Today I am super excited to share an interview I recently did with Natalie Kelley of Blonde Gone Clean. You guys know I love all things health & wellness, so I highly recommend checking out Natalie’s blog as she has everything from food recipes (including delicious sweet treats!) to fitness and wellness. Natalie was kind enough to sit down and answer some questions I had for her as she embarks on training for her first marathon, and since I am as well, I thought it would be fun to have a new perspective on the blog. Without further ado, let’s jump into the Q&A!
1. Let’s start from the beginning. Tell me a little about yourself, where you grew up, etc.
I grew up most of my life in Duvall, Washington, a super tiny town about an hour from Seattle. I LOVED
growing up there. We had a big backyard that we gardened in, bought groceries from a local farm and played
by the river. About a year and a half ago my family moved to Kirkland, WA, which is only about 10 minutes from
Seattle. It’s a lot more city-living and I can’t imagine living anywhere else now! I love how close I am to a bunch
of different healthy restaurants and juice bars (and of course, Whole Foods), how I can see Lake Washington
from my house and I love how vibrant of a community it is. People are always out walking, running, riding
bikes… you name it!
I’m currently going into my senior year of college at a small liberal arts school in Oregon where I’m majoring in
mass communication. Most people tend to assume I’m majoring in nutrition or exercise science because of my
passions, but I fell in love with writing, advertising and everything else that mass communication entails.
Blogging has really grown my love of strategic marketing, developing brands and writing, and I can’t wait to
pursue these things in a future career in public relations.
When I’m not running, working out, blogging or whipping up something tasty in the kitchen, I’m either at my oncampus job in the college’s communication office, researching topics like agriculture and sustainability (I’ll be
the first to admit that I’m a total nerd) or at events for my sorority, Alpha Phi, which I’m the president of. My life
is crazy busy, but I love it that way!
2. Were you always into running? How did you get started?
I was actually a dancer from age 3-15 (ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical, pointe… you name it!) and then a cheerleader
for my three years of high school, before I ever truly got into running. I had run here and there after going on
my very first run in the 8th grade with my brother while on vacation in Maui, but I never really loved it. I signed
up for track in the 9th grade because all of my friends were doing it, but opted for sprints, not because I was
fast, but because I could barely run two laps around the track (it’s crazy to think of where I started!).
I tried to join track again in the 11th grade, but knee troubles made me quit only a couple weeks in. I had pretty
much given up running besides a couple miles here and there on the treadmill (and even that was pushing it).
My love affair with running didn’t start until halfway through my freshman year of college. One of my close
friends was murdered in a random act of violence right off of my college campus the November of that first year
and my world kind of crumbled. Running is truly what saved me and gave me an outlet for my emotions. It was
the biggest player in my grieving process, and still is today. I began running with a few friends and soon
enough we had signed up for a half marathon. This training process and allowing myself to get lost in my runs
(especially the long ones) helped me feel at peace.
I remember crossing the line of that first half marathon and the first words out of my mouth were – “Ohmygod.
That was so fun!!!” My parents looked at me like I was crazy. But that was the moment I knew I would never,
ever stop running.
Running has become one of the biggest components of who I am. It calms my anxiety, it shows me my own
strength, it pushes me mentally, it brings me undeniable joy and it opens my eyes to nature’s beauty. If you told
my 9th grade “sprint-running” self that I would one day run 26.2 miles I would have looked at you like you were
crazy. Sometimes I still think I AM crazy, but every long run proves to me more and more that this is exactly
what I was meant to do.
3. What has been your favourite and leash favourite part about marathon training so far?
My favorite part about marathon training so far is how unbelievably strong I feel, both mentally and physically.
Each week I finish my long runs feeling so empowered and in love with life and with running. I love pushing
myself and seeing how much stronger I get each week. It’s a very rewarding and life-changing experience. It
has helped me realize I can handle so much more than I ever imagined.
I honestly can’t really think of a part of training that I don’t like… I’ve strangely loved every single second. The
only part that has been a little hard is finding a balance between my running and weight-training. I love lifting
almost as much as I love running, but I’ve obviously had to scale back a little bit. It’s been hard because some
weeks I accidently go too hard on leg day and then am so sore all week that my runs are a little rough. Other
than that, I’ve loved everything about it!
4. Tell me about what your long run day looks like. What do you like to eat, what do you do for recovery, etc?
As of right now, long run days are Tuesday. I start prepping the day before – I make sure to drink a ton of water
and keep up with my electrolyte intake (I love the Ultima electrolyte replenesher because it has no added
sugars). I also make sure to eat a dinner that is easier on my stomach and packed with protein the night before,
typically poultry, roasted or steamed vegetables (but not too many since roughage can be hard to digest) and
either sweet potatoes, mini potatoes or brown rice. I try to keep my fat intake to a minimum the night before
because fat doesn’t digest well for me during my long runs. The morning of I try to get up an hour or an hour
and a half before I want to start my run. I drink at least two glasses of water, a small cup of black coffee and I
eat a snack. I typically eat a brown rice cake (or two) with pb2 (once again, fats don’t sit well with me before
long runs) and a banana. I’m still experimenting with my pre-long run snacks, so we’ll see how this changes as
time goes on!
During my runs I wear a running belt that has space for two small water bottles. I fill one with plain water and
one with the Ultima electrolyte replenisher. I also keep dried dates and a mini Lara bar in a zipper pocket just
Afterwards I make sure to stretch, drink a lot of water, more electrolyte replenisher and eat a nutrient-dense
breakfast. My go-to lately has been an egg and veggie scramble with a piece of paleo toast with almond butter
on it. I don’t know about you, but my stomach feels pretty upset the entire day after a long run, so I try to eat as
many high-quality, nutrient-dense foods so that I still get enough calories in without feeling sick!
5. Are you big into running gear? What’s one thing you could not run without? Other than shoes, of course!
I could never run without the running belt I mentioned above (although uncomfortable at times, I feel a lot better
knowing I have fuel with me) and my compressions socks! They’ve SAVED me. I haven’t gotten a single shin
splint or calf cramp during training.
6. What is your favourite way to cross train?
Typically I use the stationary bike. It gives my knees a break and feels good after a hard run! I’m not going to lie
though, sometimes I really bad at remember to cross-train, but I know how important it is so I’m trying to be
better about it.
I’ve swam a couple of times for cross-train as well, but I’m not a very strong swimmer so it didn’t feel like a very
effective workout. It also seemed to hurt my hips, so I haven’t don’t it in awhile!
7. Switching gears to food now… What’s your favourite meal to indulge in? Are you a sweet or salty kinda gal?
Oh gosh this is a hard one! Even when I “indulge,” it’s healthy, because with my food intolerances and stomach
issues I like to keep my diet pretty darn healthy! J My very favorite treats are usualy sweet (although I love
savory breakfasts, lunches and dinners). Pressed Juicery Freeze is my very, very favorite (I typically always go
the night after my long runs) treat. I also LOVE the chocolate chip RXBars when I want something sweet or I
make one of my healthy sweet treat recipes. My paleo chocolate chunk cookies dunked in almond milk give me
all the feels.
8. If you could only eat three vegetables for the rest of your life, which ones would you eat and why?
Only THREE?! Oh my… I could eat veggies all. day. long. But for real, I think it’s an addiction!!! If I had to pick
three (although I’d probably shed a tear or two), it’d have to be carrots, Brussel sprouts (roasted, of course) and
kale! Kale is SO versatile and I use it in everything – salads, smoothies, soups, roasted… I even love munching
on it plain. Same with carrots! I love steaming them (for smoothies and just eating), roasted, grated, straight
from the garden… there’s just something about that crunch. And I have no clue why I love roasted Brussel
sprouts so much. They seriously addicting!!