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Katelyn Tuohy Q&A: News After the Olympic Trials

Katelyn Tuohy Q&A: News After the Olympic Trials

Posted by Calvin Virgilio on Jul 3rd 2024

With the Olympic Trials complete, it’s time to release KT's Clusters and discuss what lead to this collaboration. Katelyn Tuohy is a name that has become synonymous with running, but one I wasn’t aware of until she contacted me on Instagram in 2022. The NIL had just begun in the NCAA and Katelyn was looking to partner with brands she liked. After reviewing Katelyn’s background and realizing how accomplished she was as a runner, I was flattered she would have an interest in partnering with a small bakery like Granola Factory.

While we didn’t partner in 2022 due to our unfamiliarity of the NIL, I contacted Katelyn again this past winter after she turned pro. I wanted to pitch her on an idea that was more than just repping our brand on social media. I knew she had an interest in food, so I proposed teaming up on a granola product that would not only have her name and image on the package, but her heart and soul in the recipe. Katelyn loved the idea, and a few weeks later she flew to Bethlehem and spent two days with me in the kitchen testing recipes until we landed on the perfect batch.

Every morning, I start my day with a run followed by granola and yogurt. Katelyn starts most mornings the same way, so we both understood that fueling our bodies with the right food leads to optimal performance. In KT's Clusters, we baked with real ingredients such as rolled oats, butter, honey and pecans. The result was a granola that provides energy without sacrificing quality and flavor.

With the trials behind her, there’s more to granola in Katelyn’s sights now that she’s back to training at a high level. I sat down with Katelyn to discuss all things running, food and fun before her granola release.

Q&A with Katelyn Tuohy

Katelyn, if I told you a year ago that you’d be releasing a granola cereal that has your name, image, and baking ability in every bag, what would you say?

I wouldn’t believe you if you told me a year ago that I’d have my own granola, which is something so unique and so cool. As a kid you see famous athletes on a Wheaties box. And these are such well-known athletes and they have such an impact on so many people’s lives. To have something in common with them is super cool. And it’s definitely unique that I got to make the granola myself. Getting to pick the ingredients is super cool and something that others haven’t had a chance to do before. So instead of being just a face on a well-known product, we actually got to make our own product the way I wanted that included the ingredients I like.


KT's clusters has a great mix of ingredients, including pure honey, roasted pecans, toffee bits and pumpkin seeds. What inspired this unique mix of flavor and texture, and why did you opt for a clusters?

The inspiration came from my two favorite flavors: the Honey Pecan Original Blend and the Toffee Almond. The Toffee Almond was probably my favorite before KT's Clusters. I really like the flavor and the fact that it was clustered together so you could eat it as a snack or put it in your granola or yogurt bowl. It had a lot of versatility which I liked. It made it easy for a snack or to put it in a meal, so I think that’s what inspired it.


I think every runner has a moment when he or she realizes that food is vital to optimal performance and recovery. Can you recall this time in your career and how did it start to shape your dietary habits?

My freshman year of high school in the indoor track season I was going for my first title in the 1500 and I lost. That outdoor season I was determined to win my first state title. So what I did was try to focus on the little things, one of them being nutrition. At the time, I thought I was making healthy decisions and healthy habits, and I was, but obviously not to the extent I do today. I tried to focus on eating nutritious meals and fueling my performance allowed me to make a huge jump. I ended up winning the state title that year. I attribute a lot of that success to nutrition.


What are some of those nutritional changes you made throughout the years? How do you think they helped you feel better either when you’re running or when you’re recovering.

It was definitely a learning curve, but one of the main things I’ve learned is that timing is big and something I’m still learning and playing around with. But coming into a training session under fueled or dehydrated can make workouts so much harder and affect your recovery. So that’s something I definitely have been working on and I think has helped me a lot because training is meant to damage your body. Repairing it is what makes you better. That requires a lot of energy, so if you’re not adequately fueled you won’t be able to adapt to the hard work and training you’re doing.


What role does granola play in your meal planning? Do you prefer it for breakfast, lunch or a snack?

I think granola is one of my main fuel sources just because of its versatility. I can eat it out of the bag even 20-30 minutes before a workout because it doesn’t hurt my stomach, and it fuels me well and I’ve been using it for years. I love throwing it in my yogurt bowls to get some carbohydrates in with my protein, and I’ll add fruit to make a meal. Sometimes at the need of the night if I want I little snack I’ll grab a handful just because I love the taste.


Do you like to cook and bake, and if so, do you have any go-to recipes or recipe creators?

I’ve gotten into cooking now that I’m a professional and have more time on my hands. I was definitely spoiled growing up because my mom cooked all our meals I don’t think we ever had a night where we didn’t have a family dinner. It was something I grew up with, having home cooked meals, so it’s an important aspect in cooking for my performance.

A lot runners have cookbooks. We talked about Shalane [Flanagan]'s cookbook, Run Fast, Eat Slow, so I’ll get some inspiration from her.


What’s something that you’ve cooked recently that you thought was really good?

I love making bowls, like some sort ground meat, rice and some sort of sauce that’ we’ll whip up from scratch. We’ll throw some salsa in there, like a peach mango, or some guacamole to get a good mix of proteins, carbs and fat.


Describe a recent workout day. What was the workout and what did you eat in preparation and in recovery?

Good question! I guess we can talk about today being a double workout. So double threshold, which means I have a morning threshold session, take a gap in between and rest during the day, and then come back in the afternoon for a second session, and then potentially a little lift and core after.

Before my first session, I’ll have something pretty light just so my stomach isn’t upset since we have to go pretty early this time of year and I don’t have a ton of time to digest in the morning. I’ll grab a bar or granola and a little yogurt. I’ll come back and have a bigger meal with a lot of protein and carbs to fuel the second session. And then after the second session I’m definitely getting in more protein and carbs. I stay hydrated throughout the day, not just with water but electrolytes.

I try to eat specific foods during specific time windows to maximize performance and recovery. A lot of people think that fueling is just for the session, but it also aides in recovery. It’s super important to fuel after your session to repair your muscles and making sure you’re getting prepared for the next day.


Do you aim for any specific dietary guidelines while training? High Protein?

When it comes to protein, I’m trying to get as much in as I can. And it helps to have supplements like protein powder and bars to get a good amount of protein in without whipping up a big meal. You want to get protein in within 30-60 minutes after working out. When I was in college it was hard to fuel after workouts because you’re rushing to class, but now that I have time it’s a lot easier and has definitely made an impact on recovery.

Pre-workout I’m trying to get in carbs and protein and minimize the fat which I’ve found can upset my stomach. It’s a learning curve and you have to figure out what works for you.


I know about your accomplishments as a runner, but what originally drew you to the sport? When did you realize you had a natural talent and passion it?

We were very athletic growing up, and we were often coined the fast kids where we’d win the school mile. We’ve kind of always been “praised” for being athletic and fast growing up. Once my older brother started running, I was playing soccer and decided to join the indoor track team to work on my fitness for soccer. It only took a couple of weeks to fall in love with the sport. I quit soccer in 7th grade, which was a huge shock to everyone because I was obsessed with it. And the rest is history because I’ve been running ever since.


As you look back what were the greatest challenges you faced in the sport and how did you overcome them?

I think being so young and having a lot of attention was really hard on me. I grew up as social media and running platforms were becoming a huge thing. I had a lot of pressure and attention on me at a young age. Everyone in the sport experiences setbacks at times, and mine were injuries throughout my career. I’ve had a couple injuries that set me back for a while, and a lot of people will speculate and put pressure and criticize you, which has always been the hardest thing for me. But being able to have my circle of people I love and trust, like my family, friends, teammates and coaches has allowed me to get through those hard times and come back stronger.


You’ve performed at a high level since the 7th grade, which is a long time in this sport to be at the top of your game. Was there ever a time that you didn’t like running and considered giving it up? I think this is a feeling that many runners face at some point. How did you persevere through these feelings to become the person and athlete you are today.

There was definitely a period in high school that the pressure became so much for me that I almost started being unhappy when it came time to race. I almost didn’t want to do these big meets and I felt like every time I stepped on the track I had to win or set a record or run the fastest time of the year. I was pretty stressed and unhappy for a short period, and my parents recognized that and encouraged me to take a step back. It took a little bit of time, but then I realized why I fell in love with the sport to begin with, which was primarily the people and my teammates, and the enjoying for training and process. Realizing that allowed me to overcome those feelings. I took a step back and focused more on having fun with my teammates. And my senior year of high school ended up being the most fun I had with the sport. Even though my performance maybe wasn’t the best, just being able to enjoy the season with my teammates and making memories made me fall in love with the sport again.


What advice would you have for younger runners entering the sport at the high school or collegiate level?

I think leaning on people in my circle, so I kind of just let go of what people on the outside thought. I stopped reading articles that were written about me or comments on my Instagram that people would make. I just focused on being present and in the moment, and enjoying training with my friends. My brothers run so I get to train with them, which is super fun. I try not to put too much pressure on myself because at the end of the day I perform at my best when I’m my happiest.


What do you think will lead to younger runners to enjoying the sport for a very long time?

Letting go of comparison. I always enjoyed running because I liked pushing myself and having that internal motivation. One of my favorite quotes is “Comparison is the thief of joy.” So not focusing on what other people are doing and just focusing on success and progress in my own training definitely makes it more enjoyable. And then just getting to share the hard workouts, the races, the highs and lows with my teammates and friends and people I love who are involved with the sport has made running more enjoyable outside of competition.


You just ran the 5K at your first Olympic Trials. What are your takeaways?

The Olympic trials was my first professional race, which is not an ideal way to start competing at the biggest meet of the year, but after months of setbacks and injuries it just felt good to be back on the track and representing Adidas and my friends and family, and get back to doing what I love. Just being happy and healthy was an amazing feeling. It left me hungry for more just because I got a taste of what it’s like competing again. I need a few more training blocks under my belt before I’m back being in the shape I want to be in. It was just nice getting in there and competing with the best women in the country.


Most runners can recall their best races as if they just happened yesterday. What do you consider the best race of your career? What memories do you have during this race and what do you think lead to it being your best performance?

I think each cross-country national has been some of my best performances. I had the motivation to do it for my teammates. I remember my first xc nationals, I completely red-lined. It was in March of 2021, and it got pushed back because of Covid. I was just a freshman, and I got thrown into the biggest race of the year. I was running all out for my teammates, doing everything I could, and it was probably one of the hardest I’ve pushed myself. Each cross nationals after that was the same way, fighting for my teammates and not even thinking about myself. Just trying to get every second and every place for them. Those are definitely the races I look back and are most proud of because I know they were doing the same for me.

I think one of my favorite track memories was the Millrose games last year, it was one of my first times back at the Armory since high school. I got a nice warm welcome from the fans, so that was really cool because I was lining up against Olympians, American record holders and some of the best in the country. All the officials from when I was in high school were there and it was good to see them. It was great to be home and go back to where my whole running career started.


What do you have planned for summer training and racing? Any PRs you hope to accomplish by the end of this year?

I plan on doing a race in Los Angeles at the end of July and then doing my first European circuit so I’ll head to Europe and race three to four times out there depending on the schedule. I’m just excited to compete as a professional. Personal bests are great, but this year I really want to focus on just racing and hopefully the times will come with that.


What’s new in your life outside running and granola? How do you spend your free time?

Just living the “Pro Life.” Eat sleep, train, repeat, and I love it. It’s been great now that the summer is here. My younger brother doesn’t have school anymore, and my older brother Patrick came to Raleigh and he came to Eugene. We’ve been training a lot together. They’re my two favorite people to run with, obviously because they’re my siblings and I love them. There’s almost no embarrassment with them. If one of us gets dropped, it is what it is, and if one of us has a good day it’s great, too. We’re encouraging each other and we just want the best for each other. It’s fun that we all have the shared joy for the sport. My parents love it, too, because they just think it’s super cool. We’re getting them into the sport more. We love watching track and talking track. It’s just a family bond, I guess. -

KT's Clusters - Katelyn Tuohy's High Performance Granola