Energy Bars!

As a distance runner, I struggle with how to keep my body fueled while running. I use HoneyStinger chews and waffles often, and in a pinch, will use things like Shot Blox or even GU. Running in a trail event last year introduced me to the concept of eating actual food items on the run to keep fueled. But, what choices to make? While things like pb&j sandwiches provide protein and carbs, do they also provide potassium and sodium necessary for muscle function? What other things could I eat that would be beneficial on long runs? And be easy to consume? And be yummy?
A video posted by Runners World showed how to make DIY energy bars. “I’m a good cook,” I thought to myself. “I can do something like this.” So, thus morning, I scribbled down the Runners World recipe, and then made it my own. Here’s what I came up with:

Easy Energy Bars
Make sure you read “Tweaks” below before making these!

DRY:
2c oats
1c shredded coconut (the stuff I had was finely shredded)
½c each sunflower seeds, almonds, walnuts, almonds
½c dried cherries
½c raisins
Ginger, peeled (I used a piece of ginger that was approximately 6″ long)

WET:
1½c almond butter
1c honey
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350º.
Take a cookie sheet, and grease it using no-stick spray or your preferred method. I used no-stick spray.

I put the nuts through a chopper so that they were finely chopped. Like, finely fine. This is so that I didn’t have to contend with chomping on some piece of nut while running. I also did this with the cherries and raisins.
I then did the same to the ginger after peeling it.

In a large bowl, mix the oats, coconut, nuts, fruit and ginger together until evenly mixed.

In another bowl, combine the almond butter and honey. Microwave for one minute to thin this out (it mixes more easily this way). Once out of the microwave, add the vanilla, and stir until evenly mixed.
Combine this with the oat mixture until evenly mixed.

Spread this mixture evenly on your cookie sheet. You can make this as thick or thin you want. Mine turned out roughly ½” thick, and covered nearly the whole sheet.

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Bake this at 350º for 15 minutes, then take out and let cool. Once cool, cut into sections of your own choosing. Mine were around 2″x2″ each. I then wrapped each piece in plastic wrap. (Environmental tip! Dispose of the wrapping properly! If there’s not a trash can around, stick the small ball of plastic wrap in your pocket until you find a trash can. Don’t be a dick.)

Nutrition information? Don’t ask. I’m too lazy to crunch the numbers. I would probably eat a piece every forty-five minutes or so.
Yield: Roughly twenty pieces, give or take, depending how you cut them up.

Tweaks:
I used a bunch of nuts. You don’t have to. You don’t have to use the same ones I did, either. Want cashews? Go wild! Brazil nuts? Use your imagination. I still recommend finely chopping them though for easy processing on the run.
You can use other fruit, too. Banana would add an extra boost of potassium, for example
You can use peanut butter instead of almond butter; the Runners World recipe also mentioned tahini paste as an option.

Enjoy!

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Catching Up… And Moving On…

It’s been ages since I last wrote anything here… time to remedy that.

Lots has gone on since last update.  I’m just going to go back a couple months to May and go from there.

Anyway, the first part of the year found me training for a back-to-back half- and full-marathon weekend, where I would run the Cap City Half Marathon here in Columbus and then head down to Cincinnati to do the Flying Pig Marathon.  39.3 miles over two days.  So, I racked up a lot of miles, a good bit of which were on the treadmill before the weather got nice enough to my liking to run outdoors.

May 4 was the Cap City Half.  We got downtown without much trouble, parked, and got to the start area.  Immediately I noticed the heightened security in the wake of the Boston Marathon incident.  More police.  Trash cans sealed over.  More police.  The race started off without a hitch and off I went.  I had created a 39.3 playlist in Spotify to listen to over the weekend, but for some crazy reason switched over to a heavy metal playlist that kept me motivated.  This affected my performance in a positive way.

Normally, I don’t check my watch a whole lot, but moving along, I looked down and noticed that I was running in the eights per-mile.  I told myself to back off, because my goal for the whole weekend was to finish both events, and never mind the time.  This meant running Cap City conservatively, at maybe a 9:30 pace, at the fastest, and to just finish the Pig.  I felt good running along – found a nice place in the pack of people to be in – and just cruised along.  Checks of my watch showed that I was still in the eights, despite my self-admonitions to slow down.  I talked briefly with my friend Jodi while on the run, and saw a couple people I knew in the spectators.  I wound up finishing under two hours, got my medal and some snackage, and went home to get ready to travel to Cincinnati.

Got down to Cincinnati, hit the expo to pick up my packet (which was only slightly less of a headache this year than last) and checked in to the hotel.  We were trying to figure out how to get to/from start/finish areas without too much hassle. Last year, I thought I could walk back to the hotel after finishing, which was a big mistake – I got as far as Newport before catching public transportation that had to go back through Cincinnati in order to get to Covington, which is where the hotel was.  So, we brought bikes along, and figured we could ride to a point between start and finish, walk to the start, and at the finish, get on bikes and pedal back to the hotel.  So, we did a dry run to see what the timing looked like and find a good place to park the bikes (and grab a bite to eat).

The Pig started off fine.  I found a nice pace to settle into and just puttered along.  Along the way, I saw my wife and also saw a friend from Columbus in the spectators.  Before the nasty hills that started in the fifth mile, I bumped into Laurie, a fellow runner from Columbus, and talked to her for a bit before moving on.  At the top of the worst of the hilly section, I did take a moment to notice the view from the park on top of the hill.  Incredible.  I think it might be the highest point in the city.  And so I moved on.  Again, heightened security in the form of additional police/SWAT officers along the route.  I was doing fine until about mile 21 or 22, and I started to get cramps in my ankles.  Never had that happen before, so I slowed down to walk for a bit, and wound up walking/jogging the rest of the way to the finish.  I didn’t finish as well as I thought I would have, but finished nonetheless. The weather was off-and-on rain during the race, but had mostly stopped.  Got to the bikes okay, and pedaled back to the hotel, where we relaxed for a while before going to get some food and drink.  And, that was my 39.3

June had me running a little bit of this, a little bit of that – nothing too major in that I wasn’t training for anything in particular until I committed to run along with a friend for the first (16.something-mile) loop of a three-loop (50 miles) run she was doing (Another runner was going to accompany her on the other two).  So, I had to start logging more miles, and getting out on the trails, because it was a trail race.  Since then, I’ve come to like trail running a little bit more, except the parts where you have to pick your way through things (like a lot of tree roots, or rocky sections).

The race was called the Dawg Gone Long Run, and it is held down in Caesar Creek State Park in Waynesville, OH, which is also where the Renaissance Fair is held annually.  No, I didn’t see any knights or maidens.  We left Columbus around 4am to get down there on time to get things together and start the race.  Getting it together was relatively easy for me, since I had only water and chews to worry about.  My friend got her things together for her aid station bag and the rest of her day.  We started without a hitch, on time.  The course started by running through a grassy section, then a little patch of road, before going off the road on to the trail.  There was a diversity of terrain types, from grass to dirt to hard mud to not-hard mud to flooded sections. (There was a creek crossing involved; apparently the first loop, it was only slightly above ankle-deep, but had worsened to knee-deep over the day once the rains set in.)  There was a couple unmanned aid stations set up, where there was some water and nutrition set out, and another manned station around mile 9 of each loop where the drop bags were set up also.  We completed loop 1 in around four hours, and my friend went off with the other runner after her things were transferred to his car.  Yes, she completed, in around fourteen hours.

One of the topics we had discussed along the sixteen miles we covered was the new trend of “fun” runs events, and also events that had other things thrown in in addition to the running, such as the Tough Mudder/Warrior Dash type events.  There is the Electric Run (which I did with co-workers a couple weeks ago) and the Glow Run (which I will be doing next month with a team started by a friend), where you do a 5k along a route at night along a lighted course with EDM providing the soundtrack (but I listened to Anthrax’s “Among The Living” to motivate me), the Color Run, a 5k during which you have colored cornstarch thrown on you at intervals so you become a moving palette of colors, the Foam Dash, where you 5k along a course that is covered in foam in some spots, and the Drenched 5k, the “Hottest, Wettest, Craziest Run Of The Summer!”.  So, combine all these to make the Tough Electric Color Foam Drenched Run, a 5k where you go along a muddy course over obstacles, have color thrown on you, then through some soap suds, for a rinse at the end, while EDM pumps in the background.  Kind of like a three-mile-long car wash.  🙂

Themed runs are nice, but my personal impression is that it’s very annoying to have things thrown on you while running.  I don’t mind the mud and muck of trail running at all, but if I were running along and all of a sudden, someone threw colored powder on me, I’d be very, very annoyed.  Maybe even angry.  This is why I’ll likely never take part in a run where you have things thrown on or at you.  The Electric Run (and by extension, the Glow Run) is actually a bit of fun.  For starters, they’re held at night, so the sun is something that is immediately taken out of the equation.  The courses are lit up enough that you can see where you’re going as well.  However, don’t count on getting a PR on one of these – I had to do a lot of people-dodging at the beginning (even more so than any of the other runs I’ve done) in a relatively close area, so it just kills pace.  However, it was fun.  I would recommend these for someone who wants to get out and run a bit with some other people at an event.  For my Glow Run friend, this will be her first 5k, I think.

So, what’s in store for me in the future?  First, in September, the Air Force (Half) Marathon, in Dayton.  I managed to get a spot.  I’m going to try and PR this at 1:45, which means that I really need to ramp up the speedwork and lose some pounds.  August is going to be a very long month for me…

Then, in October, the Detroit (Half) Marathon, with my wife.  A couple months back, she had the idea of running a half-marathon.  She’s been working hard to get up to six miles of consistent running in order to build a base from which to train, and she’s there!  Congrats, Sam!  Now, do it twice and then some! 🙂  This will be fun, since we get to run in Canada (eh?) and then back to the D along a relatively tight course along (mostly) downtown Detroit.  Lots of good eating and drinking spots near the end!

Until next time, keep running…

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In Like A Lion, Out Like A Bitch.

Been a while since I updated.  Quite a bit going on, so I might as well bring you all up to speed…

Training – Still plugging along.  Got through the cold finally, and am holding down my long runs nicely.  I actually logged over 175 miles this past month somehow.  I know most of it has to do with having back-to-back long runs during the weekend, but it wouldn’t have been possible without those runs during the week.  A few days back, the treadmill became out of commission when the belt somehow snagged a guard on the back and tore.  But, since it’s covered under warranty, it’s getting fixed.  Got the new belt, and the repair guy will be out this week to make it all better again.  I have just a couple more weeks of hard work before tapering and the actual event…s.  I’ve been toying with the idea of taking a small drive on hill training days to find somewhere with some more elevation than the north end of town.  Also, this week I bid farewell to LA Fitness and signed up with Planet Fitness.  It’s cheaper, and the hours are a bit more convenient.  Also, there is one close to the house.  Of course, though, I sign up when they’re gutting and renovating, so today, my first day going there, I had to go to the location in Dublin.  It’s a decent facility.  Hopefully the Clintonville space will be nicer.  And not so purple.  🙂

Music – I’ve been toying with what to listen to in May.  Or if I should listen to anything at all.  On training runs, I’ve been listening to a lot of different stuff, but I always somehow gravitate back to my playlists from the two marathons I’ve done, and I need to get some fresh stuff in my ears…

New Gear – I finally bit the bullet and bought a Camelbak.  I got the Dart model, which holds 1.5L of water and has a couple pockets for stuff.  I love it, especially for long runs.  I can stick my nutrition and essentials in the pockets easily enough, and my phone fits in as well, without disruption of the Bluetooth signal to my earbuds.  And, it’s comfortable.  After the first mile or so, I barely notice the weight, and it stays put.  There is minimal sloshing felt, and the drinking tube is easy to work.  This easily solves my dilemma of taking water along on longer-distance runs, and I don’t have to worry about stashing water, etc.

The Event…s – I’m registered for both, and hotel reservations have been made for the Pig.  I am so looking forward to this weekend, and even though it’s going to be a lot of hard work, I feel confident in my ability to accomplish my goals and have fun afterward.

What is your next big event?  How have you been training?  Any new gear or gadgets you like to talk about?  If you listen to music on your runs, what are you listening to?  Let me know!

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Wall.

At 2.3 miles, I simply gave up. My legs didn’t want to do anything. My lungs didn’t want to do anything. I didn’t want to do anything. Being sick for the last few days, combined with a demoralizing experience last night at work, has just sapped me of any motivation.
I hate this feeling.
We’ll try again tomorrow.

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February Madness…

Work continues on training for the “Buckeye Challenge”… a 39.3 back-to-back half/full combination of the Cap City Half Marathon and the Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon the first weekend in May.

The back-to-back long runs have become something that I’ve adapted to (begrudingly), but it gives me something to look forward to during the week, and also signifies the weekend for me much in the way that the cycle of drinking/hangovers/brunch signifies the weekend for a good chunk of the people I follow on Twitter.  Last weekend was my wife’s birthday, so we went to Cleveland for the weekend to relax, and so I pushed my weekend running schedule back one day so that I could do my Saturday run on Sunday when we were back home, and my Sunday run on Monday, when I had the time during the day.

Cleveland was a lot of fun.  There are a lot of attractions in downtown Cleveland, and many options for runners and non-runners alike.  We went with the non-runner option this time around and sampled some of the 216’s fine cuisine.  I did, however, manage to squeeze in the Twitter Road Race 5K and Plank (results) on Saturday.  The Twitter Road Race is a virtual race created by Doug Cassaro, and is always fun to do because a) it’s free and b) people from all over the world take part in it.  While I didn’t take the RTYP approach to it, I still did push myself and finished strong.

Sunday found us back home, and found me on the treadmill doing twelve miles while watching Horrible Bosses and some other stuff on TV.  Monday found me doing eighteen miles, and with the improved weather we had that day, it was an outside day.  My friend Amanda and I faced (and conquered) a route I affectionately call the “Tour de Clintonville“, and this not only achieved the long-run goal, but hill work as well.  A quote from her during mile ten or so sums it up nicely: “This isn’t fun”.  I puttered along Tuesday for a recovery 3-miler, and then did spinning yesterday.  Today is a rest day because the cold that’s been nagging me the last few days finally decided to turn ugly on me.

So, February is in the bag for now.  Now begins a period of healthier habits for the next couple months before May.  I’ve always hated March for some reason – mostly because of the weather.  That whole lion/lamb thing.  It’s like the lion mauls you, and then the lamb points and laughs before the lamb itself gets mauled by the lion.  Can we just fast-forward to April already?

I guess that’s it for now.  Anyone know of a good 20-mile route that isn’t a scenery shot from The Sound of Music or Heidi?  Also, song recommendations – it’s time to start thinking about music to accompany six or seven hours of running…  Have fun, get out there and run, and try to not be this guy – even though he did win…

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The Hills Are Alive…

…with something.  Anyway, as I’ve posted earlier (I think), my May goal is a 39.3 a la the Goofy Challenge – it’s unofficially being called the Buckeye Challenge.  Saturday (May 4) will have me doing the Cap City Half Marathon here in Columbus, and then Sunday (May 5) will be the Flying Pig in Cincinnati.  While I haven’t run the Cap City before, I’m familiar with every road on the route, so that’s not too bad.  I know where the flat is, the hills are, so on and so forth.  I did the Pig last year, so I know a little bit about what lies ahead for that, too.

Hills.  A lot of hills. 

Here’s a link to the route map with elevations for the Pig.  Notice that at roughly Mile 5, it starts uphill until roughly Mile 8.3 or so.  It feels like the hills stop more at about Mile 15 or so, so hill training is key for this event.  Last year, I kind of farted it off, thinking “Bah, three miles of hill, I’ll just chug up it, and then roll on down to the finish… 18 miles later.”  Which, of course, was a bit of a mistake.  So, this year, I’m taking the upward slope a little bit more seriously.  I’m going to start incorporating Hoover Dam’s steps back into the plan, hopefully weekly, and at least once a week, get some incline work of some form done.  Since I wanted to go to the gym more than I wanted to run outside yesterday, it was going to happen on a treadmill.  So, I went to my friend/training partner/bouncer of ideas Amanda for a suggestion, and she suggested a “ladder” of varying slopes.  Which went like this: 5, 7, 9, 7, 5 and repeated once.  So, essentially ten repeats of varying grades.  A bit of work, but doable, I though to myself.  Throw in a half-mile jog before and after, and recoveries in-between, and that will be a fun little workout.  

5 wasn’t bad.  Not necessarily “almost easy”, but palatable.  I considered upping the speed even, and did for a few seconds, then dialed back, because it was starting to wear a bit.  A brilliant idea, because 7 was a bit tough, and 9 really sucked.  By the time I was done with my tenth repeat and back to flat again, my legs were on fire. 

As a joke to myself, I chose the soundtrack for “The Sound Of Music” to listen to.  Which, for some reason, was shorter than I remembered, because I had run out of music and still had repeats left.  So, I switched to some Maiden (“Run To The Hills”, and a couple other songs) to bring it all home. 

Have you channeled your inner mountain goat lately?  If not, now’s a good time to do so.

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It’s been a while…

…since I’ve last posted on this.  Anyway, new year, new things, new goals. 

New Year:  Happy 2013, all.  And me another year older.  Sigh.

New Things: Shoes.  Well, I had the shoes since before the new year, but they’re new to the blog 🙂  I’m sticking with Nike for now, at least for road shoes.  I really like my Asics trail shoes, but the Nike Pegs really feel good for road running to me.  So, keeping in mind that I’m about to start training for May, and that will have me running in possibly inclement weather, I went with the Pegasus Shield.  They’re essentially the Pegasus shoe, but with some added protection from the elements.  Also, the layer directly under the mesh on the outside is totally reflective, which is an added help in not getting hit by a car.  They feel a little bit sturdier than my regular Pegs, which I like as well.

Also, I saved up and finally got a treadmill.  I’ve wanted one for awhile now, so I can have the option of running indoors at home if I can’t motivate myself to get outside or to the gym.  With this, I also get to enjoy the work of rearranging some things around in the basement and doing some cleaning up as well.  But, once everything is together, it will be a nice spot to go and get some miles in while watching TV or listening to music.

New Goals: I’ve raised the bar.  In 2011, I was barely able to run a mile without getting winded.  That year, I worked my way up to my first half.  2012, I took on, and conquered, the marathon.  Twice.  This May, I’m shooting for a back-to-back, a la the Goofy Challenge down in Florida.  Half-marathon on Saturday, full on Sunday.  But, such a thing doesn’t exist around here, so I had to get a little creative and put my own together.  My plan is to run Cap City, then go to Cincy, get my packet, etc., for the Flying Pig the next day.  I’ve already started cranking up the mileage and doing back-to-back long runs on the weekends.  I feel sure in my ability to accomplish this, and can’t wait to actually do so.

So, that’s what’s been going on with me, what about you?

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