Guess what I did when I saw Shalane Flanagan, the first American woman to win the New York City marathon in 40 years, cross the finish line yesterday? Well, if we’re being truthful about it, I teared up a bit, because Flanagan was crying, and is there anything better than watching a professional athlete accomplish something seemingly superhuman in real time and then break down like a mortal? The second thing I did was pick up my phone, and google “shalane flanagan diet.” What kind of magical sustenance is this woman consuming in order to perform like a freaking mash-up of Wonder Woman and Athena? My curiosity wasn’t entirely intellectual. Phoebe is competing in her last big cross-country meet of the season next weekend — it’s a big, important one and I couldn’t be more proud of her for qualifying — and though she’s not quite on pace with Flanagan’s low five-minute splits, we are constantly talking about the best way to eat in order to feel your strongest out there on the trails. (Or the track. Or the soccer field for that matter!)
My google search yielded two amazing things. A cookbook called Run Fast. Eat Slow, which Flanagan published with chef and nutrition coach Elyse Kopecky, her former running cross-country teammate from University of North Carolina; and a recipe teaser from their book called Superhero Muffins. I ordered the book immediately and since it hasn’t arrived yet, I can’t give you a full review, but what I’ve read so far, I really really like. They describe Shalane’s diet, packed with non-processed, nutrient-dense foods like red meat, good fats, kale, vegetable-packed smoothies, as “indulgent nourishment,” which is a phrase and a lifestyle I think I could really get behind.
Phoebe can, too, and after a few edits on the muffin recipe (no zucchini, almonds instead of walnuts, etc) she gave me the green light to bake a batch. It was touch-and-go there for a bit while I was stirring up the batter that she called “healthy smelling,” but ultimately they were a success. She had one for breakfast this morning along with a few pieces of mango.
By the way, the third thing I did — after tearing up, after baking — was lace up my running shoes and go for a five-mile run. This inspiration stuff is real. Let’s see how long it lasts.
From Run Fast, East Slow: Nourishing Recipes for Athletes, by Shalane Flanagan and Elyse Kopecky (with minor tweaks). Their original recipe is here. Note: These are gluten-free. Yield: 12.
- 2 cups almond meal (same thing as almond flour)
- 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats (use gluten-free if sensitive)
- 1/2 cup chopped raw sliced almonds (Flanagan calls for chopped walnuts)
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 eggs, beaten
- 1 cup grated carrot (about 2 carrots)
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 1/2 cup Grade B maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- paper muffin cups
Arrange a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 12-cup standard muffin tin with paper muffin cups.
In a large bowl, combine the almond meal, oats, nuts, raisins, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, and salt.
In a separate bowl, mix together the eggs, carrot, butter, maple syrup, and vanilla.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, mixing until just combined.
Spoon the batter into the muffin cups filling each to the brim. Bake until the muffins are nicely browned on top and a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean, about 25 to 35 minutes.
We froze half the batch so we can just throw them in her backpack all week long.
Flanagan, my new superhero, crossing the finish line at the NYC Marathon yesterday. Yes Shalane!!!