that difficult. I didn’t have any chocolate, muffins, cookies, cake or sweets for a full month! Here and there I ingested small amounts of honey or cane sugar but even that was very limited. My cheats were a couple glasses of diet soda and some sugar free ice cream. I know faux sugar, ie. aspartame and all those artificial sweeteners are probably worse than regular sugar but my main focus was cutting out sugary sweets and the horrible high fructose corn syrup laden crap. I cut out ketchup, sauces and juices. I ignored all the office treats and I passed on the free chocolate bar I won at the grocery store.

Just as February and March’s running challenge taught me that it can be easy to start a new habit, cutting sugars in April made me realize that it can be just as easy to break some bad ones too. I am SUPER motivated to keep up and even take a step up with the clean eating trend I started for myself. I am confident enough right now to take this up a level. One month challenges are awesome!! I am excited to see what else I can challenge myself to improve on this year :)

May’s challenge is also a diet challenge. I am going to continue to avoid sugar and up my game to include cutting the artificial ones as well. Its not like I ate a lot of them last month, just a tiny bit, but those artificial sweeteners are awful. If I can go this far, I might as well try and take it that one small step further. Also on the cutting block are trans fats. So, that means no chips – no deep fried anything!

Today I bought some spirulina powder to make smoothies with. Every morning going forward I’ll start my day with a super-food, green smoothie. I just had one made with a teaspoon of spirulina powder, half a banana,  fresh pineapple, frozen berries, a little apple juice and some almond milk. DELICIOUS!! Check out the blueish green goodness below :) I’ll update on the spirulina and let you know my full review in a couple weeks. I am interested to see if I will notice any benefits.

Green Smoothie

This week I also started putting Vega Sport Pre-Workout Energizer in my first glass of water in the morning. So far I am noticing the extra energy throughout the day but I didn’t notice any real effect on my 10k run I did yesterday and it may or may not have contributed to the stomach craps and gastrointestinal distress that had me sprinting for the washroom on my last mile. :) It contains rhodiola rosea and that stuff is the bomb! It is amazing for increasing mental energy and lowering stress. I have been taking it for a couple months and it really helped me through a hectic couple months at work and during final exams!

vega pre workout energizer

So that’s my update on April’s challenge and my plan for May! I’ll try to be a better blogger and get back into writing more often. Life has been hectic to say the least!

Health and happiness fellow runners!!

59 Days Strong

You never know what your body is capable of until you push beyond your comfort zone.

Earlier this winter I did a 12 day challenge and ran every day of the 12 days of Christmas. At that time, it was my longest stint of running and I was pretty intimidated at the thought of committing to it. I completed the challenge pretty easily and just like I always do, I began looking for a new challenge. 12 days was kid stuff and it left my body feeling firm, strong and happy.

I then had to top my 12 days of fitness. So, I turned my sights to completing a full month of daily running and as of February 28th I had tallied up a total of 140kms. Not a huge amount but it averaged 5k a day. I was pretty impressed with a few things; the fact that I didn’t get lazy and quit, my body held up well, and how easy it actually was once I made my mind up to go for it. Despite crappy weather, little time and all the usual stresses and excuses I found my way out the door and back home for a daily run  every day for a month. It wasn’t even all that hard to psych myself up for it. It easily became one of my daily rituals. Then, of course, after successfully completing the February challenge I decided to continue and run every day of March. Why not? I felt good – I didn’t need to quit. I was cautious and was committed to a minimum of a mile a day. I lost track of my tally but I estimate that I ran about 250kms in the past 59 days. I also added in a lot more cross training during March and went to the gym at least 2 – 3 times a week. I finished off March yesterday with a 5.5k run, an hour walk and 500m of swimming. Another successful challenge complete!

Now it’s April 1st and I really don’t feel like taking it easy. I feel like I’m just getting going and this spring is setting up to be my fittest one yet. I have knocked down some mental barriers for myself and pushed through another comfort zone. I’ve also lost about 6-7 lbs since mid January. I will do another short run today, maybe just a mile. Every inch of my body feels great, so why should I stop? It is now 8 weeks until the half marathon which I  committed to doing on May 26th with my girlfriends. Once I start working in longer runs of 12k + I am going to take some days off, but it’s going to be hard. Maybe on my off days I will do some light strength training or something to stay committed to the daily fitness regime I have created for myself. This is addictive!!

Another April challenge – maybe my most ambitious yet – is to quit all refined sugars. Day one is going well so far; I had a fruit smoothie for breakfast and I just snacked on some died fruit. Hopefully if I am eating natural fruit sugars it will help keep the refined sugar cravings away. I’m pretty sure it would be no problem for me if I never had to go to work. The evil corporate environment, with it’s doughnuts, muffins and candy dish tests my willpower daily. At home, I am safe from temptation.

So, here we go. Zero refined sugar. Cold turkey. I will update soon! Wish me luck!!

no sugar

Ode to my grippies

A hem.

An Ode to my Grippies, by Amanda Race

Oh how I love my grippies,

they are really nice,

they let me run quite fast, on the snow and ice,

without them, I slip and slide,

and usually fall down on my side,

oh how I love my grippies,

Well the March challenge is underway, and I am 12 for 12. How is that you ask when it’s only March 7th? Well, I started on February 24th. My sister is coming to visit at the end of the month, and I want to ensure that I will get the whole month in, so I modified it a bit, just incase we are busy. I’ve also challenged myself to bring my lunch to work everyday, and not take the easy route and go out for lunch, so far I’m two weeks straight with bringing my lunch. Not only is it better for me, but I’m saving money!

It’s becoming a bit of a addiction for me now, I can’t stop, and I can’t go a day without a run. I have a veruy busy scheudle, so my runs are normally at 5am, or at 9 or 10 pm. I’m suprized with how many people in my subdivision are actually up and on their way to work at 5am actually. I feel bad for them! Me being up at that ugly hour is by choice! They are up to get to work on time.

I’ve developed a nice little route around my subdivision that I feel safe running at 10pm, and at 5am. It’s 3.14k, (like pi ! mmmmm pie) but it’s perfect, 20 mins and I’m done. On the weekend I tend to go to my other running trail and do 6 or 7k, so I do get some semi long runs in.

I always wonder what people think about when they are running, so here are a few things that were going through my mind on my run tonight:

1. Man that’s a nice colour in their house, I wonder if it’s there bedroom or the living room (yes, I love looking into peoples houses…if they aren’t going to have blinds, I’m going to look)

2. Is that a puddle? black ice? or just wet pavement? oh it’s a puddle…great, now my feet are wet.

3. I hope the cat doesn’t break the glass I left on the counter.

4. My legs are really starting to get a nice shape! (That one is a bit conceided, but my legs are the things that I am working on, I want nice legs!!)

5. I think people with dogs don’t want to walk past me! (4 times people with dogs almost past me, but then ended up going into the house before we crossed paths…4! 3 were guys too…so I couldn’t even tell if they were cute!)

6. I can’t wait to go home and write about this.

I’m sure there were many more, but that’s just what stuck out. I also realized that I have a favorite corner on my running route. It’s the corner that I used to think was the last corner before my road, and was always dissapointed when I got to it and there was one more, I didn’t think I would make it home. Now I love it because that corner shows me how far I have come!

So 12 down, 19 to go! I definitely got this, if I can get up at 5am and squeeze in a run before work, this challenge is nothing! :)

Now to have a nice cup of tea and a few arrowroots before crawing into bed!

February Challenge – Conquered

This post is three days overdue but I wanted to give an update on my “run every day of February” challenge – 28 runs in 28 days – DONE! I finished the month at 140kms which averages out to be 5k a day – not a long daily run but it’s perfect! Yay me!

Going into this challenge I thought it would be hard. I thought I might be putting too much strain on my body. I thought it might be difficult to find the time. I was cautious of injuries. After about two weeks my daily run felt normal, it was as much a part of my routine as brushing my teeth. Many days I ran in the evening and just did 3-5k in my neighborhood. Other days I went for a scenic longer run along the Bow River pathways. Most days I took my dog along and I think it grew our bond even closer; evening runs became “our time”.

March is here and although today is a snow day and there is a thick blanket of “white stuff” falling out there, spring is right around the corner. I decided to keep my streak going and also ran on March 1st and 2nd. I will run today (although I may need snowshoes) and just keep  going and run every day of March too. What better way to welcome spring and welcome my 30th year. Now that I know how easy it is to run every single day, why stop?

Some friends and I will be running a half marathon during the last weekend of May. When I start really training for that and upping my intensity I am going to need rest days so I will not continue my streak past the end of March. At that time I’ll take a few days off and then start on a real training plan. Already I think I have improved from where I was in January. I can now run hills better than before and with each passing day and each passing run, running feels more and more effortless and more and more like second nature, a fluid motion, my body totally inline, in harmony, rhythmic and balanced. Blissful.

Spring is right around the corner and the days are getting longer! Stay happy and healthy!!

Ain’t Nobody Got Time For Dat!

Well I am officially 75% through my February Challenge. I ran everyday for the last 21 days and I only have one puny little week to go… Tonight I saw that I <3 to Run on Facebook has a “Run Every Day of March” challenge going… So I guess I am going to just get on board with that one too and make it two whole months in a row. I was a little worried early on about how my body would hold up this month but so far it’s nothing a little foam rolling and good eating can’t cure. I think month two should be no big deal as well as long as I keep my runs short-ish. You really don’t know what your body can do until you try.

It all could have all been over for me yesterday morning however. On my short commute (12 minutes) to work I got into a bicycle / vehicle accident. Some barely-awake shithead opened their car door while parked on the side of the street without looking in their rear view mirror. Over the handlebars I went. What a shock! I was stunned! I jumped up as quick as I could and hauled my bike to the sidewalk. THANK GOD no one was following closely behind me and I was able to get up and out of the way. WHAT AN IDIOT to open a car door on a busy street without looking – at rush hour! People are twats. I was super shaken up but my body was fine. I braked pretty hard before hitting the door and didn’t hit the ground with too much impact. I walked away with just a few bruises on my arms and legs. My bike feels a little off and it’s probably time for her to go in the shop for a tune up anyway.

After I calmed down a little and regained my senses I proceed to go on to work despite the accident – because physically I felt ok and I knew I had a lot of work to do. But, despite my effort in a good direction a crap-tacular day ensued. All was well when I came home though and my boyfriend made me delicious chicken tacos for supper :).

I considered not running last night but figured I’d think positive and just go, take it slow and if something started to hurt I’d listen to my body and walk back. Thankfully I felt fine and enjoyed a nice easy little run. I went again tonight (obviously I go every night now) and it was gorgeous – nearly a full moon and a big sky full of stars. It was about 0 C and not a breath of wind. Really nice and still. Nights like tonight remind me of being a child and lying outside staring at the big sky thinking about the world and wondering what was out there. Now that I know, some days I’d rather still be 5 years old lying in a snowbank in rural Newfoundland :).

So here’s my list of what I ain’t got no time for this week:

  • brain dead motorists
  • bruises
  • chronic negativity

And here’s what I’m thankful for:

  • A healthy, strong body that can flip over a set of handlebars onto the middle of a street and pop back up like a champ
  • The fact that no one was driving closely behind me on my commute to work yesterday morning
  • A nothing-is-going-to-stop-me kind of attitude
  • Boyfriends who make you tacos (the way you like them) after you’ve had a shitty day
  • The best dog in the world who runs with me every night

My wonderful little dog Zoe has been running with me almost every day of my challenge as well. She is a seven year old Lab / Sheppard / Terrier cross (mutt) and she is truly the greatest dog in the entire world.  Her comfortable pace is just a tad slower than I ideally like to go and I find that she pulls behind if I try and take her out for more than a 5-7k run but she loves short easy runs. Some days she wants to stop and sniff everything but overall we have got a good partnership going. Monday night she was full of pep and we did the fastest 5k I have maybe ever done. It was a very hilly route too but we attacked the hills like champs! I’ve been running a lot of hills lately too. Running everyday has really made me sick of the same old route so I have been looking for new places to explore and new ways to challenge myself. Hills it is!

I should get going and put my bruises to bed. Here are some super cute pics of Zoe. Isn’t she sweet??? :)

This is her, “Come on Mom let’s go run” face.

This is her, “Come on and throw the ball” face.

Hurts So Good

I am 16 for 16 so far in my February Fitness Challenge of running every day this month! I think my tally is somewhere around 95k so far and I am feeling pretty darn good. Well except for some tightness in my IT bands and a little achy-ness from yesterday’s speedy 6k. I am focused on staying aware of any little discomforts to make sure they don’t turn into injuries and I am rolling my IT bands out every night with my foam roller. FOAM ROLLERS ARE THE BEST! Rolling our stiff muscles hurts but its a good kind of pain, like a massage. Here is a how-to guide from Runner’s World.

Only 12 days left to go to complete my challenge! I am pretty sure this is the most days in a row of running I’ve ever done. They are pretty short runs – most from 20 – 40 minutes but it’s adding up to more than if I wasn’t committed to doing it daily. No time for a long post tonight – I just wanted to give a little update. It’s dinner time and I have a well deserved veggie burger waiting for me, loaded with avocado and tomato. Om nom nom :)

Black bean burger

Black bean burger

!!!

February Fitness

Hello there runners!

It’s been a while since my last post. January was a pretty blah month. I am into another semester, working on another 2 online classes so time has been tight. The days are slowly getting longer and it hasn’t been too cold thankfully. We have had lots of Chinooks keeping the temperature pretty good most days.

My co-author and I did decide to forgo the Hypothermic Half Marathon this year. Life has been stressful, race entry fees and travel to and from would be expensive and I just needed the break – too much on my plate right now. For about three weeks after my 12 Days of Fitness Challenge I was only finding the time to run on Friday nights, Saturdays and Sundays. They were good runs mind you – always one 14k or so each week. Last weekend my girlfriend and I did a run that was nearly 16k. It was a beautiful day for it too; super sunny and plus 7 c. On weekend afternoons like that I feel like I could run forever! Here’s a blurry pic from a snowy area of our trail a couple weeks ago. Sorry for the picture quality, you get the idea!

This past Sunday a couple besties and I rented some snowshoes and headed out of the city for a little frolicking in the woods. On the drive out we played some super old mixed cds and sang along to some gems like Brittney Spears and TLC :). Our destination was Kananaskis Country and we decided on doing the Troll Falls loop. The snow was fairly well packed however and snowshoes were not really necessary. Rather than walk the beaten path and waste the cost of the rental, we made our own path, found some fresh snow and charged through the trees having a great time laughing like teenagers. After our adventure we had a lovely dinner in Canmore at the Grizzly Paw. It was a great day. I went back to work the next day suuper chilled out and de-stressed. Here’s a very pretty pic of Troll Falls taken by my friend.

Snowshoeing 2

I decided that the best way for me to stay on track with fitness and running would be to do another running challenge. My 12 Days of Fitness Challenge was a great success, so here I go again! I have committed to running every day of February. So far I am 6 for 6 and have a tally of 40kms since Feb 1st. Because running 28 days in a row with no rest days could put a lot of stress and strain on my body, I am keeping my weekday runs short. Just slow paced 3-5ks with my dog. I find short slow runs everyday are the perfect cure for stress. The days are much longer now and it’s easy to get home from work and squeeze a run in before it gets too dark. Spring is right around the corner!! Just as I have grown an appreciation for nighttime runs…. I have totally abandoned my iPod – haven’t used for over a month. I want to be alert and aware of my surroundings while running at night or with the dog. I am also just really enjoying the peace and quiet. I don’t need to clutter my brain with music these days – I much prefer the sound of my breathing and footsteps.

Another one of the perhaps more silly reasons I want to make February a super fit month is because my 30th birthday is getting closer and closer. I really want to hit 30 feeling super healthy and satisfied with where I am in life. I had originally wanted to do a girls trip to a tropical destination but alas, I don’t have enough vacation time to run off to the sun and surf. I am freaking about a little about the big 3-0, probably thinking too much about life goals, career progress and all of that shit. I spent a lot of years as a free spirit and right now I’m in a chapter where I have to pay my dues. While I can’t run away to a beach and unwind I will be very lucky to be surrounded by some of my dearest friends in the world. 28 days of running in February will make my body and soul feel great and lesson my panic as I say goodbye to being a 20-something. I have a lot to be thankful for as I look at these photos. Hitting 30 with a great group of friends and a healthy body ain’t so bad.