This week’s recipe: Pre-Run Breakfast Smoothie
Yesterday I ran my second half marathon. Since I have now run two (I ran my first one in March 2016), it’s basically like I’ve run a marathon, right? That’s just how math works. Everyone says that after you run a half marathon, you will want to run a marathon. I say that hitting mile 12 in a race and not even being halfway done is too depressing to contemplate. Still, the fact that I am able to run any sort of far distance is kind of miraculous.
I don’t exactly come from an athletic family. My dad is in excellent shape, and he bikes and runs, but his involvement with team sports was limited to being in his high school marching band. My mom falls down a lot. My oldest sister was a pretty good tennis player in high school but not exactly Serena Williams. My middle sister evinced a genuine interest in sports, and an equally genuine lack of ability or talent. As for me, I was on the volleyball and softball teams in middle school, because if you were on a sports team, you didn’t have to go to regular gym class. Since I was so terrible at both volleyball and softball, the coaches almost never put me in the game. If they did, they would rotate me out again as quickly as possible, or stick me way out in the outfield where I had ample time to scheme about how I was going to convince my parents to let me see Rent. This arrangement suited me just fine, in large part because my gym teachers exhibited all of the sadism for which members of that profession are famous. A particularly memorable example was when they forced us to run across the length of the gym within a certain time (15 seconds or thereabouts). If the whole class didn’t make it to the opposite wall before the time was up, we had to do it over again, until everyone made it in time. Needless to say, if you weren’t capable of running that far in 15 seconds the first time, it didn’t become any easier after ten or 20 tries. Out of mercy or boredom, the gym teacher finally let us stop, but not before I was red-faced, panting, and humiliated to the verge of tears with the knowledge that my slow ass was messing this up for everyone.
Nothing got better. In seventh grade, we were bussed out to Astoria to run the mile. Out of about 50 girls in our grade, I came in second-to-last. I was also the only girl in our grade to suffer an exercise-induced asthma attack during the mile. So you’ll understand that I did all I could to avoid running. In high school, we got to pick our gym electives, and I signed up for strength training. I was the only girl in the class. It turned out that the athletic kids did sports; the unathletic girls did a class called Body Conditioning; and the unathletic boys (and I) did strength training. It was awesome. Everyone in the class, myself included, was an unpopular nerd, so we sat around on the exercise machines and talked to each other and, on the rare occasion that the gym teacher bothered to poke his head in, pretended to work out. It was the best.
On the other end of the spectrum was camp, where I had to join a team sport. If I had been less of a goody-goody, I would have gone the route of many of my bunkmates, who picked a sport coached by a counselor who they knew didn’t give a shit, and then never went to practice. Instead, as I had in middle school, I picked volleyball because I thought it would involve the least amount of running. Unlike in middle school, that turned out to be a tragic misperception. Our coaches were real bastards of the old school, and we did more running than any team other than soccer. And in the summer heat and humidity, no less. It was the worst.
The first time I ever remember running without someone forcing me to was right after the summer I spent in Israel on a teen trip. That summer, with its early morning hikes through the desert and hot Israelis in tiny swimsuits, had brought home to me how very overweight and out of shape I was. I was waking up very early in the mornings because of jet lag and one morning, I decided to go run around the Central Park reservoir as the sun came up. I was extremely slow and had to take a number of breaks, but I managed to do it, and I was amazed at my increeeeeeedible accomplishment of running 1.6 miles in, like, 25 minutes.
From then on, I ran very sporadically for the next eight years. The exact moment that I got into running with any seriousness was January 12, 2014—the day I bought my first smartphone. For reasons that are still unclear to me, the very first app I downloaded was Runkeeper, and I immediately set a goal to run 20 miles by the end of January. From there, I kept upping my mileage goals, and kept hitting them, until running became a habit. When my sisters suggested that we should do a 10K, it seemed natural. Just as it seemed naturally to drunkenly register for the New York City half marathon lottery, never thinking I’d get in.
Fast forward to a year and a month later, and I’ve just completed my second half marathon. This one was significantly harder, in part because of the course (twice through Central Park, with all of its hills), and in part because I didn’t train nearly as hard as I did for the first one. This was partly laziness, and party the fact that, psychologically, the knowledge that I had already run a half marathon once made me much less anxious about running one a second time. And although I spent the whole race wanting to die, running half marathons has really changed my relationship to my body. Women spend so much time hating their bodies–their arms, their butts, their stomachs, their thighs, and so on. When I run a half marathon, I look at myself and think, Wow, my body is capable of doing this amazing thing, how could I possibly hate it?
So anyway, here’s a smoothie. Specifically, this is the smoothie that I always have before a race. I know what you are thinking. Chocolate + peanut butter = yum! Chocolate + peanut butter + strawberries = eh? Chocolate + peanut butter + strawberries + spinach = stop, that’s disgusting. But it’s actually insanely good, and it gives you exactly the energy boost you need to run a race. It’s the breakfast of champions, and will get you through your run so that you can enjoy the dinner of champions: Scotch and cocktail weenies.
Pre-Run Breakfast Smoothie
- 1 1/4 cup almond milk
- 1 cup frozen strawberries
- 1 frozen banana
- 1/2 pack frozen spinach
- 1 tablespoon peanut butter
- 1 scoop chocolate protein powder
- 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
- Blend and enjoy!