Marathon runner wants to help you make strides in the kitchen

Categories: The Dish

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You don't have to be a marathon runner to appreciate the relationship between food and your physical well-being. That's the message that Deena Kastor -- Olympic bronze medalist and former Alamosa resident -- plans to share in a cookbook that's not about counting calories and fat content, but about how food works for you.

"The cookbook is about eating to maximize your potential," Kastor says of her work-in-progress, tentatively titled Making Strides in the Kitchen. "It is a collection of my favorite recipes that are so nutrient-rich and empowering they frequent our table."

"It would be a great book for the mom of three who is being taxed from her schedule, or the corporate CEO who needs a mental edge in the boardroom," Kastor says. "You won't find calories or fat content of my recipes, but how protein within thirteen minutes after you run will aid in recovery and how the beta carotene in pumpkin will repair skin damage from running under a summer sun -- not to forgo the sunscreen, of course."

One reason why Kastor is obsessed with the nutritional mechanics of food? Her current training ground at Mammoth Lakes, California, is at 8,000 feet -- something Coloradans can appreciate. "Even at a resting state, my body is working harder than if I was at sea level," Kastor explains. "Because runners at altitude are under greater stress, we require even more food to fuel these efforts."

Cooking, like running, has always been a social experience for Kastor, who enjoys sharing kitchen creations with friends and family. But the real joy of cooking, she says, is creating a diverse diet. "It is not only fun to cook and eat, but when you have a diverse diet, you are also giving your body a diverse amount of nutrients to work with," she explains. "I don't think vitamins are required for people if they just ate better. People have argued that as runners we need more nutrients, but I get more out of a kiwi than any vitamin C tablet."

Although Kastor doesn't get back to Colorado often, this state was critical to the start of her cookbook. Drinking from a mountain stream while training for the 2008 Bolder Boulder made Kastor sick for over three weeks. She lost weight, and that, she says, may have been the reason her bones weakened -- leading to her breaking a foot during the 2008 Olympic marathon in China.

The silver lining to breaking a foot? Time on your hands to write a book. "Food works for us," Kastor says, "and if we feed ourselves a diverse and large amount of nutrient-rich food, we can operate at a much higher level than ever before."

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