How I Eat - A Day in the Life of a Plant-Based Endurance Athlete During Race Season
There are 3 main pillars of an athlete’s training program that require proper attention in order to see progression and results: the training itself, recovery, and nutrition.
Each deserves an equal amount of focus and planning to ensure you are getting the most from yourself each day and are building the necessary foundation to sustain you throughout your season. Mindfully incorporating them throughout your day is the key to optimal health, fitness, and overall success.
Here is an example of what a typical day of fueling looks like for me during my season.
Breakfast 1 (pre-workout) – The first thing I do each morning is eat a banana and hydrate with plenty of water. I do not like to train on an empty stomach and a banana is the perfect amount of fuel.
Training session #1 – After 15 minutes of glute & hip activation exercises I head out for a 10 mile run including speed intervals on the track. After the run I’ll spend a few minutes on the foam roller and follow a hip routine to keep everything loose while I’m drinking my recovery drink. On hot days I also kick-start my recovery with a half of a watermelon – a great way to replenish and rehydrate!
Breakfast 2 (post-workout) – In the summer months I like to make a hearty bowl of muesli. I start with rolled oats and add in all kinds of nutrient-dense toppings such as coconut shreds, dried and/or fresh fruits/berries, nuts or nut butter, chia, flax or hemp seeds, and a dairy-free milk. It’s basically a big power bowl packed with everything I need to refuel after my morning workout. I also like this breakfast as it is easy to find a healthy muesli while traveling, or the ingredients to make your own!
Snack – During heavier training cycles I may get a little hungry between my second breakfast and lunch. Some snacks I enjoy are a handful of mixed nuts and some seasonal fruit, or some sliced cucumber and carrots with hummus.
Lunch – I typically have a green and grain bowl. I’ll start with a heaping base of romaine, spinach or kale, then add a grain such as quinoa, rice or farro. I’ll top that with whatever veggies I have on hand such as tomato, broccoli, zucchini, pepper, and beets. I’m a big fan of tempeh so I’ll usually add strips of sautéed tempeh, but sometimes I’ll use beans. Next is ½ an avocado – I make sure to add a dose of healthy fats to every meal! I’ll top it with a homemade tahini dressing or a healthy vinaigrette.
Pre-workout snack – In the late afternoon a go-to snack is 3 or 4 dates filled with nut butter, topped with shredded coconut and cinnamon to fuel my afternoon workout.
Training session #2 – 60 minutes on the bike trainer with a few hard intervals mixed in followed by 30-45 minutes of strength and mobility work.
Post-workout – I’ll have another piece of fruit along with a recovery drink immediately following my workout.
Dinner – Once I’ve showered it’s time to relax and enjoy a small dinner. Curries are a favorite of mine because they are nutrient-dense and great for recovery due to the anti-inflammatory properties of the spices. My favorite curry is a kale and chickpea curry that I’ll eat on top of a grain or potatoes.
Evening Recovery – I spend another half hour using rolling tools for deeper muscle recovery work, then spend 15-30 minutes in compression boots.
Dessert? – Yes, I do sometimes enjoy a sweet treat when I’m in peak training. In the summer months I’ll make my own ice cream using coconut milk and dates.
As you can see, nutrient timing is an important part of my training, as well as making sure I’m focusing on healthy, whole food ingredients. Fueling as soon as you can after a workout ensures that you’re kickstarting your recovery to prepare for the next workout – whether it’s that same day or the next. I focus on making my meals well-rounded to include protein, carbs, and a healthy fat. All three are vital so they’re all stars in my eyes!