Practice indulgent nourishment

What was your nutrition strategy when you were running at UNC?

There was a ton of misinformation about dieting trends, with many people embracing low-fat everything. I suffered many stress fractures and didn't get my period for years. When that happened, coaches would suggest going on hormonal birth control, which didn't address the root dietary problem. I didn't realize I needed to be eating more whole foods and healthy fats to support my training.

Now you place an emphasis on what you call “indulgent nourishment.” What does that mean to you? 

You don’t have to count calories or macros. You can have really rich, delicious foods that make eating actually enjoyable. By embracing healthy fats, like coconut milk in soups, you’ll feel more satiated. That will help fuel performance and allow ‘race weight’ to come naturally, without deprivation. Cooking homemade meals doesn’t have to be complicated and it’s one of the best things you can do for your health.

What are your top three tips for meal prep? 

Take a knife skills class. You will save a ton of time if you learn how to chop efficiently. Then invest in a really good knife and remember to get it sharpened by a professional every couple of months, unless you trust yourself to sharpen it with a stone. 

I also recommend buying an extra large wooden cutting board so you can chop all of your veggies in one go. I like to place a kitchen towel underneath the board so it doesn’t move.

Mason jars are also a must; the smaller half-pint ones are great for things like pesto and hummus, while the bigger ones can store leftover soup. Just make sure to get the freezer-safe ones with a wide mouth. Those with a curved lip will burst in the freezer.

You’re a proponent for buying local over organic. Why?

Smaller farms can’t necessarily afford to get an organic certification, but they still use really good agricultural practices. For example, here in Oregon, they might spray the blueberry bushes early in the season, but once the fruit comes, they stop spraying. Mass-production farms that can afford to be organic often ship their products halfway around the world. They also tend to have more depleted soil mass. Both factors contribute to the loss of mineral content. You can really tell the difference in taste when you buy local, and the food is far more nutrient dense.

Do you even prioritize whole foods for long-run fuel? 

I find I can’t tolerate sports products that have a lot of sugar, so I’ll make an energy squeeze from Run Fast. Cook Fast. Eat Slow. that combines mashed sweet potato with chopped dates, chia seeds, and a pinch of sea salt. You can also sweeten it with a touch of molasses, a good source of iron and minerals like magnesium and calcium.

Do you have any other pre-run nutrition tips?

Every Sunday I make a big batch of lemon gingerade, also from our second cookbook.

To prepare it, bring four cups of water to a boil, then add a tea ball full of grated ginger. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for fifteen minutes. Remove the tea ball, stir in one-quarter cup fresh lemon juice, two tablespoons honey, and a pinch of sea salt if desired. This makes three servings.

The beverage helps you absorb electrolytes and stay hydrated. Its slightly sweet flavor is super satisfying and encourages me to drink water through the winter, when I don’t crave it. You can chill it in the fridge and serve over ice, but on a really cold day, I’ll drink it warm.

Where do you love to run in Oregon?

Bend is really a runner’s mecca. I love Shevlin Park (although in the winter it can be a bit of a skating rink), Tumalo Falls, Smith Rock, and Green Lakes in the summer.

Do you have any big goals for 2020? 

My kids, Lily and Rylan, were born a few years apart (when I was busy working on the cookbooks) and it has affected my strength. I really want to dedicate this year to building it back up. Among other things, I plan to do the pelvic floor exercises I should have been doing before. I have actually never run a marathon, so I’m hoping to do my first one for my fortieth birthday in two years. Shalane said she would coach me. 

We are also working on a new book, Rise and Run, which will include breakfast recipes and more. It’s going to be completely different from what we’ve done before.

This interview has been edited and condensed for publication.

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