3 Delicious Recipes for Runners that Go the Distance


Photo by Alan Weiner

When someone hands you a cookbook for runners, it’s easy to sigh. More likely than not, you’re holding another bland, boring set of recipes, focused on food as fuel, deprioritizing flavor. But take one flip through Shalane Flanagan’s new cookbook, and you’ll be ready to eat those thoughts. Bison meatballs, wild salmon, hazelnut shakes, and chocolate macaroons?! Wait, this book is for runners? Filled with seasonal veggies, grass-fed meats, healthy fats, and sweet treats, here’s the healthy cookbook you’ll finally be tempted to cook from.

Just in time for marathon season, Run Fast, Eat Slow is a team effort from Shalane Flanagan and Elyse Kopecky, an athlete and a chef. Shalane Flanagan is the four-time Olympian, recently returned from Rio with sixth place in the women’s marathon. Elyse Kopecky is a trained chef and nutrition coach, and an old college friend and teammate from UNC Chapel Hill cross-country. Together, they understand real food and real athletes, with recipes that go the distance.

“We’re big believers that diets don’t work,” Flanagan explains. “We’re not into fads or trends—we eat real, whole foods. For so long, I had to fight for that mean, athletic look. But with the way Elyse has taught me to cook, it’s lifted that burden. If I’m eating the right foods, there’s no need to count calories, because I run fast and feel amazing.”

Working on the book, Flanagan kept a food log, and the intro reveals what she eats for a week. It sounds surprisingly do-able: smoothies, oats, or eggs for breakfast, veggie-and-grain salads for lunch, juicy steak or fish at dinner. She often relies on leftovers, making a big batch of grains, or saving a piece of salmon to drop on a salad. She isn’t into carbo-loading, but she also isn’t protein obsessed or paleo—and she eats wholesome desserts. “I definitely have a sweet tooth,” says Flanagan, “But the desserts in our book aren’t overly sweet, so I can enjoy them and never have to feel deprived.”  

The results speak for themselves. She ate this way leading up to Rio, earning a spot as one of the top five in the world for the half marathon, and breaking a record in the 10k on the road. Of course, that’s not all diet. “But at age 35, I’m just incredibly grateful to still be running personal bests at this stage of my career. With good nutrition, I feel rejuvenated.”

Flanagan and Kopecky want you to get into the kitchen, and think about cooking as an extension of your training. Kopecky insists that these recipes fuel anyone who’s pursuing an active lifestyle. “You don’t have to run 100 miles a week like Shalane to enjoy these recipes. I still run for fun, but mostly I run after my 2-year-old! These delicious recipes are good for everyone, whether you’re training for your first 5k, 10k, half marathon, or marathon. I feed them to my toddler, and I feed them to my mom in her sixties.

“Healthy food gets a bad reputation in this country for being bland and boring. We want to show athletes of all levels that nutrition and flavor really can go hand in hand.”

Ready to run into the kitchen? Flanagan and Kopecky are excited to share three of their “indulgently delicious” recipes with Fitbit readers. Click through for some super-fuel muffins, an addictive grain salad, and meatballs that will help you break personal records.

Get the full recipe for Superhero Muffins.

Get the full recipe for Kale-Radicchio Salad with Farro.

Get the full recipe for High-Altitude Bison Meatballs with Simple Marinara.

Photos by Alan Weiner

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