Change of the season

First up, the winner of the Stonyfield Oikos give-away is….

This is really boring, but toast with peanut butter and banana never fails. I really like super-seedy multigrain breads (my mom bought me a loaf of “seed-uctive” bread from Whole Foods and it was delicious!) and it’s so satisfying after a chilly run to eat that with melty peanut butter and banana. Also oatmeal. Lately I’ve been stirring pumpkin puree into my oatmeal. Delicious!  P.S. I’m glad your foot is feeling better! I get totally worked up and anxious every time I feel the slightest twinge of pain in my legs or feet, so I can imagine how nice it must be not to feel worried any more. I’m sure you’re going to rock the Philadelphia Half!                                                                                                                                                                   
Congrats Sarah! Email me your shipping info – runnerskitchen [at] gmail [dot] com

In case you haven’t noticed, it’s fall. And it’s dark for over half the day. Everyone struggles with something, but for me, I always have a really hard time around daylight saving time. It’s dark when I wake up for my morning runs, it’s cold, the sun is setting well before I leave the office, and time I spend outdoors greatly diminishes. All of this makes me want curl up in bed and watch gossip girl re-runs or eat homemade cookies instead of running or meeting friends after work. I’m pretty sure this is classic case of S.A.D. (seasonal affective disorder), although strangely it’s worse in November and March as opposed to December or January. It happens every year and while it doesn’t prevent me from doing the things I need to do (like go to work), it’s not very much fun. Luckily, over the years I’ve collected some things that make this time of year bearable (yes, perhaps I have a penchant for being over dramatic…).

1. Lower expectations (or cut myself some slack). Case in point – the other day I planned on getting up early to run some 800m’s at a nearby track. Total mileage for the morning should have been 8-10. Did that happen? No. I slept in. Part of me thought “Well, that’s a wash! I didn’t do my planned workout, so why even bother running at all?” That’s not a positive way to think about the situation, but still, it happens. Luckily I was able to coax myself out the door later in the afternoon and ended up running a pretty speedy (and fun!) 6-miler. Sometimes I set such high expectations for myself that I end up feeling overwhelmed. Note to self – do what you can. Even if it’s a lunchtime walk or a pre-dinner 3 miler. It’s better than nothing.

2. Morning runs. Yeah, it kind of sucks to wake up before 6am and head out into the dark and cold, but I always feel really good about myself when I make it happen. Making running dates with friends helps keep me accountable. And one of the best things about running super super early is that I don’t have time to be wishy-washy or procrastinate – I just GO! I love my new run-commute ritual and this just changed everything – the Gregory Dipsea 6 daypack.

Previously I had been running to work with a drawstring backpack, but this day pack (about $60 on Amazon) is amazing. It has enough room for my phone, work blackberry, wallet, keys, a snack, and a sweater (I keep actual work clothes in my desk). I wore it today for a 10-mile run-commute and experienced absolutely NO bounce or chafing. And if I ever want to use it as hydration pack, I can purchase a water bladder. Seeing the sunrise while running over the BK bridge = instant good mood

3. Omega 3’s. Quite a few studies have shown a connection between consuming enough omega-3’s and less depression. I’ve been reaching for Salmon whenever it’s offered on the office salad bar and I also have a bottle of omega-3 supplements that I’m trying to remember to take.

4. Sunshine. The sun makes me happy. Unfortunately I have to spend most of the daylight hours in my cubicle. So what do I do? I try to soak it up during the weekend and take a little walk during my lunch break. And if I can occasionally finagle a quick lunchtime 3-miler outside? Even better.

5. Healthy meals. The cold and dark makes me crave macaroni and cheese, cupcakes, hot chocolate with lots of whipped cream, and meatballs. These are all delicious things, but sometimes I end up feeling way too full and sluggish. Luckily I really do like vegetables and whole grains – I just have to remind myself of that every time I try to reason that a Crumbs Bakery cupcake makes an acceptable dinner. Last night I picked up my second-to-last CSA vegetables for the season and made my go-to dinner. It’s a good thing I don’t post all of my meals – I eat this combo for dinner at least 4 nights a week. It’s quick, it has vegetables, it has protein, and I happen to really like the way it tastes. Last night I washed and chopped a head of mizuna (yeah, I don’t really know either….) and tossed it with some carrots, croutons, and TJ’s spicy peanut vinaigrette. I topped all that with a cooked veggie burger and some grated Grana Padano cheese.

Speaking of Grana Padano cheese, this stuff is amazing! Very similar to Parmiggiano-Reggiano and I’ve been putting it in EVERYTHING. They’re one of the NYC marathon sponsors this year and will probably have a booth at the expo – you should check them out!They also sent me some pretty sweet swag. <3 Cheese.

6. Plans with friends. This is super important – even if I want to go home and snuggle in my bed and be a hermit, it’s good for my soul to get out and be with people. Sometimes this means a run, sometimes it’s an after work drink, sometimes it’s a potluck. And that’s where I’m headed tonight with my gal pal Sofia a.k.a. Insightfulappetite After workI am going to a vegetarian potluck dinner where I only know one person. This is a littttttle intimidating, but also exciting! My contribution for the evening is a Fall vegetable frittata. I almost burnt down my apartment last night while making it (think: stuck broiler door, stove nearly being yanked from the wall). It was good times.

Carrot and Leek Frittata (inspired by this NY Times Recipe)

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbs butter, divided
  • 1 bunch of leeks, washed and diced
  • 1/2 bunch of mini carrots (or about 3 big carrots), washed and diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 bunch of parsley, chopped
  • 8 eggs
  • 2 Tbs milk
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • pinch of cayenne
  • Grana Padano cheese (optional)
Directions:
  • Heat 1 Tbs of butter in a 9″ frying pan and saute the leeks and carrots for about 5 minutes until soft
  • Add the garlic and saute for another minute, remove from heat
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, salt, pepper, and cayenne (to taste). Add the cooked vegetables and chopped parsley.
  • Add the remaining Tbs of butter to the pan and heat to medium-high. Slowly pour in the egg-veggie mixture and cook covered for about 7 minutes. Every so often gently lift up the edges of the egg mixture and allow the raw eggs from the top/middle to move underneath.
  • Pre-heat the broiler. Grate some cheese on top of the frittata and then stick the pan under the broiler for about 2 minutes. You want it to get golden brown and puffy – be careful it doesn’t burn!
  • Remove the frittata from the broiler, allow it to cool in the pan for a few minutes, and then gently slide out onto a plate. Ta-da!

Of note: For the entire month of October, Planet Gear has pledged to donate $1 for every new member or Facebook fan to fight Breast Cancer. Check out their Facebook page to stay up to date on sweet discounts on sporting goods and athletic gear.

And remember Lollihop? The snack/gift box company is still going strong (and got mad love from Vital Juice yesterday). If you’re interested in sending a friend a box for the holidays, now’s the time to do it! Bonus – they have a limited number of vegan boxes available. If you end up ordering a box, use the code MEGAN-RUNNERSKITCHEN! A little birdie told me that they might be offering discounts in the near future….

Do you ever get the Fall and Winter blahs? How do you motivate yourself to run and be social when it’s dark and cold?

  • Liz

    I get the winter blahs every December.  It took me a few years to notice the pattern.  I hate when I see no daylight because of work, but it helps to get outside and run and walk my dog even if its darker out.
    I use my camelback (without the reservoir) to run to and from work and it fits my cell, keys, camera, wallet, etc with no problems.

  • Ali

    That frittata looks awesome, even if it did mean a near-death experience in your kitchen. Probably worth it. You’re invited to my next (er, first-ever) potluck party for sure.

    As for the fall and winter blahs, I totally feel you on the “all I want to do is eat macaroni and cheese” thing. I don’t crave fruits and veggies much at all in the colder months and I always feel like crap by the end of the day. The best I can do is just force myself to stick with my planned workout schedule. The “you’ll be glad you did this later” mantra works wonders.

    And, obviously, meeting lady friends for dates in Central Park helps. Or so I’ve heard… MAKE IT HAPPEN, MEGAN. Make it freakin’ happen.

  • Nicole Falcaro

    Alternate solution for the times you go to Crumbs: Get the carrot cake cupcake! Hah…but seriously, I struggle a lot this time of year too! I tell myself that it’ll at least be better when we turn back the clocks because I’ll have more morning daylight – if the sun sets at 5pm or 6pm, that doesn’t make a difference to me, but if the sun rises at 6:20am vs. 7:20am, what a difference! It is almost safe for me to bike to work then!

  • i think it’s normal to get the blahs this time of year – it’s a long season, it’s cold, it’s dark, the world doesn’t seem as friendly and inviting.  you know i hate winter just as much as you do, but i’ve been telling myself that i am going to work on my mood this year.   i am a star complainer about everything to do with the changing of the seasons, but there are so many things that *are* good about this time of year, and i want to spend more time celebrating them.  i think it’ll help.  things like baking and decorating xmas cookies, having a latke party, sipping hot toddys or bourbon+hot cider, going ice skating, having a snowball fight, spending the first snow indoors doing something crafty, meeting friends for hot yoga or a run while the weather is still crisp…for starters. oh, and planning a trip somewhere warm. 🙂

  • Anonymous

    aww, i love your list! especially the part about hot toddies. yum.

  • I totally get the winter blahs – January and February are the hardest for me and I totally just want to hibernate like a bear. I can usually deal with running in the morning when it’s dark, but when it gets dark at night early it always feels so much later! Fun plans with friends usually gets my butt out the door. I also like Leslie’s tip of thinking about the great things about this time of year – especially the christmas cookie part 🙂 have fun at the potluck!

  • RunTheLongRoad

    i was thinking the same thing before my morning run today.  having a race on tap definitely keeps me accountable, especially during Jan and Feb (hello Boston training).    since i run in the morning, it’s virtually impossible for me to get my butt to a yoga or strength training class after i come home from work.  this is where i cut myself some slack during the winter.  

  • I think it’s so easy to fall into the winter blues. Especially now that it’s dark when we wake and dark before we leave work. So depressing. Great job getting out there for your morning runs and running to work. That’s awesome.

  • Corey @ runner’s cookie

    These are all awesome things to combat the winter blues…which I think a lot of people get, even if it’s not at the level of SAD. Love the attitude about running and going a little easier on yourself so that the black & white thinking doesn’t lead to guilt and sometimes not running at all, when really you could just modify. Really good to know about the omega 3’s — mixing 1 Tbsp flax seed meal is so easy to do for oatmeal, cereal, or yogurt and is another great source. That backpack looks really cool – I might ask for that for Christmas! I’ve been commuting home from my internship via running, and my regular backpacks are either uncomfortable or end up hurting.
    I think its really helpful to anticipate what obstacles you might face in the winter and the specific ways you can overcome them!

  • I have a hard time getting myself to run when its dark at 6! Its worse when the season starts, as you mentioned, and in Dec/Jan I don’t have as much of a problem…usually. I do get a tad scared running by myself in ERP when its dark, so I usually steer clear of there if I’m alone.

    Grano Padano is the BOMB. When I was a nanny in Italy, that was what we used instead of parmesan-reggiano.

  • Oh, the dark and the cold is hard. I just have to push through it. If I don’t have something to train for, it’s way harder — which reminds me, I need to pick a spring race!

    Last year I was pregnant (had the baby in December), so I was just running to make it to the end of my pregnancy, so I could say I did it, pretty much. This year, I’ll need something a little more than that.

  • I definitely get blah in the late fall/winter. Even when it is rainy for a few days in a row I start to feel down.  Usually wine helps…
    Also flax seed is another good source for Omega 3s. Fish oil supplements gross me out and I don’t eat enough actual fish, but you have to grind them first (apparently) to get the nutritional benefits.

  • Great tips, Megan. I definitely get the winter blues – usually in Feb/March. Best thing for me is to keep busy!!! And I try to schedule a March/April race for training motivation.
    Cute backpack!

  • Liz

    I wish I could run to work, I miss the city! I hate the dark cold mornings, I just can’t get my self up and out, blah!  Once I get out though, I feel great about the day, I just need to remember that feeling when I’m in my comfy warm bed 🙂

  • I used to have a lightbox I’d use for a half-hour each day. I think I gave it back to my mom the last time I moved, but I’ve been wanting it back this week!

  • I love that you run to work.  That is serious commitment.  Love all the tips.

  • Pearson Smith

    The dark is brutal especially when you start under the star and end under the stars. It gets colder by the day out here in Wyoming so I need to make sure to keep upgrading the layers before I freeze my bum off. I know I can make it through the winter with little treadmill as I have done it before. But sometimes I wonder how??

    http://wyirun.blogspot.com

  • Karen

    How is the frittata the next day? I love making them for brunch, but I never bring them to potlucks because I thought they would get cold, flat and soggy… Do you reheat or just serve at room temperature?

    I am still trying to figure out how to get up and run in the dark! I usually try to fit in runs during a long lunch, but I’m trying to get more mileage in so I need to find a way to get motivated. Because after work is cocktail hour 🙂

  • Anonymous

    i’ve been eating leftovers of the frittata for a few days. it’s not *quite* as good as fresh out of the oven, but i think it’s still tasty. sometimes i re-heat, but most of the time i eat at room temp.