Wellness April 13, 2018

Elite Boston Marathon contender Shalane Flanagan shares her morning routine

WATCH: Shalane Flanagan reacts to making history at NYC Marathon

Shalane Flanagan could take home another major title at this year's Boston Marathon.

Flanagan, who attended high school in a Boston suburb, won the 2017 TCS New York City Marathon in 2 hours, 26 minutes last November.

Seth Wenig/AP
Shalane Flanagan of the United States crosses the finish line first in the women's division of the New York City Marathon in New York, Nov. 5, 2017.

That time doesn't come from sleeping in late or have an irregular schedule. Flanagan, also an Olympic medalist and American record holder, said marathon training as an elite athlete is not as glamorous as some may think.

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For one thing, she has to pay way more attention than the average person about how she fuels her body.

Flanagan is so focused on nutrition that she and her former college teammate, Elyse Kopecky, are releasing their second cookbook, "Run Fast, Cook Fast, Eat Slow," in August.

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Before Flanagan starts cooking each day, she pours herself a cup of coffee.

Here, the 36-year-old share how she starts her mornings.

Predictable wake-up time

I go to bed and wake up at the same time every day to keep my body on a schedule.

Sleep is super important for an endurance athlete so that means lights out at 9 p.m. and I wake up naturally at 6 a.m.

Coffee, then phone

I try not to check my phone until I have one of my favorite mugs filled to the brim with coffee in front of me.

Coffee with creamer is my vice that I can’t live without.

GC Images/Getty Images
Shalane Flanagan is seen outside "Live With Kelly," Nov. 6, 2017, in New York City.

'Super important' breakfast

Breakfast is also super important.

My go-to breakfast before a hard workout is a bowl of oatmeal with filling toppings like nuts, berries, bananas, nut butter, etc. and a smoothie.

My favorite smoothie recipe is the "Can’t Beet Me" smoothie in my cookbook. (Scroll down for the recipe!)

First workout

I always log my long run or speed/tempo workout in the morning, followed by a weightlifting session at the gym three times per week.

My strength routine does not involve heavy lifting. It’s mostly body weight exercises with a lot of focus on building core strength. I also have an active recovery stretch routine that I do daily.

Then I typically do a shorter run in the late afternoon.

I always wake up excited for the day so I like to knock out my workout first thing. I hit a slump in the afternoon and during peak training, I always find time for a power nap.

The importance of nutrition

Elsa/Getty Images, FILE
Shalane Flanagan of the United States celebrates winning the Professional Women's Divisions during the 2017 TCS New York City Marathon in Central Park, Nov. 5, 2017 in New York City.

Nutrition has been one of the most important components to keep me healthy and running at this level at my age.

There is so much misleading nutrition information out there and I didn’t always eat right. When I moved up in distance to the marathon, I found my self hungry all the time and I was relying on a lot of snack foods to get through the day.

When I started working with Elyse [Kopecky] on "Run Fast. Eat Slow." I learned that I needed more fat in my diet.

Integrating whole foods and healthy fats into all my meals keeps me satiated and enables me to recover faster from hard workouts.

Flanagan shared some of her favorite recipes from her first cookbook, "Run Fast. Eat Slow.: Nourishing Recipes for Athletes," with "GMA" here:

Wild salmon sweet potato cakes recipe

Wild west rice salad

Life during marathon training

Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images, FILE
Shalane Flanagan of the US reacts after crossing the finish line to win the Women's Division during the 2017 TCS New York City Marathon, Nov. 5, 2017, in New York City.

Thousands of runners from around the world participated in the New York Marathon.

When I’m marathon training, I don’t have much time for anything else. My life is not as glamorous as people might think!

The morning after the Boston Marathon

I’ll still be running on adrenaline so will be up early and I’ll definitely indulge in a naughty breakfast -- a donut or two!

No. 1 piece of wellness advice

Learn to cook! Spending more time in the kitchen is the best thing you can do for your health.

Shalane Flanagan's 'Can't Beet Me' smoothie recipe

"Run Fast, Eat Slow."
The "Can't Beet Me Smoothie" from "Run Fast, Eat Slow," is photographed.

This recipe makes enough for two, so your running buddy can fuel up, too. Or you can store leftovers in the fridge for up to 3 days.


1 cooked beet (see directions opposite), peeled and quartered

1 cup frozen blueberries

1 small frozen banana

1 cup unsweetened almond milk or other milk of choice

1 cup coconut water

1-inch knob fresh ginger, peeled (use edge of a spoon)

1 tablespoon almond butter

Directions and tips:

1. In a blender, place the beet, blueberries, banana, milk, coconut water, ginger, and almond butter. Blend on high speed for several minutes until smooth.

2. For rushed mornings, this smoothie can be made the night before. Simply stir in the a.m. and sip while you lace up.

If you have a high-speed blender such as a Vitamix, you don't need to cook the beet. Using it raw preserves nutrients, and it will puree completely in the blender. Simply peel and quarter.

Don't put those beet greens in the compost pile! They're chock-full of inflammation-fighting nutrients. Use them in stir-fries, pasta, or pesto or toss them right into the smoothie.

Reprinted with permission from "Run Fast, Eat Slow: Nourishing Recipes for Athletes, by Shalane Flanagan and Elyse Kopecky.