Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Running Recipe: Super Bars

As long distance runners we're always looking for something that's healthy, tastes not too bad and will fill up our hollow stomachs! These Super Bars are truly amazing as an afternoon snack or while out on a run. They're loaded with energy from the fruit and oats and have a good amount of protein from the peanut butter and almonds. Plus they're bursting with flavor and are totally customizable! The recipe comes to us from Scout, a fellow ultra runner.

We made a double batch here so that's why the quantities in the pictures are so large. 

All our ingredients laid out!
Super Bars

- 1 cup maple syrup (or substitute in some honey)
- 2/3 cup chunky natural peanut butter or any other nut butter
- 2 2/3 cups rolled oats
- 1/2 cup flour (or use brown rice flour, or spelt, buckwheat, etc)
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 tsp salt (only if using as a running snack!)
Ready to mix everything together!
- ¼ ground flax seed (optional)
- 2 cups other good stuff (OGS)
- OGS can include any combination of: chia seeds, protein powder, pecans, cocoa powder, dark choc. chips, chopped up date pieces, figs, shredded coconut, dried cranberries, raisins…

*For this batch we used a combination of : raisins, cranberries, dried apricots, dates, figs, almonds, callebaut chocolate, chia seeds, hemp hearts and ground flax seed. That's all in the measuring cup on the right in the photo. The left bowl contains the PB and syrup, and the middle bowl has the oats and flour.

Just going into the oven!

Mix syrup and peanut butter until well blended. Stir liquids into oats and flour, then add in remaining ingredients. If mixture seems too dry, add water 1 teaspoon at a time. If it is too sticky, add oats 1 teaspoon at a time. Mixture should be slightly sticky, but still easily spread in a pan with greased fingers. You'll want to get out your industrial strength wooden spoon for this one!

Press into a 9 x 13 inch (23 x 33 centimeter) pan lightly greased.
All cooked, cooled and ready to eat!
Bake at 350F/180C until barely browned. *Do not overbake!* They
really only take about 15 minutes to brown, depending on your oven. Score them after you take them out of the oven, to make cutting them easier.

When completely cool, cut where you’ve scored the bars and  remove from pan with a spatula. Cut into whatever size you want for running or snacking! Wrap, or container them, and store in fridge. If you wrap them well you can freeze them. I suggest wrapping them in saran then storing in a well-sealed container or Ziploc-type bag.

Enjoy these on your next long run or hike, or anytime as a (mostly) healthy snack!


Monday, February 17, 2014

Training For Your First Race: Do's and Don'ts

So you just signed up for a running race and you have a few months to train, but you really don't know what to do...
It's at this point when I'm usually asked "Where do I start?!?" And the answer isn't always that simple. It depends on all sorts of factors like the race distance, goals for the race and what sort of condition the runner is currently in. So despite these complexities, I'm going to try to simplify things a little bit so that you at least know how to start training.
-Decide how much time you can commit
-Set reasonable goals for your race
-Start slowly
-Follow the 10 percent rule to increasing your weekly distance
-Ensure variety in your training
-Practice controlling your breathing
-Stay hydrated
-Try yoga or other core/hip strengthening to help prevent certain injuries
-Ignore aches and pains
-Jump up in distance
-Forget to eat a balanced meal post-run
-Skip recovery days
-Train hard right up to your race
-Freak out before your race - just relax and have fun!
-Start training again right after your race

This post is clearly written as an introduction, meaning it's not a complete training plan, just a few tips and tricks that might help you out.
Also, I'm going to assume your goal for the race is simply to finish, perhaps in a time that you'd be okay telling your friends. Why? Because actually training to finish in the top of the field is tough work, takes a lot of time, and would probably lead to injuries if you're only just starting out.

First, you need to figure out where you're at in terms of your running ability. This is best done by going out for a run at a pace that feels comfortable to you. Record both your time and distance for the point where you start to feel an inkling of being tired - this will be your "base distance". Loops around your neighborhood or a short running trail will make sure that if you get tired you are still able to walk home at any point.
Now a word of advice: don't over do it on these first runs! You may not be used to running for a couple reasons: 1) your aerobic capacity (the body's ability to take in and use oxygen) is not yet adapted to running and you could feel light-headed if you go out too fast for too long and 2) your muscles, tendons and ligaments take time to adapt to the new stresses that will be placed on them during running. Doing too much now will only hurt you later, so be realistic in your first runs. Sure you might be able to go out tomorrow and run a marathon, but you'll also probably end up in the hospital or at physio for some serious injuries.

On the training side of things, it's good to have an idea of the time you can commit to running and what a typical week will look like. I would suggest 3 to 4 good quality training days each week with some other activities that you enjoy once or twice a week and a couple of recovery days that can include gentle stretching, (gentle) yoga or relaxation. One of your training days is your "long run". This is where you build up the distance and time that you can run for and is a good indication of your training status. The other training days should consist of a short fast run, a moderate distance run, a hilly day and/or a fun day. All of these different runs help build up strength and stamina to help with the long runs, and to increase variety and make sure you're having fun.

The Trail Effect Blog: Helping you get to the start line of your first running race!
Getting to the start line is the first step to a great race!
As you start your training plan, you'll first want to get used to running your base distance. Do this distance (or a little shorter) as your longest run for 2 to 3 weeks depending on how easy and natural it feels to do it. If you're feeling good with no aches or pains or excessive tightness, progress up in distance using the magical "10 percent rule". It states that you shouldn't increase your distance in a single run, or in a week, by more than 10 percent. The reason for this is that most running injuries are related to overuse, or too much too soon!

While on the topic of the "long run", I should mention that I've never trained for a marathon by running a marathon. In fact, my longest run before a marathon usually tops out at 21 miles (some suggest 20). It just takes so long to recover from the longer workouts (if you haven't been running for years and have a ridiculous base of strength) that your other training days are affected. Plus you may start to experience injuries as small issues with your running biomechanics and form are amplified with the repetition over a long run.
So if you're training for a half-marathon, I might suggest doing 10 to 11 miles (17 to 18km) as your longest run. For a 10km race, 8km is probably sufficient. This longest training run should be done about 3 weeks out from the race, with a slightly shorter, but still long, run the week after (this is my approach so, as they say, 'your mileage may vary')

The Trail Effect Blog: Running competitively
Just try not being competitive with that many people around!
The other runs during the week that I talked about above will most likely be run at a faster pace than
your long run. This will help on race day when you try to push yourself that little bit faster than in training.
"But I won't push it on race day" you say. Yeah, right! Although I'm all for pacing during a race, it can be really difficult to hold back and it's almost inevitable that with hundreds (or thousands) of other runners, you'll feel a bit competitive.

To make sure you're really getting the training benefits you think you are, it's often suggested that training plans adopt a 3 on, 1 off scheme. That is, 3 weeks are hard training weeks (which do include a recovery day each week) and 1 easy week after that. For the easy week, reduce the intensity of workouts a bit and don't increase the distances at all.

So you've been steadily increasing your weekly mileage and did your longest run successfully, but the race is in just a couple weeks and you're freaking out about what to do now. The answer is just relax! Or in running terms, "taper". This is the intentional reduction in weekly mileage and often an increase in energy intake, though for the half and 10km distances the latter really isn't needed. Keep running, reduce your distance, do a little short-fast running, do some stretching, maybe get a massage, and most of all stay hydrated before your race. Also, the day before a race I usually go for a really short run in which I do some short pick-ups (speed bursts) of varying intensity, and some loosen up movements (like high knees, butt kicks or grape vine) followed by a good stretching session.

Good luck in your race, and remember to have fun training and racing!


Monday, February 10, 2014

How To Tell If You Have A Running Addiction

Today, I'd like to share with you the story of a young man and his struggles with  a running addiction.

He's been running for a few years and each year his runs get longer and longer. In the past week alone he ran over 200km. He would get to a point that he was so tired and sore that he didn't want to run anymore, but would wake up the next day and feel the urge to run again. This isn't a new phenomenon either. After running a long race all he would want to do is run more! This is especially concerning given that after a race is when he should be trying to recover by not running! He would be sore and tired and blistered, but within a day after the race his mind says "OK, that's enough resting, let's get going!" Resisting that urge is remarkably difficult to do and often times impossible.
Are you addicted to running?

This young man has all the tell-tale signs of a running addiction.

(Without detracting in any way from the plight of those with other addictions, I would like to point out how an addiction to running fits almost all of the signs of a typical addiction. The main bullets below were taken from, with the sub-points illustrating how it fits with running.)

Running is a common name for the prolonged elevation of the heart rate, stimulation of the mind and forward movement of the body through a series of repeated leg and arm gestures. Runners are those individuals who run on a regular basis. While running, runners will experience what is known as a runner's high. Following exposure to the runner's high, runners may become addicted to running and pursue the runner's high multiple times a week, and sometimes even several times a day.

If you have some of these symptoms you may have a running addiction.

Common signs and symptoms that you have a running addiction

  • You’ve built up a tolerance. You need to run more to experience the same effects you used to attain with shorter running sessions.
  • You run to avoid or relieve withdrawal symptoms. If you go too long without running, you experience symptoms such as restlessness, insomnia, depression, and anxiety.
  • You’ve lost control over your running. You often run more than you planned, even though you told yourself you wouldn’t. You may want to stop running, but you feel powerless.
  • Your life revolves around running. You spend a lot of time running and thinking about running, figuring out how to do it, and recovering from running’s effects.
  • You’ve abandoned activities you used to enjoy, such as hobbies, sports, and socializing, because of your running.
  • You continue to run, despite knowing it’s hurting you. It’s causing major problem in your life such as pain, injuries, mood swings and other effects to your social and personal relationships.
The effects of a running addiction.
If you think you know someone who is a runner and has a running addiction look for some of these tell-tale signs.

Physical warning signs

  • Bloodshot eyes, pupils larger or smaller than usual
    •  Often seen in those engaging in running for extended periods which may occur during or throughout the night
  • Changes in appetite or sleep patterns. Sudden weight loss or weight gain
    • This is especially noticeable following an ultramarathon, or what is known as binge running
  • Deterioration of physical appearance, personal grooming habit
    • As the addiction progresses and more time is devoted to running, certain things like shaving are neglected.
  • Unusual smells on breath, body, or clothing
    • This is most noticeable to observers after the runner has been running for some time
  • Tremors, slurred speech, or impaired coordination
    • These symptoms may be present following unusually intense or prolonged exposure to running

Behavioral signs

  • Drop in attendance and performance at work or school
    • The addiction to running can be quite profound in some and may provoke them to choose running over their regular obligations.
  • Unexplained need for money or financial problems. May borrow or steal to get it. 
    • As with any addiction, money is required to sustain the habit. For running, these funds are required for running supplies such as shoes, or races so that runners aren't alone in their struggles.
  • Engaging in secretive or suspicious behaviors
    • This is most evident for those who prefer running early in the morning or late at night as they sneak out of their houses wearing nondescript black clothing and attempt to avoid disturbing their family or neighbors.
  • Sudden change in friends, favorite hangouts, and hobbies
    • Changes in friends and hangouts will reflect the current state of the runner's addiction, whether they are just starting running, or have been engaging in this for many years. The extreme cases involve moving to locations that facilitate the addiction, such as Vancouver's North Shore, or to Colorado.
  • Frequently getting into trouble (fights, accidents, illegal activities)
    • This is an uncommon symptom of running but sometimes runners will experience falls and injuries from running in new locations. They may try to avoid explaining their injuries to others who do not run.
Take this test to find out if you're an addict.

Psychological warning signs

  • Unexplained change in personality or attitude
    •  These changes can take place over several months such as an increase in positive attitude and are strongly linked to successful completion of these so called races.
  • Sudden mood swings, irritability, or angry outbursts
    • Changes within the span of a running session such as irritability near the end of long session or mood swings dependent on the runner's level of energy. Anger can also be expressed toward long, painful and unexpected uphill sections or towards running partners or race directors that made you to take this route.
  • Periods of unusual hyperactivity, agitation, or giddiness
    • These periods of hyperactivity and agitation most often coincide with a reduction in a runner's frequency and distance of running, whereas giddiness is often expressed just following a race.
  • Lack of motivation; appears lethargic or “spaced out”
    • These signs are often observed well into a race and can lead to a runner receiving a DNF, a potential side-effect of participating in races. These behaviors are also seen while the runner is at work as they are recovering from a lengthy running session or are simply thinking of the next time they will be able to go running.
  • Appears fearful, anxious, or paranoid, with no reason
    • This is especially apparent while running in the dark as any noise may be perceived as an attacking animal. As well, runners may exhibit some of these signs prior to races as they become quite concerned that they will be unable to keep up with the other runners.
If you're concerned about your running addiction, or that of someone else, seek advice from close friends, family and a running coach to help further the addiction. Group sessions are available on a weekly basis at your nearest running clinic and can provide the support needed to deal with this addiction.

Keep calm and run on!


Sunday, February 9, 2014

Bagel Chase 2014 - The End

The Bagel Chase officially ended on Friday at 8pm, and although we started the week off really strong it was only a matter of time before we were knocked off the podium. Because, apparently, you can't run all day, everyday and expect to get anything else done. It just doesn't happen! This became quite evident when the dishes were piling up and running clothes started amassing on the bedroom floor.
So Thursday and Friday didn't see a single lap added for either Jenna or I! Impressive though was the fact that Jenna only did two laps after Sunday and still managed to hang on to a podium spot for so long!

My 40 laps for the week and my day total of 16 laps were both obliterated by Craig who took off work on Wednesday to do 17 laps. Ok, ok, I'm still a little bitter, but it is really impressive that he averaged a marathon a day over the week! That sort of record will stand for a while, or until someone crazy enough breaks it next year... hmm I wonder if I can take time off in February next year?

Jenna ended up with 26 laps for the week, and we are still waiting on the results of the one-day totals to see if any of the ladies were able to pull off a 17 lap day. The RD says results will be up this week sometime, so stay tuned for updates.

We would like to send a huge thanks to all the volunteers and organizers, they did such a great job
The Trail Effect Blog loves Distance Runwearand were so supportive throughout the event! Also a big thanks to the sponsors for providing all the
The Trail Effect Blog loves Siegal's Bagels motivation to get us to go for such insane numbers of laps. Particularly thanks David's Tea since Jenna won one of their sampler packs as a draw prize, and Distance Runwear for providing the top prizes. And of course, we can't forget the amazing Siegal's Bagels for letting us take over their store for a week! If you've never been to Siegal's you need to go right now! Seriously. I don't care if you're reading this in the middle of the night or the middle of the day, you need to go! And since they're open 24 hours a day you have no excuse. Plus, their bagels make for amazing mid-run snacks, especially the Rosemary and Rock Salt bagels!!!

Run happy, eat a bagel!


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Bagel Chase 2014 - Day 3 & 4

The Trail Effect Blog - Chris Cochrane running with the Bagel Chase Bagel Buddy
Running with the Bagel Chase Bagel Buddy
After Days 1 and 2, Jenna and I (Chris) were both in the lead for most laps in a day, most laps per person and our team, Laps of Judgement, was leading by 2 laps over team VanRun. Turned out that days three and four were just as exciting and intense as days one and two!

On Monday, I did a total of 7 laps, while Jenna rested up from the massive day of running on Sunday. Despite still being in the lead as individuals, our team slipped to second spot as we were 3 laps behind VanRun.

Day four however saw us slip quite a ways behind team VanRun in the team standings as Craig ran for the better part of the day and made up a few laps on my weekly total. This was compounded by the other very strong runners on their team who all made an appearance for some part of the day.

I did hit a couple personal milestones on day four though as I did 6 laps on top of my week-long total of 31, bringing me to 37 laps. This puts me at 115 miles for the week, and I'm currently tied with last year's week-long individual total! And there are still 3 days to go!
As for teammates that were out pounding the pavement, Adrienne and I walked one lap together at the start of the evening and Jenna came out and walked with me after volunteering with her Girl Guide group ended. Clovis was also out there running while I was. Earlier in the day Tom and Heather both did a few laps. Even with all that our team totals are no match for team VanRun.

I know we have a couple runners on our team that are planning big lap days today or Friday, we'll just have to see if that's enough to keep up with the other crazies out there! As a small victory it's nice to know that our outstanding showing on the weekend has forced the other teams to really step up their running if they want to win.

More updates will be posted in the coming days, and if you need to find us, you'll know where we'll be! Chasing Bagels!


Monday, February 3, 2014

Bagel Chase 2014 - Day 1 & 2

The 2014 Bagel Chase is off to a great start! With the first two days being on a weekend, all the runners had a chance to get in some long days of running laps over the Burrard Bridge. Although there were teams ready to go when the course opened at 6am on Saturday, we didn't start till after 7am.

We did 5 laps before 11am, then we had to go do a short hike (an easy 7 km) on the North Shore with people from my work. On the way home we stopped at Kintec in North Vancouver and tried on shoes as we figured we would want a change of shoes for the following day's endeavor. After that we headed back to Siegal's Bagels to do 3 more laps of the course, bringing our first day total to 8 laps, 40km.

It was really great to see some of the teams had dressed up and were having a lot of fun! And everyone was really supportive and high-fiving each other as they passed! Despite the festivities there were some very strong runners looking to set the bar fairly high for number of laps per day or for the week. The single day total for the first day was set at 12 laps by Craig Slagel, a local ultrarunner, though there were a few others who did 9 and 10 laps.

The Trail Effect Running Blog - Bagel Chase 2014
A great day to be running the 2014 Bagel Chase along English Bay!
We planned Sunday to be our longest day, and had the back of our car filled with food and clothes, as well as our second pairs of shoes! However, we weren't sure how it was going to go as Jenna's hip flexor was quite sore during Saturday's laps. Nonetheless, we started at 7:30am and ran a few laps with Adrienne, one of our teammates and an accomplished triathlete and ultrarunner. When she left to go study we continued on our own and managed to complete 8 laps before we stopped for lunch. Lunch consisted of quesadillas cooked on our little one burner stove beside our car, and it tasted sooo good!

After refueling and changing shoes/clothes we were back out for more! Not long after lunch we were joined by Heather, another member of our team and we run-walked a few laps with her. Just as she was leaving Tom from our team dropped by and joined for a few more laps. After lap 13 we had to stop for a pizza feast as were extremely calorie deficient by that point even though we had our packs and had been eating continuously the whole day!

Chris Cochrane and Jenna Bowling run the 2014 Bagel Chase - view from Burrard Bridge
A beautiful sunset from the Burrard Bridge during this year's Bagel Chase
Tom left after our 14th lap and we were back on our own, or so we thought. Turns out Adrienne came back to meet us and deliver cake and brownies! What an amazing team we have!!! That really helped us power through our last two laps.

All in all, a great weekend! The weather for the Bagel Chase stayed quite reasonable. It was sunny for parts, windy and a little cold for others, but it didn't rain (or snow) on us! Our one day total for Sunday was 16 laps, the most yet. Let's just hope no one has the week off!
Now we're a little sore... so if anyone wants to join us for a couple walking laps tonight we might need the extra push to get us around the course!