Energy-packed, healthy, and yummy home-made power-bar recipe

Hello everyone,

Hope you are all recovering from the Bluenose or Cabot Trail Relay Race and slowly easing back into training for the spring season!  With that in mind I decided I’d like to share a great power-bar recipe I found on the world wide web.  I went on a power-bar making spree last week before I left to plant in Cape Breton for a couple of days.  I figured they would be quick, easy to store, and would help me get a variety of nutrients to keep me going when I didn’t feel like using the old camp stove.  I tried four different recipes (now my freezer is packed with a variety of power bars), but one stood out in particular, because of the unique ingredients and it’s extreme tastiness (for a power bar that is…)

I wasn’t too sure about how this recipe would work out – I thought it could go either way, awesome or disgusting.  Luckily, they were awesome, and actually pretty cheap and flexible (in terms of ingredients) to make.  I was really imporessed and will definitely be making these again – they are great for running, tree-planting, hiking, or even a quick breakfast. Yum!


Power-bar s galore!

I found the recipe on this website:

It gives you a variety of options in terms of how you can mix and match the various ingredients.  Here is the recipe to the ones I made, they were chocolately, but not too sweet and not too bland, just right:)

Chocolate Power-Bar Recipe

1 1/2 cups Black Beans

1/2 cup Peanut Butter

1/4 cup Honey

1/2 cup Applesauce

1/2 cup Whole Wheat Flour

1/2 cup Cocoa

1 1/2 cups Oats

1/4 tsp Salt

1 cup Chocolate Chips

Directions: In a food processor, mix beans, peanut butter, honey, applesauce, and salt. Pulse until smooth.  Add oats, whole wheat flour, and cocoa and pulse until smooth.  Finally add in the chocolate chips and pulse to combine.  Grease a 13×9 inch pan and put in 350° for 15-18 minutes.  Once cooked (toothpick comes out clean), let cool, then cut into 2 inch cubes.  Enjoy!

Things that change as you bulk up your running volume


I have slowly been increasing my weekly mileage as I prepare to run across The Gambia this summer (up to 80km/week currently).  As I have been doing this, I have noticed several (good and bad) changes, which I would like to share:

Running becomes a part of the daily routine: I am finding that I really look forward to my

Running in beautiful Point Pleasant Park

Running in beautiful Point Pleasant Park

daily runs.  I also find that when I take my rest days it feels like it’s been forever since I’ve had my last run and I crave to get out again.  Running is one of those sports that is easy to become obsessive with.

Laundry: Running 5 to 6 times per week means a significantly higher amount of stinky laundry to wash each week.  I’m thankful for having a washer and dryer here in Canada; not sure if I’ll have this luxury while in The Gambia.

Eating: Burning and extra ~1,000+ calories per day has changed the amount of food I consume.  Lots more snacking :)

Sleep: The extra miles also mean more rest time.  I am noticing that I feel it quite a bit more when I don’t get a full 7 hours per night.  No crazy partying for this tired runner.

You get to know the city:  Running is my favorite way to explore a new place.  It’s fast enough that you can see a lot, but slow enough that you can see a lot of the details that you miss when you are driving.  Running in Halifax has been a great way to get to know and see the city, and lots of it.

Chafing in Weird Places: Back, feet, neck, shoulders, back of knees.  Somehow this always seems to happen for the oddest things.  Bring on the petroleum jelly and body glide!

Lucy after a long run

Lucy after a long run

Dog chews on less of my stuff: I have noticed a big decrease in the amount of chewed socks, pencils, garbage, and so forth since including my dog in the longer distance runs.  A tired dog is a well-behaved dog.

It gets easier and easier: The best part about bulking up the running volume would have to be that it only gets easier and easier as you go.  At the start of my training program, my long weekend run was 15km.  Yesterday, my recovery run was 14km and felt great.  Doesn’t get much better than that!

Just wanted to wish you all the best of luck in your Bluenose training for those of you planning on running this May.  Maybe you have also experienced some of these to a greater or lesser extent with your training?  Remember to join the Love4Gambia team if you are participating in the Bluenose to support the Nova Scotia Gambia Association.  If you are not running, please consider supporting my run across The Gambia by clicking on the link on the right hand corner of this page.  (Click Love4gambia on the drop down bar of the Canada Helps Website).

Thanks and happy running!


Tree Planting: Training for Life


Ohhhhh tree planting!  The great love and hate of my life. I remember one of the first things my foreman, “Mr. the Bag”, told me when I arrived fresh, naïve, and ready to go in Prince George was, “You’ll never run again, planting is going to ruin you” (or something closely along those lines)…

Bagged up and ready to go

Bagged up and ready to go


Being the stubborn person that I am, I decided that tree planting was in no way going to end my running career and instead was going to act as, let’s say, supplemental training.  Little was I to know that it would turn into somewhat of a career and teach me a whole lot more along the way.

First, I will explain a little bit about tree planting in Canada.  It is tough, no matter how you spin it.  You wake up at 6am, eat and stumble to the trucks, and usually start planting around 7 or 8am.  Then you bag up 400 trees and plant them.  Then you repeat that as fast as possible for the rest of the day.  The truck rolls around to pick up at 5 or 6pm, and hopefully you have planted around 2500 good quality trees by that time in order to make a decent paycheck.  That is the easy part.


Expressive injuries, such as this unhappy face are a common side effect of tree planting

Expressive injuries, such as this unhappy face are a common side effect of tree planting

Sure, you can have great days where the sun is shining, the prices are fair, and you can count the number of times you fall down on one hand.  Then come the curve balls that make you second guess your life choices that have led you to be stumbling along in a mess of stinging nettle and devils club, freezing in the rain, covered in bugs, aching, and making no money at the same time.  Those moments are what make or break a tree planter.  Anyone can survive the good days, but it’s the challenges that count…



However, as much as I can hate on tree planting for many paragraphs here, I also have a lot to thank planting for.  It has basically been a method for me to pay for my education, and to be debt free after 7 years in school.  I have met countless characters, with nicknames ranging from rusty to the lactating lobster.  Yes, there are good stories to go along with those names and we are a classy, surprisingly educated, bunch.   I have had the opportunity to commute to work in an argo and a helicopter, and and see so much of northern B.C., Alberta, and Nova Scotia that I never would have had the opportunity to see in any other scenario.

Can't beat this workplace view

Can’t beat this workplace view

More importantly, tree planting has taught me that 90% of what you do is mental.  You can be planting on a slashy hill, swarming with blackflies and mosquitoes for chincy tree prices, but if you have it in your head that you are having a good time, then you will.  I realized I can love or hate anything I do, and this was extremely powerful for me.   This mindset works for almost any situation, but is especially relevant for long distance running.  For example, during the Bluenose marathon last year it was pretty hot for Nova Scotia.  At times I would think, “I’m not prepared, I’m thirsty, I’m tired”, but as soon as I realized that my negative thoughts were making me more tired, I could immediately turn it around.  Instead, I would start thinking, “Isn’t it nice the sun is out for once, what a good tour of Halifax this course is, life is good,” etc. etc. etc.  Sure enough, the steps get easier, I start running faster, and life actually is good.

This is the mindset I plan to take with me to The Gambia this summer, when I will be running over 25km each day in 35°C or more.  I can train physically for the kilometers.  But when it comes to dealing with the heat and other unpredictable factor, I know that it basically comes down to mental training.  Luckily I have a half million trees worth of training logged for that.  Gambia here I come!



You can follow my journey by subscribing to the blog, following me on Twitter (@love4GambiaJenn), or liking the Facebook page (Love4Gambia).  Any and all support is greatly appreciated!


Much love,



Training Plan: Run… a lot!

When I talk to people about the Love4Gambia run across The Gambia, one of the most common questions I get is, “How are you going to train for that?”  For the most part I just reply, “Run…a lot,” and in return I get questionable nods and smiles.  While the plan for training does include a lot of running, I thought I’d share a bit more about how I am planning to train for this 424km run.

Step 1: Get a coach and training group.  Check.

Step 2: Make a long-term training plan.  Check.  See below, which is my interpretation of what Cliff tried to explain to me:

Cycle 1 Dec. 17, 2012 – Feb. 10, 2013 BUILD-UP Start running consistently, approximately 5-6 times a week.  Add in a distance workout once per week.  This phase ends with the hypothermic half marathon.
Cycle 2 Feb. 11 – Mar. 22, 2013 INCREASE MILEAGE During this phase I will work towards increasing my weekly mileage.  I plan to increase by about 5-7% per week with a recovery of minus 5-7% every third week.
Cycle 3 Mar. 23 – May 18, 2013 INCREASE INTENSITY This phase will consist of increased speed, strength, and endurance.  I will already have the distance under my belt but will work towards becoming a quicker and stronger runner in this phase.  This phase ends with the Bluenose full marathon.
Cycle 4 May 19, June 13, 2013 TAPER The last cycle consists simply of maintaining the endurance and strength that I have built up over the past three cycles.  The purpose of such a long taper is to build up energy reserves so I am aching to get running by the time I arrive in The Gambia.

Step 3: Do the training plan! Now the fun, challenging, and most important part: follow through with the training plan, enjoy every step, and raise as much money and awareness about the great organization: Nova Scotia Gambia Association!

So that is the plan as best as I can explain it for now.  Looking forward to it, and maybe someday I’ll be as fast as this guy.

Happy New Year to you all!

Jennifer (and my running partner, Lucy-badger)

The Training Begins in Earnest!

Running behind the Museum of Civilization

January is here and the time of unstructured training is over.  It is time to get serious about the preparation for my run across The Gambia!

The question I receive most frequently from people when they here about my “summer vacation plans” is not the one that first came to my mind.  Hardly anyone has asked me: “Oh my – how do you plan to raise all that money?”  Instead, people wonder about how I will get my body ready to take on the challenge of running 30 kilometers a day for a period of two weeks in extreme heat and humidity.

Over the course of the holiday season, I ran when I felt like it, went as far or as short as I wanted to and didn’t worry much about strength training.  I also ate and drank whatever my little heart desired.  Now that the new year has begun, it’s time to buckle down.  The month of January is serving as my adaptation period to get back into a regular routine of running four times during the week, as well as running longer distances on Saturdays and Sundays.

My weekday runs will often double as my commute to or from work – a distance of about 13 kilometers.  My partner Marc and I have a great routine worked out where one of us will run to work while the other drives the car.  On the way back, we switch.  This eliminates the need to run with a heavy backpack containing winter boots, a bulky winter coat and everything else we need for a day at the office.  And commuting under our own steam helps us get a workout in, no matter how long and busy the work day gets.

Snowhoe Running in Winter Wonderland

Some of the week day runs will be replaced by cross country skiing or snowshoe running.  Gatineau Park is full of incredible trails and cross training in another sport will keep the mind and body fresh.  Not to mention that embracing winter is the only way to get through it without the winter blues.

Weekend runs will start to build this month to approximately two hours each on Saturday and Sunday.  While training plans often give detailed information about distances and pace for each workout, Ottawa winters are no time for such precision.  Icy paths, slippery roads, deep snow as well as being dressed like the Michelin man and displaying equal grace of movement do not make for fast running times!  Time on my feet and perceived effort is all I count in those conditions where distances and pace become arbitrary when we take two steps forward and slide one step back.

Yoga will remain a regular part of my workout routine, as the strength I gain from it and the stretching help keep me injury free.  Not to mention that it is great fun, as you can read in Limbering up with Yogi B.

Hill training builds strength, too!

Towards the end of the month, once my body has had a chance to adapt to being on a regular schedule again, I’ll start introducing a bit of strength training after one run per week.  This will consist of lunges, single-leg jumps, squats, as well as some core strengthening.  Throughout February, I will gradually increase my weekend long runs while continuing my strength training.  Skiing will also remain part of the program, including an annual cross-country ski weekend in Papineau Labelle in the beautiful Laurentians, where we ski from cabin to cabin along back country trails.

At the end of February, it will be time to take stock and to build the training plan for the next two months.

But how will all this training in the snow and cold temperatures get me prepared for running in high heat and extreme humidity in The Gambia this summer?  Winter training will not get my body ready for the physical challenges I’ll face during The Gambia’s rainy season, but it will sure help get me mentally prepared.  Stepping out the door to go for a two hour run on a day when the temperature is minus 20 degrees Celsius with the wind chill will toughen anybody up.  Learning to cope with extreme conditions during our winter will help me to the same during the heat in The Gambia, where the physical adaptation will take place each day I run.

For motivation during the cold months, it is also a good idea to have some interim goals and fun events to look forward to.  On my agenda for the spring is the Chocolate Race in Port Dalhousie, Ontario and the Ottawa Race Weekend, where I will run alongside members of Team Love4Gambia who will support my expedition to help kids in The Gambia.

So far the adaptation period is going very well and it feels great to be back on a regular schedule.  I will keep you informed about my progress and about the next phase of my training plan towards the end of February.  Keep active this winter and see you out on the roads and trails!