Is there a better dinner the night before a big run than pizza?
I don’t think so. Neither does Olympian Keith Brantly (read the transcript of my 2007 Web chat with him here.) Neither does sports dietitian Suzanne Girard Eberle, a former elite runner who says she won a pizza-eating contest at Uno Chicago Grill on M Street when she ran for Georgetown.
For me, any old pizza will do in a pinch. But I prefer it to be my homemade pizza, which couldn’t be simpler to make, easier on the stomach or a more delicious way to get some good carbs the night before a run.
Here’s how to do it:
Preheat oven to 375
Procure a ball of dough from the bakery section of Publix, Whole Foods or your grocery store of choice. Roll out dough with rolling pin.
Cover with tomato sauce (I like to make it at home with plain ol’ canned tomato sauce, with every Italian spice imaginable simmered in — basil, parsley, oregano, rosemary, garlic powder and some red pepper flakes to spice things up). Cover with mozzarella cheese to taste.
Add toppings of your choice. I like sliced tomatoes from the farmers market, especially this time of year, and basil form my balcony garden. Steve prefers pepperoni. I don’t judge.
Sprinkle liberally with aforementioned Italian spices.
Bake on pizza stone, or a metal pizza pan you bought for $10 from Wal-Mart (can you guess which one I use?) for roughly 12 to 15 minutes.
We usually make two pizzas to ensure leftovers, which we’ll be enjoying tonight before heading off to the Shenandoah for three days of backpacking tomorrow.
And it’s a good thing I have those leftovers: I’ve been one hungry little dude lately. After my 15-miler yesterday, I had my typical post-run recovery shake, then lunch of a quesedilla and tomato/black bean salad two hours later, then a delicious concoction of peaches, berries and balsamic vinegar mixed in a saucepan then topped with Greek yogurt two hours later, then … well, you get the idea.
It’s like my body and I are engaged in our own rendition of “Little Shop of Horrors,” with my body pleading: “Feeed me.” (Does it have to be chocolate?). “Feeed me.” (Does it have to be wine?) “Feeed me, runner … ”
This week has marked a vast improvement over last, when I didn’t give into the hunger in any way post-13-miler … until I made brownies for a friend’s get-together. I ate so much of the batter, it affected the cooking time, leading to burned brownies I had to scrape from the pan. And did I throw out all of the brownie char? No. No, I did not. I actually stood over the pan, picking at the rubble to see if I could find a nugget containing one of the Ghirardelli chocolate chips I’d baked in. And one would think that I’d be so horrified by that episode, I’d be disgusted by the thought of brownies. One would be wrong, as I ate two from the next batch in quick succession. Yikes!
The lesson: My body’s needing a bit more fuel these days, at least on the days surrounding my long runs. If you’ll excuse me, it’s time to feed the running-monster some pizza.
(Pizza photos on the way soon: There’s packing for the Shenandoah to be done!)