There’s an obvious reason I call myself Marathon Gran: I am old enough to have grandchildren, and to have been around in the 1970s to watch (on one of three channels) a telly chef called Graham Kerr – the eponymous Galloping Gourmet – show people how to cook (and then be slightly creepy about dragging a woman up from the studio audience afterwards to share the meal). And there’s a reason why I have made a pot of beans my cover photo for this blog: the culinary assistance I have been given this training season with another, very much more sporty, 21st century food guru, galloping Kate Percy.
The title popped into my head when I was marvelling at my speed-cooking prowess while preparing home-made gnocchi and home-made pesto. I kid you not. Not only did I attempt such delights, but they were prepared at a brisk pace. I say this as one who, left to her own devices, prefers to subsist on bread, peanut butter and bananas. And chocolate.
My sudden culinary interest has been set in train following a challenge thrown down by Kate last Christmas, which I have blogged about previously. I am one of her little troupe of marathon hopefuls, who have vowed to train on proper, unprocessed fuel, following Kate’s Go Faster Food recipes. My pledge means that no gels will tamper with my blood sugar, no sports drinks will threaten my tooth enamel, no processed whey protein gloop will be sloshing around in my belly and threatening to move my bowels.
The Go Faster Food for Your Active Family cookbook has brightened what became a bleak spring’s marathon training. The injury that made me defer my place in 2017 hasn’t gone away, despite endless physiotherapy, massage, a steroid injection and rest. A couple of weeks with bronchitis, coupled with the Beast from the East hasn’t done a lot for my lung capacity. Now there’s four weeks to go and it’s too late to ramp up the mileage.
Having made the sensible decision to be as fit as I can be, given these circs, it’ll be really interesting to jog around the marathon course on 22 April, untroubled by PB pressure. I probably won’t even bother with a watch. I’ll carry a couple of packets of Kate Percy’s Go-bites, the refuelling ones, made of apricots and seeds, and I’ll drink water, a beer if I’m offered one in Deptford, and I’ll high-five small children. It’ll be a fun run.
Given the low mileage, I’ve plenty of energy to cook up a storm. This week alone I have toasted jumbo oats with honey, walnuts, sunflower seeds and spices (GoFaster granola); I have boiled up haricot beans with molasses, tomatoes, garlic and paprika (GoFaster baked beans) and I have baked for my grandson’s birthday tea party using all wholesome ingredients (Go Faster carrot cake and Go Faster banana maltloaf).
So, I’m eating well, sleeping well and diligently alternating physio drills with the running ones. There’ll be little need for a three-week taper, since there’s no big mileage to taper from. I feel a bit guilty on Kate Percy’s behalf, because the point of the Naturally Fuelled Runners experiment was to see if I could attain my goal marathon time (3:37) without the use of the usual processed carbohydrate ‘fuelling systems’ that certainly weren’t around when my idol Kathrine Switzer ran her 2:51 in Boston in 1975. Now that there is no goal (other than to stay conscious, and, I suppose, be home in time for tea), I’m not really a useful study for her. However the other members of the naturally fuelled gang are posting PBs in all the 5ks, 10ks and half-marathons they’ve taken part in since January, when the experiment began, so there’s good news coming through. As for me, the proof’s in the pudding, which I am just about to take out of the oven, and wouldn’t you know, it’s another GoFaster triumph…