August Goal Check-In

IMG_8131

“August is the Sunday of summer.”

I’ve been hearing this sentiment crop up lately as we enter our final stretch of summer. But it’s hard to share in that all-too-familiar melancholy when you feel as though you’ve made the most of the past few months, life-wise.

Admittedly, I haven’t been the most disciplined or the most goal-oriented when it comes to training and racing this season. But you know what? I needed a mental break, plus my body needed a breather. And I’m going to stop feeling guilty and/or apologizing about it. 

This is primarily a health and fitness blog, though, which is why I always put pressure on myself to keep pushing boundaries. I like it that way; not only for accountability, but to keep things fresh and fun and for the support of a community in which we reach for things once never thought possible.

But it’s also real life. And the truth is that the reality of living a healthy lifestyle isn’t always about testing the limits of strength and endurance or earning new PR’s and shiny finisher medals.

Those are wonderful — not gonna lie — but as my “off-season” stretched further than usual this year, I’m less concerned at the moment about living and dying by a strict training plan and more preoccupied with thinking about priorities, motivation, goals and how they’re evolving as I grow older.

As you can probably tell, I’ve had ample time to reflect this month. Maybe too much. But that’s one of the perks of an extended off-season, as well, I suppose.

So, you can see how it’s also hard to believe that this is the last summer edition of my monthly recaps; the next one will be after the official start of fall, and I’ve got something a little different in the works for September… Stay tuned!

Read more about the five goals toward which I’m working this year.

Here’s the latest on my progress:

1. Seeking Balance

In August we officially wrapped up the summer edition of the Portland Trail Series. There were two final races this month, one of which I paced friends and the other I ran with Ben (or rather, behind him) to finish the series just as we began it: together.

IMG_7996

What I’d really been waiting for, however, was a visit from my parents from Michigan! I can count the number of states my dad hasn’t been to on one hand — and Oregon was one of them, so it was especially thrilling to be able to explore with them and show off the beauty of summer in Portland.

2. Training Smarter

I like to think I’m pretty in tune with my body, but this month I honed my skills on the subtleties of hearing versus really listening. Hearing can be tuned out, but actual listening takes effort to decipher what’s going on — i.e. sometimes a nap with the dogs is warranted instead of a tough workout.

IMG_8059

Along that same theme of body awareness, I’ve taken a deeper dive into yoga, Pilates, barre, cycling and strength training this month. In the absence of playing with my usual running numbers (pace, mileage, etc.), I’ve found it very satisfying to keep my brain engaged with these types of technique-driven classes.

3. Facing Fears

Gah! Another month slipped by, and I’ve only made it into the pool once to practice those drills I learned in July. I did give Ben a long-desired birthday gift, however — a waterproof iPod and ear buds — which I’m thinking I will likely be stealing borrowing for upcoming water workouts.

dont-let-yesterday-use-up-too-much-of-today-inspirational-quotes-narcolepsy-julie-flygare

That’s right; no more excuses! I’m making it a goal to get in the pool at least once per week for September so I’m holding myself accountable — right here, right now.

4. Pushing Myself

Although I opted out of this year’s Hood to Coast in favor of cheering Ben on, I softened the blow by registering for a 5k with my sister in October. I’m also keeping an eye out for fun, holiday-themed events in November and December to round out the year. Because who doesn’t love a turkey trot?!

IMG_7695

And my eyes are already on the prize for 2016. The wheels have been turning, and I’m thinking I’d like to do a fall marathon, as well as some shorter distances (5k’s, 10k’s) in between to focus on speed over distance for a change. More on that soon…

5. Giving Back

Finally, our LUNA crew has really been blossoming over the course of the season, and I love ending Mondays with these beautiful, smiling faces. Our regulars are killin’ it with PR’s and all kinds of race distances, and we’re getting a steady stream of newbies popping by to check us out (if you’re interested, #justshowup — we really are ALL levels, walkers through runners)!

IMG_8224

In addition to sponsoring our second Portland Parks and Recreation $5 5k, we also started promoting our big Spin-a-thon charity event, which is taking place on September 27 from 3-5 pm at Revocycle in the Pearl. Get your sweat on, enjoy entertainment and refreshments, win some amazing raffle prizes and go home with a swag bag packed with goodies — all for a great case: the Breast Cancer Fund.

Join us — space is limited, so reserve your bike here before we sell out. And be sure to follow along in the fun via our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts.

We’re also still actively recruiting, so whether you want to get out and stretch your legs with a vigorous walk or challenge yourself with a tough track workout, we’ve got something for everyone at practice each week. Bring a friend, and start your week off on the right foot!

How are your 2015 goals coming along? 

Are We Fitness ‘Fadded’ Out?

From big box gyms to boutique fitness studios. From hot yoga to cold workouts. From barefoot to maximalist running shoes. From quality of life to quantified self.

No matter which way the pendulum seems to swing, we never seem to tire of chasing after the latest fitness fad. And while each new twist on tradition is encouraging — it means that the general population recognizes the importance of being active — I can’t help but think that the more we’re consumed with distracting ourselves from the actual task at hand, the more we’re missing the point.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m all for keeping fitness fun and mixing up workouts to make things more interesting. But where’s the line between science and marketing, safe and potentially dangerous, effective and inherently counterproductive?

Case in point: ThighMaster, Shake Weight, 8-Minute Abs, Ab Roller (and countless more). ‘Nuff said.

Sure, fads can be fun; I’ve tried my fair share over the years. But when they derail you from legitimately pursuing better fitness, they do more harm than good.

So how do you avoid getting scammed? I’ve got five tips for deciding whether or not you should jump on the bandwagon or throw in the towel when it comes to that next trendy workout:

  1. Don’t believe all the hype. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  2. Take celeb endorsements with a grain of salt. They’re paid to tell you that!
  3. Remind yourself that there’s no quick fix. Real, lasting results take time and effort.
  4. When in doubt, do some digging. Is there scientific proof behind the claims?
  5. Invest only in what works — for you. There’s no silver bullet or one-size-fits-all answer.

As your body evolves so will your fitness program, and there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for everyone.

The secret to getting fit — for good — is actually a lot more simple than you’d think: Find and do what works best for you.

Are fitness fads our friends or foes? 

Recipe: Fully-Loaded Zucchini Banana Bread

IMG_8113

Ever have a moment when you see a shot of a baked good, and it looks so tantalizing that it literally stops you in your tracks?

Ok, maybe that’s just me. 

When blogger friend Carleeh Mulholland posted pics from her recent Banana Zucchini Chia Bread baking session, I suddenly found myself at the grocery store on my lunch break to gather the ingredients.

She had tweaked the original recipe, doubling it, along with adding a cup of zucchini, 1/4 cup of chia and a extra banana for oomph. I figured I could take it a step further by taking out some of the sugar, playing with some “healthier” flours and packing in some more fiber with wheat germ.

The result speaks — or rather, shows, in the image above — for itself: a super-moist, super delicious bread that had hubby sneaking seconds (and thirds!) as a late-night snack.

Loaded Zucchini Banana Bread

(adapted from LittleBitsOf.com & special thanks to Carleeh for the heads up!)

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup agave nectar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 4 overripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 small zucchini, finely grated
  • 2 cups wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup wheat germ

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, beat together the egg, sugar, agave nectar and vanilla until combined. Add the butter and beat until smooth and the butter is fully incorporated. Beat in the buttermilk, bananas and zucchini.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix together the flours, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and wheat germ. Slowly stir the dry ingredients into the wet until all the flour is incorporated.
  3. Spray two loaf pans with non-stick spray, and pour half of the batter in each.
  4. Bake in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for about 60 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
How do you sneak healthy ingredients into your favorite recipes?

How I Run: Team LUNA Chix PDX’s Katie Phillips

Katie2

In honor of our inaugural Team LUNA Chix Portland Run season, I’ll be introducing my teammates via this interview series throughout the next few months…get to know these impressive ladies, and come join us for a run Monday nights from 6:30-7:30 pm in Portland (click here for details)! 

If you’re a soccer fan (and who isn’t here in Portland?!), you’ve got Dr. Katie Phillips to thank for keeping our beloved Thorns players’ eyes on the prize, so to speak. As the official optometrist for the team, she provides the area’s most exceptional vision care (I can vouch as a patient myself!) to help keep the ladies in tip-top shape for game days.

A native of Reno, Nevada, Katie first moved to the Beaver State to attend Oregon State University for her undergraduate degree and went on to receive her Doctorate of Optometry at Pacific University. She’s been an Oregonian ever since; having met her husband while at OSU, they got married in 2005 and have had two adorable kiddos since.

Katie’s always been a great role model for moms who are juggling it all — career, family, fitness, etc. In addition to being a small business owner, she’s also a Hood to Coast veteran and frequent half marathon finisher, so I knew she’d make a great addition to our team when it comes to inspiring others to stay active despite hectic schedules!

Katie4

1. What’s your favorite route? At this point in my life, any time I am out running I am enjoying my route, although my neighborhood is super hilly, so when I find a scenic flat route, I am loving every second!

2. What shoes do you wear? Brooks Ravenna and Nike Air Zoom Vomero

3. What other run gear can’t you live without? Music! I find that a good running playlist helps the minutes fly by.

4. What’s your best time­saver or “runhack?” If I have the day off, I put my running gear on. It doesn’t guarantee a work out, but it limits my excuses.

Katie1

5. What do you listen to while running? I am embarrassed to admit I have terrible taste in music. I like upbeat pop music while I run.

6. What are you currently training for? Hood to Coast is first on the agenda, but I would like to get a half marathon on the books before the end of the year.

7. What are your recovery & sleep routines like? At this point I don’t have any specific routines, but a good meal after a race definitely hits the spot.

8. What’s the best running advice you’ve ever received? To listen to your body, and when that doesn’t work­ go visit the experts! Due to pregnancy restrictions and sciatica issues I was unable to run for nearly three years. After a properly-fit heel lift (thank you, Jenni Johnson), continued chiropractic care (Dr. Scott Shephard) and yoga when possible I was able to return to the exercise I love best.

Katie3

9. What’s your favorite running-­related memory? Before I began entering races, I went to cheer on a friend at several different mile markers as she completed her first marathon. I was so inspired by the runners and moved by the other people rooting on their loved ones, that when I got home that afternoon I signed up for a marathon.

10. Fill in the blank: I’d love to go on a run with ________.  My husband. Unfortunately, bad knees plague him, but it would be a great activity to do as a couple.

Thanks, Katie! So thrilled to be ‘seeing’ more of you now that we get to meet up for our weekly workouts ;) 

Runner friends, shoot me a note — info (at) kineticfix.com — so I can feature you, too!

Runners: To Wave Or Not to Wave?

runners-understand

“Since you get more joy out of giving joy to others, you should put a good deal of thought into the happiness that you are able to give.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

To wave or not to wave? That is the question.

This is a topic I’ve been wanting to explore for quite some time — not only because I find the social dynamics of the dilemma fascinating, but also because I’ve seen geography come into play during my time living (and running) around the country.

Growing up in the Midwest, it was customary to greet everyone with a smile and a wave, nod or some other form of friendly acknowledgement. But it wasn’t until I moved to Boston for grad school that my advances made in passing were met with an utter lack of response from fellow joggers along the Charles River.

At first I took it personally. I’d go out of my way to try to catch someone’s eye and say hello. But then, not wanting to infringe on what was potentially their personal meditative time, I backed off and would cautiously wait for some kind of signal before making my move.

California was a mixed bag; I’m assuming because there are so many transplants in the Bay Area that a runner’s propensity toward waving is entirely dependent on where he or she claims roots. In the ‘burbs (where we lived for seven of our 10 Golden State years), it was much more common than in the city; I attribute that mostly to the hills, though, which made made breathing (let alone any other type of exertion) increasingly difficult.

But now that we’re living in Oregon — the “Midwest of the West Coast,” as I like to call it — I’m determined to re-incorporate the wave into my running routine. That’s right; as a staunch pro-waver, I’m officially campaigning to make the mid-run wave a show of solidarity.

Why? Well, as this Runner’s World article states, it’s first and foremost about acknowledging the presence of a fellow human being who clearly shares an affinity for the sport.

It’s also a mutual acknowledgement that you’re both out there, putting in work. It’s an unspoken conversation about the gorgeous scenery or change in seasons. It’s a show of empathy for some particularly tough terrain or crappy weather.

But it’s also as simple and paying it forward with a small gesture that has larger meaning.

Case in point: Just the other day, I overheard a gentleman in my apartment building lobby practicing his Spanish. I held the front door for him as we were leaving, and he said, “Gracias!”

“De nada,” I responded with a smile. To which he nodded, laughed and said, “Have a blessed day!”

It was a 15-second exchange, but I like to think we both went about our mornings with a little bit brighter outlook on the day.

The same goes for the runner’s wave: It’s not about disrupting someone’s train of thought or derailing a workout; it’s about creating more camaraderie in a sport that’s often a solitary endeavor.

So if you see me out there on the roads, the track or the trails, you know what to expect and what I’ll be looking for in return. Now, who’s with me??

To wave or not to wave — what’s your take?

This is a re-post of my latest Huffington Post article, which went live yesterday.  

Recipe: Green Bean Salad with Seared Pineapple and Shrimp

IMG_7898

Sick of the same old same old when it comes to summer dinners? Spice things up a bit with this Sriracha-spiked salad.

I spotted this recipe in the July issue of O Magazine, and since it’s A) not too heavy on ingredients, B) chock full o’ nutrients, and C) ready in practically no time, it’s been what’s for dinner. Especially on weeknights when we’re pressed for time and creative meal ideas!

And, no, it’s not as spicy as you’d think. I’m not one for set-your-mouth-on-fire heat, but I love me some Sriracha; this recipe is more about flavor, though, than pushing the limits of your palate.

Green Bean Salad with Seared Pineapple and Shrimp

(courtesy of Marcia Kiesel via O Magazine)

Ingredients: 

  • ¾ tsp. plus ⅛ tsp. salt, divided
  • 1 pound green beans, trimmed
  • 3 Tbsp. vegetable oil, divided
  • 1½ cups 1″ pineapple chunks
  • ½ pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes, divided
  • 2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
  • 1½ tsp. Sriracha

Directions:

  1. Bring a large nonstick skillet of water to a boil. Add ½ tsp. salt and green beans, and cook until just tender, about 4 minutes. Drain and spread out on a baking sheet to cool.
  2. In the dry skillet, heat ½ Tbsp. vegetable oil on high heat until shimmering. Add pineapple chunks in a single layer. Cook until browned on the bottom, about 30 seconds. Transfer to a large bowl.
  3. Add ½ Tbsp. oil to skillet. When hot, add shrimp, and season with ⅛ tsp. salt. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring a few times, until shrimp is just cooked, about 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to bowl with pineapple.
  4. To skillet, add 2 Tbsp. oil and add garlic. Cook until golden brown, about 1 minute. Add ½ cup tomatoes and cook 1 minute, crushing with a spoon to release juices. Add Worcestershire sauce, vinegar and Sriracha and stir well. Remove from heat and season with ¼ tsp. salt.
  5. To bowl, add reserved beans and the additional ½ cup tomatoes. Pour warm tomato-Worcestershire mixture on top and toss well. Serve at room temperature or slightly chilled.

Are you on Team Sriracha — yay or nay? 

Race Report: Portland Trail Series Race No. 5

IMG_8131

And with that, our five-week adventure with the Portland Trail Series through the nooks and crannies of lovely Forest Park has come to an end! I’m not gonna lie; it’ll be nice to have our Wednesday nights back — but I’m so appreciative for this having gotten us back into the habit of hitting the trails weekly.

Admittedly, since my go-to route is a pancake-flat waterfront loop through downtown Portland, I need to get my butt back on the trails, so this series was the perfect antidote to city running. Read about our previous week’s race here.

You know what else is cool? Nike came out to several of the races to let runners test drive their new Air Zoom Wildhorse 3 trail shoe. As you can see, we all took them up on the offer, and I was pleasantly surprised — particularly with the rock plate, which provides stability and protection from rough terrain.

IMG_8122

Shoe excitement aside, I made a rookie mistake and forgot to eat a snack after lunch to give me that extra boost for the dinnertime race. We were hanging around the start, chatting, when I noticed those all-too-familiar hunger pangs.

Trail Butter to the rescue! I had enjoyed some samples post-race at several of the other events, but there was no time like the present to see how this stuff worked as pre-race fuel.

IMG_8120

Luckily, they’re incredibly generous, too! I went over to the table to ask for a sample and mentioned that I had forgotten to eat, so before I knew it I had a whole chunk of tortilla spread with the Expedition Espresso flavor in hand. Thanks, guys!

IMG_8121

With comfy feet and a full belly, it was time to focus on the task at hand — our out-and-back course of 4.32 miles. We’d start on Leif Erikson and go up Leif to Dogwood, up Dogwood to Wildwood, then up Wildwood to Birch, and up to the top of Birch. Then we’d turn around and return the same way to the finish.

PTS-Summer-Race-5

Also exciting was the post-race party to cap off the summer series. After completing our run, we were all invited back to Lucky Labrador Brewing Company for celebratory beers, along with the awards ceremony and a raffle.

IMG_8125

But first things first — the race. Ben and I decided to run with each other, just as we did in the first race of the series.

Mostly this consisted of me trying to keep up with Ben, so my view looked like this for the better part of race. We got passed by a few people on the hills as I alternated from jogging and hiking up the inclines, but made up some time on the descent and managed to pass a few people on the second half of the course.

IMG_8127

Final time? 44:03, which I’ll take! Especially since my GPS read that the distance we covered was more like 4.6 miles, so I called it an even 4.5 miles for the evening.

IMG_8124

Final verdict on the Trail Butter, Nike shoes and post-race party? Well, I had a few nut butter burps along the way (which I attribute to eating too close to the start) but otherwise it worked like a dream. Same goes for the shoes; not only did they keep me from rolling my ankles (which usually happens once or twice a run on uneven trails), but they were so comfy I forgot all about ’em.

As for the party, we had the best intentions…but since we had neither dry clothing nor wallets with us, our “quick pit stop” home turned into permanently planting ourselves on the couch with dinner and a movie. We watched Wild, of course, to commemorate our time on the trails!

For more information on the Portland Trail Series or to sign up for next season’s series, click here. The Fall series is already sold out, however they will take day-of-race registrations in place of no shows. So bring $20 and run!