Years ago, I used to be a runner. And by "runner" I mean I used to jog a few kilometres on a relatively regular basis during the summer months, and sometimes in fall and spring. I was on the cross country team a few times, but basically anyone who could run three km without passing out or vomiting could be on the team. I wasn't half bad myself, probably for those reasons. I could jog several kilometres without stopping and usually managed to muster a sprint at the very end, and I never came absolutely last, but I never progressed much beyond the average jogger.
A few years back, though, I started going for longer jogs than before, up to 13.5 km, which, to me, was like a miracle. I even began to almost enjoy it, which was even more miraculous. Running, though I'd done it for years, was never a pleasant experience. I did it for the high at the end, the feeling of accomplishment, the "Look! I put my body through all this pain and lived!" And of course I did it because it was exercise, it required minimum gear, and I didn't have to pay for a membership to get myself out on the road at some ungodly hour and pound the pavement.
All was going well, and I was even thinking of training to run a half marathon, but then I made the very bad mistake of going out for a long run just twenty minutes after eating. Despite the severe cramps that made me feel like I was getting knifed through the intestines, I stubbornly stuck to my route. Eventually, however, I had to acknowledge the reality of my situation, but resolutely believed that I could make it in time to the beach near the end of my route where there were public washrooms. When I got to the beach, nearly crippled with pain, I half ran, half hobbled up to the washrooms like a maimed dwarf, and desperately pulled on the door. It was locked.
Suffice to say, I ended up in the bushes, hugging a tree, praying that the plants around me weren't poisonous and nothing would bite me, and hoping no nearby cabin residents would be possessed with the need to go for a jaunt in the woods. It was a traumatizing and humiliating experience, and I don't think my body was able to forgive me that summer. The few times I tried to run after that, I was seized with terrible cramps, and my mind was transported back to that moment of horror outside the washroom door, when I would have held a baby at gunpoint for a roll of Charmin.
After that, I basically stopped running. I started lifting weights and opted to go for short sprints on the treadmill and bike rides instead. This summer, however, I thought I decided to try running again and see if my body could handle being put through the major sweat-inducing, lung burning, side cramp triggering activity again. And miraculously, I managed to run 10 km without puking, crying, or even curling into the fetal position at the end of it. I've been trying to incorporate more bike rides as well, but I find that, at the end of a long run or bike ride, I generally feel like my limbs are going to jellify, making everyday activities such as removing one's shoes a new and extreme challenge. And all I want, in those moments, as I'm struggling to untie my shoelaces and not fall over, is something really cold and refreshing to drink. Or inject electrolytes into my veins. I crave something cold and reviving, but minus the sugar and funky flavouring of gatorade, which kind of tastes like a liquid slushie. Which would be cool. If I was five, and digesting a pound of sugar was still a possibility for me.
So I came up with this drink, inspired by this recipe. I made this stuff last year and, because I'm intelligent, sampled it in its undiluted form, an experience which is essentially akin to being kicked in the throat. This stuff, thanks to the orange juice, is not quite so powerfully gingery, but I do warn you, it will deliver a mild to medium punch to your throat, so adjust the ratio of ginger to orange juice to your tastes.
Refreshing Orange Ginger Punch
This drink is sweet, thanks to the orange juice, but not overly so. It would also make for a great mix, with your choice of liquor or even just club soda.
1 large Ginger Root
1 cup Water
3 - 4 cups Orange Juice (not from concentrate)*
1. Peel the ginger root. I find using a small spoon is the easiest way to take the skin off - it gets into all the nooks and crannies the way a knife or peeler can't.
2. Cut peeled ginger root into large chunks, place in a blender or food processor, add water, and blend for at least one minute.
3. Pour the ginger pulp into a mesh sieve place over a bowl, and squeeze as much liquid from the pulp as you can. (I find pressing down with a silicone spatula works really well). Once you've strained the ginger, dispose of the pulp.
4. Add the orange juice to the ginger juice and mix well. If necessary, add more orange juice to your tastes. Transfer to a pitcher. Shake or stir well before serving.
*Feel free to use fresh squeezed orange juice. If you own a juicer, I would definitely recommend it.