How did you become a runner? I was a bit overweight in middle school due to a combination of bad eating habits (Burger King everyday!) and not being active. At the beginning of high school, I became involved in extracurricular activities and eventually joined the track & field team. As I mentioned in my About Me page, at first I wasn’t able to run very far or fast. As a freshman, I remember worrying about being able to complete a 400m (.25 mile) race! As the years went by, I slowly built up mileage and confidence and recently finished my second marathon (26.2 miles). My advice is to start slow, build mileage gradually, and enjoy the process.
How many miles do you run each day? My daily mileage varies greatly. During marathon training, my long runs got up to 20 miles. However on easy days, I would only run 3 miles. Now that I’m taking a post-marathon rest, I’m trying out other activities (like yoga!)
What kind of marathon training program did you follow? My running buddy and I just kind of made up our own plan. It basically consisted of increasing distance long runs on Sundays, medium-long runs or workouts on Tuesdays/Thursdays, and easy runs or rest for the other days. I made an excel sheet with my daily mileage plan, so I will try to post it!
Where do usually run? This past winter I did 75% of my training in Central Park, but sometimes I run in my neighborhood (northern Manhattan) or very rarely on a treadmill.
Do you do any strength training? Yes, but probably not as much as I should! I practice yoga about once a week and I do 3 sets of 10 push-ups and core work (crunches, etc) a few times a week.
How many calories do you eat per day? I don’t count calories, but sometimes I estimate to make sure I’m getting enough. On light exercise days I probably eat around 2,000 calories and on long run days it’s closer to 2,500-3,000. Everyone has different calorie needs – some need less, some need more – depending on age/gender/activity level. I know a lot of athletes (myself included) struggle with eating enough to properly fuel their training. I recently read Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook and I found it to be very insightful and practical. She backed up her writing with plenty of research and studies. Beyond advocating a balanced diet full of fruits, veggies, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and lean protein – Nancy really emphasizes the importance of carbohydrates for endurance athletes. I highly recommend the book!
What do you typically eat in a day? Breakfast always includes coffee with milk, a calcium supplement, and some kind of fruit. Depending on the day I’ll add yogurt, oatmeal, dry cereal, or a small bagel with peanut butter. Lunch is usually a salad from the cafeteria – lots of vegetables, feta cheese, beans, hardboiled egg whites, whole wheat croutons, and balsamic viniagrette. Yum! In the afternoons I’ll have a snack of greek yogurt with dried fruit/nuts, an energy bar, or sometimes dark chocolate :-) Dinner is usually rather late and it depends on the day – it might be rice and beans, mac and cheese with veggies, toast with peanut butter & banana, takeout from the Whole Foods salad bar ($$$), or something more homemade and elaborate if it’s the weekend! And I have a sweet tooth, so you can always count on a few cookies for dessert :-)
What are your favorite foods? I love greek yogurt, apples, peanut butter & raspberry jam on toast, any type of legume (beans and nuts!), crinkle cut french fries, ice cream, and cookies.
What’s the best meal you ever had? Hmm, this is a tough one. I think my most memorable food experience was with my Italian professor in Italy. She took us to a place called Teatro del Sale in Florence for lunch and it was AMAZING! The restaurant operates like a private eating club, but a year long membership only cost a few Euros for students. The dishes just kept on coming out of the kitchen – I was thoroughly stuffed after the first course, but everything just tasted SO delicious that I just had to try everything.
How can I eat well without breaking the bank? See my post about Cheap Eats - focus on inexpensive proteins like dried beans, peanut butter, and eggs. And buy produce in season! Local apples will taste better and cost less than raspberries from Chile! Also, the more food prep that you do at home, the more money you can save. For example, soaking and cooking your own beans takes more time, but it’s very cost effective. Finally, check out weekly sale circulars and use coupons. It’s the only way that I can afford Whole Foods :-)
I work long hours and don’t have time to prepare healthy food. Any advice? If you have time on the weekends, cook up a big batch of rice & beans, hard boiled eggs, lasagna, stew, or other tasty dish. Enjoy the meal for dinner on Sunday and then pack up the leftovers for the week ahead. Rice and beans can be eaten with roasted veggies one night, turned into burritos the next night, and added to bulk up a soup on the third night. Hardboiled eggs can be a quick breakfast, a salad topper, or an egg salad sandwich. And if you have to grab something quick – fast food restaurants are offering some decent options these days. Try an egg McMuffin or a fruit & yogurt parfait from McDonalds or a veggie sub from subway. You can even make a healthy choice at a convenience store – try mixed nuts, low fat milk, a box of raisins, or some pretzels.
Disclaimer: I am not a registered dietician. The information on this blog is only a reflection of my personal experience and knowledge.