This weekend kicks off race season in the Murphy household. And by household I just mean myself. The only race Finn would win would be that of kibble inhalation and I’m fairly certain he would medal every time. Kid’s a maniac!
Each April various members of my family and I run various distances in the Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon in Champaign. From the youth fun run to the half marathon, it’s always a fun weekend to get together with family, see the campus and remember life before responsibility and real food.
Typically this time of year we also have a few birthdays to celebrate. One perk of a large family is that there is no shortage of excuses for a party. And with parties come food. If you haven’t yet guessed by the popular categories on this blog I have a small love for food. Ok, big love. Enormous, at times.
Sometimes I run for food. I’ll admit, I used to hate running. If there wasn’t a ball involved in the process, I was not interested. Sprints were ok but only if I was racing someone else. The idea of distance running just to get in shape repulsed me. Just ask my former soccer coaches. Sorry guys.
It wasn’t until I moved to Chicago that I started running just to well, run. It was a chance to explore my new city on foot. A chance to avoid traffic both on the roads and at the gym. A chance to meet some very interesting people. I signed up for my first half marathon that year and have been running ever since.
I still have a hard time calling myself a runner. Yes I run. And fairly often. But I don’t know if I can classify myself as one by name. Is there a mileage requirement perhaps? Or maybe years spent? Heck I don’t know.
What I do know is that 4 or so years later I still haven’t quite conquered the running just for fun thing. Don’t get me wrong there are days I just go out to clear my head and figure out what I’m going to cook for dinner, but I prefer to have a race and a training plan to follow to hold myself accountable. I’m a creature of habit. I found that the best way to get myself to run the 4 miles I’m scheduled for that evening is to picture myself wheezing and cramping through my next race. I’m sure there are more positive motivations out there but that seems to work for me. Probably because I’ve experienced both a time or two.
It wasn’t until I started running regularly that I realized my diet needed an adjustment as well. Until training for a half marathon I had never run anything over 5 or 6 miles. And I don’t know about you but that mile marker is typically when my stomach goes completely empty. Don’t worry I’m not getting all nasty on you or anything. I just mean that at that distance point my body has absorbed all fuel I’ve put into it and starts to growl at me. And this isn’t just a oh it’s time for lunch growl. This is a listen lady you clearly did not give me enough to get through this workout rumble.
I quickly realized that I had to start thinking about what I was putting into my body vs. what I was burning off. And that, my friends, is when my love affair with the oat began.
It started with those measly instant variety and transitioned from quick to old fashioned. (A rare instance where we moved back in time) I began eating oatmeal before my runs because it was the only thing I could stomach that close to exercise and that early in the morning. It soon became part of my morning routine and has been ever since. My name is Sarah and I like to oat, oat, oat.
Oats are a simple food. And I like that. You can experiment with them. And I like that. Doctor them up with fruit and honey or get real crazy and stir in a spoonful of homemade almond butter and you’ve got a great pre-run meal. Sarah science shows that eating oats before exercise helps your metabolism, enhances performance and keeps your stomach happy.
After a few years of eating oatmeal hot, I’ve recently transitioned to the world of overnight oats. And you should too. Once you get past the idea that they aren’t hot these things are a great alternative. And because you aren’t heating them they lose less of the good stuff.
Easy Overnight Oats
- 1/4 cup Old Fashioned Oats (you may prefer rolled)
- 1-2 tsp chia seeds
- 1/4-1/2 cup milk (I use half almond milk and a splash of water)
- 1/3 C plain nonfat yogurt
- Pinch salt
In a small mason jar or tupperware, mix yogurt and milk. Add chia seeds, oats and salt and stir. Place in fridge overnight or even for just a few hours. Top 1/4 cup blueberries, 1/2 a banana or both. Add a little honey if you want it a little sweeter.
If you’re looking for a million more ideas as to how to make your overnight oats, check out Kath Eats Real Food. Fair warning, if you are overwhelmed with options like me, make sure you have enough time in your evening to do so.
Here’s hoping you get a chance to experience family, friends and good food this weekend!