Challenge accepted week 8

So week 7’s challenge went well. I have actually managed to maintain a fairly clean desk at work. I fell into the post it trap yesterday, needing something to note down the many calls I was making and finding nothing to hand but a stack of post its.

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this is how I felt

So I sorted that out by getting a new notebook for all my calls and removing the temptation of the post it stack from my desk.

I tossed up a few options for this weeks challenge. Diet related challenge? Fitness? Something really challenging (like the no purchases with plastic one!) ?

I decided, given the past couple of weeks have been really full on at work, that I’m going to take 10-20 minutes each day to essentially do nothing.

Call it meditation if you like but my aim is to lie or sit somewhere peaceful and just relax each day with no distractions. I’ve been doing a little bit of this in yoga so I think I can apply it at home.

Which is why I’m ending this post now and going to bed. I’ll let you know how it goes.

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A wonderful day for a run

The only reason I took my phone with me today was to take some photos to share. I didn’t take my GPS watch or wear my heart rate monitor.

Today I wanted to run free of expectations, goals, and self judgement.

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I threw in my luna sandals and drove to my usual start point to tackle the steep section first. There’s a few access points but this is the steepest and I like to start with this one. It’s also at one end of the hill so I can go up, along the top, and back down then along the access road to make a loop. I walked up this part and felt great so I didn’t need to pause halfway up for a breather.

The sun was getting pretty low by this point so I was greeted with it the moment I reached the top of this section.

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There was a branch over the path. This is pretty common, particularly in summer. Eucalyptus trees are well known for dropping branches when they are short on water or are otherwise stressed – don’t ever put your tent directly under one when camping! It was a pretty simple obstacle to get over though.

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I ran along the top, planning a quick half hour loop. But when I got to the next track down, I figured if just run a little more. Then when I got there, I thought that a little more wouldn’t hurt.

I stopped for a photo at an opportune spot, as I wanted to be all arty-farty and get a photo of the view and my shoes.

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by the way, that red band on my ankle is my Road ID. I don’t run or cycle or kayak or whatever without it. I’m kind of scared of finding myself a Jane Doe in hospital while Gary frantically searches for me.

Then I found I didn’t want to get up. I wasn’t tired – it’s just with the quiet, and the evening sun on my back it was perfect and just plain right to sit for a while and think of nothing.

So I did for a few minutes… Until my feet decided they wanted to run again. So I ran.

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I kept thinking “just a little further then I’ll head back. But I kept running. Then the sun started to set so I decided that was my cue to head back down.

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My planned half hour run became an hour and a half of running, hiking, and a little bit of scrambling.

It was fantastic.

P.S. I also saw some kangaroos but they were too far off to get a photo.

Happy feet.

Nope. No penguins here. But my feet are in fact happy so the title fits.

Let me tell you a story.

Around 18 months ago when I decided to try regular running for fitness (again) I was intrigued by (and purchased) nike frees. With the promise of a “more natural” run and “designed to make your feet move the way they were supposed to” I put them on and ran my first kilometer. That was when I started at the gym, but the way, and was put on the treadmill and told to run for as long as I could without stopping.

I only just made 1km. But I was excited because the shoes on my feet felt amazing. I remember describing them to a work mate as “the best things I’ve ever put on my feet”. And it was the first time I had shoes that didn’t make my back ache unbearably with continuous running.

Gary runs barefoot. He always has. I didn’t feel ready to take that step though and spent some time in my frees before ordering a pair of vibrams.

These babies were my second revelation.

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They let my feet move so I could run, and so I could grip while scrambling over boulders. I wore them in rain and mud and dust and inside a freezing underground river while caving.

I got two models, the basic KSO version for general everything use and the Bikilas, specifically for running on roads and paths.

And it was great. The only issue was my lack of control on the downhills, resulting in a stress fracture. (I put that down to hills as I only injured my ankle when I added hill running to my regime. And running down a steep hill on concrete probably isn’t the best idea.)

But come summer, my feet started getting unbearably hot in my vibrams. Hot and sweaty and uncomfortable.

That’s where Barefoot Ted comes in. I’d say most of the barefoot/minimalist community have heard of this guy, because we’ve all read “born to run”. Anyway, he’s been championing the barefoot movement for a while and now has his own company selling huraches, or running sandals. They are called Luna Sandals.

I brought a pair.

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They are the “Mono” version, the all rounder for roads and trails. With a MGT footbed instead of leather they’re also vegan – bonus points for that. I’ve pretty much worn them everywhere except work for the past week and they are definitely my third revelation when it comes to footwear.

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my running partners seem to like them too. Especially Ollie. He always tries to chew on the buckles when I step out the door.

Verdict so far: they’re light, and airy so they don’t overheat. They’re flexible but offer some cushion – more than the KSOs do.

It took me a little bit to get the straps adjusted correctly so the heel doesn’t slip out but all in all I love them. I took them out for a hill climb (rocky dirt track) and they preformed magnificently.

I also went for a run on Friday and to be honest, it wasn’t fantastic. But I think that’s more to do with the fact that all I had to eat that day was a banana (breakfast), half and sushi roll (lunch) and a bag of salt and vinegar chips. There were moments in that run when I felt amazing, and my feet felt great for the whole time.

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Reasons the Luna sandals are so great:

– no more overheated foot.
– easy to get on and off (so much quicker than vibrams. Which means less time stopped if I want to take them off mid run for a sprint across a footy oval or something)
– flexible
– they aren’t constrictive so there is room for your toes to do their thing.
– vegan
– maybe it’s just me but I like having dusty feet. Makes me feel like I’ve been out in the world.
– they feel free.
– relatively cheap, if you order online. Even the additional $20 shipping fee from the luna site meant they were significantly cheaper then buying them from the one Aussie outlet I could find, and I’d still have to buy online and pay a postage fee from the Aussie shop!
– I am more aware of my posture and form than when wearing frees or traditional shoes.
– they make me feel good.

Downside:
– when I put my (fairly rigid) hockey shoes on they feel weird because I’m now used to vibrams, sandals and bare feet.

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My feet feel free and happy. I am starting to really enjoy running again.

Challenge accepted week 6.

So the “no TV for a week” challenge was a relative success. I only watched a couple of episodes of Doctor Who on Saturday, as well as the organized exception of a movie with Gary. (We watched “Pain and Gain”. It was weird and I don’t quite know how I feel about it. Much darker than I thought it would be.)

Apart from that it’s been nice to just listen to music when I get home.

The week ahead is a massive challenge and it’s been less than 24 hours and I’m already struggling.

No potato crisps (or corn chips) AND no soft drink at all for a week. These two are major issues for me. It’s kind of an addiction, and for most of today I’ve been having intense cravings for them both. I’ve been going through a bag of crisps a day lately, and washing it down with a coke zero. I think a lot of it has to do with texture – I like super crunchy chips and the fizz is what I crave. Both are obviously pretty bad for me so I did the silly thing and decided to give both up at once for a week.

Strategies to achieve this challenge include making sure I’ve got something crunchy and/or salty on hand (e.g nuts or home made popcorn) and drinking water or orange juice, then going for soda water if I can’t stand the cravings for fizz anymore. It will be tough but I am determined to get through this week.

Let’s see how I go!

Struggling to run..

I wanted to write a very quick post to explain why I haven’t been posting about running much lately.

1) my fitness has fallen, having taken a break to allow my ankle stress fracture to heal fully. This has led to gaining back some (but definitely not all!) of the weight I loss through running. This weight gain was in spite of cycling and swimming. Apparently running is the more effective form of exercise for me. This means that I’m back to slogging through 5km runs at the moment. I’m also still wearing an ankle brace for extra support.

2) it’s been ridiculously hot here. We’ve had 2 week long stints over 40
degrees C in the past three weeks. We are due for some more 42 days soon as well. I struggle in the heat, and resorted to paying $12.50 just to use the treadmill for half an hour at the gym at one point. I don’t want to make excuses however my body doesn’t function well in the heat and I sweat heaps so it’s easy to get dehydrated and nauseas/dizzy. Give me cold and rain and fog anyway.

3) shoes are an issue for me right now. I prefer my vibram bikilas but they make my feet unbearably hot in this weather. And my nike frees aren’t quite as bad… But they aren’t the same as running in my vibrams either. I know this probably seems a bit like “first world problems” but being uncomfortable is stopping me from wanting to run or enjoying it while I run. I’ve got some Luna running sandals coming which should solve the overheating problem. Running totally barefoot isn’t an option because the footpath is usually too hot and drunken idiots regularly smash glass along the main road to my house.

So really, my runs at the moment can be summed up as: hot, uncomfortable, very sweaty, and difficult. So not really worth writing about. I do know things will improve as the month goes on though.

Sushi for dinner.

What do you do when you don’t want to heat up the kitchen with the stove?

Throw on your rice cooker, grab some seaweed and some bits and pieces and make this:

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the only fish involved is on the platter which came all the way from Finland. Thanks Annika!

Technically speaking these are nori rolls, not sushi but…. Sushi seems easier. I’ve been big on these lately. I made some for lunch the other day as well with some edamame and some raw veggies.

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Fun fact: in a metal container and an air conditioned office, frozen edamame in the top compartment works well – it’s defrosted by lunch but it keeps the sushi cool without getting cold. I prefer them at room temperature.

Anyhow, nori rolls are a simple thing.

You will need:
rice. Medium or short grain rice can be used – often it’s labeled as sushi rice. Just don’t use any variety of long grain rice. It won’t work.
1/2 cup rice vinegar
2 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp salt
nori sheetsmmmm seaweed. Tasty tasty seaweed.
optional extras for the rice – I use raw nori flakes and black sesame seeds.
fillings whatever you feel like – I used carrot, cucumber, avocado, and tofu.
condiments- wasabi paste, soy sauce and pickled ginger

Step 1: cook sushi rice. I use my rice cooker now because I can pop it on while I do other things and it will just keep it warm till I’m ready. I generally have about a cup of uncooked rice to 2-3 rolls – but I like a lot of rice in my rolls.

Step 2: make your seasoning by gently heating 1/2 cup rice vinegar, 2 Tbsp sugar and 2 tsp salt on the stove until it all dissolves together.

Step 3: mix the rice with the seasoning – add it to taste. The amount of seasoning generally does me about 2 cups (uncooked) rice. This is best done in a non metallic bowl. Fold some of the vinegar through the rice and taste – add more if you feel it needs it.

Step 4: extras! I tend to mix some raw nori flakes through the rice and also some black sesame seeds. Just for some extra crunch and nutrients.

Step 5: lay your nori sheet shiny side down. You can use a mat if you wish but I don’t usually bother. Lightly brush some water over the nori
Spread rice in a thin even layer, leaving a gap at one end. Use a spoon or your fingers dipped in water so it doesn’t stick.

Step 6: fillings. Spread a tiny bit of wasabi on your rice, down the middle. It’s hot so if you haven’t tried it before go very easy on it. Top that with your chosen fillings. Avocado, carrot, cucumber and tofu were my choices last night.

Step 7: roll. Take the end you have rice to and roll it tight enough to keep everything in but not so tight that it tears. You’ll get the habit of it the more you do. Wet the free end and seal your roll. Slice gently with a wet knife into whatever size you want.

Dip in soy sauce and enjoy pickled ginger in between rolls.

Enjoy!!

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Things that make me happy: Saturday.

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In yoga, I spend a lot of time contemplating my feet and my legs. And I’ve come to really appreciate them. I like my legs. I like my feet. I like what they can do, and the places they’ve taken me to – hiking the Himalayas, ice climbing in New Zealand, snowshoe hiking, jumping off things and jumping in puddles.

The feeling of grass or mud underfoot.

The sheer joy of running and feeling the road pass underneath.

My feet, and where they have taken me, makes me happy.