Lessons Learned At The Kunigami 19K Trail Race

Jannine Myers

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I not only got to run the Kunigami 19k trail race for the first time a couple of weekends ago, but it was also my first time to actually run the course. I knew from previous comments and conversations that it was going to be a tough course, but “tough” might be a slight understatement.

Having run the Kunigami course now, I would recommend the following training tips for anyone contemplating either the 12k or 19k race:

1. Do take the advice of former race participants who tell you to spend a lot of time running and walking up and down sets of stairs. Luckily for me, I did listen, and while I never once set foot on Stairway to Heaven, I did spend some of my training time on another set of stairs closer to my house. I would run to the stairs from my house – about 30 to 60 minutes depending on which route I took – then do several up-and-down stair repeats (for approximately 30 to 40 minutes), and then run back home on tired legs. Training in this way really paid off for me on race day!

2. Also key to doing well on the Kunigami course is training on similar terrain as often as possible. If Kunigami is too far to travel for your training runs, then Mt. Ishikawa is a good alternative, and failing that then any of the other trails on Okinawa.

3. Make sure you plan – in advance – your electrolyte and fuel needs! Last year’s runners experienced very cold weather, but this year it was quite warm. After a couple of hours of running in warm weather, over a very intense and challenging course, I started to feel the effects of mild dehydration. By the time I finally came off the trail path and headed back towards the finish line, my legs were starting to seize and cramp up. I’m pretty sure I would have hit the wall if I hadn’t planned accordingly.

4. Do some ankle strengthening exercises, especially if you have injured an ankle (or both) in the past. I have a weak right ankle from rolling it pretty bad on a trail run several years ago, and during the Kunigami race I felt a twinge of pain more than once as I slightly lost my footing on some of the downhill slopes. And that brings me to the next tip:

5. Practice running fast on trail – downhill! The more practice you have at downhill trail running, the more confident you’ll be at running downhill at “race” pace.

6. Definitely add strength work to your training routine! Focus on strengthening your legs (front and back), as well as your core and even your upper body. The constant change in pace, as well as switching of muscle groups as the trails take you up and down, will really test your physical strength and ability. The stronger you are going into the race, the better your performance will be.

7. Stability exercises will also benefit you! Much of the course takes you over some pretty uneven terrain and your stabilizer muscles will be working hard to assist the primary working muscles so that you don’t lose balance.

8. I recommend wearing a garmin or timing device. I didn’t wear my garmin on race day and it could have prevented a couple of minor inconveniences. Twice during the race, I was stopped by race officials who debated over which way to send me. If I had been wearing my garmin, I think the data on my watch may have helped them to solve the problem a lot faster!

9. And last but not least, make sure your toe nails are well-trimmed and your shoes have some extra room in the toe box. Two weeks later and the nail on my large left toe is still quite tender.

Re-Energize With A Healthy Chicken And Vegetable Soup

Jannine Myers

Starting to feel run down with all of the pre-Christmas chaos? The last couple of weeks have been pretty crazy for me and I’m starting to feel the effects of a far-too-busy schedule. To try and boost my immune system and stay healthy until the madness ends, I’ve been eating as healthy as possible. One of my favourite winter go-to’s when I’m craving hot food with lots of vegetables, is soup! Here’s a recipe that I have been enjoying this week and thought I’d share with you; it’s a classic chicken and vegetable soup with a bit of heat (from added curry powder and red pepper flakes):

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Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • Olive oil, about a tbsp
  • 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, cut into bite-size pieces
  • Fresh spinach and parsley – as much as you want
  • 1 green apple, peeled and diced
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • Sea salt – a dash
  • 4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 3 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Directions

  1. In a large saucepan, cook the chicken in olive oil for 4-5 minutes (or until no longer pink), then remove from pan and set aside.
  2. In the same saucepan, saute the onion and carrot for a few minutes, then add the apple and cook for a couple more minutes. Combine the flour and salt and sprinkle over the vegetables; cook and stir for 1 minute. Gradually stir in the broth and tomato paste. Bring to a boil; cook and stir 1-2 minutes longer or until slightly thickened.
  3. Stir in the curry, ginger and pepper flakes. Return the chicken to saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 8-10 minutes, then just before taking off the heat, add the spinach and parsley and heat through for a couple more minutes. 

[I modified this soup from a recipe I found in an old Taste Of Home magazine]

Meb’s Strength Exercises – Part II

Jannine Myers

Following on from my previous post, Meb’s Strength Exercises – Part I, here is one more video demonstration of a set of eight easy strength exercises that you can easily fit in to your training routine. Alternate them with the exercises in Part 1, and try to do 10 to 20 repetitions of each exercise. The key to most of these exercises is making sure you resist during the exertion part of the movement, and holding for one or two seconds at the top of every contraction. Some of these exercises can be made more difficult with the use of a resistance band or an ankle weight, and you will need an exercise ball for some of the exercises.

[FYI, sorry for the quality of the video recording – had to ask my 12 year old to do it!]

A Double Energy-Snack Recipe Post

Jannine Myers

Keeping All The Athletes In The Family Fueled

This week has been a busy one for my 12-year old; she’s been spending extra time at her dance studio rehearsing for a pretty major showcase event next week. With all the hours she’s putting in at the studio, I wanted to make sure she has snacks on hand that will nourish and fuel her. In addition to the fruits, nuts, cheese, crackers, and Clif Kid ZBars that she likes, I made her some peanut butter/chocolate chip muffins. She’s an active kid, so a few extra calories and fat won’t hurt.

As for me, I’m kind of carb-loading this week in preparation for a trail race (I don’t really need to since it’s only 19k, but any excuse for extra carbs…..), and instead of a sugary snack I went for salted baked baby potatoes. Super easy to make, these potatoes are awesome!

Check out the recipes below!

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PB&ChocChip Muffins

1 cup brown rice flour

2 tsps baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/4 cup finely-shredded unsweetened coconut

1/4 cup chopped walnuts

1/4 cup chocolate chips

1 cup almond milk

4 tbsps peanut butter, melted

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a muffin tray with cupcake liners (makes 8 or 9 muffins). Add all the dry ingredients to a large mixing bowl and combine. Stir in the melted peanut butter and mix. Finally, add the almond milk and mix to an even consistency. Fill the cupcake liners and place the muffin tray in the oven. Bake for approximately 15 to 17 minutes. Let cool and enjoy.

[Adapted from recipe posted by NourishNotPunish]

Salted Baked Baby Potatoes

8 baby potatoes

3/4 tbsp olive oil

Sea salt and black pepper

Goats Cheese

Mango Chutney / Pesto / Marmalade / Relish – your choice

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Scrub and clean the potatoes and put them in a medium-size bowl. Add the olive oil and salt and pepper to the bowl and mix well so that the potatoes are nicely coated. Place potatoes on a baking tray, and bake for approximately 30 minutes. Remove from the oven, then cut a slit in the middle of each potato and fill each slit with a small piece of goats cheese. Bake for a further 3 to 5 minutes, just until the cheese is slightly melted. Top your potatoes with your choice of chutney, pesto, marmalade, or relish. Enjoy.

2016 is almost here!

2016 is almost here and with it, Women Out On Trails has new challenges and goals.

WOOT CHARM

#1) Miles of Trail. The first challenge is open to all WOOTrs around the world. Run as many trail miles as you can in 2016. You track your trail miles via GPS, app or good ole’ pen and paper.

We’ve ordered a unique silver pendant and necklace. The goal charms include: 50, 100, 250, 500, 1000 (higher? Let’s do it!).

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When you hit each number, you earn that goal charm. For example, when you track 50 trail miles, you earn the 50 charm, hit 100 and earn the 100 charm, etc. You have until 12/31/2016 to earn your trail miles.

What counts as trail: Grass, running next to the sidewalk or road on grass, old broken up roads, climbs to castles, beaches, anything that is not pavement the entire way.

Paved trails that count toward your mileage: Maeda point trail, Kadena and Futenma Habu trails, Running up to Zakimi on the stone walkway

Miles that don’t count: Track workouts, running along the 58 or seawall, running the 58 to get to Spider (those road miles don’t count, sorry), anything on wheels.

Each week, post on the Miles of Trails Event to share your number of trail miles with a selfie and #milesoftrails and #WhyIWOOT and share with us where you’ve run. We will keep each other motivated throughout the year.

Cost is $65. Goal charms earned will be brought to the last WOOT Saturday run of the month.

Some ideas on where you can get your trail on:

What Where
Paved trail Kadena and Futenma Habu trail, Maeda point trail, stone walkway up to Zakimi castle
Farm roads Yomitan farmer roads, Top o The World, Torii Station farm roads, Farm roads to Nakagusuku castle
Other trail that counts Zakimi castle wood walkway, Stairway to Heaven, grass along the sidewalk, soccer fields, running beach
True trail Yamada castle ruins, Spider loop, Nago Mt., Mt. Ishikawa, Kunigami trail

#2) The second challenge, the 2016 WOOT10 Charm bracelet Event.
It was so much fun last year, WOOT is hosting this charm bracelet challenge again. Come out, earn your charms, learn to run all the trails around Okinawa and take away a one of kind keepsake from Okinawa. Plus you can wear your bling!

Join us at a
#wootcharmruns event (normally each Saturday morning) or if you can’t make it, find a partner and post your selfies with #wootcharmruns and #WhyIWOOT. The last day to complete your charm runs is 12/31/2016.

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The ten trails you will conquer:
The Yin/Yang of Kadena Habu
The snake of Futenma Habu
Up with the Sun to Nakagusuku castle
The Shell of Torii beach
The tractor of Yomitan farm roads
Spider Alley
Thieves Rock on Top O the World
Yamada Castle ruins
The bird of Zakimi castle
SIUP Tiara for Mt Ishikawa

Charms earned will be brought to the last WOOT Saturday run of the month. Post the charms you’ve earned on that Event and we will bring them along for you.
Registration and payment through PayPal to womenoutontrails@gmail.com. Cost is $65 and includes the 10 charms and 1 silver charm bracelet.

Money raised will be used to pay for WOOT maintenance and a donation at the end of the year. Across the years, we have donated to UNICEF, the Yomitan Kids Sports fund and Operation Save Noa to help an Okinawan family pay for their daughter to have a heart transplant.


If this is the first time you have run on trail or uneven terrain, be prepared to go a bit slower. You will have to watch your footing and concentrate a little more on where your next foot fall will land. During and after your trail run, your feet, ankles, calves, and buns will need some time to adjust to this new challenge. Trail running takes you to a new level of challenge, mentally and physically.

There are plenty of resources backing this up. Just do a search for training and trail running to find the 1001 links. From my own experience, I have had my best races since running with WOOT. And more than that, I have had met my best training partners and friends. There is something that we share, a common bond: waking up early to run, maybe getting lost, finding a new path. It is something unique and quite odd.

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Every Saturday morning, as the sun rises, you will find WOOT’ers out climbing, running, laughing and challenging ourselves to a whole new plateau. Can’t make it to a Saturday morning run? No problem! Post on the WOOT Wall and see if anyone else would be up to meet you. Or check out WOOT Events. Each week you’ll find different events that may meet your schedule.

Lychee Coconut Muffins

Jannine Myers

Here’s another recipe that came about as a result of wanting to use up lingering ingredients; this time it was a can of lychees that I had intended to use some time ago but never got around to it. The end result was a deliciously moist “lychee-coconut muffin.”

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I decided to go with a combined coconut flavour since I always have coconut on hand and I also had some Chobani Coconut Blended Greek yogurt in the refrigerator. A little organic muesli thrown in the mix gave it a really nice texture and taste. I have to warn you though – these are not a low-calorie/low-fat muffin, but they do taste good and they contain a good amount of protein and calcium (approximately 5g protein and 33mg calcium).

Ingredients

1/4 cup Bobs Redmill GF 1-to-1 Baking Flour

1 3/4 cups Bobs Redmill GF All Purpose Baking Flour

3/4 cup organic muesli

1/4 cup unsweetened finely-shredded coconut

1/2 cup coconut flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

dash of salt

1/8 cup agave syrup

1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk

1 egg, beaten

1/4 cup coconut oil, melted

1 8-10oz. can lychees, drained and chopped into small pieces

handful of chopped walnuts

1 tbsp mixed sugar and shredded coconut

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a muffin tray with cupcake liners.

Combine all dry ingredients in a large bowl and mix. In a smaller bowl, combine wet ingredients and mix thoroughly. Add to the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Add the lychees and gently blend in, but don’t over-mix. Pour batter evenly into the 12-lined muffin cases, and top with a few walnuts and a light sprinkling of sugar and shredded coconut.

Bake in the oven for approximately 20 minutes. Allow to cool, and enjoy with your favourite tea.