My New Podcast Co-Hosting Gig


A year ago when Caity of The Caity McCardell Show (also the sultry voice behind The Summit Seeker’s audiobook) suggested I get into podcasting, I told her it wasn’t really my thing. I had always been the tortured writer–surely nobody wanted to hear my whiny voice. However, these last few months I have been a heavy podcast consumer–listening to anything of quality and everything I could find about running–and I realized that I actually have a lot to add.

My perspective is representative of runners you don’t normally hear from on podcasts: female + trail + ultra + nomadic running bum + middle/back of pack + younger generation.

I don’t have the race wins or stats under my belt (yet?) but I think this only strengthens my viewpoint. I know and love the spirit of running and I’m passionate about the outdoors. I’m mesmerized by the history as well as the growth of trail and ultrarunning. As a newer generation, I want to adopt and preserve the sport as well as improve on it.

A few weeks ago I noticed that Coach Richard Diaz of the Natural Running Network was looking for a co-host. I sent him an email introducing myself and yada yada yada… I’m the new co-host for the Natural Running Network podcast. We are live every Friday!

I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to jump on board this already-successful broadcast. It basically means I get to gab without all the technical logistics of podcasting or audience-building.

Here are my first three episodes:

Running Obsession with Charlie Engle and Dr. Michelle Cleere

Are you obsessed with running? What constitutes a running obsession? Is it healthy?









How to Run 100 Miles… or More with Marshall Ulrich

What does it take to go long? How much time and training is required? Learn about hydration, nutrition, and mental endurance.









How to Run Faster

How can proper running form improve your speed without any additional conditioning? Dissect the mechanics of running with a scientific approach.











Follow the Natural Running Network on Blog Talk Radio.

Be sure to check out the archived episodes as well–some great stuff there for running nerds like me!

Remember, you can call in to each show with your live questions or comments.

LISTEN MORE! Other Podcasts I’ve Been On:


Trail Runner Nation: Vanessa Runs – Everywhere

Tri Swim Coach: Interview with Vanessa Runs

Supercharge Your Life: Stanley Bronstein Interviews Vanessa Runs

Barefoot Bushcraft Radio: Featuring Vanessa Runs

The Partnerunning Show: Vanessa Runs

Run Barefoot Girl: Micah True and Volunteerism

The Labyrinth: Vanessa Rodriguez

Happy listening!


Check out my book: The Summit Seeker

Killing my Thanksgiving Dinner and a Lesson in Gratitude (Explicit Photos)

SONY DSCI believe that everyone who chooses to eat meat should have the experience of raising, killing, and preparing their own meal. This is a process we need to understand.

I believe in eating as locally as possible, regardless of your dietary choices (vegan, paleo, vegetarian, etc).

This is how I learned to humanely kill a chicken. The photos are explicit, but I hope they will inspire you to a deeper sense of awareness and appreciation for your meal.

These birds were fertilized, hatched, raised, cared for, and loved at The Wolfestead.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The step-by-step process we used to kill our chickens:

Direct YouTube link HERE.

“There is no difference to me in the killing of bacteria that is out of balance in my body causing my system to be ill, than to kill a chicken to sustain healthy life. Also, when I am done with my body, or my body is done with me, I would wish, if possible, for the atoms of my body, my flesh, to be able to be dismantled by animals and organisms for their benefit and life. Feel free to feed me back to my chickens, they are canabilistic little bastards.”Nathaniel Wolfe

You May Also Enjoy:

4 Powerful Lessons From a Nomadic Life

Vulnerability and Catcalling in Bear Country

Q&A Uncesored: Ask Us Anything


Check out my book: The Summit Seeker

Krispy Kreme Challenge 2012 Race Report

After my shocking defeat at last year’s Krispy Kreme Challenge, I was back this year for some revenge… in a wussier division. HERE is my report from last year for your amusement.

The original challenge is:

  • Run 2 miles.
  • Eat one dozen Krispy Kreme glazed doughnuts.
  • Run 2 miles.

Last year, I registered for the more illustrious “Doughnutman” Division, which was:

  • Run 2 miles.
  • Eat one dozen doughnuts.
  • Run 2 miles.
  • Eat ANOTHER dozen doughnuts.
  • Run 2 miles.

I couldn’t do it. Not even close.

This year, I opted for the “Lite” Division:

  • Run 2 miles.
  • Eat half a dozen doughnuts.
  • Run 2 miles.

The race took place at DeAnza Cove at Mission Bay. It was a perfect morning for running: sunny and breezy. A vast improvement from last year’s pouring rain. We arrived in the RV with Shacky, Pat, and Ginger in tow. Pat was running to win, Shacky was running to finish, I was running to not puke, and Ginger was just running.

Group shot L to R: Pat, Rusty, me, Shacky

There was a great vibe at the race start and we warmed up by doing pull-ups. Except for Ginger because she doesn’t have any thumbs. I was thinking about running in shoes, but when I saw the flat, smooth sidewalk, I decided to go barefoot.

This is where we would be running.

This is where we would be eating doughnuts.

WOO pullup!

Pat almost sprained his pinkies.

So strong!!

The first two miles were great. We ran out one mile on Mission Bay, turned around, and came back. I was near the back of the pack. I was trying to push my speed, but it was still cold out and my feet were getting numb on the pavement. I tried to hop on to the grass, but that didn’t help much. So I just accepted a slower, comfortable pace, and finished up my first two miles.

The leaders fighting it out! (Lynne Cao Photography)

As I was finishing my miles, I saw the first place runner sprinting back out for his final laps, with his cheeks stuffed with doughnuts. He looked like death. He was grimacing, and his face looked white. Then I saw Pat heading out, not looking so hot either. His cheeks were also stuffed with doughnut.

When I got into the eater’s corral with my six doughnuts, most people were already munching. It was a somber, foul mood. Everyone had their heads down, overwhelmed in their own personal hells.

Yum? (Lynne Cao Photography)

Hitting the wall…. (Lynne Cao Photography)

Digging deep! (Lynne Cao Photography)

Last year, I imagined that I might actually enjoy the first couple of doughnuts. But this year I knew better. It sucks from the very beginning. As soon as you open that box and the smell of sugar and dough hits you, you immediately want to hurl. All you can do is take bite after bite, and hope to God that nobody starts puking around you.

Last year, there was so much vomiting, but this year people really held down their doughnuts. Pat and I developed a theory that when ONE person vomits, that sets off a chain reaction and everybody goes off after that. But if you don’t see anyone else throwing up, it’s easier to keep the doughnuts down.

Also last year you weren’t allowed to leave the corral until your mouth was empty, but this year you were allowed to stuff your face and finish chewing/swallowing on your final laps. I think this made for slightly faster times.

I flattened three doughnuts together into a pancake, and started eating. I tried to chew only as much as I needed to in order to manage a swallow, and I took two big bites at a time. In real life, I’m a super slow eater. I had to really concentrate on what I was doing to eat faster.

At first, I was looking around to see if anyone had a better strategy, but the eating was so disgusting that I would start gagging if I looked around for too long. People were stuffing and spewing and making terrible faces. So I just kept my head down and concentrated on my own doughnuts.

When I finished my three doughnuts, I flattened the other three in the same way and kept plugging away. I waited until I only had about four bites left, and walked over to the road again, tossing my doughnut box and stuffing the rest into my cheeks.

Just as I was getting ready to leave, Pat came in (finished the race) and asked how I was doing. At that moment, one piece of doughnut went a little too far down my throat, and I had to choose between keeping it down, or answering him. I just nodded and walked back to the eater’s corral—I couldn’t run with my cheeks this stuffed. I took a couple of extra minutes to chew and swallow, re-stuffed my cheeks, and took off.

Because I had only done six doughnuts, I was now ahead of Shacky and many others. It took me a good quarter mile at least to finish chewing and swallowing what I had in my mouth. The two miles went by more quickly, since I was concentrating on not throwing up. I kept a steady pace, but not sprinting. I didn’t want to make myself sick. There were two girls ahead of me, but one of them had done the dozen. There really weren’t many girls at this event to start with.

I saw Shacky on the out and back, and I had a good lead on him. Of course, he had eaten twice as many doughnuts as I did. Less than a mile to go, I spotted Pat who had run back to take pictures of us. I was feeling better and I knew I would be keeping the doughnuts down. It actually felt more comfortable to jog than to stand still with a belly full of glaze.

Doughnut high!

I finally swallowed!

We took some photos and then the finish line was right there! I sped up a little and ran it in: 48 minutes (second female in the Lite division, 5th Lite overall). Carlos was right behind me, and I watched Shacky come in. At the finish line, Shacky busted out some salt and vinegar crickets and some spiced larvae, which we ate and used to horrify the other runners.

Shacky running it in! (Lynne Cao Photography)

Me eating a cricket

More crickets…

… and worms!

It was a good day.

One thing I love about the Krispy Kreme Challenge is the high level of athletes that come out for this fun run. As Keith Kirby, the Race Director, pointed out: We had 100-mile finishers, Badwater finishers, and athletes of all levels. One of the competitors was Nickademus Anthony Hollon, who currently holds the record for being the youngest Badwater finisher. He confirmed that out of all the races he’s run, this easily ranks in the top five when it comes to difficulty.

I know exactly what he means.

There’s something about eating all those god-awful doughnuts that takes you straight to mile 75 at an ultra. Your body wants to shut down. You can’t remember why you registered for this. Every moment is terrible. You have no will to go on. And pushing through that gives you a good perspective of what it’s like to finish a 100-miler. The physical pain isn’t there, but the mental struggle is strikingly similar.

I also strongly recommend this race for anyone who needs some “sweets aversion” therapy. If you have a sweet tooth that challenges your diet year-round, this race might cure you of it. I used to like baked goods. I really did. But since the Krispy Kreme Challenge last year, I did not have a single craving, and was even sometimes repulsed by the thought of eating a cake or doughnut. You learn to hate even the smell of baked goods for at least a year.

Last year when I ate a dozen, I felt sick for three days. I could barely eat. With only six doughnuts this year, my recovery was much better. I felt good (and hungry again!) by the next day. It also really made me crave some fresh veggies. I am never more thankful for a clean, green diet than after the doughnut run. I’ve been vegan for almost a month now, and I wondered if this race would be a fun “cheat”. Instead, all it did was make me happy to be vegan and eager to go back to my regular diet.

Some people don’t want to sign up for the Krispy Kreme Challenge because it’s not a “serious” race. I assure you it’s not joke. It’s a lot of fun, but it’s also incredibly horrifying and difficult. Completing this challenge will make you a stronger runner. It will teach you something valuable about your body, and it will make any stomach issues you get at future races seem that much easier to handle.

See you next year!

(Lynne Cao Photography)


Krispy Kreme 2011 Race Report

Eat & Run Book Review

Why You Should Stop Rationalizing Running

Eat & Run Book Review: What I Liked and Didn’t Like

I just finished reading the Kindle version of Scott Jurek’s new book, Eat & Run. I read some reviews on it first and was a little sick of all the rose-colored, glowing feedback. Although I enjoyed the book, I wrote a more critical review and included both what I loved and didn’t like. No spoilers here, so read freely.

What I Liked

Nutrition vs Running

I was worried that this was going to be a vegan nutrition book. It was not. It was more a book about running, and he mentions veganism as it relates to his development as a runner.

I liked that, because there are so many other places to go for great vegan content. But not many Scott Jureks out there who can talk about his life experience and running ultras.

Jurek did a great job writing about veganism in a way that doesn’t repel runners who follow other diets. However, don’t be surprised if he inspires you to give veganism a try

Personal Stuff

I was wondering how much of his personal life Jurek would share in this book, and I was happy to find that he did in fact share quite a lot. He talks about his childhood, his parents, his rough relationship with his father, and his struggles with his ex-wife.

Jurek is really honest and mature in his perspective and neither blames nor rants. He doesn’t make excuses for his hardships, and he did an amazing job at handling some of the delicate personal details of his life. It was a pleasure to read.


The one thing that I respect most about Jurek that I find is rare in other elites is his passion for inspiring others to run. He doesn’t care if you’re training for your first 5K or winning your age group at an ultra—he will cheer for you. Jurek is someone who stays at the finish line and waits for the last runner, and that comes out in his writing.

What I Didn’t Like

Running vs Ultra Running

Jurek did a great job making his book relevant to all runners, not just ultra marathoners. When he addresses the reader, he even refers to people running 5Ks. While this is inclusive, it also made me feel that certain portions of the book weren’t written for me.

For example, he explains very basic ultra running info, such as why we take salt pills. This is a great book for anyone who has not run an ultra, or is new to the sport… but part of me hopes that he writes another book more focused on an ultra audience.

Still, ultra runners will still read this because they know who he is and are able to learn more about his life. So in many ways, this book covers the best of both worlds. It just leaves me wanting more.

Jurek brieftly mentions a point where he was gathered with other top runners, and they were all discussing the sport of ultra running. THAT’S the type of content I want to read. An elite’s more in-depth perspective on the nature of the sport. What is he talking about with those other guys? He goes into it briefly, but I want more of that.

There are so many books out there that cater to new runners, and that’s great.  But as far as ultra running, all we really have are some books on how to run ultras.

We don’t have many ultra running memoirs targeted to an endurance audience who are already obsessed with the sport, and don’t need to be inspired to get active. I was hoping this might be a book like that. It was closer than others, but not quite. I wanted to read about Jurek completely nerding out on the sport’s history, where it’s going, and all the details in between.

At a few points in the book, Jurek hints at a darker side to ultra running. A place with some bureaucracy. Where egos may get in the way. A few hard feelings. As a mid-packer in the ultra community, these are details that often escape me.

I show up to an ultra, everyone is nice, and there is no drama. But a first-place finisher sees a different perspective. Aid stations that aren’t ready for him. Volunteers who write him off as doomed. Doubters and nay-sayers at every race. This is a world I want to read about in more depth.

Personal Stuff

Although Jurek did open up his personal life, there was one burning question I had before I bought the book, and I wondered if he would cover it here. It was related to his divorce, but he didn’t address it.

I can completely understand why, and it’s not my story to tell, so I don’t think I’ll go into it anymore. But those who are perhaps closer to his story, or at least to the ultra/minimalist community may know what I’m talking about.

I can hardly criticize Jurek for any omissions. The only negative here is that I’m still left with some burning questions. But then again, maybe I ask too many.


Jurek’s recipes were certainly relevant, but I felt they were misplaced. A book chapter would end in a very powerful and emotional place, and the next thing that’s in your face is a vegan recipe. I felt like that placement cheapened both the story and the recipes themselves.

I found myself skipping the recipes entirely because I wanted to get back to the story. Had the recipes been placed at the end all together, I would have taken more time to look through them. It is also difficult to use this as a recipe book, since all the recipes are spread out instead of in one more convenient chapter.


Read this book. No matter what type of runner you are, you will find something here to inspire you. You will also learn a few things. If you ever have the chance to meet Jurek in person, do it. You will find him to be very humble and approachable. The worst thing I can really say about this book is that it left me wishing there was more.


Top 8 Vegan-Friendly Foods for Runners

7 San Diego Fresh Food Changes

How I Run on a Vegan Diet


Eat & Run Giveaway Winner Plus More

We’ve got a winner for the Eat & Run book giveaway by Scott Jurek!

Congrats to “jeeweetje” who left the following comment:

I first saw him running in a tv commercial about a certain car brand. Then I read about him in Born to run.

When Cablo Blanco went missing, I was touched how he and others responded and reminded me of something important; although your (ultra) runs are a lone thing mostly, when needed you run for friends.

Please send me an email to with your mailing address so I can send the book out!

For the rest of you who didn’t win, there’s another giveaway going on at this site, so head on over.

Some other links to follow:

Ultra Running’s Top Stories

This is an online paper I manage and compile. The link is updated daily with links related to ultra running, pulled from all over the web. It really helps me stay on top of ultra running news and find relevant contacts to follow.


Shut Up and Just Run

My friend Carlos recently started this Facebook page where he posts race coverage videos and photos. He does interviews and covers the events really well. Below is his video on the San Diego 100 Endurance Run. Enjoy and Happy Friday!


Dude, There’s Seaweed on my Pizza!

I’m two weeks into my vegan 30-day challenge with Vega, and I already have some go-to vegan staples. Below are three foods that never cease to excite me.

1. Vegan Pizza

Who doesn’t love pizza? As far as I’m concerned, pizza is awesome for two reasons:

  1. It tastes so freaking yummy.
  2. It’s fun to make.

My favorite phrase after work is “Let’s make a pizza tonight!” and we’ve probably made about six of them in the past few days.

Making pizza consists of finding a vegan-friendly dough and loading it up with every single vegetable we can find in the fridge. We tried rolling our own dough, but I’m not good at working with it and it was frustrating to handle. Shacky ended up having to roll for a long time, so we usually just opt for a ready-made vegan version.

The loading of the vegetables is fun. We can experiment with unusual toppings like squash and dulse (seaweed) flakes. I love experimenting with my food, and it’s incredibly difficult to screw up pizza.

Our toppings have included:

  • Vegan sauce
  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Ginger
  • Spinach
  • Dulse (seaweed)
  • Olive oil
  • Black olives
  • Mushrooms
  • Avocado
  • Tomatoes
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Green peppers
  • Red peppers
  • Habanero peppers
  • Lettuce
  • Pineapple
  • Various herbs
  • Bean sprouts

New toppings that will go on the next batch:

  • Celery
  • Radish
  • Grated squash

Our pizzas are so fully loaded that we often have to eat them with a fork and knife to keep all the toppings in place. They are so flavorful that I’ve never missed the cheese (and I LOVE cheese)!

OUR SECRET TIP: We put the tomatoes on raw after it comes out of the oven, as well as the avocado. This gives it a perfect texture. And the best part about pizza is that you could make hundreds and every single one would be different. It’s one of the most vegetable-rich meals we have put together.

2. Soups and Stews

We have a slow cooker, so I love throwing a bunch of random ingredients in there and let it do its magic overnight. We use a vegan broth, and load it up with vegetables like:

  • Brussel sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Sweet potato
  • Herbs
  • Spinach
  • Seaweed
  • Lentils
  • Chickpeas
  • Mung beans
  • Cauliflower
  • Various spices

A few hours in, that slow cooker starts making the whole house smell amazing. Then when you open it, anything in it tastes mind-blowingly delicious. It’s like a magic yummy-pot. I usually add lime juice and Shacky adds hot sauce. I also like to add avocado, and eat/drink it all up.

I love having these stews for breakfast because they’re so warming and comforting. They’re great to take for lunch as well, and I’ll often look forward to more when I come home from work. After work, I warm up a bowl, then sit and eat it on the couch wrapped in blanket with the dog lying on my lap. Afterwards I feel like a million bucks.

3. Smoothies

I haven’t experimented as much with smoothies as I have with the top two items, but I love smoothies for the same reason–you can add pretty much anything and it tastes great.

Here are some of the ingredients I love in my smoothies:

  • Berries
  • Melons
  • Pomegranate juice
  • Bananas
  • Ginger
  • Celery
  • Carrots
  • Spinach
  • Healthy fat (usually an oil)
  • Almond or coconut milk
  • Vega Sport products

If you remember nothing else, remember this… 

What am I really trying to say to people? Over the years, I’ve communicated a lot of messages about food, but if I could say only one thing, what would that be?

Simply, it’s this:

Experiment with your nutrition.

Yes, you can read health articles about what the hottest food trends are. Some of those articles are great—I write and publish them. Scientific sources are also out there to help guide you and recipes are easy to find when you want to make something fast and nutritious. But don’t fully rely on a third party’s opinion. Experiment for yourself.

If you’re an athlete, this is especially important. In the past year, I’ve put myself through experiments with Paleo and Vegan diets. I’ve learned so much about my own body in that process.

In 2012, I will be experimenting with other diets such as vegetarian, fruitarian, etc. With every ultra I run on a specific diet, I learn something about my body. I am my own expert.

Do not ever be limited by “conventional” nutrition. Have dinner for breakfast. Eat fish or stew as soon as you wake up. I once met a nutritionist who eats fish and vegetables for breakfast every day, and she has a phenomenal body. Taste the “weird” foods. Always eat new things. Never snub because of how it looks or sounds. Experiment.

That’s what’s so great about these three foods. They provide a “safe” environment for experimentation where it’s hard to screw up. You’re not likely to make something that tastes awful.

So go ahead and try some seaweed on your pizza. Whether you’re vegan, paleo, or just love food—eat something new today. And leave a comment to let me know what you did.


6 Nutritional Resolutions for a Healthy New Year

Grain-Free, Dairy-Free and Running Strong

7 San Diego Fresh Food Changes

How I Lost Weight on the Paleo Diet

7 San Diego Fresh Food Changes


I’ve been in San Diego for several weeks now and my diet has drastically changed. About two weeks after I had been here, I noticed my jeans were fitting loosely. When I weighed myself I had lost about 5lbs. I knew I was running more, but I was also eating out for almost every meal, so I was surprised to see the drop. Now I eat at home more often and I’ve recently started keeping a food journal because I’m fascinated at how drastic my diet changes have been. I feel great.

Here are seven things that have changed:


I always liked fruit, but sometimes I feel like San Diego is the freaking Garden of Eden. Most of the fruit here I’ve never seen or heard of. Last week I saw a fruit that I recognized from El Salvador and hadn’t spotted since I went there over 10 years ago.

Even regular fruit is different. For example, in Toronto we have peaches. But here there are more than varieties, and I had never seen white peaches in my life.

The sizes of the actual fruit are 2-3 times bigger. And every week I taste two or three things that I never knew existed. There’s fruit everywhere. Once on a trail run we stopped to pick some cactus fruit and sucked on it for a bit. Then picked the thorns out of our fingers.

On a drive up north, I was amazed to pass a pomegranate tree. I had never seen one and pomegranates are one of my favorite fruits. Sadly, they weren’t ripe yet. But the grapefruit and pear trees nearby were ready, so we pulled off to the side of the road and picked enough fruit to last us for weeks.

Yesterday I watched Shacky eat kiwi until his lips bled. And today for lunch I have some jackfruit, which is by far the sweetest fruit I have ever tasted. It’s sickeningly sweet. Like when you eat cheesecake too fast and all of a sudden you feel like you might gag. It’s just so rich and heavy, it’s almost sickening. I’m having a blast with the fruit options here.



A couple of times in Toronto I walked into a farmer’s market and couldn’t find more than one small table of fruits and vegetables. The rest were sauces and pastries. And I’ve never seen a crowd at my local Toronto Farmer’s Market. Here, I have to fight my way through the mobs to find my veggies. They have fruit, vegetables, seafood, and fresh eggs. I’ve had uni (sea urchin) and balut (fertilized duck embryo) at a farmer’s market, whereas in the past I’ve struggled to just find a decent tomato.

Every Tuesday there’s a market just a few blocks from the house. Then on Thursday we have a CSA pickup at another market. The frequency and availability means we can buy and eat fresh food throughout the week instead of doing a monthly grocery store trip, which is what I’ve been used to until now. Everything we eat is fresh and there’s more flavor in the produce.

Fresh uni


We now buy our meat directly from a very pleasant local farmer whose animals are grass-fed and halal. He’s very clean and very generous. He also gives us the entire animal so we get to experiment with the offal (internal organs, tongues, heads) and get creative in the kitchen trying to use everything. I feel good about this meat. I know where it comes from and I get to pet a cow every time I visit.


I had raw milk for the first time in my life here (it’s illegal in Canada), and stopped drinking anything homogenized. I was eating Kefir in Toronto, but we only have one brand and the serving is very small and expensive. The bottles here are much larger and there’s variety to choose from. We buy our eggs fresh and we actually know what the chickens were fed.


I can’t write about San Diego without calling out the Mexican food. In Toronto we had one decent Mexican restaurant and it was pretty pricey. The portions and variety were nothing near what I’ve seen here. The first time I got a burrito, it was like three meals for me. I’m used to tiny burritos. But my favorite by far is the soups, which I can’t even buy in Toronto. Menudo = Amazingness. And fountain drink horchata? I hope whoever invented that won an award.



I basically eat all day long now. At work, I bring in huge bags of veggies and fruit with some nuts and usually a bit of meat and tea. I have sunflower butter and honey and by the time I’m ready to go home, my food is all gone. That’s why I was partly surprised to see that I had lost weight. But although I’m eating more in volume I’ve never eaten this much high quality, fresh whole foods.


I’m currently trying a 30-day Paleo Challenge. I don’t eat grains or dairy (except for raw milk in homemade shakes, and kefir for breakfast), but the most significant cut for me has been breads, which could explain some weight loss.

I’ll be blogging more about my Paleo results. At the end of the challenge, I will be racing another 50k so I’m looking forward to seeing how my nutrition might affect that.

So far I feel amazing. I’m excited by food and thrilled to try new (and even gross) things. Today I’m visiting the Taste of Downtown with some Noble Canyon friends. This is an event that lets you try food from over 50 restaurants in the city all in one evening. I’ll be there in my loose jeans.

6 Must-Haves for my 20-Mile Trail Run

On Saturday I ran/walked/crawled 20 miles of Noble Canyon in training for the fast approaching Noble Canyon 50k. Every run out there kills me out. It’s a beautiful route that basically consists of running down a mountain, running back up, and running a few stretches at high elevation. It’s a run that you can both love and dread. Incredibly challenging.

I’ve tried to experiment with hydration, fuel, and footwear out there. In the process I’ve found some products I like. Here they are, from toe to head:

1. VIVOBAREFOOT Neo Trails    

VIVOBAREFOOT has been good to me and I’m impressed with their high customer service quality. They’re quick, I feel like I’m dealing with a real human being, and they generously rushed two free pairs of new Neo Trails for me and Shacky to use on Saturday’s training run.

I should point out that I haven’t worn shoes for running (minimalist or not) in almost a year. My previous Noble Canyon runs have been in Invisible shoe huaraches (more on those later). So I had no idea how I would handle a run in VIVOBAREFOOT’s product.

I was very pleasantly surprised. First of all, they look awesome. I was also very surprised by the ground feel. I was expecting little to no ground feel, but I felt the rocks a lot more than in my Vibram KSOs. I like that because I feel closer to being barefoot. I still felt like I had to watch my step and plan my strides. Post run, my feet suffered no ill effects.

Here are some stats on the Neo Trail:

  • Sole thickeness = 2.5mm base and 4mm lug height
  • Weight = Men’s 248g, Women’s 198g
  • Hydrophobic mesh (non toxic, lightweight, water resistant thin mesh)
  • Toe guard

Shacky tested the hydrophobic mesh with some creek crossings, and we were surprised at how long it took for the water to soak through the shoe. He basically had to stand fully immersed in water for a minute or so. Running, they wouldn’t get wet. However, once they WERE wet, the sloshiness was hard to dry out.

I’d like to get a few more trail miles in these and then post a more thorough review. So far I’m very much enjoying them. I think the fact that I could go from completely shoeless to running in these for 20 miles without an issue, says a lot about the quality of this shoe.

2. Injinji socks 

Already a staple for barefoot and minimalist runners, I mostly wanted to mention this to direct people to the great Toe Salad Injinji giveaway that’s going on this week. You can enter HERE. Injinjis are awesome and if you haven’t tried them yet, definitely do.

3. Dirty Girl gaiters

Until last week, I didn’t even know what gaiters were. I saw my trail buddy Christine wearing them and they looked super cool, so at first I thought they were just for style. Then I saw several people wearing them at the Stairway to Heaven 15k so I asked what they were for.

Gaiters are basically funky looking sleeve things (Kate called them ankle warmers) that prevent stones and pebbles from falling into your shoes. Trail runners use them. You don’t need them when you’re barefoot.

Because we’ve been testing out some trail shoes on very rocky terrain, Shacky was kind enough to pick up some gaiters for us. He got Dirty Girl gaiters which I loved because they’re all made by hand. He got me the scissors print which I was SO EXCITED about because I have a shirt that says, “I run with scissors,” and for a while I was.

Back in my woods in Toronto I would carry scissors on my runs so I could forage for dandelions and other greens. I’d use the scissors to cut into the dirt for wild dandelion roots. Running with scissors is badass and my scissor gaiters make me feel hardcore. Dirty Girl has so many awesome prints, it’s hard to choose just one favorite.

But the best part is probably the woman behind the gaiters. I was told that Dirty Girl once opened her shirt and asked Kirby (fellow Dirt Devil runner) to pour ice cubes into her boobs during a race. To further solidify her awesomeness, a quote from her website regarding design prints: “There is no such thing as too much leopard.” And regarding shipping: “Slow is the new fast.”

I am honored to wear Dirty Girl’s gaiters and would buy a thousand more.

4. Zensah calf compression sleeves

I don’t like to trail run without my compression sleeves. I already wrote about these, so you can read more HERE.

5. Sport Kilt

This is the company that sponsored me and Shacky to race Noble Canyon. I didn’t wear the kilt on my training run, but I will be wearing it for the race. Last year, Shacky raced this in a non-Sport Kilt kilt (another company’s kilt), and overheated. I love the kilts because a) They’re super cute and b-f) They’re light weight, easy to wear, and ideal for runners. I also love the deep, discreet pockets. And they keep you cool.

6. Navitas Power Snacks


Nutrition is a never ending experiment for me. I tend to shy away from the mainstream runner’s gels and aim for whole foods as much as possible. Convenience is obviously an issue – I need to find fuel that is both natural and compact. Easy to carry and tastes good.

I am pleased to report that the new Navitas Power Snacks fit all of the above criteria. Not only are they natural, the ingredients are also Paleo (fruit and nuts), so Shacky was happy to fuel on them as well. He was pleased with the fat/protein ratio and the fact that they were low in sugar. They are also gluten and dairy free.

We had some Navitas Power Snacks at the midway point of our run and shared with some other runners in the group. Then later we sat down again on the trail and ate more.

The snacks are small, bite-sized pieces. I packed a few in a ziplock bag and carried them in my hydration vest pockets. They were easy to pull out and eat while walking or running. I also loved the texture. They weren’t as hard and chewy as a bar, but not as watery as a gel. They were soft and easy to break down, but didn’t leave you with a mouthful of sticky goo.

I received two flavors from Navitas – Citris Chia and Cacao Gogi. Shacky liked the chia and I loved the gogi. We’ve almost finished both of them.

Here is some more info I received from Navitas via email:

Offered in an 8-ounce re-sealable and recyclable pouch for a SRP of $8.99, Navitas Power Snacks are chewy, bite-sized nuggets that provide robust flavor.  It is a healthy bonus that they contain no refined sugar, and are gluten-free and dairy-free. Navitas Power Snacks and other Navitas products are available at a wide variety of retail locations throughout North America including Whole Foods Markets, Wegmans and HEB, and at many online stores such as and

The mission of Navitas Naturals is to provide premium organic superfoods that increase energy and enhance health.  Nutrient-rich whole foods are at their best when they are produced via organic agriculture and minimal processing methods.  That is why all Navitas Naturals products are certified organic, and use methods such as freeze-drying to ensure maximum nutrition.  Food safety is very important to Navitas Naturals, which is demonstrated by the rigorous third-party testing of their superfoods.  Since its founding in 2003, Navitas Naturals has been committed to socially responsible business.  Their direct purchasing partnerships expand fair trade opportunities for farmers in developing regions around the world.  For more, visit

The experiment for optimal gear and nutrition continues for me. I’m lucky to have so many great friends and companies willing to help me find my place on the trail.

Want free running and nutrition books? Now looking for book reviewers.

The inevitable has happened. I’m swamped with too many books to read and reviews to write. I don’t have the time or space for all of them. So I’m calling out for help in exchange for free books.

Here’s the deal:

I have a long list of books, mostly about either running, barefoot running, or holistic nutrition. I will send you the book of your choice for free. In exchange, you read it and write me a book review.

It does NOT matter if you’re not a writer or if you’ve never written a review in your life. Simply tell me what you thought about the book. I want to know what it was about, if you liked it, and why/why not.

I don’t want anyone to be nervous about the quality of their writing. I work as an editor so I’m happy to do my thing to make it great.

The books are brand new, and I will mail them to you for free. You may keep any of the books you review, and you may review more than one.

I want to have all my books assigned to reviewers by the end of the month, so if you’re interested in becoming a reviewer, please leave a comment here with your email address, or email me at

If I don’t know you, tell me a bit about yourself. I will send you a book list with more details about the titles. They are available on a first come, first served basis.

Here are some examples of the books I’m offering up:

And many more…

I look forward to hearing from you!


Yesterday I received the following in my email inbox:

Dear Graduate,

Congratulations on completing the RHN (Registered Holistic Nutritionist) program!

Finally confirmation that I didn’t bomb my exams and I’m officially “Registered” to practice nutrition! Although I already started practicing, it’s nice to finally get the confirmation of those letters behind your name.

This was an amazing program and I learned so much. I’m really proud of myself for pursuing this and sticking it out when it got complicated and time consuming.

To celebrate, I’m having a giveaway for Peggy Kotsopoulos’ new book, Must Have Been Something I Ate. Peggy is an RHN who attended the same school that I did, so she knows her stuff! Her book explores the food-mood connection (the link between what we eat and how we feel).

Peggy “spins salads into PMS cures, turns oatmeal into a sleep aid and makes squash into pasta.” Topics and tips include:

  • Speed up metabolism and slow down aging
  • Turn to food to get energy and lose weight
  • What to nosh on to squash many ailments
  • Have your cake and eat chocolate too

My favourite part of Peggy’s book is the food porn at the back. She has beautiful, drool-worthy pictures with recipes of stuff that makes me feel good just by looking at it.

She also has a great section on Food and Beauty. In the past, I’ve been asked what I put on my hair/skin/nails to make them look so strong/shiny/healthy. My answer is always: Nothing. Eating well makes you look good, and Peggy explains how.


  1. Do one or more of the following things. Leave a separate comment below for each thing you do, as I will count up the comments and choose a winner randomly using Every separate comment will count as an entry. The more you do, the higher your chances of winning.
  2. The winner will be announced next Thursday July 7th. Come back and check because if you don’t claim your prize, I’ll choose another winner!

* “Like” Peggy’s page HERE and tell her I sent you.

* Blog about this giveaway

* Post about this giveaway on Facebook

* Tweet about this giveaway

* Subscribe to this blog (top left hand side)

* Tell me why you want this book

Good luck!


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