Let’s Talk About Running {And Fig Cake}

This title may seem incongruous at first glance.   And possibly at second glance, too.  The truth is, I don’t care.  I want to talk about both, and this here is my blog, so I’m gonna do what I want to do.

So there.

Back in January, I made a commitment publicly – right here in this space – to complete the Couch to 5K program.  I haven’t really talked about it much since then, but that’s not because I haven’t stuck with it.   I ran (sort of) my first (and only) 5K back in March.  And I did run the majority of it, but I was unable (unwilling? unmotivated?) to actually RUN the entire time.

Even now, six months later, I’m still struggling to run more that two miles continuously.  And the truth of the matter is, I’m really not sure if it’s a matter of ability, or just a matter of will.  Because honestly?  I still don’t really like it.  I do it, but I haven’t yet learned to enjoy it.

Please don’t misunderstand – I can definitely tell a difference.  Both in my endurance, and in my body.  And I like that part.

I’m thinking that maybe I need to add some strength training to my routine, because it’s not so much that I get winded, or that my heart-rate is too high; it’s more that my legs start to feel like they weigh about a ton.  And you know, a ton is a lot.  So maybe some strength training would benefit.

This morning I went for a run around our neighborhood.  It was around 10 AM, and the day was just starting to heat up.  I felt pretty good when I started, and I managed to get to about the one-and-a-half mile point before I felt like I needed to take a little break.  I walked for 30-seconds or so, and then picked up the pace again.  I finished it out at a good pace, only stopping to walk the last little bit to cool down.  The problem is, I had really planned to do three miles when I set out from the house. Somewhere along the way, I talked myself out of it and ended up only doing two.

Why do you think that is?  If you run, how do you stay motivated to keep going?  What kinds of strength training do you do?  Do share – maybe I’ll gather some inspiration and motivation from your suggestions.

As a thank you in advance, I’ll share this fig bundt cake with you.  Figs are good for you – especially for runners, as they contain high levels of potassium and fiber.  So, you know, this cake is kind of healthy.  Sort of.

As I was running yesterday, I was contemplating what to take as a dessert to a late lunch/early dinner (dunch?) at my in-laws’ house.  They had graciously kept our boys overnight on Saturday so we could have a grown-ups-only night with some friends and family.  I wanted to contribute a little something as a token of gratitude for their willingness to open their home to our two hooligans.

My mind kept settling on some figs I had put in the freezer back in June after spending an afternoon plucking them from our neighbor’s tree.  I decided on this simple bundt cake that uses fresh fig puree, and I was pleased with the outcome.  The texture was a little funny, more like a steamed pudding than a cake, but that’s probably more because I transported it almost directly from the oven in a cake carrier, so it sat in it’s own condensation for a while.  You won’t have the same problem if you allow it to cool completely before serving.  The flavor is delightfully figgy, and it’s not at all too sweet.  It would be especially nice for breakfast with a cup of coffee.

Fig Bundt Cake with Honey Butter Glaze (adapted from this recipe at Andrea Meyers’ Blog)

prep time: 15 minutes

bake time: 45-50 minutes

yields: 12-15 servings

Ingredients

Fig puree

  • 1 lb figs, destemmed and pureed in the food processor

Cake

  • 2 sticks butter, softened
  • 2 cups honey granules (can use granulated sugar)
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups fig puree
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3  cups flour, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda

Glaze

  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 3 Tablespoons butter

  1. Begin by preheating the oven to 325F and greasing and flouring a 12-cup bundt pan
  2. Cream together the butter and honey granules using an electric stand mixer with a paddle attachment
  3. Add the eggs, one at the time
  4. Add the fig puree and the vanilla
  5. Whisk together the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and baking soda
  6. Add flour mixture slowly to the fig mixture
  7. Scrape batter into prepared pan
  8. Bake at 325F for 45-50 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean
  9. Turn out and cool on a cooling rack
  10. Prepare glaze by placing the honey and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Cook until butter has melted and mixture is warm
  11. Glaze cake while it is still slightly warm
  12. Enjoy!
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12 Comments on “Let’s Talk About Running {And Fig Cake}”

  1. Brittany Wrenn
    17 September 2012 at 8:17 pm #

    Ah running! I want to be a runner. I want to be an athlete. Honestly, I am a computer nerd and literature snob that would rather plow through a bag of kettle chips while reading the latest by her favorite writer. So why do I still try? My health. I started this year in a dismal place. I push myself because I know my body can do it. The flesh is willing, but the spirit is weak. It is a constant battle of will for me too. I have yet to come to love running. I feel good AFTER I am done. However, the accomplishment feels good. I think the more races I do, the more confident I will feel about it. It will get to the point that a 5K is routine, old hat. I know at that point I will have wrestled the weaker side of myself into submission. That I have become an athlete in spite of myself.

    • 18 September 2012 at 2:28 pm #

      I’m with you – I always feel good afterward, no matter how far I’ve gone. Mentally, I know if I keep working, I will get better. It’s just the doing that’s hard. Watching your progress helps me, though.

  2. Cindy
    17 September 2012 at 8:23 pm #

    You both put me to shame! Trying to be healthy…spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. You guys keep up the good work!

  3. 17 September 2012 at 9:38 pm #

    I so want to like running. It does great things for my weight and is a really efficient work-out. The problem is that I can walk for 50 miles or hike all day but the second I put a little pep in my step and run, I hate it. I can run 1 mile or I can walk at a STRONG clip for many. I don’t know. I don’t get it. When you figure it out, tell me. And your fig cake looks divine.

    • 18 September 2012 at 2:30 pm #

      Thanks, Tammy. And, I know what you mean about walking and hiking – it’s second nature. I guess if we’d been running as long as we’d been walking it would come easier, too.

  4. 17 September 2012 at 10:09 pm #

    UUugh, such a love/hate relationship with running. Depends on the day. Sometimes I feel like a champion, sometimes I have the whiniest dialogue going on in my head.

    Your photos are beautiful, and I love how you weave your life stories into your food posts. An inspiration to be sure.

    • 18 September 2012 at 2:31 pm #

      Thank you so much!

      It’s that whiny dialogue that gets me every time. If you figure out how to silence it, let me know.

  5. 18 September 2012 at 11:00 am #

    You’ll never hear encouragement from me about running for exercise/fitness. I does wonders for a lot of people — some people are even fanatical about it. Personally, I’m more inclined to believe it does more harm than good for most people: wear and tear on your joints and muscles from all that impact, the tendency for most runners to run in inclement weather or bad air quality conditions endangering life & limb… those are just my top two points. I could go on to mention the nagging sense that you always need to run more, run harder, run further, longer, more regularly… blah blah blah. Getting exercise is key, I think — what kind of exercise is right for you is more of a personal thing and there’s no magic bullet for everyone.

    Personally, I’m a big fan of walking — just plain, old one-foot-in-front-of-the-other walking or hiking. I can walk or hike for hours without complaint or any lingering pains the next day. There’s just something pleasing to me, too, about the pace of walking and the ability you have to observe the world around you and also clear your thoughts and relax — all while exercising! I have friends who run — some who used to run, some who still run, some who constantly aspire to run but keep quitting and re-starting. I don’t try to discourage them or belittle them in any way, but I don’t envy their experience, honestly. I’d rather hear birds singing and observe nature than have my iPod pulsing in my ears to drown out the sound of my heartbeat revving up to a fever pitch.

    I think what appeals to a lot of people about running is the adrenaline rush of the “runner’s high”, maybe it’s also the goal-oriented nature of it, too. It’s not for me, though!

    • 18 September 2012 at 2:34 pm #

      Well, I’ll certainly never be fanatical about it, and it seems silly to me to risk life and limb on a healthy endeavor, so no worries there. There are times, however, when a quick run is all I can fit in. Believe me, I’d much rather do the same distance on a peaceful mountainside somewhere, but I don’t always have that luxury. I do love a good walk, though.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  6. 18 September 2012 at 1:54 pm #

    Well – I’m a runner, so I suppose I can chime in if you’d like. In my estimation, the hardest part of running has nothing to do with fitness and everything to do with mindset. One of my tricks to making myself actually run the distance I’ve set out to run is to do an out and back or a long loop (i.e. nothing that you have to run “laps” of, otherwise you can quit whenever and be right back where you started). If you go out 1.5 miles, you have to come back 1.5 miles – running or walking. And I’m impatient, so I find that I run. Same with a 3 mile loop. Once you get going, you’ve got to get back somehow – might as well go forward and go fast so you’re done more quickly.

    I’m also uber-competitive and running is one of those things where I can try to kick my own ass.

    Finally, I make the best running mixes ever. EVER. You have to like 90’s (and current) hip hop and R&B or random Van Halen. Preferably both though. But if you do…

    Oh, and if you just don’t like running, that’s fine too.

    • 18 September 2012 at 2:38 pm #

      Funny – I had a route mapped out that forced me to do 3 miles if I wanted to get home without calling a cab. They’ve torn up the sidewalk along it, though, so that one’s out until they finish the work. I liked that one, though, because I couldn’t stop 2/3 of the way through (I mean I could stop running, but I still had to get home, so the distance was covered no matter what).

      And I don’t listen to music when I run.

      Wait, maybe that’s the problem….

  7. 18 September 2012 at 5:21 pm #

    I am a runner. Not a title I ever thought i would carry, but am now super proud of. I ran my first 1/2 marathon last March. Six months before that I couldn’t run a mile to save my life. Set goals and reward your self. When I started, my goal was to run 3 miles w/o stopping. When I made it, I bought the pair of shoes I’d been looking at for 2 months. Same went for making it to 4, 5, 6, etc. Also, good music helps. Running for me isn’t just about exercise. It’s meditative too. Listen to good music and think about nothing, clear your head. Find good places to run with great stuff to look at. A running partner helps too, especially one who can run w/ comfortable silence and will keep you accountable.

    The fig cake looks great. I will have to try it.

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