Turning over a new leaf

Oatmeal porridge with nuts and berries
24th June. 42 km. Exactly 24 weeks to prepare myself physically, mentally, and emotionally. One of the things on my to-do-list before turning 35 is to run two full marathons. The 16 year-old version of myself, who might I add was horrifically bad at ALL sports, would have had a heart attack knowing that out of all the aspirations to have in the world, running marathons makes the bucket list. Whatever happened to the good old simple dream of having a nice family, house, and job? I guess I have always prioritised things slightly differently than most people. I picked up running in my mid twenties and since then have been hooked to the focus, endurance, and clarity that each run provides.

The marathon bug kicked in last year when I went to watch the annual London marathon. I was absolutely mesmerised by what I consider a prime example of the spirit of humanity at its very best. Young and old were determined to complete a task that challenges the very core of your willpower. The most beautiful part of the day however was being immersed in the positive energy of the crowd cheering, supporting, and encouraging completely random runners. I found myself in tears several times, knowing that the spirit of genuine, compassionate brother/sisterhood albeit rare nowadays, still exists.

I participated in my first half marathon in October 2011 and now I am setting my sights on completing the full 42 km. The mere thought that the upcoming run will be double in length of what I considered a challengingly ass-kicking run last October is enough to make me question my own sanity level. Unlike some people, I’m not a natural born runner – it’s something that I have to work very hard at. So to ensure that I perform the best I possibly can, I have chosen to embark on a slight lifestyle change to allow me to focus on training to improve my run. Unfortunately this will mean hanging up my club night dancing shoes and going completely teetotal for a little while. Over the past years, I have been able to crawl into bed at 6am on a Saturday morning and still manage a lengthy run later in the afternoon. Recently though (I blame age!), I do find that after a night out, my running session is more torturous as my throbbing head violently resists enduring another bout of further head and heart pounding pain.

I will of course miss dancing away to my favourite tunes and the calming effects of a glass of vino at the end of a long work week, but to be honest I am looking forward to being more health-centric for the next couple of months. More sleep and not ingesting twenty packs worth of cigarette smoke actually sounds like bliss. It will be nice not waking up reeking of ciggie smoke, feeling that the stench has permeated every inch of your skin and all items of clothing that you own (they really need to start banning smoking in clubs/indoors/in-general-period in KL!).

So to mark my turning over a new leaf, I started my morning with a heartwarming bowl of oatmeal porridge. This is normally not my first choice for brekkie after a night out but otherwise I am a hardcore porridge loyalist. Porridge was my best friend in London – knowing that I would eventually sit down to a bowl of warm goodness was what got me through freezing cold winter morning runs. Oats are a great source of endurance for runners. As a complex carbohydrate with high amounts of soluble figure, it releases energy slowly avoiding the highs and lows that can result from eating other foods with fast energy release. This keeps you fuller for longer, while nourishing you with its high levels of vitamins and minerals. Porridge also reduces the build up of bad cholesterol thus ensuring a healthy heart and is known to have mood enhancing effects. Combine this with the endorphin releasing buzz triggered from running, it is definitely a great way to start the day on positive note.

Plain porridge oats (I am not a fan of sugar laden flavoured options) may be a wee bit bland so I tend to add on berries, nuts, raisins, a drop of honey and some cinnamon to liven things up. So with each bite of this nourishing goodness, I say farewell (temporarily of course) to the dance-floor-loving me and look forward to the next few months of a more focused, healthier, and stronger version of myself.

Goodness in a bowl – porridge oats

Basic Ingredients
Porridge oats (I prefer organic wholegrain oats instead of instant oats), semi-skimmed milk, honey, cinnamon, berries (raspberries, blueberries, blackberries), mixed nuts (hazelnut, walnuts), raisins, dried cranberries 

The Prep
1. Measure 1 small cup of porridge into a pot. Using the same cup, add in one and a half cups of milk. There is not an exact science to this as some people like their porridge drier while others prefer more milk. I would suggest starting off with less milk and then you can always add more of the porridge dries up.
2. Add in a teaspoon of cinnamon
3. Porridge is done when most of the milk is absorb – again this is based on preference of how you like your porridge. If porridge looks to dry, you can add more milk. Take off the heat and add a drop of honey, berries, nuts, raisins, cranberries.