RUNNING MONDAY MUSINGS: ON VIRTUAL RUNS.

Virtual run races. A fantastic way to challenge yourself and an even better way to add to your metal collection. Race bling! I am not going to lie.  I don't often run but when I do it is because of the medals. lol.  So, sue me. :)  Virutal runs sound good in theory except... life happens.  Yes, I know life happens even when you are training for an actual race but for all the awesomeness about virtual races, one fact remains for me-- when you run by yourself there is no accountability or support to push you when you are running on your own. 

I have ran a few virtual races in the past.  And recently I took part in the Run 'n' Roll Marathon Series Virtual Runs.  Running Tracks was RnR 5K series consisting of four 5K races from March 29 - May 10, 2017.  It was a great opportunity to get some 5K races in while earning some pretty sweet medals. I mean, come on...




I have to admit, running these, I find, are mentally harder than an actual organized race. Running this virtual 5K series was a bit challenging to me because I kept telling myself "I will run them tomorrow"or "I'll run later today". Umm... not really. I finally had to take some measures to make myself accountable through this whole process.  Because truly--- you don't want to be THAT person with medals for races not ran.  These are some of the steps that helped me complete these virtual races:

1. Schedule it and think of it as an actual race.  And when I say schedule it, I mean put in on your calendar as you would an organized race.  I even told friends, I will run this 5K on such and such day, because that would also help keep me honest and accountable.

2. Prepare yourself as you would for any race.  While this was a virtual run, we had extra perks to make it seem more like a race.  I printed the bibs provided on the website and fastened them to my shirt. It really made it feel real. I know people who have worn costumes on "race" day to motivate themselves.  I am not a costumes kind of girl but do whatever works for you. 

3.  Cheer squad! Recruit family or friends to run the 5K with you or be your cheerleaders.   

4. On race pace and time.  This was so hard for me!  How do you switch from training run to race pace when its just you?  My solution was going to the local running club and asking them to run with me to keep me at the pace I wanted to achieve the goal I wanted. 

5.  Post the heck out of it.  It's bragging time! Ok, so there are people who have very strong opinions about fitness people, especially runners, posting stuff online but I say "whatever".  I find that posting about running and fitness online, especially Instagram, is fun and motivating.  I always find the best energy when people comment or post with advise or comments, especially if they are about improving.  So go ahead! Post the heck out of your running accomplishments.

6. The Competition Factor.  I have a competitive spirit.  I love a good competition.  I am that silly person sometimes racing against someone on the treadmill. lol. And the few races I have ran, this was a factor that pushed me.  And it is a factor that is missing in virtual runs.  So I find that the cliche applies here-- run against yourself.  Seriously, you are your best challenger. Only you know what it takes to push yourself beyond the limit you set for yourself before.

 For all the challenges that come with running virtual races, I love a few things about it:

1. No crowds. Seriously, the crowds is what has kept me from running races many times.  I just don't like crowds.

2. Cost. The cost for a virtual run is typically less than an actual organized race.  The cost of these races can add up fast!  So, affordable race fees are a thing of beauty.

3.  You can run them locally and there is virtually (no pun intended) no cost associated with traveling, lodging, etc. as you would have with a race. If you are on a budget, this is the way to go!

Have you ever ran a virtual race?  If so, how do you like it? If not, is there something holding you back?


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CARBO LOADING WITH AN ASIAN TWIST: UDON NOODLES + STEAMED VEGGIES WITH A GINGER CHILI SAUCE

Guess what?!  I took the plunge and made what I think it is the best decision I could have made as a runner—hire a running coach.  As you probably know (or not) I signed up to run the TromsΓΈ half marathon next summer.  And every single time I start training for a long distance marathon, I get a running related injury.  Never fails.  So this time I decided to put some resources into properly training.  

The increase in mileage is going to be very conservative to avoid such injuries but one thing I tell you, this training is serious and fun… and it is making me ravenous.  Interestingly enough, it is not making me hungry for meat.  I am mostly craving plant-based food, even though I am not a vegan or vegetarian. 



The other day after a run, I suddenly had a taste for something Asian inspired.  I love Asian food but the people in our household do not like Asian, so when I want some I either go out on my own to a restaurant or make it myself.  After looking into my refrigerator, I pulled out a few ingredients and off I went.

The thing about Asian inspired food is the taste—usually dressing or a sauce—that makes a difference.  And a while back I read about ginger chili sauce and loved it.  And it goes perfectly with these ingredients in this dish because it brightens them without masking their fresh flavors.  Plus the recipe could not be easier.  The result is a beautiful and vibrant dish that is full of summer awesomeness!  Check it out!

 

Ingredients
• Approximately 6-8 oz. of udon noodles
• 1-2 cups frozen organic tri-color carrots, steamed
• 1 ½ cups snap peas, steamed
• ½ cup cilantro

For the ginger chili sauce

• ¼ cup low-sodium soy sauce
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• tbsp lime juice
• tbsp sesame oil
• 1 ½ tsp agave nectar
• tbsp freshly grated ginger
• tbsp chili garlic (add more depending on your heat tolerance)

Instructions

1.  Start by making the sauce by combining all the ingredients in a bowl, whisking until you have an emulsion.  Set aside to let the flavor combined.
2.  In a pot of boiling water, cook the udon noodles based on the instructions on packet (usually between 13-14 minutes).  Once cooked, drain and rinse under cool water.  
3.  In a large bowl combine the udon noodles, carrots, snap peas and dressing, plus the cilantro and sesame seeds.  Gently toss and serve.








WEEKEND RECAP: A NEW MONTH AND NEW PLANS

 

July is definitely here and with it the summer temperatures. But I am not going to complaint because this is Minnesota and it can turn to winter in 2.2 seconds.  So I am definitely taking it.  This July with a lot in my personal life, and it put quite a stress on me.  So much that I turned to the one thing I always do-- running.  

I am what I consider a 'zen runner'.  I love to run but I don't really like racing.  Not sure why.  But lately my running has been sort of blah and I needed something to motivate me and give me a goal.  And so I decided to dust off my old running bucket list on went ahead and signed up for the Twin Cities 10K in September and the craziest thing I have ever done-- signed up for my first half marathon... in Norway.  Hubby and I talked it over, and he is totally supportive of the idea so we will make it the most epic racecation we can. 
 
 
My friends think it is crazy for me to do my first half marathon overseas.  What if I get a DNF? All those kinds of questions that make me want to say "Really guys?  How about some support?".  Thankfully it is not for another year (I gave myself plenty of time) plus I hired a running coach for training, which I am so excited for since I sometimes need someone to push me.  So, yeap... we are doing this! :-)


This week was good for running even with the hot temperatures.  I will be the first to admit that running in very hot conditions is something I dread and love at the same time.  Mostly because I had to stop a few times during the runs.  It was just so annoying.  However, I powered through and felt really good that I did. I also have been doing a lot of body weight training and taken it outside because it is beautiful albeit hot.  

But the one thing that I incorporated the most was foam rolling.  I have to admit that I am terrible at stretching and using a foam roller but Saturday night I was in bed and just felt tight and my legs felt uncomfortable, enough that I got out of bed and used the roller.  I think it was probably because I ran my three miles 1:30 minutes faster than I normally do.  It was so good and felt much better after really using the roller.  So glad I listened to my body on this one since I was able to sleep afterwards.

What were you up to this weekend? Any races? 
Have you ever traveled abroad for a race? Do you use a foam roller?

TOMATOES, RICOTTA SALATA + AVOCADO SALAD (W/ VEGAN ALTERNATIVE)


There is nothing quite like fresh tomatoes in the summer.  Delicious, sweet and plump, to me they are simply the star of the summer table not only because of their colors but because they do not need a lot of fuss or preparation to make quite an impact.

It is the perfect vegetable (or fruit)… a blank slate.  And my favorite way to eat them (aside from eating them as if they were apples) is with a few ingredients to enhance—no detract—from their awesomeness.  And this summer salad is the perfect example of that.  Full of flavor and bright beautiful colors, this salad is sure to be a crowd pleaser.  





For this salad, I use basil, avocados and one of my new favorite cheeses—ricotta salata.  If you have not tried a ricotta salata, it is a smooth, firm sheep's milk cheese that's lightly salted. Actually ‘salata’ means salted.  And I love to use it as a punctuation mark on a dish.  Here it works beautifully against the slightly acidic tomatoes because it balances the dish. 

All together, they work to create a salad that epitomizes what summer flavors is all about.  Now fitness wise, this is a salad that is healthy because it is not laden with sauces or dressings and it is shock full of fresh ingredients and healthy fats.  You cannot go wrong with it.  

TOMATOES, RICOTTA SALATA + AVOCADO SALAD 
By The Fit Plate

Ingredients

1 pint cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 avocado, pitted and sliced
1/3 cup ricotta salata
1/3 cup basil, chiffenade
Olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste


Preparation
1.  In a bowl toss together the tomatoes with the half of the basil, olive, salt and pepper, and let it set aside for the flavors to combine, about 20 mins.  The longer the better the flavors will combine.

** Remember that the ricotta salata is slightly salty so go lightly on salting the tomatoes.

2.  On a plate, serve the tomatoes concoction, sprinkle the ricotta and garnish with additional basil ribbons.

Vegan option: replace the ricotta salata with a vegan alternative like a macadamia ricotta salata or a firm "cheese".  These days the vegan alternatives to cheese are endless.



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