Eat-Clean Cookbook giveaway!

Training for the marathon continues and we’ve entered hill territory — four repeats last night and five next Wednesday. In addition, I continue to chug away at the 22 minutes in 10lbs challenge I set for myself a few weeks ago (five pounds down, five to go). But to get on with the topic of today’s post — Food and a giveaway!

Eat-Clean Diet Cookbook

The Eat-Clean Diet Cookbook is by Tosca Reno — a successful author (of ten books), motivational speaker, wellness consultant, media personality and model (gracing the covers of Oxygen Magazine). I was first introduced to her books by my parents of all people. After my father retired, they made some dietary changes based on Tosca’s books that were very successful. Beyond weight loss, the recipes in this cookbook are healthy, easy to make, and most importantly, tasty.

In addition to giving me permission to post some recipes from the cookbook, the people at Robert Kennedy Publishing have been generous enough to also provide a copy for me to giveaway to a Fartlek Runner reader! Here is how it’ll work. Each Friday, for the month of March, I’ll post a recipe from The Eat-Clean Diet Cookbook. Simply post a comment to any or all of the Eat-Clean posts, and I’ll enter you onto a list in the order that I received your comment(s) (make sure to include an e-mail with your comment so I can contact you). A winner will be chosen using a random number generator, and announced in the Wednesday, March 31 post. Easy peasy and you could win an awesome cookbook to fuel your running!

To kick things off on a light note, this is one of my favourite recipes to have with veggies in my lunch at work. I make this dip at least twice a month. It’s very low in calories and fat, making it a guiltless way to make cut raw veggies and crackers more interesting. To repeat, this recipe is from The Eat-Clean Diet Cookbook, by Tosca Reno and published by Robert Kennedy Publishing.

Tofu and Curry Dip

Makes 12, one-TBSP Servings

Ingredients:

  • 6oz / 168g silken tofu
  • 1½ Tbsp / 23ml fresh lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp / 30ml best-quality olive oil
  • ¼ tsp / 1.25ml sea salt
  • 2 Tbsp / 30ml chopped green onion
  • ½ tsp / 2.5ml curry powder
  • 1 Tbsp / 15ml parsley
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

Preparation:

  1. Place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until just combined. Do not over-process. Cover and refrigerate.
  2. Serve with crudités as a healthy dip alternative, spread on wraps with grilled chicken, or anywhere else you would like a delicious shot of creamy flavor.

Nutritional value per one-Tbsp serving:

Calories: 28 | Calories form fat: 22 | Protein: 1g | Carbs: 0.5g | Dietary Fiber: 0g | Sugars: 0g | Fat: 2g | Sodium: 43mg

How to run with your dog…

Over the winter holidays I decided that if I was going to take our dog Sydney (pictured left) for a walk, I could metaphorically nail two birds with one stone and run with her for a short warm up, then drop her back off at home before continuing on for the rest of my run.

Not so much.

Syd is an awesome dog and heels very well. But on our inaugural running adventure, she was good for the first kilometer or so, and then her attention quickly devolved into smelling anything that would get me to stop running. This included stopping very abruptly to relieve herself in the middle of the sidewalk.

Unknowingly, I had committed one of the most common mistakes when attempting to take a dog for a run — too much, too fast. “They [people who run with dogs] make the mistake of assuming the dog will stay at their side and assume that the dog can run forever just because they seem to be able to,” says Gillian Ridgeway, Director of the Who’s Walking Who Dog Training Centre, and author of Citizen Canine.

Gillian recommends that your canine companion get a visit with their vet before starting a training program. Yup, despite the extra fur, our four-legged friends need the same things that we do before starting an exercise program: a check-in with the doctor, and a training plan to improve their fitness.

According to a New York Times article from January, you also need to take into consideration the type and breed of your dog, and whether these factors might exclude them from being a running partner. The article says, “for example, dogs with flat noses — pugs, bulldogs, some boxers — may have trouble breathing during strenuous exercise. And while hunting and herding dogs are physically built for running — like border collies and Rhodesian Ridgebacks — they may be more interested in chasing prey than staying on the sidewalk.” The NYTs also prepared a visual for this that can be seen here.

“Your dog needs to be fully developed,” adds Gillian, “and it is not recommended that you start a running program with young pups.”

With all of these considerations out of the way, starting your furry friend’s training program is nearly identical to many Learn to Run schedules I’ve seen. “Like any training program,” says Gillian, “have them build up to it. Go for short, medium-speed runs and start to build up the stamina before the speed.” In addition, she also recommends building up your dog’s endurance by teaching your dog to fetch a ball or Frisbee, saying that once he or she has mastered that, you can stand at the bottom of a hill and toss it up the hill for them to fetch. “This will ensure that the dog will give his all while going up the hill,” she says, “and build the strong muscles he will need for running.”

Not putting the proverbial cart before the horse, it’s also important to ensure that your dog has some obedience skills before training. “It is important that your dog knows to stay at your side and not pull or lag, prior to running,” says Gillian. “If they do not have this skill, then it is time to get back into school.”

Once your dog is ready to begin training, you could try a program such as this one suggested by Dogs in Canada from Canadian Running Series, or try following one of many Learn to Run programs.

In addition, the safety of your dog is very important, and you should familiarize yourself with many of the warning signs. Gillian recommends monitoring your dog for signs of stress, such as panting and cautions owners to carry enough water for both runners. “I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve gone to the dog park, lugging water with me, to get there and find the rest of the dogs parched,” she says. “The owners just smile as they come and drink my supply, and this is in a park where they’re running for balls, not jogging for miles.”

Gillian recommends that runners stop and encourage their canine companions to drink frequently to avoid dehydration and to keep an eye out for overheating.

If you’re going to put your dog on a serious training program, you should speak to your vet about proper nutrition to fuel your calorie-burning pooch, as they may need a diet designed specifically for active or performance dogs. Another safety recommendation is to keep an eye on the pads of their paws and make sure that they’re protected (Gillian suggests avoiding running your dog on pavement). “Humans can purchase super-shoes to help us, so make sure the traction is good and not too hard on your dog’s joints,” she says.

An article from last year’s Dogs in Canada Magazine also recommended using a harness when running with your dog, instead of a standard collar, as the collar could cause damage to the spine and other parts of the neck. It also recommended using a standard leash and not a retractable one (which most runners know as trip wires).

Toronto Runner: Kathryn Mitchell

Kathryn holds her finisher's medal after completing the 2009 Chicago Marathon last October.

In 2004, Kathryn Michell took a Learn to Run clinic to prove to her running friends that the sport was not for her. As a goal of the clinic, she complete a 5k road race, which left her in a confusing spot — she had been bitten by the running bug.

“I never dreamt of running,” says Kathryn. “I hated running in high school, but it’s brought me the knowledge that I can indeed take on a challenge and step-by-step break it into the pieces that make it possible to complete.”

Typically running two-to-three times a week, Kathryn has been revving up her training to four to six in preparation for the Chilly Half Marathon this weekend and the Around the Bay 30k Road Race at the end of the month. She also has plans to run Nike’s women only marathon again this October in San Francisco.

“I love to travel. I was six or seven weeks old when my family moved from Canada to St. Lucia, and I was three-and-a-half when we moved back,” recalls Kathryn. “What better way to travel? Finding an event that mans something, signing up, and making it happen.

Kathryn took a dip in the Pacific Ocean after the 2009 Nike Women-only Marathon in San Francisco

This takes a bit of planning, but I try to pick the events I’m hoping to do for the upcoming year and figure out how I’ll be able to financially swing them. Seat sales, deals on hotels and paying for most of it before I actually get there make it all work.

Getting ready for many of the far-away events, Kathryn can be found running with friends all over the city. “I live near the Kay Gardiner Beltline trail and I love the surface of the trail and running through city, while staying in a park,” she says. “I also run a lot in Bloor West, and will often run the waterfront, Humber trails and High Park with others. There are just so many choices in Toronto.”

Kathryn’s running life and professional life got a lot closer in 2004, when she began working for the Beaches Running Room. She became the store manager of the High Park location in 2005, and eventually in 2008 moved to the Commerce Court location where she is today.

Often combining vacations and races, Kathryn is seen here at the 2008 Disney Half Marathon

In the future, Kathryn has her eyes set on more international runs, including the Dublin, London, Paris, and New York marathons, and the Rock’N’Roll series (which includes Arizona, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Nashville, New Orleans, Philadelphia, San Antonio, San Diego, San Jose, Seattle and Virginia Beach).

Beyond the events, bling and sway, Kathryn has found that there are many un-quantifiable rewards to the sport. “Running has brought me new friendships. It’s taught me discipline and its rewards,” she says. “It’s let me know when I have slacked and allowed me to be more open through discussions during long runs.”

5 quick ways to avoid burnout

Last week I found myself feeling rather lethargic and under the weather with no sign of a cold or flu in sight (thankfully). I’m usually very good at keeping to a decent sleep schedule and am pretty conscious of my diet, but had noticed both had some blips in them over the previous couple of weeks. I found myself unable to shake this tired feeling.

By the time I got to my morning run last Friday, I stopped the run three kilometres early because my body was just loathing every step with a nauseous tenacity. I decided to take the rest of Friday and all of Saturday off from running and allowed my body to rest and recover. I took it easy for my long distance on Sunday, and Monday is a recovery day anyways. My Tuesday morning run was cautious, but felt better, and Wednesday’s tempo run was fantastic.

What I think was happening, was I was starting to dance with the beginnings of burnout. From what I’ve read on the subject, burnout (also known as overtraining) happens when the balance between exercise and recovery is upset, and there is a lack of adequate recovery time for the body to restore homeostasis (internal equilibrium). From what I understand, it was once thought that this would generally be limited to elite level runners who train full time. That thinking seems to have changed, with burnout affecting recreational runners who are balancing the demands of training with those of family, work and other responsibilities. The following seem to be the most common indications that a runner is experiencing burnout:

  • A decrease in performance (find the same workout harder)
  • Sore muscles (beyond typical post-workout soreness)
  • Insomnia
  • Weight loss
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Elevated resting heart rate and blood pressure
  • Frequent illness
  • Upset GI track
  • Mood fluctuations (depression, anger, anxiety, etc.)

Now for the good news! Here are five quick ways to turn the train to burnout town around:

  1. Progress your training at a safe rate, allowing for lower mileage recovery weeks throughout.
  2. Introduce or maintain variety in your training, utilizing cross-training and other types of workout that will benefit your training goals. Spinning, for example, works similar muscles to running with very little impact on joints while still taxing the cardiovascular and respiratory systems. Plus they usually play fun music.
  3. Sleep. I often mourn the ability of my teenage self to sleep 12 hours in a single bound. With the demands we each face in our day-to-day lives, a lack of sleep is one of the things we suffer from the most — and yet, it’s one of the most important things we can do to prevent burnout. The body recovers and repairs itself while sleeping, so it’s important to think of it as a vital part of training.
  4. Putting away the Garmin and other measuring devices once in a while, and just going out for a “fun” run can remind us of the carefree wonder that drew us to run in the first place.
  5. If you don’t already have one, starting a training log provides you a window to look back on and analyze your training efforts. There are many online choices (such as dailymile) that offer a lot of options. Even if you already have a log, some of the things you might want to consider including in your training log are notes about how you’re feeling on a particular day, your resting heart rate, weight, workout times, frequencies and durations, what you ate, your performance as well as your sleep patterns. These factors can each help indicate where problems may be arising while also showing what is working for you.

That’s my five. What do you do to avoid burning out and keep yourself healthy?

Thrive pizza…

February is drawing to a close and with it, many of us are approaching or entering the next phase of our training for our spring races. My marathon is at the end of May and I’m finishing up week five of 18 of my training schedule. After next Wednesday, I’ll be moving from the base phase into the strength phase, with the addition of hills training. I love me some hills! (This will likely kick off the Toronto Hills series I mentioned in this post)

As training progresses, I’m becoming more and more focused on one particular element of my training: nutrition. For me, this is one of the most important aspects of training, because if one’s nutrition sucks, their body will not be able to adequately recover, and as a result their running will suffer.

In addition, with my personal 22 minutes in 10lbs challenge, I’m trying to choose more wisely where my calories are coming from in order to maximize the nutritional content without too many empty or excess calories.

I’m a huge fan of Brendan Brazier’s books Thrive and Thrive Fitness, and have found a ton of useful nutrition ideas from reading these books. Brendan is a Canadian 50k ultramarathon champion, professional Ironman triathlete, bestselling author and creator of an award-winning line of whole food nutritional products called VEGA. Brendan also offers a free video and e-mail program at thrivein30.com that I highly recommend — and in case you missed the word before video, it’s FREE ;-). Here is a quick video about the program:

In keeping with the idea of “high net gain foods” I made a “pizza” tonight from Brendan’s book Thrive. I put “pizza” in quotes here because this dish resembles a pizza only in that it has a base or “crust” on which there is sauce and then toppings. The recipe for this pizza can be found at Canadian Running Magazine’s website, but there was a difference between the online version and the printed version, which added 1 1/2 cups of buckwheat groats. For my pizza, I added the groats, mostly out of curiosity (I hadn’t had them before), and found that they added a really nice crunch to the crust. So thumbs up to the groats.

This pizza is made completely from plant materials and cooked at a very low temperature. To start, I took all of the ingredients for the crust and put them in a food processor:

Then I formed the crust (mmm, groaty goodness!):

While this was happening, I roasted the red peppers in the oven, and then placed them and the rest of the ingredients for the sweet pepper hemp pesto (the “sauce”) into the food processor:

…and coated the “crust,” sliced up some veggies, toped the “pizza”, put it in the oven, and…. Voila!

I had quite a bit of the pesto left over, which will be perfect as a veggie dip for the next day or so.


Red Lentil Dahl

One of my favourite dishes to cook at this time of year is red lentil dahl — a warming, nutrient-packed dish that is perfect after a run. Dahl is a flavour-packed dish found in Nepali, Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi cuisine. It’s made from various types of lentils that are split and reduced to a mushy consistency and then have various spices and vegetables added in.

Lentils are one of those wonderful foods that are great to cook with, but can be kind of daunting at first. They’re packed full of protein, iron, dietary fibre, folate, B1 and various minerals. Served with rice, lentils make a complete protein (meaning together, they contains all of the essential amino acids required by humans dietary needs), which is convenient, because dahl is best served over basmati rice!

The following is a family recipe gifted to me by a close friend, and is Marathi in origin. I reduced the amount of oil called for (the original was four to five tablespoons), and as presented, it is of a medium spice, but can be made more or less hot by adjusting the chili powder accordingly.

Red Lentil Dahl
Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup dry red lentils
  • 3 cups water or vegetable broth
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 inch ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 1 large tomato, diced
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin, ground
  • ¼ teaspoon red chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon coriander, ground
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Rinse lentils under cool water until water runs clear. Place water or broth into a large saucepan and bring to a boil before adding the rinsed lentils.
  2. Reduce heat to a simmer and continue to simmer the lentils until they resumble a thick paste.
  3. While the lentils are simmering, heat the oil in a frying pan and add the onion, garlic and ginger, sautéing until soft.
  4. Add the curry powder, red chili powder, cumin, coriander, salt and pepper to the onion mixture and continue to sauté for an additional two to three minutes.
  5. Add the diced tomatoes and continue to sauté for another three to five minutes.
  6. Add the contents of the frying pan to the lentil paste, stirring until thoroughly mixed.
  7. Cook the combined mixture for another 15 to 20 minutes until the mixture resembles a thick stew.
  8. Serve over basmati rice, with roti.

The Dreadmill…

Also known as the hamster wheel, this contraption has single-handedly garnered an equal number of dirty and thankful looks from runners. Leaning more on the running purist side, I found this definition of a treadmill on Mark Remy’s RW blog to be pretty amusing:

“treadmill (n.) – A primitive torture device first imagined by medieval jailers and perfected in the late 20th century, designed to destroy one’s mind through sensory deprivation and monotony.”

All joking aside, I do prefer being outside, taking in the scenery and what passes for fresh air in downtown Toronto. There is a sense of freedom and fluidity of movement that happens when I pound the pavement or set out on trails. On the flip side, there is also the reality of snot from a runny nose freezing to your face and your eyelashes freezing to your eyebrows on a blustery winter run.

Cue some pros for treadmill running!

While I’ve committed to suck it up and push through the challenges and travails of Mother Nature this year (pending further examination of the weather forecast), I can certainly appreciate the allure of a climate controlled atmosphere, with self-regulated pacing, safe foot traction, and the possibility of a TV blaring the Food Network near by.

Treadmill running can be a great way to casually keep fit over the winter, especially if you’re not planning on running any races in the spring. According to Alex Hutchinson’s Jockology column on treadmill running vs. outdoor running, running on a treadmill is often softer on the joints than sidewalks or roads, but also means that it won’t build the muscle endurance needed for running outside. An easy solution is to not rely too heavily on the treadmill if running outside is something you want to keep your endurance for. The article also suggests adding a one-per-cent incline when running on a treadmill to account for the lack of wind resistance.

The truth of the matters, like many things in life, seems to be that it is not an all or nothing prospect. Many elite runners and coaches alike use treadmills as part of their training regime. The March edition of Runner’s World has blurb from Kristin Price (winner of the 2009 Pittsburgh Marathon) who uses the treadmill to simulate the challenge of running negative splits in a race for a strong finish.

While nothing can really replace the endurance slog of a long slow run, for everything else, the treadmill seems like a reasonable alternative for when the weather is bad. Mixing up your tempo runs, intervals and even hill repeats are all within the self-controlled scope of the modern treadmill.

I recently read of a fun way to approach tempo runs on the treadmill that involved putting on a half hour TV show. You run at your tempo pace while the show is on, and slow down slightly on commercials, putting in a warm up and cool-down before and after. See? Now you can watch some Judge Judy and train for a race at the same time!

Personally, I like to approach treadmills like junk food. I know it’s not the ideal, but sometimes, it’s a viable option that hits the spot. But maybe that’s not really fair either. Perhaps it’s better to look at treadmills for what they are: a tool that runners have the option of utilizing as part of their training.

I’m curious to know what you’re doing this winter? It’s been pretty mild here. Are you still running outside? Have you caved and used a treadmill because of the weather? What are your favourite treadmill workouts?

22 min. in 10lbs update:

Two days in and feeling good! The scale has begun to dip (rather dramatically actually) and I’m sitting at 182. This is likely water weight, and will balance out as I continue. In terms of food, I’ve been enjoying an awesome batch of chili and scoping out a few new recipes to try. I’ll have the recipe for one of my favourite winter dishes coming up in a post next week, so stay tuned!