The runner’s elixir
The Gauls go to battle against the hapless Romans after downing a swig of magic potion prepared by their druid Getafix. It doesn’t matter how heavily armed the Romans are or whether they got recent reinforcements from the nearby camp of Laudanum. They always get bashed to nothingness – sandals on the ground, Roman soldiers airborne and their strewn helmets being gleefully picked up by Obelix who, as we all know, possesses permanent superhuman strength because he fell into a cauldron of magic potion when he was a baby.
The pre-fight ritual of the druid preparing and doling out magic potion to the entire village is quite fascinating too. The feverish anticipation, the jostling, Obelix’s ridiculous attempts to pass off as ‘someone else’. I’m convinced that if Getafix had prepared a placebo every now and then, it would have made little difference to the fight’s outcome.
Ah! If only we marathoners had our own elixir that would give us superhuman strength..
Nah! That would be too boring – everyone would finish the race in tandem (think Asterix and the Olympic Games or was it Laurel Wreath?)
What we DO need is an elixir that fuels us for our long runs and builds an anticipation similar to what the Gauls feel on the eve of their fight. Thanks to Scott Jurek’s Eat and Run book, I’ve found my elixir. It’s what Jurek calls the Srawburst Anti-Inflammatory Smoothie: This smoothie combines the anti-inflammatory ingredients of pineapple (bromelaine), ginger, turmeric, and Flora Oil (omega-3 fatty acids). It’s a great daily postworkout drink, soothing aching muscles, and a terrific addition to your regular meals before your run on a long training day.
I’ve adapted Jurek’s recipe keeping in mind Bangalore’s fruit supply chain. While the original recipe says either frozen or fresh, I use only fresh fruit. A trip to Namdhari’s ensures procurement of *most* of the ingredients. Fortunately no need to climb trees in search of mistletoe!
Pineapple, strawberries, mangoes, banana, ginger, turmeric, rock salt, spirulina, soy milk. Jurek’s original recipe includes exotic ingredients (for India) like acai, goji berries, miso, edamame, flora oil, and blueberries. Recently I’ve started finding blueberries in a few stores though they are still too expensive.
Barring races, Saturdays are my ‘long run’ days so the anticipation begins on Friday. What started off as yet another Jurek regimen to try and imbibe has acquired a Japanese tea ceremony life of its own. I now quote.. It is a choreographic ritual of preparing and serving Japanese green tea together with traditional Japanese sweets to balance with the bitter taste of the tea. Preparing tea in this ceremony means pouring all one’s attention into the predefined movements. The whole process is not about drinking tea, but is about aesthetics, preparing a bowl of tea from one’s heart. The host of the ceremony always considers the guests with every movement and gesture.
My ritual begins post dinner. The jazz playlist is selected.. cutting board and knife come out.. ingredients are lined up on the counter. The peeling, slicing and chopping begin.
- First the pineapple. Slice the skin just right – not too fine, not too coarse.
- Cut thin circular slices. Stow away 2/3 and use 1/3 of the slices for the smoothie.
- If you don’t have Vitamix (or any equivalent fancy blender), finely chop the pineapple rounds.
- Next up – strawberries. Select six of the reddest specimens and chop them up (after washing them of course).
- Slice a medium-sized banana into rounds.
- (In season) Slice and scoop out about 1/3 of a ripe mango. Make it 1/2 if you are a mango lover.
- Peel a 1″ long ginger root, wash and finely slice.
- Transfer all the sliced ingredients into the smallest of your blender sets. (I find that the small blends better than the medium one)
- Add a spoon of turmeric powder.
- Add rock salt (crushed or small pieces). Adjust quantity to taste.
- Add a few spoons of dried coconut flakes (for some odd reason, I never seem to remember this ingredient).
- (Optionally) add 1/2 spoon of spirulina powder. Ever since I stopped adding this, I’ve been enjoying my smoothie a heck of a lot more. Spirulina dominates too much (both color and taste).
- Add 1/4 cup of soy milk. I use Staeta’s Natural which basically has no flavors. Alternatively, you can use rice milk, almond milk or any other protein beverage.
- Utter your favorite incantations and blend the beauties to oblivion.
- Pour into a tall glass, cover and store in fridge.
- Your elixir is ready for the next morning.
Every now and then, I experiment with other fruits. Adding kokum juice gives a nice tangy taste. Grapes are ok too but makes the smoothie more chewy. Watermelon and cantaloupe utterly get dominated.
I wake up 45 minutes before my long run and I drink up my elixir before I brush my teeth. It’s fairly viscous so it takes me at least 5 minutes to down it all. You’d think the smoothie will be sloshing around in your tummy but you’ll be surprised how quickly it gets absorbed. Try it and let me know whether it works for you.