One of the best purchases we never made: The snowshoes my mom bought for the kids five or six years ago. The kids have hardly used them, but I run in them on the packed trails, and they work great when it’s either slippery or there’s a nice crust, as there is now after the thaw and the rain. Diane and I wandered down to the river today and I got a few pics, two I like a lot, which is pretty good for me. It was cold. The Internet says 7, but I’m thinking more like zero. I wore my low hiking boots and froze my toes.
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15 best foods for runners

I’ve become a bit of a health food and exercise junkie in recent years, and I get lots of daily emails about diet and exercise. I got one today listing the best foods for runners and realized its about 90 percent of what I eat (minus the beer and chips — my two guilty pleasures).

Here’s the link to the whole article.

Whether you’re a runner or not, it’s a pretty good list if you’re just trying to eat healthy this year.

Here’s the list, with some highlights:

Almonds: “Runners should eat a small handful of almonds at least three to five times per week. Nuts, especially almonds, are an excellent source of vitamin E, an antioxidant that many runners fall short on because there are so few good food sources of it.”

Eggs: “Studies have shown that egg eaters have a lower risk for heart disease than those who avoid eggs.”

Sweet potatoes: “100-calorie sweet potato supplies more than 250 percent of the DV for vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene, the powerful antioxidant. Sweet potatoes are also a good source of vitamin C, potassium, iron, and the two trace minerals manganese and copper.”

Whole-grain cereal: “Look for whole-grain cereals that offer at least five grams of fiber and at least eight grams of protein.”

Oranges: “Eat enough oranges and you may experience less muscle soreness after hard workouts such as downhill running. Why? Oranges supply over 100 percent of the DV for the antioxidant vitamin C, and a recent study from the University of North Carolina Greensboro showed that taking vitamin C supplements for two weeks prior to challenging arm exercises helped alleviate muscle soreness.”

Black beans: “One cup of these beauties provides 30 percent of the DV for protein, almost 60 percent of the DV for fiber (much of it as the cholesterol-lowering soluble type), and 60 percent of the DV for folate, a B vitamin that plays a key role in heart health and circulation.”

Mixed Salad Greens: “Rather than selecting one type of lettuce for your salad, choose mixed greens, which typically offer five or more colorful delicate greens such as radicchio, butter leaf, curly endive, and mache.

Salmon: “Nutrition-wise, salmon is the king of fish. Besides being an excellent source of high-quality protein (you get about 30 grams in a four-ounce serving), salmon is one of the best food sources of omega-3 fats.”

Whole-grain bread: “Runners need at least three to six one-ounce servings of whole grains per day, and eating 100 percent whole-grain bread (as opposed to just whole-grain bread, which may contain some refined grains and flours) is an easy way to meet this requirement since one slice equals one serving.”

Sitr-fry vegetables: “Research shows that eating a combination of antioxidants, such as beta-carotene and vitamin C, may lessen muscle soreness after hard interval workouts by reducing the inflammation caused by free-radical damage. Most ready-to-use stir-fry veggie combos offer a potent mix of antioxidants by including red and yellow peppers, onions, bok choy, and soy beans.”

Whole-grain pasta: “Whole-grain versions are a must over refined pastas because they contain more fiber to fill you up, additional B vitamins that are crucial to energy metabolism, and disease-fighting compounds such as lignans. And even better, pastas such as Barilla Plus offer whole-grain goodness along with heart-healthy omega-3 fats from ground flaxseed and added protein from a special formula of ground lentils, multigrains, and egg whites to help with muscle repair and recovery.”

Chicken: “…one four-ounce serving of chicken can supply about half a runner’s daily protein needs. Along with protein, chicken contains selenium, a trace element that helps protect muscles from the free-radical damage that can occur during exercise, and niacin, a B vitamin that helps regulate fat burning during a run.

Mixed berries: “The colorful compounds that make blueberries blue, blackberries deep purple, and raspberries a rich shade of red are called anthocyanins–a powerful group of antioxidants that may help stave off Alzheimer’s disease and some cancers. Anthocyanins may also assist with postrun recovery and muscle repair. Not bad for a fruit group that contains a mere 60 calories or so per cup. And remember: Frozen berries are just as nutritious as fresh ones, but they keep far longer (up to nine months in the freezer), making it easier to always have them ready to eat.”

Dark chocolate: “Chocolate contains potent antioxidants called flavonols that can boost heart health.”

Low-fat yogurt: “Besides being a good source of protein and calcium (one cup provides 13 grams of protein and 40 percent of the DV for calcium), low-fat yogurt with live cultures provides the healthy bacteria your digestive tract needs to function optimally.”

Practically perfect weekend

I measure the value of a weekend day in reverse proportion to how much I have to drive. Yesterday, Saturday, I didn’t drive at all. It’s 1:53 on Sunday, and I haven’t driven yet, though I’ll probably visit my mom at some point.
I did drive on Friday, when I went to the Cities to see some friends perform at a coffeehouse, then went out for beers with a whole bunch of friends to celebrate my birthday.
Yesterday I slept in, put a fire in the hot tub, finished Game of Thrones (a book I got for Christmas), went for about a 5-mile ski, 3 of it on the river, and settled in to watch the Vikes’ pathetic performance.
Then I started a new book and went to bed.
Today I made another fire in the hot tub, gathered kindling for starting fires in the wood stove, started another new book, and went for a run on my trails and on the river.
As I was gathering sticks this morning, I was thinking again how winter is always worse when you stay inside. In other words, the warmer you are in winter, the colder it seems. When you’re out there enjoying it, it’s not bad at all — though I do appreciate central heat and the wood stove.
And I wrote my column for tomorrow. Next I’ll sit in the hot tub, then start thinking about something good to eat for supper, then maybe another hot tub before bed.
Maybe with a visit to Mom’s in there somewhere.
All in all, a pretty perfect weekend. Hope yours was, too.

Counting down to 50 — downsides, upsides

What’s left of my hair is either gray or unwanted.
My memory has gone from steel trap to sieve.
Fashionable clothes look out-of-style on me.
I have a reptilian neck.
On the upside, I can give myself haircuts, and many things are best forgotten, and I’ve got no one to impress, and …
Honestly, there’s no upside to a reptilian neck, except maybe the laugh lines around my eyes.
I ran into an old friend at a Christmas party a few weeks ago. He had just turned 50 and was not feeling good about it.
I don’t see the problem. Turning 50 for me feels right — like my body is finally catching up to the old fuddy-duddy soul I’ve had since childhood.
Still, there are some negatives.
At 49 years and 363 days, my metabolism is so slow that I can barely eat without gaining weight. After a normal dinner, I’m like a boa constrictor that just swallowed a goat — good for another six months.
One little cookie goes straight to my love handles.
On the upside, I have more discipline than I had in my youth. I’ve found the ability to eat right and exercise regularly, and as a result I’m in better shape than I was at 40 — or 30, for that matter. After years of reluctant jogging, I finally reached the point where I enjoy it, and if I die on the trail, I’ll be doing what I love.
At 49 years, 363 days, and seven minutes, I am increasingly irrelevant to anyone under 40. With the exception of Congress and the financial industry, the movers and shakers in our culture are younger and better looking than I am, and I missed my own chance to move and shake.
On the upside, I don’t have to put up with any crap from anyone. I’m officially an old guy, so I can finally embrace my inner curmudgeon.
Besides, I was never that relevant anyway.
At 49 years, 363 days, and 12 minutes, my kids are embarrassed to be seen with me. They’d rather spend time with their friends, and they’ll soon abandon me for greener pastures.
On the bright side, they usually reply to my texts, and they’re not in jail.
At 49 years, 363 days, and 16 minutes, I’ll probably never fall in love again.
On the upside, dating terrified me, I was a terrible boyfriend, and I found the perfect life partner.
At 49 years, 363 days, and 19 minutes, the best of my adventures are probably behind me, as I try to put my kids through college and save for retirement.
On the bright side, I’ve hiked the Milford Track and climbed the tower at Notre Dame, and I’ve got plenty of national parks left to visit.
At 49 years, 363 days, and 25 minutes, I still don’t know my true calling. I’ve bounced from job to job and ended up doing something I never planned or trained to do.
On the upside, I have a good job working with great people, and I get to sit inside in a warm office and exercise my increasingly feeble brain.
At 49 years, 363 days, and 31 minutes — no fortune, no fame. I never got my novel published, and playing in a rock-and-roll band was a letdown. Our income has tripled, but we still live check-to-check.
On the upside, I have good health and more creature comforts than anyone needs, and I’m happy just to be here.
Enjoy 2013, my friends, whatever your age. Let’s make it the best year ever.
Brett Larson is the editor of the Messenger.