— If you’re training for a spring marathon, no doubt you’re
putting in some pretty long training runs by now. You’re
probably also becoming slightly obsessed not just with getting
in the required mileage — race day is coming up fast,
people! — but also with what you’re putting in your body
to fuel those exhausting, extended workouts.
poorly in the weeks leading up to an endurance event such as a
marathon, experts say, and your performance surely will
suffer. And let’s be honest: after all the sweat, energy and
tears you’re going to expend over the next two months, do
you really want to hit the wall short of the finish at Point
food choices can lead to an athlete feeling tired, peckish and
unable to train hard, which in turn can lead to a
disappointing race. To that end, the best source of energy for
long-distance runners are carbohydrates, which should make up
about 65 percent of your diet during training.
just not about fueling the body. Food plays an integral role
in the social aspect of running, too.
about it. How many times has a runner friend told you the best
part of her workout is going out for breakfast or lunch
afterwards with the people she’s just slogged through 10 or
15 miles with? And if you’re a runner yourself, isn’t each
workout fueled not just by Gatorade and Gu but by thoughts of
the tasty morsels that are going to make their way into your
stomach when the run’s (finally) over?
the usual catch-up questions — How’s the family? Pet?
Work? — conversation always turns to food," says Tracey
Serba, a Coraopolis, Pa., runner who is training for the UPMC
Health Plan Pittsburgh Half Marathon with the Elite Runners
group. "Then the planning begins in earnest for the
post-run chow down! Where shall we go? What shall I eat — in
her teammates shared so many recipes during last season’s
training period, she adds, that she was assumed to be a
gourmet cook. "Turns out she doesn’t really cook at
not just us amateurs who think this way.
foreword to "The Runner’s World Cookbook: 150 Ultimate
Recipes" (Rodale, Oct. 2013, $26.99), 2004 Olympic
Marathon bronze medalist (2:27:20) and U.S. women’s marathon
record-holder (2:19:36) Deena Kastor echoes the sentiment.
"I’m not only interested in food because of its effect
on training, but I’m also interested in it because of the
relationships it can help build with friends, teammates, and
family," she writes.
with your fellow trainees around the kitchen table or in a
local coffee shop to refuel after a hard run creates
fellowship in a sport that can have separate training regimens
for differing skill levels and, when all is said and done, is
defined by individual achievement. "And for me, those
relationships are everything," writes Kastor. "Yes,
training makes us better athletes, but not also without eating
good food that strengthens our bodies and the bonds with those
bonding and suffering with (the people you train with) so
naturally you want to eat with them as a reward … it just
carries over," agrees Pittsburgh Marathon’s in-house
dietitian Nick Fischer, who specializes in sports nutrition
and also is a competitive athlete (he races with Freddie Fu’s
mark, get set, eat!
said, some foods are better than others when it comes to the
recovery process. A daily diet full of whole grains, fruits,
vegetables, lean protein and only the occasional sweet will
ensure that your muscles have enough fuel when you hit the
general rule after a long run, Fischer said, is to eat a
300-to-400-calorie snack/meal comprised of carbohydrates and
protein in the 4:1 ratio within the first 30 to 60 minutes.
That is, 4 grams of carbohydrates for every 1 gram of
you’ve run for two hours, you’ve used a lot of your
glycogen stores," he explains, "and if you don’t
replenish them, when you go out to train the next day, you won’t
have the energy."
post-workout reset your blood-sugar levels to normal and help
shuttle protein and nutrients to the muscle cells.
reason you need to eat those carb-heavy calories fairly
quickly is that your body is most receptive to receiving carbs,
converting them into glycogen and storing the glycogen in the
muscles within the first hour or so after exercise. Some
studies, in fact, have shown that muscles store two to three
times more glycogen during this period than during a meal
eaten several hours after a workout.
you’re not hungry at the finish? Low-fat chocolate milk is
one of the best recovery drinks out there to tide you over
until your appetite returns, said Fischer, and you don’t
even have to worry too much about the added sugar.
need a bit of protein to help repair the microtears your
muscles endure during training and stimulate the development
of new tissue, but not too much or it will start to slow the
digestion of carbs.
words, that big plate of scrambled eggs with corned-beef hash
and toast is a no-no, whereas pancakes are a definite yes.
recipe for such is the pumpkin pancakes (see recipe below).
Made with whole-wheat flour and canned pumpkin to eliminate
oil and cut the fat, a serving of four small pancakes has just
256 calories. And because it meets the 4:1 ratio (12 grams of
carbs and 3 grams of protein) and is low on fiber, you’ll
avoid the dreaded post-run stomachache. Plus, it’s perfect
healthful options could be something as simple as a bowl of
oatmeal with some fruit on top, pumpkin or tomato soup with a
piece of bread for dunking, or a plate of pasta minus the
City Road Runners head coach John Kissel, an ultra-marathoner
who typically logs between 50 and 75 miles a week, likes to
refuel after long runs simply, with a plate of brown rice,
black beans, vegetables and some kind of protein.
need food in its whole form," he says. "You want to
make sure you get the right kind of nutrients to accelerate
the recovery process."
and not stuff yourself silly with a gazillion calories.
easier than you might think to gain weight during marathon
training, and not just because all that muscle you’re
building weighs more than fat. The average person eats only
three additional calories for every 10 calories burned through
exercise, and so the average runner loses weight during
marathon training, notes Matt Fitzgerald, co-author of
"Racing Weight Cookbook: Lean, Light Recipes for
Athletes" (Velo Press, Jan. 2014, $19.23).
exercise causes a much larger appetite increase in some
people, and "some are also susceptible to a reward
mentality that causes them to celebrate completed runs by
eating big portions of unhealthy food treats," he says.
These folks actually may gain weight during marathon training.
you’re burning more calories. "But it’s not a good
idea for a runner (especially a relative beginner) to have a
mindset that says, ‘Because I’m burning X calories per day
through running, I can (or should) eat an extra X calories per
runner who does this is likely to burn fewer calories than
s/he thinks, eat more calories than s/he thinks, make poor
food choices, and gain weight," Fitzgerald said.
to avoiding this situation is to maintain a good diet. It’s
OK to eat more when you’re exercising more as long as you
are choosing high-quality foods such as vegetables, fish and
whole grains instead of low-quality foods such as sweets and
fried foods, he says. One of his favorite post-workout meals,
for example, is a whole-wheat bagel with cream cheese, lox,
red onions and capers (washed down with fresh-squeezed orange
juice). You also have to be mindful of the difference between
"head hunger and belly hunger, satiety and being
no small bit of info: According to Competitor magazine, a
typical runner who sheds just 1 pound of body fat could see a
one-minute improvement in his or her marathon time without any
change in fitness.
can be kept refrigerated for up to 5 days. And pancakes can be
frozen and reheated.
reduced-fat milk, or skim milk
pureed pumpkin, canned works fine
teaspoons baking soda
teaspoon vanilla extract
hand beater, beat eggs until fluffy. Then beat in all other
ingredients until smooth. Using a hot, nonstick skillet (if
not you may need to add butter or oil, not included in
nutrition facts) pour enough batter (about 2 tablespoons) into
the skillet to make a 4-inch pancake. Cook until bubbles
appear on the surface, flip, and cook another 1 to 2 minutes
or until done. Serve hot. Top with fresh fruit, fruit puree or
per pancake: 64 calories, 12 grams carbohydrates, 1.6
grams fiber, 3 grams protein, .8 grams total fat
Fischer, Fischer Nutrition
BEAN BURRITO WITH AVOCADO AND YOGURT-LIME SAUCE
recipe calls for 4 tortillas but I got 6 burritos out of the
egg mixture. Great to wrap in foil as a to-go breakfast.
low-fat Greek-style yogurt
tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
onion, cut into small dice
jalapeno chile pepper, cut into small dice
teaspoon ground cumin
can black beans, drained and rinsed
mixed with a fork
shredded Monterey jack or cheddar cheese
salsa or pico de gallo
small bowl, mix together the yogurt and lime juice.
large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and chile
pepper and cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes, or until
cumin and beans and stir. When the beans are hot, add the eggs
and cook until fluffy, stirring with a fork. Season with salt.
Turn of heat.
tortillas for 1 to 2 minutes in a dry pan over medium heat, or
place them under the broiler until they puff. Lay out
tortillas and divide the egg mixture evenly among them. Top
with an even amount of the cheese, avocado and yogurt mixture.
Roll up and top with salsa or pico de gallo.
445 calories, 47 grams carbohydrates
Runner’s World Cookbook: 150 Ultimate Recipes" (Rodale,
Oct. 2013, $26.99 or $9.24 Kindle edition)
AND SPICY GINGER-PEANUT NOODLES WITH CUCUMBERS AND TAT SOI
as it’s whole grain, pasta is a great recovery dish for
runners because it contains easily digestible carbs that help
you restock spent glycogen (energy) stores. You can make this
easy peanut sauce ahead, though you won’t want to dress the
noodles until just before serving. For added protein, toss
with cooked, shredded chicken or top with a sliced hard-boiled
toasted sesame oil
low-sodium soy sauce
smooth peanut butter
tablespoons pure maple syrup
tablespoons minced fresh ginger
tablespoon rice vinegar
tablespoon fresh lemon juice
teaspoons minced fresh garlic
teaspoon Asian chili-garlic paste
whole-grain or whole-wheat thin spaghetti or angel hair
3 to 4
cups tat soi leaves, or any other baby green, washed and dried
cucumber, peeled, halved, seeded and cut crosswise thinly
(about 11/2 cups)
processor, combine sesame oil, soy sauce, peanut butter, maple
syrup, ginger, rice vinegar, lemon juice, garlic and
chili-garlic paste. Process until well mixed and smooth,
scraping down sides once or twice. It will be emulsified but
fairly liquidy. Refrigerate dressing if not using right away.
pasta in a large pot of salted water, following package
directions. Drain (but don’t rinse) the pasta and let it sit
in the strainer, tossing occasionally, until it’s no longer
hot and wet, 15 to 20 minutes. It should be bouncy but sticky.
pasta in mixing bowl and season with ¼ teaspoon salt. Add
most of the greens and all of the cucumbers. Drizzle with
about 7 to 8 tablespoons of the dressing and mix well. Taste
and add more dressing if necessary. Serve at room temperature,
garnished with the remaining greens.
from the Farm" by Susie Middleton (Taunton, Feb. 2014,
rejuvenates and restores both body and soul like a bowl of
homemade chicken soup. This version gets a healthy upgrade
with quick-cooking quinoa, a super grain that’s a source of
complete protein. High in carbs, it’s especially good for
runners looking to restock their energy stores after a tough
workout; the amino acids in the chicken also will help rebuild
broken-down muscle tissue. In other words, perfect for
Pittsburgh Marathon’s Runners of Steel.
teaspoons canola oil
boneless chicken thighs, thinly sliced
chicken broth, homemade or canned
teaspoons fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried
ground black pepper
oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion and carrots.
Cook, stirring frequently, for 6 minutes. Add chicken,
mushrooms, celery and garlic. Cook, stirring frequently, for 5
broth, water, quinoa and thyme. Season to taste with salt and
pepper. Raise the heat to high and bring soup to a boil.
Reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes, or until quinoa
is tender. Ladle into bowls and top with parsley and hot
sauce, is using.
214 calories, 18 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams fiber, 19 grams
protein, 7 grams total fat
Runner’s World Cookbook: 150 Ultimate Recipes" (Rodale,
Oct. 2013, $26.99 or $9.24 Kindle edition)
FARRO CAKES, TWO WAYS
a healthy, whole grain that dates back to biblical times. It’s
a great source of vitamins and nutrients, as well as protein
and fiber. Here, it’s molded into pancakes with breadcrumbs,
egg and shredded zucchini.
cups shredded zucchini (about 1 pound)
teaspoon kosher salt
cooked and cooled farro
onions, white and light green parts, finely chopped (about 3
tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
bread crumbs (I used panko)
tablespoons white whole-wheat flour or standard whole-wheat
tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more if needed
egg or Herbed Goat Cheese and Slow-Roasted Tomatoes (recipe
bowl, toss zucchini with ½ teaspoon salt and set aside for 8
to 10 minutes. Drain by squeezing zucchini in cheesecloth or a
fine-weave kitchen towel. When finished, you should be left
with about 11/2 cups of relatively dry shredded zucchini.
large bowl, combine farro, eggs, remaining ½ teaspoon salt,
green onions, parsley, thyme, bread crumbs, flour, garlic and
zucchini. Stir well and let stand for 5 minutes. Knead the
mixture a few times with your hands, then form 3-inch patties,
about ¾-inch thick, and place on a plate to await cooking.
large plate with paper towels. Pour olive oil into a large
heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat. Once oil is hot and
almost shimmering, put 4 of the patties in the pan and cook
until bottom is golden brown, about 4 minutes. Flip and cook
the second side for 3 to 4 minutes. Place cooked cakes on the
lined plate to drain any excess oil. Repeat with remaining
patties, adding a little extra oil as needed between batches
if the cakes begin to stick.
or 2 pancakes on a plate and top with a fried egg or a
generous dollop of herbed boat cheese and a spoonful of
to 12 cakes.
Mornings: New Breakfast Recipes to Span the Seasons" by
Megan Gordon (Ten Speed, Dec. 2013, $22)
soft goat cheese
teaspoons chopped fresh chives
teaspoon chopped fresh dill
teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon
grinds of black pepper
ingredients except milk in a small bowl and use the back of a
spoon to mash the herbs into the cheese. Add milk and stir
vigorously to soften the cheese.
and so easy! They’re also delicious with scrambled eggs or
tossed with pasta.
tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
teaspoon kosher salt
grinds of black pepper
oven to 250 degrees. Arrange tomatoes on a baking sheet and
drizzle with olive oil so each tomato is covered nicely.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake until tomatoes become
shriveled, a bit browned on the edges, and incredibly soft and
juicy, about 2 hours. Stir every hour or so to ensure they’re
still covered in olive oil.
about 1 cup.
have to be vegan to enjoy this simple morning porridge made
with oat bran, just someone who’s looking for a nutritious
dish to kick-start your day. Oat bran contains about 50
percent more fiber than oatmeal, making it more effective at
lowering cholesterol and helping digestion. It also has more
protein, calcium and iron.
recipe is sweetened with cherries, vanilla and just a small
amount of sugar. Almonds add crunch.
WITH CHERRIES & ALMONDS
cups oat bran
fresh or thawed frozen cherries
teaspoons vanilla extract
tablespoons (1/2 ounce) almonds, slivered
saucepan, bring water to boil over medium-high heat. Add oat
bran and cook uncovered until mixture begins to thicken, 5 to
10 minutes. Stir periodically to keep oat bran from sticking
to the pan.
oats are cooking, cut each cherry in half and remove pit with
a paring knife.
oat bran with salt, vanilla and sugar and stir to blend.
Remove from heat and divide between two bowls. Top with
cherries and almonds and a splash of your favorite milk, if
422 calories, 10 grams fat, 74 grams total carbohydrate, 13
grams dietary fiber, 15 grams protein.
Weight Cookbook: Lean, Light Recipes for Athletes" by
Matt Fitzgerald and Georgie Fear (Velo Press, January
the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette at