By Christine Hinrichs

Anyone running the upcoming Twin Cities Marathon will tell you that race day is the fun part – adrenaline, cheering crowds, and the sense of euphoria upon crossing the finish line. It’s the months of training before that day that’ll wear on you! But it’s not just that you’re constantly running, all the time, non-stop. For me, one of the challenging parts of training is the monotony of food. Pasta dinners become routine. Peanut butter loses its appeal. And post-training snacks are unbearable. I’ve come up with a few tricks in my four years of marathon training to help break out of the food rut and ensure that I’m getting the food I need to do my best and recover well.

(credit: Jupiter Images)

Getting Carbs Before The Big Game

When in doubt, always go with something that you know works for you the night before a long run or a big race. Now is not the time to be trying out something crazy and new! This is my absolute no-fuss, go to pasta recipe. I used to just throw the olive oil/garlic into the noodles, but after I saw Ina Garten’s version that uses the pasta water, I added that step into my own method and never looked back.

1 pound long, dried pasta noodle (I’m partial to angel hair)
1/3 cup olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
½ cup basil, roughly chopped
½ cup Parmesan cheese

Bring a large pot of water to boil, add a handful of salt and cook the pasta according to the package directions. Set aside about a cup of pasta water before draining.

Heat the olive oil in a large, deep skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and stir very frequently just until the garlic starts to brown, about 1-2 minutes. Add the reserved pasta water carefully and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and add a pinch of salt, simmering for five more minutes until the liquid has reduced.

Add the drained pasta to the garlic sauce and toss. Add the basil and Parmesan and toss again. Let the pasta rest, and then adjust your seasonings. I like to add freshly cracked pepper to round off the dish.

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Post-Training Run Smoothies

When I’m done with a hard run, the last thing on my mind is eating! So I’ve started making smoothies loaded up with whey protein powder to refuel after run without irritating my stomach. And thinking about those cold, delicious drinks will sometimes propel me through that last set of sprints! Here are some great combinations to try out after your own training runs.

Fruit Smoothie: In a blender, pour ½ cup of fruit juice, 1/2 cup milk, 1/2 cup kefir, and a scoop of whey protein powder. Add in any variety of frozen fruit that you like until the fruit just reaches the top of the liquid in the blender. (I like a combo of peaches, mango, and strawberries.) Blend until combined and add more juice/fruit to get your desired consistency.

Chocolate Berry Smoothie: In a blender, pour 1 cup chocolate soy milk, 1/2 cup berry kefir, and a scoop of whey protein powder. Add in a mixture of frozen strawberries and raspberries along with a handful of almonds. Blend until combined and add more milk/fruit to get your desired consistency.

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Post-Marathon Celebration Spots

Once I’ve crossed the finish line, enjoyed some of the finish-line snacks of salted nut rolls and veggie stock, and changed socks and slipped on a new pair of shoes, I’m ready to celebrate! There are some great spots in St. Paul near the marathon finish line that serve up delicious food and cold beer, perfect for a marathon finisher and friends.

96 North Dale Street, St. Paul
Directory | Website

Located on Dale between Selby and Summit in St. Paul, Sweeney’s has a great patio where you can exchange marathon war stories while enjoying some tasty appetizers and delicious draft beer. The menu features some classic bar food – nachos, wings, burgers – but with a kicked-up taste. Sweeney’s also has $2.50 Summits and $0.50 tacos during their happy hour, which happens to fall 11am-6pm Sunday! It’s close to the finish line and will readily satisfy your need to indulge.

Punch Pizza
769 Grand Avenue, St. Paul
Hours: Open Daily 11 am – 10 pm
Directory | Website

Punch Pizza serves up some amazing wood-fired pizzas that are hard to beat, especially when you’ve just burned 2,000 calories running. The menu is chock full of delicious pizzas made with high-quality ingredients. Order one up and do not even think about sharing! One a regular day you could easily eat an entire pie. On marathon Sunday? Two pizzas….easy. Punch also serves up local and house-brewed beers as well as wine so you can celebrate right and replenish your carbs! Punch is on Grand Avenue right off of Dale.

Christine Hinrichs is a vegetarian who loves everything related to food. She daydreams about recipes, frequents the local farmers’ markets, and reads cookbooks before bed. When not preoccupied with food, she enjoys running the lakes and trails in the Twin Cities and helps rescue stray animals from local shelters. Read about her food adventures at

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