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.

Zucchini tart recipe

You know summer is in full swing when you start coming back from the garden with armfuls of zucchini.

We planted a single blackjack zucchini and a single yellow zucchini. There’s still going to be heaps of them to go round though. Zucchinis are well known for being prolific fruiters – and the fruit grows so quickly that if you don’t pick them for a day or two you end up with a giant marrow (great for hollowing out, stuffing and cooking).

I decided I wanted a tart for dinner, and Google wasn’t really helping with a “vegan zucchini tart” recipe that seemed good so I made my own! here’s what I did.

I made a crust from this book:

20140101-153732.jpg

I’ve found this book to be particularly helpful in working out crusts. Generally with savoury meals I’m pretty good at throwing things together, but when it comes to baking, crusts or pastry I’m not so great. I used the recipe for spelt-crusted quiche on page 117. This calls for a crust made from 1 1/2 cups spelt flour, salt, 1/4 cups tahini, and 1/4 cup veggie broth.

I whizzed that up in the food processor, pressed it into the (oiled) dish, then baked it for 10 or so minutes to avoid ending up with a soggy base.

Then I sliced some green and yellow zucchini, quite thinly. I probably used about maybe 2 normal sized zucchini all up – ours had run away so were a little bigger than optimal.

I also very thinly sliced some onion and potato.

I made up a light sauce using a base of 1-2 tablespoons of melted dairy free margarine, with enough plain flour to make a paste. I added garlic and then gradually added soy milk until I got a creamy sauce. If you’re making this, don’t make a lot because you don’t want a soggy tart – it’s just enough to add a little flavour and moistness without soaking it.

To the sauce I added some salt and pepper, and a little nutritional yeast to taste.

To assemble – put a layer of zucchini, followed by potato and then onion. Sprinkle on some finely chopped rosemary (fresh from the garden if you have it – yum yum!) and some salt and pepper before putting half the sauce on. Repeat another layer of each, top with the sauce and herbs.

If you want to make it look a touch fancier, put a single ring on zucchini slices around the top for decoration.

Cook it in a moderate oven (180 degrees C).

20140101-154752.jpg

I ended up cooking it for half an hour at 180 and then another half hour at 160. This is how it came out:

20140101-174215.jpg

20140101-174257.jpg

I dished it up with our new favorite bean salad – 4 bean mix, finely chopped red onion, and parsley with a very simple pumpkin seed oil/lemon juice/salt and pepper dressing.

20140101-175812.jpg

For tonight we also threw some corn into the salad.

Mmmm!

fun fact: zucchinis (or summer squash) are high in potassium, vitamin A and vitamin C. Also they are delicious

20140101-181827.jpg
chart found at this site

Looking forwards, and Challenge Accepted week 1.

I guess now is the time to set my goals for the year ahead.

I’m not calling them resolutions as such, more goals and plans for the year ahead.

– I want to try and blog weekly,so it’s more regular.

– I want to run some more races – at all three distances of 5km, 10km, and a half.

– compete in the local triathlon either as a team with my sisters, or individual (or if possible, both as a team and an individual)

– remain injury free and get my ankle back to 100% again.

– cross train better. Get more cycling/weights in to supplement the yoga and running.

– get my blood tests done 6 months or less to check my levels of everything and assess if I’m managing vegan nutrition well

– donate blood again. I used to donate plasma regularly but it dropped off.

– complete my Challenge Accepted weekly challenges.

CHALLENGE ACCEPTED week 1:

Remember how I am aiming to set a challenge for every week of the year?

the first weekly challenge I am setting myself is to practice Yoga daily. This challenge is one I picked for myself.

I feel better when I practice – even 10 minutes makes me feel more centered and ready for the day. Even if I don’t do any difficult poses, the focus on breathing is a kind of meditation and that’s always beneficial.

So I’m not setting a time limit, just a task of practicing every day this week. I’ll report next week with how I went with the challenge, and let you know what next weeks task is.

If there’s any suggestions for challenges, feel free to comment in this post and let me know!

Challenge accepted – assistance required!

Hi everyone,

I’m looking for some assistance. I’ve decided to set myself a weekly challenge for every week of next year.

These challenges can fall under any category really, but I’m focussing on working towards a healthier, wholistic, conscious lifestyle. I’m also accepting fun challenges

Some of the challenges already suggested include things like:

– set aside time for reading fiction every day
– no TV
– don’t buy anything with plastic
– exercise (of some form) every day
– a week of only eating raw food.
– meditate every day
– don’t use an ATM for a week, and only use cash. I’m assuming this one is about maki me more conscious of the money I’m spending!
– participate in the “below the poverty line” challenge. I need more info on that one.

Etc, etc.

I’m looking for challenges that are challenging, but achievable. They can be related to social things, food related, focus on emotional well being, anything really.

There’s only a couple of rules.

1) they must be practical. A 1 week vow of silence isn’t practical for me because I need my voice for work.
2) if they are food related, please keep in mind that I intend to remain vegan.
3) I don’t have to accept every challenge, but once it’s accepted and scheduled I must do my best to complete it.
4) I will blog weekly with the title “challenge accepted week #”, where I will report the week that’s been and the challenge for the week ahead. It will start Jan 1.

so if there’s any suggestions, please make them in the comments. Help me set enough challenges to get me through the year!

20131223-180247.jpg

Ankle verdict and Bike ride.

Well I went to the physio yesterday. She seems to think I likely have a stress fracture. I need to have X-rays next week to confirm if it’s a fracture or just a stress reaction.

Given that there’s no obvious muscle tear or damage, and the pain is centered on the bone, and there’s a lump on the bone right where the pain is worst…. Doesn’t look good for me.

We pinpointed the change to my runs – the downhills when I run over monument hill and down the concrete path at the front. It’s pretty much straight down, so it’s steep and it’s hard. I haven’t worked out how to run downhill without feeling out of control so I’m fairly certain it has at least contributed. My mileage hasn’t changed that much so it’s likely to be the hills that have done it.

As she said – hills are great to run up but you have to come down at some point. Then we joked about running to the top of Everest and catching a lift back down.

I also got berated a bit (which I was expecting) for saying I run in vibrams. That was a little disappointing, but I understand that a lot of professionals don’t believe in them. I explained that other shoes make my back hurt when I run. She said “hmm well I still don’t recommend them”.

To be fair, the lady with the potential stress fracture probably doesn’t have the upper hand in that conversation.

I’m not allowed to run for the next week. Then we will do X-rays (apparently stress fractures are difficult to see right away on an X-ray). If it’s just a reaction I’ll be back to running quicker. If it’s a fracture it will take a few more weeks. At the end of the day I don’t think I’ll be running the full half marathon in December – but if I have to walk it I will, and that way it will be super easy to beat my PR for the next one (I have to find the silver lining somewhere!)

Given the pain has settled a bit, I’m clear to ride my bike as much as I want, which is great because my body needs to move or I start getting twitchy. So I rode 21kms last night, taking whatever path I felt like. I ended up on a rather windy course, mostly following the river. Couldn’t help stopping a few times for photos though.

20131015-075552.jpg

A pair of pigs I found mucking about beside the path. I probably should have told someone they were out of whatever property they were supposed to be in – but I’m not sure who to tell.

20131015-075716.jpg

If there’s one thing I love about this town it’s living on the Murray River. It’s a lovely river, and since there’s a large and very deep dam just upstream of Albury the water is icy cold year round – awesome for those hot summer days.

20131015-075945.jpg

This is the rail bridge over the river.

20131015-080049.jpg

There’s a spot on the causeway between the two towns called Gateway Island. There’s a tourist information centre, a small theater, a few artisan type shops (woodworking, etc), a gallery and a restaurant/cafe thing. They also use the carpark for a fortnightly farmers market. They’ve also set up a path around one of the lagoons with a bit of an arty-farty display of local history, as depicted in pictures. Kind of like hieroglyphs, only easier to read.

20131015-080546.jpg

Another shot of the river, from the final bridge as you come through to Albury. This is the official state border. Also the river is pretty full at the moment.

And finally, this was the last photo I was able to take before my phone decided it had no room left (I really have to delete some things!).

20131015-080814.jpg

Running with colours

Haha now that I’ve got people with my silly title, I’m going to talk about my run tonight, and the super colourful stirfry I made for dinner (see, that’s how I came up with the title).

I ran tonight for 7kms. I’m pushing my regular runs past 5kms now. I’m also looking for hills and trying to mix up my routes now that the sun is gracing us with its presence for a little longer each day. Today it was a run up to Federation hill, up the hill and along the top, then back down. As it’s very steep I walk the up and down sections but I hope that one day I will be able to run the whole section. At this point I was up to 4kms and I still felt pretty good so I ran up and over another hill to get a few extra kms in.

My biggest issue at the moment is my shoes. I have been running in Vibrams for a while now, getting close to a year. I originally ordered KSO’s. I loved them and they felt like a revelation when I put them on.

But I had a few issues with hotspots on my big toes in particular. They weren’t quite blisters but they were painful. At first I thought it might be an issue of form, however I tried my best to adjust and it didn’t seem to help.

I believe I may have solved it. With my first pair I wasn’t aware of how snug they needed to be. I have since brought a pair of the Bikila model in the same size (for running longer distances on the road). They are much more snug, so my foot doesn’t slide as much in them. And all of a sudden, no hotspots! Turns out I ordered a women’s size and I was sent the equivalent men’s size, which is wider and a little bigger so doesn’t stay in one place on my foot. I worked this out far too late to send them back, by the way.

I love my KSO’s for running/hiking/scrambling on tracks and trails, and prefer to use them rather than my Bikilas when I’m off road. Now that it’s coming back into summer and the longer days, I’m keen to get off the road. So I’m thinking that I need to order a new pair, in the right size so I can keep running connected for longer and longer.

My veggie garden rewarded me when I got home. I went out the back and picked these:

20130930-215338.jpg
Our first head of broccoli, snow peas, kale and spring onion.

I added some tofu, carrots, red cabbage, garlic and bean sprouts and ended up with this:

20130930-215506.jpg

I’m aware that the photo is off centre, but I wanted to focus on the kale because it looks amazing!

The things I love about stirfries are as follows:
-once everything is chopped, dinner is ready in 10 minutes.
– everything is only lightly cooked so it’s fresh looking and tasting – so colourful and still crunchy.
-if it’s vegan it’s even easier – just throw in some tofu, tempeh, etc for some protein and you’re done.
– you can literally throw a bunch of veggies together in a wok with some sauce and have a delicious, fresh, healthy meal. What’s not to love?

And now, to tie everything together is a quote I remember from a presentation by Scott Jurek (vegan ultramarathon badass) I watched on YouTube. I won’t be able to quote it word for word, but he was discussing nutrition and getting right. Essentially he was talking about the fact that vegan nutrition doesn’t have to be difficult. Eating a wide variety of food and you will get a wide variety of nutrients and cover everything.

To sum it up, he said the aim was to “eat the rainbow”. And I think I’ve done that tonight.

Vegan “rum”ball… things.

So I made these the other day:

20130923-201741.jpg

I’m not quite happy with calling them run balls as they are nothing like traditional rum balls…. Well maybe a little, in that they are chocolaty and coated in coconut. Regardless of what they are going to be called, they are pretty tasty.

These I made by whizzing 1 cup of dates, 1/2 cup of raw almonds, and half a cup of raw walnuts together with 1/4 cup raw cacao powder In the food processor.

I then drizzled in some rice malt syrup (You could use any other sweetener you like e.g honey – technically not vegan- agave, etc). I’m pretty sure it worked out to be about 2ish tablespoons but I’m not certain. Just do it to taste.

Then I kept adding Crunchy peanut butter And whizzing it some more until the mix was sticky enough to hold shape when rolled into balls. I’m fairly confident it ended up being about 3 tablespoons.

Then it’s just a matter of rolling them up and rolling in some Coconut. Keep them in the fridge and hand out to unsuspecting non vegans. Also to people you like.

I’m going to remake these with a few tweaks. It was a fairly peanuty outcome, so I’m going to try making it with almond butter next time. I’m guessing that any nut butter would work well to stick the mixture together. I also thought I could add some protein powder in to make some healthy energy/protein balls for pre and post running, since the date/nut mix is already pretty much what I like to get me through the day if I’m a bit low on energy.

I’m going to play around, but this is my base formula. If anyone has ideas for alterations let me know in the comments.