Born to run? Not me. Picked last in gym class? Spent afternoons after school in math club? That’s more like it. So, why did I choose running as my sport? To be quite honest, it’s because it is one of the few sports that don’t involve an object flying at your face. Yeah, I lack hand-eye coordination. Big time.
I was scarred for life when I played soccer in elementary school. Tennis lessons in middle school? Horrifying. To this day, I stay away from soccer, volleyball, tennis, kickball and any other sport that involves a fast-flying ball.
I started to run my junior year in college to prepare for a family vacation to the Boundary Waters. I decided to use the ever so popular Couch to 5K program as my training guide. I’m not going to lie, doing day 1 of week 1 was almost too much for me and I wanted to quit halfway through. But, I pushed through it. Two days later, I pushed through another workout. Rinse and repeat until I could (gasp!) run for 30 minutes straight. Boundary Waters went off without a hitch. Unfortunately, having nothing to work towards after the trip, I stopped running.
I didn’t start running again until my younger sister talked me into running a 15K with her. I have no idea how she convinced me, but it turns out that my promise would change my life. I spent that winter painfully, slooooowly running (a more accurate word would probably be shuffling) that winter, gradually working my way up to 1 mile, then 2, 3… when I finally hit 5 miles, I felt like I had conquered the world.
I trained as hard as I could and in November of 2011, I ran my very first race at the age of 24. Completing the 15k was probably one of the most proudest moments of my life. I had done what I thought was impossible: I was a runner. I ran a 5 mile Turkey Trot a few weeks later and knew I was hooked.
My sister (R) and me after the Hot Chocolate 15K in Chicago
Mike and me after the 5 mile Turkey Trot
I am now looking forward to another 15K in February and then a half marathon in May. I may not be fast, graceful, or have an athlete’s body, but I am a runner.
The best part? Running fueled a new interest in nutrition. I had a degree in dietetics, but never knew what I wanted to do with it until I started running. I realized how I felt after I ate certain foods. I found out my perfect pre-run (Greek yogurt and a small banana) and post-run (most recently cranberry orange bread) foods. Running urged me to continue my schooling, and that’s where I am now – working through a dietetic internship with a new passion for nutrition!
If you made it through this long-winded post (quite possibly my longest ever), I am amazed. As a thank you, I will offer you the recipe to my new favorite post-workout food – cranberry orange bread!
I have made the bread two ways now – one as written on allrecipes.com and the other with the changes published below. I prefer the recipe below – it’s a bit denser and not-so-sweet. Adding in whole wheat flour and reducing the amount of butter and sugar are an added health benefit, too!
Cranberry Orange Bread
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large orange, zested (about 1 heaping tablespoon)
1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
2 tablespoons butter, softened
2 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup orange juice
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 9×5 loaf pan.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and orange zest. Stir in cranberries and walnuts. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, cream together butter, applesauce, and sugar until smooth. Beat in egg and orange juice. Stir in flour mixture, mixing until just moistened.
- Pour batter into prepared loaf pan and bake for 55 – 65 minutes, or until bread is golden brown and springs back when lightly touched. Let stand 15 minutes and then turn out onto cooling rack to cool completely.
Recipe adapted from allrecipes.com