11 Reasons to Train with a Group

When I first started running, I was too intimidated to join a group run.  Would I be fast enough?  Would I mess up the group’s workout?  What if I needed to stop?  What if I don’t know anyone?

These are all completely normal feelings, but I learned that groups LOVE new runners!

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1.  Accountability.  It’s so easy to hit the snooze button if you’re doing a solo run.  It really helps to know that others are meeting you at a set time and location. P.S. Who runs in pink dresses?!

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2.  When you’re marathon training, you’re running for hours.  It really helps to have the company of others.  And, when you’re talking and laughing, the time really flies by!

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3.  Speaking of good company, you can make so many new friends.  I have met some of my best friends through running groups.

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4.  Running is good for your physical health, but group running is good for your emotional health.  It significantly improves your self-esteem, overall mood, and level of psychological stress.  Read more about this study…HERE.

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5.  A group can help you hold a steady pace.  Some runners have a tough time pacing themselves.  They’ll go out too fast and crash before they’ve finished the run.

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6.  Pacers, coaches, and mentors.  Fleet Feet Nashville provides pace leaders and coaches to everyone that signs up for training.  Everyone can start with the same training plan, but life doesn’t always go as planned.  A good coach can help you adjust your training for setbacks from illness, work, family obligations, etc…

7.  It’s a great way to learn from experienced runners.  Long runs provide a great opportunity to ask questions about nutritions, hydration, shoes, etc…

8.  Shared goals.  When you’re running with similar paced runners in your community, you’re often training for the same race and a similar finish goal.

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9.  Pre-made routes.  Making run routes can be very time consuming.  It’s also easy to fall into a rut of running the same route every time.  For our group runs, the routes are always pre-selected before the run.  It gives everyone the opportunity to familarize themselves with the course.  It also introduces the runners to new routes.  They might not be this cool, but you get the idea!

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10.  Safety in groups.  Not only are you safer from a would-be attacker, but you’re more visible to traffic.  It’s hard to miss this group!

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11.  This is my favorite…water stops!  We set up coolers of water every 4ish miles along the route.  It’s such a luxery to not worry about carrying enough water for a long run.
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Fleet Feet Nashville is gearing up for their Spring Marathon Training.  That’s what got me thinking about this topic.  I’ll be pacing the 4 hour marathon group.  They offer half and full marathon groups for every pace….if you’re walking your first race or trying to BQ!

I’m blessed to run with some great groups!!

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What have I forgotten on this list?

Are you a group runner?  Is it organized through a local running store?

Unrelated…How was your long Thanksgiving weekend?  

White Chocolate Peanut Butter Crunch Bars

My friend Corrie sent me home with these peanut butter bars and I was hooked.  They didn’t even last a day!  I couldn’t wait to get the recipe and make them myself.  You make them on the stovetop and then they chill in the refrigerator…so simple.  It’s a flexible recipe.  I used white chocolate, but feel free to add any type of chocolate, or butterscotch chips, or dried cranberries, etc… They only have a few ingredients and they’re packed with protein.

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Here are your ingredients:

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Line an 8×8 pan with aluminum foil.

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Add the honey and brown sugar to a large pot over medium heat.

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Stir until it starts to bubble and add the cinnamon.  Stir until it dissolves.

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Stir in the peanut butter…

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Until the mixture is combined and smooth.

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Remove from heat and add the bran flakes and white chocolate chips.  Stir quickly until the flakes are evenly coated with the peanut butter mixture.

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Firmly press into your prepared pan.

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Place the pan in your refrigerator for several hours.  I let mine cool for 3 hours.  Slice your into squares and enjoy!! P.S.  We chopped up a bar and added it to our oatmeal the next day….amazing!

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Ingredients:

1/3 c. Honey
1/3 c. Dark Brown Sugar
1 tsp. Cinnamon
1 1/2 c. Creamy Peanut Butter
5 c. Bran Flakes (I used Special K Protein flakes.  Corrie used Newman’s Own Honey Flax Flakes but, it works well with any cereal of your choosing.)
1/3 c. Ground Flaxseeds (optional)
1 c. White Chocolate Chips (you can get creative with the add-ins)

Instructions:

Put honey in a large pot on medium heat. Add sugar and stir until melted and mixture begins to bubble. Add cinnamon and stir until dissolved.
Stir peanut butter into the honey mixture until smooth.
Remove from heat and stir in bran flakes, white chocolate and (optional) flaxseeds.
Press firmly into an 8X8 pan lined with foil that overlays ends. Refrigerate for several hours.  I chilled mine for 3 hours.
Cut into squares and enjoy!

#choosejoy

Recipe from: Corrie Huffman

Monkey Marathon Recovery

I had a blast running the Flying Monkey Marathon last weekend!  Can you tell?!

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Because it was a long training run, I had to get my butt back into gear quickly this week.  Here’s what my “recovery” looked like…

Monday:

5 Miles

PiYo Hardcore On The Floor

The cutest shirts arrived at Fleet Feet!

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I made this awesome Sweet Potato Pomegranate Salad for dinner.

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Tuesday:

6 miles with The Breakfast Club

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They brought me my favorite cookies to celebrate the Monkey!

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I ran a few more miles and did PiYo Drench.  This is my new favorite PiYo workout!

I received this email and had a little dance party for one in my kitchen!

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I pulled some of my Vegetarian Quinoa Chili out of the freezer for dinner.  I think it’s even better reheated!

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Wednesday:

Started the day with breakfast at the Perch with the hubs.

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And had a solid 10 mile run.  I felt great especially considering it was 3 days post-marathon!

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I made White Chocolate Peanut Butter Crunch Bars to take to Thanksgiving!  Big THANKS to my friend Corrie for sharing her recipe!!!  They’re so good and actually pretty healthy. I’ll post the recipe shortly:)

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Thanksgiving Thursday:

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I ran 11 miles.  5 of those were with this group for the Boulevard Bolt (my fave Thanksgiving tradition)!

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Friday:

7 miles with my husband.  We both had heavy legs from lots of running and took it nice and easy:)

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And now I’m prepped for Saturday’s long run.  My plan calls for 18-20 miles.

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How was your Thanksgiving race?

What was the best thing you ate on Thanksgiving?  Mashed Sweet Potatoes

What’s your favorite workout DVD?  PiYo is the first time I’ve tried workout videos.

#choosejoy

 

The Friday Five

1.  RunPee…because movie theaters don’t have a pause button.  Download the app and select the movie that you’re going to see.  The app selects 3-5 minute long scenes that don’t contain crucial plot twists or exciting moments.  Basically, it let’s you know the best time to go pee during a movie…brilliant!

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2.  During the holiday season, I am full of gratitude for my health and ability to run.  An organization that is dear to my heart is the Amputee Blade Runners.  I never knew that running prosthetics are NOT covered by insurance.  Their goal is to provide FREE running prosthetics to amputees!!!

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Please check out their site and consider making a donation 🙂

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3.  I have a new favorite pair of running gloves: Nathan Ranger Convertible Mitt.   They keep my hands warm, have the TruTouch for your smart phone, are super reflective, and have a soft material on the thumb to wipe your nose (gross, but necessary).

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4.  You have probably noticed my love for the Saucony Kinvara 5.  Well now, they have a Kinvara 5 RunShield!  After having soaked shoes at the Flying Monkey Marathon, I knew I needed to order these shoes.  It’s the same Kinvara 5, but with a water resistant flex shell.

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5.  In honor of Black Friday, I have to throw in one awesome online deal!  The entire Picky Bars website is 30% off!!  And the best part, the new Cookie Doughpness flavor (previously only available to the Picky Club) will be available to everyone!!  It’s my favorite flavor.  If you haven’t tried it, order some now!

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#choosejoy

Gobble Gobble

What’s a turkeys favorite Thanksgiving dish?

Peach Gobbler!

I love a cheesy joke!  I hope these give you a little chuckle.  It’s my way of wishing you a very Happy Thanksgiving! (Special thanks to Rachel for her endless supply of funny facebook posts!)

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I am beyond grateful for those of you that take the time to read my little blog.  It brings me so much joy…THANK YOU!!!!

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Who raced today?  What distance and how did it go?  I’m running the Boulevard Bolt 5 Miler with a group of friends!

What was the highlight of your Thanksgiving?

Have you decorated for Christmas or are you waiting until after Thanksgiving?  I just started unpacking my decorations and I’m so excited to put my tree up.  This is our first Christmas in this house!

#choosejoy

9 Tips to Stay on Track During the Holidays

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Do you like how I through a run pun into my title?!

It’s always tough to find balance during the holiday season. I want to indulge, relax, and enjoy the time with friends and family. On the flip side, I want to stay in shape and avoid holiday weight gain.

Here are some tips to help with both!

1.  When you have a chance to eat healthy, do it! My husband and I both come from southern families. That means good southern cooking…definitely not the healthiest.  So, I try to make good choices on the days leading up to their meals.

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2.  Allow yourself to indulge!  I don’t know about you, but as soon as I tell myself that I can’t have a food, I immediately start to crave that food. The holidays are a special time of year and I want to enjoy them. If I want a treat, I’ll have one. Just don’t overindulge.  Everything in moderation.

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3.  Limit your alcohol consumption. I know that doesn’t sound like fun, but just remember…everything in moderation. Not only does alcohol add more calories, but it decreases your judgement and that’s when I make really bad food choices (hello Taco Bell drive-thru!).

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4.  Be picky! I’m guilty of going down the buffet and putting a spoonful of everything on my plate, even if I don’t love it. Why eat the extra calories if you don’t love the food? At the risk of offending a family member or friend, only eat the foods that you really enjoy.

5.  When you’re at a dinner or party, don’t sit next to the food.  I find myself reaching for seconds and thirds even if I’m not really hungry, because it’s right in front of me.  Studies show that we eat less when we leave the food in the kitchen and eat in the dining room.

6.  Snack before you go to a party.  This allows me to choose a healthy snack food.  If I arrive starving, I end up making terrible choices.

7.  Start the day off right!  I make morning workouts a priority especially during the holidays. It’s so easy to get too busy and skip a run if you’re waiting until the evening. Just schedule it for first thing and then you can relax and enjoy the day!

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8.  Speaking of starting the day off right, I like to drink a Glowing Green Smoothie in the morning. It insures that I get lots of healthy fruits and veggies, fills me up, and gives me energy for the day.

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9.  Remain positive!  The holidays can get stressful. Make sure to pause and enjoy your friends and family. If you overindulge, don’t beat yourself up. Just get up the next morning, go for a run or take a workout class, and get back on track!

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Do you have any tips to stay on track during the holidays? 

Do you stick to your normal run schedule or do you take a break?

What’s your favorite holiday indulgence?  My favorites are sweet potato casserole and my Gran’s homemade cookies!!

Are you travelling for Thanksgiving?  Where to?  We’ll be spending Thanksgiving in Kentucky with my husband’s family:)

#choosejoy

Sweet Potato Pomegranate Salad

I love all things sweet potatoes and this salad is so light and fresh. It’s the perfect dish for your holiday table. Not only does it taste great, but it looks beautiful and it’s so easy to assemble!

You can also double the recipe if you’re serving a crowd!

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First things first, pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees.

Peel and slice your sweet potatoes into 1 inch cubes.

Drizzle with olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.  Bake for 20-30 minutes until sweet potatoes are tender.

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While your sweet potatoes are baking assemble the rest of your ingredients.

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You can buy the pomegranate arils or you can just buy a whole pomegranate and seed it yourself.  It’s super easy to do.  Just slice it in half, turn it cut side down,  and smack the outside with a wooden spoon over a bowl.  The seeds will just fall out.  ***I’ll post a video tutorial at the bottom this recipe.

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Just look at how many pomegranate arils you get from one pomegranate!

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Alright, back to the recipe!  To make the pomegranate dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together pomegranate juice, red wine vinegar, honey, olive oil, salt, and pepper.

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Once the sweet potatoes are done baking place them into a large bowl.  Add the pomegranate arils, pepitas (roasted pumpkin seeds), and feta cheese.

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Pour the pomegranate dressing over the sweet potato salad and gently toss.  Serve and enjoy!  Isn’t it pretty?!

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Ingredients:

2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
2 teaspoons olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 cup pomegranate arils
1/4 cup pepitas
1/3 cup feta cheese

Pomegranate Dressing:

1 Tablespoon pomegranate juice
1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 Tablespoon honey
1 Tablespoon olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Instructions:

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place the sweet potatoes on a large baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and toss until sweet potatoes are well coated. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Roast for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until sweet potatoes are tender. Remove from oven.

2. Place the sweet potatoes in a large bowl. Add pomegranate arils, pepitas, and feta cheese.

3. In a small bowl, whisk together pomegranate juice, red wine vinegar, honey, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Drizzle dressing over sweet potato salad. Gently toss. Serve immediately.

***Here’s Martha Stewart’s Video Tutorial on how to easily remove the seeds from a pomegranate:

http://www.marthastewart.com/968034/how-seed-pomegranate#968034

#choosejoy

Recipe adapted from: two peas & their pod