Matt James Is Running the New York City Marathon This Weekend


What’s for lunch?

I typically run the same smoothie back because I know I have a run later on in the day. I can’t eat before I run or drink a lot of liquid. So I’ll do a little less milk, less peanut butter, sometimes I’ll cut it out altogether depending on how the run is.

How has your training been going?

So far, I haven’t run more than 10 miles. I have more to do in terms of long runs, at least 15 or 17. The thing is, I’m just moving my body in so many ways all of the time, kind of taking my training in a different direction than what’s typical. But my body feels good, and I trust that. For my first marathon in Chicago 2019, I never ran more than 12 miles. Not because I didn’t feel like I needed to, but I just didn’t know what I was doing. 

This time around, I had goals for the marathon in terms of times I wanted to break and places I wanted to be, but then Dancing With the Stars happened. So now I’m just being realistic with my body and my training. I’ve tempered my expectations. My biggest priority is to remain healthy.

So to confirm: You don’t eat whole foods until after your evening run?

Some days, yeah. I don’t snack, either. Snacking is usually a sign of boredom for me. For dinner, I go big—either a grain bowl or what I call a super salad. Last night, I went to Mendocino Farms and I had this avocado salad with kale, quinoa, roasted chicken, beans, and red peppers. I’ll load that up. It feels like a cheat meal because everything else is so regimented that I love to go crazy on a salad or a bowl. I also love going to Erewhon, where they have a Whole Foods-style hot bar, and I’ll get straight veggies. Sweet potatoes, brussels, broccoli—though if they have salmon I’ll get salmon that day.

Are you mostly plant-based?

I definitely try to keep it veggie heavy. My body just responds best to that with all the training that I’m doing. I have found replacements for the protein. It’s paid off. I feel like I’m getting better sleep. I’m focused. It keeps me in line for not snacking and eating unhealthy. Plus, I love sweets. I love ice cream. But when you eat healthy for a number of weeks, I find that I stop craving to have those things. Instead of having them now, I’ll think like, ‘hey, I’m just going to chug a coconut water and call it a night.’ That gives me a little sweetness and isn’t something like a cookie or dessert.

I’ve seen your Instagram. I know that you like to indulge. Talk about how regularly you’re actually going ham on things like burgers and meals out? 

I’ll say this: I feel like this way of eating has been really important considering the goals I have at the moment. However, if I wasn’t out there training and dancing, my breakfast smoothie would stay the same. If I’m in New York for lunch, I love some sort of sandwich, burrito, or a burger. I love Whitman’s in the East Village, Faicco’s in the West Village. And I’m good on a big lunch because I know I’ll be burning calories throughout the day, and then I kind of temper it back for dinner. I do like ice cream occasionally too. Jenny’s gooey butter cake when in California, or anything from Van Leeuwen when I’m in New York.

Post-marathon ideal meal?

The biggest breakfast ever. I want homemade pancakes, eggs, bacon, waffles—I don’t ever eat those things. Then I’ll go right to bed.


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