A Nutty Banana Chia Loaf

I was feeling a little out of sync today. The alarm clock rang and I found it very hard to get out of bed. The good news however, is that my cough seems to have subsided a little since last night and I think I’m on the path to recovery.

I tried to make up for my recent inactivity by walking everywhere today. This included a 45 minute walk to meet up with my co-founders at the “office” and another 35 minute walk back home from our last meeting in Farringdon. Not only was this a good idea, fitness-wise, but it also allowed me to by-pass the chaos due to the bus strike that was happening in London today.

I was hankering after a sweet treat today, but have been staying away from all forms of processed sugar and chocolate as part of my new resolution to eat whole and natural. To stop myself from jetting off to the Tesco’s nearby for a quick sugar fix, I decided to round up a quick banana loaf, filled with healthy, whole ingredients to satiate me. It was also a good use for the browning bunch of bananas lying in my fruit bowl.

Ingredients I threw in included bananas (obviously), almonds, pecans and chia seeds. Other fillers were 100% buckwheat flour and maple syrup to give it a nice caramel-y taste. A bit of grinding, mixing, mashing and baking for an hour and we were done – a nutty banana chia loaf.

banana loaf

banana loaf

Whilst my loaf was cooling, I popped down to the gym for a 50 minute easy run ending with a 10 minute uphill walk. The run went well, and I managed to end at a speed of 11.5km/h. 3 straight days of running and I can feel my leg muscles starting to tighten. I think I’d better do a spot of foam rolling after this (followed by more banana bread). :)

Homemade Almond Milk

I was working from home today. Sitting down all day, in the flow of work and not needing to stop to leave “the office” for home, it is incredibly easy to continue working well into the evening. It was therefore a little difficult to motivate myself to go for a run today, comfortable as I was in my PJs with my cups of tea.

I finally managed to prise myself from my laptop by luring myself to the kitchen. I had left 2 cups of almonds soaking as I wanted to make some fresh almond milk, so that’s what I did instead. I tend to take my breakfast oats with almond milk, rather than cow’s milk, and tend to go for the unsweetened Alpro almond milk brand.

There might not be any added sugars, but upon closer inspection of the ingredients, there are a lot of other additives in there. Check the listed ingredients out: “Water, Almond (2%), Calcium (Tri-Calcium Phosphate), Sea Salt, Stabilisers (Locust Bean Gum, Gellan Gum), Emulsifier (Sunflower Lecithin), Vitamins (Riboflavin (B2), B12, E, D2)“. It’s not that bad I suppose, compared to some of the other commercially produced nut milk drinks out there, but I’d rather drink wholly natural almond milk, without the added calcium and vitamins if I can, especially since it’s so easy to make.

Blanched almonds

Almond Milk Recipe

  • 1 cup of blanched almonds
  • 2.5 – 3 cups of water
  • Dates / maple syrup / any other natural sweetener (optional)
  1. Soak the almonds overnight or for at least 9 hours in cold water.
  2. When ready, add almonds to a blender with fresh water. Add 3 cups of water for each cup of almonds. Feel free to add more or less water depending on how thick you like your almond milk.
  3. Blend for 3 minutes then filter the contents through some muslin cloth. If you don’t mind drinking slightly textured almond milk, feel free to skip this step!
  4. Add your natural sweetener to the filtered milk and reblend if desired.
  5. Store in a bottle in the fridge and enjoy!

Be sure to save the leftover ground almonds as they are filled with goodness and can be used for gluten-free baking recipes. To store it, I dried the ground almonds out for about 1 hour and 30 minutes at 130°C in my oven (stirring the almonds around a few times throughout), before stuffing it in the freezer. Easy.

Once I was away from my computer, the spell was broken and I quickly changed into my running kit. I ended up doing a great progressive run over 55 minutes (with 5 additional minutes of uphill walking), starting at a speed of 9.0km/h and ending at 12.0km/h. I’m coughing a little more now than I was, so I hope I didn’t push it too hard…but I did feel good as I was running.

Dinner was a vegetable stir-fry with buckwheat noodles in tamari and tahini sauce. It was filled to the brim with all sorts of vegetables, namely carrots, tender stem broccoli, peppers, mushrooms and spinach. Perfect for a cold night.

Vegetable stir-fry with buckwheat noodles

Avocado And Eggs On Toast

OK, so I lied in my last post. I said I would stop all exercise until I recovered fully but after 8 days of doing nowt, I couldn’t stand it anymore and went for an easy run.

In my defence, I did go to a doctor yesterday who confirmed that this was just a remnant cough from my bout of flu which can take weeks to fully recover from (it’s making the rounds around London at the moment). My lungs and respiratory passage were checked and she confirmed that there was no infection. I forgot to ask if I was good to exercise, but decided that an easy run wouldn’t kill me since this was more of a throat cough, rather than a chesty one.

So how did it go?

It was good to run on fresh legs again. As I has mentioned, I had been training hard prior to my illness and I was frequently running on tired legs. This was the first run in a while where I could feel no soreness or tightness in my leg muscles which was rather nice.

Tougher to handle was the ever so slight constriction in my breathing and my constant need to cough. I was so happy to be getting down and sweaty again though, that it really didn’t bother me much. I was definitely more out of shape than I had been, and am therefore looking forward to continuing my training (assuming this run session doesn’t mean my health degenerates again!).

This evening’s post-run meal is a dish that I’ve been eating pretty much constantly since I recently tried it. My recent change in diet and nutrition is something I definitely want to go to in a lot more detail, but that’ll be for another post. For now, here’s a photo of the absolutely scrumptious dinner I had of avocado with a sprinkling of chilli flakes and hard boiled eggs on 100% wholegrain spelt toast.

Avocado and eggs on wholegrain toast

It’s got the added benefits of being super simple to make whilst being filled with wholesome goodness.

Recipe

Serves 1

  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 2 eggs
  • chilli flakes
  • 100% wholegrain toast
  • freshly ground pepper
  1. Cut the avocado in half, twist to separate the two halves, and scoop out the flesh.
  2. Take a fork and roughly mash the avocado.
  3. Sprinkle some chilli flakes and pepper to taste.
  4. Set aside and cook the eggs in any old way you like. I had some hard boiled eggs sitting in my fridge within easy reach, but I’d normally either make them scrambled or poached.
  5. Toast two slices of 100% wholegrain toast.
  6. Assemble the lot together on a plate and enjoy!

This is soooo simple to make but so good! I can’t believe that I use to stray away from avocados because of what I perceived to be its high fat content. I’m making up for lost time now. :)

Running With A Cough?

Doesn’t it always seem to be the case that you tend to want to go running the most exactly when you can’t or shouldn’t?

I had been in a really good rhythm both fitness and diet-wise since the second of January. I was running pretty much 6 times a week, with most of my sessions lasting an hour or more. It was unfortunate then, that I got hit by what I think was the flu bug.

It started exactly 2 weeks ago when I was suddenly hit with an achy feeling in my muscles, fever and sniffles. Thankfully, it only lasted a day, but my flu symptoms were quickly replaced by an extremely bad cough. 2 weeks have passed and I still haven’t had a decent night’s sleep due to my incessant cough which seems to get most violent at night.

I tried a couple of treadmill runs during days when I felt like my symptoms were alleviating. Whether that was a good idea or not, I don’t know, but my cough seemed to be getting worse and it got me worried. I hadn’t been this ill for this long in a good number of years and I didn’t like it… Playing doctor on Google also didn’t help when I read that one shouldn’t exercise if symptoms come from below the neck (does a cough count as above or below? I suppose a chesty cough really counts as deriving from the chest).

And so, I made the hard mental decision to stop exercising until I’m fully recovered. I feel rubbish about it as I was really on a roll prior to all this, with my fitness improving and getting myself into a fitness routine. I also find it easier to stick to a good diet when I’ve exercised, something about good habits breeding more good habits I suppose.

Still, my decision to eat whole and natural foods has been a good one and I haven’t strayed, though I’m probably eating more than I should at the moment, considering I haven’t been keeping up the same amount of physical activity. I’m hoping to balance this out starting sometime this week!

2015 New Year’s Resolutions

Whilst 2014 has been one of the best years of my life, filled with amazing experiences and new starts, I ended the year feeling heavier than normal and terribly unfit. This wasn’t surprising in the least, as though I have tried half-heartedly to stay healthy, there is no doubt that my fitness hasn’t been a key focus this year.

The beginning of a new year was a good opportunity for a new start and goal-setting. This list is what I came up with for my 2015 New Year’s Resolutions. Straight-forward, yes…but easy to accomplish? No. With setting goals though, I believe they should be just hard enough to make it a challenge and to keep motivations going. Let’s see how this goes… :)

2015 New Year’s Resolutions

  • Complete a marathon in under 4 hours
  • PR an Olympic distance triathlon
  • Achieve a body fat percentage of 16% through clean, healthy eating
  • Stop drinking sugary soft drinks (no Coke, Diet Coke etc.)
  • Practise Meatless Mondays
  • Practice mindful eating
  • Blog more consistently

A Refocus On Health And Fitness

So it’s been a while, in fact, more than a year since I last blogged a post. As I had mentioned in my last post, massive changes were happening in my personal life and it’s only been very recently that I’ve started to have some kind of routine to my days again.

If you’re interested in what I’ve been up to over the last year or so, you can read about my travels on my dedicated travel blog, solowayfarer.com. What I want to focus on here is sport and healthy living.

Now that I am back in London full-time, I have had more time to refocus on my fitness and health. The recent coming of the new year meant that it was an opportune time to set some new personal goals for myself as I want to get my body back to fighting form and, if possible, to the fittest that I have ever been which was during the height of my marathon training cycles.

Most of the posts on my blog were focussed on running, cycling or some other sports activity. I also used to blog about food, another great love of mine. I was (and still am) a lover of “junk food”, but I have been reading a lot about food and nutrition over the last year and have been reassessing my relationship with food. This new year will therefore not only be focussed on sport and fitness, but also healthy food and nutrition and how that fits into endurance training cycles.

This blog’s title, “Sweaty Escapades” no longer fully fits the topics I want to blog about, so I’m considering a name change… although to be honest, my whole blog needs a bit of a refresh so I’m pondering about what I should do.

But back to running…

I mentioned that I successfully gained a ballot place to the 2014 Berlin Marathon in my last post. I was unfortunately undertrained and slightly injured which meant that I didn’t manage to run the marathon to the best of my ability, a shame as I had wanted to PR that race. I attempted it anyway by run-walking the distance and finished the race in just under 5 hours, a far cry from my marathon best in Paris.

I didn’t write a full-blown race recap as I’d normally have done because there was no real “race” for me to document, but you can read about my Berlin Marathon weekend here and here.

I’ll end this post here for now, but I’ll be back soon with a more concrete plan!

Running Fatigue

So if you haven’t already guessed from the severe lack of fitness-related posts as of late, I’ve been taking a bit of a break from training and running more generally. Following my last race of the year, the Royal Parks Half Marathon, I’ve done exactly zero miles of running.

Since catching the marathon bug in November 2011, I’ve pretty much been in constant training, mostly for running, but also cycling and swimming. Whilst I have done a fair number of really awesome races this past year, I won’t lie and will say that I was somewhat glad to reach the last race of the calendar year as I was feeling tired.

It wasn’t so much of a physical tiredness, but more a mental one. I had stopped training consistently for my races about mid-way through the year and had been winging my last few races as I was burning out. There were a lot of other things happening in my life at the time, and what spare time I had, I just couldn’t bring myself to adhere to yet another schedule.

Burned-out? O yea, 100%. There were just too many races I wanted to do and too many things I wanted to achieve before year end. It didn’t work out and ultimately, I got so tired of having to put my trainers on and run when there were other things I wanted / need to do that I stopped completely. Running had become a chore, rather than an enjoyable activity or an outlet for stress. It was time to take 5 and reassess what exactly it was I was trying to achieve because I wasn’t feeling happy about it.

So what have I been up to since then?

Having recently left my job and as a consequence, having more time to pursue my interests, I have rejoined a gym closer to my flat and have been attending a variety of gym classes. So no activities where I have to motivate myself, but rather ones where I have an instructor and others in the class to push me.

And you know what, I’ve really been enjoying myself. OK, so it’s still a bit hit-and-miss with the classes as I try out the different instructors at the various times and days of the week to see which one I prefer, but I’m rather enjoying my break from running. I’ve mostly been doing spinning, pilates (which I used to do a lot of and am enjoying getting back into) and Body Pump classes, with one or two other classes like Body Combat thrown in. I haven’t been pushing myself to extremes, but take about 1 class a day, 4 or 5 days a week.

Other than that, I’ve been trying to travel around London without the use of public transportation or cars i.e. I’ve mostly only been walking, jogging or cycling around town in an attempt to keep active as much as possible (and save money!). Now that I’ve got more free time, I’m taking the opportunity to live life at a more leisurely pace.

This won’t last for much longer however, as I’ll soon be packing up and heading off to Australasia and Asia within the next two weeks for an indefinite amount of time, likely to be more than 3 months. Though I’ll only be bringing along carry-on luggage, I intend to bring my trainers and a set of running clothes with me. If there comes a day during my travels abroad when I suddenly get an itch to just start running, I’ll go with it. If not, I’m happy to continue on my running hiatus until I really feel the hunger for it once again.

Rest assured this will DEFINITELY NOT be the last you hear about me running, because I received this in my inbox yesterday.

Screen Shot 2013-11-02 at 21

What’s that? You don’t read German and the text is blurry? O, so it basically says…

I GOT THROUGH THE BALLOT AND WILL BE PARTICIPATING IN THE 2014 BERLIN MARATHON! Woot woot!

The fact that I got so super excited receiving the email was proof to me that I still love running and I’ll be back at it at some point. I’m not sure exactly when that will be, but I am 100% sure that it will be well in time to get going on a good and proper marathon training schedule for Berlin (the race will be in late September). It’s going to be a good one!