Spring time in the city of Louisville means one important event is on the horizon – Derby. While many who have lived here their whole lives might get frustrated with the swarm of people who descend upon our town it’s hard not to get swept up in all the festivities; Thunder, the Boat Race, and many of the other special events that make up this unique time of the year. An event that until recently wasn’t really on my radar is the Derby mini marathon.
While I have always vaguely been aware of its presence in the Derby events line-up, it seems like recently there has been a running craze. It seems like every weekend as soon as the weather gets warm there’s a race somewhere! Now we have color runs, chocolate runs, zombie runs, fun runs, you name it and there is now at least a 5K celebrating its existence.
I ran cross country in high school and have continued to run for exercise and stress reduction into my adulthood. I never really put much thought into training smart until a couple of years I ago I myself was training for a half marathon and got injured. After spending several weeks on crutches I vowed I would be smarter about the way I trained.
Although I ran cross country in high school, I’ve only been a casual runner for stress and exercise since so it has been a struggle to get good reliable information to help train properly and avoid further health issues. I started looking through the library catalogue one day and found a plethora of books on training for races and building endurance but it was one book in particular that sparked my interest.
Titled Run Fast. Eat Slow: Nourishing Recipes for Athletes by Shalane Flanagan and Elyse Kopecky, this book is designed specifically to help athletes recover from runs, learn to nourish their bodies with important vitamins and minerals which will help them build endurance while staying healthy and strong. It has been the first book I’ve discovered which really targets those who want to train and perform better but also provide overall quality health.
Written and created by two long distance career runners, one of which medaled in the Beijing Olympics, these women know what it takes to stay healthy and not become injured. Some of my favorite recipes in the book include the Runner’s Recovery Tea which at first glance includes some ingredients which to the average person might sound a bit unappetizing (horsetail, dried alfalfa) is surprisingly delicious and pleasant to drink hot or cold. I was able to easily find all five of the tea ingredients online for large quantities at less than $20 total and will be able to drink a cup of tea after each from for at least the next six month.
There’s also a Long Run Mineral Broth that is fantastic and easy to make. I’ve never experimented with making broths before and was happy to find it a fairly straightforward process. This recipe also included a couple of specialty items which took a bit of searching to find but the results made the hunt well worth it.
I love that each recipe is well thought out for a runner in mind and goes through the details of explaining why specific ingredients were chosen and how they aid the runner. For example, the recovery tea includes aspects which reduce inflammation, help adrenal glands, provide vitamin C and antioxidants, iron, zinc, and phosphorus all things which help your body absorb oxygen, store more calcium for bone strength, and help muscles recover. The injury I suffered while training is pretty common for runners- a stress fracture, so I’m very aware of bone strength and getting as much calcium as possible. Just like the recovery tea, just a small mugful of the mineral broth contains vitamins A,C, E, and K. It also has rich antioxidants and other healing and nourishing ingredients which help speed up recovery time from a long run. Even the authors claim that if there’s only one recipe you make for yourself as a runner, let it be the mineral broth.
With the time demands of a normal life plus training for any type of race things can get hectic quickly. I like that many of the recipes included in this book could be made in large batches and then stored for several days, sometimes weeks in the freezer or refrigerator. It made making some of these which included slightly unusual (or at least unusual for me) ingredients much more manageable because I could make a batch and not have to do it again for a while.
I found all of the recipes I tried very tasty and worth the time spent preparing them for the benefits I received. The most important lesson I learned, and I’m sure it’s something most seasoned runners already know, is that any type of training you do requires planning and mindfulness. It’s not enough to simply get out each day, lace up your shoes, pick up a racket, or find a ball, an athlete must have whole and complete health and nutrition to perform their best and avoid injuries.
It’s an exciting time of the year for our city. Derby is here, it’s getting sunnier, flowers are blooming, and lots and lots of runners are flooding the streets and parks. If you’re one of them I highly recommend checking out Run Fast. Eat Slow. I truly believe that whether you’re a casual runner like me looking to train for something bigger, or a seasoned runner who has been running all their life, the recipes and helpful information included in this book can help provide nourishment to increase performance and speed recovery.
Formats Available: Book, eBook
Reviewed by Lindsay, St. Matthews Branch