Elyse’s Real Food Story

Here’s how I’m nourishing my body for the long run.

eberhard grossgasteiger/Unsplash
eberhard grossgasteiger/Unsplash

I started running competitively in 7th grade, and for 15 years I suffered from athletic amenorrhea (the absence of menstruation). Doctors told me I would have trouble getting pregnant someday and prescribed artificial hormones. Not one doctor ever suggested that I change my diet.

When I turned 30, I had the chance to work abroad in Switzerland, and my diet changed drastically from low-fat yogurt to whole milk yogurt, from bland white meat chicken breasts to whole roasted chicken, from processed spreads to real butter, and from frozen veggie burgers to full-fat grass-fed ground beef.

This indulgent diet that I had learned to label in our country as unhealthy actually made me stronger, happier, and healthier than ever before.

For the first time in my life, I got my period naturally, and I didn’t have to give up the sport that I loved. My time in Europe taught me that food should be celebrated and enjoyed. I discovered a passion for cooking and was eager to learn more about nutrition. The experience was so life-changing that I left behind a successful marketing career and moved to NYC to study culinary nutrition at the Natural Gourmet Institute.

When I finished school and reunited with my husband in Portland, we were ready to start a family. To our sheer delight, we got pregnant our first month trying. The joy my daughter, Lily, brought into our life inspired me to take the plunge and follow my dream of writing Run Fast. Eat Slow. I knew my story could help thousands of women.

And it gets better. Lily started asking for a sibling when she turned two, but I was busy in the midst of our book tour. My husband and I decided to wait to start trying for a second kid until I started writing this second book. I wanted to have at least nine months to complete the manuscript before adding in the chaos of a newborn. Let’s just say we jumped the gun over the Christmas holidays, convinced it couldn’t possibly happen so quickly again.

To our complete surprise (and honestly a few stressed tears), we again got pregnant on the first go, a true testament to this way of eating. When we got pregnant with numero two, I was running stronger than my college racing days (finally free from stress fractures) and lapping up the endless mountain trails in our new hometown of Bend, Oregon.

I started writing and developing the recipes for this book right away, since I was now on a time crunch. It’s very fitting that I was pregnant the entire time while cooking up book two and Shalane was in serious training mode in preparation for the NYC Marathon—as we were both hungry for new recipes. The meals we developed kept us both energized while working long hours (Shalane on the roads in Mammoth and me in the kitchen in Bend) and enabled us both to achieve our very different goals (Shalane winning a major marathon, me having another healthy pregnancy). I completed the manuscript just days before our adorable son, Rylan, was born on September 22, 2017.

I continue to depend on the recipes within these pages to keep me nourished through the demands of nursing and sleepless nights.

Motherhood is the most rewarding accomplishment of my life. I’m so grateful to have this opportunity to help other women nourish their bodies for the long run.

Reprinted from RUN FAST.COOK FAST.EAT SLOW. Copyright © 2018 by Shalane Flanagan and Elyse Kopecky. Photographs copyright © 2018 by Alan Weiner. Published by Rodale Books, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC

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