Power snacks are great before activity

March 28, 2012

By TRISHA VAUGHAN - Bulletin Accent Writer

Several young runners have learned that nutritious food doesn’t have to be bland.

Chanel Akridge, 8, and Campbell Ferguson, 10, are members of the local Girls on the Run group. Keri Knott, 14, belongs to a related group called Girls on Track. 

The programs incorporate running into healthy discussion about avoiding peer pressure; substance abuse; body image; nutrition; and other issues specific to girls in third through eighth grades.

Each girl said she likes to run and has learned, through the program, what to eat to keep momentum up and cramping down. In addition to drinking several bottles of water on days when she runs, Keri said she enjoys eating peanut butter and Greek yogurt to get enough protein.

Keri already has run a 5K (3.1-mile) race, and she looks forward to running cross country at Magna Vista High School next year. She said she enjoys eating Luna nutrition bars, which she discovered when her coach brought them for a snack at a recent Girls on Track meeting. The bars provide enough chocolate to help you feel satisfied, Keri said, but they don’t fill you up too much.

Keri is in the eighth grade at Laurel Park Middle School, and she is the daughter of Jeannie and Allen Knott of Spencer.

Although she keeps food light most of the time, Keri said she loves baking cakes. Her grandmother, Rose Hylton of Horsepasture, whom Keri described as “the cook of the family,” taught her to make pound cakes.

After the 5K, Keri said, she went home and made a lasagna, cupcakes and a cake.

“Holidays are the best time for cooking,” said Keri, as Chanel nodded in agreement and added that she likes to help her mother cook turkey for Thanksgiving and brownies and other baked goods for Christmas.

Chanel also makes snacks for her basketball games. Her favorite is Ants on a Log, which is celery topped with peanut butter and raisins.

Chanel, a third-grader at Patrick Henry Elementary School, said she likes almost all fruits and vegetables, except strawberries and blueberries. She said she tries not to eat too much sugar before she goes running, although she likes helping her mother, Fran Hobson of Martinsville, bake red velvet cakes.

Campbell said she enjoys baking just as much as she likes to help her father make Italian food.

“I love a lot of Italian foods,” she said, adding that her father’s baked spaghetti with pepperoni and cheese is one of her favorites.

“I love cake,” Campbell added, saying she once made a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting at a local cooking camp. She and her father “do lots of brownies, too.”

Campbell, a fourth-grade student at Carlisle School, is the daughter of Colin and Marie Ferguson of Martinsville.

Campbell said that because she doesn’t want to eat too much before running, she likes to have an apple or banana and drink lots of water. The potassium in bananas helps prevent cramping, said Keri. Fruits and vegetables also “give you a lot of energy to run,” Chanel added.

The nutrition portion of the Girls on the Run and Girls on Track programs is minor, said coach Lee Probst, but the girls do discuss how to make healthy food choices, as well as what to eat before a run.

Probst, along with coaches Becky Forestier and Veronica Favero, is responsible for the 36 girls enrolled in the programs. This is the first year of the programs locally, and Probst said she hopes that as awareness of them grows, more girls will want to join, and classes can be formed throughout the city and county. This year, the funding came through a Women in Philanthropy grant. Without the grant, the programs would cost at $200 per girl.

To raise money for the programs, a 5K will be held April 21. The 5K also will be the culmination of the programs to show the girls how far they have come.


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