Onigiri Recipe for Runners – An Alternative to Energy Gels

I’ve always been a sushi-lover, but never really put that and running together. Until I read Scott Jurek’s Eat and Run book that is. Onigiri, also known as o-musubi is essentially a rice ball, made from white rice and often wrapped in Nori seaweed. Traditionally the Onigiri recipes call for rice filled with pickled vegetable or any other salty or sour ingredient as a natural preservative. This particular Onigiri recipe (there isn’t much here to make it a real recipe) kept me from hitting the wall on two 50K’s so far and is quickly becoming my favorite food on a long run.

Onigiri Recipe

The first couple of months after I started running in January 2012, there wasn’t much need for food on my three mile “runs”. When I got to around 5 to 7 miles, I started carrying fig bars from Sprouts Farmers Market. At 10 miles I transitioned to Clif Bars which seemed to work until I bonked hard on an 22 mile run. This is really when I started paying close attention to food and hydration on long runs. So, on my very first ultra marathon, the Big Basin 50K, I made this Onigiri Recipe, packed it up in my SJ Ultra Vest and I can tell you this. It’s the most delicious thing to sink your teeth into right around mile 22.

Start with Sheet of Nori

Start with Sheet of Nori

Add Scoop of Sushi Rice

Add Scoop of Sushi Rice

I was most fascinated to read that the Marathon Monks of Mt. Hiei in Japan live on just Miso Soup and Rice when they run a marathon a day for 100 days a year for a 5 year stretch followed by 2 marathons per-day for 100 days the following year. And Miso is considered to improve endurance and strength amongst athletes. Okay, about the Onigiri recipe. I prefer making my own Sushi Rice instead of just plain jasmine rice in the Onigiri. The sugar and vinegar keeps the rice moist and makes it easier to ingest at mile 22 while your body is nearing carb depletion.

Add in the Miso Paste

Add in the Miso Paste

Onigiri Recipe

Onigiri Recipe

I buy the Organic Miso Paste from a local Japanese grocery store and it once survived three months in the fridge without going bad! Start with a sheet of Nori spread out on a flat surface. Place a spoon or handful of Sushi Rice in the Nori. You can also use your hand to roll the rice into a ball and make a dent to stuff it with Miso. In my case, I simply used a spoon to spread the Miso paste on top of the rice. I usually also add pickled cucumbers or radish to the mix. Fold the Nori sheets four ways to make a rectangle or a square. I make two or three of them the night before a race or a long training run and leave them in the fridge. The moisture from the rice makes the Nori a little sticky so it doesn’t come apart.

Have you tried making Onigiri? What home made food do you eat on long runs?







 
 

 

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  • A L

    I just started using onigiris too. I was inspired by Scott Jurek’s book but hadn’t stuck with it. Then I read feedzone portables and have been using it consistently for long training runs. Much more delicious than gels, bars, etc. especially the longer into the run!

    • http://freeradical.me/ kowsik

      AL, yeah, I love it too. My one gripe is that it was too dry on my recent, first 50 mile run. 8 hours into the run, it was hard for me to get this down. Works great on 50K’s though!

      • A L

        Yikes, did you make them the night before or morning of? I’m trying to figure out how to keep the rice moist. Maybe make it mushier to start with??

        • http://freeradical.me/ kowsik

          Unfortunately, the afternoon before since I had to drive up to the hotel. Maybe that’s why. It’s also possible that I just got tired of eating after pushing food down for 8 hours straight.