5

6 Meaningful Ways to Celebrate Earth Day

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  1. Don’t Drive This Earth Day give your car the day off. Plan to get to work, school, and happy hour using another, more eco-friendly mode of transportation instead. Walk, ride your bike, take the bus or train, roller blade or skateboard! 

  2. Recycle E-Waste Slowly but surely, recycling has become available in just about every city and town. But what about the stuff that can’t go in the recycling bin? The EPA and other agencies suggest that electronic waste (aka e-waste) is the fastest growing waste stream in the world. Chances are, you’ve got an outdated electronic appliance gathering dust somewhere in your house right now, and your neighbors probably do too. This Earth Day, why not help make sure those gadget end up properly recycled instead of taking up space or leaching toxins in a landfill? 

  3. Plant Food In a world dominated by factory farms and fast food, growing your own food is a revolutionary act. Organic and locally grown food, while vastly better for you and the planet, can be cost prohibitive. The easiest way to opt out of our corrupt food system without breaking the bank is to grow it yourself. This Earth Day, purpose to plant one thing that can  be consumed by your family. Maybe it’s just a few basil plants, or maybe it’s an entire garden. Put it on your windowsill, your fire escape, or your kitchen wall. But no matter what, get something growing.

  4. Share Something When we think of doing something nice for the Earth, most people immediately think about picking up litter or planting a tree. But an eco-friendly lifestyle comes in all shapes and sizes. Recently, there’s been lots of excitement over a renewed interest in sharing time, money, and resources as a way to increase everyone’s access to things they need. Experts call this “collaborative consumption” or “the Sharing Economy” but we just call it common sense. 

  5. Go Solar Rooftop solar is only one way to turn free solar power into free, renewable electricity. Smaller solar harvesting devices are popping up all over, from pocket-sized phone chargers to portable multi-panel kits. Think about how much times you charge your phone or laptop. Switching just or two devices to solar power can save you some serious money and help spread the message of renewable energy.

  6. Get Outside Earth Day is about enjoying and taking care of the planet…so why spend it inside, glued to a screen? This April 22nd, one of the best things you can do for yourself and the Earth is to remember why it’s worth saving in the first place. Go for a hike, take a nature walk with your kids, plan a picnic in the park, or a game of kickball with your buddies.

    Read more: 6 Fun, Meaningful Ways to Celebrate Earth Day! fun ways to celebrate earth day 2013 2 – Gallery Page 2 – Inhabitat – Sustainable Design Innovation, Eco Architecture, Green Building 

I spent my morning running outside and will be walking to and from class (like always) to appreciate the beautiful spring day we are having today!

What are you doing to celebrate Earth Day?

19

Top 10 Reasons I Wish I Could Have Been at Boston

Top 10 Reasons I Wish I Could Have Been at Boston

10. Boston Strong.

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9.  Being able to dedicate your race to all those that lost their lives or were injured in the previous year’s attack.

8. Knowing that you are good enough to compete with the best runners in the world.

7. Crossing the Boston Marathon off my Marathon Bucket List.

6. Being among the 36,000 passionate and dedicated runners.

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5. Conquering “Heartbreak Hill.”

4. Being a small part in a race that has defines the running community.

3.  “Patrick Downes and Jessica Kensky, survivors of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings, cross the finish line of this year’s race. The married couple were spectators at the race last year, and each lost a leg below the knee in the first blast.” [Source]

2.  See Rita Jeptoo claim her third Boston Marathon title – setting the course record by nearly two minutes.

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And the number one reason I wish I could have been at Boston…

1.  See Meb Keflezighi cross the finish line – the first American man to win the Boston Marathon since 1986.

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Did you watch the Boston Marathon?  Do you wish you were there?

12

Recipe Round-Up: Grilling Season

Nothing gets me more excited than the first grill-out of the season.  As a vegetarian, the topic of grilling usually conjures frightful images of huge steaks, burgers, and brats crowding over the flame – not a vegetable in sight.  But this does not have to be the case!  Vegetarians and meat-eaters alike can enjoy summer barbecues with a few of these recipes added to the usual rotation.

Recipes

Grilled Vegetable Quinoa Salad – Cooking Quinoa

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Zucchini and Chickpea Salad – Farm on Plate

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Spicy Peanut-Ginger Kale & Spicy Grilled Tofu – Get Off Your Tush and Cook

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Grilled Moroccan Vegetable Skewers – Natasha’s Kitchen

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Zucchini and Black Bean Vegan Veggie Burgers – Girl Makes Food

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Grilled Summer Fruit Salad with Balsamic Reduction – Kiran Tarun

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As a vegetarian, do you like cookouts?  What is your favorite thing to grill?

11

Final Race Pace Run

I realized I have not really posted much about my training this season.  I guess because the novelty of distance has begun to fade off; but rest assured, I am still working.  And working of speed.  On this beautiful spring morning, I had my last race pace run scheduled.  I was excited to have a good estimate going into my first race of the season - in two weeks.  I did 10 miles at race pace, sandwiched between a warm-up and cool-down mile.

Split
Time
Distance
Avg Pace
Summary 1:35:46.6 12.25 7:49
1 8:37.8 1.00 8:37
2 7:30.5 1.00 7:30
3 7:40.6 1.00 7:41
4 7:34.3 1.00 7:34
5 7:29.6 1.00 7:30
6 7:45.2 1.00 7:45
7 7:35.1 1.00 7:35
8 7:47.7 1.00 7:48
9 7:49.7 1.00 7:50
10 7:44.4 1.00 7:44
11 7:43.8 1.00 7:44
12 8:31.1 1.00 8:31
13 1:56.8 0.25 7:41


How is your training going?  Do you like doing race pace runs?
It was a comfortably tough run, which I am hoping sets me up for a PR 1:40 half marathon this season.

3

Busting Out of a Workout Rut

Hopefully with the turn of the weather and the start of race season, no one is experiencing a workout rut.  But, if exercising was part of your New Year’s resolutions – and you’re still sticking to it – you might be at the point where you need a little extra pep in your step to get going.  Here are a list of ways to get re-energized and excited about working out:

1. Pump up your playlist.
The right songs can help  improve energy efficiency and help us power through even the toughest fitness routines. Research also suggests music at a certain tempo might boost our motivation and reduce how much effort we feel we’ve put into a workout — which can allow our bodies and minds to push for more.

Researchers found that the optimal tempo for workout songs is 125 to 140 beats per minute, but past research has shown that the faster the beat, the more intense the workout. Synching our movements to the beat of the music can actually improve your workout.

Need some tunes?  Here are my two playlists: One and Two

2. Grab a workout buddy.
Whether it’s with a friend, family member, or significant other, working out with a partner can not only help us squeeze in a workout, but it may also inspire us to work harder. If you workout with someone that you think is fitter than you are, you can increase how long and how hard you work out by up to 200 percent.

3. Add interval training to your routine.
Slow and steady doesn’t always win the race to fitness. Beat boredom, save time, and up the ante on your workout with high-intensity interval training (HIIT). Studies show that just three sessions of sprint interval training can be as effective as five longer, more moderate exercise sessions.

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4. Get outside.
Exercising in this springtime weather can boost our energy, make us feel more revitalized and positively engaged, and help us cut back on tension, anger, confusion, and depression. Pretty solid for breathing some life back into a tired workout routine. And that’s not all. Past research shows just five minutes of sweating outside boosts both our mood and self-esteem.

5. Be more time-efficient.
It might sound counter-intuitive, but spending too much time at the gym might result in less than stellar results. Luckily, research suggests 30 minutes of daily exercise can be effective at reducing both weight and BMI almost as much as a full 60. By cutting down on training time, we may actually boost both our energy and our desire to work out. Save time and work out less, but do it more efficiently. Power through a plateau by combining two moves into one (for example, add a shoulder press to a regular squat or a bicep curl to a lunge),make a strength-training plan (and stick to it once you’re at the gym), and get more out of a cardio routine.

6. Perform supersets.

Performing one set of an exercise right after another without resting in between will keep our heart rate up, triggering more efficient calorie burn. Supersets will also help the body build muscle and get us in and out of the gym a whole lost faster.

7. Cross train.
With each new and different workout, we target different muscle groups, which can reduce the risk for injury, boost fitness levels, and keep boredom at bay. Plus, cross training can also be effective as an active recovery technique.

8. Track your activity.
Although focusing on the number on the scale can lead to disappointment and frustration, tracking our physical activity and progress can help us figure out smart tweaks to turbocharge our results. Grab a brand-new notebook and keep a fitness diary (like a food diary).

9. Play a game.  
Avoid boredom and burnout by putting the fun back in your fitness routine. Consider signing up for a race, joining a local team, or trying alternative workouts like surfing on dry land and antigravity aerial yoga.

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10. Take an active rest day.
As important as it is to actually work out, it’s crucial to allow for enough recovery time — but that does not mean not moving at all every time soreness hits. Speed recovery by incorporating strategies, tools, and even gentle workouts (like these restorative yoga poses) to help boost the healing process.

11. Get certified.
We end up becoming devoted to our favorite workouts — whether it’s yoga, CrossFit, SoulCycle, or just regular strength training. Taking our fitness goals a step further to become certified as a personal trainer or instructor is a way to stay motivated, make new fitness friends, and keep things challenging.

12. Mobilize.
Between everyday stressors and the physical strain from working out, we put our bodies through a lot. And when our muscles are strained and aren’t working together properly, it can create imbalances in our bodies, which can lead to injury — or at least prevent us from performing at optimum levels. Two ways to improve mobility and increase your range of motion: foam rolling before strength training and a solid dynamic stretch warm-up.

13. Rethink your warm-up.
It’s crucial to prep our muscles before hitting them with a workout, but not all warm-ups are created equally. Static stretching, the more traditional practice of holding a pose for 30 seconds or more, can actually decrease muscle strength and power. Our best bet: a dynamic warm-up, which stretches our muscles as we move, prepping our bodies for the main workout.

14. Get back to basics.
Going back to step one of workout form can help maximize results and may even teach us tiny things we missed the first time around. Rediscover the building blocks of a movement to lift smarter and truly master the technique — and any more advanced variations.

15. Enlist a trainer
Studies show having a personal trainer supervise our workout makes for a more intense session — and better results. Better yet, working out with a trainer also seems to improve future workouts: People who have worked out with a personal trainer are more likely to lift heavier weights and think they’ve worked out harder while exercising on their own than those who have always hit the gym alone.

16. Focus on nutrition.  
Diet has a huge impact on how we feel, thus how we perform. We can’t justify eating cookies and cupcakes just because we worked out really hard that day — doing so might actually be stalling our progress. Consider keeping a food diary to track how certain meals affect performance, and when eating on the cheap, load up on these healthy, completely affordable foods.

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17. Get more sleep.
Research shows that it may influence how long we spend at the gym the next day and may even increase our risk for packing on pounds. In turn, exercising seems to improve sleep quality over time. So whether it means sneaking in a power nap or just sleeping better at night, making the most of our snooze sessions might help us boost our fitness results.

[Source]

How do you bust out of a workout rut? Do you ever get in a slump?

16

What the Number on the Scale Really Means: Weight Fluctuations

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Scale Weight = True Weight + Weight Variance 

True Weight: The weight that you would be in ideal conditions

Weight Variance: A value that adds or subtracts from your weight, given changing conditions.

UNDERSTANDING VARIATIONS IN WEIGHT

Here are a few things that factor into “weight variance:”

  • Glycogen stores. This amount depends on your current consumption of carbohydrates. For every gram of carbohydrate that your body stores via glycogen, it also stores three grams of water. If you are carbohydrate-depleted, you will be at the lower end of your variance. Conversely, if you consume a lot of carbohydrates (i.e. before a big race), you will be at the upper end of your variance.
  • Water retention/depletion from sodium. If you consume more sodium than usual, you will likely retain water. Conversely, if you consume much less sodium, you will release more water. Your body adjusts to the new levels accordingly via the hormone aldosterone, so don’t think that you can keep this value low just by cutting sodium out from your diet – it all will even out.
  • Cycle bloat. Women will retain water during their cycle. For this reason, it’s best for women to only compare weight from month-to-month.
  • Dehydration. If you are dehydrated, your body will try to reserve as much water as it can as part of a survival instinct.  This can seriously affect hormone balance – so do not become dehydrated.

More on glycogen stores

This is something a lot of runners think about, especially during race season.

The High End: Full Stores 
What happens when people go on a binge? Typically they will retain a ton more glycogen afterwards and see a massive increase in the scale. This is only water weight. Too often, I’ll see people defeated because they “gained all of the weight back.”

If you are trying to lose weight and are defeated by this bloated appearance, remember this:  If you find yourself gaining a ton of weight after a bad day of dieting, remember, this is only temporary. Your true weight has not moved much; it’s still subject to the laws of thermodynamics.

The Low End: Carbohydrate Depletion
Those who go on Paleo or ketogenic style diets usually cite the rapid loss of weight at the very start, as well as the rapid influx of weight when they cease their low-carb diet due to the rapid depletion and replenishment of glycogen.

Similarly, the rapid drop in weight that occurs when one starts a diet can usually be attributed to a drop in carbohydrate intake.

Clients will also often gain lean mass and/or increased glycogen capacity during a diet, especially with a mild deficit. For that reason, scale weight may remain the same even if fat loss is occurring.

Weight Waist Strength Interpretation Recommendation
Decreasing Decreasing Increasing Fat loss is occurring. Perfect spot. Stay the course.
Decreasing Decreasing Decreasing Fat loss is occurring. Stay the course or consider decreasing deficit.
Decreasing Decreasing Same Fat loss is occurring. Stay the course.
Decreasing Increasing Increasing Fat loss is likely occurring. Measurements may have been off or increases in lean mass around the waist are occurring. Stay the course.
Decreasing Increasing Decreasing Fat loss may be occuring, but hard to interpret. If nothing has changed from previous training/nutrition, then stay the course.
Decreasing Increasing Same Fat loss is likely occurring. Stay the course.
Increasing Decreasing Increasing Fat loss is occurring. It is either occurring very slowly or the trainee is getting accustomed to a new carbohydrate intake. Consider increasing caloric deficit unless this was an intentional increase in carbohydrates. In which case, weight will level off and then reverse.
Increasing Decreasing Decreasing Hard to interpret. Could be either erratic measurements, but likely losing strength and gaining fat. Check again in a week.
Increasing Decreasing Same Hard to interpret. Could be either erratic measurements. Use best judgment, but would likely decrease calories with a more aggressive deficit to ensure fat loss is occurring.
Increasing Increasing Increasing Fat/muscle gain. You are likely in a caloric surplus. Increase caloric deficit or switch focus to muscle gain
Increasing Increasing Decreasing Fat gain is occurring. Lower calories and look into training routine.
Increasing Increasing Same Fat gain is occurring. Lower calories and look into training routine.
Same Decreasing Increasing Simultaneous fat loss/muscle gain. Consider increasing deficit to increase fat loss. Good place to settle at for clients relatively close to weight goal but who cannot decrease calories further.
Same Decreasing Decreasing Fat loss with weight lagging behind. Either there is “bloat” occurring or scale will catch up. Stay the course for a week or two. If you feel “bloated” during this time, you’re likely going to see a whoosh in the scale number.
Same Decreasing Same Fat loss with weight lagging behind. Either there is “bloat” occurring or scale will catch up. Stay the course. Check back in a week or two. Weight will likely drop or strength will likely increase.
Same Increasing Decreasing Simultaneously fat gain/muscle loss. Usually occurs during a break, e.g. when on a caloric surplus with little training. Increase caloric deficit and examine training.
Same Increasing Increasing Simultaneous fat loss/muscle gain. Either previous reading may have been wrong or scale will eventually catch up. Use best judgment. Increase caloric deficit if fat loss has seemed slow lately.
Same Increasing Same Simultaneously fat gain/muscle loss. Usually occurs during a break, e.g. when on a caloric surplus with little training. Increase caloric deficit.

[Source]

Do you weight yourself religiously?  Does your weight fluctuate during training?

30

Marathon Bucket List

Frankly, I am surprised I have never posted my bucket lists of races I want to run.  It has always been a vague compilation floating around in the back of my mind; but with all the excitement accompanying the London Marathon and the upcoming Boston Marathon, I wanted to put it down in writing.  Or typing for that matter.

U.S. Marathons

Walt Disney World Marathon Dopey Challenge- January

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LA Marathon – March

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Boston Marathon – April

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NYC Marathon – November

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Honolulu – December

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International Marathons

Paris Marathon – April

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London Marathon – April

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Do you have a dream race?  A race bucket list?

13

Produce Spotlight: Beets

Beets are highly nutritious and “cardiovascular health” friendly vegetable.  The unique pigment antioxidants in the bulb as well as in the leafy green tops have been found to offer protection against coronary artery disease and stroke; lower cholesterol levels within the body, and have anti-aging effects.  In addition to these, it is also important to note the potential health benefits associated with beets – like its anti-cancer benefits and fiber-related benefits.  The combination of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties in beets makes it a highly-likely candidate for reducing the risk of many cancer types. [Source

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Recipes

Beet Hummus – MilesForThought

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Citrus Beet Salad – A Kitchen Muse

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Roasted Orange and Beet Noodle Pasta – Inspiralized

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Beet, Rosemary, and Kale Arborio Rice Pilaf – MilesForThought

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Big Red Juice – Forbidden Rice Blog

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Triple Chocolate Beet Bundt Cake – The Sweet Life

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Do you like beets?  What is your favorite way to eat them?

23

The Growth of the Half-Marathon

There were almost 2 million finishers at U.S. half marathons in 2013.

In 2013, the half marathon was once again the fastest growing standard distance among U.S. road races, according to data compiled by Running USA, an industry trade group.

There were an estimated 1.96 million finishers at U.S. halfs last year, up 6% from 2012′s total, and a new record. The charts and table below, created using Running USA’s data, highlight some key stats and trends about the half marathon’s popularity.

First, the number of finishers in U.S. half marathons has exploded. In 1990, there were an estimated 303,000 finishers. That total had more than doubled by 2004. This year’s record total of 1.96 million means that, in just less than a quarter-century, there’s been more than a six-fold increase in finishers.

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Much of the growth has been driven by increased female participation. In 2013, women made up a record 61% of U.S. half marathon finishers, compared to 53% in 2006. Although the percentage of men finishing half marathons has fallen each of the last several years, the absolute number continues to increase. There were more than 760,000 male finishers of U.S. halfs in 2013, which was more than all finishers in 2006.

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The half marathon isn’t just a U.S. phenomenon. Although 14 of the 20 largest half marathons in the world in 2013 were U.S. races, the three biggest were overseas. The 45,126 finishers in Goteborg, Sweden was the most in history for an annual half marathon. [Source]

While I have only ran one half-marathon, I love the distance.  For a competitive runner, it is a feasible distance to train for and race without dedicating yourself to a complete lifestyle change.  I have two more half-marathons on the race calendar this spring and summer and I cannot wait to add to the growing number of female runners that are participating in more and more races at this distance!

What is your favorite race distance?  Do you like half-marathons?