Fish Out of Water and Banana Breakfast Cookies

I mentioned in a previous post that I do have a few New Year’s Resolutions for 2012.  One of those is to read the entire Bible chronologically. I’ve missed a few days so far, but I quickly catch up in the next few days and am still right on track!  Another New Year’s resolution is to do a set of pull-ups.  Unless you count getting a jumping head start, I’ve never really been able to do one.  I really like any strength training that involves my body weight (TRX is a good example), so doing a pull-up just seems like a “must do” to me.

My third and final New Year’s resolution is to complete a triathlon.  I’ve chosen an Olympic distance Tri late in July as my capstone race.  It’s a 1500 Meter swim (just shy of a mile), 40K bike ride (just shy of 25 miles), wrapped up with a 10K run (6.2 miles).  I decided to do an Olympic distance because the sprint triathlon just seemed a little short to me.  I’m guessing somewhere in the middle of this race, I’ll ask myself why I didn’t just stick with a sprint, but the difficulty level of an Olympic distance race is certainly keeping me motivated to train right now!  My favorite bike ride with my Hubs is right around the 40K mark, and with nearly 14 years of competitive running under my belt, a 10K is no problem.  Here’s the thing.  I’ve never, ever swum.

Oh sure, I went to the pool almost every summer day as a kid.  I took the mandatory week of swim lessons each summer (Maybe that’s why I’m not a swimmer!  The pool is COLD at 7 in the morning at the beginning of June!!).  I can tread water forever probably because I tend to float.  But, ask me to do a single stroke, and I’m like a fish out of water…or maybe more like a cat IN water?  You get the idea…

I’ve had several overuse injuries in my years as a runner.  (Not anymore though.  That’s another story for another day.)  So, what’s a girl to do when she’s got the accountability of a team depending on her to train even when she can’t put any real weight on a stress fractured foot or some really bad shin splints?  She gets in the pool.  But don’t get the idea that I’m swimming here.  I’m talking about pool running.  Yep.  Strap on the Aqua Jogger and run away.  See?  I’m not a swimmer!  Even in the water I’m still running!

So now I’ve got to figure out how in the world I’m going to be able to manage swimming nearly a mile.  I’ve started taking some swim lessons at a nearby pool.  Let me tell you.  I’m not sure I’ve ever felt less athletic.  For a person who could go run ten miles at any given moment, I am gasping for air at the end of one lap!  Then it hits me. I’ve got to swim the equivalent of 30 LAPS in this race.  Suddenly I think, “Is my goal unattainable?  Can I really do this?”  I haven’t even started thinking about the greater challenge of open water swimming with other people all around me, kicking me in the face and swimming up my back.  Oh dear…

Then I realize that this is exactly how a lot of my clients feel starting out at the gym.  Some have athletic backgrounds and want to get back in shape.  Others just know they need to take care of their bodies, so they force themselves to come learn how to use the gym.

I realize a few things as I am doing a short swim this morning.  First, I realize how incredibly self-aware I am.  I feel like the whole world is watching me–critiquing my form, noticing how I’m gasping for air after every lap (or half lap), etc.  I know a lot of my clients can feel this way, and I’m constantly reminding them that nobody’s really watching, and if they are, they should probably be more focused on their own form and workout!  I have to share a lane with a rather accomplished swimmer this morning.  Instantly, I feel like he is irritated by my presence and that I’m everywhere but out of his way.  Oh well, I’ve got to swim, too, so I just get to it and ignore him.

I also realize how very hard it is to learn something new.  Don’t get me wrong.  I absolutely love to learn anything!  I’m always reading several books and practicing something.  When it comes to athletics though, it is really hard to learn something entirely new.  My muscles haven’t ever really worked in this way.  I feel sort of awkward.  I notice how tense I am.  My face is tight.  Even five laps feel like a huge deal.

However, I think back to last year at this time.  My husband had just bought me a beautiful road bike.  Once again, I had ridden a bike as a kid, but never really for exercise or as a sport unless, once again, I was injured.  So, feeling myself hovering above what seemed like the teeniest tiniest wheel was a bit disconcerting.  Throw in a heavy stream of traffic, and I’m feeling tense and nervous.  I adapted though.  Before I knew it, I couldn’t wait for our weekend bike rides.  I was feeling stronger and stronger.  I stopped gripping my handle bars for all they were worth.  Now there are days when I pick biking over running for my cardio exercise.  In the winter I take spinning classes and dream about when I’ll be able to get back out on my bike.  (I guess I’m still a bit of a fair weather biker.  I’ll work on that…)

That was just one year ago.  I know swimming will get there, too, and then I’ll be thankful that I put so much work into it, even if I felt a little uncomfortable and uncoordinated in the process.  So hopefully this comes as encouragement to you.  There are even days when personal trainers feel very uncomfortable even in athletic pursuits!  Hang in there, and don’t quit!  The results you’ll find will make it all worth it!

Okay, and now onto today’s recipe.  As I was writing this post, I was eating this:

As I mentioned, I went for a short swim around 5:30 this morning.  When I got back, I had a bowl of oats, an apple, and some black coffee.  Then I trained a client before heading out for a bike ride.  Needless to say, by the time I got back, I was ready for my mid-morning snack!  I blended up a protein shake with 6 ounces of unsweetened vanilla almond milk, some frozen mango, peaches, and pineapple, and one scoop of vanilla protein powder (I use Designer Whey since it has pronounceable ingredients and only about 100 calories per scoop with 18 grams of protein.)  This will be a great recovery drink and keep me full until lunch.  Then I grabbed a banana breakfast cookie out of the fridge to munch on. I made these on Saturday night when I felt like baking something.  I adapted this recipe from Tina Haupert’s book “Carrots ‘n’ Cake.”  Tina has a blog by the same name, and I like her realistic, moderate take on nutrition.  She also has some really great tips on cravings, overeating, etc.

Anyway, Tina’s recipe is entitled “Banana Oatmeal Chip Cookies,” and I think these cookies are meant to be a healthy dessert option.  However, I love breakfast cookies, so I simply substituted raisins for the chocolate chips, and I was ready to go.  I also subbed in some pecans for the walnuts, almond milk for the soy milk, and honey rather than agave nectar, since that’s what I had on hand.  These cookies would be really easy to make gluten-free as well.  Just sub out the whole wheat flour for almond flour or something like that.

Hope you enjoy this great grab-n-go breakfast!

1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup old-fashioned oats
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground flaxseed meal
1/4 cup agave nectar (or honey)
1/4 cup soy milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 ripe banana
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and grease a large baking sheet.  Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and mix well until dough is blended evenly.

Using a tablespoon, portion the dough onto the baking sheet, spacing cookies about 1 to 2 inches apart.  Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until golden brown.  Remove cookies from baking sheet and allow to cool on wire rack.  Enjoy!


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