Join us Monday Nights for Team LUNA Chix Portland Run Workouts!

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Thanks to social media (i.e. a deluge of Twitter and Instagram posts!), you probably know I was down in Berkeley, Calif., this past weekend for the annual LUNA Chix Summit. This event serves as the official kick-off for the Team LUNA Chix season, which runs from April to October.

As I mentioned in a previous post, Terra Castro, a friend from high school who just happens to be a former professional triathlete and current LUNA sponsored athlete, invited me to check out last year’s Summit. Just one day with these incredible women, and I was hooked. I just knew I had to be a part of what they were doing.

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Why? Well, there a lot of inspiring (read: bad-ass) athletes in this crew. But — more importantly — as much as they’re into challenging themselves, they’re equally as committed to supporting and motivating other women to get active in a non-competitive environment.

So fast forward one year, and we’re launching a team here in Portland. But it’s not about us, even though we do have our own athletic goals that we’ll be striving for throughout the year; rather, our weekly workouts are about YOU, your goals and providing a platform with which women can connect with one another.

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Our goal is to set an example in the community as a running team that supports ALL fitness levels. Regardless of if you’ve never run a step in your life or if you’re a super-seasoned marathoner, we’d love to have you join us and help empower each other to be active, healthy and happy.

Our workouts are Monday evenings from 6:30-7:30 pm, rotating between a few locations (check our Twitter & Facebook pages for details, and — shameless plug — please follow & friend us!). Our first one, though, will take place on April 6 at the Lincoln High School track in Portland. Hope to see you there!

In the meantime, I thought it’d be fun to share a few highlights from the weekend…

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Team leaders arrived Thursday so we could get down to business first thing Friday morning. We chatted about the brand, our goals for the season and best practices from the more established teams.

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We also heard from ladies at the Breast Cancer Fund, which is our charity partner. Little did I know, they’re not so much about fighting breast cancer as they are about preventing it. They gave a fascinating talk about how you can reduce your risk by reducing your exposure to toxic chemicals and radiation.

By early afternoon we were ready to get out into the sun, so we met outside for an easy four-mile shake-out run.

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After we showered up and changed, we headed over to Clif Bar & Company headquarters for a tour and dinner. This company lives and breathes the philosophy that “every day is an opportunity to do something that matters.”

Not only are they working to create a more sustainable food system by being responsible with how they source ingredients for their products, but they also are actively working to reduce their ecological footprint, be it by subsidizing the purchase of hybrid vehicles, using solar power to run the office or incentivizing employees to bike to work.

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The food was also nothing short of amazing. Megan, being a Registered Dietitian with her own nutrition company, was particularly impressed with the spread.

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I, however, was even more excited about the dessert table with treats from Snickerdoodle Sweets. The owner, Tiffany, talked to us about being a female entrepreneur and pursuing your dreams, and then she lead us in a fun cupcake-decorating competition.

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By Saturday morning, our sugar highs had subsided. We started the day with yoga before settling into some more training sessions — this time with the larger group of team leaders and members.

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After learning more about team dynamics and tips for new teams throughout the morning and early afternoon, we broke up into categories by sport and prepped for afternoon activities. Of course, I couldn’t resist another workout with Terra, so I headed to the track for her clinic!

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We had a blast doing 400’s with the LUNA professional and sponsored athletes. We weren’t running close to what I’d imagine their usual pace(s) to be, but it was thrilling running alongside them in the workout…and it’s that same feeling our team hopes to give to everyone who joins us on runs.

Unfortunately my darn SI joint was acting up again, so I opted out of the aqua jog clinic. Instead, I went to San Francisco Run team leader Dr. Heather Maxwell’s clinic on foam rolling and stuck around after to pick her brain for tips on how to keep strengthening my sleepy glutes.

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By then it was time to shower up and head to dinner. Our guest speaker was the President & CEO of the Breast Cancer Fund, Jeanne Rizzo.

She’s as entertaining as she is informative, and her talk was one of the most memorable moments of the weekend, as it was last year.

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After Jeanne spoke, we enjoyed watching a series of poignant short films, all of which are featured in this year’s LUNAFEST lineup. LUNAFEST is a traveling film festival of award-winning short films by, for and about women — and they did not disappoint; I highly recommend checking it out, if it comes to a city near you!

Sunday morning, we had the choice of easing in with yoga, Pilates or a run mechanics clinic. I opted to pick up some more trip from Terra on exercises to help get your body get into better running form (fingers crossed for those SI issues).

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Then it was time for the wrap-up run, so Megan and I decided to sport our new LUNA kits on our six-miler. The  tanks were really comfy, and I’m excited to get the rest of the team decked out for our season!

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About an hour later, we arrived back at the hotel — drenched in sweat, on a runner’s high and slightly sad that our 2015 Summit time was coming to an end. We showered up and ate lunch with the LUNA athletes and our fellow team members out in the sun before bidding each other goodbye until next year.

The good news, though, is that our enthusiasm coming our of Summit is about a 12 on a scale of 1-10. So get ready, Portland, because it’s going to be an exciting inaugural season as we embark on this adventure together!

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Want to join in on the fun? Stay tuned for updates, follow us on Facebook and Twitter, and don’t forget to join us on Monday evenings for workouts and clinics when you’re in the Portland area.

Not in PDX? Don’t despair; there’s a good chance LUNA’s got a local team in a city near you, so click here to check.

Hope to grab some miles with you this season; please help us spread word that LUNA is in Portland — and ready to RUN!

This Spud’s For You: Health Benefits of the Humble Potato

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I used to avoid potatoes like the plague because, well…chips, fries and vodka. But then Ben and I did our Whole30 experiment at the beginning of the year and developed an entirely new appreciation for the tasty little tubers (particularly the sweet variety).

Their association with famine and high starch content aside, potatoes don’t deserve such a bad rap. Sure, when fried to a crisp or drowned in butter they can be less than healthy, but when eaten in their whole, unprocessed form they’re actually quite the nutritional powerhouses.

And popular, too — according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, potatoes are the leading vegetable crop in the United States and the fourth most-consumed crop in the world (behind rice, wheat and corn).

Yup, we each consume an average of 55 lbs. of frozen potatoes per year, 42 lbs. of fresh potatoes, 17 lbs. of potato chips and 14 lbs. of dehydrated potato products.

So whether you’ve always been a proponent of the potato or you’re learning to love them all over again, I found a handy little guide (below) to help you make the most of this versatile veggie.

You say poh-tay-to; I say bring on the phytonutrients and fiber!

Reasons to Love the Humble Potato
“Reasons to Love the Humble Potato” on Health Perch

What’s your take on taters? 

Recipe: Vanilla-Almond Chia Pudding

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Thanks to our Whole30 experience, I’ve traded in my longtime breakfast parfait habit (yogurt, granola and fruit) in exchange for morning meals that are more nutrient-dense and less inflammatory. But old habits die hard, and I soon found myself in a Green Eggs & Ham Scramble rut.

Luckily my sister came to the rescue, sending me this recipe for Vanilla-Almond Chia Breakfast Pudding from Daily Burn. I’m a chia fan, not only because they’re packed with omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, calcium, fiber and protein, but also because they’re super-hydrating, absorbing up to 10 times their weight in water — or in this case, almond milk!

And as an added bonus, this make-ahead recipe works great for weeks when you know you’ll be pressed for time. Just mix together the ingredients on Sunday night, pour into separate containers, pop ‘em in the fridge, and top with a different combo of fruits, nuts and granola each day for a hearty breakfast, filling snack or textured dessert.

Vanilla-Almond Chia Pudding 

Adapted from Daily Burn

Ingredients: 

  • 2/3 cup chia seeds
  • 2 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp agave nectar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • Optional add-ins: nuts, berries, shredded coconut, granola, etc.

Directions: 

  1. Combine chia seeds, almond milk, vanilla and agave nectar in a bowl. Stir well until combined.
  2. Cover bowl, and store in the refrigerator overnight or for at least an hour (until mixture thickens).
  3. Stir again before serving, adding more almond milk if pudding’s consistency is too thick.
  4. Top with add-ins of your choice — from fresh fruit and nuts to spices, granola or coconut.

I happened to have these ingredients on hand, but if you don’t use agave nectar, feel free to swap in maple syrup or honey to help sweeten the pudding instead.

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Before the pudding has time to set, the consistency will be super runny; if you’re finding that the chia seeds are sticking together, try using a whisk to separate them before storing your mixture in the fridge.

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This bowl sat overnight, and you can see how the seeds swell up when they absorb the almond milk. They also give the pudding a lovely tapioca-like texture.

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Stir again before serving to  break up any clumps of seeds before adding your favorite toppings. Again, I just worked with what we had in our pantry — Mamma Chia protein granola, cinnamon and hazelnuts.

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The pudding will store in refrigerator for up to five days, so with a little planning you can quickly create a week’s worth of grab-and-go meals!

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What’s your favorite way to incorporate chia into meals and snacks? 

Living the Sweaty Life with ClassPass: 1 Membership, Unlimited Workouts

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Ring the bell; ClassPass is in session and schooling us on the art of discovering the best boutique fitness classes in 30+ cities worldwide!

What is it?

For $79 – $99 a month (price varies by city), ClassPass’s monthly membership program will give you access to thousands of classes, including cycling, Pilates, yoga, strength training, dance, martial arts and more. Members can take up to 30 classes per month and can visit the same studio up to three times per monthly membership cycle.

Do the math; when we’re talking drop-ins that cost anywhere from $15-25 a pop, as well as memberships that run upwards of hundreds of dollars per month, it’s easy to see why ClassPass has taken the fitness market by storm.

Why Portland? 

As much as we like to pretend it’s not happening, the city is booming in just about every facet. And with a studio scene that rivals cities twice its size, Portland — aka America’s Fittest City — is a prime spot for ClassPass to set up shop.

Although I’ve officially been here since last August, I feel as though I’ve barely been able to scratch the surface of what’s available for us fit-minded folks. So when ClassPass asked me to check out their service and give my thoughts, I recruited my workout buddy Carolyn and we embarked on a #30ClassesIn30Days personal challenge.

Like kids in a candy store, we explored the entire workout spectrum of Stumptown. From unleashing while kickboxing to finding release through meditation, from swinging kettlebells to swinging through the air in aerial yoga — you name it, we’ve tried it. And had a blast in the process.

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Where’d we go? 

Read on for a sampling of all the spots that Carolyn and I were able to hit during our first month using ClassPass.

Our goal this next month is to keep branching out; not only is the variety a breath of fresh air, but it’s fantastic to be able to connect with — and support — some of Portland’s sweatiest hardest-working small business owners!

9Round: Get an efficient, yet effective, full-body kickboxing workout in just 30 minutes

a-wol Dance Collective: Fly through the air with the greatest of ease in aerial dance classes

The Bar Method: Reshape your booty body in an hour in an upbeat, barre-based class

The Bhaktishop Yoga Center: Celebrate yoga in a warm, friendly, bhakti-based practice

CorePower Yoga: Exhilarate body and mind; be prepared to sweat buckets in the process

Firebrand Sports: Don’t make more time to workout, just up intensity at this place. ‘Nuff said!

Honest Training: Focus on finding your personal best (bonus: owned by Coeur pal, Paisley)

Hush Meditation: Better your mind through simple and accessible guided mediation classes

Pil-oga-robic: Receive a balanced butt-kicking in a yoga, Pilates, cardio & strength combo

POINT: Train hard indoors here to build functional strength so you can play hard outdoors!

Revocycle: Transcend cycling with this moving meditation that works both mind & body

Skogg System: Convert your body’s vulnerabilities into strengths with kettlebells

Studio Blue Pilates: Develop strength and find your center through yoga and Pilates

Xtend Barre: Strengthen, lengthen and chisel your body with dance, ballet & Pilates

Yoga Pod: Rejuvenate your body, refresh your mind and replenish your spirit

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Too good to be true?

By now you’re probably wondering, “So what’s the catch here?”

Well, while some question whether or not it’s a sustainable business model, others say ClassPass is worth its weight in gold when it comes to advertising and customer acquisition, especially for new studios looking for traction in a crowded market.

From the consumer perspective, I’ve found it to be an excellent discovery tool — not only for studios I’d never heard of, but also for workouts I may not otherwise have tried. Plus, if you’re like me and like to keep your body confused with all kinds of crazy cross-training without completely emptying your wallet, it can be the best of both worlds.

Wanna check it out?

Here’s a list of the cities in which ClassPass is currently available (if you’re not on it, don’t fret — they’re adding more all the time).

And if you’re ready to take the ClassPass plunge, I can sweeten the deal — simply use this link (good for ANY location but expires tomorrow, 3/24) to sign up and get $25 off your first month!

What’s your take on the “boutique fitness membership” movement?

The Last-Minute Half Marathon Training Plan

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What do you do when you’ve got a half marathon in less than six weeks and your running game has been lacking as of late?

A) Calculate the plausibility of using this month’s time change as an excuse for missing the race…next month.

B) Petition the race director to allow you to turn it into an impromptu duathlon.

C) Briefly consider hosting a blog giveaway for your bib.

D) Make a game plan, and get after it.

Answer: You guessed it, which is why I created this last-minute training strategy for getting Ben and I across the finish line of the Corvallis Half Marathon on April 12.

It’s nothing fancy, but it’s been helping us conservatively safely build up our mileage and will even allow for a tiny taper before race day.

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It’s still early in the season, and I’ve been doing way more cross training than running, so I’m not on the hunt for a PR (Ben may beg to differ; he’s eyeing a sub-1:50 finish). Rather, the idea is just to ease my legs — and my mind — back in to racing, so I can start to build toward that 50K in May.

As much as my off-season feels like it’s been extended into spring, I’ve loved taking the past few months to focus on strength, flexibility and adaptability with all different kinds of workouts. Plus, the mental break has been invaluable; I’m really looking forward to digging into training, as well as ramping up with Team LUNA Chix Portland Run come April 6 when our season officially kicks off.

What’s your approach to the upcoming race season? 

Simple Microwave Hacks That Will Change Your Life

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That’s a pretty bold claim, isn’t it?

Well, whether it’s re-heating leftovers, popping some corn for movie night or making the occasional guilty pleasure (frozen. chicken. pot. pie.), the humble microwave is the workhorse of the kitchen, having saved time-pressed home cooks for decades.

And even though our family food preferences have evolved from Lean Cuisine to “lean-and-green” — as in, and emphasis on unprocessed foods, proteins and veggies — the microwave still proves to be a very versatile appliance that can be used in unexpected ways.

For example, did you know that by nuking your citrus fruits for a few seconds you can get more juice out of them? Or that microwaving garlic and tomatoes before cooking makes them easier to peel? Or that you can clean that caked gunk off of microwave walls in just five minutes with a bowl of water and a lemon?

Yep, knowing how to better utilize your microwave will not only save you time, but also help you make the most out of your food — just check out all the cool tips in the “Microwave Hacks for Daily Life” infographic below.

I can’t wait to try some of these out myself, so I thought it was worth sharing!


Source: PartSelect.com

What are your favorite microwave hacks?

The 10 Commandments of Running Buddies

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If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. -African Proverb

The running buddy relationship is something special. As in, if you get a good one, it’s well worth it’s weight in gold. Or at least finisher’s medals.

He’s willing to hang patiently outside a public restroom while you tend to mid-run, marathon-training GI issues (thanks, Brian). You talk him out of that “dark place” while helping him conquer a new race distance (nice work, Ben). She’s a seasoned pro who selflessly paces you in your first ultramarathon (you rock, Jamie).

You meet her for “runch” to knock out a few mid-day miles (yep, Tasha). Or maybe you don’t even know each other, but you meet at the tail end of an overnight relay and provide some mutual moral support for the final few miles (shout out to Allison).

And those are just a handful of memories from the past year or so!

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As much as I enjoy running solo to the tune of my own thoughts, there’s just something wonderful about the bond that forms between people who break a sweat together. And much like that elusive runner’s high, a good running buddy makes it feel effortless: The conversation flows as the miles fly by.

That’s not to say it’s a relationship without its ups and downs… Inevitably, you’ll end up seeing each other at your very worst, but you also learn the subtle art of pushing one another to be the best version of yourselves.

It’s also not a partnership to be taken lightly, which is why I love this running buddy pre-nup by Amy Marxkors. She hits the nail on the head when it comes to finding happily ever after, complete with calf cramps, bloody nipples and covered in GU. TMI?

With running comes freedom, but also a responsibility — and it’s that notion that inspired me to make my own list of “10 Commandments for Running Buddies,” a set of principles to help guide us as we tackle the roads and trails together.

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1. Thou shalt remember that what happens on the run stays on the run. Runners usually cover more ground together than just miles, so they key is discretion when it comes to everything from topics of conversation to bodily functions.

2. Thou shalt not judge a book by its cover. Sometimes it’s the oddest couple that makes the best match, so keep an open mind and test the waters with a few casual runs before jumping into anything too serious.

3. Thou shalt aim thy bodily fluids properly. Say it, don’t spray it. Your buddy wants the news, not the weather. That goes for spit as well as snot, so just be smart and try not to unleash directly into the wind.

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4. Thou shalt choose thy buddy based on similar pace and goals. It’s important to have a frank discussion about where you are and where you’re looking to go. But don’t necessarily discount people of different paces! Even if they’re much faster, your tempo could be their recovery day, so it’s all about coordinating ahead of time.

5. Thou shalt respect thy buddy’s time — and vice versa. Occasional lateness is understandable, but perpetual lateness is unforgivable. Commit to whatever time you set, so you’re not leaving your buddy out in the cold (literally).

6. Thou shalt learn to read thy buddy’s body language. Some days your mouths may be running faster than your legs; other days one of you may feel like being more quiet and reflective while working through a wall. Respect each other’s space, and remember it’s ok to communicate if you need some silence.

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7. Thou shalt accommodate each other during training. Sh!t happens while running, so plan on sticking with your buddy through any kind of mid-run mishaps. Not only is it good karma, but it’s only a matter of time before he will be returning the favor.

8. Thou shalt not race without a game plan. There’s a huge difference between racing for fun and for time. If it’s the former, plan on sticking together and not paying attention to the clock. If it’s the latter, make a pact that you’re each going to run your own race — it’s every woman for herself in the pursuit of a PR.

9. Thou shalt not take things personally. Whether it’s conflicting schedules or chemistry that fizzles, recognize if something’s not working and when it might be time to move on. And just because you aren’t running soul mates doesn’t mean you can’t be yoga or boot-camp buddies instead.

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10. Thou shalt maintain a sense of humor. Above all, remember to have fun together. Repeat after me: Keep it in perspective; it’s just one foot in front of the other, after all.

In the grand scheme of things, all the medals, PR’s and podium finishes in the world won’t outweigh the personal satisfaction that comes with forging a bond that allows you each to push each other beyond what you once thought were your limits.

Are there any running buddy commandments that you’d add to the list?