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What Does an Elite Runner Eat?

What Does an Elite Runner Eat?

Ever wondered what it takes to fuel like a professional athlete? XX2i Optics sponsored runner Natasha LaBeaud Anzures gives us an inside look on her eating habits: 


An Average Training Week

I have two types of training days. On a regular non-workout day I usually have two runs, one in the morning and one in the evening. The morning run is always done early (I usually am up around 4am) and the second run is completed in the evening. On a harder training day (typically Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays) I still have two runs but the first one in the morning is more intensive and can include anything from repetitions at a specific pace, track intervals, or marathon tempos. The evening run is used as a way to increase recovery, so they average from 5 to 9 miles. Sundays are typically long runs that can go up to 28 miles. Overall, I usually run between 130 and 140 miles per week. In addition, weight training is really important— so weight lifting takes place Monday, Wednesdays, and Fridays with core and strength exercises every day. 


What Fuels the Machine?

There are two questions that people usually ask me regarding training. The first, is how many miles I run per week. The second question is always, “So—what do you eat on a normal day?” I find myself also intrigued about what other runners eat as well. It is just an interesting subject area—why can Runner X eat oatmeal before a hard workout, while Runner Y can only stomach a banana 3 hours before a workout or race?

As for my eating, I was diagnosed with Celiac’s Disease in 2006 during my freshman year, before being “gluten-free” was something that people paid attention to.  I would return from workouts at Georgetown University with unbelievable stomach pain that only seemed to be getting worse since high school.  After many tests, I was diagnosed with Celiac’s Disease. In turn, I needed to figure out what that meant for me. No wheat, barley, or oats, which if you start looking at foods and labels, you find that those ingredients pop up in everything. 


Daily Eating Schedule

  • Pre- Workout: Before heading out for a run or workout, I drink Generation UCAN.  It is gluten-free, which is great because of the Celiac’s and has helped propel me through some tough workouts.

  • Post-Workout: I like eating dried figs and fruit.  I might also have a UCAN smoothie. 

  • Breakfast: This is an odd breakfast, but I absolutely love breakfast salads. You can get tons of veggies early in the morning—what could be better? Mine usually include fresh spinach, carrots, avocado, beets, some feta, and sunflower seeds. I usually pair it with some homemade applesauce (just apples and other fruits that I make in the crockpot with cinnamon).

  • Snacks: Throughout the day, I will snack on fruit (dried or fresh— I love Trader Joe’s dried fruit varieties), sunflower seeds, fresh cut veggies.

  • Water, Water, Water: I drink water like crazy throughout the day. Got to stay hydrated!

  • Lunch: Usually something with more veggies— salad or soup. 

  • Dinner: I enjoy cooking dinner. It is a way for me to relax and not really think about anything but the process of cooking something tasty. My husband, Marco, sometimes joins me to make recipes, and I enjoy spending the time with him too. For dinner, we will have anything from fresh fish with rice pasta (and more salad with beets, of course), to black bean, sweet potato enchiladas, or homemade ratatouille. Salads are included with every dinner—got to get those greens!

  • After Dinner: I enjoy drinking tea post-dinner and before bed. If I am still hungry, I usually have some more fruit before catching some zzzz’s!


Favorite Meal

For dinner after a race or hard workout, I love any type of curry. There is a great vegan place in San Diego that makes the best green curry! Also, if I can get my hands on some fresh Thai spring rolls, the ones that have tofu and rice, then I am one happy camper. 



About Natasha LaBeaud Anzures 

Natasha is a professional runner competing for Canada. She started running at the age of 7, and was determined to run the most laps in the school jog-a-thon. She started training during recess, and never stopped with her next goal as the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. Natasha currently races the 5,000m and 10,000m distances on the track, and the marathon on the roads. In addition, she and her husband and co-founded the youth running non-profit organization, 2nd Recess, which teaches kids 4-13 about the importance of healthy lifestyle decisions through running.