Tuesday, May 25, 2010

3 Baby Steps


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The funny thing about doing something you are dreading is that, after you do it, it doesn't seem so bad after all. The mind can often exaggerate the consequences or the magnitude of the task at hand. Of course, the question that comes to mind after the fact is usually, "What was I making such a fuss about?" In hindsight, all of our worries about such a task seem to pale in comparison to the task itself.

The same could be said about committing certain thoughts to print, especially those we are reluctant to share.  The funny thing is that once we get them out there, they no longer have any power over us. We are liberated by the act of airing them. We own up to our situation and move on. In my own case, I'd had reservations about publicly addressing the situation with my running, as many people were still under the mistaken impression that I was still actively racing and training, and it pained me to tell people otherwise. Even though I'd had some initial reservations about sharing this news, I knew it was something I needed to do for several reasons.

Now that it's out there, I feel a strange sense of relief, and am once again finding the resolve to start over again. Towards that end, I'd like to send out my heartfelt thanks to those of you who've expressed your support after I broke the news. I was feeling a bit hesitant after I'd posted that particular update and it felt good to be bolstered by your uplifting and encouraging words.

As for the immediate future, my goals for the upcoming months are very modest, much more so than those of the previous two years. Then again, I find myself in a completely different situation than before, and a person can rarely gauge their goals from year to year with a "one size fits all" approach.

I'm currently visiting my parents; however, upon my return from this trip, I plan to start the C25K program yet again. While I've been here, I have been doing little bits of exercise here and there, dog walks interspersed with some running, yesterday's recent bike ride, and hopefully some more walk-run intervals and then a much-anticipated kayaking trip -- an all day family outing. I'm also going to help my parents do some landscaping around the house. Hopefully, all of these activities will help ease me back into a regular running routine.

My dad's going to do the Lewisburg Tri again this year, but this time has been training for the whole event -- swimming, biking, and running -- versus just the bike portion, which he did last year as part of our tri relay team. Even though he has been training for the running portion, he's not really supposed to be running anymore, due to the situation with his knees. And so, not surprisingly, he's reiterated several times how relieved he'd be if I'd do the running part. ;) I can take a not-so-subtle hint, so my latest goal is to train enough to be ready for the running leg/portion of the tri, a 5K course I'm already familiar with, having run it just last year. :) I'd really like to join him as a father-daughter team, as last year's event was lots of fun.

It's also nice to have a mini-goal to motivate. The tri will serve as my initial motivation to get the C25K program finished in time. If I start the program as soon as I return (i.e., sometime around June 1 or so), I should have plenty of time to build up to 5 miles of running and add a bit of speed work, in order to increase my stamina and speed just enough to "get through" the 5K with a respectable performance. ;) I'm not expecting super-fast times, but I'd like to build up enough fitness in the time allotted in order to do my best when August 21st rolls around. :)

Sunday, May 23, 2010

2 Jumpstart from a Change in Scenery.....


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I find that a change of scenery can often be highly useful for restarting one's exercise regime. I've used this technique several times. It's very helpful, especially from a mental perspective. The change of location, especially a brand new location, helps to "reset" the mind in terms of motivation and intentions, as there are either different associations with this location or in the latter case, none at all. Essentially, you wipe the slate clean, leaving any exercise-related "baggage" behind you. :)

In my own case, this new location is my parents' home. Of course, the primary reason for the visit is to see my parents, but it also happens to be great for other reasons, one of them being that there are several places to walk and run. Also, their bulldog, Lily, is a great "excuse" to go for walk-run intervals. :)

As I haven't been running in quite some time (i.e., it's been several months, not counting a "false start" week of walk/run intervals for the C25K program about a month ago), the walk-run intervals are a good way to "ease" back into running. The dog is up for the exercise most days. Sometimes she can be a bit stubborn getting down the hill, (which is in keeping with "bulldog nature" -- they are prone to stubbornness!), but once we get into it, she's fine. This is not too different from human behavior. Sometimes it takes an extra "jumpstart" to get out the door and get going, but once we're in the swing of the exercise, and the behavior starts to solidify into a regular routine, it gets easier with each run. :)

This is Lily's usual formation after our walk-run intervals. :)

Monday, May 17, 2010

4 Thoughts About Running, Health, and Blogging


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It might seem like I've taken a major vacation from this blog, and that would probably be an accurate statement, particularly for those of you who were previously used to seeing content here on a more regular basis. Frankly, there's been a lot going on lately in my life, and some of that stuff I'm not really at liberty to discuss, save my recent cookbook project geared towards endurance athletes and their sports nutrition needs.

These things have taken center-stage for obvious reasons, and have currently overshadowed most of my other activities; they are the prime reason why I've had to put certain activities on hold for the time-being.

Also, as some of you already know, I do happen to maintain several blogs and participate in several IRL and online activities, which also necessarily cut into my available time. I also administer forums and participate in various organizations and committees. Plus, it's nice to unplug from it all sometimes and just live one's life. :) Blogging comes and goes in phases for me; there are some periods in which I have more time to devote to it than other periods. That's just the way life is. Furthermore, I'm not going to blog if I don't have anything substantial to say just for the sake of blogging. Fellow bloggers, you know what I'm talking about here. :-D

Nonetheless, friends and acquaintances have often asked me, "What's going on with you?" or "How's your running coming along?" and to be honest about it, I've been avoiding answering a lot of these questions. :) Of course, I know that the reason they are asking these questions is because they care, (and not because they are trying to be nosy), and am very happy that they do ask. Of course, I care about them too and about what's going on in their lives, should they be open to sharing this information with me. I do my best to respect other people's privacy and make an express point of not prying into people's affairs when I sense that they don't want to share something. I find that most people will likewise do the same.

It's just that things lately have been very difficult for me, and as a result, I don't really feel like sharing much with most people these days, aside from exchanging general pleasantries and light banter. I do feel a bit badly about it, as even some of my best friends have no idea what's been going on or why I've been reluctant to get together or participate in social events, because they know that I'm normally a very outgoing and extremely social person. There's no doubt about it; I live for social interaction. :) This is why it's really difficult for me even to blog about something like this; I kind of feel badly about posting things like this, precisely because I can't explain what's going on to others. I'm really not trying to be a tease. All the same, I feel like I should say something, as it probably seems like I've dropped off the face of the planet here and elsewhere (i.e., DailyMile, etc.).

This is why, at this juncture, I'm particularly very grateful for the existence of social media and online communication in general. I relish the opportunity to stay connected to friends and acquaintances, whether they be runners or not.

As some of you might recall from an earlier post, I've had some injury and illness issues that have affected my running. While the majority of these issues have cleared up, there are still some that haven't. As mentioned previously, what I'm dealing with is nothing life-threatening, but it is something serious that I need to figure out how to manage. As this is a private and highly personal topic, I don't really feel like I should have to justify my situation or explain what's going on with me. It's not done to be unfriendly, but rather, it's just not something I feel comfortable addressing or divulging in any sort of detail here, other than acknowledging the fact that something is and has been going on with me for the past several months.

What's also difficult is that people keep asking me about my running over and over again, because what little I have revealed is not something which sticks in their long-term memory. Of course, I don't harbor any ill feelings towards any of these individuals nor do I expect them to remember everything I've told them on previous occasions, as I perfectly understand that it's difficult to keep track of so many people's lives and activities -- I have trouble with this myself. However, on the other hand, it just keeps reminding me of my situation and how tongue-tied I feel about it. 

Since I so strongly identify with being a runner, and other people also strongly identify me as such, it's been really hard to say to them, "I'm not running or training for any upcoming events." In a strange way, I feel like I'm letting them down somehow, even more so than myself.

It probably also explains why I haven't been blogging much here about running as of late. Of course, it just reminds me of what I'm not doing at present, and that's been very painful to think about. I love to run a great deal, and yet, am not participating in this activity at present. Of course, it's certainly not due to laziness or a lack of motivation. The bottom line is that I need to first resolve some health-related issues before I can run again. Furthermore, even though I'm not currently running, I still feel like there's a runner inside of me who can't wait to get out there and run again.

Maybe some of you can relate to what I've been going through. Sure, it's easy to blog when things are going well -- we all want to share our joy regarding those experiences, but then it often becomes difficult to publicly express thoughts and sentiments when things have come to a standstill for one reason or another. To paraphrase Flora Thompson, the author of Lark Rise to Candleford, "Joyous occasions are meant to be shared with the world, whereas difficulties and sorrows are private affairs."

Please understand that I'm not actually talking about running itself, i.e., when it doesn't go well. That inevitably is going to happen sometimes, and is part of the natural, overall process of running. I also believe that our so-called "bad" or "less-than-perfect" running experiences have a great deal more to teach us than when things are going peachy keen. :) These runs are just as instrumental to our progress and learning as runners.

What I'm really referring to is when things to happen to us which are difficult to share with others for one reason or another.

Nonetheless, in several positive ways, social media outlets (particularly Twitter and Facebook), as well as my cookbook writing, have allowed me to stay connected to the running world. Even though I'm not able to participate in the activity or share stories of recent racing events or my training progress, I do enjoy asking about other people's experiences and hearing and reading about their running-related anecdotes.

It's for these reasons that I hope that you won't abandon me or this blog as I struggle to get back on track with my health and my running. I really do need your support. It's really vital, especially in terms of keeping up morale.

Thank you, friends for your understanding and moral support during this difficult time. I wish you well in your endeavors, and hope that you are doing well and having wonderful running (and life) experiences. :)

Cheers,
-C

Sunday, May 2, 2010

0 At Long Last, Here's the Guacamole Recipe


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Longtime readers of this blog might dimly recall that a while back I started a series here (i.e., in 2008) called "Simply Healthy Meals." I posted two, nutrition-centric recipes, and then decided it was probably better to save most of the cooking and recipe-related content for my "healthy gourmet" recipe blog.  After all, there's really no need to post duplicate recipes in both spots, as the recipe blog acts as a companion piece to this running blog. Both activities go hand in hand, and of course the recipe blog promotes and reinforces the same healthy values as this blog. :)

However, since I promised a while back that I'd post the guac recipe as a follow-up to the salsa recipe I'd already posted here, I'm going to fulfill that promise right now. See, I didn't forget. ;) However, in future, please visit Cooking with Corey to view the full scope of my original recipe collection. It's a large and diverse repository that's got something -- that is, a healthy and delicious something -- for everybody. :-D

The funny thing is that I'd already written up the preamble to this recipe that I'd specifically crafted for this blog, but then had gotten extremely busy with work-related activities, and became caught up in the "doing" of it all versus the "writing about it" part. :) (Well, I was still writing about my running, but the recipe-writing had slowed down a bit. ;) ) Bloggers, you know what I'm talking about. :) And then the recipe and its related introductory exposition just around sat in draft form, that is, until now. :)

As I was working on my cookbook project, and was creating various salsa recipes, I realized that it only made sense to post a guac recipe that'd go along with the salsa.  Then I remembered the promise I'd made here, and the guac post that had been forever hanging here out in the nether regions of blog purgatory. ;)

So, what I'm going to do is include the original excerpt of that preamble, i.e., the one which I'd intended to  post here, (which is very different from what I'd posted on the recipe blog), and then just provide a link to the guac recipe at the Cooking with Corey blog. Enjoy!
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When it comes to guacamole, I'm a purist. I don't want bits of tomato in there, or odd, non-traditional ingredients like grapes or pomegranate seeds mucking it all up. ;-)

First, there's clearly an issue of taste. And I mean that on two levels. LOL. If you need to mask the flavor of the avocado like that, then maybe you truly don't like the taste of it in the first place. ;)

I also take to task those recipes that add unnecessary, tastebud-clobbering, artery-clogging ingredients like mayo, oil, shredded cheese, sour cream, &/or cream cheese. (I'm particularly talking about the full-fat versions!) Heck, at that point, why not just toss in some "Cheez Whiz" & a bag of pork rinds & call it a day?! ;-)

To my mind, avocado has such a smooth, velvety texture; why the "bleep" would anyone want to add any of these unnecessary "silkeners"? It not only further "blandifies" the taste of the avocado into oblivion, but also adds a heck of a lot of needless fat to the recipe as well! If you eat the more fattening versions described above, you'll need to run a marathon before you eat it, because that's how many calories you are going to have to burn in order to stay slim. LOL.

On the other hand, don't expect this recipe to be a flavorless snoozefest either. Oh no. This guac recipe is not going to be some generic, grocery-store version of guacamole, thank you very much. :)

Of course, guacamole is a condiment, not a meal unto itself, and that's how it's meant to be used. Obviously, guac isn't meant to be eaten by itself. So, if you let the guac's flavor stay clean and simple, then it'll work better with the tableau of other, typically added ingredients -- the salsa, tortilla chips, olives, shredded cheese, and whatever else you'd like to add. (See? That stuff's not meant to be in the guac. LOL.) In terms of heat, let the "knock out punch" come from the salsa and not from the guac. After all, ingredients don't need to shout at 5 zillion decibels in order to be heard. Plus, if all of the ingredients are fighting each other for center stage, then it won't be long before your stomach will be screaming "¡Ay, caramba!" too. Hahahaha. Or, think of it this way: Too much pizazz and the stomach will be razzed. ;) If you keep the guac ingredients straightforward and simple, that way, the flavors work with one another, instead of against. Yes, when it comes to guac, it's better to employ the K.I.S.S. method of cooking. ;-)

And now onto the recipe..... As promised, here's the Recipe #105: Holy Guacamole! :) recipe. Enjoy!


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