Really stupid...

If an idea is good, it's on the verge of being stupid. ~ Michel Gondry

I have always had this theory… get a group of people in a room, throw out a bunch of ideas and at the end of the night, look at your list to find the most idiotic and that's the one you should do.

This blog was spawned from one very stupid idea - run the Leadville 100. I gave that a shot in the summer of '07 - completed 73 miles - and survived. The blog lives on...

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Monday, October 5, 2009

Good eats...

Mmmmmm... purple. ~ Homer Simpson

In addition to whacking down nuun by the truckload, I have been experimenting with some new food selections I picked up from Christopher McDougall's book, Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen. In the book, he mentions iskiate and pinole on numerous occasions and hypes their collective awesomeness for endurance sports. Since no recipes were provided, I was left to my own devices to find information about how to prepare these tasty treats.

So I turned to my buddy, the internet, and found a couple of references to iskiate or chia fresca that turned out to be quite awesome. Here is one recipe:

  • Combine 8oz of water with the juice of 1 lime and a couple tablespoons of sugar (or your favorite sweetener)
  • Shake or stir until the sugar has dissolved
  • Add 2 teaspoons of chia seeds
  • Mix, drink, feel the pow-ah
The Terahumara use iskiate to fuel their day-long treks and I must say that it is not only delicious but does provide what appears to be a pretty slow burn fuel for longer jaunts as well as a tasty, post-run recovery drink. Chia seeds (yes, the same stuff used to make entertaining Chia Pets) are high in protein and anti-oxidants and can be purchased at many natural food stores or online.

Pinole proved to be even more elusive in both where to find the stuff and how to prepare it. In Born to Run, McDougall mentions the use of pinole as a pre-run favorite as well as being used mid-run to help refuel. Caballo Blanco (Micah True), a gringo who has lived among the Terahumara for many years, takes dried pinole with him on long runs. Pinole is made from dried maize which one grinds into a fine powder and toasts to produce a very complex carbohydrate that is perfect as an energy source for long efforts.

Discovering a recipe for pinole was even more difficult than iskiate so... I made one up using regular corn meal. Two actually. I toasted the meal until golden brown then added some sugar and cinnamon to one batch and added some salt to another to see if either of these did the trick. I even tried eating it a variety of ways: Dry (not so great), mixed with water as a thin sports drink (the corn meal I used was a little too coarse for this to work well), just dumping some in my mouth and washing it down with lots of water (again, not the best plan while on the move). I actually did recognize the benefits to eating pinole even though my delivery methods were less than ideal. The meal tends to swell up in one's stomach, producing a feeling of fullness and my energy levels seemed to stay higher with less spike-and-crash sensation one can experience with other, high-carb food sources.

Undaunted, I contacted the source, Caballo Blanco, for more information.

One of the many things I love about the ultrarunning community is its openness and willingness to provide assistance, guidance and support to others. Shortly after my first ultra race, the 2007 Leadville 100, I contacted the winner, Anton Krupicka for advice. I'd never met Anton (unless you count the brief encounter we shared on the flanks of Hope Pass - he was running back toward the finish, I was still on my way to the turn around), but he quickly responded with a reply (run till your feet bleed then run some more). Micah was no different. Shortly after sending him an email asking for advice about how to prepare Iskiate and pinole, Micah replied with several recommendations for each.

For iskiate, he recommends soaking the chia seeds in water, juice, sports drink... whatever you like until the seeds get plump with the soaked liquid. Then drink them down. I have found them to also be good just tossed in a salad, on oatmeal, etc.

To make real pinole, one starts from whole maize that has been toasted and ground to a fine powder. This can be made into a cream of wheat type meal or can be mixed in water like a sports drink for on-the-go nutrition/hydration.

So I am off to find some maize. Or it can be purchased here:, though Micah says the fresh stuff is way better.

And on that note, I am going to grab a snack.



David said...


I am nobody to take advice from (I totally suck at running), but as a corroborating testimony on chia, as my first ultra I ran the Grand Canyon R2R2R (with C.R.U.D.). From the North Rim back, I could hardly stomach anything (all the nicely prepackaged tech fuels), so I simply mixed chia and water throughout the last half and (other than my poor conditioning and general sucking) did fine. Again, at this year's Leadville Trail Marathon, I had stomach issues and was 'confined' to only chia and water...

I am now pretty sold on just sticking with the natural stuff. I am interested in the maze-mix McDougal mentioned in his book (and that you talked about in this post), but so far, chia seems solid and adequate for up to 50 miles.

Dave (in the Springs)

Gayle said...

Thanks for posting the info - I was considering contacting Caballo Blanco myself, your post has spared him from my pestering...

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