Om Yoga Magazine October

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I fell a bit behind on my magazine reading this month as we have been so busy with house stuff! I finally caught up with Om Yoga magazine and again there was lots of great content from the benefits of yoga when taking part in other sports, to how to improve your sleep and boost energy levels-which is always key at this time of year. I was particularly interested in their sports nutrition article, as I’m currently studying nutrition and this is an area I’m very interested in.

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It’s a very basic guide to getting your nutrition right pre, during and post exercise to maximise repair and recovery. It wasn’t really anything I didn’t already know, but it’s always good to have a refresh and I’m sure it’s a pretty helpful guide if people don’t really know a lot about how to fuel for sports. I think good nutrition is key to recovery, and performance and fuelling with good quality whole foods is a good way to achieve this.

The article discusses fuelling before exercise, personally I have changed this around a bit this year, and I used to always fuel before any distance run (a few dates or 1/2 a banana) but now I do anything under 6 miles-as long as it isn’t a speed workout-with no fuel at all. If I do eat before a workout, I like a mix of slow and fast release carbohydrates alongside some good fats, my pre race breakfast is oats, chia seeds, coconut oil and a banana. Protein is not ideal pre-workout as it takes a long time to digest.

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During activity hydration is very important. For anything under 6/7 miles I go without water unless it is a very hot day and I am losing a lot of fluid. Anything over that I take my hydration pack with usually with a mix of water, some coconut water and Viridian sports electrolyte fix. Replenishing electrolytes is key, as you aren’t just losing water, but all your mineral salts during exercise, which are vital for so many functions in the body. I try to minimise fuelling during longer runs to avoid any GI problems, but I like to use Nakd bars, dates, Ella’s fruit pouches, and Vega and 33 shake chia gels.

Post exercise there is a suggestion that we have a 30 minute window to refill glycogen stores efficiently. Eating a good ratio of carbohydrates with a little bit of protein is a good way to do this. I tend to have a smoothie with some Sunwarrior or hemp protein mixed in, or some porridge with a little Sunwarrior mixed in if it’s breakfast time.

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Later it’s important to eat a decent amount of protein to continue the repair process. Whether lunch/dinner I like to have a veggie heavy meal with some sort of bean/legume, like salad, stir fries, chilli or lentil soup. Antioxidants are also key for repair, so I love to eat lots of veggies and some fruit particularly dark berries to get these in.

I think eating well around your workout program can have a massive impact, and I feel like I recover pretty quickly day to day by focusing on whole plant based foods.

How do you fuel your exercise?

Cacao Coconut Energy Bars

I’m trail running this weekend, so I wanted to make something that I could have during and post race, as a good energy dense snack that also tastes delcious. I am trying my best (a.k.a not trying very hard!) to save money and budget at the moment, so my expensive snack bar habit needs to stop, and now that I have a fridge and fully working kitchen I can start making big batches of bars again!

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This recipe is pretty simple, I would say just make sure you have really good quality soft medjool dates, otherwise soak them beforehand and drain. You can use coconut butter instead of the cream probably 2-3 Tbsp, I prefer the cream as it’s way cheaper. Just skim off the separated coconut oil bit which you can use for the recipe and use about 1/4 of the leftover hard block.

Cacao Coconut Energy Bars

  • 200g Medjool Dates
  • 1/4 block Creamed Coconut
  • 2 Tbsp of Coconut Oil
  • 2 Tbsp Chia Seeds
  • 2 Tbsp Cacao Powder
  • 1/4 cup Shredded Coconut
  • 2 Cups Oats

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First whizz the medjool dates in a food processor, do it until they come together into a sticky ball and keep going a little bit longer, until it separates into a paste. Add the creamed coconut, and coconut oil and continue to process, until it comes together in a big gooey ball of deliciousness. Add chia, cacao, shredded coconut and oats along with a dash of water and whizz until the mixture comes together. Press into a greased or lined pan and whack in the fridge for a few hours to firm up, then slice into bars.

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This makes 11-12 good size bars or 9 large ones. It’s perfect for during or before a run or race with a good mix of quick release and slow release carbs and essential fats. It brings together 3 of my favourite running fuels: oats, chia seeds and coconut oil! In fact that is my usual pre-race breakfast combo, with a few added extras, this makes for a delicious whole food energy bar that will hopefully see me power through the mud and hills on the trails over the weekend!

What’s next?

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It’s been two weeks since Berlin and I’ve now had time to reflect on the race, and I guess my running year as a whole. In some ways it doesn’t feel like I’ve just gone through another marathon training period due to my enforced lack of training. This is nice in a way as I’m not fed up with running at this point, but in another way I actually really missed doing those long training runs!

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Berlin was not a race I really had on the agenda for this year, with the main focus the Ultra and Manchester marathon earlier in the year. Had I not got into the ballot, I don’t think I would have been rushing up to sign up for another autumn marathon. I am now realising that 3 marathons and an ultra within a 6 month period is pretty tough on the body, and mine has broken down several times throughout this year which reflects that.

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That’s not to say I wouldn’t consider doing the same again, I’ve learnt a lot from all the different races, and up and down training periods, and injuries to deal with. If anything it has taught me to focus more on run specific strength training, as well as my pre/post run routine. It’s something I’ve always just taken for granted, but I realise now-especially with all the longer distance stuff-I can’t really afford to mess about, and keep avoiding these things. I’ve also come to realise that I can’t follow tough training programs like the Fat Burn Revolution, or Insanity alongside marathon training, and I’d say doing so was largely to blame for my injuries too. Trying to cram in too much causes my body to break down, and I end up knackered all of the time as well. I will be looking to try and fit in programs like this during the time I am not training for long distance races to build some strength, and then focus on running and more run specific strength stuff during race training.

The body has recovered OK since Berlin, I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel, given I hadn’t run over 13 miles for months, and my training had been all over the place. My ITB has actually been pretty good, it’s the rest of my body and mind that have been struggling post race. Some days I’ve been suffering with ridiculous fatigue, I think it’s a combination of all the stuff we have had going on lately with the move etc, plus pushing my body to somewhere it wasn’t really trained to go! Some days are better than others, but some I can’t even haul myself up the stairs, I guess it’s normal to feel tired post marathon and it does seem to be easing as the days go by.

I don’t know what’s next, I feel like I want to continue the long distance stuff, but be a bit more sensible about it. The injuries this year and time out have made me realise how much I love running and that I need to do everything I can to minimize injury risk and look after my body so I can continue to do it!

There are two races I really want to do next year, but they are both around the same time, so I think I will have to choose between the two. I didn’t get into London, so I am still debating whether I want to do a spring marathon and probably won’t decide until early next year after taking a few months off of proper training.Muddy trail shoes

I am hoping to do a few of the trailscape events including the half in Essex this weekend. After 3 trail races this year I realise it’s absolutely where my heart lies with running, and is something I want to do more of. After that I have the Brighton half in Feb, and I would really like to train properly for that as I haven’t trained for a half since I dipped under 2 hours at Cardiff last year, and would like to have a crack at beating that again.

What events do you have lined up?

Vegan in Berlin

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I was super excited to return to Berlin, mostly for the marathon, but also as I found it to be right at the top of my list in terms of Vegan friendly cities. I already had some favourite places from last time that I wanted to revisit, as well as some new places I wanted to check out. A lot of these places aren’t solely Vegan as the other half is an omni and I feel bad dragging him to loads of all Vegan places, so this is more like a guide to the best places to eat in Berlin if your a Vegan and your other half isn’t!!

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Dolores

I adored this cute California style burrito cafe last time we visited and felt the same again this time. They serve up a big array of mexican food, from burritos, burrito bowls, chip, guacamole, salads and more. They have plenty of Vegan options on the menu, so you can customise or choose one of their put together combos. Both times I went I had the Vegan friend burrito bowl, with extra guac of course!! It was absolutely massive, and a total steal too- as pretty much everything in Berlin is!

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Dada Falafel

This is another place we visited last time, they have a takeaway shop with an outdoor area and a sit down restaurant next door. As it was pissing it down we chose the latter option. I went for the falafel plate, the falafel here is some of the best I’ve ever had, it’s not dense, heavy or greasy, it has such a lovely light texture and is packed with herbs. I also enjoyed the tabbouleh, and hummus alongside. Nick had the mixed plate, which had a bit of everything- meaty and veg!

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Good Time

This is on the fancier and more expensive end of the spectrum for Berlin, and we went here in the evening for our post marathon meal. I had an absolutely massive tofu and veggie dish, which absolutely hit the spot. There isn’t a huge array of choice on the menu for Vegans, but that dish is so good. Also they are very willing to accommodate to dietary needs and requests.

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Schiller Burger

Again another quick cafe style place, they have a huge selection of meat and veggie burgers as well 2 vegan burgers on the menu. To be honest I have no idea what the one I had included, but I think it was tofu, it was covered in loads of different dressings, although mine lacked the vegan cheese which they had run out of-not that I minded as I’m not a big fake products fan! Anyway the burger was OK, but the sweet potato fries were out of this world amazing! Just go here, and get the fries!

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Oh La La

We stumbled upon Oh La La on the way back from Schiller Burger late one evening, it is an all Vegan French-style patisserie- for reals! We grabbed the Indiana dessert, and shared it, it was absolutely amazing, and tasted exactly like a snickers bar. We visited again for the famous weekend brunch the day prior to the marathon. There was loads of great savoury fare on offer, with a spinach curry, tofu bourguinon and lots of salad options. I was a bit dissappointed in the dessert offerings considering the aforementioned amazing treat, so we bought a chocolate eclair and the Tresor which was like a giant ferrero rocher and shared them post marathon- amazing! A bit of a splurge, but when in Berlin….

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Funk You

On our final day in Berlin I was totally craving a smoothie or juice and so we decided to go for breakfast at this all veggie cafe. They have loads of options, Nick had french toast and I had the muesli which had a vegan option, we both had delicious smoothies alongside. I think they also do savoury fare and raw cakes later in the day.

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Zeus Pizza

Zeus pizza is a winner, because they have an enormous omni menu, and an equally large Vegan one. I really liked the pizza because it had an extremely thin crust-almost non-existent in the middle!-so it wasn’t too heavy to eat. It could have done with more veggies on the topping, but overall for the price and the selection I can’t complain.

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I also managed to grab lots of healthier vegan options from stations along the way, we had a few picnics during days out and managed to easily pick up Vegan food while out and about. Almost everywhere in Berlin seems to offer vegan food, even sandwich bar Le Crobag in the train stations offer stuff. It’s amazing just to know that you can grab food wherever and it’s no problem, and if you are stuck you can always get beer and a pretzel! I ate stuff in Berlin that I hadn’t eaten in years, and I genuinely think it was because I had a bit of a carefree attitude to the marathon that this happened. Getting injured was a bit of a blessing in disguise, because I wasn’t so focused on the marathon, and was actually able to enjoy the holiday without stressing about doing too much walking, drinking too much beer and eating unfamiliar foods.

There was loads of places I would have liked to have tried in addition, and I never made it to the all Vegan supermarket either, but I guess they will have to go on the list for the next trip!!

Berlin Marathon 2014

I woke up on marathon morning in a cold sweat, panicking that I’d slept through my alarm and missed the start of the race. I lay awake unable to get back to sleep, thoughts ticking over about how the race was going to go, and if my ITB would hold out.

I started absolutely miles back in the field, in fact it took so long to start that I had time to dart out of the pens for a second toilet break before I eventually got going. The race started in the beautiful Tiergarten, I was in the last block: H and didn’t start until 9.12, I had been standing in the cold for well over an hour by this point, so was raring to go!

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The atmosphere throughout the entire race both amongst runners and along the very well supported route was fantastic, I enjoyed it so much, that I only put some music on when I started to struggle later on in the race. Berlin had turned out in force to support, and I was massively glad for the cheering and entertainment provided. My mission was to enjoy the race, and I did smile my way through it- at least the first half anyway!

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The first few miles ticked over nicely and once I got to Alexanderplatz, my next thought was keeping an eye out for Nick, as the 12k marker was about 5 mins walk from our apartment. I heard him call my name as I ran round the roundabout, and went over to let him know I was OK! By this point I knew I was nearly a third of the way round and pleased with how it was panning out.

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I was enjoying the race, and taking everything in, chatting with other runners, and laughing about how Kimetto had broken the world record while I was only at mile 11- he did get a head start to be fair!! One of the most amazing things I saw along the route was a guy in a wheelchair with muscular dystrophy who was being pushed round the course, get out and start walking some of the route around the 11 mile mark, it was so inspiring, and we all started clapping and cheering, there was not a dry eye on course! This really gave me a boost when the going got tough as I kept thinking about how people had so much more to deal with and overcome than me and my stupid ITB!

Another thought that kept coming into my mind was a story that we were told when visiting the Sachenhausen concentration camp a few days prior. We were told that one of the punishments would be to make the prisoners test out SS shoes by wearing them and running with a heavy pack for 14+ hours, 400m laps over different types of terrain, and if they stopped or fell they would shoot them in the head. It’s pretty grim, but it just kept coming into my mind- they couldn’t stop, they had no choice.

It was all about the mind games throughout the second half. I hadn’t done much training, so for me this marathon was pretty much all down to mental strength. I find playing little games-like breaking it down into segments where I would have a few sips of water after ever 15 minutes-keep the mind going and the body moving forward!

I was starting to need the toilet and decided I would stop at the next chance, which came at 17.5 miles. As I waited and waited behind 3 others in the queue I knew I had made the wrong decision to stop. After about 5 minutes of no-one coming out of the toilets, we frustratingly realised that most of the portaloos were actually empty. I have no idea why the person in front didn’t check this initially! Anyway I returned to the course, and I could barely walk, my knee (ITB) had totally seized up, so I stopped for a good stretch and tried to walk it out. It was extremely painful to walk on, and I knew it was going to be a tough 8 miles to get to the finish. I text Nick and said I was going to be a while! Honestly this was the one point where I wish the crowds hadn’t been there, to be painfully hobbling along the course so far from the finish, you just want the ground to swallow you up!

After tweeting about the injury I got a lot of awesome messages of support, which really spurred me on. After about 10 minutes of walking it had started to ease, so I tried giving running another go, as the thought of walking for 2 and a half hours was pretty grim. I had to really grit my teeth for the first few minutes as the pain was awful, but it did ease, and I actually managed to run it off. I had to slow down a lot from my pre-injury pace, but I was running and moving forward! I knew at this point that I couldn’t risk another stop, so I just had to keep driving on. Although I did manage a brief stop along with several other runners to help up a Swedish woman who absolutely face-planted around 20 something miles, thankfully she was OK and I think she may have actually finished ahead of me! Hardcore!

Having not run over 13 miles since May, this was totally uncharted territory, and I just didn’t know how my body was going to react. I actually managed to run for another 4 miles after I started running again which I was pretty pleased with. I had to stop around mile 24 at Potsdamer Platz for another 10 minute walk, I didn’t want to stop again but this time my stomach was feeling decidedly dodgy and it was not going to be good times if I carried on, so I walked to let it settle down. I think not having run any long distances and been used to putting in fuel, really messed with my stomach during this race.

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After the break I knew I just had to power on to the finish, getting back into the city centre gave me a boost, there was no way I could walk past some of the epic sights- these streets needed to be run!

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As we came round the final turn I could see the Brandenburg gate in the distance, it looked so near yet so far! As I drew closer, I paused and pulled over to the side of the course, I took some photos, soaked up the atmosphere, and actually just took a moment to appreciate the significance of the gate and how amazing it was going to be to run under it. I also realised that I must have been way off the ideal course line having done 26.8 miles total! After the brief stop I shuffled down the home straight, cried when I ran under the gate, and was so delighted to have finished a race that a few weeks ago I didn’t think I was going to start.

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All the tears, and tantrums and thinking I would not be able to do this race, and here I was, a Berlin marathon finisher. I finished in 4.52.29, breaking my 4.30 something streak from the previous 3 marathons-which I later found out before I stopped at 17.5 for the toilet, I was on course for!- but really not giving a damn. This was a big personal worst, but a big personal best for enjoyment, mental strength and sheer grit and effort. Berlin might be my slowest marathon to date, but it is undoubtedly my favourite. I just feel a really strong attachment to the city, and I feel absolutely privileged to have been able to run the race.

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The course was absolutely flat as a pancake, and would be perfect for a PB, had I actually been able to train for one, and not spent the week before walking miles, eating all the food and drinking all the beer Berlin could offer! It was a beautiful route, and there were plenty of leafier sections and sights along the way. The weather was a bit of an issue, I’m not kidding when I say I had 4 layers including 2 jackets on for the first few days we were there, in contrast on Marathon day the sun came out, and it hit 20 degrees. I drank my entire 2 litres in my Camelbak way before the finish and had to use the cups of water en route and my legs were also covered in salt at the end which has never happened before, it was really tough conditions, when you are out there for so long!

My only small gripes with the race were that I disliked the water in cups, particularly as the things are absolutely lethal on the floor, and it causes the race to come to a complete congested stand still as everyone has to stop to get water to avoid spilling it. The portaloos as expected were absolutely vile. The finish area was a bit on the disorganised side, as you had to go miles in one direction to get the goody bag and alcohol free beer (also really?!) and then go in the opposite direction to leave the runner area. Other than that it was an all round winner!

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I would absolutely love to come back and run this race in future, and give it a real crack, but for now I feel content with my achievement. I ran a marathon with an injury on very little training, and I loved-almost-every second of it. There were a lot of times when I didn’t think I would get to this point, but I always clung to a little bit of belief that I could do this race, and ultimately that is what I did!