Shalane Flanagan's tips for how to eat your way to your best marathon finish

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Runners often say their relationship with food is a burden.

Let along trying to negotiate, breakfast can really make or break a runners race day!

Marathon champion Shalane Flanagan shares her secrets to meals in her cookbook series "Run Fast, Eat Slow" that she co-authored with Chef Elyse Kopecky.

Shalane says the approach to proper nutrition is a key factor in extending her career. She plans on it helping her defend her title at this year's TCS New York City Marathon.

Her race day oatmeal breakfast is at the end of this article.

The four-time Olympian and her long-time friend's second cookbook, New York Times bestseller, is chock full of nutrition and meal preparation advice. It's a runners handbook to eating your way to your best marathon.

Runners complain about how to get the right amount of calories, when to eat, and what foods to choose. It's no wonder they are racing their way to bookstores to ask questions to a woman who has come full circle with her relationship with food.

What does a winner eat the morning of their race?

"My 'race day oatmeal' which I created it here in New York. It includes a big bowl of oats creamer fruits and nuts and cinnamon and eat until I feel really full - topping off the fuel tank," Flanagan said.

Shalane admits eating to satisfaction does not fit the stereotype for female distance runners.

"I'm in the business of fine tune machine and lean and mean. There was not the most healthy relationship with food at points in my career because of that," she said.

Her struggle with food took a turning point when her friend Chef Elyse Kopecky told her healthy fats and whole foods were a gold mine. Myths were crushed as Shalane figured out salt cravings and yes, eats chocolate every day!

"All of the sudden felt better and got down to my race weight which is my job was natural versus the big burden of figuring out food," she explained.

Nutrition changes made her healthier and happier and she says nutrition has extended her career. At age 37 she will defend her marathon title! Her secrets are out with the "RUN FAST EAT SLOW" books.

"Young mothers with eating disorders and young women and even men - far-reaching. Our fans trust us. The fans listen to us and trust us," she said.

Shalane wants to ease the burden that runners have in their relationship with food. It worked for her, but she craves salt and has chocolate every day. The book series explains the way to eat whole foods during training, includes race day ideas, and much more.

Race-Day Oats

Shalane's go-to breakfast for more than 8 years. She ate it for her marathon debut in NYC, the London Olympics and when she nabbed the American course record at the Boston Marathon, and for her victory of the TCS NYC Marathon in 2017. She eats it with her coffee, and also drinks coconut water.

Serves 1

cup instant oats
banana, sliced
cup almond milk
Walnuts or almond butter, to taste
Raisins or fresh berries, to taste
Cinnamon, to taste
Honey, to taste

Combine oats, banana and cup water in a microwaveable bowl. Microwave on high power for 1-2 minutes, or until thickened. Mash banana slightly and stir in milk, walnuts or almond butter, and raisins or berries. Top with a sprinkle of cinnamon and a drizzle of honey.

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