Why muscles cramp and what to do about it

There is nothing worse than finding yourself mid-run on the side of the road with a calf muscle cramp that wrenches through your leg causing intense pain. Or perhaps you have rolled over in bed mid-sleep only to find yourself wrenched from slumber by the cramping of your calf. There are several causes of muscle cramps, and luckily there are natural ways to treat them.

Dehydration is a highly common cause for muscle cramping while exercising. Ensuring that you consume enough water each day and more during high exertion exercise is highly important. The American Medical Association (AMA) recommends 48-68 ounces of water be consumed each day. Additionally, it is recommended that you drink 8 ounces of water every 15 minutes during exercise exertion.

Electrolyte imbalance is another root cause for muscle cramping. Pregnant women in particular may experience inadequate calcium intake leading to muscle cramping. Magnesium and calcium deficiency may also lead to muscle cramping in non-pregnant females and males. Speak with your physician before supplementing these entities. You may consume them naturally by eating almonds and dark leafy greens such as kale and spinach. Electrolyte supplementation through sports drinks can be beneficial during actual exercise, though coconut water is a more nutritious choice. Coconut water contains fewer calories, less sodium, and more potassium than sports drinks.

In the heat of the moment, stretching the muscle that is actively in a spasm is the best measure. For a calf cramp or spasm, keep the knee straight, and flex the ankle bringing the toes toward your shin bone. Ease into the stretch slowly and try to hold for greater than 60 seconds. Repeat as needed.

IMG_0984

Enjoy and make your day great,

Amanda

Posted in Running | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gluten Free flat bread with basil, heirloom tomatoes, and egg

I have come to the conclusion that eggs are welcome to join my meal at any point during the day. Breakfast, lunch, dinner… it’s an open invitation. This little number follows a less is more paradigm. It is quick and easy with a pre-made  gluten free pizza crust by Udi’s.

Gluten free flat bread with basil heirloom tomatoes and eggs

Ingredients:

1 Udi’s Gluten Free Pizza Crust

4-6 small heirloom tomatoes, sliced

4-6 basil leaves

2 tbs. olive oil

2 eggs, fried in 1 tbs. coconut oil

2 cloves garlic minced

Directions: Preheat oven to 425 degrees fahrenheit. Distribute 2 tbs. olive oil over the gluten free flat bread, then place basil minced garlic on top evenly distributed, and bake in oven for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, fry eggs in a medium pan on medium heat until yoke is cooked through. Remove flat bread from oven, add eggs and non-cooked heirloom tomatoes. Enjoy!

Gluten free flat bread with basil heirloom tomatoes and egg

Serves 1-2

Make your day great!

Posted in Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gluten Free Running Fuel

I am often asked what types of running fuel I use for long runs, given that I have celiac disease. The answer is convoluted because I am A) Also allergic to dairy B) Generally sensitive in the stomach  and C) a creature of habit. So the pure answer is that I use GU almost exclusively because I know that my particular flimsy constitution can weather it for 26.2 miles. If we speak specifically, then the answer is GU Vanilla and GU Chocolate… Like I said, creature of habit with a weak stomach. Runners tend to be a bit driven by routine to begin with, so I’m certain that you all can appreciate that when you find a product that works, you stick with it. There are a myriad of other gluten free running fuels available, it just depends on what you can handle. Here are some ideas:

    • GU: All GU energy gels are by nature gluten free. Some are caffeinated, some are not. Some are fruit flavored, some are more dessert flavored. I know runners who swear by the tangerine, and others who love s’mores. As I mentioned, I am in deep gratitude for the Vanilla and Chocolate GU packets. On the other side of the coin I have deeply regretted using some of the fruit flavors-that is just me. Find them here: GU Original Sports Nutrition Energy Gel, Variety Pack, 24-Count
    • Pure honey: There are elite runner’s who swear by pure honey. You can use the little packets available at some restaurants, and take them as a shot as you would any other gel, or make your own little packet by placing local organic honey into a sandwich baggie and tying it off. Simply bite the end off and suck it in when you are ready. Two table spoons of honey can pack approximately 128 calories, which can hold you over for 45-60 minutes of moderate running.
    • Jelly Belly Sport Beans: Confirmed to be gluten free, these joyous little beans can turn your attitude around at the 18th mile. One certain positive attribute is that they are easy to consume while running, what with the whole chewing, swallowing, and breathing paradigm. Find them here: Jelly Belly Sport Beans Assorted Flavors – 24 Packs
    • Two Moms in the Raw Bars: If it’s going to be a long day on the trail, a marathon, or an ultra, I highly recommend these bars. They are raw ingredients mixed together in a highly nutritious bar, easy to carry, and delicious with liberal use of gluten free seeds. Find them here: Two Moms in The Raw Nut Bar Gojiberry Box of 12
    • Hummus: Similar to plain honey, humus is a gluten free, easy to digest, high protein substance that can easily put into a baggie and swallowed whilst running.
    • huma Chia energy gel: chia seeds are quickly becoming a big player in health, wellness, and athletic foods. Rich in Omega-3, they are said to aide in hydration, and blood sugar control.  Find them here: Huma Chia Energy Gel, Variety Pack, 12 Gels – Sports Nutrition for Endurance Exercise
    • Honey Stinger Organic Energy Gel: a little honey, a little tapioca syrum, and a little pick up me up,  and all organic. This gel combines the experience of gel with the taste of honey. It is available in several flavors including acai, pomegranate, and my favorite (vanilla). Find them here: Honey Stinger Organic Energy Gel, Vanilla, 1.1 – Ounce Pouches (Pack of 24)

Gluten free energy gels

What did I miss? What have other gluten intolerant/ celiac runners had good luck with?

Make your day great,

Amanda

Posted in Running | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Mediterranean Gluten Free Pizza on Mama’s Pizza Crust

Long have I searched for a decent gluten free pizza crust kit. Certainly I could make my own, but sometimes on a weeknight I don’t have the energy to make pizza crust from scratch. I’m certain you can appreciate where I’m coming from here unless you are a professional chef.

My husband picked up Mama’s gluten free pizza crust kit at a local grocery store and I was incredibly pleased with how it turned out. All I had to do was prep the yeast that came with it, add a few simple ingredients and mix it in my kitchen aid, and voila, a chewy, delicious gluten free pizza crust. This crust can be made egg and dairy free as well. I kept it dairy free by using a little olive oil and simply adding chicken and vegetables, but certainly one could add any form of cheese to this recipe.

Gluten free Mediterranean pizza

If you can’t find Mama’s in your local grocer, you can order from amazon easily:

B00GX3IBRW Gluten Free Mama, Mama’s Pizza Crust Mix, 18.1 Ounce Pouch (Pack of 6)

Other Ingredients Used:

1/2 chicken breast, cut and grilled

1 green bell pepper

1 scallion, chopped

1/2 cup black olives, sliced

2 tbs. olive oil

1/2 tsp. oregano

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees fahrenheit. After preparing gluten free pizza crust according to package instructions, add olive oil over the top and then place scallion, green peppers, chicken, and oregano evenly distributed over the crust. Bake for 20-25 minutes, remove from oven, and serve. Serves 4.

Mama's gluten free pizza crust

Enjoy!

Amanda

Posted in Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How to safely return to running after a break

Perhaps you became injured and took time off to heal and never quite got back into the swing of things. Maybe you had children and had to take several months or years off in the process of becoming a new parent. Maybe your work schedule changed and life became too busy and running quietly slid to the wayside. Or maybe you had a change of heart and running just wasn’t fun anymore. Regardless of the reason for the break, returning to running can seem daunting at first, with the struggle to rebuild your base mileage, and the frustration at your screaming lungs leaving you wondering why you ever found it fun. Returning to running doesn’t have to be torture. Let’s discuss why you left and get you moving again.

IMG_2063 Pull out your running shoes and get back out there!

If you left due to an injury:
Most joint and muscle injuries heal within 6-8 weeks. If you are now outside of that window, tissue healing should have occurred. The important thing to acknowledge before returning to running is why the injury occurred: was it an overuse injury that crept up, or did you just simply step off a curb wrong and roll your ankle? If the injury is one that slowly crept up and you are now pain free, it is important to analyze whether it was due to a running form issue, or perhaps a shoe issue. It may be time for a new running shoe or start cross training by building your core and doing body weight resistance strength training.

Some exercises for general knee, hip, pelvis, and foot pain can be found here:

https://runningyourbody.wordpress.com/?s=knee+pain

When you begin to return to running, start by doing a run/ walk ratio of 1:2 respectively. For example run 1 minute then walk 2 minutes for 15- 30 minutes. If you are running outside, choose a loop near your home in case you need a break. Each week, decrease your walk time until you are running 30 minutes solid. From here, increase either your speed or your mileage, but not both on the same week. Increasing both too quickly is often the cause of overuse injury.

If you left due to a busy schedule:
Ask yourself what about this busy schedule got in the way of your running. Was it that work hours were long and there was no longer daylight to run in? Was it that you were just exhausted by the schedule and did not feel motivated to run? One solution is to join a running club. Often times running clubs meet early in the morning, or offer several meetup times throughout the week to accommodate varying schedules. Squeezing your run in first thing in the morning may not seem enticing to a busy person who could use an extra hour of sleep, but regular exercise can improve your energy level, and can improve productivity throughout the day, especially for people with desk jobs. Knowing that you have made a commitment to show up and join people in the morning increases accountability. Squeezing in a quick 30 minute run during your lunch hour or right after work before you return home is another thought.

Investing money in your running is another way to improve accountability to training. If you spend money registering for a race and set a goal, you are more likely to adhere to a training schedule and embed running time.

If you left due to pregnancy:

Pregnancy can do a number on a woman’s body. Running mechanics can change, as can skeletal alignment. You can read a full research report on running mechanics changes after pregnancy here:

https://runningyourbody.wordpress.com/2013/07/29/on-the-effects-of-pregnancy-on-running-form-and-mechanics/

Depending on how long you took off from running, you may bounce back relatively quickly after your physician releases you to run again, usually around 6-8 weeks at the earliest. If this is the case, you will want to be mindful of the fact that your core musculature including 4 layers of abdominals and pelvic floor muscles are going to be weak. Building core strength back up and practicing pelvic floor exercises will be beneficial in preventing injury and maintaining running form.

For return to running activity, use the same return to running program as mentioned above for injured runners: start by doing a run/ walk ratio of 1:2 respectively. For example run 1 minute then walk 2 minutes for 15- 30 minutes. If you are running outside, choose a loop near your home in case you need a break. Each week, decrease your walk time until you are running 30 minutes solid. From here, increase either your speed or your mileage, but not both on the same week. Increasing both too quickly is often the cause of overuse injury.

If you left due to a change of heart:
Runners can burn out or grow weary of running for many reasons. While accomplishing a major goal such as finishing a marathon can inspire some to sign up for more, other runners experience dysphoria and stop running altogether due to burn out. Some have a hard time staying motivated and drop running altogether.

Assuming that you still love running and are reading this article with true intentions of returning to running, some self analysis of what steered you away is always helpful. Did you fail to meet a goal and became discouraged? Did you overtrain and exhaust yourself? Sometimes it is helpful to book a non-chip timed race, or a unique destination race. Mixing it up with an obstacle run with friends or a mud or color run can be a fun way to get back in shape, Finding joy in running for the sake of running and without heavy pace expectations can be extremely psychologically renewing. In the past after a sour racing experience I registered for the Silver Falls Half Marathon, a gorgeous non-chip timed half marathon in Oregon’s Willamette valley. You can read my review of this gorgeous race here: https://runningyourbody.wordpress.com/2014/11/04/on-silver-falls-half-marathon-a-race-review/

Running in such a beautiful setting was like a ctrl+alt+delete for my running, and I have made it a goal to seek out at least one non-chip timed destination race every year.

In terms of beginning training again, it may be beneficial to start running 30 minutes 3-4 days per week and leave the other days open to cross training in activities that bring you joy. Yoga, hiking, skiing, snowshoeing, Zumba, whatever you like. By building up your base running miles and supporting it with other activities you decrease the risk of injury and attention burnout.

Take care, and make your day great,

Amanda

Posted in Running | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Crock pot White Bean Chicken Soup

Thank goodness for the crock pot. Mine has been working overtime this season, proving us with healthy, low maintenance meals all winter long. This recipe was dreamed up out of boredom with my usual stew recipes. Enjoy!

white bean and chicken soup

Ingredients:

3 cans white beans (I used Great Northern White beans)

16 oz Gluten free chicken broth

4 small zucchini chopped

3 medium baking potatoes, cut into small cubes

1/2 yellow onion

1/2 tsp garlic salt

1/2 tsp pepper

2 organic chicken breasts-cut into cubes

Directions:

Place 1/2 yellow onion, chicken broth, and the contents of one of the cans of white beans into a blender or food processor, and process until smooth. This gives the soup a creamy quality without the dairy.

Non-dairy creamy chicken soup

Once processed, place in crock pot slow cooker with all other ingredients and set to 6-8 hour cook time.

Crockpot white bean and chicken soup

Serves 4-6

Enjoy!

Posted in Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Chicken and Vegetables on Gluten Free Flatbread

A synonym for this recipe would be gluten free dairy free pizza. This is essentially a Mediterranean style gluten and dairy free pizza, but I’m not an expert on the semantics surrounding the use of the term pizza and I would hate to go to foodie jail for misleading the masses.

This is a gem of a recipe as we settle into the new year. Whether you need a quick dinner fix, or an allergy free football dish, I’m certain you will like this. If you enjoy wine, I paired it with a bottle of Wine by Joe 2012 Oregon Pinot Noir. I’m partial to this wine. Not just because it’s from Oregon, my favorite state, and not because it’s a pinot noir, my favorite varietal, but because the vineyard sits directly across the street from an elementary school in Dundee where I used to do wheelchair adjustments for kiddos. I have fond memories of the Dundee hills area.

On a side note, I’m scheduled to run my 3rd annual Fueled by Fine Wine Half-Marathon in the Dundee Hills AVA on July 12th (2015). This also happens to be my birthday, and my absolute favorite half marathon race in Oregon. It was rated #13 in Runner’s World list of the best Half Marathons in the country and I couldn’t agree more! This is a hilly terrain race and you will not PR, but at the finish line you will get a Ridel wine glass and open tasting to 22+ of the areas best wineries. To register, visit  http://www.fueledbyfinewine.com/event_information/detail/category/registration_information/

Back to the pizza:

Chicken and veggies on gluten free flatbread with Wine by Joe

Ingredients:

1 pk. Trader Joes Gluten free pizza crusts (it comes with 2 crusts, they are small, this recipe will utilize 1 of them)

1 tbs. olive oil

2 cloves garlic minced

1/2 green bell pepper sliced

4 leaves basil

1/2 cup black olives sliced

1 scallion sliced

1/2 organic chicken breast cubed and pre cooked

1 tbs. coconut oil

1/8 tsp. oregano

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 Fahrenheit.

Cook your chicken in a small frying pan by warming 1 tbs. coconut oil over medium heat, then adding chicken and cooking for 5-8 minutes.

Place gluten free crust on a cookie sheet. Spread olive oil over gluten free pizza crust then add basil leaves. Pile olives, green peppers, garlic, and scallions over the top then sprinkle oregano over all ingredients. Put cookie sheet into the oven and bake in oven for 8-10 minutes until crust begins to brown. Remove and cut into quadrants, and enjoy!

Chicken and Veggies on gluten free flatbread

Enjoy, and Happy New Year!

Make your day great,

Amanda

Posted in Recipes, Running | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment