woman stretching on blanket by river

Focus On: Fuel for the Chicago Marathon

By: Brittany Temps, Runner and CycleBar Instructor

The Chicago Marathon is less than a month away. How will you get through the final weeks? We asked Brittany Temps, runner and CycleBar instructor to open up about her honest approach to cleaning up her diet and dialing it in before race day. 

I’m going to be really honest: I eat like a human dumpster. Like I eat Goldfish crackers and gummy bears with a side of Red Bull for breakfast. But as we near the Chicago Marathon, I’ve started realizing I have to get serious about fueling my body.

Step 1: Meal Planning

I start out by planning out my meals for the entire week. Yes, I know. It sucks planning the whole week and then on Wednesday you’re like “Ugh. Salad again?” but it’s not that terrible and it takes a lot of the stress out of finding lunch every day. I usually allow dinner to be slightly more flexible, opting to make something fresh, like pasta with tomatoes and lemon juice, hard-boiled eggs, or a smoothie. I keep dinner as my smallest meal of the day. For breakfast, I try to stick to oatmeal or Farmer Cheese or Kefir, both with fruit. For lunches, I’ll sometimes make a big meal I can portion out (like Taco Salad, chicken with rice and veggies, etc.) and I bring fruit and veggies as a snack. I also keep my budget in mind, and try to stick to $40 or less at Trader Joe’s, which is shockingly easy. I go to TJ’s every week.

Step 2: Grocery Shopping

I’ve been better about making lists of the groceries I need, packing a reusable bag, and budgeting tightly for my grocery trips. I get everything at Trader Joe’s; and if I can’t find it there, I pop into Jewel Osco. When I head into the grocery, I try to avoid distractions and focus solely on the list, which I tailor for my meal planning for the week. Sometimes I listen to a podcast (I love My Favorite Murder) while I’m in there, because as weird as it is, grocery shopping spikes my anxiety.

Step 3: Goos, Gels, and Shots, oh my!

Something I frequently ignore for my runs in the morning is carbs. I prefer fasted cardio because too much food in my belly really upsets my stomach when I run, and I’ll end up burping or feeling bloated for several miles. I’ve found that Stroopwaffles (Rip van Waffles and Gu are my favorite brands) or Clif Shot Blocs fill me up the best for my longer runs, whereas caffeinated Gu (that’s Gu Octane) works best in the evenings and during races. I get a lot of anxiety on race morning so the less solid food in me, the better, unless I want the trots. I’ve also added HOTSHOT to help alleviate cramps. It’s become my secret weapon when it comes to long runs. I take it before or after, usually, but I have opted to carry one with me during the marathon. I’ve also found that it helps if I’m overly fatigued while I’m teaching at CycleBar, and also if I’m getting Charley Horses in my calves at night.

Step 4: Sober September

This one is going to kill me and I hope to god you all hold me accountable, but I’m not drinking in September, both for my budget and my body. I’m really upping my water intake (aiming for 2 liters a day) and I’m cutting out alcohol and soda. I might also make occasional exceptions for Red Bull, because as everyone knows, I’ve been loyal since I was 16.

Step 5: Cutting out junk, adding in vitamins

No, I’m not going sugar free. I just can’t. Sorry. But I am going to cut out candy bars and other garbage I eat regularly in favor of fruits with only a marginal amount of garbage (like smoothies with a few chocolate chips!). I firmly believe that this will help my overall energy levels. I’m also adding in a few new favorites from Vital Proteins (including beef liver tablets) and am reintroducing vitamins, which I fell out of the habit of taking when I lost my job.

What steps are you taking to make sure you’re on your A game for your running and fitness goals?



Taper Time: Taper now for your best marathon performance.

The Road to Boston 2016…and 2017:  Jennifer Harkins’ story.

Boston Marathon: Each race is a change to challenge myself.

Shalane Flanagan’s Road to Marathon: Read about the Olympians transition from track star to champion marathoner.

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