Mile Repeats

I’m a HUGE believer in goal-setting.  With anything and everything you do, have some type of goal in mind.  If you run just because, that’s great.  Kudos to you for getting out and doing it, but why not challenge yourself and see if you can better your pace.

If the majority of your  training program consists of long steady-state runs, it’s time to start incorporating some type of interval in order to promote some change & get some results.  Sure steady-state cardio is great for burning fat, but doesn’t do much for you following your workout.  Shoot for a little more intense workout so you can get the EPOC effect, boosting your metabolism for hours after your workout.  Already do tempo runs, fartlek runs, and sprints?  How about giving mile repeats a try.

For long distance runners, mile repeats can make all the difference in your finish time.  Not only do mile repeats help to increase lactate threshold and V02Max,  but they are EXTREMELY challenging, both mentally and physically (NOTE: for more info on lactate threshold & interval training, see previous post “4 Benefits of Interval Training”).

If you’re not following me on what a mile repeat is, it’s simply running 1 mile either all out or 10-15s faster than your race pace, followed by a set recovery time before you start your next mile.

Example for a “first-time” mile repeater:

1 mile run; 5 minute walking recovery x 4 

For starters, I’d suggest 2-4 repeats with a 5 minute walking recovery.  As you progress, work your way up to 6-8 repeats (obviously depending on upcoming race distance).  Once you’ve mastered that, try taking the recovery time down to 3 minutes.  Just be sure that when you start your next mile, your heartrate has dropped and you’re breathing is back to normal.

Be sure to consume lots of water both during & after the run!

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Blueberry-Mango Quinoa Salad

Alright so you’ve made the quinoa energy bites, right?  Here’s another quick, easy, & healthy quinoa recipe for you to try.  One of my girlfriends and I made it for dinner last night & after the first bite I was positive it would be a repeat dish! Give it a try…

What You Need:

1/2 cup quinoa

1 chicken breast

1/2 cup fresh blueberries

1/2 cup ripe mangoes

1/2 cup cubed cucumbers

1 tablespoon dried cranberries

Dressing:

1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons lemon juice (used a whole lemon for more flavor)

10 basil leaves, finely chopped

Dash of salt & pepper
Let’s get cookin’ :

Bring 1/2 cup of quinoa & 1 cup of water to a boil, then cover and simmer for approximately 15 minutes (or until quinoa is fully cooked).  While the quinoa is cooking, toss all fruit in a bowl.  Whisk together all the dressing ingredients, adding the basil last (or right before you plan to serve).  Once the quinoa is done cooking, combine it in a large bowl with the fruits & cucumbers, drizzling the lemon-basil dressing on top.  Mix the ingredients and dressing together & voilà, you’ve got yourself a tasty, healthy lunch/dinner!

Enjoy! : )

“Low Fat” Food Trap

According to Brian Wansink, PH.D and author of the book Mindless Eating (which I highly suggest), most people have a black and white view of food; it’s either healthy or not healthy.  I think it’s even safe to say that most people have a very scewed perception as to what is healthy and what is not.  For example, choosing Nabisco 100 calorie cookie packs as a side with your sandwich at lunch.  Sure, you’re monitoring calories better than if you were to have a regular cookie that could have 210 calories in it alone, but does that make what you’re eating healthy?  No.  Think about the nutritional value of those cookies and the processing they go through.

If a label says “low-fat,” chances are we think, ” Oh this is healthy,” or “It’s not so bad for me,” when in reality it could actually be worse. 

For example, Nabisco’s line of Snackwell’s fat free cookies are loaded with sugar and have only 30% fewer calories than standard brands.  BUT for some reason, since the label reads “fat free,” many people would assume this is a healthy choice & therefore feel better about eating it.  Feeling better about eating something because you think it’s “healthy,” often leads to overeating, therefore consuming way more calories than necessary.  The problem is that in reality, the fat-free version of foods aren’t necessarily that much lower in calories than the regular version so while you think you’re doing yourself a big favor, chances are you’re not.

Another good example: 2 tablespoons of peanut butter (referring to the regular version) contains 191 calories, whereas the reduced fat version contains 187 calories.  Awesome, 4 calorie difference.

The worst part about choosing “low-fat” snacks, is that people typically tend to indulge more because they think that it’s “healthier.”  Like I mentioned before, this is where the big problem occurs.

Hazzard County video watching study:

In Wansink’s Hazzard County video watching study, Brian and Pierre Chandin handed out bags of granola labeled either “Low-fat Rocky Mountain Granola,” or regular “Rocky Mountain Granola” to participants.  In reality, all of the granola was low fat.  Subjects in the study watched a video as they  munched on the granola, but those given the granola labeled “low-fat” kept munching long after the other group stopped.  After the remains were weighed following the movie, those eating what they thought was low-fat ate 49% more.  Even though the granola was low fat, this translated to 84 more calories.

Don’t let yourself fall into the “low-fat” food trap.

My advice: 

  • Often times, foods marked “low-fat,” fat-free” or “reduced fat” are packaged foods.  Try to go for foods that have a shorter shelf life and are not proccessed as much as you can (i.e, spend more time in the fresh produce section at the grocery store).
  • Try to be mindful of what you’re eating all the time.  Have ready made portion sizes rather than eating out of a bag.
  • Eat slow, give your stomach time to tell you you’re full.

Thanks for reading! : )

Quinoa Energy Bites

Typically I don’t spend too much time in the kitchen, but when one of my clients mentioned this recipe to me, I got out my apron & headed straight to the kitchen.  These bites make for a perfect, healthy, mid-afternoon snack.  Minimal ingredients needed, throw in a bowl, mix, bake & enjoy!

But wait, what the heck is quinoa anyways?

Quinoa, (pronounced [keen-wah]), is most commonly considered a grain, but actually a relative to leafy green vegetables like spinach and Swiss chard.  Quinoa has a protein content that is superior to that of most grains because it contains all essential amino acids.  In particular, quinoa is high in lysine, an amino acid important for tissue growth & repair.  It is also a good source of manganese, magnesium, phosphorus & copper.  In addition, quinoa has a high iron content.

Enough talk, let’s get cookin’…

What you need:

2 Cups of Cooked Quinoa

1/2 cup Natural Peanut Butter

3 Tbsp honey

1/4 Tsp Salt

3/4 Cup of Rolled Oats

1/2 Cup Unsweetened, Shredded Coconut (personally not a fan of coconut so I left this ingredient out)

1/2 Cup Dried Cranberries (could do raisins too)

What to do:

Preheat Oven to 350 degrees.

Combine quinoa, peanut butter, honey, salt, and oats into large mixing bowl.  Using an electric mixer or spoon &mix well.  Stir in coconut & cranberries (and/or raisins).  Scoop and mold dough into round, tablespoon-sized balls.

Place balls on baking sheets and bake for approximately 20 minutes, until bottoms are nicely browned.

Allow to cool, then enjoy!

Mantra for the Minute

Mantra: [man-truh], a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of “creating transformation.”

Breathe deeply.

Our breath is key to survival.  Through our breath, our body takes in oxygen and transports it to our lungs. With help from our circulatory system, our blood flows in the proper pattern, picking up this oxygen from our lungs, transporting it to our heart, then releasing it out through our entire body by means of blood vessels.  Without this cycle, we would not be.

So, breathing is key to life.  But how often is it that we think about it?  Luckily, we don’t have to think about every single breath we take because our autonomic nervous system does that for us.  But if we did pay more attention to it, could it benefit us? Absolutely.

Becoming aware of your breath can do wonders for you.  It can be an amazing tool for you to use during exercise, yoga, or even sitting at your desk.  In yoga, although there are many different breathing techniques, the end goal is the same: to bring a heightened sense of awareness and control over your physiology and psychology.  Personally, this is where I find my peace of mind as I’m able to spend at least an hour, tuning into my own body and turning off everything else that may be going on around me.

During strenous exercise, breathing is extremely important as well.  We know that we are supposed to be breathing during the point of exertion during lifts etc., but it goes beyond that.  Breathing deeply provides stability to your core and entire trunk for that matter.  The more these muscles are supported and strengthened, greater the chances you may be able to have less back pain, better posture, etc.

So, how do you breathe correctly?

Many people make the mistake of breathing solely from their chest, using only a fraction of their lungs.  If you are doing this, typically you will see a significant rise in your shoulders.  When this happens, we’re actually tensing up all of those muscles around our neck and shoulders. At all costs, avoid breathing in this manner…we’re trying to RELAX, remember?  By breathing deeper, we are expanding the capacity of our lungs, bringing more oxygen supply to the body for function.  So, focus on breathing deeply through your abdomen, inhaling from the nose.  This is also known as diaphragmatic breathing.  Doing this, you should actually see & feel your ribcage expand.  As you exhale, breathe out from either your mouth or nose, and be aware of the contraction that should be occuring through your midsection.  Here, you should actually see your ribcage and core tighten/contract.

Deep breathing  can strengthen the lungs & heart, detoxify and release unneeded toxins in our body,  relax the mind/body, & help release tension.  Take a few minutes or an hour out of your day and focus in on your breathing.  Make sure you are someplace quiet, with little distractions.  As you breathe in, you can think to yourself, breathe and as you exhale think, deeply.  This will help you gain a better focus.  Pay attention to your body & how you feel.  This is not the time to think about a project at work or what you’re going to prepare for dinner.  If you truly tune into your body & focus on your breath,  I promise you, you will feel relaxed, refreshed & thankful for the few minutes of peace of mind that you set aside for yourself.