Posts Tagged ‘ winter ’

Running Wisdom

winterrunning

Saw this picture from 32north.com and had to repost it here. So true! Let’s go for a run!

Happy Running ๐Ÿ˜€

Winter Cross-Training

pilates benefits women  I’ll admit it, sometimes it’s just too dark and chilly out to go for a run. And although I still get my butt into gear to run regularly, I also work in more cross-training in the winter. I hardly ever feel like going to the gym during warmer days, so the winter months make an ideal time to build up other areas that will complement and improve my running.

Pilates – I love pilates. It is one of the best ways I’ve found to strengthen my body, keep me healthy, and make me a better runner. I take a weekly class at my gym that’s an hour long and kicks my butt every time. The key is to find a teacher that you are compatible with and that can push you in areas you can’t push yourself. I found a teacher who totally rocks and mixes up each class with challenging moves and isn’t afraid to add pilates props like exercise balls, rings, or bands to increase the difficulty of the moves. Also, pilates really focuses on your core which is essential for healthy running and staying injury free.

Strength Training – This is another great way for runners to build up muscles that assist in becoming stronger and staying injury free. Also, it’s really fun for me to see the looks of the guy dominated free weight area as I bench press next to them. ๐Ÿ™‚ While there are a million things I could write about when it comes to strength training, there are two primary points to keep in mind: 1. Women who lift weights will not get huge, man-like muscles (unless they are purposefully working toward a competition or using *ahem* supplements) and 2. Please consult someone, like a trainer, who knows proper form before beginning any sort of strength training routine as bad form can lead to injury and won’t be as effective.

Yoga – Great for flexibility, yoga pairs nicely with pilates in improving your health as a runner. Once again the integral aspect is to find an instructor that can challenge you while providing good modifications to poses so you don’t over-extend your body into injury. There are several types of yoga too, so find the one that fits you best.

Spinning & Swimming – I combined these last two as cross-training areas in which I’d like to improve. I love to bike in warmer weather, but tend to set it aside during the colder months. Same with swimming. Both, however, are great ways a runner can keep fit cardiovascularly and easy to do if you belong to a gym. And if you want to make an investment, buy a bike trainer that you can hook your road bike up to and use inside your house – great cross-training without ever leaving the comfort of your home!

Happy Running! ๐Ÿ˜€

Acorn Squash Risotto

ย  I’m always on the lookout for delicious recipes that are both vegetarian and healthy – as those two are not always synonymous. A friend of mine gave me this recipe and it quickly became one of my favorites. I tweaked the recipe to be both healthy and vegetarian. It’s perfect for this time of year when squash are abundant and as it’s a heavier dish that warms you through and through during these increasingly cooler days.

Below is the original recipe, plus my changes in parentheses. I like to serve it with fresh salmon and grilled asparagus.

Acorn Squash Farro Risotto

1 cup farro (I use risotto)

4 cups water, divided

2 medium acorn squash, cut in half, seeds and pulp discarded (I add an extra squash if making it for company)

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1/3 cup heavy cream (I use non-fat milk)

2/3 cup coarsely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for serving (I love the tang this sharp cheese adds so I use the full amount, but obviously it can be decreased if desired)

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 medium shallot, finely chopped (shallots add such a great flavor I normally use 2 or 3 depending on their size)

2 sprigs thyme, leaves picked and stems discarded (dry works fine too)

1/2 cup dry white wine

2 cups low-sodium chicken stock (I use veggie stock)

Directions

1. In a medium bowl, combine the farro and 2 cups of water. Set aside to soak for 30 minutes. Drain well and reserve. (I never do this…)

2. Preheat the oven to 400ยบ. Place the squash halves cut sides up on two foil-lined sheet pans. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, season with salt and pepper and place in the oven. Bake until squash is tender, about 30-40 minutes. Remove the squash from the oven and allow it to cool slightly before scooping out the insides into a medium bowl, taking care to leave a 1-inch boarder of flesh all around the edges. (I only leave an edge on the squash I serve the risotto in, scooping out the entirety of the other halves.) Add the heavy cream and the Parmigiano-Reggiano to the flesh in the bowl; mix to combine. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

3. In a large saucepan set over medium heat, combine the butter and 2 remaining tablespoons of olive oil. Add the shallot and cook, stirring occasionally, until the shallot is softened and translucent, about 5 minutes. Sire in the reserved farro and thyme leaves and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently, until the farro is toasted and fragrant. Stir in the wine and cook for 2 minutes longer, stirring constantly, until the wine has been absorbed. Combine the chicken stock with the remaining 2 cups of water. Add 1/2 cup of the mixture to the farro, stirring until the liquid is completely absorbed. Continue adding the mixture, 1/2 cup at a time, until the farro is creamy and cook through, about 1 hour. (I add the mixture all at once and turn up the heat and it cuts the time in half.) Stir in the reserved acorn squash mixture and season with salt and pepper.

4. Spoon the finished risotto into the reserved acorn squash halves, top with extra Parmigiano-Reggiano and serve immediately.
Enjoy! ๐Ÿ˜€

Winter Beers

It’s the most wonderful time of the year….!

The hectic holiday season is upon us. Presents, food, family, crowds, music, and a lot of running around. A great time for reflection as well as finding ways to unwind in the midst of all the chaos. For me I have three ways I love to unwind: a good book, a long run, and a cold beer.

For those of you who also love to spend an evening by the fire, reading or writing and sipping a beer, here are a few of my favorites, plus a couple I’m looking forward to trying!

ย  Anchor Steam Christmas Aleย  – Brewed annually since 1975, Anchor Steam changes both its label and its recipe for this Christmas beer each year. Yet year after year it gains accolades for being bold yet smooth with its dark body and its rich taste. More malt than hops, it is has hints of both evergreen and chocolate without being overwhelming.

ย  Flying Fish Grand Cru Winter Reserve – While this is a delicious beer bursting with sharp flavors, it reminds me more of a summer wheat. Hints of winter spices like nutmeg and cloves subtly weave themselves through this beer, giving the beer its full winter flavor. Unlike other winter beers, this winter reserve is light enough that it pairs well with any meal or by itself after a meal.

Troegs Mad Elf Ale – Perhaps you’ve seen this label gracing the shelves of your local supermarket or beer distributor, but it won’t be around for long. Often hailed as one of the seasonal favorites, it often always sells out before the Christmas holiday officially hits. An amber colored ale with undertones of cherries, this is a great winter beer. And at 11% alcohol and its medium body, it’s a perfect complement to a winter-comfort food kind of meal.

ย  Brooklyn Brewery Black Chocolate Stout – I call this a dessert beer. It’s heavy and rich with thick chocolate tones. Perfect for an after dinner drink snuggled up by the fire. ๐Ÿ™‚

Two beers that I haven’t tried, but really want to because of the great reviews are:

ย  Artic Devil Barleywine (Midnight Sun Brewing Company) and Lagunitas Olde Gnarlywine – both are barley wines, which are common during the winter months, and are strong and dark and include undertones of toffee, caramel and malty goodness.

Hope you enjoy your winter beers and, as always, drink responsibly! ๐Ÿ˜€

Winter Beer

My days of drinking more alcohol than I should are long gone, but my appreciation for good beer continues to grow. After college I moved to Colorado, home of the Rocky Mountains and Coors Brewing Company. Fortunately, it is also home to many other great breweries and that is where I first developed my taste for pretentious beer. I limit my beer consumption to weekends and even then it is a rare occasion when I have more than one an evening so I’m very picky when it comes to my beer selection. Sorry, Bud!

Winter beers are typically darker in color and have a fuller-body than other seasonal beers. Most often you can find winter beers in the Ale category.

There are many winter brews to choose from, but here are a few of my recommendations this season (not including ones I’ve sampled from local, non-distributing breweries). Click on the links below to find out more about each beer:

1. Troegs Mad Elf Ale

2. Great Divide Hibernation Ale

3.Breckenridge Christmas Ale

4. Weyerbacher Winter Ale

5. Hubworks Abominable Winter Ale

My best suggestion to those just beginning to learn more about beers is to check out these great websites: BeerAdvocate and RateBeer.

Also, visit your local brewery and try a sampler of their beers. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, a well-trained staff will be knowledgeable and happy to answer.

Please drink responsibly!

Fitness Friday!

Winter is upon us.

The trees are leafless, the ground is frost covered, and the air is crisp with the smell of fire and snow. Now is the perfect time to get out your outdoor winter gear and enjoy the cold weather. Despite the fact that the cold sometimes burns my lungs, I would much rather run in colder weather than hot weather. I’ve been collecting winter running gear over the years and am happy with what I now have as I always feel comfortable during a chilly run.

If you are wanting to run outside, but don’t know where to start, here are some essential items I would recommend*:

Hat – Having a warm head is important not only to keep your ears warm, but keeping your head covered is a surefire way to stave off sickness. My fav is my black Smartwool beanie. Soft, warm and wicking!

 

 

Gloves – I have to admit I normally go cheap with these and just pick up those two packs of black one-size-fits-all gloves from Target or somewhere akin. Reason is I’d rather spend the extra dough on a jacket that has inside hand covers that allow you to tuck your hands within an inner sleeve layer. My hands always stay nice and toasty!

 

 

Jacket – My favorite jacket is my bright blue Nike Element Thermal jacket with its inside sleeve pockets to tuck my hands into and it’s thumb holes for when my hands start warming up. It’s full zip and has a zipper on the sleeve to store a key or cash. I am a big fan of Nike for many reasons one of which being that their clothes often have reflective decals on them that are subtle but effective in the darker days of winter!

 

 

 

Base layer – A wicking base layer is important to keep sweat from your body so you don’t start shivering while you run. I love my long sleeved Nike Miler Base Layer shirt just for those reasons.

 

 

 

Pants – Not everyone love spandex or is comfortable running in them. I love them because they don’t inhibit my running and they are super-warm! My favs are the Nike (yes, I’m obsessed) Element Windless Women’s Running Tights as they (as the name implies) don’t allow drafts and have a pocket tucked inside the back for an ipod, key, or cash.

 

 

 

Socks – Love the Smartwool when it comes to my feet! My toes tend to get really, really cold very fast and I need socks that will wick away moisture so I don’t get blisters while still insulating. I have a range of these (just choose ones that fit your running needs) from thinner and lower to taller and thicker.

 

 

 

Shoes – Whatever shoe fits your foot the best you can use during the winter (for the most part). If it’s icy I throw on a pair of Yak-Trax over my sneaks and I’m good to go.

 

 

 

 

* I live on the East Coast where winters tend to range from 30s and lower with snow and ice. No temperate climate and no negative wind chills!

When buying any running gear I HIGHLY recommend utilizing the wisdom and support of your local running store. Not only will they offer great discounts on quality brands, but they are very knowledgeable as they are runners themselves.

REMEMBER – Be safe and run on lit roads with reflective gear and always let someone know where you’re going. Happy trails! ๐Ÿ™‚