This article first appeared in Women’s Running.
After starting to run in January, Stacy Mahoney crossed her first finish line at a Hot Chocolate 15K in March. Now the San Diego-based nurse has hit “register” for a half marathon. But how does a newbie safely up her run game to complete the big 13.1? We asked a nutritionist to take a look at Stacy’s diet and help create the perfect half marathon meal plan.
A runner herself, Anna Robertson is a nutritionist at Biodynamic Wellness in California where she’s worked with many runners on their nutrition regimens during training.
STACY’S QUESTION: Based on what I’ve been eating, how do I change my caloric intake and diet for the increase in mileage? Here’s what a current day looks like for my diet…
WAKE UP: Cup of coffee with cream and sugar
BREAKFAST: Cheerios with 2 percent milk
ANNA’S SOLUTION: Enjoy coffee and cream with your meal and try adding honey or maple syrup as a natural sweetener. Start the morning off with a good source of protein. Two or three scrambled eggs cooked in coconut oil make for a nourishing breakfast that incorporates a healthy source of protein and fat.
LUNCH: Two scrambled eggs with ham
ANNA’S SOLUTION: A salad with protein, veggies and a slice of toasted whole-grain bread would be optimal!
PRE-RUN SNACK: Fig bar
ANNA’S SOLUTION: Always reach for real food as it will be more bio-available. Grab a handful of trail mix. The nuts and dried fruit are great sources of carbohydrates for quick fuel. For a 10-mile day, almond butter and an apple will provide carbohydrates and fat, which is the body’s preferred source of long-sustaining fuel.
RUN: 3 miles
ANNA’S SOLUTION: For longer runs, the addition of electrolytes to your water will be huge in recovering promptly and staying hydrated. I love to simply add a pinch of Celtic Sea Salt to my water, which provides naturally occurring minerals to rehydrate the body.
POST-RUN SNACK: Multigrain chips
ANNA’S SOLUTION: Increase your protein consumption and refuel within 30 minutes of running. For a 6-miler, add an apple paired with a healthy fat, like cheese or almond butter. This will help to replenish amino acid stores needed for your muscles, and the fruit and fat combination will increase blood glucose levels to provide energy for your cells. For a 10-mile day, have a mini meal including protein, fat and carbs. Egg or tuna salad on a slice of whole-grain toast is fast and easy to whip up.
DINNER: 1/2 pork chop with steamed carrots, kale, white rice and two glasses of white wine
ANNA’S SOLUTION: This looks good. For dinner, you should always think: protein, fat, carb. The best sources for protein are animal-derived, as they will be the most nutrient dense. Healthy fats include coconut oil, butter, avocado and extra-virgin olive oil. Try brown rice, quinoa or sweet potatoes as a substitute for white rice.
SNACK: 2 fun-size Twizzlers
ANNA’S SOLUTION: Enjoy a handful of blueberries, which contain antioxidants to help clean-sweep free radicals in the body. Berries support detoxification all the while giving that sweet fix! If you ran 6 miles or longer, enjoy a square of 75 percent dark chocolate as well.
Anna’a Best Tip: Always sip on water throughout the day. Aim for drinking half your body weight in fluid ounces.