The Runner's Cookbook Review and Food Discussion

Elyses ClosetiRunFar Readers, you may remember Elyse Braner from her review of Lululemon’s Sergeant Jacket. Well, after that review, we had discussions with Elyse about her being iRunFar’s first intern. Intern my eye! What follows is first piece from iRunFar’s newest contributor! Look for more pieces from iRunFar’s first female voice in future Elyse’s Closet posts. For now, enjoy her great review of The Runner’s Cookbook and then share your favorite running food recipes. -Bryon

The Runner’s Cookbook Review by Elyse Braner

Looking for a great source of recipes to fuel the hungriest trail runner? Well, look no further than The Runner’s Cookbook. This collection of 100 recipes gathered from elite runners and compiled by Amherst cross country coach Alison Wade is a fun and practical guide for the runner looking to refuel after a long run, prepare easy everyday meals, or even find some great recipes for entertaining. The book was compiled to benefit the Ryan Shay Memorial Fund, the elite runner who died tragically during the 2007 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in New York City, as well as the Jenny Crain “Make It Happen” Fund, which exists to help cover the medical bills of Crain, an elite runner who was hit by a car during a training run and suffered serious injuries. I have had my copy since the Fall when it first came out. I can assure you that my copy has been well used with splotches of ingredients covering the pages, numerous tape flags marking my favorite recipes, notes in the margins, and dog eared pages.

pumpkin breadI found there are great recipes that are easy enough for the novice chef to follow, but also recipes that are challenging and creative enough for even the most sophisticated foodie. I also found that many of the recipes could be tinkered with and molded to an individual’s taste. After trying and experimenting with many of the recipes, I became particularly attached to Olympic marathoner Blake Russell’s Pumpkin Bread. Not only is this a great pre or post-run treat, her recipe includes an aromatic blend of ground cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice. I actually used this recipe for a Thanksgiving dinner for ten and then presented each guest with an individual tin of this desert bread as a parting gift. It was a huge hit, everyone in the group enjoyed it—a group of runners and non-runners alike!

mac and cheeseIf you’re looking for a no-frills, no-nonsense recipe—Nate Jenkins’s Macaroni and Cheese may be just what you need. This is a typical recipe that you may expect to be a favorite of a twenty- something year old guy, but it does the trick. Jenkins, who finished seventh at the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in 2007 (and also one of my favorite elite runners to follow) instructs the chef to boil water, add the macaroni, and then simply mix in the cheese, butter, and milk. This was certainly the most basic version of macaroni and cheese that I have ever made (I am used to layering, adding gourmet cheese, and browning it nicely in the oven), but this was certainly satisfying after a long run, and I will admit, it tasted good, too. It was an efficient use of cooking time, as well, which meant more time for my post-run ice bath!

As a contrast to the Macaroni and Cheese recipe, the book has Deena Kastor’s Pumpkin Lasagna. Kastor is not only known for holding the American record in the marathon, she is also known for being a great cook. I really enjoyed both making and eating this lasagna—not only was it truly enjoyable to eat, but it is an incredibly creative and ingenious recipe. You can get a taste of Kastor’s cooking style and really get a feel for her passion for quality ingredients and good food in the extended scenes of the Spirit of the Marathon documentary where she takes viewers through the process of making her mouth-watering avocado enchiladas.

My personal favorite recipe that you will find me making often is Mrs. Jackson’s Famous Natural Energy Bars. This is a treat that even your non-running friends will love and eat the whole pan of—I have experienced this!! The recipe comes from Nike runner Victoria Jackson. Her mother used to make this recipe and bring it to her track meets. With a total of sixteen ingredients, it isn’t something that you can just pop in the oven in a matter of minutes, but it is easy enough for the novice chef to make well. Additionally, this recipe can easily be tinkered with, as I have made many different versions of this tasty treat, which often replaces my pre-run Power Bar. The bars are a delicious blend of oats, flax seed, cinnamon, brown sugar, and a variety of other ingredients. Plus, since they use only natural ingredients, and you are making them yourself, you know exactly what is in them.

Overall, this is a cookbook that is worth the investment and will make a welcome addition to any runner’s kitchen.


  • What are your favorite recipes for pre or post run meals?
  • Has anyone ever tried any of the recipes from The Runner’s Cookbook?

There are 14 comments

  1. Anonymous

    Great review! I will have to check out the book. It looks like it'll make a great gift for many of my runner friends and family, too.Yoonmee

  2. Derrick

    Sounds like a great book.As for recipes, here is our favourite after a long, cold snowshoe run…best enjoyed with a pint of Guinness.————African Chickpea and Spinach Soup2 tsp olive oil1 medium onion, chopped1 clove garlic, minced¼ cup smooth natural peanut butter2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth1 tsp paprika1 tsp ground coriander¼ tsp cayenne pepper¼ tsp red pepper flakes1 15-oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained1 14-oz can diced tomatoes2 oz spinach, chopped (about 2 cups)Saute onions and garlic.Add all remaining ingredients except spinach and simmer until heated. Stir in spinach just before serving.

  3. Bryon Powell

    Derrick, That recipe looks great for after a cold winter run – easy to prepare and warming! I hope to try it soon… maybe after tonight's run as it's a cold day for DC.

  4. Rob

    This book looks great! As a beginning runner (who doesn't run all that far yet) I will definately check it out. The review itself was wonderfully written I'm looking forward to more of them from the new ontributor!

  5. Liz

    You've cooked for me from that cookbook…it's good! Plus, with the Tufts for Women's 10k 2007 start on the cover which not only includes Deena Kastor AND my GBTC teammates/me, how could I not get it? haha.

  6. crowther

    I'm not very adventurous in the kitchen but have enjoyed several of the easier recipes, such as Thai Chicken Pizza (Charlie Gruber), Spinach Pie (Jonathan Riley), Stuffed Pasta Shells (Josh Rohatinsky), and Chicken Tetrazzini (Melissa Cook).

  7. Elyse

    Thanks for the comment Greg. Those are great recipes too! Of those I have tried the spinach pie and the chicken tetrazzini. I thought both of them turned out well!

  8. Anonymous

    Great review! It certainly convnced me to seek out this book, which I had heard about in other publications but was not convinced. I'm off to order the book then into the kitchen!

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