Friend or Foe?

Anna Boom
At the end of my lunch time run last week, there was a man standing on my path, just standing there. You may have experienced something like this too. The moment of “is he a threat?” It is in less than a second, it seems, when we take in what the person’s stance says, what his face looks like, where his hands are.
In self defense class, you are taught to listen to your instinct. This ingrained, deep down voice or gut instinct is there to protect us from danger. Usually, we dismiss our instinct, wanting to not cause a scene or we feel we are being paranoid. Don’t ignore yourself! Always follow your gut.
The reactions you have are to the cues that your mind takes in from all your senses, before you can even process your thought about the situation. As stated on the web site,
  • …instinct is physiological, not psychological. It is your body’s way of telling you to pay attention. Whether you listen to that instinct or ignore it could mean the difference between ending your night at home or ending it in the morgue.
And this is not me writing to scare or frighten you. We have a feeling of safety living here on Okinawa and I fall into it too. But the truth is, there are scary people, mentally ill people everywhere in the world. As women who love the freedom of running where and when we want to, we also run a greater risk, especially when solo.
Author of The Gift of Fear, Gavin de Becker writes: “We don’t have the sharpest claws and strongest jaws–but we do have the biggest brains, and intuition is the most impressive process of these brains. It might be hard to accept its importance because intuition is often described as emotional, unreasonable, or inexplicable…It is our most complex cognitive process and, at the same time, the simplest.”
There are many websites, books and references for you to read on self-defense for tips on situational awareness. I recommend you take some time to read up, because like first aid, you hope to never have to use it, but will be thankful that you did, if required.
In my case, I kept my eyes fixed on the man’s face and body. I registered that he was an older Okinawan man, but he hadn’t stepped off of my trail. I kept my face straight, unwelcoming and my gait did not change. As I approached, he stepped to the side, his face broke into a smile and he clapped his hands and said, “Gambatte.”, or “Keep Going” in English.
I imagine he did not know that I was running on trail and was also surprised that a tall American woman was running in a skirt, where perhaps he’d never seen a person run before. Maybe he feared me too, as it was something unexpected and possibly threatening. We both turned out well, but listened to our instincts or gut feelings until the situation was deemed safe. Always better safe than sorry!

What Are You Wishing For This Christmas?

Jannine Myers

My husband has been asking me for weeks now to give him a Christmas wish list, and every time he asks I give him the same response, “I will, I just need some time to think about it.” The truth is, I don’t really know what I want for Christmas.

Last weekend when I returned from my run, I took off my shoes, ran up the stairs and with a smile on my face I said to my husband, “Look at my holey socks – that’s what I want for Christmas. New socks!” He wasn’t amused, although I’m sure I’ll find some new socks under our Christmas tree this year.

Is it like that for you too? I get so busy during the holiday season that being asked to write up a wish list never seems to make it to the top of my priority list. There’s always so much going on at this time of year. If you think about all the friends you have, and then the various social networks that you belong to, and then add to those the social networks that your husband and children belong to, and you can quickly see where I am going with this. Everyone (friends, neighbors, co-workers, social groups, sports groups, etc), likes to plan some type of Christmas party.

It’s no wonder then, that I have found myself saying the following phrase lately,”I just need to get through the next few weeks and then I can relax a little.” I’ve even noticed that I tell myself to “hurry up” while I’m running, because I have so much to do! In fact I did just that on my run the other morning, and it’s what prompted me to write this post. It forced me to see what I actually do want this Christmas.

Here’s what I want. What I want is not something tangible that can be added to a wish list, nor is it something that my husband can go out and buy for me. It’s something that only I can give to myself, and I’m going to try hard to do so. What I want, is to take a step back, slow down, take a few deep breaths, and start enjoying this Christmas.

From now until the New Year, I’m going to start enjoying the whole deal – every social outing, every school event, every bake sale, every extracurricular activity, every volunteer opportunity, everything! And every time I step out the door to run, I’m going to slow it down and enjoy it! No more telling myself to “hurry it up,” but instead only relaxed and happy thoughts as I remind myself how lucky I am. How lucky I am to be so busy because I’m connected to such unique, diverse, and amazing groups of people, and how lucky I am that when I feel tired and beat-up, I have a body that’s healthy enough to walk out the door and start running.

I recently told one of my clients that she can learn to enjoy the journey as much as the destination, but sometimes I need to hear and follow my own advice. I can continue to try and “speed up” this busy Christmas season, or I can slow down and start enjoying it.


Oh wait, there is just one more thing I want for Christmas. I saw this wish list on a friend’s Facebook page and I totally stole it!



A Cold Remedy Muffin Recipe – Lemon, Honey, and Ginger

Three ingredients I like to add to my diet during the winter months are lemon, ginger, and honey. Since most of my races are during the winter months, that means my most intense training runs also take place during the winter and that potentially puts my body at increased risk of immunity breakdown.

Lemon, ginger, and honey all contain specific health benefits that we should take advantage of during the winter, when we are more at risk of catching a cold or illness. These muffins include all three ingredients and I’ve modified the original recipe to make them lower in fat and sugar (although feel free to use the original ingredients if you’d prefer).

Lemon Ginger Muffins – modified version (original recipe here)



1 small container apple sauce 3.9oz (original recipe – 1/2 cup sunflower or vegetable oil), 1/4 cup Manuka honey (original recipe – 1 cup organic evaporated cane juice), 2 1/2 tbsps fresh lemon juice, 2 1/2 tsps lemon zest, 2 tsp fresh grated ginger, 2 tbsps finely chopped candied ginger, 1 1/4 cups gluten-free all-purpose flour, 1 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp sea salt, 2/3 cup coconut milk (or almond milk)


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together gluten-free flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a separate medium bowl, combine and mix together the apple sauce, honey, and egg. Then add the lemon juice, lemon zest, fresh ginger, candied ginger, and mix. Mix in half of the flour mixture, then add coconut milk, and mix. Lastly, add the rest of the flour and stir until just combined. Fill muffin pans (or mini loaf pans), and bake for approx. 20 to 30 mins.

The original recipe includes a powdered sugar glaze, but I like these muffins plain.

Additional information:

  • Lemons are rich in vitamin C and flavonoids that work against infections like the flu and colds. Read more
  • Ginger has been used for thousands of years as a natural treatment for colds and flu around Asia. The University of Maryland Medical Center states that to treat cold and flu symptoms in adults, steep 2 tbsp. of freshly shredded or chopped ginger root in hot water, two to three times a day.
  • One of the best-known health benefits of honey is its ability to soothe sore throats and kill the bacteria that causes the infection. Honey has strong antibacterial properties and provides temporary pain relief.