An American middle- and long-distance runner, Iowa native and University of Missouri grad, Karissa Schweizer’s next adventure is the Tokyo Olympics. She recently secured her spot with Team USA after placing second in the 5,000-meter run at the Olympic trials in Eugene, Ore. Live Naturally caught up with the busy athlete to find out what she loves most about running and what she loves to eat most when she’s training.
LN: A huge congratulations on making Team USA! How are you feeling?
Karissa: I’m still on cloud nine right now. I’ve been working so long and hard for this moment. It’s surreal that it happened.
LN: There is some family history around running. Tell us about that.
KS: I feel like I really fell in love with running through my family. My grandpa ran while at college and he went on to coach high school track and cross-country for about 40 years. My mom and dad met at college and ran track and cross-country, too. So, I was destined to be a runner. Growing up, I played other sports because my parents didn’t want to push me, but I loved running the most. Going to a Division 1 college (University of Missouri) for running was a huge accomplishment. Then to go on and run professionally was beyond my dreams. You always dream of running at the Olympics, and now it’s actually a reality for me.
LN: What are some of the things you love most about running and why?
KS: I feel like it’s one of those sports that is very mentally and physically tough. You truly get to see all the results and hard work at competitions. You have so many hard workouts and so many grueling mental battles when training, and when you put it all together on race day, that is amazing.
LN: There’s been a resurgence in outdoor sports like running due to the pandemic. Could you offer a few tips to people who either are just getting into running or haven’t run for a while and are getting back to it?
KS: I had a decent amount of people reach out because of the pandemic, asking: “What do you do? How were you preparing mentally to run without a competition in sight?” A lot of people will just go out and do a 5-mile run when they haven’t run at all, then they hate it. When you’re trying to get in shape, you should slowly work your way up in mileage, mixing up walking and running a bit. It’s about just getting out there and enjoying yourself, then the fitness will build. I also do a lot of training in the gym to stay healthy and strong, a mix of weights and core work.
LN: What are your favorite ways to fuel for training and why?
KS: A lot of people will just wake up and go run without eating. It’s really important to fuel before a run. I personally like pancakes before a run or workout. It’s a fun way to get my carbs, and who doesn’t love pancakes? After a run, I’ll eat a granola bar or protein balls, something to get some quick carbs in my system. After a workout there’s a crucial time of recovery, letting your body reset for the next workout.
For hydration, electrolytes are really important both pre- and post-workout. I’ll also do a protein shake after a run or a chocolate milk—it’s so simple and refreshing, the most basic form of recovery.
Schweizer is a big fan of Kodiak Cakes. Her favorite products are their Buttermilk Power and Cinnamon Oat Power Cakes with Kodiak Maple Peanut Butter Syrup and a sliced banana. “A hidden gem!” she says of the syrup.
Here are some of Schweizer’s favorite recipes: