Learning to run is also largely about learning to eat.
When. What. How. Where. Why. What not.
Honestly. It's exhausting.
There's this misplaced notion that athletes (and I still, three marathons and countless halfs in the bank, hesitate to call myself that) can eat what they want. And that's true in the sense that any of us can eat what we want. (Free will and all.)
But it's also not quite that simple.
Before a workout (which, when you get your sweat on six days a week, is always) you have to consider timing (and become very intimately familiar with the kinetics of your digestive system), content, and. Above all.
Have one really good run and I promise you that you will do whatever it takes, eat whatever it takes, to recreate the 24 hours that preceded it. Just because you are so.sure that doing so will "guarantee" you repeated awesomeness.
I, for one, am admittedly rigid about what I eat the morning before a long run or race. English muffin with a spoonful of peanut butter on each half, two hours before I head out. No more, no less, no earlier, no later. If you try to change it up on me, there's a chance I will never forgive you. And by chance...I mean 100% certainty.
I am less uptight (but equally as conscientious) about what I eat for lunch and a snack before an afternoon/night workout.
Lately it's been all about the soup. It's closer to a liquid than a solid, which means it goes down easier (and stays down easier). Plus soups tend to be so full of nutrition that I feel like I'm giving my body everything it needs before stressing it out to it's max.
This red lentil coconut soup, especially, is a favorite. It's full of flavor, with just the right amount of ginger and spice to keep your taste buds wanting "just one more" spoonful, and the red lentils give it texture without making it too heavy.
And then. Snacktime.
If I have less than an hour before my run, I'll usually go for a banana since they are so easily digestible.
But if I've got a bit of time, yogurt is my favorite way to go.
Recently, I was given the opportunity to try Yopa!, the newest Greek yogurt on the block. Yopa! is made by the same folks who make YoCrunch, which, if you remember from being five years old, is the yogurt that comes with M&M's or oreo pieces to mix into it. (You know...the yogurt that you always wanted but that mom refused to buy except on really special occasions.)
Like YoCrunch, Yopa! also has fun mix-ins, but these are of the healthy variety - toasted almonds, whole grain granola, and dark chocolate chunks. One of my favorite things about it, though, is that it is made with farm-fresh, regionally sourced milk, making for the best possible yogurt. In addition, it also has all the benefits of Greek yogurt, as it's super high in protein which will keep you fuller for longer, is high in calcium and probiotics, and has absolutely no cholesterol or trans fat. Yopa! comes in a ton of flavors - vanilla, blueberry, peach, black cherry, and strawberry - so no matter what, there is one for everyone. So far I've tried the vanilla with toasted almonds and the cherry with granola and I have to say that they made for a super tasty mid-afternoon pick-me-up and the perfect balanced snack to fuel an afternoon run. (Superstitions and all.)
Speaking of balance, gold medalist Gabby Douglas is an expert, and she's challenging you to take the Yopa! Taste Challenge where you can win a variety of prizes, including $10,000! Just "like" Yopa! on Facebook for a chance to win and to grab a coupon for $.50 (or more!) off one cup of Yopa! Authentic Greek Yogurt.
One year ago...Breakfast Bowl with Za'atar Roasted Eggplant, Swiss Chard, Butternut Squash and Hummus, Peanut Noodle Salad with Edamame and Bok Choy
Three years ago...Spicy Tomato and Blue Cheese Soup, Shaved Fennel Salad with Oranges, Lemon, Dill and Arugula
Four years ago...Chili-Crusted Baked Tofu, Creamed Spinach
Red Lentil Coconut Soup
Serves 6, adapted from 101 Cookbooks
- 2 cups red lentils
- 7 cups water
- 1 medium carrot, cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 2 tbsp freshly peeled and minced ginger
- 2 tbsp curry powder
- 2 tbsp butter
- 8 scallions, thinly sliced
- 1/3 cup golden raisins
- 1/3 cup tomato paste
- 1 (14 oz) can light coconut milk
- 2 tsp fine grain sea salt
- cilantro, chopped
- Rinse the red lentils. Place them in an extra large soup pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Add the carrot and 1/4 of the ginger. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes or until the lentils are soft.
- In the meantime, in a small dry skillet over low heat, toast the curry powder until it is fragrant, but be careful not to burn it. Set aside.
- Place the butter in a pan over medium heat. Add half the green onions, the remaining ginger, and raisins. Saute for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the tomato paste and saute for a minute or two more.
- Add the toasted curry powder to the tomato paste mixture. Mix well. Add this to the simmering soup, along with the coconut milk and salt. Simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes or so. Simmer longer for a thicker consistency or add water to make it thinner, if desired.
- Sprinkle each bowl with cilantro and remaining scallions.