Since I’ve increased my endurance over the past year or so, I’ve also quickly come to realize how wacked out my stomach can be following a long(er) distance run. It’s like my brain is saying no, but my body is saying yes, yes, oh-my-gosh yes! In order to satisfy both, I’ve developed a custom nausea-proof method of eating that includes several small meals and lots of snacks to create a steady inflow of nutrients without overloading my belly at any one time.
Depleted of every last morsel of energy following the More/Fitness Half Marathon (though I actually covered about 15 miles over the course of the day), I knew I needed to eat—and stat. Before the race, I always toast up half a healthy muffin and save the other half for my return home, and as routine as my pre-race breakfast has become, my post-race habits are becoming pretty ritual too.
Naturally, the first thing I did when I stumbled into my apartment was grab the muffin crumbs left haphazardly on the chopping block outside my tiny New York City closet kitchen. Next, I spotted the remnants of Levain’s Bakery cookies on the living room table. (Noah bought 3 of them on Saturday knowing that I’d be in dire need of sugar and calories by Sunday morning. And because my half marathon was a good excuse for him to pig out too.) While I didn’t exactly inhale the cookies, it felt incredible to take a small bite into something of substance. With control, I ate small chunk and saved the rest for after my shower, making sure not to make myself sick with a sugar binge following a 15-mile run in heat.
The shower was energizing in itself, but I knew that washing the salt from my face wouldn’t be enough to recharge my batteries. I needed vegetables—and lots of them—so we naturally hopped in a cab and headed down to Westville, my go-to restaurant for a nourishing brunch when I’m craving local, delicious ingredients.
I get it; a lot of people prefer something more fun than a giant green salad after a long, sweaty run. Me? I’m a sugar and vegetable freak, and there is nothing more unappealing to me after a serious workout than a burger and fries. Noah and I ordered a platter of artichoke hearts with Parmesan cheese, Dijon Brussels sprouts, roasted beets with goat cheese, and sautéed kale. For myself, I got an arugula and Parmesan salad tossed with avocado and olive oil. And I may have stolen a few fries off of Noah’s plate—after his own 6-mile run on Sunday morning, he obviously ordered man food.
Not surprisingly, I was only able to eat about half of my brunch (along with a mint lemonade and Prosecco smoothie, topped off with extra bubbly—thanks, kind bartender). Also not surprisingly, after walking about a mile or so home, I was famished again—and coming down with a serious migraine. 3 Advil and a nap later, I opened up my leftovers and devoured the contents of the to-go container.
Just a couple of hours later, by the time dinner rolled around, I was absolutely starving again. Restaurant food could not have sounded less appealing though—I needed something home-cooked, less salty and simpler than anything a chef could turn out. I also knew I needed something with protein, but I wasn’t in the mood for meat (and hardly ever am). The result? Quinoa! And flaxseed pizza! (Can you sense my excitement?)
I know – after a 15-mile run that’s what all of you want to eat. I’m not sure when I made the transition from T-bone steak devourer to bird-like eater, but to spare you any more rambling, I’ll just get to it. If you’re a health nut like myself and have a particularly strong penchant for hippie grains and ersatz Italian food, this is how it’s done. Best of all, these two dishes can usually be whipped up with whatever ingredients you already have lying around. Cheap, easy, delicious—exactly what I aim for on a Sunday night after running an expensive New York Road Runner’s race.
Stacy’s Simple Quinoa + Veggie Salad
If you have olive oil, black pepper, a lemon, quinoa (I prefer red because it has more nutrients), and arbitrary vegetables (canned or fresh) in your apartment, then you can fix this up within 15 minutes.
Step 1 – Cook your quinoa (I use 2 parts water to 1 part quinoa, though I usually end up spilling out some water, so you may want to ignore this direction).
Step 2 – Chop your veggies (or drain your canned veggies) and toss into a bowl. I like my vegetables to be finely sliced, but this is really preferential. To keep dinner on the cheap, I stuck to leftover vegetables from the weekend, so my quinoa salad featured tomatoes and red peppers. I sometimes like to add chickpeas, cucumbers and even chopped arugula.
Step 3 – Toss the vegetables in a light coating of olive oil and black pepper (to taste). Optional: I also sometimes add a drop of either red wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar; not both together though.
Step 4 – Once the quinoa is done, drain any excess water and dump the grains on top of your veggies. It’s ok if it’s still warm. At this point, squeeze the lemon in (watch out for seeds!) and mix.
Step 5 – This is critical. Taste your concoction. Does it need more pepper or olive oil? Take this opportunity to make sure the blend of ingredients tastes right. I’m not one for measuring, so step 5 is essential for me.
Stacy’s Fake Healthy Pizza For Lame, Non-Pizza Eaters
What you’ll need: Mozzarella cheese (I prefer part skim), Parmesan cheese, tomato sauce (Rao’s is the best, but it’s expensive, so if you can’t steal a jar from your mom’s house—thanks mom—and are on a budget, any type will do), Damascus Bakery’s whole-wheat and flax roll-ups. I’ve been loving these wraps lately, introduced to me by my cousin. You can seriously put anything on them—Mexican, Italian, peanut butter and jelly.
Step 1: Place a wrap on tin foil. (Note: I did not, and almost ended up with a burnt toaster oven when the cheese melted onto the coils. Tin foil = important. Trust me.)
Step 2: Pour tomato sauce all over within an inch of the edge of the wrap. The extra space helps to prevent spillage, though I suppose if you’re using aluminum foil, that doesn’t really matter.
Step 3: Place a mixture of Parmesan and mozzarella cheese on top of the tomato sauce. This is up to you and your taste buds—be as cheesy or as non-cheesy as you like here.
Step 4: Toast. Or use the broiler. Both work.
Step 5: Enjoy! I know it’s not the real deal, but after running for 2+ hours, I find it really important to replenish my body with real, whole foods. And while it might not be from Ray’s or some other hole in the wall in the East Village, it’s definitely pretty tasty either way.
I need to spread my meals out in order to create a constant flow of food into my body after a race or long run. Do you find that it’s difficult to eat in quantity after running far? What are your post-race eating rituals and what’s your favorite food to chow down? (Burgers? I swear, I don’t judge. I once loved them – they just didn’t love me!)