Beans.

So this is a pretty controversial topic.

beans

It’s hard to determine if beans are ‘good’ or ‘bad’ for you because there is so much conflicting information out there, and it all seems legit. For every article boasting about the Colon cleansing properties and beneficial phytonutrients in beans, there is another one warning about their high lectin content or harmful phytic acid level.

My friend asked me to post about beans – why I don’t eat them, why they are ‘bad’ for you. I’m not a scientist. I don’t know much of anything. But I read a lot of blogs and journals and books all about food. And I’ve taken quite a few things from opposing sides of this argument.

First of all – I think people who go off on biased tangents about a topic like this look extremely stupid, because for the most part, they can’t back it up. Cool, you read somewhere that beans have anti-nutrients which prevent your body from absorbing  certain minerals, so we are all doomed. Do you even really know what phytic acid is? Cause I sure don’t. I’m not arguing that these things aren’t true, but I do not think they are severe enough for us to shun natural cooked beans and label them as an anti-health food. There are a lot of other things we should be eliminating from our diets first.

Here’s what I think: Beans, legumes, lentils – not ‘bad’ for you. The problem does not lie in the legumes themselves. The problem is in the quantity and industrialized state that we consume them in. There is a difference between fresh edemame and partially hydrogenated soybean oil. As a population, we eat a lot more of the latter, and there is nothing natural about that. They are hidden in almost everything we eat today. Which means that the ‘bad’ effects of them are heightened and blown out of proportion as a result.

That being said, I think we could all easily go without them. They aren’t necessarily nutritional powerhouses; there are plenty of things with more fiber, more protein, and that are not as hard to digest. But eating some hummus with your vegetables or salsa with black beans in it won’t put you on your death bed.

I think Mark Sisson sums this up perfectly. Beans are just one of those food groups you have to focus on eating in moderation if you really like them. The reason beans aren’t in the paleo diet is because of their high carbohydrate content and low nutritional density. I have eliminated them from my diet personally because I do not like the way I react to them; they are hard for me to digest, and any vitamin or macro-nutrient I could get from them could also be attained from foods that have them in higher and more absorbable amounts. I mostly eat food based on how it effects my performance, and I feel sluggish and like i’m gonna need a portopotty or 5 if I eat them before a long run or a race…not fun.

Moral of the story: Beans aren’t ‘bad’ if they are consumed infrequently and cooked properly, but they should be avoided in heavily processed forms (just like almost everything else), and in my opinion, eaten only AFTER your workout.

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Race Day Ritual

I’ve had a lot of people lately asking me what I do the morning of a half-marathon up until the start.

I have a tried and true routine. And it isn’t paleo. but I can’t seem to stray from it. Seeing as how I got second place in my age group in the Jacksonville Marine Corps Half Marathon that I competed in a couple weeks ago (and 14th out of 2176 females), I would say it’s working for now.

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Note The excellent outfit coordination. My shoes matched too:)

The course was in downtown Jacksonville, it had 3 bridges and it was 100% humidity that morning. Needless to say I didn’t get a PR. But it was a still a fun race that I would probably do again!

Anyway, prerace routine:

I try to wake up at least 3 hours before race start. (this can be tough, but I need the time to digest)

Right when I get up I have plain green tea and a small sweet potato with cinnamon and almond butter.

Then I put some gummies in a plastic bag to keep in my bra for during the race (I used to use honey stinger ones but I’ve decided I like PowerBar brand better, they are easier to chew and don’t get stuck in my teeth). I also keep a GU on hand (they usually are supplied on the course, but I am picky about the flavors – Vanilla Bean and Espresso Love are my faves. I don’t do the fruity ones. Blech).

I like to get to the course at least an hour and a half before start time. If I run at all, it’s only a few strides. I do mostly dynamic stretches and plyos and jump around a bunch.

about 40 minutes before race time I eat half a Clif Bar and head to the starting line. By now I have had about 16 oz of water and don’t drink again except for a couple sips 15 minutes before when I have my Gatorade Prime.

I always push my way to the front. Why? Because every time I start in a group true to my pace, I leave them all in the dust and have to elbow my way past the people who shouldn’t have lined up where they did. No one is honest anymore.

At this point I make sure I have a sweet playlist all queued up and my laces tied tight and tucked in. Then I reset my watch, and look around to find people I’m gonna try to pass.

I think it’s settling to have some sort of mantra to repeat to yourself when you wait for the gun to go off. It usually gives me a little bit of confidence and also makes me feel like a total bad ass.

Mine comes from a particular moment when I was first trying out for Varsity Crew at UCF. The girls I was about to compete with for a place on the team had been rowing much longer than me. Their muscles were bulging from their trou and they were walking around like they owned the boathouse; I was cowering in the corner dreading going up against them.

Right before we all lined up for the tryout test on the rowing machines, my coach pulled me aside.

‘Trust Your Fitness.’

That was all she said. It stuck with me. I had been training hard all summer, harder than the other girls. I knew that; my coach knew that. And I beat all of them that morning.

When you line up against all of those people on race day, you’ll get what you worked for. You may not be sure how you measure up, but you know how many miles you have put in. This 5-10 minutes before the race can make or break your performance and your overall experience in my opinion. It is so easy to get psyched out by everyone around you doing crazy stretches you start thinking you should be doing and wearing fuel belts or compression sleeves that you start thinking you should have invested in. The worst though are all those people with the bangin’ bods wearing what look like bikini bottoms acting like they are in the olympics or something.

At this point I put my headphones in and ignore all of this going on around me. I tell myself to trust my fitness. I repeat it over and over. I know I’m fast. I know I’m better than most of the showoffs around me, and even if I’m not, I can still beat them if I want it badly enough. This is the attitude you have to go into it with; it’s the one that causes you to surprise yourself, and makes you know you can push harder and go faster the next time.

So, obviously, everyone’s morning is going to differ on race day. After a few times you begin to find what works for you and when, but I think the main things to stress are to wake up early enough, stick to plyos and strides for a warm up to avoid running too much beforehand, bring pre-race and mid-race fuel that you trust and have used before, and find yourself a mantra or phrase that will help you focus and get you ready to race.

Speaking of racing, I’ve got a marathon in 4 weeks now (December 1st). This week I am going to try and get about 75-80 miles in, and ease off into a taper from there.

After that, we’re looking at 4 months til Boston, and the real fun begins!

Sloppy Smoothies and Race Dates

Okay, so this morning was a blur. I had a job interview but wanted to get a tempo in beforehand so I set my alarm for super early to give me plenty of time to eat, run, and get ready… but that didn’t really work out. I woke up late knowing that it would be dumb to try and squeeze a workout in and still get out the door on schedule. But I can be pretty dumb sometimes.

Usually my smoothies are pretty well thought out – there was no time for that this morning.
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That being said, If anyone wants the recipe for this one, tough luck, because I don’t even really remember what is in this.

I figured I wouldn’t have to worry about sweetening it because I’m pretty sure that’s half of a pineapple in there. Along with some kale, some spinach, a banana, almond milk, and an excessive amount of ice. Then I looked at it and second guessed my initial sweetness confidence, so I threw some strawberries and blueberries in too.

Oh and I also put some chia seeds and flax seeds in there too, but those are pretty much smoothie staples for me. And maybe some almond butter? I don’t remember. As I mentioned earlier – this morning: total blur.

It was actually really frickin good. Kind of tasted like green machine. And it definitely looked like it too. Which i’m not mad at.

Anyway I drank the whole thing. Fast. Bad move. Felt like vomming for my whole run. But on the bright side, I made it in time to my job interview. And I’m still really full.

More good news – my registration window opens up for the Boston Marathon tomorrow! EEEEEEEEeeee!!!!!
I have a half marathon on October 5th in Jacksonville (Marine Corps Half Marathon) but I’m gonna be honest, I haven’t really been on the ball with my training.
I’m just gonna wing it and see how I do, and focus more on the Space Coast Marathon on December 1st. I’ve heard it’s a great course; I had to sign up months in advance to get a spot so I’m pretty pumped.
My plan is to use this race as a baseline time to see where I am starting out in my training for Boston. That will give me 4 months to get where I want to be. I think I’m going to push for sub 3:10.

So now that i’ve got my race schedule all set, and this Boston thing is really happening (WTF) I guess I should start putting together a real life training plan.
Once that happens, I’m hoping to post more consistently with descriptions of what and when I’m eating, along with what my workouts are and how I feel before, during and after them. I’ve decided the only way to achieve optimal performance is to analyze these things and take note of what I get the best personal results from in my training. So anyway, look for that coming soon! <– I say that as if I actually have followers! ha!

Kale Brownies….?

Ok so these brownies are for risk takers. Also for people who bought a bunch of kale before going away for the weekend and need some creative things to do with it before it goes bad.

Chocolate Covered Katie to the rescue!

When I was looking around for some kale inspiration, I was not expecting to find brownies. But I trusted this recipe. And I made it. And it is flippin’ awesome.

I made them yesterday and thought they were a little sweet. But when is that ever a problem? I figured they would be a good quick little snack before my long run this morning; woke up and had one* with my green tea before I headed out the door and felt great. They definitely work for immediate and sustained energy. Better than shoving a couple of dates and almonds in my mouth in a sleepy stupor when I’m tight on time.

I like to think the green flecks add some character…

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*one = that much ^

Anyway, as I’ve said before, I hate measuring stuff out. Or following directions. and clearly I’m not a fan of serving sizes either considering the above. That’s why I’m not going to attribute my future blogging success to my amazing recipe index.

So the recipe says to blend the first 6 wet ingredients and sift the dry ones, and then pour the wet in as you stir. But I obviously didn’t do that. I tried blending the wet stuff first but then next thing i knew i accidentally threw the cocoa powder in there too, and then I forgot about the the dry ingredients until i had already poured the wet into the bowl. I flaked on the salt and vanilla extract all together…It was  a mess.

I was also pretty liberal with the ingredients: 1/2tsp=dash, 1/4cup= dumping some in a full cup until it looks right.

The one thing that did make a difference: leaving them in the fridge over night. they were real mushy for hours after they came out of the oven; I could barely cut a piece for my dad. But this morning they were perfect. And I think that last part was the only thing I did right.

I will definitely be making this again. and on the reg.

XC Camp

Nothing like a few days isolated in the mountains of South Carolina to clear my mind.

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This is my 7th year making this summer running trip to Cross Country camp, and my 4th year as a counselor. It was good to get away from everything and hit the trails with some pretty awesome people. But now I have a lot of catching up to do – especially with the USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships. Mary Cain, is that a joke? Crazy crazy girl.

Anyway, camp was great, had a lot of good times and hard workouts, but I definitely got off the paleo grind for a minute. It was hard to keep it together with bread and cereal and pasta all around me, especially after a long run. I don’t know if it is just mental, but i feel like a detox is in order. Hopefully it won’t be hard to get back into the swing of things, i’m feeling real sluggish now. At least I have phone service and internet back, although I can’t really decide if I even missed it. i liked being unreachable.

Samuel Vazquez flew in to visit and speak to the campers on our last night, and it was just so inspirational. I met Sam back in my first year at camp, when he was a counselor and I was brand new to running. I’ve always looked up to him and admired him for many reasons, but his talk about his journey to the Olympics was such a rush. Learning about his struggles and his hard times on and off the track left me with an even deeper respect for him, and motivation to pursue my own dreams. Sometimes I get unsure of myself, and lack confidence of my strengths and abilities, especially when I am surrounded by people that are so talented and superior to myself.

But the thing is, we all have to start somewhere. And I think our limits actually lie far beyond our awareness. I might have to take 40 minutes off of my marathon time to qualify for the Olympics, but who says I can’t do that. Won’t know unless I go for it.

Long Run Fuel

Over the years, I have experimented with eating a lot of different things before a long run.

Usually, I can make it through anything 10 miles or less without really worrying about what to eat beforehand, but I like to plan it out if I’m gonna be longer than an hour or so.

First of all, I think it’s important to note that in training, you should limit the amount of mid-run fuel for any workout under around 2 hours. I say this because I believe it will actually not help your performance when it comes time to race.
The way I see it – you don’t want your body to always rely on a constant external energy source. There is a lot to be said for letting your glycogen stores deplete completely. You want to train your body to be used to running on empty, because I think this will ultimately force your body to burn fat more efficiently and in turn increase your running economy (think about how much more fat stores you have compared to glycogen). Then on race day, you can eat something half-way through and have a better response.

That being said, I like to test the waters a couple times during a 20 miler or something to figure out what will have the best effect when it comes time for competition.

My favorite mid-race fuel? Honey packets. I used to be a big advocate of GU, but I prefer my sugar to come from a more natural source these days.

As for before hand.. A couple hours before a race or a long hard workout, sweet potatoes all the way. with almond butter and cinnamon on top – YUM. sometimes i even throw some honey on in there if I’m feelin’ real naughty.
Then When I’m about to walk out the door, Dates are my go-to. I like to take a few dates, fold some almonds in there and swish it around with water. It almost tastes like a larabar or something and I can immediately feel the energy boost.

I’d love to know what works for other people because i’m all about experimenting:)