Alexi Pappas Talks to Runner’s World about Marathon Training and Nutrition

Alexi Pappas at the 2016 Rio Olympics, competing for Greece. (Photo by Eurokinissi)

HOUSTON, TX – Greek-American runner Alexi Pappas competed for Greece in the 2016 Rio Olympics in the 10,000 meters with a time of 31:36:16 to place 17th in a fiercely competitive field, bettering her previous Greek national record of 31:46:83. On January 19, she finished in 10th place for women in this year’s Houston Marathon with a time of 2:34:26, a new personal best, nine minutes faster than her previous personal best, Runner’s World reported.

Pappas spoke with Runner’s World about the importance of nutrition and getting plenty of rest for her training, noting that “most of the time, I went to sleep early enough that I woke up naturally without an alarm. This helped me stay healthy, because my body got the sleep it truly needed.”

“While training for Houston, she was also promoting her new movie, Olympic Dreams, which she starred in and produced with her husband on-location at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games,” Runner’s World reported, adding that “the film, which premiered at the South by Southwest festival last summer, will be released on February 14.”

Following the race in Houston, Pappas posted on Instagram, Runner’s World reported, “I fought hard! There were dark moments and there were vibrant moments. I ran with a pack and I also ran much of it solo. I embraced each segment with confidence and also humility. I just kept reminding myself to be in the mile I’m in, and pain is a sensation, not a threat.”

“Her result was less than a minute off the Greek national marathon record, 2:33:40, which Maria Polyzou set in 1998,” Runner’s World reported.

Pappas, 29, made her debut as a marathon runner at the 2018 Chicago Marathon, finishing with a time of 2:43:38, Runner’s World reported, adding that “after Chicago, she parted ways with her training group in Mammoth Lakes, CA, and relocated to Los Angeles, where she is now coached remotely and trains on her own schedule.”

She told Runner’s World, “This training block has been less focused on double runs. My coach’s and my philosophy now is to do a larger block of training in the morning, and then recover for the rest of the day. Recovery often includes a trip to the gym to stretch and do injury-prevention strength work.”

A team at the Human Nutrition Project worked with Pappas “to determine which supplements and foods would maximize her health and performance,” Runner’s World reported.

“They looked at my blood work, genetics, and allergy tests to determine what best works with my body. Every athlete has different supplement needs depending on their body. I have been grateful to get advice about what works for me,” Pappas told Runner’s World.

Pappas shared with Runner’s World what she consumes during marathon training and racing.

“Morning Coffee and Vitamins: Before a run, I drink coffee—I love I’m Stamina brand—and make a matcha latte with Vital Proteins collagen matcha latte mix. I usually eat oatmeal with GenUCAN mixed in, too [note: Pappas is sponsored by UCAN]. I also take my supplements: Nordic Naturals fish oil, Vital Proteins beef liver capsules, and Bone Love-N-Harmony drops from the Human Nutrition Project (which have Vitamin D, A, K, and E).

“If I’m racing in the morning, I’ll eat a peanut butter and banana sandwich, oatmeal with GenUCAN mixed in, as well as both coffee and matcha. I also mix a beet and red leaf spinach supplement called SpinBoost into my water.

“Post-Workout Protein, Fat, Fiber, and Veggie: During my workouts, I fuel with GenUCAN electrolyte mix. After I’m done running, I usually eat a SmoothieBox Smoothie, plus some combination of protein, fat, fiber, and a vegetable. (My team at the Human Nutrition Project likes to use the acronym ‘PFFV,’ which stands for protein, fat, fiber, and a vegetable.) I try to nail this balance on my plate at all meals.

“For lunch, I might make a combination of eggs, stir fry, toast, and yogurt and granola. If I’m feeling like I really need extra fuel midday, then I’ll cook a wild salmon fillet from ButcherBox. As an afternoon snack, I love to sip on Kettle & Fire bone broth.

“Protein and Carb-Loading at Night: For dinner, I always make a protein from ButcherBox, such as grass-fed beef, salmon, or scallops. My husband and I pair it with veggies from the farmer’s market and some kind of starch or bread. Before a race, I always eat bread, sweet potatoes, chicken, and GenUCAN mixed into water.

“When my sweet tooth strikes, I love dark chocolate. I’m also a big fan of Vital Proteins moon milk, which helps calm me down before bed.

“After the Race… Two words: pizza and sushi!”