The Runnin’ Fools

Good morning from Austin!  I’ve got an event to share that will be the official start of my work in Tulsa!  I’m really excited to jump into the running community there and get back to doing what I love full time – coaching.

See you there Tulsa!

See you there Tulsa!




Strawberry Avocado Salad

Happy Friday!  Were you able to guess what I whipped up with the ingredients in the picture?  It’s the delicious combination of crisp strawberries and creamy avocado that I’ve been munching on for lunch all week.  And it’s so simple.

5 ingredients = 1 delicious salad


  • 1 cup of spinach and mixed greens
  • 1 cup of chopped strawberries
  • 2 hardboiled eggs
  • Half an avocado
  • 1 tbsp Brianna’s French Vinaigrette

Really the only cooking involved in this salad is boiling the eggs and chopping the strawberries and avocado.  Leaves go into the bowl first, followed by the chopped strawberries.  Eggs are next, you can choose if you want the whole egg or just the whites.  I personally do not care for the chalky yolks of hard boileds so I just do egg whites.  Avocado slices and dressing are last!  Dig in y’all 🙂


Strawberry Avocado Salad

*Note: If you’re still working on the Fed Up Challenge, this dressing is not approved because it has Xantham Gum (use a mix of oil and vinegar instead).  If you’ve completed the challenge, this is my favorite dressing to use.

Fed Up Challenge

There’s a new documentary buzzing about a few select theaters in the United States called Fed Up.

Being in the field I’m in, this is something my friends and I chose to go see on one of our first days out of class.  The crowd exiting the theater was buzzing with discussion.  I am going to recommend that you see this movie with an open mind, critical thinking to stimulate questions and discussion and a potential willingness to change what you’ve been doing.  It is well worth the $9 to sit through.

If you don’t want to spend the time or money on it, here are some key thoughts to consider about sugar:

  • It can be put into food under 56 different names like high fructose corn syrup, sugar, xanthan gum, sucralose, honey and agave.
  • Of the 600,000 food items available in grocery stores in America, 80% of them have added sugar.
  • The recommended daily amount of sugar (by the American Heart Association) is 6 tsp for women and 9 tsp for men.  There are 17 tsp in a 20 oz. soda.

The movie goes into the politics of the food industry, comparing it to the tobacco industry of the late twentieth century.  Regardless of where you stand on policy beliefs, I can assure you that extra sugar in your diet will give you a headache of health problems down the road.

So what to do?

The producers of the movie have put together resources and support for a ten day Fed Up Challenge that encourages you to give up added sugar for just ten days.  Can’t be too hard right?  It’s just for ten days!  As you begin to read labels you’ll realize sugar and its sweet cousins are in 80% of what you have available.

Here’s how to start:

  1. Read all your labels – go through the food in your house and toss things that have any of the following ingredients listed.  If you don’t want to trash them because it would be wasteful, put them somewhere off limits for the 10 days.  Things you wouldn’t expect like ketchup, flavored yogurt (even Greek!), granola and salad dressing will be off limits!

    Toss foods with these ingredients

  2. Grocery shop – Print the photo above and take it grocery shopping with you.  You’ll be mostly sticking to foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts (be sure to look carefully at peanut/almond butters – victims of added sugar!), eggs and meat.
  3. Other things not allowed – Coke, even diet.  Artificial sweetners, including Truvia and Stevia.  Flavored creamers (use half and half if you must).  Non-fat and low-fat anything usually have sugar added to supplement the loss of flavor.


I have some family members already on board and into their 10 days, some clients preparing to jump on and after cleaning up a few things in my diet, I’m on board today as well.  Will you join us and see how you can improve the way you feel (look is a positive bonus too) and live?

At the end of the 10 days I’ll post some suggestions for continuing on, or modifying so that some of the foods you miss most can be reintroduced.  Look for #fedupchallenge on Instagram and Twitter to join the thousands others who are taking a stand.  I’ll also review the changes I feel, post recipes of some of my favorite things to fix and discuss how it’s affecting my higher level training.

I hope you’ll join us!

If you’ve seen the movie, what did you think?  If you’ve only watched the trailer, what did you think?

Meet Me Under the Oklahoma Sky

Dear Tulsans,

Last fall I came to your town to run in the Route 66 Half Marathon.  For me then, it was a chance to visit my friends Katie and Justin again, to see their now-open coffee shop Foolish Things Coffee Company and to check another state off my list.  In the three days I was there, something unexpected happened.

I felt it even before I arrived in your lovely city, somewhere between Atoka and the toll booths of the Indian Nation Turnpike.  The sun was setting over the breathtaking plains and it made possibilities for the future seem endless.  I’ve always been a go-with-my-gut kind of girl, often leaping into things without much thought.  Like when I chose Rhodes College over Wake Forest because Walkin’ in Memphis was the first song I heard on decision day.  Whatever feeling I had driving in, I announced it as soon as I walked in the door at Katie and Justin’s – “I think I might like to move here.”

Endless Possibilities

The events of that weekend – a wonderful race (albeit a cold 25 degrees), the first run where I’ve actually met people that I still keep in touch with, spending time at Foolish Things and talking to Tulsans about the town only solidified the feeling in my stomach. I love your small town city feel, the energy bursting out of the young entrepreneurs trying to get people excited about living in Tulsa, your riverfront and your friendliness.  There’s an energy in your city and I felt it.  I want to be a part of the growth, part of making Tulsa the best it can be.  And I love that I felt you want that same thing.

Mile 9. The cold riverfront.

A sucker for rivers…

So, in eleven short weeks I will leave Austin in its dust, bringing with me the knowledge and experience I have gained here (of which there is much! Austin, I thank you for the rich growth I’ve experienced in my two years) and the heart for running and coaching I grew in Memphis.  I’ll start by hosting a running group – The Runnin’ Fools – out of Foolish Things Coffee Company.  We will train for the race that brought me to Tulsa in the first place, the Route 66 Half Marathon.   Join us for a FREE group run and meet the Coach (me!) session afterwards at Foolish Things.  Saturday, June 7 at 7 am.

Coffee and running: The perfect morning pair.

I am excited to continue in the spirit of Foolish Things’ ambition to create a community in the downtown neighborhood by creating an outlet for it through running.  Training for a common goal is a powerful way to bring people together and I hope you’ll join us for the miles ahead.  I’ll leave one of my favorite runs below for you to try while you wait for me:

The 30-20-10 (Great for 5k speed training/pretending you’re Katniss running through the arena)

  • Warm up jog for 10-20 minutes
  • The set: 30 seconds of jogging, 20 seconds of running, 10 seconds of sprinting.  Do this 5 times (that’s one set).
  • Complete 3-5 sets resting (walk or jog) for two minutes between sets.
  • Cool down for 10 minutes

I’m looking forward to this next chapter with you Tulsans, and I hope you’re ready for an energetic option in the fitness sector, straight from the capital of fitness, Austin.  See you in June!

Happy trails,

Coach Sprenk

Mediterranean Turkey Burgers

Happy Friday y’all!  This post is coming to you from Memphis, TN where I’ll be for the holiday weekend.  This city is where I got my start in health and fitness and I always love coming home 🙂

If you’re looking for a healthy recipe for the grill this weekend (Fed Up Challenge safe and sugar-free), look no further! This recipe (adapted from this one at Runner’s World) is easy, tasty and perfectly healthy for your Memorial Day Weekend BBQ!

Ingredients (makes 5 burgers)

  • One 1.25 pound package of ground turkey
  • 1/2 c feta cheese
  • 1/2 c roasted red pepper
  • 1/3 c chopped Kalamata olives
  • 1/3 c chopped basil
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
Ingredients for a delicious burger!

Ingredients for a delicious burger!

Before you measure out the ingredients, fire up the grill!  Next, dump all ingredients into a mixing bowl and dig those hands in there to blend them all together.  Form the mixture into five medium-sized burger patties and place on a plate.

Ready for the fire!

Ready for the fire!

Before you place the burgers on the grill, lay a sheet of tin foil across the grate (credit for this tip goes to my roommate!  It makes a BIG difference).  This will keep the mix-ins from falling into the flames.  Place the burgers on the foil and leave for ten minutes.  Flip and leave for ten more minutes.  This will let the meat get cooked all the way through.

If you crave that char-grilled taste you can now opt to transfer each patty off the foil and to the grill grates for up to four minutes per side.  Then remove from the grill and decide how you want to eat these!

With a side of Sweet P fries and summer salad

With a side of Sweet P fries and summer salad

Main Dish

Enjoy the patty as the main protein option with a side of homemade sweet potato fries and summer spinach and strawberry salad.


I threw a patty on a bed of spinach, chopped red and green peppers, tomatoes and quinoa with Brianna’s French Vinaigrette dressing.  A perfect lunch on the road to Memphis!

Happy Memorial Day y’all!

What Starts Here

I moved to Austin, a little bit hesitantly, in  August of 2012 to pursue a Masters degree in Sports Science and Nutrition.  This past Saturday, I got what I came for,  joining a small group of classmates turned friends at our Masters Hooding Ceremony in the morning, and and participating in the evening processional.  I’m officially Jessica Sprenkel, MS!

Our morning started early, with more prep and dressing than I’m used to.  This once in a lifetime occasion called for a dress, light makeup and even heels.  Erin and I picked up the other girls, Tiffany and Lauren to head to campus.  Our first ceremony was the more formal of the two and included all the students of the graduate school.   Our speaker was Dean Terry Kahn, the UT Associate Dean of Graduate Student Services.  I’d never seen or heard of him before but a big man with a lovely Texas drawl took the mic.  After opening with an A&M joke (rivalries run deep here), he left us with four pieces of advice.

  1. Don’t be afraid to say I don’t know
  2. Tell it like it is
  3. Understand no opportunity to assist humanity is too small to warrant your attention
  4. Have reverence for what you’ve accomplished

I loved it.  A concise and practical list.  Number 3 especially struck a chord with me.  That’s what is great about this field I’m in because I get to assist people everyday.  Provide encouragement and motivation.  Write plans to help them get stronger.  Faster.  And I understand that no high five is ever too small or unwanted during a training session.

After he finished giving all the grads his best advice, the hooding began.  College of education was the very last to be presented but soon enough it was my turn.  Never a performer, being on stage made me surprisingly nervous.  Not sure how anyone can get things done or think straight with bright lights in their face.  But I smiled.  I couldn’t stop smiling.  I smiled as they placed the hood over my head, smiled as I shook the hands of the deans, smiled as I gave a big hug to my advisor, smiled as I waited for everyone on the other side of the stage.  I couldn’t help it!  For the first time in the two years at UT, I did feel proud.  I did work for this.  I worked to get accepted (1 of 1600 graduating, out of 26,000 applicants annually to the graduate school).  I worked to make the grades.  I worked to absorb knowledge and experiences outside of the classroom.  I worked to reduce my tuition and have a little spending money.  I earned this.

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I was so glad to share this celebratory experience with the people who were by my side at coffee shops in the last minutes of business for the day.  People who quizzed and quizzed on dry erase boards over the physiology of various types of exercise.  People who made the time outside of class fun and adventurous.  We’ve shared a lot in four semesters and this was a great ending.

The morning ceremony felt very similar to my graduation from Rhodes four years ago – formal and traditional.  All week people had been talking about the evening processional, noting that if I went to only one ceremony it should be that one.  So, we went.

Boy does Texas know how to throw a party!  This ceremony involved all the students.  Undergraduates, graduates, doctors, business, law, engineering.  We lined up close to the fountain and got to walk through the rows of big oak trees with faculty standing beneath them.  Our walk ended at the base of the Main Building or Tower and we filed into our seats.  There were cameras floating through the air on the ends of long mechanical arms, zooming over the audience of excited students hoping to get on the big screen at the front.  It was very much like a sporting event.  We had great seats too.  The tower stood proudly over us and a pedestal was set up at it’s base for the speakers.

The atmosphere was much different than the morning ceremony and both of my previous graduations.  Students were dancing on the chairs, had decorated their caps, were carrying light sabers, blowing whistles and air horns and chanting various fight songs (including “OU sucks”, another deep rivalry here).  President Powers took the stage and introduced the student body president to speak and our commencement speaker, Admiral William H. McRaven.  He was quite eloquent and poised but stuck some funnies in throughout his speech.  He also had a list of advice for us:

  1. Make your bed
  2. Find a mentor
  3. Measure people by the size of their hearts
  4. Get over discomfort and move forward
  5. Don’t be afraid of the circuses (extra work or hardship), it will make you stronger
  6. Slide down the obstacles head first
  7. Don’t back down from the sharks (punch them in the face)
  8. Stay calm in the darkness, you must be your very best here
  9. There is power in hope
  10. Don’t ever ring the bell (surrender)

When he finished, the students erupted into a standing ovation and the conferring of the degrees began.  Each school’s dean was called to the podium and while the tower glowed with the color of their college, the dean certified his or her students to receive their degrees.  Some colleges were much louder than others – Moody College of Communication and McCombs Business school were quite rowdy.  We stood up with the Graduate School and I gave an appropriate yell of excitement for us.

There were a few final remarks, a dozen “Hook em Horns” and a communal singing of “The Eyes of Texas” before we got to the part everyone had been waiting for – fireworks.

Austin, over the past two years you’ve given me challenges, knowledge, novel experiences, a new set of friends, a puppy and now a Masters Degree.  I’ll always be grateful of my time here and what it has given me but after this summer I’ll be on to the next chapter.  Watch out Tulsa, you’re next on my trail to change the world!

Hook ’em horns!

Positive Mornings

Happy Graduation Week y’all!  Congrats to those of you who graduated this past weekend (most of my Indiana crowd) and those of you who will this weekend (the UT crew)!

I’m still enjoying the extra time without the demands of class, homework, teaching and summer work 🙂  One of my favorite things is having calm back in the mornings.  I know that soon the rush of getting a run/workout in, showering (if my morning clients are lucky), eating and taking care of Miley will be back and my body will be responding mostly to habits.  But right now I get to savor the extra time.

This morning I zombie walked to the coffee (not before considering a snooze fest, boy am I glad I skipped that!) and made it out the door in time to meet Gilbert for today’s workout by 5:45.  We did a circuit/core workout with some 400s mixed in at Austin High.

When I got home, I threw together a delicious breakfast of 1 fried egg, 1/2 cup of black beans, 2 tbsp pico and 1 tbsp guacamole plus half a grapefruit and sat down for some morning reflection time.  I really do cherish these quiet moments in the morning and find that my days are more thoughtful, productive and happy if I take just a few minutes to reflect.

Positive thoughts and Texas pride.

Positive thoughts and Texas pride.

If you haven’t had time to reflect, or pick out a thought for the day, take a minute now!  It can change the way your day goes.

Do you take time in the morning to sit for a minute?  Or are you on the go as soon as you’re up?  How do you add positivity to your day?