I recently shared a week of Boston Marathon fueling on Competitor, in which I logged everything I ate during a normal heavy week of training. Since there wasn’t room to include pictures of every meal, I thought I’d follow up with a photo gallery and some notes that correspond with that article.
Below is what my food intake looked like from Monday, March 18 through Sunday, March 24. As I mentioned, this doesn’t include the 1-2 cups of coffee I drink per day, the glass of milk I drink before bed most nights, or the many small morsels I nibble on while preparing meals and passing by the pantry. Beyond Monday, it also doesn’t show the glass of orange juice with ferrous sulfate (liquid iron) I drink with dinner each night.
A few notes on the food above:
- Oatmeal: I usually make my oatmeal in big batches (2-4 servings) so I can dig in right after a morning run. If I’m home, I typically zap it in the microwave for 1-2 minutes, but it’s also good cold (especially in the warmer months). When I know I won’t be reheating it, I like to take it out of the fridge 1-2 hours before eating. When I’m on top of it, I soak my rolled oats in milk and/or water overnight because apparently it makes them more digestible. A good rule of thumb is 1 part oats : 2 parts liquid. At that stage, I also add a mix of ground flax, hemp seeds, chia seeds, and salt. Once the oats are fully cooked, then I add all the toppings I mentioned in Competitor.
- Produce: My fruit and vegetable intake increases significantly when I take the time to wash and chop up a variety. A whole pineapple isn’t nearly as convenient to snack on as, say, an apple or banana, but when it’s ready for me in bite-sized chunks in the fridge, I will put it down! Same goes for veggies like chopped and massaged kale; roasted brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and broccoli; and carrot sticks.
- Beef and other sources of iron: Because female distance runners are particularly vulnerable to anemia (iron deficiency), I make a point to eat red meat a few times every week. I also incorporate as many other iron-rich foods such as dark leafy greens, beans, lentils, and chicken into my diet. On top of that, I take ferrous sulfate (pure liquid iron) with orange juice (which boosts absorption) with dinner every night, as I have since college. Even though I’ve always had relatively high iron levels, I still get bloodwork done regularly to stay on top of it.
- Nuts and seeds: I can’t remember the last time I didn’t eat at least a few servings of nuts and/or seeds in a day. By the time I go to bed, I’ve usually had 4-6 different types, either in raw, roasted, or butter form. My favorites, which I try to stay stocked with, are peanuts, almonds, cashews, walnuts, pecans, pistachios, pepitas, and sunflower seeds.
- Dairy: Unlike many people these days, I am not on the dairy-free train. I grew up on skim milk and yogurt, and those foods still feature prominently in my diet. While I’m careful to avoid dairy too close to a run, I almost always end my day with a serving of Greek yogurt mixed with fruit, nuts, coconut, honey (or other sweetener) and spices. My favorite combo is pistachios, dried figs, coconut, cinnamon, and honey.
- Eggs: If you couldn’t tell from the photos, I love eggs! Most of my lunches feature 1-2 eggs, either scrambled or fried. Beyond being protein and nutrient powerhouses, eggs are filling, delicious, and an instant upgrade to almost any meal.
- Pre-workout / pre-race: For the last 15 years, I’ve eaten the same meal before every race and the majority of workouts (the exceptions being some early weekday sessions when I don’t have enough time to eat and digest a full meal beforehand). Whether I’m racing a 3,000-meter steeplechase, a 6K cross-country race, or a full marathon, my pre-race meal consists of a bagel (blueberry, cinnamon-raisin, or plain), a banana, and a drizzle of honey. It fills me up, settles well, keeps me satisfied for a few hours, and seems to provide the right amount of energy.
- Energy bars: I was plowing through Clif Bars long before I entered into a relationship with the company in 2015. Since then, they’ve expanded their product line significantly, and I’ve found bars that serve me for every situation: post-easy run, post-long run, pre-run, afternoon snack, nighttime snack, etc. I try to stick to one bar a day so that my meals aren’t compromised, but (like Saturday) sometimes two slip in the lineup. My go-tos right now are the new Sweet & Salty Clif Bars.
- Workout fluids: For my last 3 marathons, I’ve been fueling workouts and races with Sword. I love all 4 flavors: orange, berry, apple, and ginger (my #1) and find that my stomach tolerates it better than most drinks I’ve tried. Instructions call for 1 tablespoon mixed with 20 ounces of water, but I usually go a little heavier on the mix since my energy needs are so high in marathon training.
That’s it in a nutshell!