In the Kitchen With Olympian Shalane Flanagan

Photo Credit: Alan Weiner

Olympian Shalane Flanagan made a name for herself as a cookbook author back in 2016, when she and her former UNC cross-country teammate Elyse Kopecky co-authored Run Fast. Eat Slow., a New York Times bestseller that won over readers with its 256 pages of nourishing and delicious healthy recipes designed specifically for athletes.

Since then, Flanagan has managed not only to train for, and win the 2017 New York City Marathon, but also to co-author another cookbook with Kopecky. And although the new book, Run Fast. Cook Fast. Eat Slow. is packed with more than 100 recipes, it’s actually so much more than just a cookbook.

“We wanted to give people a glimpse into our lifestyles,” Flanagan said. “I think there was a desire to find out more about Elyse and me beyond food—that really inspired us to share just a little bit more about ourselves and specifically what we do on a daily basis.”

Tucked between pages of mouth-watering recipes, are race tips, active recovery stretches, Flanagan’s very own strength routine, and plenty of photos that will inspire readers to lace up their running shoes. “It’s a fun mix of epic photos of me in New York that I’m super pumped to share; some really beautiful photos of me training in St. Moritz, Switzerland; and Elyse and me hiking,” Flanagan said. “There’s great variety. I think it’s going to be a fun, inspiring book for people to pick up and look through even if they don’t want to cook something.”

RELATED: Gwen Jorgensen’s Big Gold Dream

But for those who do want to cook, the book also offers plenty of cooking advice—such as budget suggestions and time-saving tips and tools—alongside “real food stories” in which Flanagan and Kopecky discuss their relationships with food, particularly their challenges to understand that fat is a necessary part of a healthy runner’s diet.

The ideas and recipes for Run Fast. Cook Fast. Eat Slow. began to evolve during the Run Fast. Eat Slow. book tour. “People were saying how busy their lives were,” Flanagan remembered. “Everyone is leading these extremely busy lifestyles and trying to make sure they skill get in good, delicious, healthy food.” So Flanagan and Kopecky—who realized they were leading these hectic lifestyles, too—decided to focus on quick, easy, delicious recipes that used minimal ingredients. “It benefits us, too, to create these recipes,” Flanagan shared. “At various points of the year we can spend more time in the kitchen, and at other times we can’t.”

Here, Flanagan offers a few tips for eating healthy during those times when spending time in the kitchen might not be possible:

Traveling To A Race

Flanagan recently helped pace Shelby Houlihan to a new 5,000-meter American record—in Belgium, which is a long way from Flanagan’s home in Portland, Oregon. “When I travel, I always pack food for the airport because I never know if I’m going to get stuck in a situation where I’m getting hungry and there aren’t great resources of good food,” said Flanagan, noting that the coconut banana breakfast cookies and sweet potato breakfast cookies from her books are not only delicious but also travel really well.

RELATED: Des Linden Leaves Hansons Team

Race-Day Food

Big races, such as the New York City Marathon, typically have food available for elite athletes. “They already know that probably 50 percent of the athletes are going to want oatmeal that morning, and so the oatmeal is already there,” Flanagan shared. “But if I go to a smaller race that doesn’t provide an elaborate spread for elite athletes, I for sure travel with my oats and figure out a way that I can make my breakfast in my hotel room.”

The night before a race, Flanagan typically eats rice, quinoa, pasta or sweet potatoes; some type of protein, such as fish, chicken, or steak; a salad; and a roll with butter. “Nothing too crazy,” she said. “I’ve never had a problem finding that kind of stuff; I’ll hit up a grocery store if I can’t find a restaurant that’s going to serve what I need.”

Altitude

“I’m generally hungrier at altitude, so I always have extra snacks on hand,” Flanagan shared. “I also crave more carbohydrates, so the superhero muffins are really key.” These muffins, which were introduced in Run Fast. Eat Slow. have three new iterations in Run Fast. Cook Fast. Eat Slow. But baking at altitude can be tricky, Flanagan warns. “With the muffins, I’ll add a little more of the wet ingredients to make sure they don’t get dried out,” she said. “Or, I’ll pull them out of the oven a little sooner than I normally would, just to make sure they don’t get dry.”

Run Fast. Cook Fast. Eat Slow. is available August 14, 2018 and can be preordered on Amazon. “We think this is an even better book than the first one,” Flanagan said. “It’s hard when you know that something’s already really successful—how do you step it up a notch? But I feel like we did.”

RELATED: Is the Keto Diet Right for Runners?

Recent Stories