Becky Wade is an American marathoner with a 2:30:41 PR training for the 2019 Boston Marathon. She offered to record everything she ate during the week of March 18–24, four weeks out from the race. Here is the real, unfiltered food diary of an elite marathoner in the heart of training.

As the friends and families of any marathoner can attest, a few giveaways let them know we’re training for another 26.2: missing toenails, extra naps, shocking tan lines, compression sock indentations, dialed back socializing, and perhaps most of all, insatiable appetites. For the 10–16 weeks that I spend preparing for each marathon, it seems like if I’m not running, I’m either eating, cooking, grocery shopping, or planning meals to come. My Boston Marathon build-up, which will culminate on April 15, has been no different.

“What do you eat?” is one of the most common questions I get from other runners. But rattling off my favorite foods (“bananas, peanut butter, chicken, eggs, avocados, bread, yogurt, beef, berries, milk, sweet potatoes…”) always rings a little hollow. So to fill in the gaps, I thought it would be fun to document and photograph everything that went down the hatch during a recent heavy week of marathon training.

There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to my nutrition, but I have developed a food philosophy that seems to work well for me. I don’t count calories—I don’t have the mental energy for all those calculations, nor do I think it’s necessary. Instead (and you may hate to hear this), I really do listen to my body and my cravings, whether it’s for a juicy steak, cold watermelon, slow-scrambled eggs, or my fifth serving of nut butter for the day. Although I do gravitate towards many of the same foods every day, I try to cover a wide variety; the more natural and colorful, the better.

I’m all about leftovers, especially when repurposed. And nothing is off limits, though I’m definitely more cautious of what and when I eat in advance of a run (hence my predictable bagel, banana, and peanut butter pre-workout breakfast). Finally, I do my best to consume a steady stream of calories, never going more than a few hours without nibbling on something (except when I’m asleep). But as good as my intentions are, I have yet to make it though a marathon build-up without wishing I had one of those t-shirts that surely was designed by a distance runner: “I’m sorry for what I said when I was hungry.”

Below is a real and typical week of marathon training food consumption. The only things I didn’t record are coffee (1-2 cups per day), orange juice with 1 tablespoon ferrous sulfate with dinner each night (to keep my iron levels up), and the many smaller morsels I munch on while preparing meals or on my way past the pantry.

Monday Lunch. Photo: Becky Wade

Monday, March 18: My lightest running day of the week since it follows a big weekend of training, with just one easy session in the late morning.

  • Breakfast: Oatmeal (½ cup oats cooked in milk, with banana, blackberries, peanut butter, sunflower seeds, vanilla protein powder, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, nutmeg)
  • Lunch: Bowl of roasted sweet potatoes, black beans, corn, chopped kale, feta cheese, fried egg, homemade chimichurri (condiment made of cilantro, vinegar, olive oil)
  • Snack: Pineapple, strawberries, clementines, handful of salted cashews
  • Dinner: Beef stir-fry with rice noodles, beef, red peppers, carrots, toasted peanuts, fresh basil, lime, chili-garlic-soy sauce
  • Snack: Greek yogurt with honey, coconut, pistachios, dried figs, cinnamon
Tuesday breakfast. Photo: Becky Wade

Tuesday, March 19: Another recovery day broken up into two sessions (longer in the morning, between the two breakfasts—roughly an hour after the first, and a shorter run in the afternoon)

  • Breakfast #1: Cinnamon-raisin English muffin with Kerry Gold butter
  • Breakfast #2: Oatmeal (one half cup oats cooked in milk, with banana, blackberries, peanut butter, sunflower seeds, vanilla protein powder, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, nutmeg)
  • Lunch: Leftover beef stir-fry; pineapple and strawberries
  • Snack: Clif Bar (chocolate chunk with sea salt)
  • Dinner: Baked chicken breast with black bean-corn-cherry tomato-cilantro salsa; kale salad with sweet potatoes, feta, chimichurri
  • Snack: Greek yogurt with honey, coconut, pistachios, dried cherries, cinnamon
Wednesday snack. Photo: Becky Wade

Wednesday, March 20: My big mid-week training day, with a 2–2.5 hour workout in the morning and a flush-out in the evening.

  • Breakfast: Blueberry bagel with peanut butter, 1 banana, cinnamon, honey
  • During and after workout: Bottle of Sword Endurance Drink Mix (apple), Luna Protein Bar (mint chocolate chip)
  • Lunch: Whole wheat English muffin with 2-egg scramble (using last night’s salsa); carrots and chipotle hummus
  • Snack: Greek yogurt with raspberry jam, blackberries, chopped almonds, candied ginger, cinnamon
  • Dinner: Baked chicken breast with quinoa, kale, cranberries, feta, balsamic vinaigrette
  • Snack: “Chewy oatmeal raisin chocolate chip mega cookie” (recipe from Smitten Kitchen Every Day)
Thursday lunch. Photo: Becky Wade

Thursday, March 21: Similar training to Tuesday, a double-session recovery day.

  • Breakfast #1: Plain English muffin with peanut butter
  • Breakfast #2: Oatmeal (½ cup oats cooked in milk, with banana, strawberries, pepitas, vanilla protein powder, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, nutmeg)
  • Lunch: Whole wheat bagel with ½ mashed avocado and 2 scrambled eggs
  • Snack: Luna Bar (sea salt caramel)
  • Dinner: Roasted salmon with quinoa and my new favorite brussels sprouts (recipe from Bon Appetit)
  • Snack: Greek yogurt with honey, coconut, pistachios, dried figs
Friday dinner. Photo: Becky Wade

Friday, March 22: One more recovery day with a single run, to tee me up for a big load over the weekend.

  • Breakfast #1: Plain English muffin with peanut butter
  • Breakfast #2: Oatmeal (½ cup oats cooked in milk, with banana, blackberries, pepitas, vanilla protein powder, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, nutmeg)
  • Lunch: Bowl with quinoa, roasted cherry tomatoes, roasted broccoli, avocado slices, cannellini beans, fried egg, feta, Everything But the Bagel Seasoning (from Trader Joe’s)
  • Snack: Clif Bar (chocolate chunk with sea salt)
  • Dinner: Noodle bowl with rice noodles, beef, cucumber, lettuce, carrots, onions, peanuts, Sriracha, chili-garlic sauce, basil (at a nearby restaurant)
  • Snack: Greek yogurt with raspberry jam, coconut, pistachios, dried figs
Saturday lunch. Photo: Becky Wade

Saturday, March 23: My biggest workout of the week, done in the late morning and followed by a shake-out in the afternoon.

  • Breakfast: Cinnamon-raisin bagel with peanut butter, 1 banana, honey, cinnamon
  • During and after workout: bottle of Sword Endurance Drink Mix (orange), Luna Bar (sea salt caramel)
  • Lunch: Panini with hummus, turkey, roasted tomatoes, feta
  • Snack: Pineapple, strawberries, handful of salted cashews
  • Dinner: Pasta with grilled chicken, roasted broccoli, lemon zest, olive oil, parmesan
  • Snack: Z bar (oatmeal cookie)
Sunday dinner. Photo: Becky Wade

Sunday, March 24: Long run day, with a steady 2–2.5-hour run in the late morning.

  • Breakfast: Cinnamon-raisin bagel with peanut butter, 1 banana, honey, cinnamon
  • During and after run: Bottle of Sword Endurance Drink Mix (ginger), Clif Protein Bar (coconut almond chocolate)
  • Lunch: Panini with guacamole, turkey, feta; guacamole and tortilla chips
  • Snack: Greek yogurt with honey, blackberries, chopped almonds, candied ginger, cinnamon
  • Dinner: Steak with russet potato wedges, roasted brussels sprouts, glass of red wine
  • Snack: 2 scoops of Sweet Cow ice cream (oatmeal cookie and cookies n’ cream)
Sunday snack. Photo: Becky Wade

Disclosure: I receive free product from Clif Bar and Sword, but consume their products almost daily by choice.

Becky Wade is the author of the memoir, Run the World: My 3,500-Mile Journey Through Running Cultures Around the Globe (HarperCollins, 2016).