Sprints and shin splints(?)

Hopefully not, but it rhymed, so I couldn’t pass it up.

I ran down to meet a friend at the gym to lift (at long last), but the weather was perfect for running and I hadn’t run at night for such a long time, so I jogged over to the track for a quick 4×200 with 200 rest and a 400 cooldown. I want to make a nighttime track workout a weekly thing – at least until winter settles in. The track is only lit by two stadium lights in the parking lot behind the back straightaway, so most of it is in that perfect half-light that lets you feel fast and light and everything is a little out of focus. Surreal. I didn’t wear a watch; I just ran on feel. Pushing it the second half, running through the finish. It felt good.

On the shins: they’re sore, but (other than today) I’m giving them a break, which works out well because I want to spend a while getting used to the idea of lifting almost every day again. (Not obsessively, per my last post, just a good amount to help lean out and restore my hips.) Dig out the calf compression sleeves! Refreeze the ice packs! The time for shin recovery is upon us.

– bec

PS. Here is a vegan cupcake from The Lunch Room in Ann Arbor. It’s our go-to spot for vegan eats. And it is damn tasty. (By “it” I mean “every item on the menu.”) After this cupcake (and the last of my vanilla almond milk), I’m going to try to eliminate as much non-natural sugar as possible. I think it should be pretty easy. I might keep putting some maple syrup in my oatmeal, though, Because and For Reasons. And I’m diversifying my protein more this time around. All-soy (soy protein powder, tofu, etc.) worked well last time but I’ve been reading about how it can mimic estrogen and do strange things – and just because balance is good. So I’m getting hemp hearts and hemp protein powder and eating more beans and quinoa and things (peas!). Beans are delicious anyway. This should help get me back into cooking, too, which is another thing that helps balance out my mind. 🙂

PPS. I should start yoga again… it does wonders…

PPPS. Here is a good picture of Audrey looking photogenic and fluffy.

audrey

Ponderings on protein

When I started lifting back in January, I also started paying better attention to my diet. The friend who introduced me to lifting asked if I was getting enough protein; I replied that I didn’t know – didn’t know how much I was eating on a regular basis or how much I should be eating. So I started keeping track of my food. I started using the myfitnesspal app to keep track of macros (carb/protein/fat percentages) as well as tracking calories in general to make sure I wasn’t over (or under!) eating.

A side note here: the summer when I got into ultras and was training for the 50M, I started using MFP, but it quickly went from “keeping an eye on things” to obsessing about calories. It was not a healthy time. It never got down to dangerous levels, but it was ruining my positivity and stressing me out. I recall my goal was something like 1400 calories – probably around 1000 fewer than I should have been eating, given the mileage I was doing. Thankfully, that period lasted only a few months. Once I got back from a family vacation and talked to one of my friends about how much calories and food were stressing me out, I stopped using the app and very quickly began feeling better. (As it turns out, eating is good for you! Who knew.) So when my friend suggested I use an app like MFP to track things, I was a little cautious, but I had already had the experience of misusing the app and felt reasonably confident that I could handle it and stay in control, so I went ahead with it. End sidenote.

As it turned out, I wasn’t really getting enough protein – probably about 40-50 grams. I don’t blame veganism on that – plenty of vegans get plenty of protein, myself currently included. Protein intake just wasn’t on my radar, especially since I’d had a pretty low-key winter for exercise. Since I’ve started tracking macros, I typically aim for about 40% carbs, 30% protein, and 30% fat*. This translates to anywhere from 120 to 160+ grams of protein per day, depending on my activity level. Of course, I don’t hit these marks exactly, every day, but it’s a good guideline that helps me figure out what to eat.

Like a lot of runners, carbs were my best friend. Pasta, bread, potatoes, etc. I never thought to change how I was eating, since I didn’t feel particularly bad about carbs. I still don’t. Carbs are wonderful. (I don’t get how people can try to go “no carb.” It’s in fruit. It’s in veggies. What are these people eating? And unless you have celiac disease or in some other way really are sensitive to gluten, just hush up about how terrible bread is for you. People have been eating it since the dawn of mankind. It can’t be that bad. I was stunned when I heard the woman for whom I babysit utter the phrase, “All grains are just bad.” Just – no. Nope. Wrong. Rice is a staple in, like, every country. And the bread/dawn-of-mankind statement applies here too. But this is the same family whose 8-year-old child, upon opening the baking powder can whilst making cookies with me, looked up and asked, “Is this liner BPA-free? An eight year old. Ok, I’m done.)

However, since I’ve upped my protein, I’ve noticed a number of changes. Protein is typically more filling than carbs, so I usually feel full for longer after eating. I have more sustained energy throughout the day. The most noticeable difference, though, has been my recovery time. It’s basically zero. It takes a lot to make me sore, but I’m almost never really sore the next day. Granted, I’ve only recently started running much again, but after my long runs I’ve been totally fine. Same with lifting: even if I have a hard workout, there’s not much attrition the next day.

It’s kind of odd, actually. Over the years, I’ve gotten so used to feeling beat-up the day after a long run. It’s told me that I worked hard (and that I needed to rest). Pain is an assumed part of distance running, and it kind of feels like cheating the system. I’m sure it will be back once I really get into the swing of things, but I suspect it will be less than before.

I try to get as much protein naturally as I can – beans and such – and I end up eating a lot of soy products. I’d like to cut down on that, actually. I gave in and, feeling like a bro, ordered a 4-lb. bag of soy protein powder (Honeyville Farms). I had my first protein shake. I got used to the taste. I discovered new ways to incorporate the stuff into other, tastier things (my favorite is vegan protein pudding). And no, protein powder does not equal InstaHulk (although I have put on some muscle mass from lifting plus increasing protein). Now that I’m shifting my focus more towards running and away from lifting, I’m going to continue eating lots of protein. It’s been good to me.

– bec

*A note on macro percentages: everyone feels best and performs best at different breakdowns. Mine is somewhere around 40/30/30, but everyone is different. Take some time and experiment to see what’s most optimal for you; make sure to take notes on how you’re feeling and performing while you’re doing this so you can notice changes and correlations over time.

Vegan Protein Pudding
It’s easy. It’s tasty. It’s full of protein. Just put this stuff in a food processor and try to not eat the whole batch – or do.

1 block silken tofu
4 scoops (1 cup) protein powder, soy/hemp/otherwise
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup maple syrup or sweetener of choice
1.5C soy milk (use chocolate for extra chocolate, though it has more sugar)
You can also mix in peanut butter, that’s pretty good and adds a little fat.
Top with raspberries, blueberries, chocolate chips, whatever.

You can also do a quick, one-bowl version: 2 scoops protein powder, 1/4 cup cocoa powder, about 1 cup soy milk, and some sweetener. You can just mix that up in the bowl. Since it doesn’t include the tofu, you may need a little extra milk to get the desired consistency.

When you give a runner a soccer ball… or a frisbee…

Growing up, my parents didn’t force me into any one sport. In middle school, I “played” volleyball. I put it in quotes because I was not very good. I dabbled in running. Then in high school, I started to actually discover running and that was pretty much it for the next five years. Sophomore year of college – maybe freshman, I don’t remember – I started climbing and, once I had an apartment, took up yoga. More recently, there’s been a tiny bit of swimming, and of course lifting. But you may notice something is lacking from that list – anything involving bats, balls, skates, etc. Nothing involving more coordination than my own body.

I would like to be able to play casual games of soccer or toss a frisbee around. I’m working on the latter, kind of, but tonight was a sad display of how much external coordination I lack. After a while, I could at least get the frisbee to go in roughly the right direction, but it almost always fell far short of my goal. And soccer – let’s just say that if I had shame, it would have been shameful. Luckily I was with good friends who mocked me while giving me actual helpful advice, so I could eventually get the ball to go farther than, say, ten feet (I am not exaggerating). But I want to expand my skill set (read as “be less laughably terrible at kicking and throwing things”). Just because.

On a running-related note, I’ve been feeling oddly unmotivated to run this week, partially because I’m worried about my shins and partially because I planned on doing a longer run but kept waking up too late to get out to the trails. Which is a bummer because the weather this week has been absolutely lovely, nice and cool and not that humid. I’ll get to it eventually.

In the meantime, I made chocolate vegan pudding chock-full of protein.

1 block silken tofu
3 scoops (3/4C) soy protein powder
About 3/4C soy milk
1/4C cocoa powder
PB and sweetener to taste, plus toppings of your choice. Raspberries were also delicious.

Just throw it in a food processor and eat!

Peace love and yummy healthy(?) things,
bec

Why I’m vegan (“eat no harm”)

eat no harm

Just a few thoughts about being vegan here. When people find out I’m vegan, they either go “Dear god, why?” or… no, that’s pretty much the response I get. So here’s why (without sounding too rant-y, I hope).

1. Modern industrial agriculture and its impact on the environment. This is the big one. Factory (animal) farms, the kind with way to many corn-fed cows in far too small an area, as well as massive industrial crop farms, are terrible for the environment. With animal factory farms, you get large amounts of concentrated animal waste that is often improperly or not treated and contaminates surrounding water supplies. Improper disposal is a big problem. Today, with animals, you also often have antibiotics-related issues. Crop farms are kind of similar in that there is a massive amount of pollution (water and soil) in the surrounding areas, as well as nutrient imbalances (overabundances and deficiencies are both problems). Huge crop farms like these also take up a ton of land and require the stripping of natural fauna. They lead to soil nutrient depletion and increased wind erosion, especially with global warming. They are rapidly depleting huge groundwater reservoirs because they are in places like eastern Colorado and Nebraska and the like where there’s just not that much water (as well as California). Pesticides and fertilizers. Etc. We’ve also moved so far away from what the food system should look like – local and organic. Sorry if that sounds too hippie-ish for you, but it doesn’t make sense to be buying apples trucked all the way across the country when you can buy apples picked twenty minutes outside of town. (Obviously this does not apply to things that can’t grow in your area. But buying local and in-season goes a long way.)

2. Somewhat related is the issue of what we’re feeding the factory farm animals – corn. It takes up so much space that could be used for other crops, or not for farming at all. And most of it goes towards feeding cows, not people. We should feed animals naturally and focus on trying to get enough food to the people who need it. There’s enough food in the world, but it’s very poorly distributed.

3. And here comes the bit that most people associate with veganism. Treatment of animals. If you like meat, that’s fine. That’s your choice. But eat smart. Buy beef from open ranch, grass-fed sort of cows. Buy eggs and chicken from the same sort of situation. there are plenty of graphic images and documentaries that go into factory farm treatment of animals (beef cows, dairy cows, chickens, pigs) that I won’t spew a bunch here, but I highly recommend looking up some information so you can be informed and know what you’re paying for – what you’re supporting.

4. Meat grosses me out. It’s eating another living thing’s muscles. There are veins and bones. That’s obviously a very individual reason; some people don’t care. And that’s fine. Eggs weird me out too.

5. I’m lactose intolerant – as are many adults, since we’re the only animal that continues consuming milk after they’re young (and not even human milk – it’s other animals’). So ice cream and milk-based things are just a bad farty time.

6. Kind of related to farming concerns, the leather industry has all kinds of environmental and health impacts, especially in third-world countries where most of it is mass-produced. We had a guest speaker in my environmental communication class, Bejing-based photographer Sean Gallagher. Among other things, he does photojournalism related to the environment. This photo essay and this short film made me think about leather and decide that I wanted to stop using it. (I have a leather belt, but I don’t want to just get rid of it because it’s leather and buy a new one, because it still works and consumerism/consumption blah blah blah. That’s a different post.)

7. It’s easy and healthy. Simple as that.

That’s about all I can think of. Basically it comes down to being a conscientious consumer and putting your money where your morals and values are. “Eat no harm” – harm to the environment, to people, to life. I’m a student and I manage to eat vegan and healthy, often local, organic when I can afford it/when it makes sense, so you can too, if you want to. Please don’t take this as me pushing anyone to do anything other than be informed about your food.  🙂

And yes, I can get enough protein even though I’m vegan. Beans, tofu, and soy protein powder for the win!

Peace and love,
bec

PS. Sorry for the lack of sources/references here, it’s all kind of accumulated knowledge. If you want more specific facts/information, feel free to ask.

Black bean burgers that actually stick together, and shin woes.

I used this recipe plus an extra T each of flaxseed and water. Oh, and black beans instead of white.

So Friday I ran just half an hour in one of the parks right by campus. It has some actual hills. I am decidedly not in trail-hill shape. Not surprisingly, the hills felt great on my shins, though – got a good Achilles stretch on the way up. I took it pretty cautious on the downhills, though. Once I hit 30 minutes, I walked home because I didn’t want to strain my already sore shins on another 3/4-mile of pavement.

That being said – my shins have been sore. Pretty sore. I’m a teensy bit worried that a full-blown stress fracture is threatening my right leg (the one that didn’t already have one) in the same area. Given that I’m definitely not overtraining or ramping up my mileage too quickly or changing shoes, I’m beginning to wonder if my shin issues are related to something different – chemical and/or mineral imbalances, that sort of thing. Vegan? Hormones? (Mine have always been notoriously low, or something. Ultrarunning kicked it off and my system hasn’t been normal since.) So I’m going to set up an appointment with a new running doctor, ask about that stuff, and inquire about bone density scans (which require injection of a radioactive tracer, hence my hesitation) or MRIs to check it out. X-rays didn’t show anything a year ago. And it’s been over a year. I’d like to know what’s going on in my legs.

peace love and healthy bones,
bec

Vegan banana bread plus (soy) protein

I find that I’ve constantly modifying my banana bread recipe. This particular batch went like this:

2 ripe mashed bananas + some applesauce (I was short one banana)
1.5C whole wheat flour
1/2C brown sugar
2t baking powder
1t baking soda
1/2t salt
1/4C non-dairy milk of your choice
1/4C oil (I usually skimp a little)
2 heaping T flaxseed + 6T water (MAKE FIRST and let sit for a good 15 minutes to congeal and get a good “eggy” texture)
1/2C soy protein powder (or another vegan protein powder)
cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla to taste
I also threw in a dash of allspice in this one

Bake for about 40-45 minutes at 350. (Test at 40 and keep checking it.)

I found that the protein powder really helped the flax in acting egglike; usually I have some problems getting banana bread fluffy enough without eggs but this loaf puffed right up with the protein!

Happy baking!
bec

4 weekend runs in a month… time to step it up. (And chili.)

Hello hello! (hola!) So I’ve been slowly and carefully running the past four weeks – 10, 15, 20, and about 25 minutes – and my shin hasn’t gotten worse or hurt. I think I’m going to bump it up to twice a week, but keep it around 20-25 minutes for another month or so. Progress is slow, but I’d rather take it slow and steady than ramp up too quickly like I did in September and find myself Not Actually Better.

I’m still climbing and, now that I have time this semester, I’m back to lifting. Current squat PR is 175, deadlift 225, so I’m working on that.

And I also made perfect vegan chili. Excellent for long, lazy, cold winter days.

chili

Rough recipe:
1C quinoa
some bulgur wheat
3 cans diced tomatoes
4 zucchini/yellow squash
2 bell peppers
1-2C frozen corn
an onion
garlic to taste
1 can black beans
1 can kidney beans
1 thing of tempeh
seasonings: salt, pepper, cumin, crushed red pepper, chili powder, some oregano

put it in a pot and stir until hot. consume.

peace love and safe running! The roads around here are literally sheets of ice. Step carefully.
bec