Dimity McDowell: Fueling For Life

Dimity McDowell’s diet fueled her first long training run for the Pikes Peak Ascent recently. Photo: Dimity McDowell

If I’m going to write about food, you should know this: I don’t really enjoy cooking or even preparing food. I can make a mean fruit salad from scratch, and I can—and do—follow simple recipes, but I have no interest in following in Julia Child’s footsteps.

Which means I eat many of the same things in a week. (Which, by the way, is totally fine for my unrefined tastebuds.)

A typical Day

5 a.m.ish: Pre-run, always a banana. Unless we’re out of bananas; then I go for two sheets of graham crackers. (If I’m going out for longer than 90 minutes, I’ll also have a whole wheat English muffin with peanut butter.)

Post-Run: Down a medium-sized glass of lowfat chocolate milk for recovery—and to reward myself for my miles.

Breakfast: Usually two slices of whole grain bread, toasted, with almond butter and honey, and sometimes a small bowl of homemade granola with almond milk too if I’m really hungry. And always a latte, either the DIY at home with Oregon Chai (sold in bulk at Costco: $) or the Starbucks version ($$$).

Lunch: These days, I’m into half of an avocado spread on the aforementioned whole grain bread and a triangle of Laughing Cow cheese; sometimes some spinach leaves thrown in for good measure. Add some salt, and it tastes much better than it sounds. Usually I’ll add fruit or tortilla chips—or both.

Dinner: I’m all about simple and easy. I’m a huge fan of rice and black beans, dressed up with salsa, cheese, chicken (read: homemade Chipotle: $) or the real Chipotle ($$), my favorite dinner before a big workout or race. I’m on a roasted Brussels sprouts and broccoli jag right now, and I mix them with quinoa and Parmesan cheese. Salads with roasted walnuts, blueberries, and blue cheese are also a fave. I have pizza at least one night a week, and a beer (carbo loading, right?) usually nightly. I’ll have a small bowl of ice cream most nights to bookend the day.

Snacks: Streamlined and filling (a blend of protein, carbs, and fat) work best for me. LARABARs (especially the ones with chocolate chips in them) and a handful of almonds or trail mix are my go-tos when I’m hungry. An apple with peanut butter works too, but I always end up with peanut butter on my keyboard, and that bugs me. Because I work from home and because sugar is my biggest nutritional weakness, I do my best to keep junk food out of my grocery cart. When I shop from a list and realize that Oreos don’t do anybody any favors, I can generally minimize the sugar that comes through the front door.

I am far from perfect, though: I love peanut M’n’M’s, Coke Zero, carrot cake, anything with melted cheese. That said, I’ve finally realized that food doesn’t just affect my running performance; it also influences my productivity, my sleep, my personality. When I eat—excuse my French—crap, it may immediately taste good, but sooner than later, it makes me feel like crap. And that feeling ricochets through all aspects of my life. When I eat the heavy-on-fruits-veggies-whole-grains-etc. way that I—and likely, you—know you should, food is simply the fuel that gets me through the day and my miles. No highs, no lows, just steady on.

For more on the Saucony 26 Strong program, which pairs up 13 coaches with 13 marathon rookies, visit 26Strong.com.

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