Nutrition Questions? Ask the Dietitian!Maria Dalzot, MS, RD, CDN, is here to answer your food and fueling questions
Maria Dalzot running Evergreen Trail Runs' Echo Valley 10K in Chelan, Washington. Photo by Steve Sanders
Readers of trailrunnermag.com and our weekly enewsletter, Inside Dirt, will be pleased to know we're adding a new expert to the Trail Runner mix: Maria Dalzot of Bellingham, Washington. An avid trail runner on Team Inov-8, freelance writer, personal dietetic consultant and Registered Dietitian with a Master of Science Degree in Human Nutrition & Food Science, Dalzot has a passion for helping athletes improve their health, performance and quality of life.
In the meantime, read on to learn more about Dalzot's own athletic career and how she came to be a Registered Dietitian. And keep an eye out for her article about elite athletes' quirkiest food do's and don'ts in our upcoming September 2013 issue!
Get to Know Maria
Dalzot, 25, had a rough start to this year, suffering a case of Achilles bursitis, in which a small sack of fluid between the Achilles tendon causes the bone to inflame. But, because running is such a big part of who she is, she didn’t let this injury stop her from getting back into the mountains. On June 15, she ran her first race of the year, finishing the Echo Valley 10K in Chelan, Washington, in 44:02 and breaking the previous women’s record by six minutes.
“This course totaled 900 feet of elevation gain and the trails were runnable,” she says. “I was able to get moving and this race was perfect for dusting off the cobwebs after four months off.”
Before her unexpected injury happened Dalzot was hoping to participate in the USA Mountain Running Championships at Cranmore Mountain Resort in North Conway, New Hampshire, this year. “I run the race every year," she says, "and I am disappointed I won't be there this year to try and make the U.S. Women’s Mountain Running team, which is my ultimate goal.”
Prone to injury, she sticks to cross-country, mountain and trail running. After getting reconstructive surgery on her foot in March 2011, she received an unexpected call from the manager of the U.S. Mountain Running team, who asked her to compete in the eighth annual NACAC Mountain Running Championships in Ajijic, Jalisco, Mexico.
Despite her condition, she ended up winning, breaking a course record by 36 seconds as she covered the 13.8-kilometer course in 1:47:04. “This was the highlight of my running career so far," she says.
She has always been into running. In grade school, tag was her favorite game. Before going to swim practice, she insisted that her mother let her run around the track first. Her choice to be a registered dietitian stemmed from this passion for being active and healthy.
“My passion for running has given me the opportunity to explore new places nationally and abroad, meet some new people and learn about different places,” she says. “I am thankful for [running] because every run, good or bad, leaves you with a new thought.”
What led you to be a registered dietitian?
Basically it all stemmed from running. I’ve been running competitively since I was 12 years old. As a serious runner, I’ve always had good health in mind, so being a dietitian has always made sense. Also, it is a flexible career path, meaning that there are many different options, whether that is working in a hospital, becoming a teacher or creating your own job as a dietitian. Working as a dietetic consultant and a nutrition counselor for Wellness WRX allows me flexibility in my training and to pursue the lifestyle I want.
What general nutrition advice can you offer?
Learning how to eat well is like training for a race. You don’t decide today, “I’m going to run a marathon next week,” and then go out tomorrow and run 20 miles. It is a gradual process that takes time and patience. What works for you might not work for someone else.
If you follow a fad diet, sooner or later you will not be able to sustain those practices or your body will start showing signs of deficiencies. The focus is not on dieting, but on lifestyle choices. Realize that there is no quick fix.
What is the goal of your nutrition-consulting business?
Living in a place like Bellingham, people are already are aware of health and fitness so really my clients want to take their health to the next level. They have an idea of what they need to do to get there, but often times I find that people need motivation and reassurance that what they are doing is right. My goal is to encourage people to make healthy lifestyle changes that will better their quality of life.
What is your most memorable race?
It was the 2011 NACAC Mountain Running Championships. After foot reconstructive surgery, I discussed the pros and cons of running it with my coach and decided to go, with no real expectations other than to follow the lead of my teammates and to enjoy the experience.
My coach and I started doing uphill hikes. I got on my bike and went in the pool and basically did everything I could. I ended up winning the race. It was an incredible experience. I again made the team in 2012.
Any general advice for runners?
Don't be afraid to stray from "The Plan." Often times, when training at a high caliber, injuries and life can cause a kink in your schedule. Runners are generally not the most flexible people, literally and figuratively. But in order to get back on track, you have to be able to modify and adjust accordingly.
You can visit Dalzot's blog at www.mariadalzotrd.com