Rocky Time: Own the Stairs

Stairs. Just the very word has such an element of power to it. Stairs are very important in boosting your overall conditioning and are a great alternative for hills. Shake up your workout by adding one of these stair workouts:

Long Distance Stair Workout:

This type of workout is to build endurance while focusing on the mental aspect of pushing through a long run. Find stairs at least 200-400 steps long. It isn’t hard, research the nearest Stadium or Track for long sets of stairs.

The Workout: It is impossible to base your entire stair workout off a mileage goal so run based on time. If you are going for an endurance workout go for 30-40 minutes of stair repeats with a minute of jogging at the top and bottom of the stairs. You will end up running the stairs at least four times at a slow and steady pace; make sure to not go out too hard on the first one.20160710_095840.jpg

Speed Stair Workout:

This type of workout is working on getting the cadence of your feet faster and to get off your feet faster while running. Find a set of stairs that are about 20-25 steps long, look near schools and universities.

The Workout: The final result will be 9 stair intervals. Run the first set of stairs at 70% effort and jog back down. Repeat two more times. Run the fourth set of stairs at 80% effort and jog back down. Repeat two more times. Finish the last three sets at 90-100% effort. For a more condensed version:

Interval 1-3: Run the whole set of stairs at 70% effort

Intervals 4-6: 80% effort

Intervals 7-9: 90-100% effort

These should be quick reps, focusing your attention on quick feet.

Strength Stair Workout:

Running/walking stairs will always help build strong hamstrings and calves but if you really want to go the extra mile will leg strength here is the workout for you. This is also good for people who are planning on going on an especially strenuous hike.

The Workout: Find a set of light ankle weights, about 3-5 pounds and attach them to both ankles. Walk up a long set of stairs (100-300 steps) going at a slow pace and focusing on driving each leg down to propel yourself upward. Repeat 2-3 times.

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Tips for running stairs:20160710_100051.jpg

  • Dress like it is 10-15 degrees warmer outside due to the amount of effort exerted during these workouts.
  • Drink lots of water prior because you will probably sweat more than a usual run
  • Go with a friend! Not only is it safer but also for encouraging high fives as you ascend and descend the stairs
  • Bring music (see below for some of my favorite stair-specific songs)

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Stair Running Playlist:

  • Take you back (Frank Stallone)- yes this is from the Rocky movie
  • New Man (Ed Sheeran)
  • Another part of me (Michael Jackson)
  • Be alright (Ariana Grande)
  • He’s the Greatest Dancer (Sister Sledge)
  • Lush Life (Zara Larsson)
  • Working Man (Rush)
  • Rocky Theme Song- Okay I’m a little obsessed with Rocky

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Why I run stairs:

In Seattle there is a variety of hidden staircases that makes this city so fun to run in. I live near a particularly long staircase that is about 400 steps long and have been running them with my Dad since I was 13. They are motivating and exhilarating, and nothing can compare to the feeling that you get at the top of the stairs. A sense of accomplishment. I have run a variety of staircases in my life, from the staircases at Safeco Field to the painted staircases of San Francisco. Maybe my favorite movie Rocky has something to do with it, or maybe I just like the rewarding feeling at the end. Either way, I’m always up for the challenge.

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First-Timer’s Guide to SoulCycle

“Wow, what just happened?” were the first words that came out of my mouth as I left my first SoulCycle class. I was pushed, I was challenged, I was empowered; I loved it.

I showed up 10 min. early which wasn’t early enough for a first-timer because I felt rushed and didn’t have enough time to get a feel for the bike. Everyone is helpful and you first need to acquire a pair of shoes from the front desk that lock into your bike Everyone was assigned a bike beforehand and I was bike #33 which was in the middle row and in front of the instructor.

The room was dark and at first the music seemed overwhelmingly but it was powerful in the end. The music matches the motions on the bike and pedaling is perfectly timed. Everyone moves as one as we listened to the instructor to start doing push-ups on the bike and sways to the left and right. My arms were burning while my eyes were fixed on copying the person in front of me who seemed to know exactly what she was doing.

As we simulated going up a hill, we were instructed to turn the knob on our bike to the right to increase resistance. It increasingly got difficult and my legs burned for rest but I was too committed to wimp out and stop. The class works in HIIT intervals, where you do an extremely fast and hard workout for about 10 min. and then take a short break, and repeat.

I was very surprised yet again when we were told to grab the weights on the shelves on our bikes. I scoffed to find that they were only three pounds, only to be breathing hard two minutes later as we upped the resistance while doing punches with the weights. I liked how the instructor did’t point out what we were doing wrong and instead had us independently figure it out and follow our group-mates. SoulCycle is built on community and everyone working as a team. There was no leaderboards, no competition; it was everyone working together in this empowering environment and pushing ourselves to our maximum potential. The instructor kept reminding of this: “Think of one more minute of pain, push yourself for one more minute, think of your fellow bike members also pushing themselves through this minute.”

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At the very end we dismounted our bikes and stretched. The final words that she told us were “this is a judgement free zone.” That stuck with me, that an exercise class could also be a community. The rules were posted, “Leave your cell phone, stress, and negative thoughts.” It was a spin class with a yoga mindset. When you “click in” to the bike, you are “clicking in” to a new mindset. There is something fun about riding to your max, not caring how much you are sweating, wearing your cutest workout clothes because that is the norm, and plugging into 45 minutes of Cycling Nirvana.

I invite you to try something new and go to SoulCycle. I guarantee you will not regret it.

How to Get Cheap Quality Activewear 

I don’t know about you, but I’m obsessed with active wear. Over half of my wardrobe is filled with running shorts, tech t-shirts, and sports bras. Why? Because they are sooo comfortable and I need them for running (priorities, duh). But finding cheap running clothes is hard and finding cheap clothes that are also quality is even more difficult. There are too many brands out there with badly made sports bras or leggings because they’re a “fad” these days. Most of the time they’re not even comfortable! Since I’m a broke teenager, breaking the bank for quality, fully priced $50 shorts or $90 leggings is not an option, I have discovered a few tips and tricks to help you score the most quality activewear for the cheapest prices. (*my budget for any clothing item is under $25).

Outlet Stores: They are a blessing to mankind. Outlet stores are brand name shops (like Nike, Adidas, Under Armour, Lululemon, etc.) that carry marked down prices on products. Normally these shops are in clusters called Outlet Malls so it’s easy to go on a shopping spree 😉 They are located all over, so all you have to do is google one nearby, if you are unfamiliar. Most of the time, Outlet Stores have 20%-30% off of everything in the store, which is nice, but the clearance rack of the store is where the real deals are at. Clothes on these racks are more like 50%-70% (!!!) off. Seriously, I’ve bought Nike shorts for like $7 and a Lulu sports bra for $23 by scouring these things. It’s impossible for me to leave an outlet mall empty handed! One word of caution, ALWAYS try on anything before you buy it at outlet stores because sometimes they are discounted for a reason; the fit may be a little off or something, but most of the time you’ll be fine. 

Online Shopping: My favorite way to shop; scrolling through the sale section with the filter on $0-$30 while eating chips in the comfort of my own home. Hit up your favorite brand’s websites in the off season to find some *killer* deals on stock overflow. I only recommend shopping on your trusted brands website so that you won’t have to worry about sizing if you already own some of their clothes and you already know they carry the quality that you are looking for. I also recommend signing up for email subscriptions for your favorite brands to be the first to be notified of sales (after all, it’s important to shop fast because if it’s on sale, since there is a limited number of items left! The cheapest items are always ones that the company is trying to clear inventory of) and to get secret discount codes (my personal favorite). I also love online shopping because you can read reviews for all the clothes you might want to get to determine if the fit will be right and if it’s what you are really looking for. I commonly shop on the Athleta, Oiselle, and REI sites for the best deals; Athleta never fails to have a good deal!! Note that it will be easier to get the cheapest stuff if you are sizes XS (me!) or XL because you are extra special 🙂 

Warehouse Sales: I love a good warehouse sale. Basically, brands (usually smaller) bring all their overflow items to one place, slap a cheap price on it, with the hopes of clearing their inventory and sample clothing. So many good deals in one place can get a little chaotic, but well worth it! Again, it’s important to sign up for an email list or follow your favorite brands facebook to get notified when and where these sales are. Normally, they are exclusive so you will have to apply for entry as soon as you are notified or the attendance will fill up before you have a chance. It helps if you are located in a big city, where most regional sales might occur. So get out there and start searching for warehouse sales near you! 

Discount Department Stores: Marshalls, Ross, TJ Maxx, you know the drill. I hate shopping in these cluttered places, but there’s no denying that they can have great discounts as long as you know what you are looking for. Most of the time, the activewear sections of these stores are loaded up with poor quality wannabe brands that carry fashion statement activewear that is neither functional nor long-lasting. But, if you search hard and for long enough, you might just come across a gem (gasp). If you know what brands are quality, you can pick out the quality clothes from the bad ones. There also may be a lot of brands that you’ve never heard of because many indie brands outsource their products to discount brand stores for exposure, some of which are really good, so you can do some research and read reviews on the brand of you are not sure if they make nice clothing. I was shopping at Marshalls once and came across a load of Lorna Jane leggings (super nice Australian activewear company) for $14 each (normally $120 I think) so now I own 3 pairs of them and have no regrets. 

Cheap stores that are actually good quality: These are stores that are known for cheap quality but actually have really nice activewear. My two favorites are Old Navy and Target. Old Navy always has super cute active gear that is actually really nice. I had two pairs of yoga pants from here that I wore like everyday, and they lasted me through the entirety of middle school- and I’m pretty sure they were only like $20 each. I also love Champion, the activewear brand at Target. They very recently changed their logo and upped their quality but low clothing prices remain the same, especially if you hit up the clearance racks (my best friends). 

Many of these things you guys probably already do, but I’m a passionate deal seeker and activewear wearer so I hope that these tips will help you save tons of money while expanding your wardrobe 🙂 

Hydration is Key

Here’s what happened when I started to drink 70 oz of water a day:

A few weeks ago my running was feeling off and my legs felt weak trying to hit times that I had hit easily a week ago. It was frustrating as you can imagine, and I decided to see if it was because of hydration issues. Spoiler: It was. I bought giant 50 oz water bottles and tried to drink those over the course of the day resulting in a lot of unexpected benefits.

No more “Side Stiches”: You know that horrible feeling that feels like stabbing in your ribs when you run? Yeah that can be an effect of dehydration, often occurring in morning runs when your body loses over a pound of water at night!  After drinking so much water during the day I didn’t feel these anymore.

I felt more awake. Starting your day with a giant glass of water is not only refreshing but it also wakes you up entirely. Now after keeping my body hydrated all day I no longer had that lingering tired feeling.

Less Hungry. Usually I was always hungry, even after meals which was probably due to a lack of water intake during the day. After I started drinking 70 oz during the day I wasn’t that hungry during meals or at night.

I felt stronger. That weak feeling that was ruining my runs was no more, I felt stronger than ever.

More likely than not, most people are not getting as much water as their body needs, so start drinking a little more water each day and reap the above benefits!

 

This is your staple summer smoothie

In the summer nobody wants to do a lot of work to make food or drinks, so why put that much effort into a smoothie? It’s hot and honestly you just want a quick smoothie. Well here is the solution; literally a minimal ingredient smoothie that took me two minutes and is delicious. Remember, emphasis on simple.

Side note: The strawberries that I used are from my garden!

Ingredients: (makes two)

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They’re so tiny!

  • 1 cup of frozen blueberries
  • 1 cup of stawberries
  • 1 serving of vanilla protein powder
  • 1 cup of ice and 1.25 cups of cold water
  • A dash of cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Put ingredients in blender and blend to perfection. That’s it. Really.

How to Strengthen your XC Team

Cross Country is all about teamwork and team support. The best cross-country teams are reliant and supportive. Here is how to contribute to your own team and give a sense of school spirit. Team Captains, take notes.

Make XC known at your school. I know that I don’t speak for all schools but usually Cross Country is a lesser known sport in high school so it is always appreciated to hang up some XC posters to convince people to join or just to recognize the team. One poster that we always do is a big piece of blue butcher paper with “GIRLS XC”or “GUYS XC” written on it, and then everyone signs their name all over the poster. Tell the main office to mention XC in the announcements when there is a meet or when someone has an exceptional race.

Make everyone feel hyped and included on race day. If you are a captain or senior, try to find out what locker everyone has and make little posters for their locker. Even just a small note of encouragement can melt someone’s pre-race jitters. Another example of one activity we do at my school is “The PR Fairy.” Everyone writes their favorite protein bar and sports drink on a slip of paper with their name and puts it in a hat. Each team member draws a name and buys those items for their person. The next day (race day) everyone puts their bag with the food and person’s name in a box and it is distributed. This action not only builds team bonding but also helps when people don’t pack enough food for race day.

Summer training is perfect for team bonding. Usually the captains run team training

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during the summer so it is a perfect opportunity to bring the team closer and do fun activities. Plan a team bonfire after practice, create fun relays, even shuttle the team to the XC course to practice running the course. If you live near a nice hike or lake tell the team to meet you there and go for run, then hang out and eat lunch there!

Finals spirit week. During the week before State or another big meet, make each practice day a spirit day. For example, on Monday everyone can wear crazy socks, or Wednesday everyone wears pink (Anyone get that reference?) Give everyone a color to wear and make it a rainbow day!img_3624.png

Team dinners or breakfast. If your team is small you can host team spaghetti dinners at member’s houses. Designate everyone to bring a dish (salad, garlic bread, cheese, etc.) and the host makes the spaghetti. This is a perfect way to get people to interact who don’t usually talk to each other, and also carb up before race day. On Saturday morning practices ask everyone to pitch in for team doughnuts or muffins; a perfect treat after those early tempos.

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PR Recognition. A PR is a big deal, so make sure those people are recognized. Applaud them on the bus ride home, call them out on the announcements, or give them a small prize at the meet. One way of doing this is by creating “Breadwinners.” Every time someone PRs, award them with a piece of bread or box of spaghetti. It’s fun and then you can take a picture of them all eating their bread and put it on the team’s social media.

Team Social Media. Create a team Facebook or Instagram account with pictures of all the runners at meets, team dinners, etc. Recognize the most spirited people, the breadwinners (above), notable races and much more. Just make sure that everyone is featured at least once, and also in a positive light. This isn’t an opportunity to make fun of someone’s running face or bully. This is a fun thing and make sure only captains have the password to the account.

Cheer during races. I know this seems obvious but make sure every person is cheered on at race day. Even if you’re warming up, run by the course and cheer on your team members, making sure to wait for even the people who are a little behind. Hearing encouragement makes all the difference in a race, especially when there is a hill or you’re hitting the wall. Create posters that have cute sayings like “Hill yeah!” or “5k Par-tay!” to make your team stand out and increase spirit.

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Cross Country is one of the best sports in my opinion because of the team closeness and activities. Make your season special by adding some spirit ideas to practice, race day, and other team related events. Be creative with it and have fun!

Blueberry Chia Pancakes

I’m pretty sure I speak for everyone when I say that pancakes by far are the greatest breakfast food. But, we also know that pancakes can be filled with lots of unnecessary sugar and all that jazz. Here is a healthy pancake recipe that doesn’t sacrifice taste and can justify grabbing an extra helping.

Side note: This pancake mix is amazing! I also use it as whole grain flour in recipes. Such as in these banana muffins

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cup of Bob’s Red Mill 10-grain Pancake mix
  • Two eggs
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1/4 cup blueberries
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  1. Whisk two egg whites in a separate bowl, and place the yolks in a larger bowl
  2. Combine coconut oil and yolks until mixed
  3. Pour mix and water into the oil/yolk mixture and stir
  4. Fold in egg yolks and chia seeds
  5. Finally stir in blueberries and add more water or mix depending on the consistency you want
  6. Heat up a skillet and cook pancakes until golden-brown, flipping halfway through
  7. Enjoy with fresh fruit and peanut butter!

 

Eat to run

Food in my opinion is one of the most important parts of maintaining performance and making sure your body stays properly fueled. I’m not talking about counting calories and a restrictive diet, I believe in eating nourishing, wholesome foods to help your body build muscle and recover properly. I used to not eat so great but a couple of years ago I really wanted to take my running seriously and changed the whole way I approached my diet. At first I thought that I just wanted to get lean because skinny=fast but I ended up eating too few calories and dropping a whole bunch of weight in a short amount of time. After going through some articles and listening to some dietitian lectures, I realized that getting to race weight isn’t the primary goal; it is eating right so that our body feels nourished. Today I eat a lot of organic and protein rich food that help me be a healthier and fitter runner without obsessing over calories or anything like that. Female runners are more susceptible to getting eating disorders and anemia (iron deficiency) so it is always important to assess what you eat and make sure you are getting enough of the good stuff (veggies, chicken, lots of whole grain, even PB :), etc.) Below is the master list that I use to brainstorm grocery shopping and what I plan to eat for lunch/dinner during the week. Take a peek and gain some ideas:

Resources that I use for recipes/food ideas:

 Breakfast Ideas:

  • Breakfast burrito w/ egg, tomatoes, etc.
  • Rice cake, PB, banana & chia seeds
  • Oatmeal with….
  • Strawberries, bananas & almonds
  • Egg (fried)
  • Avocado toast w/ boiled egg
  • Whole grain waffles and pancakes
  • Whole grain ready-made oatmeal
  • Whole grain cereal and banana
  • Breakfast salad (cooked spinach and egg)
  • Breakfast Hash

Pre-run snacks:

  • Protein bars w/ little fiber
  • Waffle or graham cracker PB & J
  • Squeezable applesauce
  • Try gels? 

Snacks:

  • Yogurt, granola & chia seeds
  • Apples & PB
  • Carrots and hummus (or Guacamole)
  • Sugar Snap Peas & Hummus
  • Beef Jerky
  • Pea crisps (Their lentil bean crisps are really good too)
  • Almond butter packets
  • Quinoa tortilla chips & Guacamole packs
  • Trail Mix
    Lunch:
  • Sandwiches loaded w/ veggies (mustard)
  • Salads w/ a lot of protein
  • Quinoa patties
  • Brown rice Fried Rice recipe
  • Greek Salad
  • Pesto pasta

Dessert 🙂

  • Justin’s Dark Chocolate PB cups
  • Luna bar bites
  • Fruit popsicles
  • Banana Chips
  • Halo top Ice Cream
  • Banana Muffins

Dinner:

  • Veggie Pizza
  • Microwave healthy burrito
  • Protein blends/rice bowls
  • Salmon burgers w/ sweet potato fries
  • Zucchini pasta or Spaghetti squash
  • Stuffed peppers
  • Tofu Stir Fry
  • Turkey Taco bowls
  • Fattoush salad
  • Shakshuka

Five healthy dinners to try this week

I have always believed in the power of food. When I start slipping with my vegetables or haven’t been eating nutritionally-well my running seems to slip as well. I am not saying that I don’t eat ice cream every once and a while, but whole, nutritious food always seems to power the body the best. Here are five wholesome dinners to try this week.

Pesto Pizza: Find the recipe here

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Substituting pesto for tomato sauce was one of the best decisions ever, why isn’t this repeated more?! Usually I am not a fan of cherry tomatoes (it’s a weird thing okay?!) but by splitting them and putting them on the pizza, they turned into roasted, delicious tomatoes. This pizza is a good meal for after a workout when you really just need some recovery-worthy pizza.

Mint Greek Salad: Find the recipe here

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This salad is soooo good, plus it is even better the next day for lunch. I totally recommend roasting the tomatoes and adding the mint. Pair with toasted pita to add carbs, and for extra protein add garbanzo beans instead of chickpeas.

 

 

 

 

 

Quinoa Chicken Parmesean: Find the recipe here

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Just when you thought quinoa couldn’t get any better, it goes and does it again. Bread- crumb substitution. I know. Mind blown. Plus even with my limited cooking skills I was able to make this and my family who usually dislikes quinoa, thought that it was delicious and made with actual breadcrumbs!

Vegetable Ramen: Find the recipe here

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Don’t get those packaged ramen bowls that are filled with sodium, make it yourself! I guarantee that it is both healthier and tastier. I especially though that the Brussels sprouts paired well and added an extra punch to the broth.

Avocado Grilled Cheese: Find the recipe here

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If you think peanut butter and jelly is an iconic pairing, meet avocado and grilled cheese; a literal match made in heaven. This recipe makes about four sandwiches so share this amazing dish with your friends as well. They will thank you. Also, at first I thought the food processor would be to time-consuming but it ended up only taking me five minutes.

Brand Spotlight: Picky Bars

Picky Bars are for picky people. Based in Bend, OR, this all-natural vegan gluten free protein and recovery bar brand (wow that’s a huge label) was started by three pro-athletes for other athletes at any level. Jesse Thomas, Lauren Fleshman, and Stephanie Bruce were on a mission to create a “real food” sport balanced bar and developed these 200 calorie bars with a 4:1 carb to protein ratio to maximize absorption of nutrients. Not only this, but the bars actually taste good so I mean, that’s a huge bonus as well!

So what’s especially awesome about Picky Bars? They have super cute packaging with pictures of real people doing stuff on them!

They also come in 9 flavors with amazing punny names like: Chai and Catch Me and Moroccan Your World. My personal favorite is Cookie Doughness since it tastes literally exactly like cookie dough and it’s actually good for you. Yes, this means you need to go and try it right now. I’ll wait.

The only downside to all these different flavors is since all the bars have to same seed and fig base, they all taste remotely the same. For example, All-in Almond and Lauren’s Mega Nuts both taste very similar since they are both but flavored. However, they still taste good anyway if you enjoy the base flavor.

I also really enjoy the versatility of Picky Bars. They are the perfect size and 200 calories so they are perfect for recovery after a workout and snack before hand, or you can eat half during a workout and it won’t weigh you down, which is not like most other bars. Seriously, I’ve never gotten stomach cramps mid run with these! It’s a miracle! My entire family eats these and they are great for not only athletes but also as a random snack for work or just to slip into a school lunch.

My onlymajor issue with these is Picky Bars are on the expensive side. Bars sell for $3.00 each as a standard at retail, or a box of 10 for around $27.50. It’s not like these are big bars or anything, but it makes sense when you realize that they are fair trade, all natural, and gluten, dairy, soy, and GMO free. So if that matters to you, then the price is worth it. So even though I love Picky Bars and they taste delicious, the price is a drawback keeping them from being an everyday staple in my diet.

But aside from the bars, Picky Bar is also a brand. They sponsor athletes and have a Picky Club where you get sent your choice of bars monthly plus you get a tee shirt and discounts which is pretty cool. All you have to do is sign up online and pay the undisclosed membership fee.

Overall, Picky Bar is a unique brand with great tasting and effective bars but at a high price (there are more expensive bars out there though, if it makes you feel better). I’d highly recommend you try them at some point.