I've always enjoyed spending time in the kitchen, and I honed my cooking skills by watching my grandmothers and my mom prepare meals that nourish and celebrate. My family jokes that we show our love through food, baking for every birthday, anniversary, or holiday that comes around. Food is one way we say "I care about you!"
Runners also connect through food - we bond over post-long run brunches, shared gels that save a friend from bonking mid-run, swapped recipes and healthy eating tips. As athletes, food is our fuel, our recovery tool, and sometimes our reward for a run well done!
I didn't always have a healthy relationship with food. 10 years ago in college, food was my enemy, resulting in the Freshman 15 as I binged and purged my way through the difficult transition to college and Division 1 running. I'm grateful for the support I received that helped me get back to a healthy place with food, but I'm saddened to say that my story is not unique; far too many collegiate runners struggle with disordered eating.
My hope is that fewer young runners will go through the difficulties I did, and that their relationship with food is a positive one - breaking bread with family, friends, and teammates while celebrating a shared love of running. In that spirit, I'm starting a new series on Running Joyfully, called Runner Recipes - Eat like an Elite. Each month, I'll profile an elite running friend and share one of their favorite recipes with you. We're not nutritionists, but we've been in the sport a long time and know how to healthfully fuel our bodies to run fast. I hope you'll enjoy this view into the kitchens of Olympic Trials qualifiers across the country!
Here's to eating well, sharing, and connecting through food!