Monday, November 30, 2009

The Weekend Report: My Christmas Warm-Up Weekend

Thanksgiving is the Friday night of holidays. It’s great by itself, but what makes it truly awesome is all the fantastic holidays it precludes. 

(That statement is pure genius – thank you Jordan!)

So you know I love running…and reading…and eating. And by now, you’re probably aware of my passion for pumpkin and art museums. But I’ve been holding out on you. Because what I love more than all that fun stuff is…dun dun dun….CHRISTMAS! And after Thanksgiving dinner, it is officially legitimately Christmastime. YAY!!!! (I’m excited, are you?)

Even if you don’t celebrate Christmas, there are plenty of things to love about the “holiday season”: baked goods, days off work (2 in a row – thank you Christmas and New Year’s!), holiday sales, Hanukkah, Kwanza, cookies, and just general good cheer! 

Oh the list of things I love about this time of year goes on and on and on. I love Christmas music, movies, shows, food, trees, ornaments, candy canes, decorations… I’m getting all worked up just sitting here at my desk!

If you happen to be a Christmas-hater, perhaps you should avoid my blog for the next month…actually no, you should probably keep reading because maybe my appreciation for Christmas will rub off on you a bit…remember, nobody likes a hater.

My Christmas Warm-Up Weekend:

Anywhoozle – while picking on left-over Thanksgiving desserts Thursday night (to be blogged about tomorrow), I tuned into my first Christmas movie of the year. 

(Actually that’s a lie – I watched The Grinch On Demand back at the beginning of November – did I mention that I get excited about Christmastime?) 

I watched Elf on Thanksgiving - the part where he gets hit by the taxi kills me...and the part when he's eating cotton balls at the Dr.'s office...and the spaghetti with maple syrup - my sister and I may or may not have tried that one...

On “Black Friday” I hit up the malls at Tysons Corner. Woah. This was my first Black Friday experience, and it was quite the experience. I wasn’t out to buy anything in particular, but appreciated all the people-watching. Imagine looking out from the second story of a mall and just seeing a sea of people. But don’t space out too long, or they will run you over! It was as much people-dodging as people-watching. After all that I was exhausted, so I settled in to watch Christmas movie #3 - Love Actually - the guy with the signs telling Kiera Knightley that he loves her makes me cry. In a good way. 

On Saturday, I meandered over to the American History Museum, because I remembered reading about a special holiday exhibit. On the way, I wandered through the city – all the big hotels and office buildings were in the process of decorating. The exhibit itself was pretty meh – it was about holiday parades and floats and department store windows, but it was about the size of my bedroom, and didn’t have much stuff…not worth waiting in line for.

Then I went to Target and bought a tree and ornaments for my house!!! And listened to Christmas Radio on the way…It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

So that’s about it. It’s odd being in the city for a holiday weekend, because everyone leaves the city to visit family. But that’s ok, I obviously amuse myself. Today ss November 30, so for you sticklers who say Christmas can’t start until December – this is your last day of justified grinchiness…GET EXCITED!!!


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Running Games

I haven’t run in 12 days. Ouch, that hurts. Unless you count my attempted run this Sunday – which totaled to a 1-miler plus 4 miles of walking and crying along the Georgetown Canal. Oh man, again, that hurts. (If you don't know why, read this post).

But I’ve been trying to keep myself sane – lots of walking and guest appearances in a couple spin classes. Due to the fact that I’m too cheap to buy a gym membership, I use the workout room at work – aka fine for treadmills, but the jenkyest bike ever! Ah well, desperate times call for desperate measures…(Thank you Jaffar for those wise words. Picture me stroking my imaginary beard right now. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, go watch Aladdin and get back to me.)

 Anywho, I can’t help but spend my day fantasizing about the runs I could possibly be doing right now. Let’s play a game, shall we?

If You Could Be Running Right Now, Where Would You Be?

After much deliberation, I have come to a decision. Are you ready for a trip into my imagination? (Don’t be afraid…I’m not as crazy as I sound!)

Picture early morning, lightly foggy, the parking lot at Mt. Tam in Marin County on a weekday (this part is key. Weekends = bikers. I hate bikers!). It’s cool enough not to sweat excessively, but not so cold that I have to wear long-sleeves. I’m thinking December, so the grass will be green-ish (rather than the yellowy-brown that characterizes California in the summer).

For those of you who don’t know Mt. Tam like the back of your hand (aka everyone except for mi padre), there are 3 lakes – two of which are circumvented by trails. So you start from the parking lot between them, run up to the upper lake (about 2 miles around), then figure-8 to the bottom lake (about 4 miles around). Repeat as desired.

The trails are narrow, with a variety of ups and downs, but nothing too extreme. All around it’s quiet. I think I would like to be doing this run with a friend – so quiet except for our chatter. The only people we see are the occasional dog-walkers, or pairs of housewives out for a hike.

Sounds lovely, doesn’t it? Just a nice long run. Followed by a satisfying breakfast, a big cup of coffee, and potentially a glass of eggnog.

Welcome to my happy place.

On that note I will leave you. I will not be blogging for the rest of this week, considering it’s Thanksgiving. Hope you all have a fantastic holiday. See you Monday!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Cake of the Week: Caramel Apple Eggnog Cheesecake

Warning: there might be crack in this cake. (Unless I ever decide to run for public office – in which case, blog? What blog? I don’t eat cake! You are all hereby officially sworn to secrecy.) The tricky part is – where is it exactly? Is it in the graham cracker crust? The caramel nut layer? The baked apple filling? The creamy eggnog cheesecake? Or perhaps in the sour cream caramel topping?

I will leave the crack detection up to you.

Let it suffice to say that this cake is a process. But all good things are worth taking the time for, right? My motive was a Pre-Thanksgiving Potluck Party my housemates and I hosted this Sunday. Obviously I was commissioned for dessert. And obviously I was going to go above and beyond. (Life philosophy: go big or go home!)

I baked the cake on Saturday night, after returning from a day at museums. (FYI, cheesecake is best when it is baked a day in advance and then chilled overnight.) My friends watched The Notebook in my living room while I made a mess in the kitchen – it smelled amazing

Like Christmas and autumn and everything good in this world simmering on my stove (ok, ok, it was just apples, sugar and cinnamon – but wow!). I’m pretty sure some sneaky fingers snuck their way into the pot while I was out of the room…and while I was in the room…ok I admit it, some of those fingers were mine. Don’t judge.

Anywho, bottom line, the cake was a great success. My inspiration was this Caramel Apple Cheesecake recipe from Annie's Eats. But as you know, I can’t just follow directions – I have to get creative in some way! When I read through the recipe, I realize that there was only one package of cream cheese and one egg’s worth of cheesecake filling.

Ummmmk - I like more cheesecake with my cheesecake please. So I adapted this recipe for Eggnog Cheesecake from Not So Humble Pie. I 2/3rds’ed it (if that makes any sense) - see below for measurements.

Now so many people out there hate on eggnog. And to them I say – NO! Yes, it has a weird name. And yes, it’s thick. But it’s also absolutely delicious! My mama and I always get excited when we buy our first quart in November…and ridiculously sad when it goes out of stores at the end of December.

So eggnog and apples and caramel – it may sound like too much – bear with me here. The eggnogginess is barely detectable. I didn't add rum or brandy, so that mellowed out the flavor quite a bit I think. Just think of the eggnog component as 1) a little extra flavor in your cheesecake, and 2) a great excuse to get out there and buy yourself some eggnog!
The sour cream topping is something my family does on cheesecake – it covers any cracks, and tastes quite delish. Just mix up some sour cream and granulated sugar until it tastes yummy. Then spread over the top of the cake. It keeps better than a whipped cream topping, and looks really pretty with caramel swirls.

So there you have it – Caramel Apple Eggnog Cheesecake. Phew! Good thing I have roommates to keep me from eating the whole thing myself!   

Caramel Apple Eggnog Cheesecake
For the crust: 
  • 1½ cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 3 tbsp. sugar
  • ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • 5 1/3 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
  • ½-¾ cup caramel
  • 1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (I used walnuts)
For the apple filling:
  • 5 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • ½ cup light brown sugar, tightly packed
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 5-6 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
For the cheesecake: 

  • 3 8 oz packages cream cheese (at room temperature)
  • 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/4 cup fresh egg nog
  • 3 large eggs (at room temperature)
For the topping:
  • 3/4 cups sour cream
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4-1/2 cup caramel
  • Chopped pecans or walnuts

  1. To make the crust, preheat the oven to 375° F.  Line the bottom of a 9-inch round springform pan with parchment paper.  
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, cinnamon and melted butter.  Toss with a fork until all the crumbs are moistened and the ingredients are evenly mixed.  
  3. Transfer the mixture to the prepared springform pan and press the crumbs in an even layer over the pan bottom and about half to two-thirds of the way up the sides of the pan.  
  4. Bake for 6-8 minutes, until golden in color.  Let cool for about 10 minutes.  Pour a layer of caramel into the bottom of the crust and sprinkle evenly with the chopped pecans.  Refrigerate the crust while you prepare the filling.
  5. To make the apple filling, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  
  6. Mix in the brown sugar, salt and cinnamon and cook for 1 minute, until bubbling.  Mix in the apple slices and toss well to coat.  
  7. Cook over medium to medium-high heat until tender and most of the liquid has been reduced, about 15-20 minutes.  Let cool for a few minutes and pour into the prepared pie shell.  Set aside.  
  8. Reduce the heat of the oven to 350° F.  
  9. To make the cheesecake layer, combine the cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat on medium speed until smooth, about 1 minute.   Mix in the vanilla, egg and spices and eggnog and mix, 1-2 minutes.  
  10. Spread the cheesecake filling into an even layer over the top of the cooked apples in the crust.  
  11. Bake until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, about 60 minutes.  Remove from the oven, transfer to a wire rack and let cool to room temperature.  Refrigerate for at least 4 hours.  
  12. To make the topping, mix the sour cream, sugar, and vanilla. Pour mixture over the top of the cheesecake and spread evenly. Use a fork or a whisk to drizzle caramel over the top. Sprinkle with nuts if desired. 
  13. Slice with a long, thin knife to serve. 


Monday, November 23, 2009

The Weekend Report: Art in Asia and Africa

I feel so good about myself. So cultured. You too can achieve this feeling of accomplishment - just spend some time in a museum! All it takes is the effort to walk your two feet through the front door. Security peeks in your purse, and then you're good to go. You can spend the whole day looking at every single piece, reading the captions, contemplating the details. Or you can just walk through, listening to your ipod (who's to say van Gogh wouldn't have loved a little BeyoncĂ©?), look left look right, and you're out. Culture? Check.

I've blogged about my love of museums before. And if you follow my weekend reports, you know that museums come up pretty often. 
This weekend I hit up one of my faves - the Freer-Sackler Gallery and African Art Museum. They're attached through underground passage (sounds pretty cool, huh?) below the Smithsonian Castle - right next to the Metro stop.

Freer Sackler is officially the Asian Art Museum of the Smithsonians, but it also has a good number of works by Whistler and some American artists like John Singer Sargent. (The reason for this is that Whistler was strongly influenced by Asian art and often used Asian subjects for his paintings. Whistler then guided the art education of Charles Lang Freer, a Detroit Industrialist and the founder of the Freer Gallery of Art.) 
My personal favorite is the Peacock Room by Whistler. I LOVE the Peacock Room. Mostly because I grew up reading a children's book about it - great story - beautiful room. 

Asian Art is kind of hit-or-miss for me. 

I have no interest in pottery (I love a good bowl to eat out of...but to look at? Not so much.), but I think that the detailed Japanese and Chinese screen paintings and the Islamic book artwork is spectacular. 

And on to African Art via the underground passageway (which contains a pretty cool exhibit on the country of Panama). 
Surprisingly, I'm not into "traditional" African art. I love pretty much everything else about the continent, but masks, carvings, etc. are just not my thing. 

Modern African art, however, is a different story entirely. Africa has gone through a transition in the last century unparalleled in history (at least as far as I know). Just think, in some places an 100-year-old will have lived through "traditional" semi-isolated village life through colonialism, through the elation and optimism of independence, through civil unrest as countries try to process their independence, and through the current generation's sense of disenfranchisement and disillusionment. 
Woah. That's a canvas for a lot of emotions, right? This is not the forum for me to pontificate on the current state of an entire continent. Let it suffice for me to say that this emotional roller-coaster has resulted in some really interesting and powerful modern art. 

The current installation is by British-Nigerian Yinka Shonibare MBE, and includes photography, textile sculptures (rather scandalous...maybe leave your kids in the Walt Disney African Vision section), and performance art. Pretty cool. This is one you should probably read the captions on, otherwise you may just leave thinking, Hmm. That was weird.

So I hope you all had a lovely weekend as well. If you haven't yet finalized your Thanksgiving menu, check out this previous post. And if you're looking for holiday dessert ideas - everything is better with pumpkin, right?

Oooooh, and just a teaser for tomorrow: it might be cheesecake. It might be AMAZING. I will leave you with that to think about until tomorrow!

Friday, November 20, 2009

If I Were Making Thanksgiving...

Oh man, this is getting depressing. Why you may wonder?
  1. I’m at work. It’s only 11:52.
  2. Guest Blogger Matt is out with an injury as well!!!
So that means two things:
  1. Everybody’s cross training!
  2. I have to think of something to blog about NOW.
  3. Snack time.
Something to blog about...something to blog about...ummmmmmm THANKSGIVING!
I’m not going home for Thanksgiving this year. Actually, this is Thanksgiving #5 that I’ve been away from home. (Things you should take into consideration when moving across the country...)
So on the one hand, I’m like – ugh – I hate thanksgiving!!! But that’s entirely untrue. I just hate having to figure out what to do when I’m not with my family. That being said, I have actually had a series of very nice Thanksgivings away from home. Each year I’ve been in a different location: Illinois (boyfriend’s fam), Massachusetts (roommate’s fam), Niger (that was interesting!), and Massachusetts again.
All of those were nice Thanksgings…but obviously nothing can compare with my own family.

Let’s talk about food, shall we? Plenty of people are planning feasts, and may need some words of wisdom. There’s so many recipes out there – how to choose? WELL, if I were to cook Thanksgiving dinner, here’s what I would make:
Turkey – of course…but I don’t have a recipe for you…just roast it, right? Turkey Stuffing on Foodista

I used to hate stuffing – the soggy bread thing bothered me. But in the past few years it’s grown on me and now I think it’s absolutely delicious! To me, a good stuffing has a lot of stuff in it. Just plain soggy bread is mushy and icky. But soggy bread with sausage, onions, and mushrooms? Now we’re talking! I'm not into adding sweet things to stuffing - apples? craisins? Both delicious foods, but I prefer them in desserts. Give me a savory stuffing! Also, can we talk about the fact that it's called stuffing, not dressing? Dressing goes on salad, stuffing goes in a turkey. Ok, thank you. 

Italian Sausage, Mushroom and Sage Stuffing

Mashed Potatoes:
Oh my god. Mashers are so good. They were my absolute favorite food ever for quite a while there, and every time I eat them I’m reminded why. If you want to spice them up a bit, add a clove of roasted garlic…it’s insanely easy to make: garlic bulb + drizzle of olive oil + tin foil + oven + 2 hours) = yummy-yummy to the max!!!
I found you this recipe that does not involve 3 sticks of butter - seriously??? Is that really necessary???
String Beans and Carmelized Onions:

Caramelized onions kill me! Like the garlic mashed potatoes, they are really easy and so delicious! Both are slow-cooked to bring out the sweetness. Also, you can make them in advance. And I advise you to double (or triple!) the recipe because a leftover thanksgiving sandwich with caramelized onions is divine. Actually, everything with caramelized onions is pretty freaking fantabulous!

And as for the string beans, just steam them – al dente. Mmmmmm, my favorite veggie.

Actually, I take that back. Brussels Sprouts may be my favorite veggie - sauteed or roasted. Again, I hated these suckers for quite a while. Why? Because the only way I had eaten them was steamed to a point of brown-ish mushiness. Ick. They tasted like dirt. But if you quickly sautĂ© Brussels sprouts until they’re a little crispy on the outside and tenderly crunchy on the inside, you’re looking at an entirely different vegetable!

And rolls. Ah Thanksgiving rolls. My mom makes these from Bon Appetit (November 1995 Magazine) - they are kind of labor-intensive, but absolutely worth it. I cannot stress enough how totally worth it these rolls are! We BEG for these every year. Make them - your friends and family will LOVE you.
Here's a how-to video on these guys. 

As for dessert – you all know my thoughts on pumpkin. My #1 recipe in terms of ease-to-delicousness-to-traditional ratio is the Triple Chocolate Pumpkin Pie. Do it. You won’t be sorry!
I think I'm going to go for this Pumpkin Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecake to bring to my hosts' house. I haven't tried it before, but it looks amazing!
Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Literary Bite: Saving Fish From Drowning

Wise words straight from me to you:
When in doubt, read an Amy Tan book. Really, is there anyone out there who dislikes Amy Tan?
She’s not my absolute favorite author, and I wouldn’t say that her books are the best books I’ve ever read…but they’re reliably and consistently good. 

A couple weeks ago, LLC brought me Saving Fish From Drowning, which was (conveniently) the one of the only Amy Tan books I had not read. I started reading and was immediately reminded of what a great writer Tan really is! She is truly a storytelling expert. Her books are always about China in some way, and women (but they’re definitely not “chick” books – much more sophisticated than that).
Saving Fish From Drowning is no exception. First of all, the mode of story-telling is really clever. The narrator is a recently murdered socialite who had planned a trip to China and Burma for her friends. Thus, the narrator is a character (Bibi Chen), but she also has complete access to all the other characters’ thoughts and actions. Think of it as first-person omniscient, with an extra dose of sassiness.

It’s less about women than her other books – I mean, the narrator is a woman, and there is a mother-daughter relationship (Tan’s insertion of her own childhood into the story perhaps…) but overall it is quite balanced, gender-speaking.
The story is that this group of tourists disappeared in Burma (often aka Myanmar). …you’ll have to read the book to find out how they disappeared, and why, and what happens to them! (Check out this summary if you want more info now.)
Like I said, the mode is really interesting because you know everything about everyone. And it give Tan the opportunity/challenge of fully developing 12 different main characters (11 tourists + the narrator). She does a very good job of this…though I often got confused who was who (e.g. is Moff the dog trainer man? Was Barry the one bossing everyone around at the beginning of the trip?). I almost wanted a character guide to reference as I read. But as the story continues, you get to know all the characters, and they distinguish themselves from each other. It’s kind of like getting to know real people – it would be easy if you knew everything about everyone from the start, and could remember their names and the details of their lives. Then you would know immediately if you liked/disliked them, where they’re coming from, etc. But inconveniently, life doesn’t quite work that way (I suppose that’s why we have things like dating), and neither does reading. 
And the title is really very clever. 
A pious man explained to his followers: "It is evil to take lives and noble to save them. Each day I pledge to save a hundred lives. I drop my net in the lake and scoop out a hundred fishes. I place the fishes on the bank, where they flop and twirl. 'Don't be scared,' I tell those fishes. 'I am saving you from drowning.' Soon enough, the fishes grow calm and lie still. Yet, sad to say, I am always too late. The fishes expire. And because it is evil to waste anything, I take those dead fishes to market and I sell them for a good price. With the money I receive, I buy more nets so I can save more fishes."
It reflects on the story itself - a group of people, each with their own issues to overcome, trying to find their way through the world. Bibi Chen, the dead and overseeing narrator is kind of like the fisherman, trying to save them...It also speaks to the plight of Burma/Myanmar. 
Here's a super-mini history lesson for you - I promise, knowing some background info will make the story better:

Burma/Myanmar has always been ethnically diverse and politically divided. It was conquered by British imperialists in 1886. Later, during WWII, the Burmese and Japanese teamed up to fight the British out of Burma, and Burma declared its independence in 1943. However, the deal with the Japanese went sour (aka, Japan was trying to take over the world - its allies included), and so in 1945 the Burmese teamed up with the British to kick out the Japanese (I know, kind of odd, right?). Finally in 1946, Britain recognized Burma's independence. A couple military coups and socialist failures later, Burma found itself under the oppressive rule of the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC). When SLORC lost elections to Aung San Suu Kyi in 1990, it refused to turn over power. Military junta, oppressive rule, child soldiers, no human rights...unfortunately you know the drill. President Bush imposed sanctions in 2007, and more recently the UN Human Rights Council committed to addressing the issue of the house arrest of Aung San Suu Kui and other political prisoners. 

So that's the mini-history for you. I have a line-up of Burma books on my shelf right now (thank you LLC!), so look forward to more posts on this subject in the future! I don't have any recipes for you yet, but don't you worry - they are on their way!
Woah - Sidenote! According to Wikipedia, Amy Tan "is a member of the Rock Bottom Remainders, a rock band consisting of published writers, including Barbara KingsolverMatt GroeningDave Barry and Stephen King, among others." COOL!!!
Amy Tan Books: 
The Joy Luck Club (1989)
The Kitchen God's Wife (1991)
The Hundred Secret Senses (1995) - This is the only one I haven't read yet. Anyone have a copy I can borrow? 
The Bonesetter's Daughter (2001)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Cross Training

Ah the joys of cross training. I, unfortunately, have extensive experience in this department.

Cross training technically refers to extra strength and conditioning you might do to improve your running. Some people swear by biking/running combo days, weight lifting, pilates, yoga, etc. It makes sense – if it’s too hard on your body to run a lot, then running moderately and making up the difference with time on the bike/in the pool/whatever might be a good idea.

But to me, that sounds too much like exercising for exercise’s sake. I am a runner, not an exerciser. I am out there to enjoy the sport of running, not just to burn calories. An elitist purist snob? Yes, yes, maybe I am…but for good reason!

I think that this difference between runners and exercisers is an important distinction. There’s nothing wrong with working out for the sole purpose of staying in shape. Plenty of people do it, and everyone knows that Americans need to devote some serious attention to their weight issues. (Sidenote: did you know that it's illegal in Japan to be overweight???)

I guess the major downside of the exerciser approach is that it makes running/working out a chore.  At a certain point, you lose motivation – there’s nothing at stake other than your own vanity (a powerful motivation, I’m not going to lie, but not enough). That’s why I think it’s important to run with some goal in mind: a race, a time, an effort level achieved. OR, even better, to run for the joy of it. Go out and run every day because it makes you happy – not because you’re terrified of outgrowing your jeans. 

What does all this add up to? For me, cross training is a substitute for running. I can do it. Bike, pool, elliptical (ugh!), etc. And it’s really not that bad. But if I can run, why would I do anything else? Whenever I’m in a spin class, I’m thinking – hmm…kind of wish I were running right now

Running is just easier for me. There’s no process. (Haha, I talk as if cross training is so challenging!) But really, you have to get yourself to a gym, get a friend to sneak you in, or (gasp!) buy a membership, wear the right clothes, bring a water bottle (because the instructors are always insisting you drink water), and then get yourself home. And if you’re pooling, that’s a whole other array of requirements – swim cap, suit, towel! Just too much.

Bottom line is, I like to run. I love to run. BUT sometimes running is not a possibility. Enter cross training.

Spin Class

Most gyms offer them, usually at extremely early-o-clock. Pros: You don’t have to think much because the instructor is there to tell you what to do, how fast to go, how long, etc. Usually classes involve some combination of “hills” and sprints to keep you entertained. Cons: Bike seats can be really uncomfortable. You have to really work to get a decent workout. And you're not going anywhere.

Airdyne Bike

Oh boy. These kill me. They’re by far the best workout – though not all gyms have them. Airdyne bikes use all your muscles (upper and lower body), and minute-for-minute offer a workout that is equivalent to running. How do you know you got enough of a workout on the bike? You are surrounded by a pool of sweat. Use those wise words as your guide. I know, I know, it’s a bit depressing…

Pool (Aquajogging)

Love me some pooling. It’s the closest thing to running, minus the impact. So if you have bone-related injuries, the pool is the place for you. Read Jess’s article for more information and some good workout ideas.


I only mention it here because many people swim laps as a running substitute. If I were a competent swimmer, I would probably agree…but I’m not (at all. Have you ever seen a flailing elephant? That’s me in the water), so I can’t offer a particularly valid opinion.


I went for a long brisk walk last night. Just to amuse myself. I’m not saying that it will maintain your cardiovascular capacities…or muscles…but it’s nice to get out and do something when you can’t run.


I used to lift a lot for skiing purposes. But since focusing more on running, I don’t really see the need. All the muscles a distance runner needs can be developed via distance running. It may actually be detrimental to lift because that creates unnecessary bulkiness, which can slow you down. Any time I’ve lifted, it’s been for purely aesthetic purposes (who doesn’t want nicely toned arms?).


I usually do abs a couple times a week. Ideally I would do them every other day…but that doesn’t usually happen. I believe that having a strong core does help your running. Core work strengthens your back, which supports your legs and the rest of you (obviously). This can prevent injuries. When I’m not running, my core work increases a bit, just because I have more time…