James Moffett, Author at Run for the Thrills - Page 2 of 2

Snack After Workout

Healthy ‘Snack After Workout’ Treats

Posted by | Fit Food | No Comments

After a hard workout, we get hungry. (Well, who am I kidding, I’m hungry a lot of the time, but let’s not go there.) We want to eat something tasty to refuel. If we’re not careful, it’s easy to counteract all of that hard hard work with a snack that is too high in calories or fat. If the workout is carried out away from home, there’s a risk that the drive home will include a trip through a drive thru.

Obviously, fries or donuts or muffins do not lead to a positive post-workout experience. So then, what should a smart person do for their ‘snack after workout’ treat?

The answer, of course, is to plan ahead, and bring some quick and easy snacks with you. A little bit of preparation ahead of time will lead to a much happier snack after the workout.

Variety is the spice of life, so pack a few options. I got this cool stainless steel lunchbox from a company called Planetbox that helps keep all my snacks neatly compartmentalized.

Here are some ‘snack after workout’ options to get you thinking:

Something Sweet

dates almonds
I’ve got some dates. No prep required.

Something Crisp

Celery and cucumber sticks. Takes 5 seconds to chop up. Dip is nice too.

Some Raw Fruit & Veg

I have cantaloupe, kiwi fruit, and tomato wedges.

Something Substantial

I have a piece of frittata from last night’s dinner. Boiled potatoes and cooked broccoli are diced and added to sauteed onions and garlic in a cast iron pan; eggs are poured over top. Cook at 350° for about 30 min or so.

A Treat or Two

I have some almonds and a slice of candied ginger.


Working Out Together, We get the Job Done

Posted by | Training | 2 Comments

JANINE: James, don’t you love our new treadmill?
JAMES: (pant, pant) Yeah, I guess so. Although “love” might be a bit too strong a word for it.
JANINE: Better than running outside in the ice and snow though.
JAMES: Yes, no doubt.
JANINE: Who ever thought that we would be able to work out together?
JAMES: Remember when we were dating and I actually came out with you on a few runs?
JANINE: This article sounds boring. It’s stupid and contrived. I would never say, ‘don’t you love our new treadmill’ like that.
JAMES: I thought a simulated conversation between us would be a nice, creative way to write an article about how we can workout together, now that we have this fancy setup. Come on, play along with me.
JANINE: I can’t find the picture of us working out together. Did Zara delete it?!
JAMES: Hey, come on, talk like you’re on the bike.
JANINE: Ok, here’s the picture. Oh, there’s a few good ones. Let’s put more than one picture in. Let’s do a gallery.
JAMES: Then I guess I’ll roleplay for the both of us. (Pant, pant!) This running is hard work!
JANINE: I like it when you just write the article. Or when I just write the article. You can do the whole thing. Talk about our intervals.
JAMES: What’s that you say over on your bike there? You’re picking up where you left off earlier? You’re happy that we can work out together like this?
JANINE: Yes, James, my dear husband. This is great.
JAMES: I think I’m working harder than you. I’m sweating more anyway.
JANINE: Then I guess I should speed up. (Speeds up effortlessly.)
JAMES: How on earth are you so good at this exercise thing? I feel like I’m dying!
JANINE: Let’s take it up a notch: let’s do some intervals. 1 minute hard, 1 minute easy.
JAMES: How do you do that? What is this interval thing?
JANINE: Well, you run fast for 60 seconds, then you run at a slower pace for 60 seconds. Meanwhile I’ll bike fast for 60 seconds, then go a bit slower for 60 seconds.
JAMES: Ok, when do we start?
JANINE: You have a digital time readout on the treadmill, you count us down to our first 60 seconds fast.
JAMES: All right, 3 – 2 – 1 – Go!
(Both pant for 60 seconds)
JAMES: 10 seconds until we can (pant, pant) slow down… 3 – 2 – 1 – slow.
JANINE: Nice work! Wasn’t that great!
JAMES: Great. Yes. Actually it was pretty good. Wait, are the 60 slow seconds almost up already?
JANINE: Yep, ready to go again?
JAMES: I guess so… 3 – 2 – 1 – Go!
(Both work hard for 60 seconds)
JAMES: 3 – 2 – 1 – slow. Phew. That actually felt good.
JANINE: Nice work. Now we just have to do this 12 more times.
JANINE: You can do it! I believe in you!
JANINE: James? Are you okay?
JAMES: Guess I can’t cheat with you right here beside me. Ok, I’m ready. Bring it on! 3 – 2 – 1 – GO!

And so, our two heroes, James and Janine, worked out happily, side by side. Because they are smart like that, they were able to meet their fitness goals and work on their relationship all in one go.

JANINE: You should also mention that you got up to 6.8 – the fastest you ever went. But I sound like a b@#$ when I say all that stuff at the beginning of the article. Take it all out! James, please take that part out.

And so, James wrote an article about the experience. And he even managed to tease his wife in it a bit. He had to, because she posted all those pictures of them in which he looked awfully scruffy and fat.


bare minimum run

Bamiru – the Bare Minimum Run

Posted by | Fit by Forty | No Comments

You know how sometimes, occasionally, it’s a tiny bit challenging to motivate yourself to get out the door and do your run?

It could be that I’m the only one who ever feels this way, and if so then please excuse my ramblings, but maybe you also occasionally feel less than excited by the prospect of pulling on running clothes and schlepping around outside in the cold, sweating and spitting and stumbling all over the sidewalk.

One of my best tricks for getting out there when I really don’t feel like going there (or anywhere) is what I call the ‘bare minimum run’, or bamiru for short.

The bamiru is a run that you know you can do, even if it’s late and you’re a bit under the weather and you’re not feeling ambitious or even motivated. It’s the quick run around the block that you can squeeze in between events or first thing in the morning or even late at night, right before bed, because darn it, today’s Wednesday and I’m supposed to run on Wednesdays and I really can’t skip because I skipped Monday’s run.

You know you can do the bamiru because you’ve done it lots of times. Or maybe just a couple of times. But the point is you ran it before and didn’t die, so you know you can do it again. And you probably won’t die this time, either.

The bamiru has saved me a thousand times (or maybe more like three times) when I REALLY didn’t feel like running but I knew I had to because I had eaten seven donuts earlier that day. I don’t want to run, but I know that I can at least do a quick bamiru and get it over with.

SO– let’s break down the elements of the bamiru:

Bare: Not literally. No naked bamirus if you please. No, bare just means no special prep, just go out the door. Nothing fancy. No muss, no fuss. Just a run.

Minimum: If you can’t do anything else, at least you can do this. You’d like to do less, but you can’t, so you might as well do the minimum.

Run: That’s what it is. A run. AKA moving legs fast.

So, in conclusion, let us all embrace the mighty bamiru for the running blessings it bestows upon us, even when we are not in a running mood.

runkeeper man

The Face of a Man who Keeps His Runs (a TRUE RunKeeper)

Posted by | Fit by Forty | 6 Comments

Look at this face. LOOK AT IT! That is the face of a Run Keeper.

He’s got the dark glasses that say, I don’t want you to see my eyes because they are so intense behind these glasses.

He’s got the wiry facial hair. No use keeping it only for Movember: this man keeps that facial hair all year round. He’s just that manly.

And are those patches of snow in the background? Yes. Yes they are, but they don’t keep Mr. RunKeeper from his run. No they don’t. He runs anyway.

runkeeper runkeeper

He even takes a picture of himself using his running app, appropriately named ‘RunKeeper‘, designed for keepers of runs. Boy, this guy sure is a keeper of runs. If he’s got a date with a run, he keeps it.

So he uses the RunKeeper app on his phone to take a picture of himself. Has he put some fancy instagram-style filter on this photo to hide the fact that it was too low-res for this blog? Maybe. But maybe he’s so badass, his pictures just come out pre-filtered. Or maybe he just put the filter on. Probably that one. But in any case it sure does make him look cool.

Anyway, the guy took a picture of himself running. Well, actually he stopped for a second to take the picture because it’s hard to take a selfie while you’re running. It gets blurry. So he stopped first. And then took the picture with his RunKeeper App, which conveniently attached the picture to the run, so he can go back and admire how badass he looks in all of his running pictures. So he always takes the pictures at the beginning, because it’s hard to look badass when you’re wheezing and collapsing, which he often is at the end of a run.

runkeeper runkeeper

He can also use the RunKeeper app to see his pace along the way. Like, he can see how his pace dropped significantly in minute 5 when he got an email from a client and felt compelled to read it instead of just taking the 20 minutes to run without distractions. But after that dip in his pace, he can see that he held a pretty consistent speed.

It also shows him his route with a convenient little map. This is especially helpful when he is somewhere else, like Ottawa, and goes out for a run, and can’t quite remember how to get back, because he can see his route and just follow the orange line. But this guy wouldn’t need to do that – no. He’s not the kind of guy who would start running and lose his way. That kind of guy would be called a RunLoser. No, he’s a RunKeeper.

And while he runs, his RunKeeper app talks to him in a calm but firm feminine voice: “Ten Minutes,” she’ll say, if he wants her to call out the time in five minute intervals. And if he has to stop to check that email, and he pauses his run, she’ll say, “Workout Paused.” And he can’t help but hear the disapproving tone in her voice. And he thinks, who is she to judge me? She’s just sitting in some recording booth, says things patronizingly into her microphone, while I’m the one out here running in the snow.

And then he thinks, stop being silly, and he gets on with his run, until he staggers home, and she says, “Workout Complete!”, and he can tell that she’s just a little proud of him, even though he only ran 2.63km, at least he did it without a break.

runkeeper runkeeper

And then the RunKeeper app gives him an award for his hard work, and he’s proud of himself too.


Pursuing Poutine and Pudge… :(

Posted by | Fit by Forty | 2 Comments

Since my last post I have not exactly been pursuing the thrill of running.

First I skipped a few runs. Mostly because I didn’t want to run so I didn’t.

Then I went to Ottawa to visit family and while there, I enjoyed Poutine-fest: a celebration of the greasiest, fattiest, heaviest food known to humankind, generously bestowed upon us by the Quebecois. I can’t believe that someone thought, let’s take this greasy, salty food—french fries—and add some greasy, salty topping—cheese curds—and some greasy, salty sauce—gravy. Mine even had an extra additional greasy, salty topping—bacon. (As an aside: one sometimes hears arguments about what constitutes REAL poutine as opposed to the “pale imitation” that some restaurants serve. Arguing over what makes REAL poutine is like arguing over what makes a REAL Big Mac. You might be right, but no one cares because you’re eating garbage.)

After that calorie-fest, I skipped a few more runs. Because I was “sick”. (I was indeed a bit under the weather, but I was still well enough to work.)

And now here I am, feeling grumpy and guilty and sad that I’ve taken steps backwards.

I wasn’t trying to pursue pudge, I swear, it just happened.

So anyway, now I’m back at it again. I ran again today for the first time in over a week. It felt terrible.

night run

Pursuing the Thrill of Running

Posted by | Fit by Forty | 2 Comments

When you try to run when you’re out of shape, it’s a tough slog.

You drive past real runners out on their morning run: slim, lithe, light on their feet, they skim on the surface of the road, like water-bugs on a pond. They practically skitter. They look good in their running clothes. So you think, I’ll run when I get home.

You pull in the driveway, head inside, pull on your running clothes (why does this shirt have to be so snug around my middle?), and immediately you feel like a fish out of water. The clothes don’t feel right on you. But you brush your discomfort away and head out the door. You jiggle in more places than seems normal. You spit and sweat and huff and puff like you’re really angry at something. And your feet feel like you have concrete shoes on: not just that, but you’re wading in thick clay, and you feel like you’re just about ready for a walking break but then you notice you’ve only been running for 2 minutes and 30 seconds.

So you keep at it. You’ve decided that this time, for real this time, you’re going to start a pattern of fitness that you’ll stick to. You’re not going to give up at the two-week mark, like you’ve been known to do. No, this time is for real. You want to get Fit by Forty, and you only have 728 days to do it.

Plus, you hear that some people actually like running. Not you, of course. Running is just a means to and end; a necessary evil; the painful payment required to have a healthier body. But you’ve heard a legend that, when some people run, they feel God’s pleasure. They actually run because they find a certain thrill in it.

You shake this thought from your head. Sweat and spittle fly with the head shake. You’re just a bit dizzy. Your legs hurt now, and your feet hurt, and your chest hurts. You’re breathing hard. You’re nearing the halfway mark, where you usually take a walking break.

Then, for one fleeting moment, it happens.

For a second, it does actually feel good. You feel like you don’t need a break—that you could keep going, and going, and going. You feel the breeze in your face. Your body hurts, but at the same time it feels good. You feel strong. For a moment a memory comes back to you: You’re a teenager, downhill skiing. You’ve been at it all day and now it’s night. The ski hill’s lights shine bright in rows like streetlights. You feel the freedom of the night air on blowing on the ski hill, cold on your face. You’re sweaty under your ski jacket, and you feel simultaneously warm and cold, and you feel alive. You’re flying down the hill, like you could just keep skiing all night. There’s a girl with you: she came to ski with you. She’s a the first girl you kissed, and you kissed her nervously on the ski lift just a second ago. You’re fourteen.

The cool air blows on your face, crackling with the first hints of winter, blows through your sweaty hair and you realize with a start that the memory is 24 years old, that it’s laid dormant in your brain for more than half of your life now, but it came back like it had happened yesterday. The thrill of the run fades again, and you hurt all over, and you want to stop, and you don’t feel strong, rather, you feel old and fat and tired. But you smile a bit.

As you run home through the night, through the sleeping neighbourhood to your sleeping runner wife, you smile, because you felt that thrill for a moment. And it actually really did feel good.

running fights depression

Running Fights Depression

Posted by | Balanced Runner, Fit by Forty, Why I Run | 2 Comments

I freely admit that I fight against Depression.

When I’m depressed, all of my motivation evaporates, nothing seems appealing, and everything seems overwhelming and tiring. Getting out of bed takes a major act of will. I feel like I deserve an award just for showering and brushing my teeth in the morning. I feel like doing nothing except sleeping all day.

The last thing I feel like doing is going out for a run. And yet, according to a new study, that’s exactly what I should do. Because running fights depression.

According to a study out of the University of Toronto (yay! my alma mater), regular physical exercise can reduce future episodes of depression. So if, like me, you know that you are prone to depression, engaging in regular physical exercise makes a big difference in reducing the risk of developing depression. The study, which stretched over a 29 year period, found that even moderate exercise, like walking or gardening, can ward off depression.

Obviously this does not mean that exercise is some kind of magic bullet: you can exercise a lot and still experience depression. And telling a depressed person to “just go out and exercise” probably won’t help all that much. (Instead they will probably just hate you.)

For me, however, it’s encouraging to think that my quest to be “Fit by Forty” will have a positive impact on, not only my physical fitness, but my mental health as well. In my experience, it makes sense: when I go out for a run, even though it’s hard and it hurts, afterwards I feel better about myself. In the past I’ve found exercising outside to be especially helpful for my mental health. Something about getting dressed in my workout clothes, getting “out the door”, smelling the fresh air, and feeling the warm sunshine lifts my spirits, especially considering that my daily routine often consists of spending hours huddled in the basement by the flickering glow of my computer monitors.

Although “getting out” and doing anything can be helpful for depression, exercise is especially helpful for physiological reasons. As anyone who’s studied biology can tell you, exercise causes your body to release endorphins. These endorphins interact with receptors in your brain to inhibit your perception of pain and actually trigger positive feelings (similar to morphine). Following a good workout, runners may experience a sense of endorphin-induced euphoria, commonly known as “Runner’s High”. Other studies have found that these exercise related endorphins can be an effective tool in combating mild to moderate depression.

Now, there is a certain pathetic irony to be found in the fact that the thing to treat depression is something that requires motivation. But I guess that’s why it’s smart to start a running habit before you get depressed.

Checking in on running status update: Today was my 6th run and I ran my longest run so far (4.4km). I know it’s not a lot, but it’s nice to know I’m progressing slowly. I ran outside and the sun was up, which was nice (the last few times I ran outside it was night). I’m planning to choose a race to train for  so I’ll have a goal. Not sure what I should do yet, though. Maybe a 10k?

Running Discipline

Pursuing Running Discipline

Posted by | Fit by Forty | 6 Comments

Janine says I should write an article on running discipline. She’s a lot better than me at discipline, but I’ll give it a shot.

First: checking in. I have run twice since my public declaration to get “Fit by Forty”. It was dark and raining both times, but thanks to our shiny new treadmill (won by my wonderful wife!!) I ran in the warmth and comfort of my basement, watching Netflix to help pass the time. Today I will run again for the third time. We’re out tonight until about 9:30, so I’ll have to do another late-night run, although this time I plan to go outside.

I’m only on my third run and I am tempted by thoughts of skipping it, “just this one time”. This is the hardest thing I’ve found about running in the past: it is very hard to consistently muster the discipline to run even when I don’t feel like it.

The biggest struggle for me is that, at least for now, running is a painful and very unpleasant experience. I feel sweaty and hurty all over. On my last workout I chose a program on the treadmill that was too hard for me, and I felt like I might indeed die before the workout was over. I kept checking my heart rate and wondering if my heart was going to explode. I imagined dropping dead. The treadmill would cheerily toss my sweaty corpse against the basement wall where I would lie, rigor mortis contorting my limbs. Janine would find me in the morning I would be a mangled mass, and then, boy, she’d be sorry.

My imagination skills are a lot stronger than my discipline skills.

I always start a new fitness routine with great enthusiasm, and it only takes a few hard workouts for my visions of the New Slim Trim Me to fade into the background as I realize how much work it is to move from fat to fit. Running especially requires an immense amount of discipline to keep going. When I run I am chasing my own discipline, and I’m not sure I’m going to catch it. At least this time I am also being chased by the social pressure I have brought on myself by making this process so public.

Janine constantly impresses me with her seemingly endless stores of self-discipline. She gets up most mornings at 5:30am to go run or swim. When she races, she often pushes herself to near-exhaustion by the finish line. I really appreciate that about her, because she’s so different from me. I am (to put it mildly) not exactly a disciplined guy. I’m creative guy! a critical thinker! an imaginative fellow! …but not so great when it comes to doing some chore reliably and consistently.

Running is going to take some real discipline on my part. I hope I can do it this time.

P.S. I take great comfort in the kind comments that many of you surprised me with on Janine’s facebook. Thanks!

P.P.S. Janine says this post is not very encouraging, and re-reading, I see that she’s right—it is a little depressing. Sorry about that… so let me put a positive spin: I have run twice and am going to do my third run today. Hooray for my running discipline so far!!