Guest Post by Katherine (from A Runner Wife’s Life)

Hello wonderful No Meat Athlete readers! My name is Katherine and I’m the Runner Wife. While my PR splits are more like Matt or Erin’s cooldown jogs, I’ve been fortunate to have some great race experiences in the past few years. I credit my successful long training runs, and races, with proper scheduling, conditioning and, most of all, nutrition. For Matt’s take on pre-race nutrition, check out his page here! I’ll break down my method by each topic in an effort to provide some sense of order.


I always research training plans at least a month before I need to start training – for a marathon, I reserve at least 16 weeks for training, so I secured my Marine Corps Marathon training plan around Memorial Day this year and started training this week. I always adjust training plans so my long runs land on Saturdays. I don’t know what it is, but I love going to bed early on Fridays (yes, I’m kind of an old maid), waking up before the mist has burned off the pavement, and banging out a good training run while most of my peers are sleeping off hangovers. I also revel in my luxurious rest days on Sunday by lounging around the house, getting diner food with my husband, and doing some yoga. If I did my long runs on Tuesdays, what then? No celebratory eggs and toast for me the next day. What’s the point in running?


I make sure my training plan incorporates moderate mileage increases, plenty of cross training (XT), and rest. As a good rule of thumb, I’ve found long run mileage shouldn’t increase by more than 1-2 miles per week. This helps me prevent injury. It also allows me to skip or cut back one week if I’m feeling tired, or if I’m flirting with a strained muscle.
I also find a thrice weekly date with the dreaded ArcTrainer is, while rather soul sucking, critical for building core strength, challenging muscles I use less when running, and allowing me to catch up with the latest episodes of The Real Housewives of New Jersey and Dr. 90210. Hey, who really wants to watch important TV while sweating and cursing the fact that time seems to be standing still and your workout might. never. end? Not I!


Now for the whammy. Nutrition. When I trained for my first race, a half marathon, I was positively militant about my diet. I didn’t drink alcohol, I didn’t eat desserts, no food after 8pm….the list of rules goes on and on. While I did finish the race, I was sick for a week after. During my training, I’d lost almost 20 pounds and I hadn’t included any XT so my muscles were exhausted and overused. Since then (2006), I’ve done a lot of reading and a lot of experimenting and I’ve come to a few conclusions.
1.  In order to run well, you must EAT! When I trained for my first (and only, so far) marathon, I actually gained about 5-7 pounds, but I was a lean, mean running machine. I was eating every 2-3 hours and I was incorporating lots of protein and complex carbs into my diet. Please, do not sign up for a marathon as a way to lose weight!!
2. Dairy is not a long run’s friend. I’ll spare you the details, but let’s just say I learned the painful way that I need to avoid dairy 24 hours before a long run (anything over 6 miles). Many people have no trouble with dairy and could eat a pint of ice cream before a long run. To all those people, I stick out my tongue to you! In all seriousness though, dairy is something you just have to experiment with. When I was crafting my perfect pre-run dinner, I slowly reduced the amount of dairy and realized it had been the culprit. While I miss it, we’re talking about one dairy-free meal out of the week so I can’t really complain!
3. Pre-run Dinner. This took a rather embarrassing amount of crafting to create such a simple dish, but it’s my tried and true. Even though it’s so simple, it’s a great mix of protein, complex carbs, nutrients and flavor! This year, I’m looking forward to experimenting with non-meat variations so all suggestions are welcome 😉

Sauteed Chicken with Fresh Tomato Sauce Over Pasta

  • 1 chicken breast, fat trimmed away, chopped into bite-sized chunks
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes
  • 2 T. pine nuts
  • 1/3 c. fresh basil, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup whole wheat penne, uncooked
  1. Boil water, season with sea salt, and add pasta. Cook till al dente and set aside.
  2. Heat olive oil and pan and add garlic on medium heat.
  3. Add chicken and saute for 2-3 minutes, until edges are just cooked.
  4. Add tomatoes to pan and cover for 5-7 minutes.
  5. When tomatoes have started to burst, add pine nuts, basil and pasta.
  6. Toss to coat and serve immediately.
(Add grated cheese if desired and your stomach can tolerate it)
4.  Pre-run Breakfast. This was another crucial puzzle piece to put into place. I experimented with energy bars, coffee (never again!), nothing but water, cereal, everything! I finally settled on the following morning regimen for long runs and races:

2 hours before run: 1/2 cup oatmeal with water, cinnamon and a drizzle of maple syrup, 1 spoonful of peanut butter, big glass of water
1 hour before run: glass of water

That’s it! Good carbs, a bit of fat and protein, and enough water to hydrate me without necessitating a pit stop at mile 2 😉

So, like I said, every runner is different – your dietary needs/goals might not be the same as mine, or you might really hate running in the morning, or you don’t belong to a gym so you can’t spend endless hours on the ArcTrainer. I believe with enough patience and a good training log (this is invaluable!!), you’ll find the combination that works best for you. And always remember that just because one thing works doesn’t mean something else won’t work, or work even better, so keep an open mind and enjoy the process! Running has been one of the greatest challenges, and one of the greatest rewards in my life thus far and I’m still learning every day how to care for my body so I can run for many years to come!

Happy Trails!



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  1. Hey Katherine! Thanks for all this detailed info- it’s really great for a newbie like me who still hasn’t run a race! This will definitely eliminate a lot of trial and error.

    That’s interesting what you said about dairy. Lately I’ve been thinking that dairy’s been bringing me down too.

  2. Thanks for sharing. I really enjoy reading what others take on things related to running and nutrition are.
    .-= diana´s last blog ..Long Weekend =-.

  3. Thanks for the guest post Katherine! I agree about the elliptical machine, totally mind numbing. But I do think it’s a great thing to give yourself a break from the pounding of the roads, and for people who are just starting to run and want to build up endurance without getting hurt. I had to use it when I got my stress fracture during my first marathon training.

    Is ArcTrainer any different from a regular elliptical?

  4. I like to read Psychology Today on the Elliptical. A friend poo-poos me when I say I don’t think of it as exercise, but it’s true! Just found your blog and love it! If you’re back from vacay, check out my giveaway on superfood bars! It’s the last day!
    .-= Special K ´s last blog ..Consuming Company =-.

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