Let’s Talk Recovery

As I’m patiently making way through this injury recovery what helps me is to approach it as I would a training block for a goal race. A healed bone and returning to running will be my “finish line”. I have to lay out my plan week by week. I need to listen to my body and make adjustments to the plan on the fly as needed. Most importantly, I need to prioritize rest, recovery and nutrition.

“Use Pain as Your Guide”
I despise this guideline. Pain is a 4 letter word. Using pain as a gauge is not very helpful and basically places me in a state of constant anxiety. Am I feeling pain or just discomfort? Is this feeling due to de-conditioning and then trying to use my right leg again? Is it just pulling and soreness from the muscles that had shut down and are now coming back to life? I don’t have a great track record when it comes to respecting pain. It’s very difficult to trust myself but I am trying…

I had a meltdown recently – the evening I first rode my bike outside. It felt great – no pain, not really any discomfort that I could tell. It left me feeling optimistic well beyond what I was expecting. Later that night as I got up to go to bed it hit me hard. I stood up and couldn’t walk properly – there was a lot of pain – it took me right back to where I was in May. I was lying in bed feeling stabbing pain and crying – not from the pain – from the feeling that I just fucked things up and would need to start all over. No. Freaking. Way. I told myself that in the morning I would get back on the crutches full time and figure out what to do next. Luckily when I awoke the next morning the pain was gone. I cautiously stepped out of bed and things felt back to “normal.” Phew. I really wanted to ride my bike again that day – the previous evening was the best I’ve felt mentally in 2 months. Instead I honored my recovery and erred on the side of yet another rest day. It shouldn’t be this hard, I know. I wish it were easier.

Progression
√ 90% crutches – non-weight bearing
√ crutch & touch – to slowly introduce minimal impact
√ upper body strength work while seated/core work
√ crutches outside of the house only
√ riding (w/o “pain”)
√ yoga without balance poses (w/o “pain”)
_ walking without crutches!!!
_ RUNNING!!!!!  🙂

I’m getting so close!!! My next MRI has been scheduled on August 14th and will be reviewed that day. Wish me luck…

Results
I had the following tested:
· CBC w/ auto differential
· Ferritin
· Comprehensive metabolic panel
· Magnesium
· Parathyroid hormone, intact with calcium
· TSH
· Alkaline phosphatase, bone specific
· Inorganic phosphorus
· Vitamin D – 25 hydroxy

The only level I was concerned about was Vitamin D as it was on the low side the last time I had fractures. Although there is always room for improvement (you will see how I’m achieving that below) it was at a safe level. I felt confident that everything else would be great but it’s always good to take a look. As expected, all of my levels were where they needed to be! (I’m not going to post everything but if anyone wants to see any of my results please let me know)

Next up was the bone density test. Although my T-Score puts me in the lower end of the normal range, I am still within that range and the Dr. is not concerned. The more important score is the Z-Score which compares my results to a person of the same gender and age as myself, and she was happy with this score.

With the results of these tests my physician confirmed that my fracture is most likely due to a combination of the following:
1) biomechanical issues (*I am fully to blame for slacking off in this area.)
2) long term damage from prolonged use of Depo Provera (*I have been off this, and all birth control for almost 9 years. Please DO NOT EVER use Depo.)
3) exercise/nutrition imbalance (*this is a big one that deserves way more attention but I will touch on it briefly.)

Nutrition
The first order of business was to add some weight. This is standard protocol when you have a stress fracture as your body needs to heal, and the best way to facilitate that is by providing it with abundance. Any hint of deprivation is stealing resources that your body can use to mend itself. I learned the importance of this after my last set of fractures 9 years ago and now anytime I am taking a break (or off-season) I make sure to put on a few pounds. It’s a healthy practice that everyone should incorporate.

Time for honesty – it’s not easy. I don’t feel comfortable putting on weight so while I am always willing to do so for my health I’m also anxious to take it back off (safely). When my physician said we couldn’t rule out “female athlete triad” my initial reaction was to defend myself and dismiss it because she doesn’t really know me. However I am seeing her for this exact reason – real talk and an understanding of female athletes. So I am not taking it lightly. My plan was to initially put on some weight while I heal, then slowly start to take it back off so that when I’m cleared to run again I will be back to my “comfortable” weight. My physician informed me this week that I need to continue focusing on weight. So I will.

I am achieving this by following the same nutrition guidelines I follow during training, just with slightly smaller portions. Since 2009 I have been following a “5 servings of healthy fat per day” rule and I continue to do that even though I am not training. Healthy fats are always my number 1 focus – avocado, nut butter, hemp hearts, seeds, nuts, coconut oil – are among my daily servings. Equally important for recovery is protein, as protein is called upon to rebuild bone. Again I’m eating the same things I would eat if I were training – tempeh, beans, lentils, pea protein powder – I am not cutting out any protein during my time off from training. The biggest change has come in allowing treats, because who doesn’t need some vegan ice cream when you’re feeling down? 🙂

Supplements
I am in great hands when it comes to receiving direction on what supplements I should take to ensure proper healing and am extremely grateful that Unived provides a lot of what I need to stay on top of my recovery. A company dedicated to athletes, run by athletes who devote so much time to researching and obtaining the highest quality ingredients. I consider myself very lucky to be a part of their family.

Morning
Blood Builder – I’ve been taking MegaFood’s Blood Builder since 2010. It’s my source of B12 while also providing a hefty dose of iron and folate.

Mid-Morning

Unived D-veg – each serving has 2500 I.U. of pure vitamin D3 derived from Lichen. D3 is a fat soluble vitamin, so it is mixed with coconut oil which aids in fast transport to the bloodstream and maximum absorption.

Afternoon
Unived Colox
Colox offers natural relief from joint pain and inflammation which is superior to and safer than OTC NSAIDs. It contains Boswellia serrata, Ashwagandha, and Curcuma longa extracts.
Curcumin – in addition to the Colox I am taking 500 mg of Curcumin C3 complex. Again this is a great anti-inflammatory which also helps increase the antioxidant capacity of the body and can even improve your mood! **Unived will be releasing its own highly bio-available Curcumin soon!
Cissus Quadrangularis –
clinically proven to accelerate fracture healing and reduce the recovery time.

Evening
Unived CalDVegI’ve been taking this daily prior to the stress fracture but a supplement for enhancing bone health is definitely a priority. CalDVeg is sourced from algae and also contains Vitamin D3, Vitamin K2, and magnesium which will enhance calcium absorption and utilization.
Unived Colox – dose 2 for the day
Magnesium –
I use a powdered magnesium fizz blend to assist with enhancing bone density through assimilating calcium absorption and activating Vitamin D. It’s also great for relieving anxiety and providing calm, which is why I like to drink it before bed.
Zinc –
zinc supplementation aids in callus formation, enhances bone protein production, and thus stimulates fracture healing.
Curcumin –
dose 2 for the day
Cissus –
dose 2 for the day Overall I’m feeling very optimistic about my results and progress, so now it’s just a matter of giving my bones optimal time to fully heal so I can come back even stronger!

Beyond this my focus is on relaxing – the biggest challenge of all – but it’s a good opportunity to spend quality time with family and friends, reflect on the mentality that broke me, set positive future goals, and most importantly be thankful for everything I have.

I hope everyone is having a great season of training and racing – run some stunning trail miles for me! 🙂

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LivWell Plant-Based Protein

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I know what you’re thinking…another vegan protein powder. As public perception shifts towards the many benefits of opting for plant-based nutrition and athletes in particular notice that they can recover and perform at higher levels when they switch to a vegan diet the market is becoming super-saturated with plant-based protein powders which can leave your head spinning. I have to be honest in saying that my interest in LivWell piqued when I learned that the company is based out of Philadelphia, PA – close to my home town. I always have much love for Philly and anything that comes from this fine city so I had to check it out.

The story is one I can definitely get behind as an athlete who cares a great deal about the quality of the fuel I’m putting in my body. The founder is a fitness and wellness enthusiast who grew tired of corporate influence over the food industry and began to question the quality of the ingredients going into some of the products he was consuming. After months of research, consulting and experimenting he came up with his own vegan protein powders that boast only high-grade, organic, 100% plant-based ingredients.
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Before I get to the fun stuff, the contents of LivWell Protein are definitely worth talking about. I’ll start with the protein sources:

Brown rice – 95% protein, fast absorption, aids muscle recovery, all 20 amino acids, lean muscle gains
Yellow peas – 80% protein, high levels of BCAA’s, high in lysine & arginine, healthy circulation, collagen formation
Sacha inchi – 60% protein, high in tryptophan, brain boosting, fatty acid omega 3, easily digested
Hemp seeds – 50% protein, packed with fiber, fatty acids, sustained absorption, easily absorbed

What you’re getting:
– 17 grams of complete protein
– state-of-the-art cold processed
– powerful amino acid profile (with all 20 amino acids)
– smooth texture
– fast & slow digesting proteins for sustained intake
– 3rd party lab testing of every batch – no heavy metals
– packaging made with recycled material
– free from soy, gluten & dairy
– no artificial anything – flavors, sweeteners or preservatives
– USDA Certified Organic – non-gmo, free from any synthetic fertilizers, hormones, antibiotics and chemicals
100% VEGAN 🙂

Now onto the fun part…testing the product! The first thing I noticed was the pleasant smell of both flavors when I opened the packages – this was a good sign! You can tell there is nothing artificial in these powders. LivWell uses organic wild vanilla bean pods and Ecuadorian raw cacao for natural flavors.

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I started with one of my simple yet delicious smoothies – chocolate peanut butter banana. 1 cup of Califia Farms unsweetened almond milk, 1 frozen banana, 1 heaping Tbsp of peanut butter, and 1 serving of LivWell Raw Cacao protein. I can tell you that the protein tasted as great as it smelled! And what I really noticed is how smooth it was – there was no chalky or grainy consistency that you sometimes find with protein powders. I was off to a great start!

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Next up I decided to use the Wild Vanilla Bean protein in my classic Protein Pancakes (topped with banana and peanut butter – do you notice a trend here?) One word: delicious!

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Then I went onto LivWell’s Instagram page which showcases so many amazing recipes it’s hard to choose where to start. However once I saw Vegan S’mores Protein Milkshake I was sold. I used 1 cup of Califia Farms unsweetened almond milk, 1 frozen banana, 1 serving of LivWell Raw Cacao protein, 4 pitted dates, 1/4 cup cashews, and I topped it with aquafaba marshmallow fluff.

For my last taste test it was an easy decision when this Raw Vanilla Protein “Donut” recipe popped up on their IG page. Wow. These were super-easy to make and the flavor is incredible. I will definitely be making them again…and again.

Raw Vanilla Protein “Donuts”

  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 6 soaked medjool dates, pitted
  • 1 cup unsweetened, shredded coconut
  • 2 Tbsp. maple syrup
  • 2 scoops LivWell vanilla protein
  • ¼ cup pecans or walnuts
  • pinch of sea salt
  • Icing:
  • 3 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 1 Tbsp maple syrup

Directions

  1. Blend all ingredients (except icing ingredients) in a processor until a dough forms.
  2. Roll into balls and freeze for about 20 minutes.
  3. Melt icing ingredients and roll balls into the icing once cool.
  4. Freeze balls again until solid and continue rolling balls in icing and freezing until desired icing is achieved (I rolled them twice).
  5. Store in fridge or freezer.


Credit: LivWell Nutrition

My verdict? I’m definitely sold on this protein and will be purchasing both flavors. The taste is superior, the texture is unlike any other protein powder I’ve tried, and the ingredients are clean and pure. Bonus: I’ll be supporting a local PA company! If you’re interested in trying LivWell you can order yours here. And make sure to check out their IG page if you’re looking for fun new ways to use their protein powders. Enjoy!

 

#FridayFuel – Teff Muffins

You know what I love about muffins? They are perfect little (or sometimes not so little) single-serving, portable snacks that you can pack a lot of goodies into. This muffin recipe is just that – which is why I have been making them for years!

The supergrain teff! Photo: Huffington Post

The supergrain teff! Photo: Huffington Post

If you haven’t been introduced to teff it is time to check it out! Teff is an iron-packed grain from Africa that is gaining popularity and accessibility as it is said to be the grain of choice for elite Ethiopian athletes. In addition to the benefits of easily absorbed iron, it also boasts high amounts of protein, fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, and calcium. Since many females in endurance sports can struggle to maintain adequate iron levels (vegan or not), adding teff to your diet is a great way to boost tissue iron levels ladies!

Teff Muffins

  • Servings: 12
  • Difficulty: easy
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Nutrient dense muffins to be enjoyed at any time of day.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups teff flour
  • ½ cup tapioca flour
  • 2 tablespoons ground flax seeds
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¾ cup orange juice
  • ½ cup applesauce
  • ½ cup agave nectar or maple syrup
  • ⅓ cup melted virgin coconut oil
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional – I add a few on top of the muffins)
  • ½ cup raisins
  • 1 cup grated carrots
  • 1 small tart apple, diced

Directions

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Oil a 12-cup muffin pan. 2) In a medium sized mixing bowl, add the teff flour, tapioca flour, ground flax, baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum, sea salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Whisk together well. 3) In another mixing bowl, whisk together the orange juice, applesauce, agave nectar, and oil. 4) Add the wet ingredients to the dry and whisk together. Then add the nuts, dried fruit, and grated carrots, and diced apples. Continue to mix with a large wooden spoon until all of the ingredients are combined. Be sure to not over mix the batter! 5) Spoon batter into oiled muffin cups and bake for about 25 to 30 minutes. 6) Cool muffins on a wire rack.

#FridayFuel – Coconut Quinoa and Sweet Potato Curry

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Jars of curry spice mix to save prep time

If you haven’t noticed I am a big fan of curries. I could eat curry every day. Easy to make, so much flavor, and so many benefits for athletes! I always preach that the best way to recover from a hard workout or race is with a nourishing curry. I cannot tell you the last time I’ve popped a NSAID – it’s been so many years. Why take a pill created in a lab when you can use natural spices to keep inflammation at bay?

As I enjoy curries so often, I find it convenient to mix up a few single-serving jars of my curry mix at a time. Although it doesn’t take that long to throw a mix of spices into a dish on the stove I find it quick and easy to simply open 1 jar and dump the entire contents in the pan when I am in a hurry to get dinner made!

Coconut Quinoa and Sweet Potato Curry is one of my favorite go-to curry dishes. After my evening workout I can throw the quinoa and chickpeas in a saucepan while I hop in the shower and prepare the rest afterwards.

Coconut Quinoa & Sweet Potato Curry

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Credit: VegWeb.com

Ingredients

  • 1 15-ounce can chickpeas with liquid
  • 1/2 cup dry quinoa
  • 1 medium-large sweet potato, cubed
  • 1/2 medium sweet onion, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves minced garlic
  • 2-3 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 15-ounce can lite coconut milk
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 3/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 1/8 tsp cardamom
  • 1/8 tsp ginger

Directions

  1. Add chickpeas with liquid and quinoa to a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat – simmer for 15 minutes until liquid is absorbed.
  2. Use another saucepan with a steamer basket and bring water to a boil. Add sweet potatoes and steam for 5-10 minutes until tender.
  3. In a skillet, heat coconut oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and sauté until the onion is translucent.
  4. Add your spice mix, the chickpea quinoa mix, and sweet potatoes to the skillet and add coconut milk.
  5. Mix well and bring to a boil before covering and reducing the heat to low.
  6. Simmer 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the coconut milk reduces to a thick curry.

#FridayFuel – Avocado Chickpea Salad

A slight twist on your typical chickpea salad – I use ripe avocado in place of vegan mayonnaise as a healthy, creamy fat alternative. There are many ways to enjoy this dish – I like to load it into romaine lettuce wraps (and then add pickle slices on top for even more dill flavor!). I also enjoy it as a topper to a spinach salad. You can add it in a wrap or pita with other veggies and sprouts. Or simply eat it out of the bowl with a spoon 🙂

Avocado Chickpea Salad

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 can chickpeas
  • 1 stalk of celery, cut into large pieces
  • 1 medium carrot, cut into large pieces
  • 1 Tbsp onion
  • 1/2 of a ripe avocado
  • 1/4 tsp dried parsley
  • 1/2 tsp dried mustard
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp dried dill (I prefer lots of dill!)

Directions

  1. Rinse and drain chickpeas.
  2. Add celery, carrot and onion to a food processor and pulse a few times to roughly chop.
  3. Add the remainder of the ingredients and pulse a few more times, scraping down the sides as needed, until well-mixed but with some chunks remaining.

#FridayFuel – Killer Kale Salad

Kale salad is one of my favorites! It is my preferred meal base the night before a race. This recipe is taken from my favorite eatery here in New Paltz – Karma Road’s Kalecado. It’s super-easy to make a big batch of salad that can last for a few days.

Killer Kale Salad

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 bunch of kale
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 3 large carrots – grated or shredded
  • ~ 1 cup salted cashews
  • ~ 1/2 cup dried cranberries

Directions

  1. Wash your kale, remove stems, and rip into bite-size pieces.
  2. Scoop out the insides of your avocado, roll up your sleeves, and massage the kale by mashing the avocado with your hands until it’s full incorporated.
  3. Add carrots, cashews, and cranberries – give it another good mix to incorporate all ingredients.
  4. Store in the fridge.

 

#FridayFuel – Avocado Chia Chocolate Mousse

Is it just me or has it been one heck of a week? Sooo…let’s talk dessert! Although dessert doesn’t always fit in to our training and racing goals, I’ll be the first to admit that there are many times when I’m craving something sweet & chocolatey. That’s why this super-easy Avocado Chia Chocolate Mousse is one of my favorites! And why it is featured on my Lighter profile.

How easy you ask?

  1. Place all ingredients in a food processor
  2. Process
  3. Pour into serving dishes & pop in the fridge
  4. Eat 🙂

You do want to let this mousse chill for a few hours before enjoying, so I normally prepare it in the morning so that it’s ready for my after-dinner treat. I separate it into 4 serving dishes and seal tight. That’s almost a whole week of desserts!

**the recipe on the Lighter profile is for a single serving, the recipe on my page creates 4 servings

Avocado Chia Chocolate Mousse

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

When training volume is high and I need an extra dose of healthy fats this dessert/snack doubles to satisfy my sweet tooth.

Ingredients

  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 Tbsp cocoa powder (or use raw cacao powder for an extra boost of nutrients)
  • ½ cup chia seeds
  • 4 Tbsp agave (or less if your taste allows – you can also use maple syrup)

Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor or high power blender and process for 3-5 minutes, scraping down the sides as needed.
  2. Pour into a serving dish, cover and chill for a few hours.