How the Pros Fuel: Spotlight on Colleen Quigley

This week we hear from Olympian and Bowerman Track Club member, Colleen Quigley! Colleen shares some great advice on fueling and the consequences that social media can have. Keep on reading to see a bonus recipe from the Quigley family! You can keep up with Colleen on her blog at Colleenquigley.orgcollleen quigley

  1. Who are you? My name is Colleen Quigley, I am 24, from St. Louis Missouri. I am sponsored by Nike and run for the Bowerman Track Club in Portland, Oregon. I specialize in the steeplechase, but also love the 1500.
  2. Short description of running experience: I started running my freshman year of high school (at Nerinx Hall) where I fell in love with the sport mostly due to my dad who was my coach. Then I accepted a full ride to Florida State for 4 years where I ran for Coach Karen Harvey and became a National Champion in the steeplechase. Next I signed a contract with Nike and joined the BTC coached by Jerry Schumacher and the next summer I made the Olympic team and placed 8th in the steeplechase in Rio!
  3. What is your your favorite pre-workout snack? Meal? The BTC works out in the mid-morning, around 10am. I wake up at 7 and eat oatmeal with a smashed banana, some cinnamon, maybe some peanut butter, and a drizzle of honey. Oatmeal is also my pre-race meal because I know it sits well in my tummy.
  4.  How do your refuel after an easy day? Hard day? After my easy morning run, my favorite is to have breakfast round 2! This is usually two pieces of toast with smashed avocado, salt, pepper, and a sunny-side up egg… yum. Sometimes I have lunch which might be tuna salad sandwich. I make tuna salad with canned tuna, a dollop of plain greek yogurt, salt, pepper, chopped beets, chopped walnuts or cashews, and chopped celery or apple. I will either put that on toast or on a bed of greens with toast on the side. After a long run, I love to have something more decadent, like homemade pancakes! Shalane’s cookbook, Run Fast Eat Slow, has a great pancake recipe in it.
  5. When it comes to running and nutrition, do you believe they go hand in hand? Definitely! I know that when I’m on top of my nutrition game I definitely train better. When I’m eating junk and not getting enough veggies and micronutrients, I feel sluggish, don’t have energy or motivation to workout, and can’t workout to my full ability. I also notice that I don’t recover from workouts well if I don’t fuel properly which leaves me in a deficit by the time the next workout comes around. This cycle will almost always lead to injury!
  6. Many runners believe they need to cut calories to run faster times. Do you believe that you need to be “thin to win”? The truth is that your body is different at the peak of the season when you are PRing compared to when you are in the off-season and just putting in base miles or taking time off. That is completely natural to fluctuate a bit during the year. However, being uber skinny does not mean you will necessarily run fast nor is it a direct reflection of your fitness or overall health. I don’t even weigh myself anymore and let my performance on the track gauge my fitness. If I’m training and racing well, I must be in shape, no matter what the scale says. I gained weight when I got to college, but not because I put on the typical freshman 15. I started lifting weights more seriously at FSU and leaned out a ton from high school, but put on more muscle weight as I became a stronger, more explosive, and more durable athlete. This muscle helped me become faster and avoid injury, even though it meant a couple extra pounds on the scale.
  7. Eating disorders are a very prevalent topic in the running world, more so than they used to be. Why do you think that is? I think it is extremely easy for anyone (women, men, athletes, young people) to compare themselves to others and make unfair assessments of themselves as a result. With social media being so widely used, I think it is really easy for young people to look at pictures that people put up of their bodies, food, etc and get ideas about what is right and wrong, good and bad. Social media can be such an amazing tool when used in the right way. It can connect people and unite people and be a great resource of knowledge and support. It can also be a way to compare and judge and harm.
  8. Have you ever struggled with negative body image? If so, how did it affect your running? I have definitely been guilty of playing the comparison game. Comparing my body to those of my teammates or competitors and thinking “She’s faster than me and she is skinnier/has better abs, thinner quads/smaller calves than me so that’s what I need to look like to be faster too.” This train of thought is so tempting, but is completely flawed and very harmful. Everyone is built differently with different strengths. Some people can eat dessert every night and still have a six pack because they have great genes and fast metabolisms. Unfortunately, that’s not me. I think the trick is knowing yourself and your body and what you need in order to perform at the best of your ability. The other thing is that if you spend so much time worried about how you look, chances are you are better off spending that time and energy focusing on training and getting stronger. You will probably end up with the results you were looking for anyway and have a lot more fun on the journey!
  9. If you could give one piece of advice to younger runners, what would you tell them?Never ever lose your love for the sport. The day you stop having fun running, your career is over. I am still so in shock that I get to run every day as my job and actually make a living doing it. It is such a blessing to be healthy and have strong legs and lungs to carry you where you want to go. I try to never take that gift for granted.
  10. What are five staple foods in your diet? Oooh! This is a tough one. People ask me my favorite foods all the time and it’s so hard to pick because I really like to preach about variety being key. I don’t want people to get too stuck on any single “superfood” because getting a variety of nutrients from many different types of foods is so important. Buuuuut, if I had to pick 5: Hummus, chicken thighs, beets, chia seeds, butternut squash.
  11. Do you have any healthy food hacks? I love using plain yogurt instead of mayonnaise in recipes like tuna salad or egg salad. There is also a family recipe that uses greek yogurt and parmesan cheese to make a creamy yet healthy fettuccine alfredo. My parents made it for us all the time growing up, then I started making it for my college teammates when we had potlucks. Now I make it for my BTC teammates. I have never met someone who didn’t love it! Recipe below.
  12. What is your favorite pre-race meal the night before? Yogurt Fettuccine! In high school, before big races my dad would have the whole team over to our house for pasta. We would cook up some chicken and veggies with it and my mom would always make fresh bread (her specialty). We always raced well off of yogurt fettuccine!
  13. Ultimate post-race meal or treat? I have a huge sweet tooth so I would go for some delicious ice cream. Ideally there would be a hot cookie or brownie under that ice cream too! If I’m going for savory, I’d choose a big juicy burger with sweet potato fries. The sweet potato fries are a key.
  14. Any last words of wisdom? More thoughts on social media:  I think that social media also contributes to how crazy fast high school runners are running these days. As a high schooler you are no longer just comparing yourself to your teammates and the runners in your town or state. Now high school runners know exactly what is going on with other runners their age and older (collegiates or professionals) all around the country and are starting to get ideas about where they should be based off that. For example, I hear from high school athletes at national meets who are running 60-80 miles per week! I didn’t start doing that until college at least. I will be interested to see how this wave of high school phenoms fare in college and in the professional world after training at such a high level so young. It sounds funny, but I would actually encourage high school athletes to do less. Enjoy high school and don’t be so intensely serious about running quite yet. If you want to have a long running career I believe it needs to be a gradual and slow build up, not an intense and hot flame that inevitably burns out too soon. Good college coaches know when an athlete is being overtrained in high school and they know that athlete is already so close to their ceiling with not much room for improvement. The good coaches are looking for young talent that is not fully developed, and kids who are really hard-working and dedicated to their studies as well as their running.colleen quigley
  15. Bonus Recipe from Colleen:Papa Quigley’s Yogurt Fettuccine

    Here’s the famous recipe! I recommend this for 5 hungry athletes.

    1 lb pasta cook (You can use any type of noodle, orecchiette is my favorite because it holds the sauce so well)

    1 c plain yogurt

    1.5 c Parmesan, grated

    1 egg mixed

    1 teaspoon salt

    1/4 c olive oil

    1-2 teaspoons dried basil

    3-5 cloves garlic, minced

    1. Boil a pot of water (with a pinch of salt), add noodles, and cook until al dente.
    2. In mixing bowl, combine yogurt, parmesan, egg, and salt. Stir until smooth.
    3. In a medium pan, heat oil on low heat, add the basil and garlic and cook only until the garlic is sizzling and fragrant. Don’t burn the garlic!
    4. Drain noodels and return to pot. Add the oil mixture in with the pasta and stir to cover the noodles completely. Then add the yogurt mixture and stir well.

    Variations: cook chicken or seafood in the oil (add a bit more oil) before adding garlic and basil. You can also stir in cooked peas at the end if desired.

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Author: Johanna

Runner, photographer, breakfast lover and mountain hiker. Passionate about nutrition and inspiring others.

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