Lora Vaccaro: Will Run For Coffee

Lora Vaccaro relies on a few different products to get through her workouts. Photo: Lora Vaccaro

When it comes to nutrition and training, I try to stick to a very basic principle: eat foods that make me feel good. About a year and a half ago, I switched to a vegetarian diet. Perhaps pescatarian is the more accurate term, as I occasionally eat fish as a source of protein. This change has been a positive one for me as my love of all things dark, leafy greens has grown. Yet, like many people, I still have my indulgences: coffee and dark chocolate!

By nature, I prefer to be a grazer, eating small meals and snacks frequently throughout the day. I tend to get hungry often and full quickly. The smaller meals help keep me energized throughout the day and give me a chance to eat a variety of foods. However, my schedule doesn’t always support this approach. On busier days, I default to three main meals with a late afternoon snack.

When it comes to fueling my workouts, there are two products I loyally use. The first is Generation UCAN. UCAN is a sports nutrition drink that’s made a positive impact on my running. I began using it exclusively a year and a half ago. I use it in place of gels, which had caused sugar crashes and an upset stomach. The product’s slow-burning “SuperStarch” is a complex carbohydrate that stabilizes blood sugar. I use it before every workout from running, to strength training and spinning.

The other product I use, especially during summer training, is NUUN Hydration. While I only drink plain water while I run, NUUN has become a go-to product post-workout to replenish electrolytes. Throwing NUUN in my water throughout the day also helps me stay more hydrated, balancing out my copious coffee consumption! The subtle flavors are a plus.

Ironically, for as much as I love coffee, it’s the one thing I never drink before a race or long run. It’s just one of my quirky race-day/long-run routines. I often use the “will run for coffee” mantra to get through the end of my tougher workouts, knowing I’ll treat myself to some after I’m done.

Post-run, I aim to refuel within 30 minutes with some protein. One option I love is scrambled eggs with a toasted English muffin with a little butter and fresh ground pepper on the side. However, I don’t always have a huge appetite after a hard effort or long run. In these cases, I’ll use the protein-enhanced UCAN in a smoothie, mixed with greens, peanut butter, chia seeds, almond milk, and half a banana. This is quick to make, easy to consume and helps get some calories back into me.

While I’m certainly not an expert in sports nutrition, I periodically log my food intake as training intensifies to have a general idea of my protein, carb and fat intake. I spot-check this for peace of mind. However, on a typical day, I am relaxed and go by feel—sticking to foods that make my body feel good. I eat healthy at home and enjoy occasional treats (hello, dessert) when I’m out with friends. This balance leaves me feeling energetic, happy and ready to run.

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