Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The Back Update: Sitting Really is Bad for Your Health!

An interesting tidbit: Sitting really is the WORST for your health. At least when recovering from a back injury.

It was mid last week when I realized I actually felt pretty good while standing, walking and even running. Back pain was really only noticeable when I was sitting, specifically at my desk chair at work. That's when the lightbulb went on - common sense tells you to rest an injury but could it be possible sitting was slowing recovery??

I had my desk chair adjusted and also made an effort to do more work while standing, which has made a world of a difference. It's a habit I plan on keeping around even after my back is fully recovered. Just like no good comes from idle hands, no good comes from idle glutes or an idle core. 

So this week I finally feel like I've turned the corner in recovery. My back is feeling about 85 percent. Training is on again and I can run pretty much pain free although I still need to take it easy with strength training/gym work, especially anything involving weights or jumping.


And believe me, I need to get back to regular training fast. With my time off, I've been indulging a bit too much on things like




So ... yeah. It's time to get back to the normal routine. This week's training plan from Coach Matt includes:

Monday: 5 glue miles w/strides + Y-Blitz
Tuesday: 7 mile workout, inc. 10x400m
Wednesday: 4 recovery miles + Y-Fuse + Y-Core 
Thursday: 5-6 glue miles w/strides + Y-Blitz
Friday: Rest Day
Saturday: 9 mile run
Sunday: 5 easy miles

Total: 35-36 miles

This week I'm so energized to train! Besides feeling better, I'm also excited to run after spectating the Icebreaker Indoor Marathon Relay over the weekend. Even though I couldn't run, I still wanted to cheer on my Oiselle teammates. 

Photo by Melissa Bennett

Seriously, if you ever need a little extra motivation to run, go spectate a race. My legs were itching to run as I saw how much fun everyone was having. It reminded me how great it feels to run fast and put in that hard effort - but also that there are really great people in the running community. I loved seeing so many of the people I know in the running community as they ran past me on the track. Next year, I will definitely be on the other side of the track barrier ;) 

So that's my update! My questions for you:
  • Have you ever had a back injury? If so, how long did it take you to recovery/what things did you do to speed recovery?
  • Do you use a standing desk at work? Or, what strategies do you use to avoid sitting for too long?
  • What motivates you to run when you're feeling a bit down?

Happy Tuesday!

- ST

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Greek Egg Scramble

Earlier this week I made the most delicious dinner. It was super satisfying and easy to pull together when I arrived home ravenous after my evening workout. Runger is real!

As long as you have all of the ingredients on hand, this one can go from stove to table in about 5 minutes. And then, let the feasting begin!


Greek Egg Scramble
Serves 1

1 tsp olive oil
2 large eggs
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp dried parsley 
5 grape tomatoes, sliced
2 cups raw spinach
3 kalamata olives, pitted and halved
2 Tbsp crumbled feta cheese
Salt & Pepper

Heat olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. While the oil heats up, mix the eggs in a small bowl with the garlic powder, oregano and parsley. Add egg mixture to the skillet and cook for 2ish minutes or until eggs are almost cooked through. Stir in the tomatoes and spinach and cook until spinach is wilted. Remove from heat and top with kalamata olives and feta cheese. Salt & pepper to taste. 

This scramble is especially great paired with sliced oranges. A little sweet to balance the savory!

Tell me: What's in your favorite egg scramble?

- ST

Friday, January 22, 2016

Decisions, Decisions!

The last time we talked running, I was feeling pretty optimistic about the start of 2016. Things were off to a great start and I was getting excited about a few upcoming races. Plus it felt really great to be back in a routine after taking a few weeks off from regular training. 

Since then I've had a bit of a setback. Late last week I injured my lower back - I'm not sure if it's a strain or what the problem is - and it's been enough to throw off my training. I can stand and walk just fine but as far as training goes, I've had to change things up a bit. My miles have been slow and obviously speedwork and my favorite Y classes have been out of the question this week. 

My beautiful new Kinvaras are itching for some action!

The good news is the pain and discomfort are slowly going away so I know I'll get back to 100 percent as long as I'm smart about recovery. Coach Matt gave me a revised training plan, which involves a very conservative approach these next few days. It's all about safely progressing without messing anything up or prolonging the injury. 

But the conservative approach also means decisions need to be made about some upcoming races: the Indoor 5k and Indoor Marathon Relay. Both races are next weekend (5k on Friday and Relay on Saturday). Even if I'm feeling fine by next weekend, Coach Matt and I agreed that the smartest thing to do is to dump at least one of the races to avoid re-injuring anything. So my options are:
  • Dump both races. Do easy miles instead. 
  • Run the 5k and dump the relay. 
  • Dump the 5k and run the relay. 

The pros and cons of each option:

Dump both races
Pros: Minimal strain on my back. Probably the best option for a faster recovery. 
Cons: Missing two races - two races that I was really excited about!

Run the 5k and dump the relay
Pros: It's only 11 laps. I can run whatever pace I want because no one else is counting on me. I can also drop out of the race if needed because, again, no one else is counting on me. I won't have to spend a lot of time on my feet. 
Cons: Missing the relay and all the fun teammate action. 

Dump the 5k and run the relay
Pros: I get to be part of the super fun relay teammate action. I only have to run two laps at a time. 
Cons: I have to run a total of 24 laps. Pace will be faster than I should run right now, which could aggravate my injury. I would have to spend a lot of time on my feet between running and waiting. 

Last year's team - we won the women's division & had the most fun doing it!

I'm going to see how I feel while running this weekend and on Monday before I make my final decision. I'll admit, there is a really stubborn dumb runner part of me that says I should still do both races. Because it really does kill me to have to skip one or maybe both. However, I'm reminding myself that while fun, these are not goal races. It's early in the year and if I need to skip a race or two, then I need to skip a race or two. There are plenty more opportunities to race in the upcoming months - but only if I can get healthy and train consistently!

Tell me: If you were me, what option would you pick?

- ST

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Roasted Tomato & Garlic Cream Sauce

Usually, I'm a pasta with marinara or bolognese sauce type of girl. But over the holidays I had a craving for cream sauce. I also had a container of heavy cream in my fridge leftover from making cookies so I decided why not try something different? 

The result was a delicious Roasted Tomato & Garlic Cream Sauce. This stuff is seriously rich so a little goes a long way. I served it on regular pasta but it would also be good on top of spaghetti squash if you want balance things out a bit. 

One thing I don't recommend is substituting 'light' ingredients for things like the butter or heavy cream. I mean you can, but your sauce probably won't end up as tasty ;) Sometimes it's better to go all out and enjoy every bite and then take it easy the next few days!


Roasted Tomato & Garlic Cream Sauce
Serves 4-6

1 container grape tomatoes
4-6 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp olive oil
Salt & Pepper to taste

2 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp flour
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup milk (I used 2 percent)
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 tsp dried parsley 
Salt & Pepper to taste
Basil, for serving

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In an oven-safe dish, combine tomatoes, garlic, olive oil and salt & pepper. Roast in the oven for 20-25 minutes.

While the tomatoes are roasting, melt butter over medium heat in a medium-size saucepan. After butter is melted, stir in flour. Next mix in the heavy cream and milk until well combined. Let the sauce thicken, about 3-5 minutes, then add in the Parmesan cheese, parsley and roasted tomato & garlic mixture. If your sauce ends up too thick, you can add a little extra milk. Finish with salt & pepper to taste. Simmer for an additional 3-5 minutes on low heat to allow flavors to combine.

Serve over pasta (I used RP's fresh spinach linguine) and sprinkle with freshly chopped basil. 

Tell me: What is your favorite pasta sauce? Marinara? Alfredo? Pesto? Bolognese? Something else? 

- ST

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Scrambled Egg Muffins

Lately, I've been craving eggs. And since they're full of healthy protein and nutrients, I'm happy to indulge my craving :)

I like to wake up at the last minute possible and rarely have time to scramble eggs in the morning. So instead, I've been whipping up a batch of Scrambled Egg Muffins during Sunday food prep so I can enjoy delicious egg muffins for breakfast in a matter of seconds!

You can customize the muffins to your tastes. I included one of my favorite combos below but these also taste great with turkey bacon, spinach, salsa, etc. Use your imagination!


Scrambled Egg Muffins

8-10 large eggs
1/4 cup skim milk
1/4 cup finely diced onion
1 cup finely diced red bell pepper
3oz finely diced ham
Handful of cilantro, chopped 
Salt & Pepper to taste
1/2 cup reduced-fat Mexican blend shredded cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Use non-fat cooking spray or butter to grease a standard-size muffin tin. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine 8 eggs, milk, onion, pepper, ham, cilantro and salt and pepper. If you prefer egg-ier muffins, add in the additional two eggs. Mix until well combined.

Using a small soup ladle, scoop the egg mixture into the muffin tin, filling each muffin about 5/6 of the way full. Sprinkle each muffin with a bit of shredded cheese.

Bake uncovered for 25-30 minutes or until eggs are set and a knife inserted comes out clean. Store muffins in the refrigerator for up to two days or freeze and defrost as needed. 

Note: You can also bake the egg mixture in a 9x9 pan for easier cleanup.

Tell me: What would you mix into scrambled egg muffins?

- ST

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

2016 is Off to a Running Start!

After finishing up a long year of racing, it feels great to take a bit of a break. And after my races in San Antonio, I did just that. I took the rest of December to rest up, doing just short runs here and there and a few group exercise classes at the gym. Although I gained a little weight and lost a little speed I don't feel bad about it at all. I know taking a break from training then means I'll be able to train hard when it counts.

I thoroughly enjoyed those weeks of completely unstructured training, but at the start of the New Year, it was time to get back in it. I'll admit, that first week back on a training plan from Coach Matt was rough but I managed to make it through my workouts as well as all the glue and recovery miles. 

After a few glue miles!

And now I feel like I'm getting back in the swing of things. This week's plan includes:

Monday: 4 glue miles w/stides + Y-Blitz
Tuesday: 7 mile workout, inc. hills + 1.5 mile cutdown
Wednesday: 4 recovery miles + Y-Fuse + Y-Core
Thursday: 5 glue miles w/stides + Y-Blitz
Friday: Rest Day
Saturday: 8 mile run
Sunday: 4 mile run

Total: 32 miles

Fortunately I have time to build up my miles again and recover my speed (and lose the off season pounds!) since my next goal race isn't until May. I'm running the Indoor 5k at the end of January but I foresee it being more of a fitness test. I'm also once again doing the Indoor Marathon Relay but since it's the day after the 5k will use it more as a workout. Plus, I want to focus more on having fun with my fellow Oiselle teammates! There will be a lot of us at the race this year - 24 runners + spectators!

Image created by my pal, Sheila!

On the nutrition front, it hasn't been too exciting lately. Over the weekend I made Lentil Spinach Curry, which I divided into single portions to eat this week. I also made a batch of Egg Muffins for easy protein-rich breakfasts. I'll post the recipe soon! 

That's pretty much it for now! I hope you're all surviving the sudden chilly winter weather. Fingers crossed we get an early spring. 

My questions for you:
  • What are you currently training for and how is training going so far in the New Year?
  • What are your favorite healthy recipe or meal ideas? I need to spice things up a bit!
  • Anyone else doing the upcoming Indoor Marathon Relay? Let me know so I can watch for you!

Happy Hump Day!

- ST

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

The Year of the 10k

I've never been one to dwell on the past. While I think it's great to look back and think about lessons learned, things to improve upon, etc. I don't feel the need to rehash all the details. It's more productive to look forward and focus on achieving the next goal or milestone!

So instead of doing the typical 2015 recap post, I'm going to focus on the year to come. Last year was all about the 5k distance for me. While I'll still do some 5ks in 2016 - it is my favorite distance after all! - this year is the year of the 10k!. 


The Tentative 2016 Race Schedule

Icebreaker Indoor 5k
Luck of the Irish 10k
Nicolet Bay 5k
Kings & Queens Half Marathon
Bellin 10k
Rock 'n' Roll Chicago 10k
Race for the Bacon 5k
Lake Country 5k
Rock 'n' Roll Montreal 10k
Milwaukee Running Festival 5k
Badgerland Striders Indoor 10k

I'm excited to race a longer distance this year! Hopefully training for a longer distance will also benefit my 5k racing. Something I struggle with a bit is having the strength to push the pace during the latter part of a 5k race. Training for and racing 10ks should help me improve in that aspect of racing. 

A few things are staying constant in 2016. I'm still working with Coach Matt and ThunderDome Running. Since I started with Coach Matt, I can tell my running has improved as evidenced by stronger finishes and several PRs. I believe there are more to come this year! 

A strong finish in San Antonio

I'll also continue to do a bulk of training, especially during the winter months - at the Downtown Y. The facility has a fantastic indoor track (6 laps = 1 mile) and the group exercise classes are fantastic. I get to challenge myself every day and am stronger for it. And we all know stronger = fewer injuries = more consistent training = faster running = PRs! 

Eddie also believes more medals are in order for 2016!

So here's hoping for a speedy 2016! I can't wait to see what the year will bring :)

My questions for you:
  • What are your goal races in 2016?
  • What are your top running/fitness goals in 2016?
  • Do you prefer to reflect on the past or dream about the future?

- ST