Check yourself before you wreck yourself.

Thanks to Ice Cube and his 1993 gem of a song for today’s blog inspiration.

 

I like to think that I can do it all, but this weekend made me realize that maybe I need to check myself a little bit (at least until the Boston Marathon is over). If you wanted a poster child for how NOT to prepare or recover from your long, I would be a great example. On Friday night, I ate like a python and devoured a big salad, an even bigger meatball hero, and ice cream for dessert. It was delicious, but by 9am the next morning I was still full. “NBD”, I thought. “I can do my long run with just some coffee in the tank”. Ehh, that is not the greatest idea. I mean, I guess in retrospect the run was fine – 16 miles in about 2 hours 18 minutes, but I was feeling pretty woozy by the end. What I should have done: eaten a little bit less for dinner and fueled up with at least a banana and Gatorade in the a.m. I know what I need to do better, it’s just a matter of putting it into practice. Luckily, I had great company throughout the run and that kept me from thinking too much about how thirsty I was. I ran the 3 1/2 miles from my apartment to the Manhattan side of the Brooklyn Bridge where I met up with my friend Nicole. From there, she escorted me up the West Side Highway to 72nd Street. I continued cross-town until I met up with the NYC runner army. New York Rogue Runners has been organizing a lot of fun runs lately (remember the NYE trip to Doughnut Plant?!) and Saturday was no exception. Once we grouped up, we headed from Central Park to the West Side highway and ran the 5 or so miles South to City Bakery. Having people to keep me company for the last few miles really made the time fly by. As soon as the Garmin hit 16.00, I hit up a coconut water (the Zico chocolate flavor is the best!) and headed into City Bakery to get some goodies.

Ali, Lindsay, and I staked out a table and got down to business a.k.a. drinking hot chocolate.

The hot chocolate at City Bakery is no ordinary hot cocoa….it’s actually a cup of melted chocolate. Throughout the month of February, they have special flavors each day. I sampled the banana peel flavor, but ended up ordering a mini cup of the regular milk chocolate flavor. Confession: I ordered the mini cup, but almost immediately regretted not ordering the big cup. Next time, next time. I also grabbed some fruit and yogurt and a pretzel croissant. And I’ve decided that I want a pretzel croissant after every long run – salty, flaky, and buttery. Mmmm.

So what did I do for the rest of the day? Drink water like a boss? Wear compression socks? Eat a nutrient-rich dinner? Ehhhh, not so much. I tried to take a nap (fail), chugged a diet coke, microwaved a veggie burger, got ready for the much-anticipated Darkness concert.

Who are The Darkness, you ask? Ever heard of “I Believe in a Thing Called Love”? It was really popular around 2003 and according to wikipedia the song was named the 94th best hard rock song of all time by VH1 (based on fan voting). But I maintain that they are not a one-hit wonder. I was really into them in college, so I couldn’t turn down the chance to see them live with some former cross-country teammates.

The concert was fun! I think I might have damaged my ear drums. And then I went back to Brooklyn, drank a lot of beer, and danced until Union Hall closed at 4am. On Sunday morning, I felt okay and convinced myself that I was pretty much invincible. “Oh yeah! I can totally meet my friend for a 10am run, sans coffee, water, or sleep. Who needs sleep? I feel Great!”

I got through 6 miles and almost as soon as I walked through the door to my apartment…my body rebelled. I developed these weird back spasms and stomach ache. I crawled in bed and stayed there for about 2 hours. I’m still not sure what they were, but I have a hunch it was my body’s way of saying “Hey girl, how about you cool it on the bad nutritional/hydration decisions and maybe get some rest?” Okay, body, okay. You win. So I went to bed at 8pm (totally missed the superbowl, but goooo Yankees!) and slept for a solid 12 hours.  It’s hard for me to accept, but I’m starting to realize that I can’t do everything. And I especially can’t do everything if I’m only getting 3 hours of sleep (really, that’s been happening). Starting this week, I’m going to cut back a little bit on the extracurriculars and be more responsible about fueling and hydrating. While delicious, pepperoni pizza and some tall boys  just don’t cut it.

You might be thinking…”WTF Runner’s Kitchen, we thought you were here to give us sound nutritional and running advice!” Well, sometimes that is the case. Other times I am just a 27-year old trying my best to balance work, running, and a social life. Lately, I haven’t been so good about it, but I still have time. In fact, I have an 18-miler coming up this weekend and just you wait – I’m going to fuel up like a champ and recover like I should. And I might even blog about it.

In case you’re here for the recipes and not the running, I baked something this weekend that I think is blog worthy. Once I realized my weirdo back/stomach spasms weren’t fatal, I got myself out the door to a Sunday afternoon clothing swap hosted by my friend Shayne. And I brought her THESE:

Apparently Baked in Red Hook makes the world’s best brownie (Oprah says so) and a few years ago Smitten Kitchen made a version: The Baked Brownie, All Spiced Up. I made a few changes and was pretty pleased with the result. Was it the world’s best brownie? I don’t know, but it did have a nice texture – not too cake-y or too fudge-y. So thumbs up for that!

Slightly Spicy Brownies (makes 24 small-ish brownies)

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups white whole-wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons dark unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
11 ounces dark chocolate chips
1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter
1 teaspoon instant coffee (or espresso powder)
1 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
5 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and lightly grease the sides and bottom of a 9 x 13 glass baking dish (I use PAM or Crisco spray).

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, salt, cocoa powder and spices.

Put the chocolate, butter, and instant espresso powder in a large bowl and microwave at 50% strength for 45 seconds. Stir and microwave for another 45 seconds. Keep doing this until the butter and chocolate are melted. Add the brown and white sugar and whisk until combined.

Add 3 eggs to the chocolate mixture and whisk until incorporated into the batter. Add the remaining eggs and whisk until combined. Stir in the vanilla.

Slowly fold the flour mixture into the chocolate-butter-egg mixture, but try not to overmix. You don’t want the brownies to be too tough or cake-y.

Pour batter into the baking dish and smooth down the top with a spatula. Bake on the center rack of the oven for 27-29 minutes (depending on your oven), rotating the pan halfway through the baking time. Wait until completely cool and then cut into squares.

What do you do in the hours immediately following a long run? Tell me your secret recovery rituals! Anddd go.

  • Lately immediately following my long runs I stop for a soy mocha. The thought of this reward never fails to get me through the last few miles. Then I go home, shower and eat, usually some type of breakfast food like oatmeal or pancakes and eggs if I am feeling ambitious. Then it is compression socks and couch time where I hopefully take a nap. I think I do my long runs too fast and really wipe myself out. Need to work on that. After nap time I am good to go though! 🙂
    The brownies sound great, I love spicy chocolate!

  • Ali

    Bahaha strong work, Megan. I have to say though, you rocked those 16 miles under less-than-ideal preparations, and even though you didn’t eat breakfast and refuel and do all that stuff you’re “supposed to do,” I respect that you’re training for a marathon and still enjoying one heck of a social life.

    Also, I don’t like that picture of Lindsay and me because Lindsay is clearly judging the way I drink/wear hot chocolate.

  • AR

    Yesterday I waited till like 2:30 to do my long run fueled only by a cup of coffee, a tiny granola bar and half an expired Gu. I finished a touch before 5. Then I drank coffee, ate half a cupcake, then ordered pizza and wings for the game where I sat on my ass and cursed out Tom Brady and clutched a pillow screaming everytime the Giants fucked something up. Oh, I also drank beer while my nalgene of nunn sat there untouched. 

    My ear drums are okay, but my hamstrings kinda hurt.

    RUNNING TWINNNNNSSIEESSS

  • Anonymous

    I think one of my tall boys (#classy) was bud light, that’s basically like water, right? right?

  • Anonymous

    This weekend I went to my running clubs gala immediately following my 20 miler. Probably not the best recovery. I woke up to dreams (nightmares) or trying to drink enough water but I still felt like I was dying of thirst…

    Those brownies look good. I love cayenne pepper.

  • these look insane – yum!!! Also love that they have whole wheat flour in them…can (maybe) even claim that they are somewhat healthy. Cannot wait to try!

  • Oooh pretzel croissant! Yum. One of my immediate post-race must haves are philly soft pretzels, so this looks amazing to me.
    Ugh, stomach/back spasms sound terrible and I think I know exactly what you’re talking about.
    I ran 10 on Sat for the first time in months, and totally forgot how much it takes out of me! I was totally needed a nap afterwards and was STARVING. Its funny how we forget, huh?
    But I did have the good sense to wear my compression calf sleeves to bed, and woke up Sunday morning and was surprised with how un-sore (that a word?) I felt.
    Anyways, great job on the run regardless and I also love the Darkness!

  • I work around the corner from City Bakery and yet- I’ve only been there once. I’m kind of afraid that once I start going, I’ll never stop and my all money will evacuate my wallet. I have no excuse not to make it there during hot chocolate month, though.

  • Anonymous

    I will go with you if you want company!!

  • RunTheLongRoad

    i chug chocolate milk immediately after finishing my long run. this has made a huge difference in how i feel the next day.  i also (when i remember) wear compression shorts to bed that night.  

  • I ate (let’s face it, City Bakery hot chocolate must be eaten) hot chocolate and mac and cheese after my long run.  Then failed at a nap and just laid in bed for a few hours.

    My fueling method for long runs is terrible…I had late night Thai on Friday night and then only had a banana with some peanut butter before twenty miles on Saturday.  And I didn’t feel like carrying any fuel with me soooo no water or gu for me!  That definitely made for a tiring run and I could feel it.  Time to get back on track!

  • I need to get myself to City Bakery. Hot chocolate is definitely recovery food (it’s just like chocolate milke…right??).

    Sometimes I think that the more marathons I run/years I am running for, the worse I become at actually preparing right. I think the first time you train for one, you are so careful about doing everything right because it’s all new territory, and you don’t want to mess up. But then once you have a few long races under your belt, you get into the mindset that it’s not such a huge deal. I start thinking “whatever, it’s just 16 miles. I’ve done that a million times.” …when in reality, 16 miles is STILL a long way, and I’m not invincible, so obviously I need to prepare and recover well.

  • You can think of training under  ess than ideal nutritional conditions as toughening yourself up. So, when you run Boston and you’ve eaten right and whatever, you’ll feel amazing and then run really fast.

    I can rationalize everything.

    Hope to see you again soon!

  • Nicole F.

    That’s how you recover? Fool, you fool! Haha jk. I enjoyed the sunny miles with you and love any run that starts in FiDi! I love the secret mini cup of hot chocolate; now I have the perfect place to take a lunch break 2 blocks from my office!

  • Jemma @ Celery and Cupcakes

    Those brownies look amazing!

  • Anonymous

    hey, sometimes not recovering perfectly and having more fun is totally worth it. I’m sad I miss the hot chocolate run! I usually try to stretch, get some food down and chill out after a long run. Sometimes I find walking around the city helps too though – keeps the blood moving!

  • Ellen

    Sidenote, did you know that Butter Lane Bakery gave Runners Kitchen a shout out on their chalk board?! I saw it this past weekend and was SO EXCITED! (Not quite as excited as I was for my caramel cupcake though 😉

  • Anonymous

    aww thanks! I actually went there last night and took a photo of the chalkboard 🙂

  • Wow, lady! Sounds like you’ve been a busy woman.  I’m going to google Weekend Warrior and see Runner’s Kitchen pops up.

  • Katie

    THE DARKNESS!!! I saw them play at the y100 concert (along wtih the strokes, beastie boys, cyprus hill…) in trentron back in 2005 right after i graduated from high school… my best friend and my then-boyfriend and i went and it was awesome. 

    long runs definitely merit pretzel croissants.

  • I’ve been trying to do the whole eat something w/ protein/carbs within 20-30 min of my long runs but it’s hard to make something fresh like a protein smoothie all the time. My new fave if I don’t get home in time is the Starbucks chicken sausage/veggie/ egg white hot wrap. mmmmmm http://www.starbucks.com/menu/food/hot-breakfast/chicken-sausage-wrap

  • Gemma Cartwright

    Post run I put on my compression socks, just love my fluoro CEP socks thanks to your recommendation. Nothing better than spending the rest of a Saturday with them on my legs after a long weekend run! I also make sure I drink a GU electrolyte replacement drink, esp if the run was particularly long or hard…stops any dehydration headaches in their tracks. 

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