fast running & slow cooking

During this marathon training cycle I’m heading to the local high school track every Wednesday night at 6:30PM to get my speed work done with the =PR= Distance Training Program.  Coach Brian Cunningham and his wife Shelly offer amazing support, guidance, encouragement and advice.  The other runners who show up every week are inspiring and hard working.  The track is not for pansies, especially in the winter months.  People who show up are dedicated and ready to work.  The workouts are hard and I always enter into them feeling a little scared yet very excited to give it my best and see what I’m capable of.  I look forward to my weekly track workouts in a way that is difficult for me to describe.  It is incredible.

these people ROCK

Last night we repeated a workout we did about a month ago – 8×800 with a few warm up and cool down miles on either end.  800s are tough – half a mile at 5k pace – with 3:00 of rest/recovery between each for a total of 8 sets (or 4 miles).  It is a great test of speed and endurance as well as mental stamina.  It is not easy.

On December 21st I nailed this workout with the following times:
3:30, 3:27, 3:32, 3:25, 3:25, 3:24: 3:25, 3:21

I remember thinking to myself that this seemed fast for me.  Faster than a 7:00 mile.  But I felt good and this was encouraging.

Last night I attempted this workout again, with the same level of effort.  I am beyond excited to see that I am improving – gaining speed, strength and endurance as well as confidence.  I’m learning to run faster and to control my speed so that I can stay consistent:
3:14, 3:13, 3:07, 3:11, 3:09, 3:11, 3:10, 3:10

In just one month’s time I have shaved what I think to be a considerable amount of time off of my 800s for this workout.  My hard work is paying off.

Running in the evenings is hard for me on a lot of levels.  I used to have a tough time figuring out what and when to eat before going to the track (I seem to have this figured out now – a Picky Bar around 4:30PM is proving to be the perfect pre-track snack for me – Amen to that!).  It is logistically challenging for my family.  My husband comes home from work earlier than usual so I can get to the track on time.  I feed the kids dinner, pump a bottle for the baby and then head out the door right before they go upstairs for their bedtime routine, leaving my husband to fly solo with three kids while I’m gone.  I usually don’t return home until around 8:00PM, so my husband and I eat dinner pretty late.  Since he is busy getting all the kids ready for bed he really can’t also cook dinner while I’m gone – so we had to come up with a healthy, easy meal to have on track nights.

We found the **perfect** solution – Jamaican Bean Stew with brown coconut rice.  For the past three or four weeks, we have had this meal every Wednesday night.  I am not getting bored of it.  My kids (all three – even the baby!) love it.  It is a wonderful vegan recovery meal – loaded with healthy proteins, carbs and fats.  And it could honestly not be easier to make.

On Tuesday night we chop up the vegetables and put all the ingredients into our slow cooker.  On Wednesday morning we turn the slow cooker on low heat and leave it like that all day long.  Around 5:00PM I make the coconut rice.  It cooks for 45 minutes, so is usually ready by the time the kids are having dinner.  My husband doesn’t have to do anything to prepare dinner while I’m gone and when I get home I have a hot, delicious and healthy meal waiting for me.

If you are looking for an easy, good-for-you and totally yummy meal to make for yourself and your family (whether or not you are a vegetarian or vegan) this is a great recipe!  I’m not a food blogger (FAR from it!) but am just really excited about this meal and wanted to share it with you here.  Brown coconut rice is pretty much a staple around my house – I eat it a few times a week with this stew, green veggies, stir fry … I even sprinkle it in my salads sometimes.  I seriously love it.

ingredients for coconut rice

Coconut Rice
1 1/2 cups brown rice
1 14oz. can light coconut milk
1 1/4 cups water
1 tsp. honey (I usually don’t even measure this – just drizzle for a few seconds)
Salt (I just sprinkle a bit in there. I’m not one to usually add salt to my food, so I keep it light)

Combine all the ingredients in a pot.  Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 45 minutes.

Jamaican Red Bean Stew
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 cloves shallots (or garlic)
2 cups chopped baby carrots
3 scallions, chopped
1 sweet potato, diced
1 15oz. can diced tomatoes
2 tsp dried curry
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp ground allspice
salt & freshly ground black pepper
2 16oz. cans dark kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup light coconut milk
1 cup vegetable broth

chopped and ready to go

Put all the ingredients in your crock pot.  If you are prepping this the night before like we do, you can just put the whole crock pot in the fridge overnight and then turn it on the next morning.

this will be ready whenever you are!

When you’re ready, turn the heat on low and cook for 6-8 hours.

I like to put a little bit of vegan sour cream on top of mine, too. You can buy this at most grocery stores and I am telling you it is good!

this stuff is good!

That’s it.  A totally yummy and extremely easy meal!


Wednesday nights are all about fast running and slow cooking for me these days!  Nothing is better after a tough track workout in the cold than a warm healthy comforting meal like this.

What are your favorite recovery meals?  Do you eat vegan or vegetarian?  What about the slow cooker – are you a fan?

14 thoughts on “fast running & slow cooking

  1. I am seriously salivating over your recipe. This pregnancy I've been craving soups/stews and this is TOTALLY right up my alley. I just hope I'll be able to keep my paws off of it while it cooks all day…

    And, GIRL!!!! Your times!!!!! I cannot wait for your race – you are going to OWN that thing 🙂

  2. This is an awesome post. And I am TOTALLY JEALOUS that you have a track night and great peeps to run with! What a blessing!

    Those are some STRONG 800 times. Wow. Nice, nice work.

    Gonna try that stew too… YUM!

  3. Jess – you are crushing those 800s!! Two more at that pace and you are on track (according to the yasso 800s) to run a 3:10!! I did 8x 800s yesterday as well!! Such a hard workout! We do them almost the same except I do an active recovery (I find that if I completely stop my legs tighten up!). Seriously fantastic times – I can't believe how much time you shaved off in just over a month!!!!

  4. Awesome times– that is a huge improvement in a month! Way to go! I'm slowly getting back to speed work after being really careful this fall building back post-injury. Can't wait to run hard again!
    We LOVE our crockpot too… this one looks delicious! I love curried anything, beans, sweet potatoes… yum! Thanks for sharing!

  5. OK, those are crazy amazing splits. Nice job.

    And thanks for this recipe. I need crock pot ideas since I started back at school and can't be at home to cook for my family. I may try this one this week.

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