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How the Pro's Fuel: Spotlight on Katie Mackey

This week we are featuring Katie Mackey, professional mid-distance runner for Brooks Beasts! Katie shares some great wisdom on under fueling~ it not only effects the longevity of your running career, but also your strength and your overall health. Keep reading on to hear what Katie had to say!

  1. Who are you? (Name, age, hometown, event) Katie Mackey, 29, Fort Collins CO, 1500/5k

  2. What is your your favorite pre-workout snack or Meal? Pancakes, syrup and some fruit on top

  3. How do your refuel after an easy day? Hard day? My refueling strategy on hard and easy days is not that different. I take a recovery drink after every run (Gatorade and whey protein) within 20 minutes of finishing my cool-down. The rest of the day I eat normally- making sure to get most of my calories from lean meats, fruits, veggies, nuts and whole grains. I live by a 95/5% rule- leave myself 5% for food cravings but try to get most of my diet from unprocessed foods that don’t have lots of hidden sugar and unhealthy fats that processed foods often do. I always take a “cheat day” for a burger, fries and milkshake at least once a week;) A few years ago when I started working with our team nutritionist (Kyle Pfaffenbach) I started to pay closer attention and keep track of grams of fats, carbs and proteins. I never adjust fat or protein, but on days when I run more I increase carbohydrates to replace what I burn.

  4. When it comes to running and nutrition, do you believe they go hand in hand?DEFINITELY YES. Nutrition is one of an athletes primary tools for recovery. Running is a long game, run after run after run compounding on each other. The faster you recover, the better you feel in your next workout. That might not seem like a big deal, but if you can train a small % harder because you are recovering quicker than you will race a small % faster and that’s a big deal when making the US team comes down to less than a second!

  5. Many runners believe they need to cut calories to run faster times. Do you believe that you need to be “thin to win”? You will run your fastest when you are your healthiest self. If you are too heavy, you are dragging extra weight around the track- and unfortunately, most people stop thinking there. But, the rest of the story is that if you are too light, you compromise the longevity of your running career, your health and your strength. You increase dramatically the risk that you will get injured or burnout.

  6. Eating disorders are a very prevalent topic in the running world, more so than they used to be. Why do you think that is? Running is a sport of comparisons, you are constantly comparing your times against your PRs and others PRs. It is easy to start comparing everything, including weight and body type. It’s easy to focus on one thing (weight) and lose sight of the bigger picture (how strong you feel, if you are healthy and injury resistant)- what is an ideal weight for someone might not be for another. There are 7 other professional female runners on my team and we are all competing at the highest level- we are close in body type but not exact mirrors of each other.

  7. Have you ever struggled with negative body image? If so, how did it affect your running? Body image has not been my primary struggle in running, however there are things about my body that I used to feel self conscious about. I try to appreciate my body for what it is, and what it can do rather than how it compares to societies standards of beauty.

  8. If you could give one piece of advice to younger runners, what would you tell them? When it comes to nutrition keep it simple- eat when you are hungry, just eat healthy foods. Especially lots of fruits and vegetables that have the micro-nutrients to keep you healthy and performing your best that processed foods don’t have. Avoid processed foods that have been stripped of their nutrients and are hiding lots of added sugar and fat. Stop eating when you’re not hungry anymore:)

  9. What are five staple foods in your diet? Pancakes (before every workout:), avocados (a great way to get healthy fat), I love venison (I always talk my parents into bringing me some home from CO), I love greek yogurt (great snack low in sugar and high in protein to eat before bed)…and chocolate (because what’s life without chocolate?).

  10. Do you have any healthy food hacks? Sometimes a tasty salad dressing can make all the difference in getting that salad down!

  11. What is your favorite pre-race meal the night before? Anything! I just usually skip dessert and save it for the night after the race:)

  12. Ultimate post-race meal or treat? Burger and a dark beer…yum.

  13. Any last words of wisdom? I was injured my last two years of high school and I had gained somewhere around 30 pounds by the time I entered my freshman year at University of Washington. I didn’t know much about nutrition, and as I learned, I started to eat healthier. I also began to train harder and run more mileage (I ran about 30 miles per week in high school and was at about 65 miles per week by the time I graduated from UW). By my senior year I not only felt better when I was training, but it was also translating over into my racing as I ran big PR’s from the 5k to 800. As a pro, I’ve continued to fine tune my recovery and nutrition working with our awesome team nutritionist and eventually my body settled on a weight where I feel strong and keep running PR’s- and that number actually hasn’t changed in about 4 years even though I have run faster each year. My advice would be for girls to focus on eating a diet full of unprocessed and healthy foods, and how they feel and let their bodies tell them what the right “race weight” is instead of the other way around. Everything in moderation! (Even moderation;)

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