It’s easy to make healthy food choices at the beginning of marathon training.
You’re excited, energetic and still have some time to cook and meal plan before your mileage ramps up.
Registered dietitian and ultramarathoner Lizzie Kasparek with Sanford Health knows how challenging it can be to find time to both reach your running goals and keep your nutrition on track.
Learn more about Lizzie’s favorite make-ahead meals.
Slow-cooker maple cinnamon oatmeal
“Steel cut oatmeal takes way too long to make, so sometimes I’ve made this on a Sunday and put it into containers for the week,” Kasparek says.
She usually reduces the maple syrup and instead adds fruit, like apples, while it cooks or slices some on top after it’s done. Kasparek also recommends adding a spoon of nut butter for extra healthy fats and a bit of protein.
Make these ahead of time, and add in whatever ingredients you like. Kasparek likes to add a scoop of natural peanut butter and then slice bananas on the top. You can make more oatmeal at a time than the recipe calls for, just increase the liquid as well.
Massaged kale is an easy make-ahead salad, Kasparek says.
“You basically just take a giant bag of kale and add the dressing, massaging it with your hands to make the leaves soft,” she says. She then adds extra spices, such as garlic or onion powder, separates it into daily containers and tosses in grilled fish or chicken, canned tuna or hardboiled eggs for a bit of protein.
And don’t forget a healthy fat.
“I like pepitas, sunflower seeds or avocado,” Kasparek says.
Top with additional veggies and a carb, and you have lunch for a week at work.
Cherry juice smoothie
“Tart cherry juice is anti-inflammatory, so it can definitely be beneficial to start adding in some more anti-inflammatory foods into your diet before the mileage racks up,” Kasparek says.
This smoothie has Greek yogurt and protein powder, but you don’t have to add both.
You can use all frozen fruits and add a frozen banana for a thicker smoothie, or use more liquid for a thinner smoothie. Chia seeds or flax seeds add healthy fats.
This works as a great recovery meal after runs, too.
Kasparek has a twist on this bar recipe: Make it into bite-sized energy balls instead.
She suggests keeping them in the freezer to eat before runs, especially for longer or more intense morning runs if you don’t have time for breakfast.