Author Archives: Erica House

Hydrating & Anti-Inflammatory: The Perfect Runners Drink

April 17th, 2014 | Posted by Erica House in Life - (4 Comments)

A few days ago I realized my second marathon is next weekend and I had a mini meltdown. Am I ready? Will I survive the infamous Nashville hills? Why hasn’t John Stamos replied to any of my tweets?

Now that I’m entering into the period of training where I will taper my miles I’m now trying to be extra vigilant about my diet. My goal is to show up on race day as hydrated and well fueled as possible. I came up with the idea to have a smoothie (and I really hesitate calling it that because it’s more like a juice consistency) every day until I leave town and cramming it full of the best hydrating and anti-inflammatory foods possible. After weeks of running 25-45 miles a week my body is almost permanently inflamed in one area or another. After work on Monday I stopped by the store to pick up some ingredients that I often read were some of the ‘top’ foods for runners.

Runners Drink


  • Coconut Water: Eleven ounces contain 14 grams of sugar and 670 milligrams of potassium. Potassium works with sodium to maintain water balance and helps trigger muscles to contract and relax.
  • Aloe Vera Juice: Aloe Vera contains over 200 active components including vitamins, minerals, amino acids, enzymes, polysaccharide, and fatty acids. It hasn’t been studied extensively and most research has been mixed so if you wanted to save $$ and skip something definitely pass on this. Try subbing beet root juice instead!
  • Spinach: very high in iron which is lost in sweat and is consumed during muscle contraction.
  • Ginger: contains very potent anti-inflammatory compounds called gingerols that help reduce the tissue inflammation that causes stiff, aching muscles and joints. One study found that adults who took 2 grams of ginger as a daily oral supplement reduced exercise-related muscle pain by 23-25%.
  • 100% Tart Cherry Juice: packed with unique anthocyanins and other compounds that naturally mediate the inflammatory process. One study found that runners who drank tart cherry juice experienced a substantially smaller pain increase after the race. For best results it’s recommended that you start drinking tart cherry juice a few days before your race.
  • Bananas: High in potassium and during exercise such as running, potassium is released from skeletal muscles and is lost through sweat. Also high in B6 which will help maintain energy, support muscle activity during running and keep the immune system healthy.
  • Blueberries: also contain Anthocyanins which assist with post-run recovery and muscle repair.

Of course I got all of my ingredients together, took photos to show off on Instagram, turned my blender on and ….. silence. My old POS cheap blender from Target finally bit the dust. I must have looked so pitiful standing in my kitchen pouting and trying to decide how to salvage the expensive ingredients I just put into my blender while the dreams of this perfect drink shattered. I put out an SOS on twitter and asked for recommendations on a new blender that didn’t cost as much as one week of my pay (seriously Vitamix?) I heard overwhelmingly positive reviews for the Ninja, so I ran out and bought the Ninja Professional Blender. I’ve only used it a few times but so far it’s getting the job done!

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The Perfect Runners Drink (put ingredients into blender in the order they are listed)

1 cup spinach

1/2 frozen banana

1/2 cup frozen blueberries

1 T. tart cherry juice

1/2 T. fresh minced ginger

1 cup coconut water

1 cup aloe vera juice (or plain water, beet juice, almond milk,…)

Stevia, to taste

I usually throw in a few ice cubes to bulk it up a bit and add about 3 packets of Stevia. I’ll be honest – it’s not the greatest tasting drink in the world. The way I make it comes in at about 250 calories. That’s including 1/4 avocado I throw in to add some healthy fats to give it some ‘staying power’. I get a nice little green energy buzz after drinking it and it may just be a total placebo effect but I’ll take whatever I can get this close to marathon day!

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Best Food for Runners by Runners World

Anti-Inflammatory Properties of Tart Cherry by Life Extension Magazine

Natural Sports Drinks by Runners World

Top 12 Benefits of Aloe Vera

What are your favorite ‘superfoods’? 

I am Not Special

April 15th, 2014 | Posted by Erica House in Life - (36 Comments)

Last week a friend texted me after finishing up a run with a run club downtown. She said she was running with a girl who randomly brought my name up in conversation. The girl told her that she enjoyed reading my blog because I was easier to relate to then some of the other running bloggers she had come across. This was shortly after I posted the ‘Are All Bloggers Liars‘ post where I shared a photo of myself beaming after hitting my first 5k goal of 37 minutes.

That was less than two years ago and this past weekend I set a new 5k PR of 25:28. That is still laughable for most ‘serious runners’, but at an average pace of 8:12 it was genuinely unthinkable for me even just last year. As friends and readers have congratulated me on setting a new PR I’ve been reflecting more on what it took to get me here. I don’t want new readers to stumble upon my blog, see the miles I put in every week or my pace time, and feel like that is unattainable to them.

Because, in the end, I’m really not special.

A few years ago I looked like this. {You can read about my weight ups and downs here}



I was also a chain smoker, fake food eater, and often binge drinker. Now, I’m a (predominantly) clean-eating vegetarian, personal trainer, and marathoner. I couldn’t be more different than the person I was then, but at the same time I’m exactly the same. Nothing magically happened one day to give me the willpower needed to quit smoking or eating crap. I didn’t wake up one morning and just start running with ease. Just two years ago I celebrated being able to run one full mile without stopping!

I want you to know that whatever changes you want to make in your life, whatever goals you have, they are all possible. The only thing that sets me apart from those who have tried to lose weight and failed is perseverance.

Every single day I make the choice to be healthy. Actually, I make that choice multiple times a day. When I decide to workout instead of sleep in. When I decide to spend a few hours on Sunday prepping healthy meals for the week. When I suggest to friends that we catch up over a walk around downtown instead of drinks. All relatively small decisions that lead to huge results.

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Is it always easy? Hell no. Is it always worth it? Absolutely.

How many times have I regretted a workout? NONE.

How many times have I regretted skipping one? Almost every time.

When you are starting from ground zero big goals can seem insurmountable. It took me years of trying to lose weight and quit smoking before things finally started to ‘click’ for me. I let go of focusing so much on the future and tried to do the best I could, with what I had, and where I was. It took two years for me to lose 50 pounds, but I did it. It took one year of running 3-5x’s a week for me to go from 5k to a marathon, but I did it.

IMG_7515As far as I’ve come I know that there is always further I could go.

And that is what makes me special.

5k PR’s and Soaking up All the Sun

April 14th, 2014 | Posted by Erica House in Life - (20 Comments)

With rain hijacking the last few weekends we finally had the type of weekend that epitomizes the gorgeous Spring weather in Florida. I was able to spend some time hanging out with a friend on his front porch and this photo just about sums up how perfect it has been outside. He has an incredible garden and I actually pulled those carrots myself to dip in some homemade humus! Mint in the water was also taken straight from the plant. I wish I had the patience for gardening.

2014-04-10 15.33.25-1Friday afternoon I walked around downtown for a while waiting to meet a friend at Seville to pick up our packets for the Navy Federal 5k. I had a lady bug land on my hand and hang out with me for a while. They are a sign of good luck so I’m expecting something magical to happen soon. 2014-04-11 16.23.16

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I signed up for the race a few weeks ago on a whim with the fantastical notion that I may actually be able to place top 3 in my age group. My goal pace was 8:30, which is nowhere near fast enough to place in most races, but the last 2 years the top 3 in my group had paces hovering around 9 minutes! So, I went to be crossing my fingers that no one fast in my age group felt like running. Either way it was going to be Christina’s first race so I was looking forward to seeing her cross the finish line and hopefully love it enough to want to do it again.

Race morning came and I was FULL of nerves. My heart-felt like it was in my throat. I met Christina and we formulated our game plan. I was hoping to finish with enough time before she crossed the finish line to run back to her car and grab my cell phone to snap some photos of her. The race was extremely well-organized and family friendly. We started on time and before I had a chance to have a total nervous breakdown I was on my way. I had a group of marines running in formation behind me and that helped to keep me going. I felt pretty comfortable running between 8:15 and 8:30 and I just kept telling myself “It’s only 25 minutes!” I ran strong to the finish and ended with a brand new PR of 25:28 (8:12 pace.) My very first 5k in October of 2012 was just over 31 minutes. It’s amazing what 18 months and hundreds of miles can do!

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I kept running so I could make it to the car and back in time to catch Christina. She was aiming for a 12 minute pace so I was shocked when I saw her crossing at 33 minutes! She crushed her goal time and as we were sitting in the lawn scarfing down bananas and oranges she looked at me and said, “Yeah, I’m addicted.” #Success

I ended up coming in 8th in my division out of 44 so I’m trying to focus on how awesome that is instead of sulking that I didn’t place. The girl who came in 3rd finished 45 seconds ahead of me, so there were a lot of speedy 30-34 year olds out there this year! The first place female in the age group behind me finished 15 seconds after me. Damn if I wasn’t just a bit older! I’m already looking forward to running a few more 5k’s with Christina this summer and really focusing on speed work after my marathon this month.

2014-04-12 08.49.50-2That afternoon I met up with my parents at Roly Poly for lunch. They were in town to go to a quilt show and we all love eating at Roly Poly. I didn’t realize it until I read the recap for my first 5k today that we had Roly Poly the day of that race as well! I’m thinking this should become tradition. 2014-04-12 12.13.22I met up with Christina and her friend for dinner to celebrate her first 5k. We went to Jaco’s downtown which has the best views of the sunset in town. I had a delicious Portobello dish with pesto risotto and creamy tomato sauce. I had to muster up the little bit of class I have to not lick the plate clean. 2014-04-12 19.13.36-2

Sunday I woke up early to do my long run before heading to my parents house in Fort Walton for an early Easter BBQ. My legs were pretty sore from the 5k Saturday so about 2 miles into it I decided not to do the 16 I had planned on. At this point (two weeks out from the marathon) ‘training’ is essentially done, so I had zero heartburn aiming to do 13.1 miles instead. I still did a hilly course and managed to keep a 10:36 pace. Not bad for tired legs!

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This week is my last week teaching classes in person at UWF for the term. This class gets out early as my students will be turning their final papers into me a week from today. I’m hoping to have them all graded before Dad and I hit the road to Nashville on Thursday. It’s nice having so many things to look forward to. Life. Enjoying the anticipation.

How was your weekend? 
When/Where is your next trip?