Sunshine also means that it's time to start the biking portion of my Danskin training. (I'm not brave enough to start outdoor swimming yet though. It's the Pacific Northwest for Pete's sake! Swimming outside in 60 degree weather sounds like a recipe for hypothermia.) I'm kind of a fair weather rider, mostly due to the fact that I'm relatively new to street riding. I purchased my bike last year for Danskin training and I love it! I still mostly stick to bike paths and only venture into the street when absolutely necessary. I'm hoping to take the intro to biking class at REI soon so that I can learn how to patch a flat and all of those things that seem like they'd be good to know for longer solo rides.
This past Sunday I went all over West Seattle on a 13.5 mile ride and got in some long, gradual hill training. (For a great resource on tracking how long you ride, check out Map My Ride. It's free to join and you can track your route to figure out the distance.) I biked a few routes with long gradual hills last year during training and realized I passed numerous riders on race day, so such training was really helpful. Hill training can also help increase endurance and improve leg strength, which are also good things.
In addition to my typical routine of cardio (running, step classes, kick boxing, and hill walks) and hot yoga, I've been lifting weights more as well. Now, I don't claim to be an exercise expert by any means, but I read a fitness article recently that said if you're in training mode it's best to do a 10 minute cardio warm up and then go straight to weight lifting for at least 30 minutes. This helps burn through your body's glycogen stores (stored carbohydrate in the body that fuels your muscles). Then, you should do at least 30 minutes of cardio. That way, once you start the cardio you've already burned through the glycogen and your body is ready to burn fat as fuel. If you only have 30 minutes to exercise, do weights rather than cardio, and try to get in a little cardio later in the day, even if it's just a walk. I'm just a recovering chocaholic trying to do the best I can with the resources available to me, but that article seemed pretty legit, so that's what I've been modeling my current exercise regimen after.
I'm not sure if it's exactly legal, but I find I pace myself much better with good music, so I've been known to bike with one earbud in (obviously one needs one free ear to listen out for cars, etc). This is my current biking mix. It's about an hour, and chock full of great upbeat tunes that are perfect for sunny day rides:
Joker And The Thief - Wolfmother
Tokyo (Vampires & Wolves) - The Wombats
Laid - Matt Nathanson
Hope For Us - The Jealous Sound
Wake Up - The Arcade Fire
What You Know - Two Door Cinema Club
Young Blood - The Naked and Famous
Electric Feel (Justice Remix) - MGMT
Whirring - The Joy Formidable
A-Punk - Vampire Weekend
New Low - Middle Class Rut
You've Got the Love - Florence and The Machine
Down In the Valley - The Head and the Heart
Love Today - Mika
Moth's Wings - Passion Pit
Fader - The Temper Trap
Vanished - Crystal Castles
Here it goes again - Ok Go
Ride - Cary Brothers
Another great thing about summer are the picnics and BBQs! My lovely friends/neighbors had me over for a backyard BBQ last weekend and this was the salad I made. It's perfect for sunny days.
Summer Spinach Salad:
1 package baby spinach, washed
1 pound strawberries, thinly sliced
1 cup glazed almonds (see recipe below)
1 small package goat cheese
cracked black pepper, to taste
This salad is delicious with fig balsamic vinaigrette (see recipe below)
Roughly chop 1.5 cups almonds
Heat 2 tablespoons of butter over medium in a saucepan until melted
Add 1.5 tablespoons of agave nectar and the chopped almonds
Stir continuously until almonds have been coated and warmed, about 5-6 minutes
Spread almonds over parchment paper. Break into small pieces once cool.
Fig Balsamic Vinaigrette:
Combine equal parts extra virgin olive oil and fig balsamic vinegar (available at Pike Place Market). Shake vigorously to mix. Add cracked black pepper to taste.