Favourite Reads of the Week #9

This Greatist list of 52 surprising things to make in a vitamix. I love my vita, and use it daily for smoothies, but I would love to get more creative with it- so many ideas here.

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Vega’s top 8 tea smoothie recipes. It’s not something I’ve ever really thought about doing before, outside of matcha, so I was really keen to look at these recipe ideas.

Matt Frazier’s guide to eating as a healthy Vegan on the cheap. I always buy dried beans, and often use spices I have on hand rather than splashing out. If I have spare cash then I like my extra superfood boosts, but it really isn’t necessary to lead a healthy vegan life.

BBC sport reporting that periods are still a taboo for women in sport. Hopefully the current light on it due to Heather Watson’s loss at the Aussie Open will open it up for debate. I personally suffer most months with horrendous cramps, nausea and sometimes even vomiting, I struggle to function, let alone compete at the top level of a sport with it, so I really felt for Heather that after such a great start to the year it ruined her Australian Open campaign. No surprise that most of the criticism of her loss has come from men.

Steph absolutely smashing it out of the park at her first ultra, country to capital.  Read all about it here.

Have you read/watched/listened to anything good this week?

Ending the Streak

Yesterday I happily ended the running streak. Without any goals or end in sight, my aim was to keep running as long as I was fit, healthy and enjoying it. Over the last 2 weeks, I’ve had a minor calf niggle which I suspect is just from overuse, and I’ve been feeling pretty drained, and struggling to fit everything in. Hence why I decided Sunday would be my last streaking day, 61 days and 253 miles in the bank.

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I have loved the structure, order and time running has given me, time not only with nature and my thoughts during the run, but the time during the rest of the day when I can be much more productive due to the fact I have been out running.

I have noticed that I’ve been a lot happier on a day to day basis- endorphin high. I have to say yesterday and this morning before I went out for a run, I was incredibly snappy. Running makes me feel good, it makes me happy, and I’m glad to be able to use it to boost those feelings.

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Credit to Leah.

Initially I was really struggling to keep weight on-despite eating everything in sight during the streak-particularly when I was doing at least 5k a day, but now my appetite has gone through the roof, and I am in a permanent state of runger as my marathon training has increased my weekly mileage. I’ve managed to nourish my body with my favourite Vegan whole foods, and I have no doubt that they are largely the reason for my quick recovery, and reason I could continue the streak as long as I did.

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I was in a bad place with running post Berlin, I had run 3 marathons last year but none of which I had properly trained for, missing the majority of training with injuries and winging two of them on max long run mileage of 13 miles and doing the other one as a late training run for the ultra. I felt like despite getting round Berlin, I was not in good running shape both physically and mentally. The streak has massively increased my endurance, and speed and I am back in a place where I feel extremely comfortable during my runs and am enjoying every step. I smashed my 5k PB during the streak and I have no doubt that it was due to the consistent practice of running every single day, plus a little bit of speed work along that way.

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For me this was all about setting an intention, forming a habit, and for the last two months I have succeeded in doing that. Running became a part of my day, I didn’t think twice about it, and it has made for a very enjoyable few months. I am now dropping my runs back, as I need to make sure I reach the Thames Meander start line fully fit and ready to go, the streak has given me an excellent base and start to my training, now I just need to keep that going and stay fit with just over 7 weeks to race day.

Favourite Reads of the Week #8

After a brief hiatus during the Christmas period, I am back with my favourite things from the online world this week.

This post on Spikes and Heels about running your own race, I think it’s so important that we don’t fall into the comparison trap and do what is right for each of us as individuals.

Matt Frazier’s great easy tips for taking the hassle out of eating healthy. I like the batch cook ideas, chopping veggies at the weekend on mass, and of course adding chickpeas to everything!

This article in the Guardian, about a Bolivian women’s co-op trying to add value to their quinoa crop by producing energy bars.

Quitting and un-quitting an ultra. I love this!

I’m really enjoying Laura Fountain’s podcasts, they are hugely entertaining, and the latest one and the ridiculousness of the ‘ghost-runner’ had me laughing my head off during a run!

Choosing Raw for a long time has been my favourite blog. I loved Gena’s beautiful post on the two phases of recovery from her eating disorder.

This Guardian article on ultra running, simply for the comments. I am sick of the general population believing that running is dangerous for you, you’ll have knackered knees etc. Actually what is really dangerous is sitting on your arse 24/7. Rant over.

What have you been reading/watching/listening to this week?

Cashew Cacao Orange Energy Bites

We came back after 10 days of being away over Christmas to half a lemon being the only fresh food in the house! Not ideal. After a big Ocado and Abel and Cole shop, we are fully restocked and it was then time to whip up some things in batch to have on hand for the next few weeks.

I got a load of Nakd bars etc for Christmas, which are great to put in my bag when I am out and about- as they travel so well. But when I am around the house or not going too far, I like to have my own options to hand- just because it’s cheaper more than anything else.

I got some reduced Christmas dates from Waitrose so whipped up a batch of these energy bites with them.

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Cashew Cacao Orange Energy Bits

  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 12 dates
  • Zest of 1 Blood Orange
  • 1 Tbsp of Blood Orange Juice
  • 1 Tbsp Chia Seeds
  • 1 Tbsp Cacao powder
  • Cinnamon

Blend the dates in the food processor until they turn into a paste, add the other ingredients and blitz until it all comes together. Roll into balls and put in the fridge or freezer. I got 10 decent sized bites, and you can always double the recipe to make a larger batch. The added orange juice and zest really boosts these bites, and I will be incorporating more citrus into my bars in the future after this successful experiment.

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I’ve been enjoying these as an early morning pre-workout snack, they have quick release sugars in the form of dates, as well as a little bit of protein and good fats from the nuts and chia, and of course the all important magnesium from cacao too! They would also work well during or after a workout or as a healthy dessert!

Advent Running, Marcothon and Run Streaking

Out of interest this morning I checked back through my runs to see how many days of my run streak I was on, and I was surprised and pleased that today was day 50! 50 days of running in a row, 50 days of setting an intention to go out and run every day, and 50 days of doing just that. 50 days seems like a long time, but it’s flown by!IMG_3991

I have totally loved running over these 50 days, and hope that continues as the streak continues. I feel fully fit for the first time in a long time, and in very decent running shape! There has never been any “I don’t really feel like it today” moments and only 1 run where my legs felt absolutely shocking and I had to cut it shorter than I was aiming for, and the day after that I smashed my PB at Cardiff parkrun. On the whole, the runs have been great, I’m feeling strong, recovering well and most importantly bloody loving running!

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The streak started just before December, as I wanted to build up to running every day before attempting the Advent Running/Marcothon challenges of running at least 5k everyday in December. December was pretty mild so it was fairly easy in terms of completing the challenge this year, there were only a few days when it was a bit icy, or that it rained- and I didn’t really mind getting out in those conditions anyway.

I didn’t really have any issues fitting the runs in, I got up mega early some days to get the job done, and sometimes split the distance over a morning run and an evening run commute. Over Christmas I had some really beautiful (and very hilly!) runs in the Devon countryside, which was a great way to keep running fresh during the streak, and was enjoyable to run and explore somewhere new.

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Most of the time I was running further than the 5k a day, so I built up a really solid December base of miles, which has given me the confidence to enter the Thames Meander marathon on the 14th March. I need to get my longer runs up at the weekend, which will be fun as I haven’t done any long training runs since April/May time.

December Mileage

Week 1: 30 miles
2: 32 miles
3: 31 miles
4: 37 miles
5: 42 miles

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I was really worried about my ITBS flaring up when I first started this, and if I’m being honest I have absolutely slacked on stretching, foam rolling, strength exercises and yoga. I have managed it a few times throughout the month, but really nowhere near as much as I should have- why do I only do these things when I am actually injured?! There have been a few heavy legged runs, but most of the time after about a mile that feeling disappears and the legs are ready to go again.

I don’t see continuing the streak as a chore, otherwise I wouldn’t be doing it! It’s just become part of my routine, the same as anything else. Now that I’ve finished the AR and Marcothon challenges, I will be dropping at least one run a week to a token 1 mile plod as a rest day.

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I’m still enjoying my running, loving spending a lot of time outdoors, and I can feel the effects of that both mentally and physically. So onwards with the running streak, who knows for how much longer, but as long as I am feeling good and enjoying it I shall keep running!