Keeping At it: Virtual Racing During COVID-19

By: Allison Backer

As the COVID-19 crisis presses on, it has been difficult to watch the events unfold. Like most, I am concerned for those who have suffered and continue to worry about the health and safety of my family.  

During these times, it is also quite challenging to stay on track with fitness and nutrition goals. I will admit to relying a little too much on coffee and wine, and have been tempted by treats with the extra time on my hands! Overall, I have done my best to take care of myself the last (never ending) 8 weeks. Here are a few simple things I am doing to keep my mental and physical health in check:

-Adequate sleep. I am sticking with my usual early bedtime routine, plus laying down to take a “power” nap for 20-40 minutes on most days of the week. I find the extra rest allows me to tune out the bad news and clears my head - even if only for a little while.    

-I am focusing on drinking plenty of water, loading up on immune boosting foods and taking my Vitamin D3 supplement as prescribed.  

-Sticking to an exercise routine. I continue to bike and run, but swimming is out until the gym and/or beaches begin opening again. I am normally highly motivated to exercise. Lately, I am struggling with mustering up the energy to get out for a run.

I was training for a local marathon prior to the lock-down. Racing is my passion! But now, I am unsure of what I am even training for? Although it has been disappointing to see races get canceled or pushed back with the hopes of carrying on at a later date - they of course can wait. Adherence with social distancing guidelines, in order to stop the spread of infection, is most important. 

So, I have been trying to think of creative ways to push myself out the door, get in speed training sessions, and find some friendly competition (at a safe distance) along the way.

I came across a virtual race series that I want to give a try! The races 100% support great causes - that is something to feel good about! 

How It Works: ITS YOUR RACE is setting up virtual races for non-profits and charities for FREE! The charity also gets to keep 100% of the registration donation. So if the entry fee is $10, the charity keeps that entire $10. It's an amazing program that can help non-profits all over the U.S. raise money, while encouraging people to get out and exercise. 

Who wants to join me in signing up for a race? Samaritan’s Purse (a non-profit that helps with disaster relief all over the world) has a virtual race in every state NOW until June 14th.  

You can learn more or register here.

Best of luck!

Keep reading to check out some of Allison's recipes that will keep you energized and feeling full! 

“Go the Distance” Energy Balls


2 cups quick oats
1/2 cup cacao nibs
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
1/4 cup chia seeds
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup natural nut butter of choice
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 tbsp unsweetened almond milk (feel free to use a milk or milk alternative of choice).
1/4 tsp sea salt

You will get your hands a little messy with this one!

1.In a large mixing bowl, stir together oatmeal, cacao nibs, dried cranberries, shredded coconut, chia seeds and salt. 2. Add in vanilla extract, honey, nut butter and almond milk. 3. Now, get your hands in and work all of the ingredients together! 4. Refrigerate mixture for 30 minutes and then roll contents into hearty sized balls. Store in an air-tight container or sealed glass jar.

Keep refrigerated. Stays fresh for up to 5 days. Enjoy!

Makes 20 Servings. 155 calories; 6.9 g fat; 4.3 g fiber; 3.64 g protein; 20 g carbohydrates

Egg and Bean Power Protein Scramble


4 whole eggs
4 egg whites
1/2 cup black beans
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
4 tbsp salsa
1 diced avocado
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tbsp olive oil

*Caution* Wear your oven mitts – cast iron skillets (including the handle) get very hot! Warm up stove: set oven to broil at 500 degrees. In a cast iron skillet, begin to brown onions in olive oil on medium to high heat. While onions are cooking: whisk eggs, egg whites, garlic powder and almond milk in a bowl. As onions start to appear brown and translucent, add egg mixture into skillet. Cook eggs scrambled style on medium to high heat. When eggs are cooked throughout, take the skillet off of the burner. Top skillet contents with salsa, avocado and shredded cheese. Place cast iron skillet into the oven on broil for 3 minutes. Enjoy these scrambled eggs on your favorite slice of whole grain toast!

Makes 4 Servings. 297 calories; 20.8 g fat; 13.8 g carbohydrates; 5.5 g fiber; 16.6 g protein

Always consult a doctor before starting a new exercise routine.

About the Author:

Allison Backer is a Registered Dietitian with New York state. She received her nutrition degree and completed her internship at Long Island University in 2006. Allison has worked as a Dietitian for over the past 12 years in various clinical settings. Allison resides on Long Island, New York. She enjoys spending time with her husband, daughter and dog. She is an avid fitness enthusiast. She trains for endurance competitions, including marathons and triathlons. Visit her website here for more training tips, nutrition advice and healthy recipes.