Monthly Archives: January 2014


Bosu Jump Squats

Bosu Jump Squats


Me, written by my friend Elizabeth Towe.

Great exercises for both balance and power.  The jump/squat on the bosu really challenges  your sense of balance, and your core muscles, while strengthening your legs, and learning to land “soft.”


Trail Runner Blog Symposium: Should there be drug testing in Ultras?

Should there be drug testing in ultras? The sport has really grown by leaps and bounds in the last handful of years, so maybe now is  a good time to think ahead  and address the “elephant in the locker room,” so to speak.  I have really been giving this a lot of thought because one simple answer doesn’t jump right out at me.  (And as  anyone that knows me well will tell you I have opinions about EVERYTHING!)

alt         Athletes train hard, work hard, test out equipment, training plans, meal plans, even the crew that helps pace them, just to get the slightest edge over the competition. Whether that competition is the clock, an old buddy, or the top seeded guy/girl.  The optimist in me would love to say a definitive NO and believe that people like me, who compete in ultras to see how their bodies and minds can be trained and tested and pushed, would never dope because it takes away from the me vs. ultra distance aspect.  I would like to think that they take part in this sport because they love to,  not because they will win at any cost.  However, with more prize money finding its way into the sport, and  more runners becoming sponsored the pressure to perform is becoming greater.

triathlon doping is overwhelming pill poppong

Doping in professional athletics has been a public problem since the 1960s.  In 1976 The International Olympic Committee (IOC) banned the use of steroids.  Since ’76 many athletes have tested positive for banned substances, one of the biggest scandals recently came to light Jan 17,2013 with The IOC stripping cyclist Lance Armstrong of the bronze medal he won at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia. (A good time-line of performance enhancing drugs in athletics can be found here courtesy of CNN.)

Coincidentally, there was just a conversation about things of this nature on a listserv I am part of.   There were many points of view about doping, but not just doping, but what is a “performance enhancing drug?”   Do the steroid inhalers some  runners use for their asthma count as performance enhancing? What about cognitive enhancers?  Does the ADD medication someone takes for school to focus, also help them have a crazy focus for training that otherwise they wouldn’t have?  What about  NSAIDS?   Those dull our pain receptors and help athletes push through pain that they may otherwise have not.  What about coffee?!  Caffeine has been shown to help with endurance.   These are valid questions that need answers; enter WADA,  or World Anti-doping Agency.

The World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) mission is to lead a collaborative worldwide campaign for doping-free sport.  The List Expert Group is a panel of scientists chosen for their international expertise,  and meets three times a year.
Obviously this is a big enough problem that an agency was created to referee sports around the world.  But this committee only tends  to  look at professional athletes,  what about the rest of us?

This year in Germany a study looking at nearly 3000 triathletes into both physical and cognitive doping found that:   at Ironman Frankfurt, Ironman 70.3 Wiesbaden and Ironman Regensburg.  The ironman-triathlon-doping-study was published in the international, peer-reviewed, open-access publication PLOS ONE (eISSN-1932-6203).  The shocking findings are

  • 13% admitted to physical doping; Steroids, EPO, Human growth hormone, etc
  • 15% admitted to cognitive doping; antidepressants, beta-blockers, modafinil, methylphenidate, etc.
  • 10% admitted to both physical and cognitive doping
  • 20% admitted to physical doping at Ironman european championships Frankfurt

This study can be found here, and here.

Basically it found that there was little difference between the athletes  who admitted to using illegal substances and those not using.   They were relatively the same in age, BMI and weight.   Those doping only trained a handful of hours more a week than the non-dopers, and there was little difference between instances of male or female doping.  But bottom line, there are a whole lot of people in this study who admitted to doping (probably more that didn’t admit it) 1 in 7 admitted to some form of illegal doping and those surveyed were not part of the pro-field, they were all  recreational triathletes.

So what does this mean?  Does this mean that our famous athletes that we look up to do it, and therefore we feel its ok? Or does this mean that the type of competitive person that takes part in sports feels that one must do whatever is necessary to win?  Maybe we have just become a culture that thinks that doping isn’t hurting anyone, right?  But I think it does, it hurts people who may have won who do it clean, it hurts businesses, it hurts the supporters of the athlete and the enterprises they stand for, and ultimately I think it hurts the sport. (Again I am thinking of the people caught up in the Tour de France and Lance Armstrong.)

I tend to finish  in the top 5 (female) in almost every (A) race I have run.  If someone were to want to test me for doping after a race,  on the one hand I would  almost smugly be proud to provide a sample to prove that probably the worst “substance”in my body was the green tea I had before the race, and those gross gu’s I sometimes resort to in the last 5 miles of a race. (ugh, gag, too much sugar!)  On the other hand,  I would be saddened to see skepticism seep into a sport that so many pride themselves on as being a more “pure” sport.

What about cost?  A test can cost $250-$300, making testing the field prohibitively expensive for an RD.  So then, does one just test the top 5? 10?  Those who stand to win prizes or money?  And what about how that will make each race more expensive to each entrant to now offset the cost of these tests?

So, in concluding,  what do I think about drug testing in Ultras? With all this in mind its hard  not to think that there should be some testing.  I think its only fair that all ultra runners give each other the respect to all start from a level playing field, as far as doping is concerned.  Perhaps just certain races should test.  Those races who have money to win,  or are big races that are highly publicized and sponsorships often follow those who do well.   Perhaps it should be up to the companies that sponsor runners to make sure they have a “clean” team.   After all,  like most rules, anti-doping laws are put in place to keep people honest, and to establish group rules.   Maybe its time the sport of ultra running in the US catch up with other ultra races around the world.  Races like the  Comrades Marathon, and Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc both test, as well as the USTAF  test their participants.  I’d hate to see trail races and ultra’s caught up in doping scandals  as baseball and cycling have been in the recent past,  so yes, maybe thinking ahead and testing is the best thing for everyone.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, please feel free to leave a comment.

Little River Trail Race Volunteering and training..


So the running  club I run with much of the time  is putting on one of their annual trail races this Saturday, The Little River Trail Runs.  I am acting as packet pick up coordinator,  and have also agreed to  run it with my sister and dad who are completely new to trail running (my sister is pretty much completely new to running as well.)   I am looking  forward to this weekend,  I love packet pickup because I get to interact with so many other types of runners.   I also get to meet a different part of the running community around NC,  the pleasure runners!  They come with great attitudes and enthusiasm, many of the entrants have run our race year after year.  We try to make it fun, while we also donate most of the money to the Little  River Regional Park in hopes that the open trail space can continue to be open to the public as a natural space.

Most of the races I run, and most of the people I run with are concerned with fast  times, and great destinations, racing plans and goals..focus, focus, focus! .Most of  these  people  are just out to have a really great time (in some really cold temperatures!)  These people are great!  Sometimes is so nice to be around mostly noncompetitive short distance runners, no  talking about 100+ mile training weeks, many people are out just to maintain health. Two years ago I helped at the finish line handing out soup and hot chocolate, I had the greatest time!  It just makes me happy!  Don’t get me wrong,  I am a competitive person by nature and I will talk pace, distance, training ad nauseam, but its nice to remember that while running is important to me in one way, its just as important  in other ways to other people, and its important to me that I inspire, and help other people enjoy running, and enjoy trail running.


The rest of  my week has been back to the usual training, Mount Mitchell 40 mile challenge is only a few weeks away!  This week is  a 100 mile week,  I am still trying to mentally readjust from 100 mile race training switching my focus now to quality rather  than quantity training…I still forget from time to time.

Yesterday was a fantastic training day.  I couldn’t sleep, so at 4am  I got up and ran 17 miles with a friend  out on the trails (I am so thankful for like-minded-crazy friends who  will get up and run nearly 20 miles before sunrise.) Later that day I rounded out my training with a fast 8 miles on the road.  Mt. Mitchell is a mix of trails and roads, 20 miles up, 20 miles down, so I did this trying to simulate slower up running, and then faster down running later in the day.  Today was a really easy, very slow shake out run with the dog and some cross training and yoga.

Hope you all enjoy your running!

Illness and Health Issues in Ultrarunning

Illness and Health Issues in Ultrarunning, On Elevation Trail’s site.

I have closely followed Tracy Hoeg’s blog for 4+ years to satisfy my “female-centric” curiosity of running.  —Its great to hear her interviewed and her thoughts on over-training, injury, and how/if sponsorship affects runners negatively.

Check out her blog too;


Chocolate-Peanut-butter-puffed-rice energy bars; gluten free, dairy free, vegan

So I haven’t posted at all about recipes so far, but I do like to cook…and my finicky diet leads me to make up, or edit recipes.
This one I combined two different recipes from two different sources, and then added my own other ingredients to suite my taste-so I can sort of call it  my own food experiment.

Chocolate-Peanut-butter-almond-Puffed-Rice Energy Bars

(side note, because I make things up as I go, all measurements may not be exact, make sure to taste test as you make these)

1 cup of organic chunky peanut butter (this is from our co-op so no brand)

1/4 cup of almond butter (same as above, brandless from our co-op)

1 small overripe banana

1 tablespoon of coconut oil

1 teaspoon of honey (to taste)

1 tablespoon of molasses

pinch of salt

pinch of cinnamon

small splash of vanilla

sprinkle or two of Enjoy Life’s semi-sweet vegan mini chips

2  1/2 cups of whole brown rice cereal (I used Erewhon)-use less if you like them gooier, use more if you want them a bit more dry

First melt the coconut oil into a large enough sauce pan that will accommodate all the ingredients.  Then add the nut butters, slice the banana and mix that in (keeping it on low heat, don’t burn it..let it slowly warm, it will all melt together  and get very soft, not liquid)

Once those are incorporated together I added the sweeteners, molasses, chocolate pieces, honey, and take it off the  heat.  Add the vanilla, cinnamon, pinch of salt  and make sure they get evenly mixed in before adding the rice  puffs.

I am trying these tomorrow during our local trail 50k fat ass. Some for me during the run, and some to share with others.  Seems like it should be a nice mix of carbs and fat for our COLD 50k tomorrow!  I would imagine that when you add the puffed rice, you could add any other trail mix type of add-on…raisins, goji berries, almonds, coconut- be creative!

Post Script; Part of the reason I don’t speak much about my diet here or anywhere else, is because much of is has to do with my own personal feelings about corporate food industries…however, they are my own feelings and I do not believe that my job is to harass or push my beliefs onto anyone else.  By choice, I call myself a vegan. I have never really been a lover of meat, I don’t agree with how the meat industry treats animals and I try not to contribute to “big-food.”  (However, if I go to someone’s house and they forget and think I am just a vegetarian and there are eggs in something, or a sprinkle of cheese on something I will usually just go with it. )  I do prepare meat for my family, but always buy local from our local food  co-op, or farmer’s market.

I am gluten free and diary free because I don’t digest those things well,  especially the gluten.  It seems to make my joints stiff and recovery from running difficult.  Since eliminating it from my diet in 2009 I feel less stiff, sore, and spend much less time in the bathroom.