Monday, March 16, 2015

10 Tips To Stay Safe On The Run

Runners like to focus on the fun and the challenge that come with logging miles. Which makes sense as those are two reasons why we start running. Unfortunately sometimes we have to get real and talk about things that aren't so fun but could make a huge difference, not only in our run, but in our lives. Safety.

Over the past week or so in Denver, a guy has assaulted at least eight women running in the City Park neighborhood - a pretty popular, busy area of the city. The most recent was last Wednesday at 11:30am. In broad daylight.

Not City Park

With this guy still out there, it's a good time to keep in mind some basic things we can do to stay as safe as possible out on the run.
  • Run with others: You know, the whole safety in numbers thing - whether you're out with a running buddy or your dog. I run alone often, so I definitely don't follow this piece of advice, so don't do as I do with this one.
  • Let someone know when you're going and where you're going: Especially if you are going out on your own, make sure someone else knows what your plans are.
  • Leave your headphones at home: Not only can you hear car horns easier, but you can hear footsteps coming up behind you. If you're hooked on a podcast or convinced you can't run without a driving beat in your ears, try a run without it anyway. You'll be much safer without it, and if you're running with a friend you'll want to chat with them anyway! This is one thing I've learned to do and now I can't imagine running with headphones!
  • But take your phone: Program in two numbers that are easy to dial quickly - 911 and your "in case of emergency" contact (and label them in your contacts as ICE). If you need to get hold of someone quickly, you can.
  • Run in populated areas: Whatever time it is when you run, choose routes where there are other runners or walkers, cars passing by, or houses within earshot. 
  • Run against traffic: This is a pet peeve of mine. When running in the road, run against traffic so you can see the cars coming and they can see you. It's always best to be able to see what's coming towards you.
  • Avoid solo night running: Sometimes we have to get miles in but our work and life schedules keep us from doing them during the day, but aim to get your miles in when it's light out. 
  • When running in the dark, make sure drivers can see you: It amazes me how often I see runners wearing all black early in the morning or late at night. It's practically impossible for drivers to see us running down a sidewalk at night if we don't make ourselves seen. Don't risk it. Wear reflective clothing, a headlamp and other lights. There are lots of great options available now. Also, seek out routes with lots of street lights and where home owners tend to keep their front porch lights on.
  • Carry mace, pepper spray or a whistle: There are products created specifically for runners so they're easy to carry. Any of these can help fend off attackers. (Mace and pepper spray aren't legal in all areas, so check out your local regulations)
  • Stay Alert: Running is often our time to "check out" but it's also really important to stay alert. Pay attention to who is around you - people and dogs - and what the situation is. The more you can capture in your memory about the people and things around you, the better.
Cheesman Park, Denver

Most of these tips are common sense, so just be smart and don't compromise on your safety. Have fun, challenge yourself, and get home safe!

What did I miss?

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Chocolate Protein Power Bites

As much as I did not enjoy getting very little sleep Saturday night - with getting home quite late after a stellar Robert Randolph and the Family Band (if you don't know him, check him out) concert and daylight savings time taking effect - I sure do love the fact that it's still light out well after 6:00pm now. After work runs up the canyon are calling me!

Speaking of running... I am not ashamed to say that I am very happy with how things are going right now and I hope I didn't just jinx myself by saying that. This week I had planned to dial back on my mileage a little bit for an easy week, but I ended up with my highest mileage week so far this year. After weeks of cold, snow, and ice, the sun came out and the mercury rose this weekend. Saturday morning I got in 8.5 sunny miles around Denver followed by a Sunday run of 4.25 miles, part of which was a solid tempo run featuring some very speedy miles. My legs are a bit tired but my spirits are high. 

This week will be an easy week - even with several beautiful days in the forecast!

I'm a big fan of Picky Bars, recently receiving my first Picky Club shipment. They're delicious, easy to grab-and-go, easy to digest, and vegan. But I wanted to try my hand at making something similar, but different. 

And so became these Chocolate Protein Power Bites.

Given my intense - and probably slightly unhealthy - love of chocolate, it had to be a main ingredient in these protein bites.
Chocolate Protein Power Bites Ingredients (makes 12 bites)
  • 1.5 cups Dates - pitted and cut in quarters 
  • 1 tbs + 1 tsp Almond Butter 
  • 2 tsp Sunflower Seeds
  • 1 tsp Chia Seeds
  • 1 tsp Hemp Hearts 
  • 1 tbs Vega Protein & Greens Chocolate Protein Powder
  • 2 tbs Almond Milk
  • 1 tbs Dark (or Vegan) Chocolate Chips 
  • 1/4 cup Shredded Coconut (or more as needed)
It's a pretty easy process to make this goodness a reality. Put the first seven ingredients in a food processor and mix on low till you have a sticky, well-combined mixture and all the chunky date segments disappear. You'll likely need to scrape down the sides of the bowl a few times.

Once it's ready, transfer the mixture into a bowl and fold in the chocolate chips. Divide up the mixture using a tablespoon - these bites are slightly less than, to a full tablespoon. I suggest dividing up all the bites before the next step as the mixture is very sticky.

Roll each bite in the shredded coconut and shape as you go - you can tell they're handmade by the various shapes and sizes - then put them in the fridge till you're ready to enjoy. This batch made 12 Chocolate Protein Power Bites. 

While I don't have the calorie counts for these, I can say that they are both delicious - don't just take my word for it, try them! - and packed with healthy ingredients. The chocolate is an added bonus.

What is your favorite healthy 'treat'? * If you're a runner, how do you decide how many miles to run each day/week? Do you incorporate planned easy weeks?

Sunday, March 1, 2015

2015 in 2015 Challenge - Two Month Check-In

Back at the start of the year I wrote about the 2015 in 2015 Challenge, and how Woody, Grace, and I joined forces to take it on. Two months in, it's time for a check-in.

Woody did a little math (cause that's how he rolls) and found that we need approximately 1.84 miles per day over the course of the year. That's a lot of miles, and while I've been running a number of years now, I think the only year I may have run upwards of 650 miles in one year was 2009, when I ran the NYC Marathon. This all means I have to buckle down, tie up my laces, and get on the treadmill if that's what it takes to log the miles. 

Warm weather running in Florida - Dec. 2014
So, here are my stats so far:
  • January - 63.19 miles
  • February - 74.3 miles
  • Total - 137.49
My highest mileage week was last week, tied with this week (including Mar. 1) at 18 miles. While this isn't much for some people, it's solid work for me and I'm really proud about it. After suffering from chronic stress fractures for several years, and being diagnosed with osteopenia, I have to be careful.

Running a few laps of Wash Park when Grace visited Denver - Jan. 2015!

As a team through February we've run 353.38 miles, ahead by 27.67 miles! While Mother Nature was shining on Denver during much of January, there's been a lot of snow and cold lately - less running outdoors - so we're off to a fantastic start.

Wash Park

To support the increase in mileage I've been focused on getting enough calcium (through a variety of dark leafy greens, tofu, supplements...) and protein (beans, vegan protein shakes, nuts, tofu, quinoa...) in my diet. A little planning and prep is all it takes!

Did you run this weekend? * Have you been logging more miles on the treadmill lately or are you an all-weather runner? * Are you participating in the challenge?