Last week, Emily was nervous about training while away in Kansas City, Kan., for her mother’s birthday. She got there on Friday, woke up early on Saturday morning, and she and her boyfriend, Shawn, hit the road for a five-miler.
“It was crazy hot and is very hilly around my parent’s house, but we found a beautiful, semi-paved trail, which helped a lot,” she says, adding that they ran another 10 miles the following day. “Mentally, it was hard because I wanted to be hanging out with my family instead of running, but it wasn’t terrible. We even stopped at the store where I bought my first pair of running shoes. I told them I was running the marathon, the owner was really excited.”
Back in Chicago, Emily only has a few weeks to go before the big race, and her mind is focused on making sure she treats her body well.
“I’ve always been a balanced eater, and I love burgers and Mexican food—but my diet really changes the night before my runs,” she says. “I get up super early to run, and if I have spicy food before I go to bed—or a lot of dairy and cheese—it doesn’t settle well, and I feel bad while I’m out there. I try to stick to pasta, red sauce, lots of bread and salad the night before a long run.”
What about alcohol?
“I do love a good cocktail, but I’m careful with how much I drink because I really feel it the next day. I’ll stop at one glass of wine or one beer because it messes up my system if I have a long run,” she says.
Emily sticks to a special diet during her longer runs, too. Instead of eating packets of GU Energy Gel (“the appeal isn’t there for me—they taste like hell on earth”), she sticks with Clif Shot Blocks. “I love the shot blocks; I also carry a few Gummi Bears in my back pocket. I can’t think of anything I’d rather eat after mile 10 than Gummi Bears,” she says. “I stop cold when I eat them and savor the flavor.”
Erin O’Donnell is a freelance health and science writer, parent, and graduate of Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism. Walks by Lake Michigan make her happy.