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The diet of a mountain runner

Nick Elson shares his training and food log with Canadian Running. Find out what Nick Elson eats to sustain his training in the mountains

Nick Elson

From mountain running records to ski mountaineering, Nick Elson has an impressive list of athletic accomplishments. He trains throughout the year in the mountains, harnessing his skills as an all-round mountain athlete. What does Elson eat to sustain his training? “Indulging in junk food after long days in the mountains. [But] at home, my girlfriend Karina helps [me] stay a little healthier.”

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Nick Elson
Photo: Myke Hermsmeyer / @mykehphoto.

November may be the off season for some, but Elson continues training with consistent calories. Last week, he completed 13.5 hours of endurance training with 7,500 metres of elevation gain. “I don’t keep track of distance at this time of the year. This was a typical week in November for me, although I would typically be skiing a bit more if there was more snow.”

“My diet is definitely not particularly glamorous or novel. However, one of the benefits of a boring diet is that it makes it easy to find what you need at the grocery store or to eat out at restaurants or friends’ places. As a result, I don’t spend too much time or energy stressing about what I’m going to eat and I don’t restrict my diet much.”


Breakfast: Coffee. Oatmeal with some added nuts, seeds, and honey.

Lunch: Bread with peanut butter and honey.

Dinner: Pasta with vegetables and sauce.

Training: Easy 1:25 run/hike on the Chief. “The previous day was long and tiring so, this was more of a recovery oriented effort.”

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Breakfast: Coffee. Toast with jam.

Lunch: Sushi and spring rolls, and carrot ginger soup.

Dinner: Leftover sweet potato curry with rice.

Training: “Six hours of yard work helping my aunt in her garden. Not exactly training, but I keep track of stuff like this because it’s still tiring. 1:25 easy run/hike on the Chief. It was cold, rainy and dark. On miserable nights like this one, I find that listening to some upbeat music (I don’t usually run with music) and cranking my Petzl Nao headlamp to the brightest setting makes things more bearable.

Nick Elson


Breakfast: Coffee. Bread with peanut butter and honey.

Lunch: Leftover pasta.

Dinner: Rice with poached eggs. Lazy dinner after getting home late from training.

Training: Workout run with friends Eric and Jesse. “12 minute tempo run, followed by four times three minutes with two minutes rest. All uphill using poles.” 



Breakfast: Coffee. Bread with Nutella.

Lunch: Sushi.

Dinner: Carrot ginger soup from my Aunt, naan bread, kale salad with beets and other veggies. “We have a small plot in the community garden across the street from where we live. At this time of year, we have a surplus of kale and beets.”

Training: Rest. Climbing routes at the climbing gym in the evening.


Breakfast: Coffee. Bread with peanut butter and jam.

Lunch: Bagel with peanut butter and Nutella.

Dinner: Veggie burgers, kale salad, and cookies.

Training: Four hours of backcountry skiing and core strength. “Only the second day of skiing for me this year. Conditions a bit marginal, but we skied some nice laps of the Metal Dome glacier.”

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Breakfast: Coffee and oatmeal. 

Lunch: Stroopwafels and granola bars. “If you’re lucky, you can find a ten pack of stroopwafels in the grocery store which is a lot cheaper than the individually packaged ones sold by energy gel companies. (But still a lot more expensive than in Europe!)”

Dinner: Homemade vegan lasagna, kale salad, apple crumble and two beers at a friend’s house. “Our friend [Cristina Mckean] made an elaborate vegan lasagna–something I’d never tried before, but it was great. Two beers was sadly the most I’ve had in a while and I woke up the next morning with a headache.”

Training: Three and a half hours of backcountry skiing in the morning. One hour easy bouldering outside in the evening. “Another day of easy skiing.” 

Nick Elson
Photo: Rich Wheater.


Breakfast: Coffee. Bread with peanut butter and jam.

Lunch: Granola bars and stroopwafels.

Dinner: Leftover lasagna, salad, and apple crumble.

Training: Climbing outside in the Smoke Bluffs in the morning. 25 minute uphill tempo on the Chief in the evening. Core strength. 

Beyond his food and running resume, Elson recently graduated from law school.

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