Currently, Andrea is a profession long distance runner for Oiselle and running coach, having completed 46 marathons since 2002 and is a nine-time Boston qualifier. She qualified for the 2016 Olympic Marathon Trials at the 2014 Chicago Marathon with a time of 2:41, and was the winner of the 2014 Rock ‘n’ Roll New Orleans Marathon. She’ll be competing in the Olympic Marathon Trials in February in Los Angeles.
Proper nutrition is an absolute requirement to succeed in high-performing athletics and to foster a healthy life. If I do not eat well then I don’t perform well. That is a fact. While many people understand this from the start, I arrived at this conclusion after a long and rocky relationship with food. While I now have an incredibly holistic relationship with food, I want to share my prior experiences to normalize the experiences that so many other young girls and women endured.
Like so many young American women can relate, I battled a serious eating disorder that began during high school and lasted throughout graduate school. In my attempt to control my life and my habits – I became out of control. I viewed calories and food as enemies of what I strangely perceived to be a healthy body. Initially, I successfully hid this disorder from my family, but when it became too obvious that something was wrong (think clothes hanging on a skeleton that exercised all the time), we all knew that it was time to get help. I dove whole heartedly into therapy where I was able to transform my perception of something that I once viewed as the enemy (food) into something that was vital in my quest for health and fitness. As I became more involved in running and triathlons, I began to see my body as a machine that needs proper fuel in order to function. Fast-forward to 2008 when I had my first child: a pivotal moment in understanding that good nutrition is necessary to provide for a life as well as my own.
After two beautiful children and nearly 13 years of social and competitive racing, I now can gladly and honestly say that I have overcome my fear of food. While I am not the most adventurous eater, I have found a healthy balance when it comes to my eating habits. As an elite runner, I am fairly routine with my daily food intake. I found trusted sources of healthy food choices that push me to my next level while making me happy. I do not avoid “bad foods,” but, rather, I embrace them as a reward for living. No more am I the one not eating at restaurants because the menu isn’t conducive to my “diet.” I am now an Olympic Hopeful who fuels her machine to perform at the highest level day after day, a mom who fuels her heart to be the most supportive and loving parent day after day. Food is now my friend.
Enough about my relationship with food! I’m sure someone out there is wondering, “What the heck does Dre eat?” Here is an example of what I eat on days when I have two runs and strength session (about two-three days per week). Minor alterations are made for other days when I have either speedwork, tempo runs, or long runs. Overall, the foundation of my diet is very consistent.
I love coffee in the morning!!! I have a BIG mug of coffee with French Vanilla creamer and an English breakfast cookie (some may say biscuit). I even travel with my “cookie” for races because I don’t like to disrupt this ritual de lo habitual.
For workouts longer than an hour, I drink UCAN (a superstarch) before I begin. One scoop per hour of workout, and I prefer the Vanilla as it also has protein in the mix to keep me more full for the duration of my workout. I like to drink this about 30 minutes before I workout.::workout time::POST-WORKOUT:
For Tuesdays and Thursdays (and sometimes Saturdays), when I have two runs and a strength session, I chug a shake made from milk, banana, nut butter, and whey protein. I drink this within 30 minutes of completing my training to jumpstart recovery and to ensure that my taxed muscles have a good amount of building blocks to recover. For days when I just have one run, I would have a Picky Bar or UCAN snack bar to hold me over till lunch. On days when I have a long run, I am can often be found at my favorite breakfast spot with a heaping pile of pancakes. I love pancakes.
I don’t sway too much from lunches except if I’m eating out for any meetings or with friends. Otherwise, my lunch is almost always the same: a yummy mix of shredded organic chicken, quinoa, (high in protein) sweet potatoes (a great source of carbohydrates), and a liberal amount of spinach (greens have lots of vitamins and other phytochemicals.) I never measure it all out, but it’s generous portions of each. I can’t overemphasize the importance of providing your body with the necessary macronutrients to recover.SNACK:
I’m usually not hungry in the afternoon for a snack, but I know I need the calories, and this is where I pick from a handful of options: jerky, almond butter and jelly on toast, Picky Bar, jerky (did I mention I’m obsessed with jerky??), Avocado and toast or Greek yogurt. I don’t do anything too wild, but enough to get more energy in me.DINNER:
Having two kids and being a competitive runner always makes dinner a fun challenge. They always want chicken nuggets and mac & cheese, and I don’t. I have made a pretty good attempt at introducing “my” foods into their diet and some have succeeded. Most days, I make a dinner for them and then one for me. In keeping with a high-protein and complex-carb-focused diet; a typical dinner for me is an egg white scramble. I will supplement this with extra protein in the form of either quinoa or beans. I’ll also stock up on complex carbs again with either sweet potatoes or spaghetti squash. How can I forget?! I started adding avocados to my lunches and dinner like a crazy woman ever since I tried them for the first time (gasp, I know!!) a few weeks ago – now I can’t get enough of them. They are a great source of monounsaturated fat along with some vitamins. More importantly, they taste absolutely incredible. Dinner isn’t a big meal for me (I like to have lunch as my largest meal), as I don’t like being too full close to bedtime. My focus is more on ensuring that I get enough quality nutrients and calories.
If needed, I will have a light snack in the evening to fuel up for the next day’s workout and to give my body another supply of protein to restore itself when I sleep. I will usually have toast with almond butter and jelly or Greek yogurt. I may also have a whiskey. Just because.
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER:
Being an elite runner requires me to be fairly regimented and aware of my nutrient and caloric intake. I have to replenish my calories from the day’s workout, but also plan for the days to come. I have found the food choices that work best for my performance. I have to have the energy to run everyday (no days off), lift two-to-three times per week, and recover. Oh, and enough energy to take care of two rambunctious and amazingly fun kids. But I wouldn’t trade this life for anything. I do indulge here and there with pizza (favorite prerace food) and beer, good whiskey, desserts and treats. I have learned that while I need to be fairly routine to meet my competitive running goals, I never say no to life that includes good food, drinks, and company. CHEERS!
Follow Andrea on Instagram as she trains for the Olympic trials in February