Everyone wants there to be a magic formula to good nutrition. There are really basic rules, sure…best practices. But everyone is different, everyone likes different things, and each athlete’s body has different needs.

During the 2010 season (arguably my best to date, although I could make arguments for 2015 and 2018), I weighed about 182-185 pounds. I was right around there in college (Except for in 2009, when Russ lived at Purdue and I ate everything in sight out of happiness. But I think that was more a body composition thing than a weight thing, and I PRed that year so whatever.). When I graduated from high school, I weighed about 160. In 2011, it was suggested to me that I should get leaner, so I did that for the 2011 and 2012 seasons, and was around 175 for most of those years, when I didn’t throw well and ultimately tore my ACL. More on that in an upcoming body image blog! Following my catastrophic knee injury, I’ve eaten for performance rather than vanity. And 2018 and 2019 so far feel like my most successful years with that attitude. I am currently 198-200 pounds, the heaviest I’ve ever been. But in this weird late season (and in all my seasons), heaviness is normal as I approach my competitions. I want to tell you how I think about nutrition.

The end of row one and beginning of row two below are from 2009, my year of eating. These are all chronological!

For even more background, my Mom did a fabulous job of feeding her family well-rounded, nutritious meals growing up. I knew no different than home cooking with balanced nutrients in each family dinner we had together. I’m so lucky to have had that! She told me once that an alternate career for her would have been dietician. Then, I went and got a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition, Fitness and Health from Purdue’s world-class nutrition department.

Here are my main points:

Eat when you’re hungry.

               And not when you’re not hungry! Listen to your body. You get bonus points if you have balanced nutrition, but really listening to your body is the biggest point. Get in tune with it. That takes time. Just stop and think, every time you eat. It’ll get easier with practice to know what you need vs. what you want.

Eat breakfast and eat after practice.

               You don’t have to eat a ton if you’re not a breakfast person. Just have some berries or a bite or two of banana or a bar that’s easy on your stomach or one piece of sausage or an egg. But putting some fuel in your body is an important start to the day as an athlete. In the same way, you have a short window (about 30 minutes) of opportunity to aid in your recovery from training, right after training. Eat something. Preferably a mix of carbohydrates and proteins.


               Drink water on the regular! I think water is boring so I try to spice it up (LaCroix, SpinDrift, Emergen-C up to once per day, Propel, etc.). Hydration is huge! It moves stuff around your body and flushes out inflammation. Related to this is monitoring caffeine and alcohol intake. I drink about two cups of drip coffee in the morning and might have a dirty chai in the afternoon on my way home from training, but that happens maybe twice per month if I remember to bring my to-go mug. I do enjoy a glass of wine or a margarita with dinner sometimes, but only a few times per week and only if I’ve been good about staying hydrated. I quite enjoy decaffeinated hot tea at night before bed!

Here are some extra points:

1.       Plan ahead.

Stock your fridge. There is basically nothing worse than arriving home and realizing you have no good food. If I’m home without Russ (he mostly cooks for me when he is home, and I love him even more for it), I try to have two or three dinner options in mind for the things in my fridge, and always have breakfast foods. My lunches usually consist of sandwiches or dinner leftovers, so I don’t worry too much about them, but I like to have options. I am not a fan of meal planning, but having ingredients available that meet a few different sets of cravings is important to me, and to me eating healthily instead of hitting up Noodles & Company or ordering Papa John’s.

Another way to plan ahead is to have healthy going-out options. I absolutely love Pho, and I have no problem at all eating at my favorite restaurant by myself. So if I’m on my way home from an afternoon practice and am totally exhausted, I turn my car toward Lemongrass and feel no guilt about it. I used to lunch often at McAllister’s deli and quite enjoyed a giant salad while I journaled and reviewed film. Paying more than I would to cook at home is okay with me if I know the food is also fueling my recovery and performance. But I don’t like to pay for junk.

2.       Have snacks.

There are SO many snack options in the world! Figure out what your favorite healthy bar is. I like Rx bars. Have some of those on hand. My favorite snack that I’ve discovered in the last few years is cottage cheese, pistachios, apples, and cinnamon in a bowl. Delicious! If you mix equal parts plain Greek yogurt and peanut butter (or some real fancy almond or other-nut butter like I do), it makes the yummiest fruit dip, and you’re getting protein in. Do some Googling and figure out what you love in a healthy snack, then have those things on hand for when hunger strikes and you still want to make gains.

3.       Timing is important.

I said I avoid Noodles & Company, but if I really really want it and my time is short or I’m totally worn out, I’m going there. I’ll get protein, fats and carbs in my regular-size Wisconsin Mac n’ Cheese, and then when I get home I can shower, cuddle Madeline and go straight to bed. I have a friend who shall remain unnamed who does this with Chick-fil-A. Sometimes getting whatever nutrients are available in within a half hour of a training session is more important than worrying about what that food is. But not every day.

Having the right foods on hand (points one and two) will allow you to eat better stuff within those critical windows after training, so you don’t have to resort to fast food. But sometimes is okay. I have really long ball days sometimes (a 3-hour training session perhaps), so I started taking a protein-rich yogurt to practice with me to eat halfway through. My body does fine with dairy, and I felt a lot better after getting that nice cold snack. The second half of my workouts flourished!

4.       If you must, track your intake.

There are a lot of nutrition apps you can download to help you learn what is actually in the things you’re eating and how those numbers relate to what other people do, or how you could do better. If you’re just learning about nutrition, I’d encourage you to download one to get familiar with what food means in terms of macronutrients and Calories.

You also don’t have to lean on technology. If you want, you can just write down what you eat for a few days or a week, just to see. Take notice of what you’re eating rather than just putting stuff in your mouth. Be intentional about it.

5.       Change things at the appropriate times.

During a season is not the time to completely revamp your diet! Wait until the off-season to make big changes if you’re going to, and talk to someone about them (your coach, your Mom, a health teacher perhaps). Changing little things in the midst of the season is fine! But mostly that’s quantities rather than the entire makeup of your meals. As you move into the competitive season, you’re doing less work overall, so your intake naturally goes down if you’re listening to your body.

What I do:

I grew up eating well, thanks to Mom, as I mentioned, and then college happened. I didn’t learn to cook really before I went there, and having all that freedom to eat what I wanted meant I ate what I wanted. Eventually I figured out balance, my cooking skills improved, and my classes meant I understood a little more than maybe other people might about eating for performance. That has morphed, over time, into even more understanding of my personal energy needs throughout a day.

Now, I eat primarily proteins and fats in the morning (eggs, sausage or bacon, coffee with a little milk and water at breakfast). Like I mentioned, I’ll eat a yogurt in the middle of morning practice if it’s a long one. Lunch is recovery and a mix of proteins and carbs, with veggies: Leftover dinner meats in a quesadilla with avocado perhaps, and carrots and hummus on the side. A sandwich with veggies piled on, an apple and peanut butter. Chili with Ritz crackers. If I get hungry in the afternoon I’ll have cheese and crackers or more veggies and hummus, or maybe a smoothie with a little bit of everything from my fridge. My snack (if I have one) usually happens before Maddie’s and my afternoon activity (a walk or the dog park). Then dinner is mostly proteins, fats and veggies, and I like to eat pretty early in the evening so that I have lots of time to lay around and get to bed early. Tea happens after dinner!

I really like my new system of eats, with carbohydrates concentrated in the middle of the day. I’m consuming my fast-burning food at a time when my body will burn it fast, and getting lots more protein proportionally than I used to, as I’m not full of carbs I’m trying to fit into the same meal.

I used to train twice per day, and now I only have one session, six days per week. It’s a lot of work still, but more focused work. So I can consume nutrients in a more focused way and feel like that coincides! And when you’re talking about overall energy expenditure, it’s less than it used to be when I did multiple sessions per day for years and years. So I eat less overall as well. I just try to get my timing down for recovery purposes.

 Food experiences!

People get overwhelmed by nutrition and like to jump on trends, but food is a tool that you just need to figure out how to make work for you specifically. Experiment with your diet and notice how you feel when you have time and opportunity to do so. Shop the perimeter of the grocery store so that you’re eating real food. Google any dish you can think of and the word “easy” and you’ll be able to recreate it and then build on it in your own kitchen. Above all (and again), listen to your body. I love good food, but mostly I love good food experiences: Give me a seafood restaurant with great conversation with interesting friends in a fantastic location (Mitch’s, perhaps), and I’m incredibly happy. And I’ve learned over time that my clam chowder is just as amazing if it’s in a cup rather than a bowl. And I can take half my poké home instead of shoving it all down to keep the night a lovely memory rather than a painful over-eating, tired and grumpy one. Let food enhance your life rather than running it.


Recovering from workouts and physically taxing events is really important to a long career. You can get away with not doing it for short periods of time, but that will catch up to you! I am always surprised to learn that people aren’t aware of how important recovery is (especially professionally), but I also forget sometimes that I’m 32 and have been at this a while. I guess I didn’t prioritize recovery until I became a professional for the simple reason that there didn’t seem to be time in college. Now, I love recovery activities of all kinds! There are lots of facets to this idea. Here are some simple categorizations of the different forms, and then answers to Instagram questions at the bottom.

Physical vs. Mental

I’m not sure I believe in burnout necessarily. I think I’m too tough for that, but I’m likely being an idiot. It’s obviously a real thing that many have experienced, but perhaps people who get burnt out just haven’t recognized their own need for a break until it’s too late. And one major contributor to burnout is if an individual doesn’t have support from family or coworkers in his or her pursuits! Mental recovery and mental training are just as important as physical. Luckily or unluckily, my breaks have been forced upon me, but I’ve learned the importance of mental recovery through them.

Knowing yourself and knowing what it takes for you to recharge mentally is really important to not only performance, but training. I find that if I haven’t had enough alone time (see last blog), I sit in my car doing nothing for like a half hour before I have the energy to get out and practice. That’s wasting my own time I guess, but I just can’t bear physical activity if I haven’t had enough mental rest! And if I don’t take that moment to reset and refocus, my practice isn’t as successful as if I’m mentally prepared for it. If I have the mental energy to put my best effort into each throw, drill, or sprint, I’m getting way more out of it than if I was only half checked-in.

The way I see it, there are two seasons in the year, and physical and mental components to recovery within each of those. Let’s tackle all of them.

Off-Season vs. In-Season

I am not shy about loving the off-season. No structured javelin practice, no place I really need to be, all the fun. It’s a really important time of year, and I respect it and its necessity. Regardless of the season’s outcome, letting your body heal from the really specific and difficult things you asked of it for months is important, and letting your mind wander about the possibilities of the future and what can be gleaned from the past is essential.

Off-season physical recovery sometimes means nothing, depending on what happened at the end of the season. In 2018, I strained intercostals and obliques in my last competition, so physical activity wasn’t advised for a while. Sometimes it means just doing something different than your sport though. After my side healed, I did Pure Barre for a month (3-4 times/week), and swam as well. In 2017, I wanted to run Emma Coburn’s inaugural 5K, so I did an endurance experiment that consisted of a couch-to-5K program, lots of planks, and swimming as cross training. I ended up running an all-time mile PR of 7:41 before I started official 2018 training! Doing more balanced training than my fairly violent, unilateral sport during the off-season resets my body in a really important way.

Outdoor time is important all year round, and better together.

Outdoor time is important all year round, and better together.

Russ taught me almost everything I know about the outdoors, and he definitely taught me the value of spending time outside from a recovery perspective. There are so many backpacks I want to do when big chunks of time are available to us in the summers of the future. For now short ones in the off-season of the fall will hold me over.

Off-season mental recovery is also very enjoyable and important. This Fall, I traveled to the PNW, Hawaii, Ohio, Texas, Florida, Bermuda, Idaho, Iowa, NYC, and New Orleans. I spent a lot of time wandering around outside with Madeline. I read books and did new things in other parts of my life that were really rewarding. I actually spent time with friends. Having a moment when I can feel a little less external pressure is really nice.

In-season! I consider this to be any time I’m actually training for javelin again, not just when I’m actually competing, as my recovery strategies are basically the same for training and competition. Physically, there’s a lot to cover from both active and passive standpoints. I will get into that below.

Mentally, there’s a lot that I do to stay sharp, well-rounded, and happy during the season:

I often go to lunch on my own after practice. I’ll watch throwing film or write in my training journal, and reflect on the day’s work. Letting the physical lessons I learned manifest mentally during moments of quiet helps me prepare for the next session, even right after the last one.

Your brain is amazing. It is moldable and foldable. It can do lots of different stuff at once! Sometimes focusing on a problem directly doesn’t work: We have all felt like we are beating our heads against a wall at some point. Do something else. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Read a book. Do a puzzle. Play the piano. Take a class. Teach your pet a new trick. Learn a language. Take photos, then actually edit and organize them. Go fishing. While you’re doing something else with your brain, it will still be processing what you learned at practice the day before. Pursue other interests and let it! Then when you focus back on your athletic passion, that background absorption will burst forth into performance. I started announcing at USAs two years ago, and the mental challenge of keeping track of everything and being somewhat entertaining is fun, plus I’m serving my fellow athlete!

I’ve gotten really good at personal-item travel. I became an Aunt in 2018, and flew home for multiple weekends with just a backpack on the cheapest Frontier flights I could find. These little jaunts back to my family make me SO happy, and random yoga sessions with my Mom are all the exercise I need on such short mental health trips.

Active vs. Passive Physical Recovery

Active recovery is pretty much anything that you feel puts your body back together. I used to have two dedicated active recovery days per week (Wednesdays and Saturdays) when I still did two-a-day training. Now, my Saturdays are basically my only scheduled active recovery days, but I have a lot more time every other day to throw active recovery stuff in if I feel like I need it. Some examples for me are swimming, hiking, yoga (my new favorite is hot yoga, especially in Colorado winter), interval jogs, multi-planar medball circuits, core work, stretching and foam rolling, and paddleboarding. Russ will teach me to fly fish here in the next year! Walking my Maddie Dog is my favorite warm-up activity as well as the best easy active recovery event. Similar to the idea of doing other sports or activities to put yourself back together in the off-season, reminding your body of how good it feels to move in different ways during the season is really healing, too.

These active recovery things aren’t super taxing. Huge efforts are reserved for actual training. If you go too hard on the recovery stuff, you’ll be spent when it comes time to do the real work. An example from last summer of recovery in Europe: I swam competitively in high school, so my pool work is recovery during the season (I’m getting cardiovascular benefit, sure, but I’m mostly just trying to dynamically stretch my shoulders with each stroke.). I was taking the bus that day in Offenburg in May, managed to find a public pool, but didn’t quite know the hours, layout of the pool, how the locker room worked, and what exactly the bus schedule was. I didn’t have much time and almost walked out, but paid my very reasonable 2 Euros after all, wandered around and creepily watched others to figure out the locker system, and had just enough time for a straight 500m swim and hustle back to the bus. I felt way better doing a little bit of something different than I had the whole time I had been in Germany.

Passive physical recovery is just being lazy! It’s the best! Sometimes you have to do nothing! Also in this category is body work, though, and that does take some effort. Sweating through a sports massage that addresses very specific muscular issues is necessary sometimes. Naps belong in the passive recovery realm, and they’re better if you have a pet to snuggle. I love my NormaTec air pressure system while watching documentaries. I’m not a big fan of ice tubs, but I’ll sit in the river on a hot summer day while I watch Russ fish. I could read in bed all afternoon. Sleep is super important. Naps are great, but I also try to get 9 hours of sleep per night.

Kind of in between passive and active recovery is nutrition and hydration. You have to make an effort to eat and drink well, but your body does the work after you put stuff in your mouth! Planning meals and snacks around training is important, as is drinking enough water, but I might give you some different advice than others when it comes to food. I blame a portion of my ACL tear on my diet for the two years prior to that event. I was ill-advised to get leaner, so I did, at the expense of performance, strength, recovery, and ultimately (I believe) soft tissue integrity. Eat what you love and until you feel physically satisfied. Try to make it balanced. Get enough protein, preferably just after workouts. Do research and experiment with your diet to find what makes you feel the best. I love chocolate chip cookies from either Qdoba or Jimmy John’s. If I go to either place for my lunch (a mini burrito bowl or lettuce-wrap #12 with extra avo), I also have a cookie, but not every day. Russ makes me amazing balanced dinners and often breakfasts, and I’m so grateful for his support of my career in this way. I eat a Larabar or Dutch Bros. granola bar on the way home from practice if it’s in the afternoon. Food is fuel.

yum yum yum

yum yum yum

Water is boring. It’s my favorite during workouts, for simplicity reasons, but I find it really tough to drink just water all day. I like tea with some honey, Emergen-C packets (although I reserve those for potential-sickness times), Propel, and LaCroix (we actually DO like it at the Wingers’). I’ve tried infusing water with stuff before like I’m a fancy hotel owner, but I never actually drink it. Maybe I’ll try again. Figure out how you can get yourself to actually be hydrated. Try new stuff!

Questions from Instagram:

1.       As a Javelin Thrower, what are the most important things to have in mind when talking about recovery?

               I would say that you should take stock of which parts of your body hurt the most after throwing sessions, and make an effort to recover those specific areas, even on non-throwing days. After my knee surgery, I would game-ready and NormaTec after every therapy session, which sometimes meant twice (each) per day. Core work will ALWAYS be important as a javelin thrower, and will make your low back feel better if you have issues there. My infraspinatus and serratus on my right side are always tight, so I’m constantly laying on my Hypersphere or a lacrosse ball at night at home. I go to the gym sometimes just to sit in the hot tub with jets pointed directly at the back of my right shoulder or my low back, and then stretch my hips in the steam room. So this is really an individual question, but being proactive about fixing your own specific issues will prepare you for your next throws.

2.       Opinion on ice vs heat immediately after a workout.

               I have never liked ice baths. Russ and I were discussing recently that taking them immediately post-lift can actually hinder your adaptation to the work you just did, too! Inflammation is a natural response to work, and necessary to heal the muscle fibers that get broken down in the training process. I use heat either to warm up (a specific area if it’s hurting in the training room with a heating pad) or as a recovery method (hot tub/steam room) fairly unrelated to any specific training session.

               I tend to use ice in a concentrated way: A Game Ready session on my knee or shoulder, ice massage for my forearm or elbow, or maybe sticking an ankle into the ice tub. My much-preferred method of flushing my system is the NormaTec.

3.       Which aspects of recovery do you put the most time/energy into? Sleep, nutrition, physiology, stretch, etc.?

               I think sleep and stretching/mobility! Much of what I do to warm up is mobility-oriented, and I foam roll and stretch almost every night. Sleep is my favorite. If I have like two days in a row of less than 8 hours per night, I start to go a little bit crazy.

4.       What are your go to recovery foods?

               I love smoothies but I don’t make them enough! One of my favorite snacks is cottage cheese with apple, pistachios, and cinnamon. I also love fruit dipped in equal parts nut butter and plain Greek yogurt! Charcuterie plates give me life like the old millennial I am. Larabars have become my favorite bar. I consider coffee to be a recovery food (I know it’s actually not), but I’ve cut back a lot in the last few years as well. Any dinner leftovers do the trick. Noodles and Company Wisconsin Mac n’ Cheese with grilled chicken is my guilty pleasure.

5.       Why can I not recover like I did 10 years ago?!

I KNOW RIGHT! But our bodies are wiser!


I hope you enjoyed this description of how I recover and the many different ways it’s possible!