By Ali Lopez
MRG Contributor

Can you believe it is mid-August already? Summer is just speeding by too quickly. I am loving the hot temperatures and lots of time in the bay. I hear folks complain about the heat and the humidity, but no complaints here after that third winter this past April — the sunshine and longer days make it worth it to me. Besides, it really doesn’t last that long. Plus, bonus points for training during this kind of weather. It just makes us stronger for our races, right? 

Speaking of races, this summer has been a fun one for me. I started off in June with an impromptu, unplanned trail marathon at the Yankee Springs Trail Run in Middleville MI and then a few weeks later my first triathlon of the season at Tri4Kristie in Leland. A month later, in July, another triathlon, back in Middleville at the Tri del Sol triathlon. On tap this month is the Traverse City Triathlon and coming up Labor Day weekend is the Boyne City Triathlon, a race I am doing as a Michigan Runner Girl ambassador (race report to follow!) But don’t worry, I haven’t traded running for triathlon. Running is still my true love (especially the LONG distances, on trails preferably, and I have some fun fall plans regarding that!) But I have found that adding some triathlons during the summer months has been really fun and is challenging me in new ways.

Ali with friend Erika, a fellow triathlete and ultra marathoner.

A big help with getting me out of my comfort zone and getting me more confident has been some of the training I have had with the folks at Tri Again Fitness. I can honestly say I enjoy the swim portion (and as Coach Tony says, my pace is “solidly acceptable.”) And although I refuse to clip in, I am working on enjoying the bike.

Training for long distance trail running and triathlon at the same time can be challenging. My miles aren’t quite where I would like them, but I feel the cross training makes me stronger all around. A typical week might have 4-5 runs (1 of those a long run, on trails) 1 bike ride, 2 swims (open water now that the bay has finally warmed!) and then I also do yoga a few times a week. I also add at least a day or two of strength training. But I am definitely very unstructured when it comes to training, and it seems to work OK for me.

Needless to say, my food budget increases during triathlon training. (Ha! Who am I kidding  — I am always hungry.) But one thing that I found that really helps prevent the “hangry” is to have some homemade energy bites on hand at all times. They really come in handy after a swim, during a bike ride, before a run … or just driving in my car. I have been making different versions of these for years now, but just experimented with a new one that I thought I’d share with you here. It’s got one of my favorite ingredients in it: coffee! Give it a try, then experiment and change it up if you like.

Magical Mocha Energy Bites

1 cup rolled oats

1 cup nuts, coarsely ground (I use almonds, pecans, peanuts, walnuts… or a mix)

1½ cups nut butter (I am a peanut butter fan, but feel free to use your favorite)

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tablespoon ground coffee

3 tablespoons maple syrup

3 tablespoons coconut oil

Pinch of sea salt

In a food processor or blender, combine the oats and almonds first and grind into a fine flour, then add nut butter, coffee, cocoa powder, maple syrup, coconut oil, and salt.

Mix with the processor or blender until combined and form into balls with your hands, put them in the refrigerator until they harden.

Keep in the fridge or the freezer.

Have a fueling question for Ali? Post it below in the comments section or email MRG with your healthy-eating questions at heather [at] michiganrunnergirl [dot] com 


Ali Lopez is a northern Michigan runner, chef and health coach. You can learn more about her at her web site Healthy Chef Ali. She’s also on Facebook here »

You can listen to a conversation about running and eating between Ali and Heather on this MRG podcast episode here »

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