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Rice Balls

Trail runners often ask me what they should eat when they have upset stomachs caused by too much sun (heat exhaustion) or too much sugar (nausea, vomiting or diarrhea). The answer is rice balls (onigiri).

I eat rice balls when I need a quick pick-me-up, and I also eat them when I can’t eat anything else. They are portable so you can take them in your pack, or store them in your aid station drop bag. American ultrarunning legend Scott Jurek (in his book Eat & Run) says white rice is:

  • Great for cooling your body
  • Packed with carbohydrates
  • Soft and easy to digest
  • A great source for electrolytes and salt

Rice balls can be made in any size or shape, and can be eaten plain or with seaweed for added flavor.

Rice Balls

1 cup Japanese rice (we use Kokuho Rose)
1 1/4 cups water
Salt
Nori seasweed (we use Costco’s Kirkland Roasted Seasoned Seaweed)

Cook the rice in water using a rice cooker, or on the stovetop (bring to a boil over high heat, cover pan and simmer for 25 minutes). Remove from heat to cool slightly.

Rice can be formed into any shape you want … three common shapes (rectangles, triangles, round balls) are in the photo below.

  1. Fill a small bowl with water and wet both hands.
    – If you are using a plastic container (i.e, rectangle or triangle) to shape the rice, wet the sides of the container (water helps to prevent the rice from sticking to your hands or the container).
  2. Salt your hands.
    – If you are using a plastic container, salt the the bottom of the container.
  3. Use your hands to form the rice into a bite-sized ball.
    – If you are using a plastic container, press the rice into the container. Salt the top of the rice and then flip over the container to release the rice.  If necessary, cut the rice to the desired size.
  4.  If desired, wrap the nori sheets around the rice. If two pieces of nori overlap, use water to seal the two edges together.
  5. Store the rice balls in a container or ziploc bag.
  6. Enjoy!

Trail Treats

It’s trail running season again (Yeah!!) and in order to sustain hours of fun exploring familiar and unfamiliar terrain, I need to pack some portable energy.  Although I could purchase energy bars, I prefer homemade treats so I ask my wife to make Eat More Bars!  I love these bars because they are delicious and can be customized to include whatever you want.  So here is the recipe … hope you enjoy them as much as I do:

Eat More Bars

1 cup corn syrup
½ cup peanut butter
2 cups chocolate chips

Heat in a pot to bubbling (full bubble). Remove from heat and mix in remaining ingredients.

1 cup crushed peanuts, almonds or walnuts
½ cup shelled sunflower seeds
½ cup rice krispies (gluten free or regular)
½ cup dried cranberries (optional)

Spread on cookie sheet lined with parchment (or wax) paper. When cool, cut to desired size (I like small bite-sized pieces). Store in fridge.
Tip: Rather than using a knife to cut the bars, use a pizza cutter for easier and quicker cutting.

My Favorite Snack

Both road and trail runners often ask me what I like to eat as a snack before, during or after a run.  The answer … the marvelous mini muffins my wife makes.  I love these muffins because they give me a good boost of energy while being small, portable and delicious.  So here is the recipe … hope you enjoy them as much as I do:

Easy Gluten Free Oatmeal Muffins

2 ¼ cups gluten free rolled oats (or regular rolled oats)
½ cup chocolate chips (or unsweetened coconut flakes)
¼ tsp. salt
½ tsp. cinnamon
½ cup dried cranberries
2 Tbsp. maple syrup (or coconut palm sugar)
4 Tbsp. melted butter (or melted coconut oil)
2 ripe bananas, mashed
3 eggs, beaten

Preheat oven to 350°.  Grease wells of 24-cup mini muffin tin (or 12-cup standard muffin tin).

Mix oats, chocolate chips, salt, cinnamon, and dried cranberries in large bowl.  Add maple syrup, butter, mashed bananas and eggs, mixing to combine after each addition.  The batter should be thick but soft. Divide evenly among muffin wells and smooth tops with a spoon or spatula.

Bake until muffin edges are brown and muffin centers feel firm when gently pressed, about 20 – 25 minutes.  Remove from oven and allow to cool in pan 10 minutes before transferring to wire rack to cool completely.  Store at room temperature up to 3 days or in fridge/freezer for longer storage.

The Standing Athlete – Nose to Toes

Let’s get your musculature organized while standing so that we can replicate it when running. This 5 minute video (courtesy of Kelly Starrett of www.mobilitywod.com) will get your feet straight, butt tucked, abs engaged, shoulders/blades aligned, and head up (and out off…)! This mental exercise and will be exhausting (but with big payoffs). As my wife/coach tells me: “Make Better Choices!”

Your queues are:

  • Feet straight ahead
  • Butt squeezed (relax to 20% engaged) to correct your anterior pelvic tilt (butt tucked)
  • Abs squeezed (relax to 20% engaged) to further support that pelvis and bring the rib cage down slightly
  • Shoulders externally rotated (palms out) with some tension in the shoulder blades
  • Head up and just move your eyes to look downward

This can help with lower back pain for most adults. This is also a primary focus when you start to get fatigued in longer runs (you release the abs and glutes which allows you to hang off that anterior pelvic tilt – butt sticking out). The lower back needs to work hard along with the hamstrings covering for the lazy glutes.

So, if you hear me calling you “Lazy Ass”, you know to “Tighten-up” and get focused for better running.

Addendum: Here is a video of some mobility exercises to help relieve back spasms before you pop meds.