Monthly Archives: April 2015

Shrimp and Rice Stuffed Peppers

Shrimp and rice stuffed peppers were a spur of the moment idea that dawned on me because I had some precooked shrimp to use and a few large green bell peppers that I didn’t want to go to waste.  My little experiment turned out to be a simple and filling easy weeknight recipe I’ll definitely make again.

Shrimp and Rice Stuffed Peppers
Prep Time:  10 minutes
Cook Time:  20-30 minutes
Difficulty:  2

Ingredients
2-4 large green bell peppers, cored, cleaned and halved
5-20 large shrimp, thawed, peeled, tailed and de-veined.
1 cup brown rice, cooked
1-15.5 oz can diced tomatoes with juice
1/4 to 1/3 cup cheddar jack cheese
1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon taco seasoning
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2-3 dashes cayenne (to preference)

Instructions
Preheat oven to 350, cook rice until almost all water is absorbed.
Add tomatoes, cheese and seasonings to rice.  Heat until cheese is melted, stirring regularly.
Paint outside of pepper halves with olive oil.
Add shrimp to rice mixture and spoon into pepper halves.
Place peppers in oven for 20-25 minutes until shrimp are opaque and peppers are soft (to preference).
***If using precooked shrimp, cook peppers with rice for 15-18 minutes then add shrimp on top and bake for an additional 5 minutes to prevent shrimp from becoming tough/chewy)***
shrimp and rice stuffed peppersI was really happy with the way these shrimp and rice stuffed peppers turned out.  They’re a tasty dish that’s simple to put together and allows for a big range of flavor with under 320 calories.  One additional bonus is that I’ve found a vegetarian dish I can both make and enjoy so if you need something for your meatless Monday, leave the shrimp out and fill up.

I hope you’ll give these shrimp and rice stuffed peppers a try and let me know what you think!

Meredith

What do you usually put in your stuffed peppers?

Fit Friday: Between Race Recovery

Starting next weekend I have three races in three weekends at two distances (trail 5k, road 13.1) and I’d like to PR both types of events.  Recovery is going to play a big role in how successful I am at these events, especially since I’ll be flying to and from the first one.  Whats works best for everyone’s recovery is different but this is my plan to keep my body ready for hard work.  With the ultimate goal of replenishing what I used during each race and repairing any damaged muscles, here are the four pieces that make up my recovery routine over the next few weeks.

Food.  Burning through 1,500 calories or more over a half marathon race morning can definitely deplete glycogen stores and refilling them properly is very important.  After crossing the finish line, I’ll immediately grab some easy to digest carbs for my, probably, growling stomach (I don’t eat anything during a half marathon race).  Next up will be 10-15 grams of protein and healthy fats through peanut butter, chocolate milk or whatever protein bar the race is handing out (as long as it meets my other nutrition standards: I know what everything in it is, mostly).  These quick post-race eats will hold me over until I can get to a bigger, healthy, filling and replenishing meal within two hours.

Fluids.  Hydration is something I work on daily by taking in at least 60 ounces of water and often working towards more.  Immediately post race, I’ll down at least one 16oz bottle of water and maybe a chocolate milk.  I don’t like the sugary sports drinks that are typically provided in the recoveryfinisher area at races and choose to refill on electrolytes through my quick salty carb snack (pretzels, if available) or the GPS Hydration I always carry in my race bag.  I’ll continue to consume at least 16oz of water each hour for three more hours post-race.

Foam rolling.  Before, after, and if I could, during.  My favorite recovery and stay ready tool, I love my foam roller and its friend, the lacrosse ball.  There are lots of benefits to foam rolling aside from the fact that it feels good.  It’ll get blood and oxygen flowing back to my needy muscles by breaking up any adhesions created by my race effort, help me relax and prevent soreness.

Compression.  I’ll be flying to first of these races and wearing my BioSkin compression gear on the flight will help keep the blood, oxygen and nutrition flowing through my muscles while in the air so I can arrive with fresh legs.  I slide, or tug, compression gear on for recovery after each race’s foam rolling session and again before boarding my return flight to keep my legs feeling good even when I’m stuck in a crunched seat.

That’s the recovery I’ll be doing after each race and on the days between as I run in three different states (two new!) in May’s first three weekends.

Meredith

What’s your favorite way to recover?  What do you like to eat just after a race?

Future Marathon Thoughts

The 119th running of the Boston Marathon was yesterday.  I wore my Boston blue and yellow as the Americans made a strong showing and the city did an amazing job as usual.  Qualifying for Boston isn’t one of my life dreams although if I ever have the opportunity, I’ll be sure to take it.  marathonI’ve posted before about my feelings towards running 26.2 miles in one shot.  I’m not positive all those miles are for me but as time continues to pass, I feel more and more obligated to give it a try.

Not once have I ever woken up in the morning and said to myself ‘today is the day I register for a marathon’ and I don’t really have a bucket list in the traditional sense to check a marathon off of.  But I can feel it coming.  To be the best coach I can be, I owe it to both my clients and myself to give it the college try.  That being said…  I am committed to running a marathon in the future.marathon

How far in the future?  Good question.  If not this fall, then 2016 it will be.  OK, then which race will win the chance to be my first?  I did enter the Marine Corps lottery this year but was not chosen.  Oh, shucks (I was not genuinely disappointed).  New York and Chicago are great but they are big.  Large crowds aren’t my thing, especially when I don’t know what to expect.  I really enjoyed my first half marathon in Richmond and am leaning towards that to continue a tradition of firsts.  It’s close to home, doesn’t require flying or lots of time in the car, has great crowd support and a not too challenging course.  Shamrock is an option but the weather is always so chancy, there’s usually plenty of headwind and I run that route all the time.

When will I decide?  Hopefully sooner than later as registration for Richmond increases on 30 June.  My plan is to hit my new half PR in May at Prairie Fire or St. Micheal’s Running Fest, take an easy week then roll right into a build towards my first 20 miler (one of 2015’s goals!).  After after mid-June’s 20 miler, I’ll decide how much time I think I’d need to get ready and, maybe, get on and get registered.  Eek!

Meredith

What was your first marathon?  Which is your favorite?  Why?

April Right Now: Watching, Fixing and Cooking

It’s just past the middle of April and it’s time for the April edition of Right Now.  I’m two weeks away from my target spring race, the Prairie Fire Half Marathon in Wichita, Kansas which will help me check off state #11.  With only fourteen days until I go after a new half marathon PR, I’ve started my taper and have had some time to play.  Here’s what I’ve been watching, will be fixing and starting cooking this month.right now

Watching.  Doug and I had a date night Wednesday to check out some of The Virginia Arts Festival that is going on right now in Norfolk.  After a casual dinner, we walked a few blocks to a grassy area for an outdoor show by Strange Fruit.  The Australian troop performed atop what essentially look like pole vaulting poles to a soundtrack that featured a variety of genres.  The weather was great and we really enjoyed watching the acrobats float through the air on their big white lanterns.

Fixing.  I’m not much of an artist but I can be pretty handy.  Working with a hammer and nails is something I can definitely do and painting isn’t much of a challenge, it tends to just be tedious.  Tape, paint, tape, tape, tape, paint.  Luckily, I won’t be painting any wall space that requires a roll of painter’s tape.  I will be sanding and staining this plant stand I recently acquired (thank you, taper miles) this weekend.  Once I’m finished, the philodendron I’m attempting to grow will have a proper home.right now

Cooking.  Omelettes, and I’m not sure what set me in this direction since breakfast for dinner isn’t usually my thing.  It really doesn’t matter why but I’m undeniably into omelettes right now.  Egg whites with shrimp, green pepper and cheddar cheese served as last night’s meal and I’m excited to play around with different fillings.

That’s what I have going on right now, what about you?

Meredith

What’s in your favorite omelette?  Do you fix things around your home?

Benefits of a Bad Training Run

Having a bad training run every now and then is an inevitable part of prepping for any race.  There are days I wake up and know I just don’t have it.  For whatever reason, the day’s scheduled workout just doesn’t feel like it’s going to go well.  When I can see it coming I’ll try to avoid a bad training run by altering my schedule.  Unfortunately, that’s not always possible and I have to get out there and get it done.  The run can be bad from beginning to end, just at the end or mostly in the middle but no matter how I slice it, it’s no fun.  The good news is I can look back after a less than stellar day and put a positive spin on it.

It might not be running’s fault.   OK, my run wasn’t good.  Would any other kind of workout gone better?  After a bad training run I usually feel like yes, my run was bad, but Crossfit or yoga wouldn’t have gone very well either.  There are many external factors that can turn a workout from good to not-so-awesome.  Fueling, sleeping, stress, a tougher than expected workout thbad training rune previous day, all of these have played a role in some of my bad days and it’s nice to know they’re easy to fix, easy to prevent and quick to move forward from.

Build mental toughness.  A long run that turns ugly can be frustrating.  A bad training run can also be a big step in helping increase my mental toughness. I never know what’s going to happen on race day and being prepared is what training is all about.  Fighting through a few mentally and physically challenging runs during a training cycle helps me get ready for the unknown, realize I can push my body past the moment it says ‘I’m tired’ and am capable of more than I believed before that run began.

Listen to your body.  Sometimes a bad training run isn’t running fault (see #1) but sometimes it’s a sign of something more.  Are you overtraining?  Are your recovery plans not effective?  Maybe there’s an injury.  After a crappy run I always check in on how I’ve been taking care of my body for the last few days.  If I can easily identify a reason that falls under #1, I’m happy to catch up on sleep or doing a better job fueling.  If it’s harder to figure out why I’m didn’t rock a workout, it’s time to take a step back or a day off to evaluate what’s really going on.  Do I need a day or two off?  Maybe a change of scenery?  Not as easy to correct as being tired or under-fueled, these are the things that can take the fun out of running.

Keep the fun in running even after a bad training run by remember these things.  It’s a little bit easier to deal with a bad workout when I know there are benefits hiding in there.

Meredith

How do you deal with a bad training run?  Do you think they’re actually positive?

Fit Friday: Treadmill Running Myths

Treadmill running is not something I love.  Like it or not, I know hopping on the boring-mill is going to be sometimes unavoidable (snowy roads) and sometimes beneficial (maintaining pace treadmill runningbetween repeats).  Running on the ‘mill is different than hitting the pavement, we all know and feel it, but not all of the rumors are true.  Here’s the truth about five of my favorite treadmill running myths.

Myth #1: Treadmills have to be set a 1% incline to simulate outdoor running.  No, you don’t.  Outside you have to push through the air, wind and possibly unstable terrain like sand, trails or gravel.  On the treadmill those types resistance don’t play a role.  That’s what can make treadmill running seem slightly easier, leading you to increase the incline setting.  Instead of ramping things up to replace air and surface resistance, increase your speed.  Or don’t.  The truth is it might not even matter.  This study shows that incline only matters at paces of 7:09/mile or faster, leaving most of us OK to run flat (yay!).

Myth #2: Your running motion is different on a moving belt.  According to this study, and others, it’s actually not.  It might feel different because of the treadmill’s springs but your muscles and joints move the same way during treadmill running as they would over pavement, track or trail.  The biggest difference in locomotion is in the way we land.  Every single time your foot hits the belt, it lands exactly the same way it did the previous time.  On the road, track or trail, nothing is truly flat, giving your foot and ankle a variety of landing positions whether or not you notice.

Myth #3: You take more (or fewer) steps on the treadmill per mile.  As demonstrated with Myth #2, your motion on the treadmill is virtually identical to how you move over a stationary surface (road, track, field).  This also means your step rate (cadence) is the same.  Or at least it should be.  As I’ve worked on my cadence, I’ve noticed that my treadmill and road cadences at the same speeds are identical.  If you see a big difference, start cadence training and protect yourself from injury!

Myth #4:  Holding on doesn’t affect your workout.  I cringe when I see people doing this with the incline pumped way up or super speed walking.  It’s dangerous.  Holding on or pushing yourself up with your arms does not decrease the stress on your lower half.  It can lead to over-striding and any relief your muscles might get will inevitably lead to tension other places on your body.  Undue stress leads to injuries.  Friends don’t let friends get injured by holding on to treadmills.

Myth #5:  The treadmill tells the truth.  I take whatever data I have after treadmill running and adjust it.  Unless the machine is calibrated to your body on a regular basis, it’s going to be off.  My Garmin with foot pod usually tells me I’m 40 seconds faster per mile than the treadmill.  I know what a 7 minute mile feels like and I know what a 7:45 mile feels like.  I’ll take the Garmin.  Why run longer than you have to?  Your best bet is use a heart rate monitor to determine exertion levels and simply run (with no incline) for your desired amount of time.

Meredith

What’s your favorite treadmill running myth?  Do you love the ‘mill or avoid it?

New Workouts + A Proud Trainer

It’s been a busy spring prepping for Prairie Fire and with three weeks left to go, my training is going well.  I challenged myself to try a few new workouts during this training cycle by using cadence work, some longer intervals and varied long runs.  One of the reasons I decided to include different types of long run and speed work during the last four weeks of this training cycle is because I don’t have a tune up race like I did before setting my current PR.

I wrapped up Prairie Fire Week 8 with one of these new workouts.  Prior to Sunday, the longest repeats I had ever done were 2000M, or 1.25mi, which I knew when I wrote this 12 week program.  I put a 3 x 2mile at 10k pace speed work session in Week 8 because I wanted the challenge.  A challenge it was, just not as challenging as I expected.  I think I held myself back a tad precisely because it was one of the new workouts and I didn’t know what to expect.  This week, I’m thankful for last week’s new workout because it gave me a good idea what to expect from another new one.  Week 9’s long run is a 4-3-2-1 race pace/tempo run combination that is definitely going to be tough.  With one mile to warm-up, one mile at marathon pace between each race pace section and a one mile cool down, this 15 miler will be a good gauge of exactly where I am heading into my last few weeks of spring training.  It’s a challenge I’ve not taken on before but thanks to Week 8’s long repeats, I’ll be sure to trust and stick with my pacing plan while not holding back.

Speaking of not holding back, in my March Right Now I talked about how proud I am of one of my clients.  She is a total rock star who works her butt off, never holds back and loves the challenge of new workouts each week.  I’m excited to continue helping her reach goal after goal.  In contrast, I’m also proud of one of my male clients who will sadly be ending, at least temporarily, his journey with me new workoutswhen April is over.  I will be sad not to see him in Boot Camp three mornings a week but I could not be more thrilled for the adventure he is embarking on.  He will be taking the ultimate road trip when departs mid-May to ride his touring bicycle from the sand of Virginia Beach all the way to Astoria, Oregon.  He will be taking a 12 week, or more, hiatus from the hustle and bustle of daily life to cover the roads of America and do some serious exploring.  It is so awesome he has the courage to take on a challenge of such magnitude and I am honored to have been a part of his journey to become healthy and confident enough to embark on what is sure to be an amazing adventure.

Meredith

Have you tried any new workouts lately?  Would you ride your bike cross country?

Spring Training and Cleaning

We’re one quarter of the way through 2015.  Time is flying by and the spring has finally sprung.  I’m eight weeks into my twelve week spring training plan with four weeks until my goal race in state #11 and temperatures are finally warming up.  After a chilly 16 miler last Sunday, it was a treat to wear one top layer for yesterday’s speed work.

While we’re on the topic of running, my spring training has been going really well.  Increasing my cadence has definitely benefited my training and I’m faster than I expected over longer distances.  With a goal of running 1,500 miles this year, I entered April having racked up 155 miles in March with a 2015 total so far of 370.  The year started with some light mileage weeks and I took off an entire seven days from running after Rock n Roll Arizona which keeps me right on track since there are a few big mileage weeks coming in the fall.spring training

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves talking about the fall.  Spring has just begun and I kicked off spring cleaning with the dog.  Jordy wasn’t too excited for his bath but he was very well behaved and certainly deserved his biscuit afterwards.  With sunshine to dry his furriness and encourage me, we spent some time on the deck, him sunning and me trying to propagate my philodendron, Phil.  I planted cuttings in another pot this morning hoping those two little stalks will look like their big brother soon.  I also finally freshened up the guest bedroom, something I’ve put off for, umm, quite a while, and done two week’s worth of meal prep.  What a little warm weather won’t do for the soul!

Spring training rolls on for four more weeks then I enter a rapid fire three week, three race month of May.  Spring goal race, Prairie Fire, May 3, the Equikids Cross Country 5k on May 9 and on May 17, the St. Micheal’s Running Festival in State #12, Maryland.

Meredith

How’s your spring training going?  Does the warmth and sun help you get motivated to clean?