Welcome to The Runner Diaries, where we’re sharing a behind-the-scenes look into a week of training with runners of varying ages, paces and GPS coordinates. Get The Runner Diaries delivered to your inbox, here.
Name: Cara Enright
Location: New York, New York
Training for: Chicago Marathon 2017
Training plan: Following Nikes Project Moonshot a 16-week training program with Nike. I incorporate 1-2 strength sessions a week (either boxing or HIIT).
Part of any running communities/clubs? Nike’s Project Moonshot, Electric Flight Crew.
How long you’ve been a “runner”? I started running in high school. I moved onto longer distance running when I moved to New York City in 2013, after I graduated from college.
Weekly mileage: It ranges from 25-35 miles per week
I grew up running around tracks in North Carolina, and now I’m loving running through the streets of New York City. I was involved in many sports as a kid: cheerleading, dance, competitive jump rope, soccer, and basketball. I ran the 400m and 800m in high school, then the 400m hurdles in college. I didn’t fall in love with distance running until I relocated in NYC after graduation.
The fitness/running community has become everything to me. It made NYC feel smaller, more like home, and less lonely. I completed my first marathon in 2015, the New York City Marathon. I loved every second of it. The next day I told myself I’d never run another marathon ever again. And here I am! My ultimate goal is to break 3:35 for the marathon. I’m hoping to break 3:45 in Chicago, and I’m already lining up which other marathons I want to run after this!
Tuesday | Day 1
7:30am – Pick up my laundry next door. I moved to a new apartment building and can’t figure out how to work our machine in the building, so I did a wash-and-fold for $15. SO worth it.
7:50am – Coffee, two eggs with broccoli, spinach and peppers, avocado, and orange juice for breakfast.
8:30am – Just walked into the office. I fill up my water bottle to make sure I stay hydrated throughout the day — I have my workout tonight with Brooklyn Track Club x Nike Run Club!
10am – Trader Joe’s trail mix packet chocolate cashews, almonds, dried cherries and an apple.
12pm – I can’t wait any longer for lunch. I made chicken, and some veggies and sweet potatoes and add Sriracha. I drink another water.
1:50pm – I’m swamped at work today. I work for a Staffing Agency called Green Key Resources located in Midtown. We partner with Pharmaceutical companies and Clinical Research organizations all over the United States — I basically try to help these companies fill their open positions. It’s a fun job because I get to talk to smart and exciting people all day on the phone, and every day is something a little different. The only downside is that I sit all day. Luckily, I have the most incredible boss who is very supportive of my fitness goals. So if I need to come in a little later or leave a little earlier for a workout, it’s OK.
I decide to have a snack to keep my pushing through. I have Chia Almond protein cold brew shake from Whole Foods and a GO MACRO bar. It’s gluten-free (GF) and delicious. Chocolate chip Peanut butter protein pleasure!
4pm – Realize I ate my snack too early. And I’m out of food at my desk. I buy a Cliff Blueberry bar from the vending machine and a can of seltzer water.
6:30pm – Meet at Spreadhouse for Nike x Brooklyn Running Co track workout. The workout is part of Nike’s Project Moonshot schedule for the Chicago Marathon.
I joined Project Moonshot back in July. It’s a pretty cool program for people training for a fall marathon that I applied for earlier this summer. And I got in! They accepted around 100 people. The idea is that Nike wanted to bring the “Breaking Two” moonshot (of breaking two hours in the marathon) to your everyday street athletes. Those accepted into the program were set up with coaches, pacers, training plans, Nike gear and some discounts to resources for healthy prepared food (Kettlebell Kitchen), strength training (The Fhitting Room) and Massage/Recovery (Finish Line Physical Therapy). We meet twice a week formally (Thursdays for speed, and Sunday morning for a group-led long run) and are broken up by our goal marathon pace. People in the group range from Elite Athletes, to first time marathoners. We have people running 5-minute miles and people running 12-minute miles. We were set up with two phenomenal coaches, Coach Finley and Coach Holder, and have had some guest coaches along the way — including Coach Stowe, Coach Tim, Coach Jess and Kevin Hart even stopped by! It’s been a tremendous help to have a team to train with.
7pm – The workout begins! I’m co-leading the 8-min/mile pace group. We have three sets of intervals in a 1-2-3-2-1 format (the number represent minutes!), with 60-seconds of jogging/active recovery between each interval, and a two-minute recovery jog between each set. It’s dark out and there are a ton of puddles. But we still managed to cruise at a 7:45 min/mile pace. My watch shows 7 miles total of running!
9pm – I hang out with the crew afterwards at Spreadhouse, and grab a chocolate milk before I hop on the subway.
11:30pm – I’m finally home. I’m exhausted, but not hungry. I eat a banana with peanut butter, shower and pass out.
Daily mileage: 7 miles
Wednesday | Day 2
8:30am: Woke up too late for breakfast. The struggle.
9am – At work a little later than usual. I look in my drawer and find some trail mix and an apple. I order a grande cold brew from Starbucks, which is conveniently located downstairs attached to my office.
12:30pm – I buy a salad from Lenwich for lunch next door. It’s a garden salad with buffalo chicken and greek dressing, and I add Sriracha. I like it spiccyyyy.
2pm – I have some gluten-free cookies from juice press and OH MY GOD I’m in love. I had three of them. SO GOOD. You can find them here. (I strongly recommend buying a pack. They’re pricey, but so incredible.)
4pm – I’m still hungry (‘hunger’ tends to be a common trend of mine) so I have a bag of 100-calorie popcorn (free at the office—work perks!).
5pm – I make low sugar maple & brown maple oatmeal.
6:30pm — I quickly change into gym clothes. It’s typically my OFF day, but I missed last week’s workout with my workout crew, Electric Flight Crew — and I missed them! So decide to go today anyways. EFC is a social and fitness club that started on the west coast and has been on the east coast for about a year. I joined them back in April and it’s been one of the best decisions I’ve made. I instantly clicked with so many of the members.
We meet every Wednesday at 7pm at various bars around the city. We bag drop, go for a jog or a HIIT workout, then come back to socialize and grab some beers and food. These people have become my second family. In addition to Wednesday workouts, we’ll do brunches, weekend workouts, studio classes, weekend trips away, and sometimes I bring EFC members to my Project Moonshot workouts as well. If you’re interested check them out here! First month is only $1. 😉
7pm – Today’s workout is hill sprints and my legs are dead from yesterday. I run to the Williamsburg bridge and back with the group, but designate myself as DJ and photographer while they run eight 75-second sprints up the Williamsburg bridge. HAHA SUCKERS.
8:30pm — I have a glass of wine at the bar post-workout. We’re at Spring Street Natural and I notice they have a gluten-free & vegan menu. I order Enchiladas (vegan Tempeh-Vegetable Enchiladas, black bean puree, green onions, tofu almond cream, vegan cheddar cheese, red salsa) and a Corona light. I’m in heaven. the Enchiladas are GF and Dairy-free and yummy!
Curious about my the gluten-free and vegan preferences? I’ve always had a very sensitive stomach. Growing up I ate the most basic food (pasta, cereal, peanut butter & jelly) and was very picky. In college I branched out more, and when I moved to New York I became even more adventurous in the foods I’d indulge in. Now, I eat to train — but I love a good dessert and a good brunch, and will never deny myself a glass of wine or a beer if I’m really craving it. As I got older I’ve realized how much better I feel when I eat healthier instead of having pizza for lunch daily.
Right before marathon training began I had a huge dip in my Iron levels. I went to the doctor one day mid-training because I was feeling off. Turns out, my ferritin was a low 6, my hemoglobin was too low, as was my white blood count and red blood count. I explained to my doctor a bit about my medical history and my constant struggles with low iron, despite eating a relativity healthy, meat-based diet. He recommend I go gluten-free and dairy-free and get iron IV’s twice a week for the following five weeks. He also suggested to get some B12 shots. Changing my diet was hard at first, but my body feels so much better now. After six weeks my ferritin was finally up to a beautiful 174. I decided to stick with this diet until the marathon ends. However, I’ve noticed that eating a gluten-free and dairy-free diet has kept me constantly hungry — but instead of filling up on pretzels, pastas, granola bars or sandwiches, I’m eating loads of healthier options like fruits, veggies, nuts and meat.
11:30pm – Finally home. I shower, and watch two episodes of Friends. I’m currently binge-watching the entire series
12pm – Realize it’s WAY past my bedtime. NIGHT!
Daily mileage: 2 miles
Thursday | Day 3
8am – Breakfast: three eggs with spinach. Orange juice.
9am – Venti cold brew – AND IT WAS FREE (thanks to the Starbucks app)!
9:30am – I’m still hungry. Usually I put more veggies and half an avocado in my breakfast, but it’s grocery store shopping time and I had no food left. I have a Nature Valley fruit & nut trail mix bar, and a packet of Trader Joe’s trail mix. I’m starting to realize that trail mix is a big staple to my diet. My favorite variety is the happy trekking kind.
11:30am – HUNGRY! I decide to take lunch early. I’m located in Midtown and there’s a Trader Joe’s right behind my office. I sampled 4 cookies that were gluten free, soy free, dairy free, and nut free. Basically it was air, right? But it was THE MOST AMAZING COOKIE I’VE EVER HAD.
12:30pm – Lunch! I have chicken, sweet potatoes, veggies, an avocado, and a giant seltzer water from TJ’s. I love seltzer.
1:50pm — I drink some Triology Kombucha! I’m obsessed with kombucha, especially when my stomach feels off!! I snack on 100 calorie skinny pop popcorn because it was free at the office again 🙂
2:15pm – I really want chocolate, so I eat my PB Chocolate chip macrobar early. Mentally, I’m preparing for my 7-mile tempo run tonight. Still drinking my booch. I’m getting over a bit of a cold, so I’m not feeling 100%.
3pm — Nosh on a yummy apple
4pm — Still bored and HUNGRY, so I eat a handful of carrots. I’m starting to notice that I snack a lot. I guess that’s pretty common for a desk job.
5:30pm – More trail mix.
6pm – I get dressed in my workout gear and walk down to Nike Flatiron to get ready for the workout tonight with Project Moonshot at 7pm. It’s a 7-mile tempo run, with a 1 mile warm up, and 1 mile cool down.
7pm – WORKOUT OF DEATH. Wicked bad upset stomach. I couldn’t really finish the workout at 100% effort. I had to stop and walk. My lovely pacer came back to find me after I was dying on the side of the road. This workout couldn’t end soon enough.
9pm – I head to Sweetgreen after the workout with my running friends, but I still feel off so I just eat a banana and a KIND bar and some of their ginger water.
11pm – I stop by the store to pick up some house stuff. My roommate’s boyfriend is in town this weekend and were running low on the necessities.
12am – Finally home, showered and asleep
Daily mileage: 10.2 miles.
Friday | Day 4
8am – Rise and shine! It’s Friday and a Jewish holiday so the office will be dead today. I decide I can let myself sleep in a little. I typically go to bed around 10pm, and this week I have been going to bed much later.
8:45am – Sorta hungry … but not feeling 100% still. I go to get a smoothie at Pure Green. I order my favorite, The Mocha Cold Brew, with vegan protein instead of whey (which I found my body doesn’t tolerate well). I see on the menu you can add Spirulina, and I read an article the other week that this can help with Iron absorption. I decide it’s worth an extra Dollar and add it.
8:55am — I LOVE MY NEW COMMUTE! I’m already at work in my desk. I lived in Park Slope for the past year, and recently (September 1st) moved to Midtown East. I’m obsessed with the area. It’s walkable to work, just one mile from Central Park and close to the East River Running path. Also, I must note, It’s basically on “Wine Row” (AKA a long row of wine bars located right next to my apartment).
11:25am — Feeling a bit better! I nosh on some carrots and hummus.
12:46pm — Still feeling alright but nervous to risk feeling off before my favorite workout class at The Fhitting Room tonight! I go with my coworker to get a PB acai bowl from Juice Press. Yum. We split a pack of Chocolate Chip cookies from there too that I had the other day. They’re made with dark chocolate, vanilla, cashew, arrowroot, mesquite, and maple syrup.
3:30pm – Apple!
Fhitting Room is a HIIT group class with two instructors per class. The studio holds a special place in my heart, my favorite thing about it being that every workout is different. No matter how often I go, I always leave sore. It’s incredible. I typically steer away from anything strength-related because I’m terrible at it. But this class has proven me wrong! I’ve increased my kettle bell weights and have noticed a big change in my long, lanky body. I can even do a push up now. I urge you to try it out! The first class is a 2-for-1 deal. I promise once you start, you’ll be hooked.
6:45pm — Mocha quest bar for recovery. I go in waves with the Quest bars. I love them when I can’t get to real food fast enough, but they do have a bit of a powdery taste.
7:30pm — My friend is hosting a dinner tonight! I head over there after a quick shower for some yummy food and some red wine
Daily Mileage: 0 miles
Saturday | Day 5
12:30am — I slept in today, and head to brunch at a spot around the corner from me in the early afternoon! It’s a boozy bottomless brunch, but I’ve got a long run tomorrow so I just have one Corona Light and the breakfast tacos.
2pm — I go shopping around Soho to help my friend find a dress for a wedding she is attending next weekend in San Fran.
4:30pm — I go to see STRONGER, a movie with Jake Gyllenhaal about the Boston Marathon bombings. It was INCREDIBLE. I picked up some water, Trilogy Kombucha and m&ms for the show.
7pm — Head to the grocery store to get some food for dinner tonight.
8pm – Dinner! Chicken with brussels, sweet potatoes. Watermelon and chocolate-covered bananas for dessert. Watched the Lady Gaga documentary, which I strongly recommend
11pm – Lights out — long run tomorrow!
Daily mileage: 0
Sunday | Day 6
6am – Alarm goes off. I was going to wake up early to eat and make coffee, but decide I’m too tired.
8am — Now I ACTUALLY wake up. I put on my marathon outfit to test out this new Nike crop top I got. If it’s hot on marathon day, I’ll wear this.
8:30am – Head over to Niketown.
9am — 14 mile run with Nike’s Project Moonshot. We did quite a hilly course today AND it was 87 degrees. I was feeling it. We ran over Queensboro, Pulaski, and Williamsburg Bridges, then turned around and went back.
12pm – FINISHED FOR THE DAY! Survived the run! Have a banana and a lot of waters and do some stretching
1pm – Head over to Le Pein because they have the best gluten free avocado toast and I was craving it. Order that with eggs on top and a cold brew with my friend Jen. She’s also running Chicago. We talk strategy and game plans.
2pm – My roommate and friends are at Treadwell watching the game. I shower and head over. I have 2 gluten free beers (it’s basically my Friday night, okay?) and some of their free popcorn.
5pm — Have about an hour to kill before dinner. I head over to Zara and buy some adorable over-the-knee-boots with my friend. I love when I find shoes with just a mini heel. I’m six feet tall, so I tend to tower over people no matter how short my “heels” are.
7:30pm — Dinner date 🙂 We watch Good Will Hunting and have some zoodles, broccoli, cauliflower, cherry tomatoes, onion and garlic for dinner. KIND peanut butter granola bar for dessert.
12pm — Movies over, I cab home. Lights OUT.
Daily mileage: 14.2 miles
Monday | Day 7
8am — RISE AND SHINE IT’S A BRAND NEW DAY! Feeling exhausted from this weekend, but ready to get some work done!
8:15am — Two eggs, avocado, spinach, orange, broccoli and a Starbucks cold brew 🙂
8:35am — Just walked into the office.
10am — Apple and fruit & nut bar.
11:30am — Some carrots/cucumbers and hummus before my massage today!
12:15pm — Massage time! This is part of the Project Moonshot Package. We get one free massage every month from Finish Line Physical Therapy. This is my second one and I have it with Amanda, who is a yoga instructor as well. She’s extremely calming and works magic with her hands. I’ve been feeling some tenderness in my upper hamstring so she spends about an hour working through it.
1:54pm — I’m STARVING! I get quinoa and brown rice sushi, gluten-free pretzels, cucumbers with hummus.
3pm — Smart pop popcorn.
5pm — Another apple. I love apples.
7 pm — Electric Flight Crew family dinner at BXL. 19 of us! It was unlimited mussels, but I don’t like muscles so i ordered a chicken salad and a side of fries. Haha, BALANCE.
Daily mileage: 0 miles
Total weekly mileage: 33.4
A LOOK BACK — THOUGHTS ON THE WEEK
I’ve learned a couple things over this past week.
- I go to bed way too late
- I need to stop eating so much trail mix and bars!
- Meal planning is my friend, and I should take advantage of it more. My body is very sensitive to what I eat, and I noticed I do a lot of snacking throughout the day. I think if I planned my meals better, I’d be able to have healthier and more purposeful snacks. In turn, I think this could improve my running.
The last marathon I ran I had my cousin running with me, and a bunch of new friends supporting me on the sidelines. This year, I have my parents flying out to Chicago and about 10 friends among my running groups that will be racing alongside me. I’ve never been to Chicago before, so I am beyond excited to be racing there. Yet – I am nervous. I am anxious. I am unsure. I am ready!
Regardless of my time, I’m ready to go out there and explore a new city!
About Cara Enright
Cara Enright is a 26-year-old North Carolina native working as an executive recruiter in New York City. She’ll be running her second marathon in Chicago on October 9. Follow her on social media at @therealcaraenright