It’s no secret that eating healthy is important for Oregon athletes, especially if you’re on the cross country team. But that’s not to say you can’t have fun with it, and both senior Emma Abrahamson and sophomore Lilli Burdon have taken that to heart this season.
After earning the Triple Crown last season — championships in cross-country, indoor track and field and outdoor track and field — the women were tired both emotionally and physically.
“We had to give them a big break in the early part of the summer and let them come down from that,” head coach Maurica Powell told Duck Insider.
In a preseason filled with hazardous smoke from wildfires, the team not only gone to Manzanita, Oregon, for its training camp, but their cross-country preview meet was canceled as well. In fact, at one point the fires became so bad there were 16 wildfires covering more than 45,000 acres in the Willamette National Forest, according to FloTrack.com.
It was in the midst of this hectic preseason that Abrahamson decided to make a change. She dedicated time to food.
“I love food. In the past I had a food Instagram but I wasn’t really passionate about it,” she said.
Abrahamson’s food devoted Instagram now has over 5,000 followers. Burdon’s posts are not as frequent, but she still has an impressive 838 followers.
“My food Instagram has grown into something I thought would never happen,” Abrahamson said. “There’s a lot of runners that follow me. … I want to be a good role model in the running community.”
Below the pictures, the runners give descriptions of their incredibly healthy meals, which range from sweet potato yog bowls to cacao oatmeal with papaya.
Abrahamson admitted she loves oatmeal with peanut butter and banana, and regardless of the food phases she posts, she will stick to that one in particular.
While it may seem like Abrahamson and Burdon are trying to gain a competitive advantage, they are both having fun with it. Abrahamson also began vlogging this summer. Her video blogs, which are not training logs nor workout times, have been well received this summer. Abrahamson’s interest in YouTube and her willingness to embarrass herself allowed her to make candid vlogs this summer.
Because of her status as an Oregon runner and Youtube’s endless audience, she is able to connect with lots of other runners.
“Emma made it for us, which is the funny thing,” assistant coach Maurica Powell said. “She’s graduating this year, and she’s got some big goals professionally in the business field.”
Part of Powell’s philosophy involves blocking out the noise and putting the blinders on. The team was not ranked high last season going into the NCAA Championships, yet she wanted to the team to ignore the predictions, and low and behold, they won. With Emma and Lilli’s creative minds at work, the team had an easier time going with the flow before the season started.
Powell plans for the long term, and wants her runners at their peak at the end of the season, regardless of how they perform in the middle. Both of Emma’s social media platforms have grown into something she didn’t expect to happen, and even with the added pressure of a bigger audience and role model shoes to fill, Abrahamson wants others to be unafraid and express themselves, and above all, be real.
Follow August Howell on Twitter @howell_august