Running for Cheese


As some of you know, over the last two years I have made an attempt to balance out my outrageous amount of pork belly consumption by training for a marathon. For the most part, I’ve used this as an excuse to eat as much food as I want to, but with the New York City Marathon just around the corner this weekend, I’ve actually been taking it easy on the eating and drinking front, trying to do the right thing for at least the week leading up to the race. So when I went to pick up my bib and other materials at the marathon expo yesterday, I was pleased to receive an “Insiders Guide” tucked in the official marathon “Start Village Bag.” It includes a nutrition section with lots of helpful tips about what to eat before the race. This one caught my eye:

For breakfast, a “great option is bread or a bagel with two ounce of Grana Padano.”

Oooh, what is this Grana Padano? Is this a new superfood I haven’t heard of, rich in antioxidants and run-fueling protein? Better make sure I get some before the run! The guide goes on:

After the race, “Good choices include salty soups, tomato juice, pickles, Grana Padano, and fresh fruit.” There are also three recipes for Grana Padano meals, along with a primer on how you should eat it while training: “mid morning: 1.5 ounce of Grana Padano and 1 sliced apple or pear….pre-evening run: 1 to 1.5 ounces of Grana Padano on 2 slices of whole-grain bread with sliced tomato…” and on and on and on. The best way to succeed at marathon running, according to this guide, is to eat Grana Padano morning, noon and night.

As you may have realized, Grana Padano is not a superfood, but merely a salty Italian cheese. Yes, according to this “insiders guide” the secret to succeeding at distance running is to eat cheese all effing day. Now, my first reaction was “what the eff have I been doing eating gross, chewy power bars, when cheese is actually the best thing for me?” My second reaction was: this is a scam.

Yes, I get that this is an advertisement. We have those here on Endless Simmer too. But here’s the thing: The New York City Marathon costs $266 for each runner to enter ($358 for foreign runners). It is actually called the “ING New York City Marathon” due to a lucrative sponsorship with a financial institution, and every inch of the race is covered in advertisements for various brands. Do they really, really need to accept advertisements (posed as editorial content) that tell runners to eat as much cheese as possible??

If I’m missing the point here, just let me know and I will gladly spend the next 48 hours cheese-loading.

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