You can do anything you put your mind to. It sounds a little cliche, but there’s a lot of truth to it, especially when running a marathon.
For the past 5 months I’ve been training for a marathon. My first marathon. Right now I’m thinking that it will be my only marathon. I haven’t been too vocal about it, because I wasn’t sure that I’d be successful. I’ve run many half marathons, but 26.2 miles is a heck of a lot longer than 13.1. Okay, mathematically I know it’s exactly twice as long, but a full marathon (or “the full” as people from a running town like Nashville call it) might have well been 4 times longer. It just seemed unattainable.
But last weekend, the Husband and I finished the Buffalo Marathon! And oh did it feel fantastic! (Well, after the days of hobbling and icing.) I now have so much respect for those who run marathons to improve their time and for those who run marathon after marathon because they love it. I have no idea how they do it. But I’m thrilled that we were able to finish “the full” in under 5 hours.
Even if it’s just this once.
But this is a food blog. What does running a marathon have to do with food?
Fitness is all about food. Without food there is no fitness. Fitness starts with choosing the right food to fuel the work that you ask your body to do.
When I started training, I was eating a high raw diet. While the mileage was low, I had enough energy to teach kindergarten, lead 4-5 fitness classes, and run three times each week. But when the mileage reached double digits I needed more fuel. Carbohydrate fuel. So I started adding brown rice, beans, quinoa, and quinoa pasta (my favorite pre-long run meal), and suddenly those long runs felt better.
Another issue I had to face was nutrition during those long runs. In the past, I’ve used Hammer Nutrition Gels, GU Energy Gels, and Jelly Belly Sport Beans, all gluten-free products, to give me a boost when training longer than an hour. But since eating a clean, mostly raw, vegan diet, I had a hard time with the idea of sucking down a package that contained processed ingredients.
So I made my own Raw Energy Gel, and over 5 months of training, I tweaked it until I found the perfect recipe.
This Raw Energy Gel not only took me through the training months, but more importantly, it fueled me through 26.2 miles on race day.
These are the power ingredients.
For many of my runs, a tablespoon of chia seeds was all I needed, but when the mileage increased, the sugar in agave nectar, honey, and dates did the trick. (Read this post for more information on the power of chia seeds.)
Carob powder makes this gel taste like a Rolo. Do you remember those? Gooey caramel encased in chocolate. ***Note, Chatfield’s Carob does not claim to be gluten-free. See comments below.
Just toss the ingredients into a mini-food processor and let them sit for an hour to allow the dates to soften and the chia seeds to gel.
Then puree until it’s smooth.
I found that 1 1/2 tablespoons of gel was the perfect amount for every 5 miles. Any more and I was too full to run. Any less and I bonked. Hard. Play with the serving size to see what works for your body.
I scooped 1 1/2 tablespoons into a Ziploc Snack Bag and stored them in the fridge.
While running, I squeeze the gel into the corner of the baggie, bit off the baggie tip, and squeezed the gel right into my mouth. Instant energy.
This recipe makes 5-6 bags of Raw Energy Gel. Store them in the fridge, but take them out a few minutes before shoving them in your running shorts. Brrrrrr!
Raw Energy Gel
- 6 raw dates
- 1/2 c. raw agave nectar/honey combination (I use 50/50, but play with the ratio to find your ideal combination.)
- 1 T. chia seeds
- 1/4 tsp. sea salt
- 1 T. carob powder
1. Place all ingredients in a mini-food processor, and let them sit for 1 hour.
2. Process until the mixture is almost smooth. (Leaving the dates a little chunky gives you something to chew while running…a nice distraction from the running.)
3. Scoop 1 1/2 tablespoon of gel into each snack-sized baggie.
4. Press the air out of each baggie, zip them up, and store the baggies in the fridge.
Makes five 1 ½ T. servings
Run well, run fueled, and run raw!
- Do you have a dream goal that seems unattainable?
- Endurance athletes, what do you eat during training?
- What physical accomplishment are you most proud of?
- What could you do if you put your mind to it?