I often have people inquire about trail running and find they have a desperation to run in nature but the level of comfort is not there. I find it easy to run in nature as opposed to road running next to cars, crossings, mass amounts of people or construction. Don't get me wrong, all running can be fun and invigorating, it truly is a personal preference. I want to motivate those uneasy about trail running, maybe allow you to see the adventure waiting for you to discover. Every run for me on a trail holds purpose and the outcome is ALWAYS positive.
First....... To answer the question on what do I pack and wear? Well, that depends, how far or how remote will you be going. I always recommend some key items. A hydration pack, GPS watch, Buff, chapstick, light snack, trail running shoes, and electrolytes (NUUN). If it's summer I take a hat or shades. And if you're prone to getting lost, please take a map, GPS, or know where you are going. Find out if you'll have cell service.
Second.......The view. One of my favorite aspects on trail running is the VIEW. Most indulge in selfies; I like pics of the mountains, the sky, trail, sunsets, and an occasional selfie. PS. don't let trail runners fool you; they don't typically run the whole course. We'll talk more on that later, but we do stop for photos a lot.
Third......Watch out for hazards. Trails, just like road running, consist of hazards. They are not short of foot traffics, animal traffic, trails blocks, culverts, fires, bridges, unstable rocks, falling debris, cliffs, electrical hazards and as I found out during my 2015 Volcanic 50 race....BEE'S AND HORNETS! Always be alert.
Fourth..... What does a trail consist of? Again, this depends on where you run. Does your trail look like photo A or photo B? Trails can be mud, dirt, gravel, bark, duff, rocks, lava rock, bridges, creeks, rivers and other various forms of natural surroundings (this is where the shoes are kind of important!). Oh and don't forget the elevation. Hills can look calm and rolling or they can literally be a mountain. Be prepared, you’re not pounding pavement. I recommend depending on weather, an extra set of socks to change into, an extra shirt, gaiters, and a lightweight rain coat.
Fifth......In regards to the hills. Trail runners, as mentioned early, don't always run the entire trail. And since you're not setting out to be the famous Stephanie Howe (who I adore by the way and find much inspiration from) I encourage beginners to walk the hills and enjoy themselves. You'll thank me later when you can breathe the rest of your run. Don't let a little hill scare you, you came this far right?
If your complete your first trail run hopefully you feel inspired to continue on the adventure. And don't forget to celebrate!
The battle between grocery shopping, meal planning, and follow through seems to plague most Americans. With such little time, family commitments, and our food industries ability to advertise making food look healthy and indulgent, seems to throw being healthy right out the window. Having a skinny kitchen is not difficult, it's not time consuming (once it's in place), and it's not as expensive as one would think. In fact, I save more money buying healthy food than I do buying bags/boxes of processed chips, mini-meals, and snacks, as they just aren't filling so I tend to over-stash. If you're like most of us you try hard to get your kitchen stocked appropriately with only healthy items and creative meal ideas then find yourself floundering by the end of the month.
A little over a year ago Twisted Trek Athletics started offering The Open Pantry program. It's not a quick fix and it does take commitment. The entire kitchen is given a once over, removing the items that should be avoided, but also replaced with healthier options. I am a firm believer that if you remove an item from your diet you should replace it. For instance, say you love trail mix and it's always in the home. Unfortunately you never portion this out and over indulge leading to excess calories and sugar. It's smart to examine why the trail mix is so crucial to you. Maybe it's a salt craving? Maybe one just needs pre-packaged sizes rather than the 3 lbs. bag. Regardless, if it is a problem, DITCH IT and find a replacement.
Here are some tips from The Open Pantry program to help you bring the skinny back to the kitchen. Obviously I am not able to provide all the tips and essentials from the program in this one short blog, but hopefully this will start you on your way. I do recommend for a permanent change you go through the program in its entirety.
1. MAKE A PLAN- Know what your family likes to eat. Don't use your family as an excuse to be unhealthy. There are items I refuse to bring into my home. For the most part, my family as a whole eats very healthy. Occasionally when I hop in my husband’s truck after him and my son have been out for a day I always find a snack size bag of chips or a candy wrapper. There is nothing wrong with this! Let them have their snack and just appreciate that it doesn't need to come into the home.
2. CLEAN IT OUT- A garbage sack is needed! Rid your kitchen of high sugar items, artificial sweeteners, boxed and processed foods, fatty and unwanted high calorie items that provide little to no nutritional value. Don't BE SCARED!
3. IDENTIFY YOUR STAPLES- Every cook has staple foods/ingredients that they like to keep on hand. Identify the ones you want and never let them go dry. I recommend healthy cooking substitutes, fresh (RAW) veggies and fruits, specific oils, and quick snack items. (See pic of a few of my preferred staples.)
4. HEALTHY IS NOT BORING- Whoever says,"Eating healthy is boring," has clearly not learned to cook healthy. No one says you cannot use spices and seasonings, create your own sauce and dressing, or indulge in a dessert or home cooked meal. Learn to experiment.
5. ORGANIZE- I am an organizing nut. Bins are essential to maintaining a skinny kitchen. Having items stored in bins helps you balance portions, save money, identify when food sources are low and be prepared when cravings come on.
6. MAINTAIN- Once your kitchen is skinny it is easy to maintain. Keep an on-going list of new items to pick up at the store and items you need to re-stock. At the store, be there with a purpose! Purchase ONLY the items on the list to replenish, restock and meal plan. MOVE quickly through the store!
Lollygagging = unnecessary purchases + BAD food + overspending…… EASY!
For more information on The Open Pantry contact TwistedTrekAthletics@gmail.com
The BUZZ right now is setting New Year's resolutions. Not for me. I do my best to avoid the hype, refrain from setting unobtainable goals that will plague me for a year straight, or maybe I will forget about in one month. I do however reflect on the year that's past. I remind myself of the small goals I set and achieved, obstacles I faced, and my ability to learn from my challenges and obstacles.
This year my goal is to clear my mind for 2016. Last year I really enjoyed training all my clients on exercise, running, gaining healthy habits, and nutrition. It's amazing to see such progress, resilience, and determination in people when they once never believed in themselves. I enjoyed my own training, race schedule, Nuun Team participation and where my personal adventures led me. From these experiences in 2015 I learned so much about being healthy, more than you can ever learn from working in a gym, taking classes, listening to seminars or "pumping iron" day-in-day-out. People reach out to me when they are at their lowest and to see them developed and discover skills they never knew they had is something I never want to give up.
2016 will be different from last year. My goals are set the same way I do every year. I write them down, search for my events, focus on some nutrition changes, research new areas for travel, and go for it. I don't set all my goals at once; I set them throughout the year. The focus will be to diversify my own training and adventures. I will be increasing my race distances and indulge in some fast-packing. For me, being healthy is not, and has never been, about going to the gym, dieting, quick fads, or refraining from EVERYTHING to live healthy and strong. Being healthy has to be both physical and mental. My goals this year of increased distances and fast-packing will help me to achieve a clearer mind. Running 50-100 miles gives you a lot of time to make peace with yourself, scream at yourself, turn your mind off and move your feet, or mentally kick it into overdrive and BE STRONG. It also allows one to challenge themselves not just to run, but to strategize. We can all learn from strategizing right?
2016 will be about focused training outdoors, beating the weather at all odds, proper training both mentally and physically, and diversifying my event focus. Racing for Team Nuun, already committing to events with athletes I've met on other courses, and implementing a training plan that's focused on mental and physical training will hit the spot and make 2016 a year to remember. I look forward to increased training outdoors, with friends, family and clients, exploring the trails......and breathing.
It's getting cold outside, a sure sign the holidays are upon us. For most, this means hectic schedule, interrupted training programs, lack of time, and increased holiday gatherings with food everywhere! Reality is, it's difficult to commit to a new training program this time of year, but it's on most people’s mind, if it wasn't January and February would not be the influx of new gym memberships. Let the numbers speak for themselves. It's sad however, that by mid spring many of those people have fallen by the way side, given up on their goals, and lost motivation for one reason or another....its life, it happens.
I embrace nature, driven by progress, passionate about running, live for exploring, crave challenges, promoter of health and fitness, and fulfilled by helping others.