Katherine Hopper: Keeping Nutrition Simple

Katherine Hopper craves "anything and everything" during high-mileage weeks. Photo: Katherine Hopper

When I’m running 50 or 60 miles per week, my natural tendency is to want to eat ANYTHING and EVERYTHING in sight.

Unfortunately, and much to my disappointment, marathon training is not a license to go wild with junk food.

When you’re racking up the miles, that’s actually the time to focus even more on what you put in your body. When I’m training for a marathon, I become more conscious about eating and drinking the right kind of fuel in order to optimize my performance. When I’m not training, I’m actually a lot more lackadaisical about what I eat and drink.

Drink Up!

I don’t like to drink my calories in the form of sodas or sugary drinks like juice. They only add calories and probably won’t benefit my training in any way. Absolutely no diet drinks for me either. Instead, I drink tons of water. I like to drink lowfat chocolate milk after a run because it’s an excellent source of protein, calcium and is a great way to replete my glycogen stores.

Bring On The Food

The most important thing for me is to eat foods that make me feel good. I like to keep it simple and eat REAL food. I don’t like to eat anything with a million ingredients and if it was made in a lab and there is ongoing research on whether or not it’s going to cause cancer, chances are it’s not going to be good for you in the long run.

A typical breakfast for me is hot oatmeal with honey drizzled over it or greek yogurt with granola sprinkled on top. One of my favorite lunches is creamy roasted tomato soup with added veggies and diced chicken. Dinners are usually oven-baked chicken or fish with a spinach salad and side dish such as black bean and corn salad. And I’m usually grazing on snacks throughout the day.

My favorite go-to food is Greek yogurt. All my friends make fun of me because I find ways to incorporate it into my breakfast, lunch, dinner and even dessert. It’s a great high-protein substitute for sour cream, it can be added to soup to make it creamier, and some of the flavors (key lime is my favorite) are special enough to satisfy my craving for an after-dinner treat.

Timing Is Everything

I usually try to have a snack like a granola bar with peanut butter or a banana about 30 minutes before heading out on a run. If I’m going to be running for more than 1 or 1.5 hours, I’ll bring dried fruit or a GU gel to eat on the run. During marathons, I try to eat every 30-45 minutes. After running, I am diligent about having a protein-rich snack to repair muscle tissue, along with some carbohydrates to restock my spent energy stores so that I can recover faster.

Splurging

I have a weakness for ice cream. This would be fine if I could just have a serving of ice cream and call it a day. It’s a great source of calcium, fat, and protein … but when I buy it from the store, the pint/gallon will disappear almost immediately, resulting in way too much useless sugar, which makes my body feel pretty awful. So when I’m training for a marathon, I just have to keep it out of my house. But that makes it even more of a delicious treat when I’m done with my race.

When it comes to food, the key for me is to keep it simple, easy and to practice moderation … and to include the occasional treat!

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

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