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Monthly Archives: January 2012

Seven reasons to run an ultra marathon, rather than a marathon

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Seven reasons to run an ultra marathon, rather than a marathon
Trail Running

Austin Greenbelt

Now, seeing as I have never run an ultra marathon yet, you will have to take my opinions with a grain of salt. I am currently training for a 50 mile race in October, that will likely have some other races thrown in there before that race occurs. The ideas below are based off my research, thoughts and personal theories.

I have only begun my training, but have already been thoroughly enjoying it. This weekend I will be running 10 miles around Town Lake, here in Austin and along the Greenbelt. One of the many benefits to living in Austin is lots of great trail access! There is quite a big trail running community here as well. Which makes training for an ultra that much easier. There are plenty of other people to motivate and help you along the way.

Seven reasons to run an ultra marathon

  1. Less Injuries. WHAT? Less injuries, how is that even possible? Well when you think about it, it’s pretty simple. Marathons are run on pavement, ultras are run on trails. So, whenever you train for an ultra you are also going to be training on trails. Constantly pounding away on the unforgiving pavement is not the best for your joints, and muscles. Running on trails (soft ground) is more forgiving. When your foot strikes the ground gives in a bit –  not so with pavement.
  2. Ranks Higher on the Impressive Scale. Lets face it, everybody and their dog knows somebody who has run a marathon, in fact they probably know several people. But how many people can say they have run a 50K, a 50 miler, or even a 100 miler? Not very many, I would think. Your friends and family will probably think your crazy, but hey, the shock factor will be half the fun of it.
  3. Anybody can win. Some of the most unlikely individuals have won ultra marathons. When it comes to finishing an Ultra, it’s not about speed. In fact, when training you can just kiss speed work goodbye. Some of the toughest ultra marathons have been won by the most unsuspecting individuals. Over long distances, it’s an endurance competition, not a speed competition. Ultra’s essentially level the playing field.
  4. Better Scenery, less pollution. I know it, and you know it… running in traffic sucks. Have you ever been running up to a traffic light only to inhale our lungs full of exhaust fumes? Running on trails is far more serene beautiful and WAY less polluted. You will also likely enjoy a bit more solitude. AND, your chances of being run over by a car decrease dramatically.
  5. Eating Real Food. Every ultra runner I have talked to is into eating REAL food. They tend to avoid the nasty tasting, processed energy gels found in running stores. Most ultra runners tend towards things like banana, oranges, and other foods high in simple carbohydrates. Eating real food to fuel my runs has always been my philosophy and it was worked will for me for half marathons, so I’m anxious to see how this plays our for longer distances.
  6. You are born to run. If you have never read the book Born to Run, you should go out and do so, now! It will change the way you look at running; it might even change HOW you run. Author, Ted McDougall makes a very strong case for barefoot running, based off the Tarahumara Indian tribe in Mexico, and various other scientific evidences. Once you realize YOU are truly “Born to Run”, the idea of running an Ultra Marathon is not that far fetched at all.
  7. More time to think, process and get away. When your spending longer hours on your weekend runs you will have more time to reflect, our just flat out escape the worries and troubles of the week. It can also be a time to pray, reflect on things, or process big decisions. The endorphin rush might even help you get a clear head and discover new things you had never though of.
Crestone Needle

Crestone Needle: Trail running will allow you to see breathtaking scenery like this, if you live in a location such as Colorado.

So, have you ever run an ultra marathon? Do you plan on running one? Please share your experience in the comments section.

The Trail to 50 Miles

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The Trail to 50 Miles

50 MilesSince I started getting into running I have always found the need to set goals for myself in order to improve and stay motivated to exercise. If I didn’t have a half marathon on the books I would find a trained less.

Recently I decided to train for a triathlon. After completing that this past August I soon found myself injured and unable to run anymore. Now that my injury has decreased I once again find myself lacking the motivation to train.

Goals are an important part of training and fitness. My new goal…. to run a 50 mile trail run. My plan is to run the Cactus Rose 50 in October. I have already teamed up with a group of trail runners to train for the event. Having never run more than 15 miles before, training for this trial race will be a huge undertaking.

Additionally, I hope to enter a couple more triathlons along the way. So, it would seem my workout schedule this year will be pretty packed. I’m just really hoping this summer is not as brutally hot as it was this past year. I can’t imagine having to do long training runs in 100-degree heat. But, seeing how this winter has already been unseasonably warm, I have my doubts.

Another reason I have decided to take up train running is, I am still not fully healed from my bike accident in October of 2010. My knees still give me problems, as well as my heal from a more recent injury. The running coach I have talked to recently assured me that trails are where I need to be right now. It makes a lot of sense – the ground gives as you run on it, pavement does not, thus injuries are more likely.

You may think I’m crazy to set my goal so high, seeing as how I have never run more than a half marathon, but I feel it’s better to set my goal high, so if I end up only obtaining a 50k this year, I’m one step closer to obtaining the 50 mile mark.

I have always thought the Ultra Runners were crazy, and that there was no way I would ever do that. But I’ve said that plenty of times, about several things, including entering a triathlon. So, I have learned that If I say I will never do something, chances are I just might end up doing it.

So, keep checking back for updates about my progress. I’m sure I will begin posting more about the sport of trail running as I learn more. I feel fortunate to be living in Austin, where there are so many awesome trails within 30 minutes of my house. It’s sure to make training a lot easier.

Do you find it necessary to set goals to keep your training levels up? If so, share your goals here to motivate and inspire others.

Tasty, raw granola recipe

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Tasty, raw granola recipe

This is one of my all-time favorite raw food recipes. It’s super easy to make and is packed full of nutrition. This snacks are great for road trips, climbing trips, or even fueling a long run (although hard to eat while running). All that is required to make this recipe is a food processor and dehydrator. Alternatively you can refrigerate or freeze the finished product. It’s not the same as drying it, but if it’s your only option, it’s better than nothing.

 

Raw Granola

Raw Buckwheat Granola

Buckwheat Treats

12 Pitted Dates

1/4 cup Agave Nectar

1/2 cup of Water

1/4 cup Sunflower Seeds

1/4 cup Walnuts

1/4 cup Pumpkin Seeds

1 cup Ground Flax Seed

2 Teaspoons of Pumpkin Spice or Cinnamon (I prefer pumpkin spice)

1/2 teaspoon of Vanilla extract

2 cups of Buckwheat Grouts

Add 1/4 cup Sprouted Wheat Berries (optional)

Sea Salt

  1. Place pitted dates, agave nectar and water in a food processor and blend until a paste is formed, scraping the walls as needed.
  2. Then add the sunflower seeds, walnuts and pumpkin seeds to the mix and process again until seeds and nuts are mixed well throughout the paste.
  3. Next add the ground flax seeds, pumpkin spice, vanilla extract and a few dashes of sea salt to the mixture and process again.
  4. Once thoroughly processed, dump the mixture into a large mixing bowl, adding the buckwheat grouts and wheat berries. Now, with a spatula or wooden spoon mix thoroughly.
  5. After this is done, place the mixture into clumps on a teflex dehydrator sheet and dehydrate at 100 degrees for about 12 hours. Makes about two sheets.

5 Benefits of Juice Fasting

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5 Benefits of Juice Fasting
Omega Juicer

Omega Juicer

So, I recently completed my first juice cleanse. It was something I actually thought I would never do, but wanted to get off to a good healthy start in 2012, plus as indicated in my previous post I had sort of gotten off track with my diet. I feel the juice cleanse really helped me get back on track. My cravings for junk food have already decreased, and my desire to eat wholesome raw foods has increased. On top of that, I’m feeling GREAT!

 

So, before recapping the rest of the cleanse I thought I would break down a few benefits of juice cleansing, this is by far not an extensive list. In fact, it’s very small. But you get an idea of what juice cleansing can do for ones health.

 

Five Benefits of Juice Fasting/Cleansing

  1. reduced cravings for junk food
  2. improvements of chronic conditions
  3. clearer mental focus and increased energy
  4. detoxification
  5. aids in weight loss

 

First of all your cravings for junk food will decrease! Because juice fasting cleanses the colon we are better able to absorb nutrients into our system. As a result we will begin to desire healthier foods that promote health and well-being. Your body will begin to crave foods high in nutrients, rather than processed junk, void of nutritional value.

 

Over long term, especially if you continue on a high-raw food diet, you will begin seeing improvements, or complete removal of chronic conditions. There are countless stories of individuals that have cured cancer by an all raw food diet. I have seen benefits myself from a high-raw food diet. I used to require medication to control involuntary muscle spasms. I am now off that medication and feeling better because of it. Your body will likely begin to see reductions in chronic conditions because you are freeing your body of toxins built up over time. Visible and noticeable results could take much longer, though. For me, it took a couple years before I was actually able to transition off my medication.

 

You will have clearer mental focus and increased energy. Though my mornings started off groggy headed and fatigued, by lunch time I was buzzing with energy! The reason for increased energy and mental clarity is because you are giving your body a rest from the energy required for digestion. Note, when I say increased energy it’s not a good idea to do highly physically demanding tasks such as running or working out. That would not be wise because of the reduction of calories.

 

Your body will also begin to “detox”. Juice cleansing or fasting, gives your body the opportunity to rest from digesting foods. During this time, your body will begin to flush toxins built up over a long period of time. While this is happening, you will experience a variety of detox symptoms, some of which are not pleasant. The severity of the detox symptoms will vary depending on how healthy or unhealthy you have eaten over the years.

 

Finally, juice cleansing aids in weight loss. At first you will lose mostly water weight. But after this occurs your bodies metabolism will become more slower. Now, you might ask how a slower metabolism could be beneficial?  Well, it’s not only slower, but more efficient at digestion. You will want to make sure you continue to fuel your body with whole nutritious foods, though. By doing this you are helping your body to maintain a natural, healthy weight.

 

Juice Cleanse Recap…

 

I ended up ending the cleanse on day six of my planned seven day cleanse because I had friends coming in from out of town that wanted to go rock climbing, and I knew I would need extra nutrients in my body for the physically demanding activity.

 

The third, fourth, and fifth days of the cleanse were 100% juice. Day six included one smoothie in the evening to come off the cleanse (transitioning off a cleanse should be down slowly with whole, raw foods), so I could adequately begin to fuel my body for a day of climbing. Day seven, while out climbing I ate nothing but raw foods. Throughout the day, I consumed raw fruits, Bearded Brothers bars, kale chips, and lots of water. I ended the day at Beets, raw food cafe in downtown Austin with some other raw foodie friends. It was a magnificent way to end the cleanse. I was surprised at how much energy I had throughout the day as well. Especially not having climbed in several weeks.

 

The other days I had all juice were not as difficult as I anticipated. Because I don’t have a desk job, I wasn’t able to think about the hunger much, plus the hunger pangs waxed and waned. Every morning I would wake up groggy headed and feeling dehydrated (but perhaps it was because of not drinking enough water before bed), but the feeling would fade away after drinking about 24 oz of water and my first juice of the day. By lunch time each day I was buzzing with energy!

 

As a result of the cleanse I have a heightened desire to eat healthy, and continue on that path. It’s fairly easy for me to get off track if I don’t set strict standards for myself. I would encourage anybody to do the same that struggles with eating healthy. I have discovered you are best developing what I like to call a, “food philosophy” rather than following a certain diet program. For me, that is to eat mostly whole, raw, organic foods, and to eat only vegetarian (and on rare occasion fish).

 

Even if you don’t eat a completely plant based diet to benefit from raw foods. Simply eating a 50% raw food diet will yield loads of benefits. If you have never tried the raw food diet before a juice cleanse is a great way to get started.

 

See the below website for more information about juice cleansing:

Raw food Rehab, a great support community
Juice Diet or Detox
Detox and Renewal 
How to juice fast 

 

How to sprout seeds and nuts, simply explained

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How to sprout seeds and nuts, simply explained
Soaking Seeds

Wheat Berries and sunflower seeds in the soaking stage of sprouting.

Sprouting nuts, seeds, and grains yields a plethora of nutritional benefits. As an athlete, the biggest advantage of sprouting is the energy the sprouted nuts and seeds provide. Sprouting takes the seed out of a dormant state and releases all sorts of nutrients and beneficial enzymes that are only accessible through sprouting. The nutrients and enzymes released from sprouting vary depending on what you sprout.

In addition to being highly nutritious, sprouted nuts and seeds are more easily digested by the body, making the nutritional contents more usable by the body, thus how the provide an abundance of energy. The sprouted nuts, seeds and grains are best consumed raw. Heating them above 116 degrees begins to destroy the healthy enzymes and reduces the nutritional content.

Some seeds, such as sunflower, buckwheat, and pumpkin seeds yield a higher protein count when sprouted; making them an excellent source of protein for people with an active lifestyle. Consuming sprouts is easy. You can include them in a recipe, such as my raw granola recipe, or toss them in a salad. You can even season your seeds to make them more tasty.

Sprouting is very simple to do, it doesn’t take a small garden to accomplish, as I first thought when I heard about sprouting. You don’t need anything more than a mason jar and a sprouting lid, or something to cover the mouth of the jar, such as a fine cheese cloth.

Below are instructions on how to sprout seeds, nuts, and grains. In regards to nuts, almonds are the only nut that actually sprouts, but they typically have to be raw, organic, and unpasteurized, which is hard to find – but it is possible. Either way, soaking the nuts still makes them easier to digest, as with any nut. Almonds typically need to soak 8-12 hours. Most other nuts only need to soak for about two hours.

After sprouting seeds and grains, you will see tails grow on them, as pictured below. The length of the tail will depend on how long you soak them. Sunflower seeds will yield a small tail after just one day of sprouting, but if you sprout them for several days you will have a really long tail, making them a nice crunchy treat for salads. I prefer to keep my sunflower seed tails small though. It’s up to the person doing the sprouting how long they want the tails.

Sprouting Jars

Sunflower seeds and wheat berries, "sprouting." Sunflower seeds take about one day to sprout. Wheat Berries take two days.

How to Sprout

  1. First you will need to soak your seeds (pictured above). Refer to the chart below for the time it takes to soak your seed or grain. Place them into a mason jar (half full, as the sprouts grow and expand) and fill with filtered water, just until they are fully covered. You may need to periodically add more water as they will soak up a lot of it.
  2. After your seeds have soaked for the appropriate amount of time, drain the sprouting jar and cover with a sprouting lid, or a fine cheese cloth (secured with a rubber band).
  3. Set the sprouting jars at an angle so excess water can drain from the jar. I usually place mine in a drying rack as pictured above. Let the seeds set for the amount of time indicated on the chart below. You will also need to periodically fill the jar back up with water and drain to keep the seeds wet.
  4. After your seeds are done sprouting place them in a dehydrator until thoroughly dry. If you don’t have a dehydrator you can leave them spread out to air dry. Store them in a mason jar inside your refrigerator for longer life.
  5. Optionally, you can season your seeds and, or nuts. I prefer to season my sunflower seeds. This is best done immediately after soaking. Just place them in a mixing bowl, toss in some seasoning, and mix away. Garlic and sea salt is one of my favorite flavors to season sunflower seeds with.

Sprouting Chart

 

Sprouting Chart

Sprouting Chart

And there you have it. All the information you need to know for simple sprouting at home. So, have fun with it, do some google searches for recipes involving sprouted grains. I have seen many great recipes, both cooked and raw, but remember, consuming them raw is best.

Sprouted Wheat Berries

Sprouted wheat berries. Notice the white tails?

Sprouted Chickpeas

Sprouted chickpeas after two days of sprouting. Nice looking tail, eh?

Have you ever tried sprouting? Do you currently sprout? Let us know what you think about sprouting in the comments.