Last year, Noel and I had a temporary lapse in sanity and signed up to run an ultra marathon. There were things about it we expected to be hard – running that far, finding time to run that far, dealing with the physical consequences of running that far. One of the things we didn’t anticipate though, was how difficult it would be to fuel our bodies.
As it turns out, ultra running is really just an eating and drinking competition that takes place while running. I’ve always had a jittery pre-run stomach and have found it difficult to eat before a run, so this was particularly challenging for me. After a lot of experimentation I found something that was filling and easy on my stomach: Oatmeal. Really, oatmeal isn’t a secret when it comes to endurance athletes. Many elites even have their own special pre-race recipe. It’s also a really great backpacking meal (or car camping) for many of the same reasons, plus it’s lightweight. We eat oatmeal for at least one breakfast of every camping/backpacking trip.
You may be tempted to just buy oatmeal packets, but they aren’t nearly as filling or delicious in my opinion. The times we have used store bought packets, everyone has to eat multiple to feel full and it seems like we get hungry really quickly. Almost all of the dehydrated backpacking food brands make oatmeal which is probably more filling than the packets you can get at the grocery store, but they’re pricey and completely unnecessary. Making your own is really easy and infinitely customizable. You can add protein in there with nuts or nut butters, sweetness with fruit, jam, or if you are feeling really wild – chocolate. Feel free to go crazy with the toppings and make it your own! If we are car camping we will often set up a whole variety of options, kind of like an oatmeal buffet, but if we are backpacking we narrow the options to keep things light.
- 2 C Quick Oats
- 3/4 C Powdered Milk
- 2-4 TBSP Brown Sugar Depending on desired sweetness, optional
- Nut Butter
- Jam, Jelly, Marmalade
- Dried or fresh fruit
- Mix oats, powdered milk, and brown sugar (if using) together. You can put all the ingredients into one large zip top bag, or divide it between four individual small bags if you want individual servings.
- At camp, boil 1/2 C of water for every serving. (If making the full recipe, that would be a total of 2 C.) Add the boiling water to the oatmeal and stir until fully absorbed. Add toppings as desired.