Emily Lipari is always up for trying something new. Last summer, when the 27-year-old’s coach, Terrence Mahon, signed her up to race a 5K for the first time ever just weeks after recovering from injury, she was all-in.
This fearlessness no doubt played a role in Lipari’s latest breakthrough at the Bruce Lehane Scarlet & White Invitational at Boston University on February 2, when she ran a 26-second PR to win in the 5,000 meters in a time of 15:07, the fastest time in the world so far this season. She also secured the Olympic standard—which is 15:10—in the process. While the former Villanova standout made it look easy, it was only Lipari’s third time competing in that distance.
“The 5K is still weird to me,” Lipari told Runner’s World. “I’ve always trained for the mile, but I run higher mileage than most milers and I do well in tempo runs, so it makes sense that I have some potential in the 5K.”
Lipari’s huge PR is even more impressive considering that for most of 2019, she was sidelined with injury. While racing the BAA Mile last April, she felt her plantar tissue tightening up, but she ignored it. In the final stretch, something snapped in her heel. Once Lipari finished runner-up behind her Mission Athletics Club teammate, Nikki Hiltz, she was hobbling.
“I had never had an injury before, so I wasn’t expecting it at all,” she said. “I couldn’t put any weight on it after the mile. It took about four months to go away completely. I was in the pool most of that time.”
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Lipari was back running on land by July, but her mileage was much lower than usual. To regain the lost running fitness, she put in hard swimming sessions in the pool. That’s when Mahon told her it was time to race.
“I basically went from the pool to the track,” she said. “I was surprised by how well [the 5K] went, all things considered.” She clocked 15:33 for her first 5,000 meters as a pro in Portland, Oregon, on July 20. A week later, she raced the distance again at the USATF Outdoor National Championships.
With the Olympic standard now under her belt, Lipari can breathe a little easier as she prepares for outdoor season. She doesn’t know yet if she’ll run the 1500 or 5,000 meters at the 2020 Track Trials. “I’m keeping both doors open,” she said.
In the meantime, she’s taking steps to be the best runner she can be—which starts with her daily nutrition. Here, the self-professed cooking enthusiast, who lives in Washington, D.C., describes what she typically eats and drinks to fuel her 80-mile training weeks.
Morning Oats With Berries and Nut Butter
I usually wake up between 7 and 7:30 a.m., which is about two hours before practice time. I’m a big oatmeal fan, so I’ll make a bowl of rolled oats (I buy mine in bulk from Whole Foods) with almond milk, freshly ground almond butter, and a mix of strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries. Another combo I love is oats with a sliced granny smith apple, cinnamon, and almond butter. I’m super weird because I don’t like coffee, but I’ll sip on water with some Nuun.
Before I head to practice, I pack an emergency Kind bar and a protein shake, which I customize through .
Roasted Veggie Rice Bowls After a Run
After my morning workout, all I want is a big bowl of rice and roasted veggies. I’ll grab a cast-iron skillet and toss in Brussels sprouts, broccoli, red pepper, onion, red or sweet potato wedges, and chicken, and sauté it all with some olive oil. Then I make a bowl of rice and scoop everything on top. If I’m getting really fancy, I’ll make my own sauce to go on top, like cilantro vinaigrette, or I’ll drizzle on a flavored olive oil.
Always Stop for Guac
If I don’t snack in the afternoon, I’ll regret it immediately on my second run. Mid-afternoon, I’ll usually smash up some avocados to make homemade guacamole, then dip in Tostitos tortilla chips. If I’m craving something sweeter, I’ll have yogurt with Bear Naked granola, berries, almond butter, and some chocolate chips.
Globally-Inspired Gourmet Dinners
I got extremely lucky because my husband is a fantastic chef. Whenever I’m away at training camp, he binge-watches Top Chef, and when I come back he has an awesome recipe for me to try or a new cooking gadget in our kitchen.
For date nights, we like to pick a country and try to make a recipe from that country’s cuisine. Recently, we “went to England” for the night and cooked Cornish game hens. We also made homemade butternut squash ravioli with fresh dough and served it with chicken and brown butter-sage sauce. It was so good. We always have some mix of protein, vegetables, and carbs, but we like to be creative.
After a race, I want a big, thick, juicy burger with a runny egg and crispy bacon on top. Just make it nasty.
Digital Editor Hailey first got hooked on running news as an intern with Running Times, and now she reports on elite runners and cyclists, feel-good stories, and training pieces for Runner’s World and Bicycling magazines.