Eating Healthy While Training All Year?: How Lisa Fajardo Does It!

By RikkiLynn Shields, Editor

Sophomore Lisa Fajardo of the Women’s Cross Country and Track and Field team plays a key roll in the success of the team, along with many of the other talented jaspers. Fajardo placed 15th overall at ECAC’s this past weekend, clocking in her 5k at 17:13.79. However, Fajardo does not attribute all of her success to her vigorous training– she also has her eye for healthy foods to thank.

Fajardo, who is an in-season athlete all year round, began running distance the summer before her freshman year of high school. Next to running and school, one of Fajardo’s main priorities is to make sure she is constantly taking in the correct amount of carbs, portions, and fats, to maintain a healthy diet. Going from Cross Country, to Indoor Track, to Outdoor Track, constant training means constant awareness of what foods your body needs to be properly fueled– and eating healthy, for Fajardo, is super important.

“Training all year round can be rough at times, especially as a distance runner. We have to run a lot of mileage, and that is exhausting mentally and physically. Our practice consists of running ALL the time. With the right training plan however, it tends to pay off. To me, eating healthy is super important! Based off of personal experience, I believe that a good diet is crucial for an athlete to excel– I have faced the consequences of poor eating habits before.” Fajardo says.

With everyone’s tastes being different, each individual athlete tends to have their on specific meal plan that they try to follow throughout the year. Although some stick to a specific diet more than others, the best they can do is try. For Fajardo, her breakfast and lunch meals tend to remain the same everyday, while dinner tends to vary depending on the day.

“Breakfast and lunch almost always stay the same. For breakfast I either have an egg white omelette with ham and mozzarella, and whole wheat toast with butter, or I eat a whole wheat bagel with butter and a small serving of breakfast potatoes. Lunch is a bit small – I have a double chocolate chunk quest bar and a chocolate chip granola bar. Dinner could be anything, but lately it has been grilled chicken with a few bowls of chicken noodle soup, and then a spinach salad with oil and vinegar. However, my favorite healthy food is by far broccoli rabe sautéed in oil and garlic. It tastes amazing with whole grain pasta!”

While she is in season all year round and often, it’s hard to splurge when she is racing very often, Fajardo finds herself indulging a bit more when she is given a week or two off in between the seasons.

“My eating habits really don’t change at any point during the year since we are in season pretty much all year, but when we get a week or two off, I will splurge a little more. My favorite ‘junk’ food is ice cream, specifically chocolate ice cream…with brownies… and cookie dough… and chocolate. syrup.”

Before a race however, carbs are the most important thing for a runner to properly fuel their body. Although too many carbs will do you no good, running the distances that Fajardo does at practice each week and at races, carbs can be her best friend.

“On race day I eat much less because racing with a heavy stomach is awful when you have to race a 3k or 5k. However, I do eat a bit extra the day before a race to compensate. The day before a race I have to have pasta and chicken. Preferably spaghetti and chicken parmesan!”

With her love for pasta and chocolate, Fajardo tries her best to remain aware of what she is putting into her body. Instead of having a chocolate bar, Fajardo compensates by having a protein bar with chocolate in it– a small change that makes all of the difference!

“I try not to drink my calories, so I avoid sugary drinks like soda and iced tea. As much as I love any form of chocolate, I try to only consume it in the form of protein/granola bars. Double cheese burgers are another weakness of mine that I have to avoid for the most part.”

Fajardo’s outstanding dedication to her sport, on and off the track, always seems to pay off in the end. For a dedicated distance runner like herself, her eye for healthy foods helps her keep her eye on the prize.