Thoughts About Run­ning

By Madeleine Cum­mings Eat Like an Olympian

Canadian Running - - FEATURES - Madeleine Cum­mings is a jour­nal­ist, run­ner and now mas­ter chef liv­ing in Ed­mon­ton.

Have you ever con­quered a cook­book? It took six months and a kilo­gram of al­mond f lour, but I fi­nally did it: I made ev­ery recipe in Run Fast. Eat Slow the cook­book by Amer­i­can Olympian Sha­lane Flana­gan and her col­lege team­mate, El­yse Kopecky.

The cook­books I own tend to lan­guish on my shelves, so I didn’t buy this one when it came out in Au­gust 2016. A few months later, some­one handed me a “su­per­hero muf­fin” on a ski trip. It was rich and choco­latey, with shred­ded car­rots and zuc­chini hid­ing sen­si­bly be­hind nuts and oats. I went out and bought the book, but only on the con­di­tion I would ac­tu­ally use it.

At some point, that pledge evolved into the loftier goal of try­ing all of the book’s 100-plus recipes. It was a daunt­ing task, but if a de­hy­drated Sha­lane Flana­gan could make it to the fin­ish line of the 2016 U.S. Olympic marathon tri­als, surely I could find the aisle in my gro­cery store where cheese­cloths are sold.

Some run­ners have a fraught re­la­tion­ship with food. Oth­ers be­long to the If the Fur­nace Is Hot Enough, Any­thing Will Burn School of Nu­tri­tion. I’m some­where in the mid­dle – con­scious of the nu­tri­ents my body needs but grate­ful for the desserts I can in­hale with­out con­se­quence.

Six months of eat­ing like Sha­lane Flana­gan didn’t turn me into a faster run­ner and I’ve al­ways been some­one who eats at a glacial pace, but the ex­pe­ri­ence did give me more con­fi­dence in the kitchen and new ideas about what to whip up af­ter prac­tice.

Us­ing fat as fuel

At the begin­ning of the book, the au­thors ded­i­cate nearly a full page to the ben­e­fits of eat­ing fat. Olive oil, co­conut oil, un­salted but­ter, whole milk yo­gurt, nuts, seeds and av­o­ca­dos are com­mon in­gre­di­ents in their recipes, and for good rea­son. As they ex­plain, fats fill us up for longer and help our bod­ies ab­sorb vi­ta­mins and min­er­als. Fe­male run­ners who don’t get enough fat in their di­ets can suf­fer hor­mone im­bal­ances and po­ten­tially bone loss and fer­til­ity prob­lems down the road. Though the au­thors don’t dis­cour­age snack­ing, I found I re­lied on it less be­cause the meals in this cook­book left me sat­is­fied for a long time. This cook­book would be a valu­able re­source for uni­ver­sity stu­dent run­ners learn­ing to cook. In­gre­di­ent in­for­ma­tion and a list of so­lu­tions for com­mon run­ner ail­ments (like ane­mia and di­ges­tive is­sues) book­end the recipes.

Run all the miles, eat all the nuts

Nuts may be whole­some and de­li­cious, but with this cook­book as my guide, they had a way of mak­ing my weekly gro­cery bill cost more than a pair of run­ning shoes. Hazel­nuts are cheaper in Ore­gon, where the au­thors live, but a kilo­gram bag in Al­berta costs more than $30. Pecans, wal­nuts and cashews aren’t cheap ei­ther. The f lour­less al­mond torte (fan­tas­tic, by the way) calls for six eggs, five cups of al­mond f lour, a cup of maple syrup and a cup of al­monds. At that rate, why not pay some­one to bake the cake for you? Cut­ting down costs

My dis­cov­er­ies

and re­mov­ing ob­scure in­gre­di­ents like dulse (dried sea­weed) or, I kid you not, chicken feet, would make the cook­book more prac­ti­cal. Sha­lane might have co­conut sugar and ras el hanout (a Mor­ro­can spice blend) ly­ing around, but the rest of us don’t. I learned how to make lasagna with sweet pota­toes, hum­mus with beets, pesto with cashews, even cous­cous from caulif lower. Sev­eral recipes from Run Fast. Eat Slow. made their way into my bi­weekly ro­ta­tion. One of my favourites was the fig and pig quiche, which I slaved over on a Satur­day night and served again for brunch af­ter a long run the next day.

The turmeric pepi­tas recipe alone made the cook­book worth buy­ing, giv­ing me an easy, iron-rich snack to bring to work. If you have no in­ten­tion of buy­ing the book (or fin­ish­ing this col­umn), prom­ise me you’ll try roast­ing pump­kin seeds with a lit­tle but­ter, honey and spices.

Friends don’t let friends bake with teff flour

Of course, there were duds. The mil­let pizza pies, which fea­ture promi­nently on the book’s cover, have no right call­ing them­selves pizza. Each one dis­in­te­grated into a grainy pile of chick-pea-f lavoured crumbs and not even my boyfriend, who loves cot­tage cheese and du­ti­fully ate a salad with sar­dines in it, wanted any part of these. Worse still, the pizza im­posters leave you with two bak­ing sheets, a sieve, saucepan, food pro­ces­sor, spat­ula and mea­sur­ing cups to clean, plus more dishes if you made the sug­gested pesto and mari­nara sauces from scratch.

I’m not in­ter­ested in ex­per­i­ment­ing with teff f lour ever again and the recipes for the Swiss muesli bowl and zuc­chini quinotto also yielded dis­ap­point­ing re­sults.

Now that I’ve shaken the last sprin­kle of sea salt on a bowl of Olympian-ap­proved soup, I can fi­nally shelve Run Fast. Eat Slow.

I’d like to say I can take a break from cook­ing, but the au­thors have a se­quel com­ing out…

Cum­mings puts her nu­tri­tion to the test and wins the Cal­gary 10K

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