Recovery for type A runners and rainbow smoothie recipe

IMG_1898.JPEG

These past few days since my DNF have been trying. I've gone from running many miles, nailing workouts, and feeling energetic and ready to PR, to now battling a full-fledged head cold/low-grade fever, running a handful of slow, easy miles (as in only about 10!), and forcing myself to sit still.

The fact that I've been feeling so crappy this week further reinforces that I made the right decision last weekend. I've had a low-grade fever, stuffy head, scratchy throat, etc. but the cold seems to be abating. And my gastrocnemius pain has localized to only a 2-inch area and has diminished somewhat, whereas for the past few weeks, last week especially, the pain radiated down the entire inside of my calf.

Ready for one of the few short, easy runs I've done this week.

Ready for one of the few short, easy runs I've done this week.

Health is an equation that must balance. Our bodies, family, friends and even the universe will try to guide us toward the center. Gently, if we're primed to hear the message. Or not so gently, if we have been ignoring the message. Fortunately, I think I nipped this in the bud; I am heeding the call of the wild medial gastrocnemius and head cold. 

Life's challenges usually come with free, handy lessons. I'm trying to learn mine from this experience. Some people have problems feeling motivated enough to get out the door and exercise. Other people, like me, would rather do more than less. I've learned that, I am not just type A. I am TYPE A. Maybe even TYPE AAA.

My long-term goal is to get to lowercase "type a." My B goal (bad pun intended) is to get to Type A-. 

Although they may sound contradictory, here are some inevitable truths that TYPE A runners like me struggle with. Sometimes:

  • You need to sit still to be able to run faster. 
  • Doing nothing can be more productive to your running than doing everything. Or even most everything.
  • You need to be gentle with yourself in order to toughen up.

DIY running recovery "spa" week

Finally got to catch up with Freddy, my favorite Kenyan 🇰🇪 🇺🇸   and long-time running pal, during an easy mid-week run. Freddy is of the high-mileage, low-intensity ilk, and his approach has me rethinking my approach for the next training cycle. I ran 4 miles, he ran 11, BTW. (Excuse my squint. Sun was very bright.) 

Finally got to catch up with Freddy, my favorite Kenyan 🇰🇪 🇺🇸   and long-time running pal, during an easy mid-week run. Freddy is of the high-mileage, low-intensity ilk, and his approach has me rethinking my approach for the next training cycle. I ran 4 miles, he ran 11, BTW. (Excuse my squint. Sun was very bright.) 

Despite my tomboyish running obsession and extreme love of being outdoors, I'm an unapologetic girly-girl. Everyone loves to be pampered, but I'm just not the type of person who will actively seek it out. It's a big deal for me to just get clinical massages. I don't go to spas, get facials, get Botox, get manicures, etc. – not because I am against them. I'm not! We all want to look and feel our best. It's just that I can't be bothered. Plus, I'm too cheap....er....frugal. It's important to know yourself. "You do you," as the kids say these days. (God, did I just write that?)

All this said, I ruled out a trip to Canyon Ranch. Instead, I decided to embark upon a DIY spa recovery week chez moi and, in another apparent contradiction in terms, "attack" my fatigue from all angles, with meticulous, 360-degree self-care. Here's what I did so far:

Running: As I mentioned, I've kept the running to a minimum, barely 7 miles so far this week, sloooow and easy, heart rate in zone 1. I think not running at all would have been detrimental to my spirit.

Who says eating healthily is expensive?  All this for $27. Lacinato kale x 2; eggplant x 2, dill x 2; cauliflower, broccoli florets, collard greens x 2; baby carrots x 2; watermelon, cucumbers x 12; Brussels sprouts, cilantro x 3; Napa cabbage, organic pears x 6. (Diego is inspecting my produce haul.) 

Who says eating healthily is expensive?  All this for $27. Lacinato kale x 2; eggplant x 2, dill x 2; cauliflower, broccoli florets, collard greens x 2; baby carrots x 2; watermelon, cucumbers x 12; Brussels sprouts, cilantro x 3; Napa cabbage, organic pears x 6. (Diego is inspecting my produce haul.) 

Cross-training: Practiced some yoga at my gym to stay flexible and keep my "I'm not doing enough" stress level down. Also did some very light weights on Tuesday, but only for 25 minutes.

Hydration: I have to force myself to drink water. I've been drinking tons of seltzer and Emergen-C.

Steam room/sauna/whirlpool: My gym has fantastic facilities and for once, I've been taking full advantage of them.

Rest:  Luckily, work stress was at a minimum this week. Other than recaulking my bathtub, I have been laying low. I've slept in every morning, since I haven't been getting up early to run. I've also taken daily naps; it's amazing how refreshed you can feel after a 15-minute power nap. 

Diet: I've made certain to eat uber-healthy, nutrient-dense foods this week. Interestingly, my raging sweet-tooth went on a hiatus. I went to my friendly neighborhood produce store and came home with a mountain of fruits and veggies from which to create meals. I've been craving mostly liquids: soups and smoothies, along with English muffins and some seitan for protein.

Will I race this weekend?

Unless my health takes a turn for the worse (eg, I wake up on Sunday with a fever), I plan on racing the 10K this weekend. I will almost certainly not go all-out. I'm just going to look at it as speed work. My legs are itching to get moving again, which I think is a good sign.

Recipe: Overachievers' Rainbow Smoothie (vegan, gluten-free)

They say you eat with your eyes first, and pampering myself by making this colorful, nutrient-dense smoothie was better than any spa treatment (recipe follows). It's huge. I drank it all, nursing it over a few hours with a spoon, but it's probably more like 2 or even 3 servings. 

Warning: It's not low-calorie. As a rule, I try to avoid low-cal foods because they are usually "empty" calories and then if I eat them, I'm hungry again an hour later. This drink is loaded with nutrients. The whole concoction has about 540 calories, 98 g carbs (a lot, but runners need carbs!), 13 g fat, 18 g protein, 24 g fiber, which is 3 g OVER what you need in a day. It also contains: Vitamin A: 125% RDA; Vitamin C: 329%; Calcium: 45%, Iron: 41%.

You can mix this up to include any fruit you may have on hand or prefer. In terms of aesthetics, it's best to try to go for contrasting colors. You can serve this in a glass, but there's something fabulously rustic about drinking a smoothie from a Mason jar. 

Think of this smoothie as Canyon Ranch in a Mason Jar

Think of this smoothie as Canyon Ranch in a Mason Jar

Chia Pudding Layer

Make at least an hour in advance or preferably the night before

  • 2 T chia seeds
  • 3/4 cup of your favorite non-dairy milk (I used almond milk)
  • 1/2 T of your favorite sweetener, optional (I used maple syrup)

Mix everything in a dish. Refrigerate until it firms up, a few hours or overnight. Easily doubled if you want more.

Purple Layer

  • 1/2 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • A few ice cubes
  • Splash of non-dairy milk, if needed

Process everything in a blender until smooth (I love and use my VItaMix). Pour into dish. Set aside. Rinse blender.

Green Layer 

  • 1 cucumber, peeled if not using organic, roughly sliced
  • 1 or 2 leaves of kale, destemmed and lightly chopped
  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • 1 scoop Supergreens Powder or spirulina (optional)
  • A few ice cubes
  • Splash of non-dairy milk, if needed

Process everything in a blender until smooth.

Optional fruit decorations

  • Sliced strawberries
  • Sliced grapes
  • Any other sliceable fruit, eg bananas, kiwi, mandarin segments

Assembly

Carefully adhere some fruit decorations to the bottom of your jar. Use a spoon or fork to press against the glass. Fill 1/3 of jar with Purple Layer. Fill second 1/3 with the chia pudding. Carefully place more fruit decorations above the chia pudding layer. Pour the Green Layer over top. Don't worry if it seems to blend together. It should settle. Enjoy.

And check in the mirror before leaving the house to make sure you don't have a green mustache.