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January - On Winter Training, Back Injury, and Current Eating Habits

Rock Canyon in all of its glory

Winter Training in Utah

I love Utah in the summer. One of my very favorite places to be June through October. The rest of the year? Not so much. I might be posting some pretty pictures of playtime in snow-covered mountains but - let's face it: I'd rather be riding my bike outside in the warm sunshine every day and then occasionally drive up into the mountains to play in the white fluff. But, hey, (sometimes) you just take what you get. And I have definitely had some great snow adventures this winter already. You know - the ones that make you feel ALIVE and HAPPY and GRATEFUL and oblivious to the cold.

I consider myself extremely lucky to live only 30 minutes away from Soldier Hollow, 2002 Olympic venue for Nordic skiing and biathlon. How is this for some great (and hilly) fun on skate skis?

Definitely one of my favorite sports! Even with ancient equipment and not the best of skills I manage to have fun for hours and stay (mostly) in control on the steep downhills. But I do wish it was more easily accessible and cheaper! 

And then there was the Outdoor Retailer Winter Show that I finally made it to. Summer OR would've been more up my alley but it's always a crazy time of year so I was going to embrace the winter one for all that it's worth. And it was worth a lot! I got a pass from my sponsor T3 Triathlon and showed up at Mountain Demo day at Solitude with no friends, gear or plan but a whole lot of EXCITEMENT! Turns out: That's all you need! I ran into some friends, got all of the gear I could possibly need, and - who needs a plan anyway?!

After years of dreaming about backcountry skiing, I finally got to go! It's at least as fun as I thought it would be and I can't wait to go again. Then they gave me a lift ticket and I skied my little heart out. Because I've still got (some) skills and who knows when I get another chance! And to top to all off I tried out some wickedly light racing snowshoes. Thank you OR, T3, Dynafit, Northern Lites, and Native, for one of my best winter days yet! 

Whenever I get the chance, I head up to Rock Canyon because not only is it super close but also gorgeous and serene. I went for a lot of walks and hikes up here while recovering for my back injury and now whenever the plan says: trail run - this is where you will find me. Love living in the foothills of some pretty majestic mountains! 

But don't be fooled. Most days look like this. Grey snow. More or less bad air. Cloudy sky. Unglamorous. Just doing work and trying to enjoy the moment. And once March comes and it still looks like this, there is gonna be a whole lot more complaining! ;)

Back injury

A week before Christmas I went to the gym for my usual off-season fun which includes some heavier weight lifting (for me) and whatever my friend Chelsea comes up with. She had been kicking my booty for three weeks already and I felt like it was good for me. Something different. I actually fit in at the gym and wasn't just doing my usual hey-look-she-is-barley-moving-and-not-even-sweating-why-is-she-even-here boring mobility exercises. But then one morning I either wasn't warmed up properly, my legs are too strong for my back, or I simply lifted too heavily and I hurt my back while squatting. Badly. It was most likely a case of:

I could barely walk for a week. At the beginning of January, I resumed light excise and was worried I'd never feel normal again. On our 11th wedding anniversary, the husband with this broken leg and I with my bad back looked at each other and had a good laugh: Here we are, two invalids, in our mid-thirties living at his parents' house with no real income at the moment (but also no debt - phew) while he finishes his PhD and no idea where this journey will take us come June. Good times! ... And then my back slowly started to improve and I would say by now it's 95% back to normal. Looking back, it was a good but difficult  complete break from all things that usually make up my day and I had the holidays and kids to keep me from feeling sorry for myself. Lesson learned: Stay away from the heavy weights at the gym, even in the off-season, because it's just too risky. For me.  

long trainer ride on tap


I have been doing a little experiment this year and so far it's turning out rather well. So I am going to keep rolling with it. No, it's not some sort of crazy diet. But I did cut out gluten, soy, dairy, and sugar. I just added corn to that list this week because neither corn tortillas nor corn chips are doing me any good either. I wish I could say that I don't eat any processed foods but here and there I REALLY need some rice crackers! This isn't anything official, definitely no low-carb craziness, and it's all my own rules but I have actually been feeling quite good and have by now stopped craving sweets and pretzels. Yes, pretzels. My favorite snack used to be scooping out half an avocado with pretzels...

I don't buy specific gluten-free products so what does that leave me with? A ton of options. These days I eat a lot of yams, sweet potatoes, red lentils, quinoa, avocados, eggs, veggies, fruits, chicken, fish, brown rice, nuts, etc. To be honest, this would all be a whole lot easier if Grandma didn't stock the pantry every two days or bake her yummy bread. But this time I am not wavering. At least not yet... I haven't lost a single off-season pound but that's not the point. The point is this:

What we eat is fundamentally an opportunity for an reflection of personal responsibility. [...] Our goal is to do more than survive. Our goal is to optimize and thrive - to use real food as a weapon. What you call your diet is or how you label it is far less important than the ingredients you use to build it. Like proper training, the inherent quality and diversity of what we choose to eat is key to optimal health and performance. (The Feedzone Cookbook)

Since I am still mostly base training over here and primarily indoors, it's easy to fuel with real food at the moment. For my longer runs, I take Honey Stinger Gold with me. A gel that consists of nothing but: Honey, water, B vitamins, electrolytes. And I always have a Lara bar (simply nuts and fruit) in my gym/pool bag. For now, it works. 

All of that said, I am in the middle of baking 60+ pumpkin chocolate chip muffins at the moment. Why? 
  • I love baking. 
  • The smell alone is so delicious. 
  • My kids and their friends will be thrilled when they come here after school. 
  • If I can't have it, someone else should and there are currently seven people living in this house. 
  • I am leaving town on Monday for 10 days and might feel slightly guilty. 
  • There really is nothing wrong with a healthy, home-made treat!  
So if you live in the neighborhood, feel free to stop by anytime today... 

Next up: Solo training camp in Phoenix. Time for some fun in the sun and miles in the saddle!!!


Bethany said…
You're going to Phoenix?! Wave as you drive by. We will be there this weekend for, you guessed it, soccer!

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