Borrowing from the “let high-quality ingredients shine” Italian food philosophy, eating well not only for good health but also for performance should be achieved easily when the following three principles are employed: restraint, selectivity and simplicity. The best runners in the world eat simply; I’ve dined with several Kenyan and Ethiopian elites over the years and when they’re away from their hometown staples of ugali or injera with stew, they tend to favor plain rice, pasta, potatoes or—for the more daring—polenta before a race. After an event, they may sample more adventurously, but usually not too much of cream-, cheese- or sauce-heavy restaurant dishes. The same goes for many Japanese, Chinese, Russian, and so.
Although, performance wise, I jog on another planet than the elites I’ve described above, my stomach tends to work best when fueled with the simple, utilitarian stuff. I can be a sucker for rich, heavy restaurant fare, but my stomach throws a temper tantrum almost without fail the following morning. To calm the beast, I tend to stick to naturally flavorful ingredients like mushrooms or arugula, but my inner gourmand compels me to top these raw ingredients with the palette-clinging fat and saltiness of cheese and olive oil. Life’s about achieving balance, right?
Arugula, Asiago and Mushroom Salad
1 6-ounce bag or about 8 cups of arugula, washed and dried
1 package sliced button mushrooms
1/3 cup Asiago cheese, grated
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste (the arugula is peppery, so make sure to taste before you add more pepper)
Toss all ingredients together in a large salad bowl and enjoy.
Possible additions: Finely chopped celery with the tender green inner leaves are tasty here; grape tomatoes add a burst of sweet contrast to the slightly bitter, peppery greens, the acidity of the lemons and the saltiness of the cheese.