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Why this ultra-athlete does shots of apple cider vinegar and eats breakfast for dinner


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Keeping up with Terra Castro is no easy feat. Though she recently retired as a professional Ironman athlete, the Detroit-based fitness wunderkind—who says she’s just now hitting her performance peak at age 35—shows no signs of slowing down.

With ultra-running and trail running as her new focus, she’s currently training for the JFK 50 Mile race on November 21 in Boonsboro, MD, with a goal to tackle a 100-mile race in the spring.

She’s also launching Country Strong Gym later this month, and continues to head up her coaching company, Be Bold Crew, which offers programs for both adults and kids, and recently went mobile with the Dodge Ram ProMaster Be Bold Bus, a new program that offers free kid-run endurance training programs at rec centers and other locations around Detroit.

How does she do it all? “I’ve stayed injury-free due to eating healthy,” Castro says. “Besides, if I’m not fueled, I get ‘hangry’!”

But that doesn’t mean she doesn’t have the occasional treat now and then. “My fridge is an example of being healthy but realistic. If you notice in the top right corner, there are locally made caramels.”

Now, a peek into her fridge. (More on those caramels later.) —Larkin Clark

Terra Castro RefrigeratorI see gluten-free bread and almond milk in there. Do you have them for dietary reasons, or just personal preference? Back in 2000,  I got really sick and fatigued even though I was training properly. I ended up having gluten, lactose, egg, and some soy intolerance. Back then there weren’t many gluten-free options like there are now. I think [cutting out gluten and lactose] really helps with inflammation, too.

But I see a lot of yogurt in there…The eggs and yogurts are my boyfriend’s. Our fridges are combined!

Ah! That makes sense. So, are there any swaps you made early on that have become staples for you? Because I can’t do eggs, I’ll have dinner for breakfast—beans, bacon, sausage, or chicken. It’s about fueling and feeding my engine, not just eating my favorite foods.

Good point. Speaking of fueling your engine, you have a lot going on training-wise. What does a typical day look like for you, and how do you prep for it food-wise? My mornings start at 4:45 with a coffee with almond milk. I’ll have some gluten-free toast with peanut butter and jam before my morning practice, which is swimming from 6:00–7:30 am. Then, I’ll go to our gym, Detroit Tough. During my run, I’ll have an electrolyte drink and after, I’ll have a Luna protein bar. [Castro has been a Luna-sponsored athlete since 2005.] You need to eat something in that 10-minute window after the workout, so the bars are good for that.

For lunch, I’ll do a big salad, like an “everything but the kitchen sink” salad. I’ll add berries, chicken, and Michigan apples from Gaffney Farm near the gym. Sometimes I’ll put bacon on a salad. I am definitely a meat eater—I have low iron, so I eat red meat frequently and take an iron supplement.

Before my evening training, I’ll have almonds or an apple, and dinner is something like sweet potatoes and rotisserie chicken. One of the coaches in the Be Bold Crew was an Ironman and chef, and now he has a meal prep business called Better Woodman. It’s been really good for our athletes to know about how to eat well, and he buys locally and has gluten-free options. I also love Drought Juice, another local company.

What’s in the green jars? The mason jars have mint and lemon in them. I try to fill them up each day so I don’t overdo the coffee.

That’s a great idea! And what about that giant jug of apple cider vinegar? I take swigs of it in a shot glass to help with inflammation. There are a bunch of different uses for apple cider vinegar—lots of health remedies. It’s an anti-bacterial. What you don’t see here is that I also take  a lot of supplements. You can only eat so much healthy food and sometimes you need to supplement.

I also see some kombucha in there, and Red Bull…and are those caramels on the top shelf? I like kombucha because of the probiotics and tend to have it when I’m feeling stressed out. I don’t drink alcohol, so it’s a nice treat in the evening. I like the ginger one best. [About the caramels], it’s okay to have treats! People get very fearful of “bad foods.” I might have one a day. And the Red Bull I use during my long runs. I’ll take that about two to three hours into it. Not everything is perfect in my fridge, but everything has a purpose.

For more information, visit www.beboldcrew.com

(Photos: Courtesy of Terra Castro)

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