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Female Athlete Nutrition

Jun 23, 2022

In this episode of the Female Athlete Nutrition podcast I talk with professional runner for Adidas Emily Durgin. We jump right in to discussing her incredible run at the Houston Half Marathon, a performance that places her as the sixth fastest American female of all-time! Emily announces her plans to run her first marathon in the fall of 2022, and talks about how she’ll need to approach fueling differently to maximize her performance over 26.2 miles. Emily shares her current pre-race nutrition strategy racing distances from the 5km to half marathon: fueling well the days before and a good race day breakfast, topped off with an energy gel before the start. We highlight how fuelling looks different for elite and amateur runners depending on race duration and intensity.

Emily and I bond over the difficulties of college chemistry classes required to become a dietitian as we talk about choosing a major in college. As a top high school athlete, Emily shares her recruiting journey and how she ultimately ended up at UCONN, running for 5 years on an NCAA Division 1 team. We discuss the challenges of transitioning to college combined with navigating puberty and body changes. Emily opens up about her struggles and setbacks towards the end of high school and beginning of college, gaining necessary weight as she developed into a woman. Despite early successes in high school, Emily talks about the plateau she hit and how, with the support of coaches, she stayed patient and committed as her body changed, riding the wave that ultimately led her to find lots of success at the conference level.

We discuss the culture of eating patterns and mindset on running teams at the high school, college, and professional level. We talk strategies for navigating toxic team cultures, including being around athletes struggling with disordered eating. Emily shares how her relationship with food has changed for the better, noting the positive influence of Olympians like Cory McGee, Ellie Purrier St Pierre and Abbey D’Agastino role modeling an “all foods fit” mindset, like we advocate for at Rise Up Nutrition. Emily explains how she’s noticed that the higher the standard of performance the healthier the culture and the less restrictive and obsessive the eating habits: no coincidence, because in order to be the best you have to be well fuelled and happy! 

Now one of America’s best athletes, it’s easy to assume that Emily dominated the NCAA and graduated with many sponsorship offers to choose between; however, this could not be further from the truth. Never finishing as an All-American or even making NCAA's on the track, Emily shares how she bet on herself and balanced working as a nanny while running post-collegiately. Results did not come overnight, but her patience and trust in the process saw her steady progress to becoming one of the World’s best, earning a professional contract along the way. We hear about the experiences Emily had training with Olympians on some of the best pro teams, and discuss the importance of role models and support systems, alongside self-belief and perseverance. These same approaches Emily took to her running we can all apply to our training and nutrition; whether it’s getting your period, recovering from injury, or setting a PR, no matter where you are right now, by focusing on the process and the small steps you can take today, you can achieve your goals and we can all be fit, fierce and fuelled female athletes!

Follow Emily on Instagram  @em_durgin 

Emily’s Official Bio:

Emily Durgin is an American long-distance runner from Standish, Maine.  She attended the University of Connecticut and was a 9-time American Athletic Conference Champion.   After graduating from UConn in May 2017, Emily continued running professionally and became one of the top American road racers. She moved to Flagstaff, Arizona in 2019 and is sponsored by Adidas. This January she ran 67:54 in the Houston Half Marathon becoming the 6th fastest American ever.

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