‘If I don’t run, I don’t feel like me.’

‘Without my daily runs, I get anxious and jittery.’

‘Running keeps me sane.’


If you’ve ever spent time with those annoying running addicts, you’ve probably heard it all. Confession: I’m one of them. And all of the above applies to me, too.

Aside from the obvious physical benefits (and occasional discomfort), running offers me even more mental advantages. A good run disentangles thoughts and calms down. Something I’d get worked up about suddenly seems trivial after a good jog.

I’ve been running for the past 10+ years, but I don’t know what got into me lately. Somehow I find myself training for my second marathon. After the Rotterdam edition last year, apparently it’s time for the Rome one. Different course, different sights, same distance (42,2 km/26-ish miles), albeit with significantly more hills.

There’s running and there’s marathoning. Two extremely different things, I found out when I was training in the dreary Dutch winter last year. I learnt how to listen to and trust my body, that it is so, so much stronger than I ever thought possible.

But, by far the most valuable lesson from marathon training: It’s all about the journey.

That sounds trite, I know, but it’s just true. If I picture the entire course that’s still ahead until I reach home or worse, if I picture myself already being home with some hot chocolate, the run will take forever. I will get bored, hungry, and cold. If I instead decide to focus on the surroundings (such as the magnificent tree-and-ruin-lined Via Appia Antica), the sun, my favorite running songs, and my wandering thoughts, I’ll have a ball.

For a goal-oriented person like me, this is quite challenging. In life I’m always planning the next adventure, eager to find out what’s next. Finishing the marathon is the ultimate goal, of course, but in the mean time it’s good to enjoy every single one of those 42,2 kilometers.

Oatmeal-peanut butter balls

Makes about 20 balls

My friend Kathy, a seven-time marathon runner and incredible coach, gave me this recipe. I adapted it, and I encourage you to make your own version. Add all sorts of deliciousness, seeds, nuts, raisins, a bit of honey, cocoa powder, anything! They’re little energy bombs that will keep you full for a long time. Another thing I learnt from marathon training is that you’ll be perpetually hungry!

  • ¾ – 1 cup uncooked oatmeal (rolled)
  • 1 banana
  • 3 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
  • 1 pocket vanilla sugar
  • 3 tablespoons shredded dried coconut

Use a blender to finely grind the oatmeal. Mash the banana (I use the blender as well). Stir the oatmeal, banana, peanut butter and vanilla together until smooth. If the ‘dough’ is too sticky, add some more oatmeal. Using a teaspoon for measure, form lumps from the dough and shape them into balls.

Spread the coconut on a plate and roll each ball in it until fully covered with flakes.
Store the balls in the fridge, eat within 1-2 days.


Author Irene

More posts by Irene

Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • Sarah May says:

    Ciao Irene, these look AMAZING!! Instead og the vanilla sugar why not throw in some dates? I make date coconut balls for energy, I think I will try these though. Maybe with some raw cacao powder. YUMMY!!

  • Josee says:

    Thank you for this recipe! I omitted the sugar but added vanilla. I added dates, wheat germ and flax and rolled them in a mix of cocoa and cinnamon powder.

    My son and his team mates devoured these before a hockey game. They loved them! Thank you!

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