Meal menus, daily workouts, and inspirational advice from champion runner Aaron Saft.
Aaron Saft is a professional runner who recently placed third at the National Trail Marathon Championships in Oregon. The Asheville-based athlete is living the life of a health nut, running 100 miles a week and paying close attention to his nutrition plan. He also has a wife in the middle of her medical residency, a two-year-old son, a full-time job, and a “burger addiction.”
Saft plans his workouts at the beginning of each month and his meals at the beginning of each week.
5am: 45-minute run. “I wake early to get back home before my wife leaves for work.”
Breakfast: Oatmeal and yogurt and fruit, or eggs and whole grain toast and a Carnation Instant Breakfast drink. “It’s a bigger breakfast because I put in a lot of miles on Sunday. Monday is important in my schedule for recovery.”
Lunch at Work: Two Amy’s Organic burritos, bag of steamed veggies. “Those new steamable bags are perfect for eating at work. Five minutes in the microwave and you’re good to go.” Saft owns FootRX, a running shoe store in South Asheville.
3:30pm: 30-minute run. “I do my second run right after work before I pick up my son from day care.”
Dinner: Fish and some veggies and a whole grain
5am: Workout on the track for speed work, or hill repeats, or tempo runs
Breakfast: Protein shake and eggs and toast “After the hard workout, I eat a lot of protein to rebuild muscle, plus carbs to absorb the protein.”
Lunch: Couscous with a bag of steamed veggies
3:30pm: Easy “shake out” run. 30 minutes.
Dinner: Chicken and veggies
4am: 90 minute long run. “I have to get up earlier to get back before my wife heads to work.”
Breakfast: Protein shake and oatmeal
Lunch: Burritos and veggies again
3:30pm: Half hour shakeout run
Dinner: Veggies over whole-wheat pasta
5am: One-hour-long run
Breakfast: Cereal and fruit
Lunch: Boca burger wrap and veggies
3:30pm: 30 minute easy run
Dinner: Pizza. “My wife’s on call Thursday nights, so it’s boys’ night.”
5am: Two-hour long strength and speed workout. Longer intervals, longer hill repeats. “I’m focusing on quantity over quality with this workout.”
Breakfast: Protein shake, eggs, and toast
Lunch: Couscous and veggies
3:30pm: Easy 30-minute run
Dinner: Date night. “I try not to worry about what I eat for dinner too much this night.”
8am: 50-minute run with some strides
Breakfast: Cereal with fruit
Lunch: “Whatever’s around the house” Normal cereal breakfast
No Afternoon Workout
Dinner: A chicken based meal with lots of veggies
8am: Long 2 to 2.5 hour run with 1-minute intervals at the end
Breakfast: Pancakes. “I’m looking to get my most calories at breakfast because of the long run. I like chocolate chip pancakes.”
Lunch: Late in the day, usually at a Mexican restaurant. “I also crave mac and cheese after a long run for some reason.”
Dinner: Whatever’s around the house
Sleep: “After the long run, I try to get an extra hour or two of sleep that night, usually between eight and nine hours.”
BRO talks with a man on the run.
You have a full-time job and family. What’s the secret to your training success?
Time management. You have to know when you have the time, and be prepared to make sacrifices to train whenever. Sometimes, I’ll be up as early as 3:30 am heading out with my headlamp in order to get back before my wife has to go to work. It may not be the ideal time, but it’s better than not training.
What do you personally give up in order to train?
I do double workouts five days a week, so it’s even more of a commitment. We don’t watch much T.V. I like to get my runs in before family time. We get cranky when we don’t run, but I never want to sacrifice family time because “Aaron’s got to run.”
I understand you’re methodical about your scheduling.
I’m very flexible with my schedule. If I have to wake up at 3 a.m., I’ll do it. If I have to take my kid in the jogging stroller, I’ll do it. But once something gets put on the schedule, it’s set in stone. I plan my work and workouts a month in advance.
How big of a role does nutrition play in your recent success?
We’ve become more attuned to what we’re eating and what we’re feeding our son. During college and right after college, everything was on the fly. We did ready-made dinners, fast food, whatever we could get. Now, we’re very particular. More veggies, more chicken and fish, more fresh food, and organic when we can. I’ve seen the benefits in my running. I recover faster and I have more energy for my workouts.
Any advice for our readers?
Everything is a progression. Transition into a healthier lifestyle: Eating smaller portions, or eating fruit for breakfast, or substituting a healthy snack for a candy bar. Start easy, and start small. It took me a long time to get to this point.