Recipe: Running on Veggies’ No-Bake Almond Butter Cookies

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As much as I try to fill my diet with whole, nutrient-dense foods, all bets are off when it comes to cookies.

It was by pure chance, though, that I saw a pic of this no-bake version on American long-distance runner Kara Goucher‘s Twitter feed just as a craving hit for my usual Toll House recipe.

And, just my luck, I had all the ingredients available, so my baking took a healthier turn that day.

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Now, let’s be honest, there’s no substitute for the real-deal, mega-butter-and-sugar variety (in fact, these reminded me more of my raw coconut macaroons)…but if it’s a sweet treat that you’re after, this one won’t completely derail your diet.

And if it’s good enough to keep Kara fueled, it’s good enough for me!

No-Bake Almond Butter Cookies

(Makes 14-15 cookies; recipe courtesy of Running on Veggies)

Ingredients: 

  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 4 tablespoons almond butter
  • 5 tablespoons unsweetened apple sauce
  • 3/4 cup almond milk
  • 1/4 cup of dates
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut (optional)
  • 1/2 cup cacao nibs (or chocolate chips)
  • Optional add in: 41 grams (1 serving) of your favorite protein powder, be sure to add more liquid. Around 1 cup total of almond milk (1/4 cup extra)

Directions: 

  1. In a medium size mixing bowl combine almond flour, coconut flour and almond butter until well combined.
  2. Blend almond milk and dates until smooth.
  3. Add almond milk date mixture and the remaining ingredients into your flour and almond butter mixture.
  4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a spoon, form little balls and press them down gently using a fork.
  5. Place in the freezer or eat them as-is! Store in an airtight container in the freezer. You can also let them thaw for a few minutes to get a softer cookie feel.

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How do you feel about healthy “baking” when it comes to curing those cravings? 

How I Run: Team LUNA Chix PDX’s Natasha Henderson

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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)! 

Introduced through Jamie, our mutual friend and running buddy, Natasha Henderson (aka Tasha) and I hit it off immediately over a double date with our husbands at a local brewery last summer. While the boys chatted about their shared obsession with love of all things Boston, us gals bonded over our own favorites: long runs, good beer, hard laughs, curly hair and delicious meals.

So when it came time to create this year’s Team LUNA Chix Portland Run, Tasha was a natural choice. She’s the brightest ray of sunshine on those cloudy Portland days — an embracer of life, healthy cooking and a good farmer’s market; a blogger who runs marathons, skis double black diamonds and climbs rocks.

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Tasha’s one of those people who not only shows up, but each time she does, she brings her A game. Whether it’s concocting recipes in her kitchen, “runching” along the waterfront, being a hostess with the mostess or meeting up for mid-week workout dates, her enthusiasm is only surpassed by her warmth, which makes her an incredibly inspiring person to be around (not to mention she’s on my short list of belay partners who I trust to literally hold my life in her hands as I scale a 55-foot-high wall).

Tasha started running in junior high school, and says she’s been hooked ever since. She prefers trails over roads and is looking forward to running her first trail half marathon this year.

If she’s not navigating her way through Forest Park, there’s a good chance you’ll find her grabbing a quick lunchtime run along the waterfront in downtown Portland. And as far as favorite mid-run convos go, Tasha’s topics of choice range from peanut butter, skiing at Mt. Hood, lip gloss, hiking and camping to cooking a good meal for her friends and family, food blogging, used book stores, yoga and coffee!

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1. What’s your favorite route? I love catching a run on the Portland waterfront during the week days. At least once a week I like to go there to squeeze in four to five miles at lunch. It’s such a beautiful loop, and on a sunny day and it energizes me for the afternoon to come.

2. What shoes do you wear? Right now I am running on hot pink Nike Air Zoom Vomeros! Before that, I was running on Asics. I’m due for a new pair of shoes soon, so we will see what the future brings!

3. What other run gear can’t you live without? I’m not sure if it counts as “gear” but I absolutely love using the Strava app. It makes it easy to track and log my runs, plus I like that I can follow my running buddies and see what type of running mischief they’ve been getting into.

4. What’s your best time-saver or “runhack?” I’m all about planning ahead and always trying to think of little things I can do to make my day (and running) easier. I am NOT a morning person, so for early morning runs or races, I literally lay out every single piece of clothing that I will wear the next morning, set the coffee machine and even prep breakfast. Not only does it save me time, but it also keeps me from forgetting something!

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5. What running-related thing are you better at than anyone else? I’m not sure if I’m better than anyone else at it, but I am I’m great at saving a little bit so I can kick into high gear at the end of my run and finish strong.

6. What do you listen to while running? I am totally indiscriminate about my running music. So much so that sometimes I’m a little embarrassed if a song from my running mix comes on when there are others are around. Really, I’ll listen to anything with a good beat that keeps my feet moving. When I am in a running slump, I download a few new songs and they usually motivate me to get me out the door.

7. What are you currently training for? I am so excited for the Trail Factor Half-Marathon! This is my longest trail race distance so far, and I’ve been very dedicated to my training. After this I’d love to do a trail marathon, and maybe even a 50k!

8. What are your recovery & sleep routines like? Sometimes I have some tummy troubles after long runs, so my recovery planning starts pre-run by keeping my pre-run fuel simple. My favorite pre-run breakfast is a cup of coffee and banana with a little Chia Seed Peanut Butter Bliss (if you love peanut butter – you’re going to love this stuff!).

After my run, I like to put my legs up, re-hydrate and then re-fuel with something easy to digest. I am working hard to get more sleep, especially now that I am training for my race, but it’s still something that I struggle with because I am a total night owl. I definitely notice an improvement in my performance (and in everything) when I get a full seven or eight hours.

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9. What’s the best running advice you’ve ever received? Very recently on an especially hilly nine-miler, my good friend Jackie told me to take five quick steps after I got to the top of every hill. It kept me from pooping out at the top and helped me keep my pace steady.

10. What’s your favorite running-related memory? In junior high school, I had an especially great performance during a race at an away track meet. I was sitting in the bleachers after the race — not feeling very well — when some cute guys came up to talk to me. One of them said something like “great race,” and as soon as the words were spoken I proceeded to puke all over the place.

I still vividly remember the look of horror and disgust on their faces before they walked away. At the time, I was horrified but looking back as an adult, I find a lot of humor in the whole situation. Plus, after relaying the story to my mom, she felt so bad for me that she bought me a brand new two-piece swim suit!

11. Fill in the blank: I’d love to go on a run with ______. Lauren Fleshman.

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12. Anything else you want to add? Check out my blog, Tasha’s Dish, for recipes, meal prep ideas and my musings on running and working out!

Thanks, Tasha! Can’t wait to hit the roads, the track and the trails with you this season, along with other sweaty endeavors, I’m sure :) 

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

5 Surprising Myths About Running Socks

Source: Runner's World

Source: Runner’s World

Too often we’re seduced by the lower price of a product that invariably costs more over the long haul. – Bill Howard

What is the single most important piece of equipment for runners? If you said shoes, you’re close – and like many of your fellow pavement pounders, you’ve probably invested a good deal of time and money in finding the perfect pair.

But as the only source of protection between your feet and a potentially run-crippling blister, socks can mean the difference between a triumphant or a terrible outing, even in the highest-quality footwear.

I wrote a while back about some of the best socks for runners, but with a mind-boggling number of options available, how do you pick the pair that’s best for you?

Gus Blythe, founder of Drymax Sport Socks, was kind enough to weigh in on a few of the common myths about sport socks; he’s made it a mission to keep athletes’ feet happy and give them one less thing to worry about when training and racing.

So…let’s talk socks, people!

Myth #1: What you see is what you get

Contrary to what most of us probably think, socks are not to be used exclusively as decorative ornaments or as a way of helping to compensate for the imperfections inside of shoes; rather, they are standalone pieces of equipment and should be evaluated as such.

Simply put, pretty socks may be easy on the eyes but could very well be hard on the feet. It’s important to remember that feet are blind when shopping, says Blythe. After all, how much will you care about the color or logo on your socks mid-race?

Myth #2: Soft in your hands means good to your feet

When I’m sock shopping “soft” is one of the top criteria on my list – but what feels heavenly at first touch doesn’t necessarily indicate high quality, so dive deeper and look at what the sock is made of to be sure you’re not being sold smoke and mirrors.

“Many manufacturers use a fabric softener so their socks feel soft on the shelf to your hands,” says Blythe. These socks will work better after they are washed once, but may feel different afterwards, as opposed to brands such as Drymax, which Blythe says are softener-free and race-ready out of the package.

Myth #3: One style fits all

Unfortunately, just as there is no hard and fast formula for choosing the ideal running shoe (I’ve shifted loyalty among several different brands since taking up the sport nearly two decades ago), choosing a type of sock tends to be part art, part science — so prepare to experiment a bit in order to find a good fit.

For example, if you wear orthotics or insoles, you’ll probably need to look for a thinner sock with more protection in potential trouble spots, whereas a runner with narrow feet might want a bulkier sock to keep feet from shifting in shoes.

But regardless of your situation, remember that every foot is different, and what works for one person may not work for the next, so take into account these personal preferences when shopping.

Myth #4: Price is an indicator of quality

When buying socks, it’s better to think in terms of value instead of price. And even though we’ve been trained as shoppers to equate high price with high quality, it’s more important to consider the fabric and features versus getting caught up in the marketing magic.

Fewer bells and whistles might work for a quick workout or light cross-training, but do your homework if you’re looking for socks that will last for the long haul. Alas, there are no shortcuts, and what you skimp on at the register your feet could end up paying for in the end.

“If you think you can find the best sock by looking at price or by the best-known brand, you’re wrong,” says Blythe. “It’s foolish to pay too much for a sock, but it’s worse to pay too little.”

Myth #5: You’re not a real athlete if you don’t get blisters

In the past, we’d applaud runners who were able to forge on despite having horrible blisters. But thanks today’s new sock fabrics and technologies, athletes can continue to push their limits more comfortably — racing smarter, not just harder.

That means taking proper precautions to prevent blisters in the first place, which requires feet to be kept as dry as possible. And while many socks provide adequate protection for a few miles, the addition of sweat and repetitive movements over many miles, plus shifting up and down hills, makes blister prevention an increasingly difficult task for non-specialized socks, says Blythe.

“Choose your socks wisely,” he cautions. “Your feet depend on it.”

How do you keep your feet comfy for the long haul (and those long runs)?

Meet My BlogFest Buddies (+ registration giveaway)!

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Summer’s almost upon us, which means one thing in the blogosphere: BlogFest with SweatPink is coming!

BlogFest brings together health and fitness bloggers for four action-packed days of in-depth blogging sessions, unforgettable celebrity workouts and exclusive behind-the-scenes access to the largest fitness conference in the world.

And because I work with the SweatPink crew and am returning for a second year, I was asked to be a Blogfest Buddy this time around. IDEA matched me up with two fabulous first-timers to help show ’em the ropes, so to speak.

Before you get to meet them, though, I’ve got an exciting announcement to make: As in, I’m giving away THREE FREE BlogFest registrations, if you’d like to join us in July! Details on how to enter are below…but first:

Meet my Blogfest Buddies!

Carleeh from Mamarazza on a Mission

1. Who are you? Tell us a bit about yourself and what you blog about.

My name is Carlia, though I have gone by Carleeh since I was about 10 yrs old. I am the mother of three: one 14-year-old boy and two girls (a 12-year-old and a five-year-old redhead)!

I am 34 and have been married for 15 years in June. My husband is a combat-wounded veteran with PTSD from multiple deployments to Iraq. Currently, I am his VA caregiver. I live 30 miles north of Seattle in a small community called Smokey Point.

When my blog is up and running it will be focused on my fitness journey while juggling VA paperwork, kids and staying centered in faith and yoga. I am currently studying to be a CPT with NASM and a Pound fitness instructor.

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2. What are you hoping to get out of BlogFest 2015?

I hope to make friendships and meet with girls I have known on Instagram for years. I am also going to absorb all the bloggy goodness I can to make a legit blog and sweat buckets with the industry’s best!

3. Anything you’re really excited/nervous/anxious about when it comes to the conference?

I have been dying to get to take a Piloxing class, especially with my friend Tasha! I’m nervous about being a newbie in a field and lifestyle that everyone there is accustomed to.

Fitness started to become a passion almost two years ago when I wanted to lose weight, and I decided to look into it as a business about six months ago. I am social, so I’m also anxious that I will be overly excited and embarrass myself. LOL!

4. What are your favorite healthy snacks?

I am addicted to beverages. I love, love, love Kevita, and I also love infused waters. I typically have a water bottle with fruit or herbs at all times. I do really love to eat chocolate-covered strawberries, fresh mango and watermelon, along with trail mixes and chia pudding.

5. What type of workout could you not live without?

Deadlifting and agility/bootcamp . I love ladders, muscle ropes, lifting weights and flipping tires. But I adore yoga, too. I need them all or I would freak out; I like to mix up my workouts (ClassPass is my dream)!

6. If you could close one fast food chain, which would you pick?

I would love to close Burger King; just the thought of their food grosses me out. {shudder}

And next up is…

Amanda from The Road to a Healthy Life

1. Who are you? Tell us a bit about yourself and what you blog about.

I’m a social media and branding professional in the Boston area with a passion for fitness and wellness! I started “The Road To A Healthy Life” in 2012 as a way to stay accountable; I was working in the beer industry and had picked up some unhealthy habits.

Starting and keeping the blog held me accountable and made the whole “let’s get healthy” goal fun and attainable. I blog about everything from weird and funny things that happen on long runs, to self image issues to interviews with local fitness companies.

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2. What are you hoping to get out of BlogFest 2015?

I’m hoping to meet people who love to blog and motivate people! I’m actually going to be a Lightning Round Speaker, so I’m looking forward to learning a little bit of everything and taking the whole experience in!

3. If you could go back to school, what area of study would you focus on?

I would love to go back and study sports medicine. The human body is capable of so much, and I feel like I would be interested in learning more about our physiology.

4. What is your go-to place for fitness questions?

I’m a part of a bunch of local Facebook and workout groups. If I have a question, I have no problem asking anyone and everyone willing to listen!

5. What is your favorite blog you follow and why?

I love reading Dirt in Your Skirt, and Relentless Forward Commotion! Not only are the ladies behind these blog excellent athletes, but they are amazing writers who always seem to publish the right thing at the right time.

6. What is the best thing that has changed about your life since committing to a healthy lifestyle?

The best thing? I think my mindset! Before I made a serious change, I was angry and lethargic and unmotivated.

After making slight changes, like trying to go for my first run, I found a re-ignited passion for goal setting and loved seeing real improvement. I went from gloom and doom to being excited about trying new things and getting out of my comfort zone!

It’s truly been the best thing that’s happened to me — and without that change, I doubt I would be as happy as I am right now!

Thanks again, ladies! Can’t wait to hang out in-person at BlogFest in just a few short months…

And in the meantime, I’ll be choosing three lucky people at random who enter for the BlogFest giveaway, which runs today through 5/25:

CLICK HERE TO ENTER!

If you went to BlogFest, who would you like to meet? 

April Goal Check-In

Source: Fast Company

Source: Fast Company

First things first: Yes, it’s mid-May. And we’re talking about April.

Better late than never!

Plus quite a bit has changed since I last touched base with my goals, so I wanted to be able to address it in this month’s recap.

Wondering what this is all about? Read more on the five goals toward which I’m working this year.

So here’s my update on how things have been going:

1. Seeking Balance

Quality over quantity. Quality over quantity. If I keep repeating that to myself, it will (hopefully) one day become second nature.

Unable to contain my excitement over living in what still feels like a “new” city, I got over-excited and over-committed myself this summer. Whoops.

Between work, travel, training, LUNA coaching, family events and other obligations pretty much every.single.weekend…the pressure’s started to build.

I’ve been feeling it in my gut with each additional ‘yes,’ but only recently did this start to register in my head. So in an attempt to stay true to this goal, I made some hard decisions this past month and had some even harder ‘no’ conversations…both with myself and others.

Like, revealing to Ben that I don’t think I’m up for both the century ride and a 50K within two weeks of each other this month. Or telling my Ragnar Utah team that I won’t be joining them for next month’s event.

And examining my other summer races in the process. Not just the whats, but also the hows and, most importantly, the whys.

I can’t help but feel some sense of failure — like I’m letting others down, as well as myself. But the fact that there’s a small victory to be found in reclaiming ownership of my schedule — and the relief that comes with that — is also not lost on me.

Balance, I’m realizing, requires bigger-picture focus. And as I get clearer on the vision I have for myself — outside of just training and racing — I feel like I’m getting closer to that sweet spot of being able to keep moving forward and challenging myself without throwing the rest of my life out of whack.

2. Training Smarter

Another motivating factor has been my SI joint, which has been extremely vocal as of late about me needing to reassess my activities in the short-term. Although I’m cleared to run, per my doctor, I’m not able to race or do speedwork without pain, so being more deliberate in my approach to workouts and events will no doubt serve me well.

In the meantime, I’ve been religiously going to the chiropractor, getting monthly massages and hitting plenty of yoga classes. And, thanks to ClassPass and this guy, I’m still focused on all that good strength and mobility cross-training to build a strong core and activate those glutes.

3. Facing Fears

Ben and I we so proud when we mustered up the motivation to hit the pool one Saturday for an early morning workout. Everything was awesome — until we got to the gym and realized it wouldn’t open for two more hours.

Needless to say, with everything else that’s been going on, swimming’s been on the back burner. Although I hope that it’ll be different this month; I do think some time following that black line would be a welcome change for both my body and mind.

4. Pushing Myself

The 50K is fast-approaching on May 25, so that’s exciting! I’m half pumped and half nervous to tackle this event with Ben, however, as it’s our first ultra-distance together…and more than double his longest race distance to-date (13.1 miles).

Most of April has been spent pushing myself on the non-physical front, though. Through the HUSH Meditation community, I met a wonderful friend/coach/mentor, and we’ve been helping each other — me, helping support the amazing work she does; her, helping me better define my ‘why,’ as well as my career vision.

I’ve been feeling scattered as of late; don’t get me wrong — there’s no shortage of great stuff going on, but I’m in the process of wrapping my head around how it all ties together. As a result, it’s made for a more contemplative, less hard-charging month, which is pretty much a theme across the board for late April and early May.

5. Giving Back

Finally, we’re a little more than a month in to Team LUNA Chix Portland Run’s 2015 season, and I couldn’t be more proud to be a part of this group of women. We’ve been doing weekly workouts, and we also just hosted our first clinic of the season — a yoga and nutrition workshop to raise money for our charity, the Breast Cancer Fund (more on that in an upcoming post).

The team is gelling, we’re working on getting the word out so we can grow in size and make more of an impact, and we’ve been getting a consistent group of ladies each week who rally through a few miles together. See for yourself via our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts — and come join us Monday nights at 6:30 p.m. at the Duniway Park Track in Portland!

How are your 2015 goals coming along? 

Recipe: Baobab Recovery Smoothie

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After spending too many hours passed out on the couch after long runs, I finally perfected a formula for being able to salvage afternoons after intense training sessions:

Hot shower + Smoothie (*consumed in shower) = Ticket to feeling like a million bucks

And the more nutrient-dense the smoothie the better, so my body can start repairing itself as I go about my day.

Which is where Baobab comes in: I just heard of this most “super” of the superfruits recently and decided to give it a whirl after learning about its almost-too-good-to-believe benefits…

  • More antioxidants than any other superfruit, even acai, blueberries and pomegranate
  • High soluble fiber content (50% by weight)
  • A raw, whole, organic food
  • Ethically and sustainably harvested, even helping impoverished African communities
  • The planet’s highest plant source of calcium
  • More iron, potassium and magnesium than most other superfoods
  • Six times the Vitamin C of oranges
  • Rich in electrolytes and has a very high bioavailability
  • Contains no fillers or added sugar, sodium or preservatives

With a sweet, tangy and pear-like flavor profile, it’s an ideal addition to recovery smoothies to help boost your immune system, minimize inflammation and enhance digestion after tough workouts.

I think it’d work best for enhancing the flavor of berry-based smoothies, but I put it to the test in my standard peanut-butter-and-banana protein shake and was pleasantly surprised by the light taste and slight tang.

It did the trick post-run, but it’s also an excellent option for a quick grab-and-go breakfast!

Baobab Recovery Smoothie

Ingredients: 

Directions:

  1. Add first six ingredients to blender, and blend until desired consistency.
  2. Top with sprinkle of granola. Relax, sit back, and enjoy!

Fun fact: Since Baobab has a high pectin content (around 25%), it offers the benefit of being a natural thickening and binding agent for a nice, rich texture in recovery shakes.

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Harvesting baobab provides a cash crop for women in southern Africa and encourages protection of ancient Baobab trees, so it’s an ingredient you can actually feel good about using.

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Plus, the flavor’s also light enough where it’ll blend in seamlessly with pretty much anything — from smoothies and other drinks to oatmeal, baked goods, yogurt and sauces. Cheers to that!

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Got any other good tricks for post-workout recovery?

How I Run: Team LUNA Chix PDX’s Nicole Licking

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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)! 

As soon as I put the call out for athletes this season I got a note from my sister recommending Dr. Nicole Licking, and from the moment I met her, I knew she’d make an incredible addition to our team. Her relationship with running started as a way to stay in shape — quite literally, a jog/run class in college — but has turned into a way of life, and she’s eager to share that experience with other women.

When she’s not logging miles, Nicole works at OHSU as a neurologist who cares for patients with movement disorders. She likes to use running as a release and a means of escape within a busy schedule.

Fun fact: Not only is Nicole well-traveled, but she’s also lived just about every place you can think of — I dare you to find a corner of the country she hasn’t explored or lived in! And while she claims to have never been much of a competitive runner, Nicole does admit to enjoying the thrill of running across the finish line knowing that she gave it her all.

1. What’s your favorite route? Whatever route I can take straight from my front door!

2. What shoes do you wear? Asics

3. What other run gear can’t you live without? My hat — blocks the sun from my eyes and keeps the rain off my glasses

4. What’s your best time-saver or “runhack?” If I don’t have enough time for a run, I use my work-out videos. In 30 minutes, I can still improve my cardio and strength. When that doesn’t work, I take the stairs at work!

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5. What running-related thing are you better at than anyone else? Focus. My academic training has taught me how to just keep going, even when you think you can’t.

6. What do you listen to while running? Anything up-tempo

7. What are you currently training for? Life! I just enjoy running, as it is my “me” time

8. What are your recovery & sleep routines like? As I get older I am understanding more and more how important stretching can be. I am working on improving this in my post-run/work-out routine. I am very religious about getting to bed on time. I need eight hours of sleep a night!

9. What’s the best running advice you’ve ever received? Running is 90% mental

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10. What’s your favorite running-related memory? Winning my first trophy (2nd in my age group in a 10K). I know it sounds silly, but I had never been recognized for true athletic achievement before!

11. Fill in the blank: I’d love to go on a run with __________. My mom

Thanks, Nicole! I’m excited to get to know you even better this season as we cross a few more finish lines together. 

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