The Healthiest Brands in My Life Right Now

I love small businesses.  If you’re regular reader that should come as no surprise, as I frequently feature them here and on social media. The foods and companies that fuel & inspire my life are truly killing the game, so I wanted to share them with you.  Not all are “small” businesses necessarily, but they’re all in a niche market and you might not otherwise know about them.  Here’s the healthiest brands in my life right now (besides the obvious Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, etc):


Hope Foods is dominating the hummus market. My favs are the dark chocolate hummus (crazy good, don’t knock it till ya try it) and the thai coconut curry.  Hummus kind of bores me sometimes, but the flavors Hope churns out are next level.  Find them in a store near you with their locator.

Purely Elizabeth granola. I have their original and pumpkin fig ancient grain granolas in my cupboard. I’m dying to try their probiotic and grain-free granolas! Their ingredients are simple and they contain less sugar, more fiber and protein than other brands. Purely Elizabeth is just an overall great (woman founded and lead 😀 ) company.

Amazing Grass it might be too early to say for sure but I’ve been using their green superfood powders for a little over a week and at this point it seems like they might be life-changing. My skin looks more glow-y and my digestion feels healthier (as someone with IBS anything that has this effect is a keeper). I shopped their Cyber Monday sale and now have three tubs in rotation! I’ll keep you updated with how it’s going on my Instagram.

Hammer Nutrition. I know this isn’t a first time mention here 😉 but I can’t really talk about brands without talking about Hammer. Their gels, omega and probiotic supplements, Recoverite, vegan protein and Fully Charged (pre-workout) are staples in my daily life and workouts. If you want a discount on your first order pop me a message on my “contact me” page!

Nature’s Path Organic – particularly their Kamut Puffs. I make smoothies super thick because I like to eat them out of a bowl with a spoon, and lately I’ve been topping them with the puffs and Purely Elizabeth granola. It’s my go-to breakfast, and at 50 calories, 2 grams each of protein and fiber for a whole cup you really can’t go wrong!

Siggi’s is probably familiar to most of you but it deserves a mention because they make my favorite yogurt ever. I toast a slice of Food for Life Ezekiel Bread or English Muffin and top it with peanut butter, plain or vanilla Siggi’s and cinnamon.

Perfect Bar lives up to its name! You can find them in the refrigerated sections of your grocery store (more and more are carrying them these days). My favorite flavors are peanut butter, carob chip and fruit & nut – they pack the most protein per bar of any of the varieties and have the most balanced macro counts. Check out what makes them perfect here.


This one is easy: ThredUp, Janji, Oiselle, Madewell (definitely not a small business but they’ve had some great sales lately). Go fall in love, it’s not hard to do.


Jeannette Ogden from shutthekaleup has been my food inspiration for a while now. She just gets it – give her a follow and don’t miss her adorable and delicious Insta stories.

Joe Rogan – his podcast and social media. If you’re a podcast person you won’t regret listening to him! He has everyone from ultrarunners to MMA fighters to life coaches and gurus on his show and it makes for some great listening.

GoPro’s YouTube channel. Want to have your mind blown? Watch any of their specials.


Farmhouse Culture has a new line of fermented vegetables coming out soon and I’m STOKED to try them.

Honey Mama’s paleo chocolate bars. I’m pretty loyal to Taza when it comes to chocolate but paleo…chocolate…come on!

Barely Bread



I’m probably forgetting a bunch of things and there are SO many more amazing companies out there but what are your favorite brands right now? Who is inspiring you?

Mount Toby 14 Miler and Being More Human

Mount Toby 14 Miler

A few weekends ago I ran a 14 mile trail race around, up and down Mount Toby here in Western MA.

My longest single-run-mileage prior to the race was a mere 7 mile hilly training session.  Lately I’ve predominantly been lifting, CrossFit-ing, doing yoga and going on shorter (3-5 mile) runs.

I found this race while searching for winter races and I knew instantly I wanted to sign up.  I’m not entirely sure why, but I think all runners sign up for races they cannot entirely explain.Mount Toby 14 Miler | katielean

Wearing Janji’s India Kali Race Shorts and Sunset Pocket Tank 

Because I was a bit unprepared (hah) I rested more than usual that week.  Two days beforehand I didn’t work out at all.  I had a Hammer Gel before and during the race and drank Recoverite right after!

Surprisingly, the race went really well.  Hills are always challenging, but getting to book it downhill is one of my favorite things in the world.  You can’t help but smile while bounding down a forest trail (and I didn’t even fall once, which is pretty darn impressive for a trail race).  I ran the first 7 miles in 1:18:29 (predominantly uphill) and the second 7 in 1:07:43 (predominantly downhill).  I felt stronger than I have while racing in a long time!  Not my fastest pace ever, but considering the course and loose footing I’m more than happy with it.  I was also the youngest runner at the race that weekend!  Forever inspired by people that continue to kick ass well into their prime 😉

Mount Toby 14 Miler | katielean

Being More Human

When you’re spending a couple of hours in the woods, mostly alone, you get to think some deep thoughts.  The one I’d like to share with you is this: you need to get outside.  Start with outside, anywhere.  Work your way up to REALLY outside.  In a national or state park, the middle of absolutely nowhere, a place where you’re pretty sure there’s so little cell service your phone would just disintegrate upon entering.  (I’m not saying my trail race was this far out there, just getting across a point.)

If you’ve even been on a hike with me you’re probably sick of me saying things like, “This is what the world was like before us!”  (Us being humans.) I find wonder and awe in imagining what it must have been like to be an early human finding a new plot of land.  The true outdoors is what this beautiful planet we call home was like before anyone starting manipulating its features (for better or for worse).  Now I know that we’re changing places humans have never even been to with climate change, but for the sake of this example let’s ignore that.

I wish that everyone could experience and – eventually – be comfortable with themselves outside.  Trust their instincts and know that deep in every person is the longing to be outdoors, that homes provide maybe too much comfort and that we all need to explore more.  It’s no surprise that when you take someone who isn’t used to being outside on a nature walk they suddenly find themselves more aware and present than they’ve felt in ages.  We tell people who are stressed to go on walk to clear their mind.  It’s because it’s where we’re supposed to be.  When I realized that I was no longer surprised that I felt better in this trail race than I have in any road race I’ve done recently.  There’s something to be said for technology and architecture and all that goes along with it, but I worry that we’ll eventually forget our roots.

So let’s combat this by running through the woods until dusk, cooking over fires (could write a whole post on how what makes us human is the fact that we cook, or you could just go read or watch Michael Pollan’s “Cooked”), sleeping under the stars and opting for walking or biking over anything else.  You don’t have to go hike the Appalachian Trail or bike across the country to do your part. Simply acknowledge that the Earth has been here long before a human ever took their first breath.  There’s more wisdom in nature than in any person alive today and we can’t afford to forget that.

Race the State

Finally!  My race report of Race the State Rhode Island.

Race the State is a relatively new (this was its second year) multisport endurance event consisting of 5 legs:

  1. 3.8 mile run
  2. 1 mile stand up paddleboard
  3. 12.3 mile run
  4. 5.6 mile kayak
  5. 28.5 mile bike

On top of the specific sports, my training included CrossFit, two SUP races, and a shorter bike/kayak/run race.  There was a lot of double-days (two workouts in one day), SO much sleep and a pretty strict focus on my nutrition in the months leading up to race day.

Hammer Nutrition is by far my favorite sports nutrition brand.  In training for Race the State I used Endurolytes, Recoverite, Perpetuem and Heed.  I credit Hammer in preventing soreness, my GI issues that I’ve experienced throughout races and long runs for years, and even post-exercise headaches.  In short, I highly recommend their products.  If you have more specific questions about Hammer products (I’ve tried almost all of them) and/or my supplement usage in general PLEASE ask!!  You can write to me in the Contact Me page if you prefer not to leave a public comment.

Leg 1

The first run went great.  My legs were fresh, I wasn’t going slow but I felt I didn’t go out too fast either.

As you can see, it was incredibly beautiful.

Race the State | katielean #katielean #multisport

Leg 2

In the transition zone, I stuffed my socks into my shoes, tied the laces together and strapped them to my life vest.  The paddle was a straight-shot across some mildly choppy water.  Because of the current and lack of turns it was lefty-paddling the whole time.  I was expecting that, so this leg went well.

Race the State | katielean #katielean #multisport

Leg 3

The second run started with a steep, long uphill.  Not ideal!  A couple of miles into this leg I realized that I had done something funky to my left “lat” muscle while paddleboarding.  I think this pain combined with the course being so spread out (I hardly saw anyone during the run) made me go into a bit of panic mode.  I had a hard time breathing, so my time was much slower than I had anticipated.  My goal became to get to the kayak rather than post a good time here.

Leg 4

Eventually I finished the run, grabbed some water, and pushed my kayak off into the bay.

I knew the route relatively well, but I truly wasn’t expecting it to be as high-traffic as it was.  From ferries to barges and fisherman casting VERY close to me from docks and piers, the paddle was probably more mentally challenging than anything else.  Also, with so many large boats coming through the wakes really slowed everyone down.  There were times when I had to just sit and bob up and down in my kayak between wakes until I could make forward progress again.

The support boats were awesome; shoutout to the volunteer who gave me his water bottle (for obvious reasons, you can’t really have a water stop during a kayak)!

A little later than halfway through we got out and had to bring our kayaks across the road (with help from volunteers) and put in again on the other side.  This second half of the leg was much calmer than the first!  This was a fun section.

Race the State | katielean #katielean #multisport

Leg 5

After the kayak I made my way up a hill to the transition zone.  I slipped my bike shorts on over my current (soaking wet) gear and hopped on my bike.

The bike was only hard because it was the last leg.  Normally a beautiful 28 mile ride like this would have only been a bit of a challenge, but let me tell you every hill was a struggle!  And – despite the fact that you don’t really think of Rhode Island as a hilly state – there were quite a few!

Most of the road crossings and intersections had police officers working them.  This was awesome and super helpful!  Occasionally I would come across a spot where I had to dismount and wait to be able to cross, but almost every turn had a crew member working at it.  Very impressive!

Thankfully I had rented a really awesome road bike from Goodale’s Bike Shop that made such a huge difference in my comfort and speed.  Hoping to buy a nice road bike some day…


Biking across the finish line was one of the best feelings in the world.  I’m not a cryer, but I did burst into tears.  (On the way home my dad made me feel a little better by saying I definitely wasn’t the only one that did the same.)  It was a combination of exhaustion, lat pain (that I finally realized hurt a lot), amazement and happiness.

When I race I almost always get into a zone where I’m aware of pain but I don’t really feel it.  I don’t think about anything besides the moment I’m in.  Of course I pop out of that to pay attention to cars, remind myself of race strategy, etc.  But for the most part I’m in what I jokingly call “race blackout”.  I’m the most intense version of me.  It’s almost like meditating.  Hopefully you’ve trained yourself to feel good through the majority of the race (which I feel I did) but no matter what kind of day you’re having there’s always a point when it gets tough.  And as weird as it is, that’s the part of racing I love the most.  You realize that most people would have stopped long before the state you’re in, but you keep going.  It’s something that’s hard to explain to people that don’t have this type of mentality engrained in them.  But I do know that if you have this gene/personality/passion you love pushing yourself more than pretty much anything else.

Final Thoughts

Race the State is the longest and most ambitious race I’ve ever done.  I have to say I have a new love for multisport racing, as I say to my friends and family “I’m not the best at any one thing but I’m pretty good at a lot of different things”.  These type of races seem to be perfect for people like me.

There’s no question that I’ll be doing more races like this in the future!

What’s the craziest race you’ve ever done?

Race the State | katielean #katielean #multisport



Janji’s Mombasa Collection

Run For Another

Hi katielean friends!

For those who are unaware, I’m on a running team called the Janji Corps.  Our goal is to foster a community that promotes Janji and their mission to provide clean drinking water through the sale of amazing running & lifestyle apparel.

Janji Mombasa Collection

Recently Janji launched the first products from their fall/winter line.  It focuses on Mombasa, Kenya.  The awesome people at Janji visited the city to get inspiration.  You can (and should) take a look at the Runventure they had, chronicled here.

Their photographers really knocked it out of the park with their pics so far…get ready for some eye candy!

Janji Mombasa Collection

The way Janji works is if you purchase a piece of clothing, a portion of the proceeds go to providing “x” amount of time’s worth of clean water to a person in the country the clothing represents.  All of the pieces from this collection give water to the people of Kenya.

Janji Mombasa Collection

I’m kind of obsessed with the pattern on this shirt…and just fyi I recently ran 18ish miles of an ultra with a friend in another Janji shirt made of this fabric and it was SO great!  Kept me cool and comfy.

Janji Mombasa Collection

THUMBHOLES PEOPLE!  All my runner friends will know that thumbholes are key for runny noses, keeping sleeves from being annoying, and being a much better option than wearing gloves (aka hand sweat-lodges).

Janji Mombasa Collection

Janji also makes gear for dudes.  My dad has a pair of their sweatpants and loves them.

Janji Mombasa Collection

For sizing reference, I’m a pretty muscular 5’7″ and mediums fit snug, while larges provide some more room.  In bottoms I always go with the large, in tops it’s more up to your personal preferences!

Janji Mombasa Collection

The back of this tank is super strappy!

Go check out Janji’s Mombasa Collection for yourself.

I’m still working on my race report from Race the State – bear with me!

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