Eat to Win

For Emelie Forsberg, the secret to success is balance.

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By Allison Pattillo. Photo by Kilian Jornet.

By Allison Pattillo

Winning mountain, ultra and trail runner Emelie Forsberg approaches every race with grit, grace and a smile. Considering her race results, including wins at The Rut 50K, Kendall Mountain Run, Transvulcania, Mount Marathon Race, Hamperokken Skyrace and Matterhorn Ultra to name a few, as well as setting impressive FKTs, including her recent on the Kungsleden Trail in Sweden, the approach seems to be working.

Farm to Table

Forsberg is a creature of the seasons. Her sports are clearly delineated, with skiing her sport of choice during the winter months and running as a go-to from spring into the autumn.

A hobbyist farmer, her cooking and eating habits are governed by the available daylight hours as well. She gravitates toward salads, fresh soups and lighter breads in the spring, while in the darker and colder months she craves potatoes (last year she grew enough to last for the year) and her homemade bean-and-lentil burgers.

Forsberg, 31, was born in Sweden, and now makes her home in Romsdalen, Norway, on a farm named Moonvalley. While there is plenty of fresh air, water and daylight, at least in the summer months, Forsberg’s farm is close to the Arctic Circle, meaning conditions can be harsh. Hearty crops like kale, beets, rutabagas, carrots, potatoes and rhubarb tend to do the best.

Forsberg is a vegetarian. Her life partner, perhaps the world’s top all-around trail runner, Kilian Jornet, 30, who is Spanish by birth, and also lives in Norway, has never eaten much meat, according to Forsberg. In fact, his mom is a vegetarian. He leans toward being a pescatarian, making him and Forsberg prime examples of the athletic achievement that can come with vegetable-based eating.

While there have been times in her life that Forsberg ate meat, eggs and honey, she has been vegetarian for several years and even experimented with a vegan diet while recovering from a skiing injury in 2016. She now mostly avoids eggs, honey and milk, although she still enjoys cheese.

Balance Is the Key

The Swede is known for her keen sense of balance, not just while navigating rocky trails and imposing, mountainous terrain, but also in her approach to life. She credits much of this to her upbringing spending time in nature, working on her grandparents’ farm, foraging and moving for the joy of it. Forsberg is a professional athlete that listens to her body, addressing small niggles before they become something more and not racing if she isn’t feeling it.

“For some, the focus is the race. For me, the focus is running long in the mountains,” says Forsberg, who’s never had an overuse injury. “I don’t want to lose my passion for running.”

Forsberg sees it as her job to be the best version of an athlete she can. Life balance becomes essential to maintain her running stoke while also allowing her body to recover. She eats what her body craves, be it roasted vegetables, delicious pastries and homemade bread (she worked as a baker during college) or chocolate; she rests when she needs it, does yoga (she’s a certified instructor), practices focused breathing and cultivates interests outside of sport, like farming, cooking and writing.

Even with an intuitive approach, food and fueling is essential to performance for any athlete, especially for one setting FKTs on mountains like Mont Blanc and Grand Teton, and dominating the Skyrunning circuit. So what does Emelie Forsberg eat in a day? We spent an afternoon cooking with her to find out. See “A Look at Daily Nutrition.”

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