By John A. Dodds
While not preferring the epitaph on my tombstone to read "Not the Sharpest Crayon in the Box," I do recognize that somewhat of a case can be made that it is an apt description. For example, while a normal third-grader would suffer a broken arm, I took it upon myself to fracture my skull and end up in a Navy hospital in Taiwan for five days. Other examples abound. Most recently, I was glancing through Runner's World magazine and came across a word I didn't know and frankly never expected to see in a running magazine. Yes, I'm talking about "edamame."
Recipes. Runner's World routinely has an article or articles about proper nutrition and gives you ever-so-easy recipes to try. I've written before about its recipe for "Island Vegetable Soup" that features cassava. The recent recipe is "Salmon and Edamame Penne." What really gets me is that nowhere in the article does it mention just what edamame is. The chef whose recipe it is is said to "cater to the Raleigh running crowd." Maybe North Carolina runners are smarter than Virginia runners. Frankly, I think this magazine is a tad pretentious, expecting us to know what edamame is. Reminds me of the recently-married couple whose pretentious wedding "cake" was "a Bailey's Irish Cream mousse in a chocolate shell with raspberry puree." La di da. Whatever happened to good old fashioned chocolate cake?
Before I get completely off the subject, let me tell you what edamame is. It's a specialty soybean harvested as a vegetable when the seeds are immature. Okay, I had to look that up. And let's not forget that soybean is the basic building block of tofu, which the last time I checked was still a hazardous substance.
Trail runners. I don't think the dietary needs of ultrarunners are similar to those of marathoners and others who run shorter distances. Trail runners are even more peculiar. Trail runners are also unencumbered by any need to use socially-accepted mechanical devices to eat their food. Like cutlery. Napkins are also wasteful as your sleeve or your arm or hand will do just as well. One of the best post-race foods in this regard is the corndog because it has a built-in handle. It also has the added benefits of being pretty tasty and nutritious, especially for those who are low on their trans fats. A good rule of thumb is this: if a chef makes it, it's not appropriate for a trail runner.
While I do recognize the importance of nutrition and eating healthy foods, some of these food articles seem that they better belong in Martha Stewarts' Living magazine. Maybe she should be writing for running magazines. Trailrunner magazine could probably benefit from articles such as "Centerpiece Decorations for Your Aid Station Tables" or "10 Troubleshooting Tips to a Perfect Grilled Cheese Sandwich."
Running Magazines. I've always said that some of the articles in running magazines seem to be a bit contrived. I have in mind those articles that give you 26 ways of doing something. Now where do you suppose the number 26 comes from? Well, after all these years, wouldn't you know, but they're still at it. The cover of the January 2007 Runner's World has two catchy titles. One is "26 Things Every Runner Should Do (At Least Once)." The other one is "New Year, New You, 42 Tips to Lose Weight, Get Motivated, Stay Injury-free, and Never Bonk Again." Any idea where the 42 comes from? It's such a strange number, but I think I finally figured it out. Just as there are 26 miles in a marathon, so there are 42 kilometers (I learned that in the Venice marathon one year). Which leads me to ask if there aren't really 42 (instead of 26) things every runner should do at least once?
Trail Runner magazine also has its problems. How about the article on Lance Armstrong's ex-wife who is "thinking" about going on a trail run. Seriously, how relevant is that? Ever read an unfavorable shoe report in this magazine? I guess they don't want to upset the corporate powers that be in this sport. (How corporate America is taking over the sport of trail running I'll leave for a later article.)
Running magazines do have good information from time to time. You just have to know how to separate the wheat from the chaff. This is complicated because somebody's wheat is somebody else's chaff. If these magazines do nothing more than keep up your interest in running, they have served a useful purpose.
Final thoughts. For all you people training for MMT and whose post-race adventures might take you to the finer eateries in Front Royal, be advised that you are probably not going to get salmon and edamame penne at places like, say, the Knotty Pine Restaurant. Jalisco's is the proverbial favorite, but reviews are mixed: "Our family stopped going to Jalisco's in 2004 because the restaurant lacks soap and towels in the bathrooms and when the management is notified, they either do not care or cannot understand English. This is the result of several visits. Food was below average and service was poor." Compare to this: "Jalisco's is by far the best place in Front Royal to dine. You are always treated like family, and the food is wonderful!!!!!" Frankly, I've always thought the service was pretty good there considering that I'm usually in a group of about 15-20 dirty, famished and tired runners who walk in, arrange all available tables themselves into a large U-shape, and have seemingly lost their "inside" voices. Anyway . . .