On: How to run downhill

The subtitle to this article should be “without falling or hurting your knees”, because there comes a point in every runner’s life where one of these unceremoniously happens to you. Whether in a race or a training run, the added benefit of ascent is the speed and freedom of the descent. The problem is harnessing body mechanics and gravity into the perfect symphony for speed and not disaster.

Let us discuss mechanics. When running downhill, the initial instinct may be to attempt to decelerate the body by leaning back with the trunk, and striking the ground heel first. These two actions paired together increase the ground reaction forces through the legs significantly. Additionally, by leaning back, increased pressure is put into the low back, which can lead to a back injury as well.

Conversely, flying downhill willy nilly and out of control can lead to strain in the knees and low back as well, not to mention the prospect of a fall which can lead to face planting (add insult to injury if there are witnesses).

So how then, do we safely get down hill simultaneously clipping time off our pace and running safely? First and foremost, utilize your core musculature. Draw your belly button in towards your spine, and bend forward slightly with your whole trunk, flexing at the hips. The lean should be approximately 10 degrees, and your line of vision should fall 4-5 feet in front of your feet, not on the feet themselves. This will prevent you from leaning too far over your feet (again, face planting =bad).

The turnover of running stride should increase slightly as a product of shortening of the stride length. This will promote midfoot strike and help decrease the likelihood of heavy heel first striking down the hill, thus decreasing force through the legs and low back. Some runners benefit from self talk as they negotiate difficult terrain. A mantra to remain “light like a feather” on your feet is a helpful one.

Finally, arms should be utilized to maintain balance. Arm swing may increase a bit in swing excursion front to back, though they should not drift away from the body from side to side unless you are actually falling.

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“Beyond mountains there are mountains”- Haitian proverb

Make your day great,

Amanda

 

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On: The Newport Marathon/ Half-Marathon

This weekend marks my first race back at it since baby boy was born 5 months ago, and it was a gorgeous return to racing. The town of Newport, Oregon is an interesting little gem centrally located along the Oregon coast. While the town itself seemed bewildered as to why hundreds of us were there to run, it was supportive and welcoming. This race is a great destination race for families, as there are plenty of great kid-friendly attractions including the Oregon Coast Aquarium in addition to the beach itself.

Driving West-Bound from 1-5 there is a beautiful Elk viewing area along  highway 38.

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My husband and I trooped up with our 5 month old son, meeting a group of about 15 people from my running group. We headed to a fantastic dinner at the Savory Cafe after packet pick-up at the Embarcadero Resort. The Savory Cafe is a hawaiian/mexican/italian fusion restaurant with a menu full of vegan/vegetarian and gluten free meals. It was the most perfect restaurant for a celiac such as myself the night before a race. I highly recommend this restaurant to any foodie with allergies.

Check them out here: http://savorycafenewport.com/

The race itself began at Yaquina Bay State park. Marathoners and Half-marathoners all began at 7am, and remained  running together through the scenic tourist district on the beachfront of Newport, followed by a jaunt out of the town along the bay.

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The second portion of the race was out and back, with Half-Marathoners turning at mile 8 and finishing at the Embarcadero Resort.  Overall, the course was fast, flat, and scenic. If you are looking to Boston qualify, or to complete your first marathon running at sea level is a treat, and there is a local microbrew around the corner from the finish line.

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All done at the finish line, no worse for the wear. Rogue Brewery was pouring full beers for finishers, and my husband was happy to take mine.

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The finisher medals were designed by a local Newport artist, by far the most interesting finisher medal in my collection!

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Oregon Coast Artists making one very large fish

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Our lab Sage loves herself a beach

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All in all a great weekend, several members from my group PR’ed and a few were first time marathoners that are now hooked. I am very happy  to be racing again, and this 13.1 was a great warm-up for my race next month in the Central Oregon mountains at altitude, with altitude gains….

Take care, and make your day great!

Amanda

 

 

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On: Gluten Free Creamy Cilantro Lime Chicken and Quinoa

Be still my beating heart. For it has found a new sauce for which it yearns. The creamy cilantro lime sauce that I threw together in my food processor was an instant hit in my home after cooking for the past few months in a bit of a food rut. It is gluten free, and low fat, as the “creamy” essence is from low fat greek yogurt. Thanks to the jalepeno it has a tiny little kick. Also of note, I have found a lovely affordable cruelty free chicken breast and highly recommend it. And a 5$ gem at Trader Joe’s Rounds the meal off for the eoniphile: a white blend titled Grifone Bianco (the vintage and varietals are unlisted, but for 5$ its great!). Enjoy!

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Ingredients:

2 Lean organic chicken breasts

1 cup of quinoa cooked in 2 cups of boiling water

Dressing:

1/2 cup low fat greek yogurt

1 cup organic cilantro

1 tsp. rice vinegar

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 lime squeezed

2 cloves garlic

1 jalepeno-sliced and seeded

Directions: Cook the chicken as you like. It is gorgeous here in Southern Oregon, thus I had my husband throw ours on the grill for 10 minutes on medium heat. Meanwhile, I boiled the quinoa and made to sauce. To make the sauce put the greek yogurt, jalepeno, lime juice, rice vinegar, garlic, and cilantro into a food processor and process until smooth and consistent. Drizzle over chicken and quinoa as desired. Quick and easy my friends! photo1 (4)

Make your day great!

Amanda

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On: Beets, Asparagus, and Brussel Sprout Salad with Honey Balsamic Dressing

 

 

 

 

 

Recently beets have earned themselves quite the reputation as a superfood. They have been referred to as nature’s multivitamin for their wide range of nutrient and vitamin content, and are exceptionally high in vitamin C. I love them, particularly cold, and on salads. This particular recipe includes warm vegetables and tofu with cold beets. It could be served cold as leftovers the next as well, and I am 100% in favor of easy and ready made lunches made from dinner’s leftovers!

beet salad

Ingredients:

Salad:

1 cup chopped asparagus

1 cup brussel sprouts (chopped in half)

1 block firm organic tofu

1 cup chopped steamed beets

1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

2 tbs. coconut oil-used separately as 1 tbs.

Dressing:

3 tbs. honey

2 tbs balsamic vinegar

1 tbs. brown mustard ( I use Plochman’s)

Directions:

Place asparagus and brussel sprouts in a baking dish with 1 tbs. coconut oil and cook in the oven at 400 degrees for approximately 15 min. Meanwhile, slice the tofu into small chunks and saute with the other tbs. of coconut oil for approximately 10 min, stirring occasionally.

Place chopped steamed beets into a small bowl. I cheated here and used Trader Joe’s prepared organic beets, served cold. Once the asparagus and brussel sprouts have finished cooking, add them into the bowl, as well as the tofu once warmed.

cooking tofu

In a jar or salad dressing contai, mix the honey, balsamic vinegar, and mustard. Drizzle over the veggies and tofu in the bowl and finish with crumbled feta on top.

Serves 2 as an entree. Enjoy, and make your day great!

Amanda

 

 

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On: Gluten Free Chicken & Asparagus Pasta with Goat Cheese

April is asparagus month, and there are so many great ways to prepare it. This little concoction is delicious and blends asparagus into a lean savory dish.

chicken and asparagus

Ingredients:

2 organic chicken breasts (boneless and skinless)-cut into 1″ cubes

10-12 asparagus stalks cut into 1″ pieces

1/2 medium yellow onion-chopped coarsely

1/2 cup organic chicken broth

1/4 cup chevre goat cheese

1 tsp. oregano

1 cup gluten free angel hair pasta

1 tsp. olive oil

Directions:

Boil gluten free pasta according to package instructions in a large pot. Meanwhile, in a large sauce pan, heat olive oil over medium heat, then add chopped onions and stir occasionally until golden. Then add chicken and cook thoroughly.

chicken and onions

Once noodles have cooked, strain, then add cooked onion and chicken into the large pot with noodles, pour in chicken broth, and set on low heat. Add the asparagus to the sauce pan formerly occupied by the onion and chicken. Add a dime sized amount of olive oil if the pan is dry. Saute until soft, then add to the large pot with the other ingredients. Then add the goat cheese and oregano. Stir until goat cheese is soft and all ingredients are mixed.

Serves 4.

Enjoy and make your day great!

Amanda

 

 

 

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On: Maximalist Running Shoes

Just as soon as running popular culture swung itself into the minimalist running movement, it has redirected itself back towards the large, cushioned, supportive soles of the newest running shoe craze: the maximalist running shoe.

The HokaOne is the most prominent maximalist shoe on the market with a weight of 12.3 oz for men and 10.5 oz, for women. The depth is drastic at 30mm in the heel and 24 mm in the forefoot in their “oversize” model, and a more dramatic 35mm heel and 31 mm forefoot in the “trail” edition. The general build of the shoe is described as a meta-rocker, with low heel-forefoot differential, and a “sculpted outsole radius in the heel and toe, creates a unique fulcrum effect and encourages a guided foot gait cycle” as described by the company itself. My course observation is this shoe appears as if a moon boot and a Sketchers rear-lifter cross pollinated.

Though there is not yet scientific research performed outside of the Hoka One company on the performance and biomechanical and physiological effects of running in these shoes available, there is general evidence against the general characteristics of the shoe. The Hoka One website boasts to improve descent speed on trails, and decreased energy consumption during ultra-distance events, yet several studies demonstrate negative effects of increased shoe weight and stability-both of which are provided by the large sole of the maximalist shoe.

A 2012 study out of the University of Colorado Boulder demonstrated that while it is more physiologically efficient to run in shoes versus running barefoot, the lighter shoe allows for more efficient running (1). The investigators found that for every 100g of weight added to the foot, the volume of oxygen consumed (VO2 max) increased by 1%.

The challenges to interpreting results of laboratory studies are numerous. First and foremost, most of these studies are conducted on treadmills, which does not account for terrain changes, though estimates can be made regarding energy expenditure on ground running versus treadmill running. Secondly, many studies are performed on elite runners with similar running styles. This does not allow for complete translation to novice or mid-level runners with varying running styles.

Ultimately, it is advised that runners do their homework regarding evidence on running shoe types, especially if they are injured, or looking to become high mileage runners. If a runner finds that they are satisfied with their running and uninjured, no changes should be made to their footwear. If one finds themselves injured frequently, or unable to progress speed or mileage, it is beneficial to seek professional advice, often from a physical therapist or podiatrist specializing in running conditions.

References
Franz J, Wierzbinski C, Kram R. Metabolic Cost of Running Barefoot versus shod: Is lighter better?.Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 2012;1519-1525.

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On: Gluten Free Green Veggie Stir fry

Stir fry dishes are popular in my home and oh so easy to make quickly. The sauce for this particular dish is a spicy peanut sauce similar to other recipes I have posted with one little addition: cinnamon. Cinnamon is the secret wonder-spice in this sauce, and it is delightful. Enjoy!

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Ingredients:

2 tbs. extra virgin olive oil

2 crowns broccoli- chopped (I include portions of the stalk as well)

1 cup chopped collard greens

1 /2 cup white mushrooms chopped

1/2 yellow onion

1/2 tbs. red pepper flakes

1 cup extra virgin olive oil

4 tbs. peanut butter

1/2 tbs. cinnamon

1 cup gluten free Tamari sauce

2 cups Quinoa

Directions:

Start quinoa cooking by boiling in 4 cups of water. Monitor while you stir fry: heat 2 tbs. olive oil on medium heat in a large sauce pan or wok. Add onions and saute until soft. Then add broccoli, collard greens, and mushrooms. Stir occasionally as veggies saute for approximately 10 minutes.

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While veggies cook, prepare the sauce by mixing the 1 cup olive oil, tamari sauce, peanut butter, cinnamon and red pepper flakes in a small bowl. Once veggies are softened, mix sauce into the pan over the veggies. Reduce heat to low, and stir until peanut butter has melted and is evenly distributed over the veggies.

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Serve veggies over quinoa. Serves 4.

Make your day great!

Amanda

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