Sweat Diaries

Here’s How Much an Ultramarathon Runner Spends on Food and Fitness in a Week

Ultramarathon runner, social media guru, and planner of the Rocky 50K Rebecca Barber shares a look inside her week.


ultramarathon runner

Ultramarathon runner Rebecca Barber shares her week. Photographs courtesy Rebecca Barber.

Welcome to Sweat Diaries, Be Well Philly’s look at the time, energy, and money people invest in pursuit of a healthy lifestyle in Philly. For each Sweat Diary, we ask one Philadelphian to spend a week tracking everything they eat, all the exercise they get, and the money they spend on both. Want to submit a Sweat Diary? Email ccunningham@phillymag.com with details.

Who: Rebecca Barber (@rebthebarber), 30, from West Philly

What I do: Social media specialist at The Wharton School (full-time) and manager of City Running Tours Philadelphia (part-time). I’m also the organizer of the Rocky 50k Fat Ass Run. I recently completed my Master of Public Health, so for the first time in 2.5 years, I’m not in school!

What role healthy living plays in my life: I’ve always had health on the brain in some capacity. My mom always cooked my family healthy meals and instilled a prioritization of health from an early age. I always was involved in sports when I was young, but I’ve been running since I was in elementary school. It really took off in high school, and since then I’ve run lots of races including 14 half marathons, 25 marathons, and 19 ultramarathons.

Health memberships: As an employee of the University of Pennsylvania, I belong to the gym, and it costs $45 per month. I occasionally sign up for a yoga or Pilates class, but that’s pretty rare. Other than that, I do free workouts either through groups like November Project and West Philly Runners or recently, I’ve been loving the Nike Training Club app (totally free and chock full of awesome guided workouts!).

Monday

ultramarathon runner

An early morning Pilates session to start the day. Photograph courtesy Rebecca Barber.

5:05 a.m. — Alarm goes off and I snooze it a few times.

5:35 a.m. — I finally get out of bed. Brush my teeth, get dressed, and head downstairs. I drink water, let my dog Penny out, and I do the New York Times mini crossword.

5:52 a.m. — I head down to my basement to do some workout videos on YouTube. I normally run Monday mornings, but I’m having a little flare-up of tendonitis in my right foot. I’m really strict about listening to my body, so I instead opt to do a Ploome Pilates video (they are so intense and awesome!). After, I find a Yoga for Runners video on YouTube and do that.

6:45 a.m. — I start to do some physical therapy workouts. I’m going to PT to help some nagging pains I’m having all on my left side (clearly, I have an imbalance) and like most runners, my problems stem from my hips.

7:08 a.m. — I drink a glass of water and head to take Penny for a walk.

7:30 a.m. — My foot isn’t feeling great, so I cut the walk short and ice my foot. Then I’m off to shower and get ready for the day.

ultramarathon runner

Fueling for an ultramarathon runner: egg scramble. Photograph courtesy Rebecca Barber.

8:15 a.m. — I make an egg scramble with two eggs, heirloom tomato, zucchini, goat cheese, and Trader Joe’s Everything but the Bagel seasoning.

8:50 a.m. — Leave home to walk to the trolley. It’s FINALLY cool enough to walk to work, but since I’m babying my foot, I trolley.

9:10 a.m. — Arrive at work.

10:06 a.m. — How am I hungry already?! I eat a big handful of pistachios to help my grumbling stomach and drink some green tea.

12:20 p.m. — I eat my packed lunch of rice, leftover fajita veggies (red peppers, onions, and mushrooms with Trader Joe’s chili lime seasoning), avocado, Valentina hot sauce, and an Asian pear on the side. I eat only about half my lunch because I’m not that into it and I cannot force myself to eat what I’m not into.

2:30 p.m. — I eat a string cheese I packed.

4 p.m. — It’s chocolate time! My co-workers and I stock a snack drawer that’s in my desk and I fish out a square of dark chocolate with sea salt. Delish.

4:15 p.m. — I eat a handful of roasted and salted chickpeas.

5:30 p.m. — Trolley back home.

ultramarathon runner

Ambitious Kitchen meatballs for dinner. Photograph courtesy Rebecca Barber.

5:50 p.m. — Home and ready to cook dinner.

6:52 p.m. — I made us Ambitious Kitchen’s Zucchini Turkey Meatballs with roasted peppers and curry sauce. I serve my husband John’s dish with rice, and I have sweet potatoes.

8:36 p.m. — I want a little snack, so I have a banana muffin I baked on Sunday, some peanut butter, and a cup of green tea.

9 p.m. — Up to bed for teeth brushing, face washing, and HQ trivia playing.

9:30 p.m. — Lights out and asleep.

Daily total: $0

Tuesday

ultramarathon runner

Starting the morning with a breakfast burrito. Photograph courtesy Rebecca Barber.

5 a.m. —  Alarm goes off. I keep snoozing.

5:30 a.m. — Finally up and scrolling through my phone. Get up and get dressed to run. Brush teeth and head downstairs.

5:47 a.m. — I’m out the door to meet my running friends.

6:05 a.m. — After running with my friends for a mile, I head over to the gym (foot didn’t feel great while running). Bike for 30 minutes before I leave the gym to walk to my PT appointment.

7 a.m. — Appointment with my PT. She’s going to kill me with all of the hip and core workouts, but it’s what my body needs to keep me running!

ultramarathon runner

This ultramarathon runner switches it up with time on a stationary bike. Photograph courtesy Rebecca Barber.

8:15 a.m. — Home. Shower, get ready for work, and quickly throw together breakfast.

9:15 a.m. — Walk to the trolley.

9:40 a.m. — Finally at work and eating the breakfast burrito I packed myself (two eggs, half a small avocado, spinach, onions, zucchini, heirloom tomato, Everything but the Bagel seasoning, all in a tortilla).

11:11 a.m. — I don’t usually use MyFitnessPal, but I notice I’ve got a bit of a headache and wonder if I haven’t eaten enough for the calories I burned. Confirm I haven’t eaten enough and grab a handful of roasted chickpeas.

12:45 p.m. — Free lunch for joining a meeting. Woohoo! Eat veggie and cheese sandwich from Pret A Manger.

1:45 p.m. — Eat an apple I brought.

3 p.m. — Maybe it’s stress, maybe I’m hungry? Handful of pistachios down the gullet.

5:20 p.m. — Leave work and trolley home.

5:45 p.m. — Get home, catch up with John on our days, head out to walk pup.

6:30 p.m. — Back home, I make spicy tahini tofu with roasted veggies and brown rice.

ultramarathon runner

A dinner of tofu and veggies. Photograph courtesy Rebecca Barber.

7:45 p.m. — Eating dinner and rewatching episodes of The Good Place.

8:30 p.m. — Craving something sweet. I head to the kitchen to make a chocolate chia pudding, and while it sets, I clean dishes and fill the dishwasher.

9 p.m. — All done, and the pudding was worth the wait. Pack away half for tomorrow’s chocolate craving.

9:45 p.m. — Hit the hay.

Daily total: $0

Wednesday

ultramarathon runner

A banana muffin with peanut butter and eggs for breakfast. Photograph courtesy Rebecca Barber.

5 a.m. — Alarm goes off. I snooze a bit.

5:30 a.m. — I’m finally awake and scrolling through phone.

5:45 a.m. — Get up, get dressed, brush teeth, drink a cup of water, let dog out, then get in the car.

6:15 a.m. — Arrive at Pottruck Gym (member as a Penn employee). Still babying my foot, so I drove. Do 30 minutes on the bike, then an insane arm workout that leaves me quivering.

7:30 a.m. — Back home, I leash up my pup and bring her on a walk.

7:50 a.m. — Back home, shower, get dressed. Get ready for day, make breakfast, and listen to news with John.

8:40 a.m. — Breaky time. I eat one buckwheat muffin with peanut butter, plus half an egg scramble (two eggs, an egg white, kale, goat cheese, onion, Bagel seasoning).

8:55 a.m. — Head to trolley to work.

9:15 a.m. — At work, I have cup of green tea.

12:20 p.m. — Lunch is leftover rice, curry turkey meatballs, and veggies.

2:30 p.m. — I eat a string cheese I packed while backstage at tech run through of event.

4 p.m. — They left snacks out for us backstage, so I have a handful of trail mix, followed by a small bag of sweet potato tortilla chips.

5:15 p.m. — Trolleyed from campus to home. I’m already in PJs, whoops.

5:45 p.m. — Prep dinner for tomorrow (stuffed peppers) and make dinner for tonight (healthy cream of broccoli soup).

7 p.m. — Eat dinner with John while we watch The Office.

8:30 p.m. — I do some City Running Tours administrative work and have a nightcap of the rest of the chia pudding.

10 p.m. — Head to bed, brush teeth, wash face, scroll through phone, hit the hay.

Daily total: $0

Thursday

ultramarathon runner

Snap Kitchen to the rescue with breakfast. Photograph courtesy Rebecca Barber.

4:45 a.m. — Alarm goes off. I just can’t get out of bed yet.

5 a.m. — Wake up and scroll through phone.

5:45 a.m. — OMG I just wasted so much time. Get up and let dog out.

6 a.m. — Foot is still not feeling great, so 45-minute yoga video from YouTube and PT exercises.

7 a.m. — Shower and get ready.

7:30 a.m. — Leave and walk to trolley.

8 a.m. — Waxing appointment in Center City. I have already paid for a bunch of sessions ahead of time, so I only have to pay for a tip ($10).

8:30 a.m. — No time for breakfast, so I head to Snap Kitchen to pick up breakfast and some grilled chicken to add more protein to the lunch I brought ($11.32). Walk to trolley to head to work.

8:55 a.m. — I walk past CVS after hopping off the trolley and decided to sneak in for some snacks for my communal snack drawer at work. I buy two big dark chocolate with sea salt bars and a container of salted mixed nuts ($12.77).

9:15 a.m. — Breakfast is finally happening. Love this Snap Kitchen breaky of egg whites, spinach, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, and goat cheese.

10:15 a.m. — Still hungry, so I grab a handful of mixed nuts.

12:15 p.m. — I am eating some leftover cream of broccoli soup and eat some of the grilled chicken I got from Snap Kitchen.

12:45 p.m. — Well, I’ve got to sample some of the chocolate I bought. I have a square.

3:30 p.m. — I’m backstage at this work event and I end up eating some pretzels.

7 p.m. — I’m home, so I get out of work clothes and am so happy that I prepped dinner for tonight. John put the peppers in the oven so they were ready when I got home. Prep a side salad to eat with one stuffed pepper.

8 p.m. — I get a text from friends that they are at Dock Street Cannery for drinks (only a few blocks from our house). Out of character, I get back into normal clothes and meet them for two drinks ($21.60).

9:45 p.m. — Home and hungry. I make myself popcorn and eat more salad.

10:25 p.m. — Teeth are brushed, face is washed, and I’m in bed, sleeping.

Daily total: $55.69

Friday

ultramarathon runner

A smoothie to start the day for this ultramarathon runner. Photograph courtesy Rebecca Barber.

6 a.m. — Decide today will be a rest day, so I “sleep in” and scroll through phone.

6:20 a.m. — Get up and wash the dishes I left in the sink (trying to avoid doing that, but life happens).

6:45 a.m. — Back in bed because why not? Scroll through phone and chat with John as he’s awake.

7:30 a.m. — Get up and get ready, go downstairs to make smoothie (mango, orange, kale, vanilla protein powder, almond milk).

8:10 a.m. — Take Penny on her walk.

8:30 a.m. — Get ready for work and pack lunch.

8:55 a.m. — Leave for trolley.

9:20 a.m. — Trolley took forever! Finally at work.

11 a.m. — Have a handful of mixed nuts.

12:30 p.m. — Salad of greens, carrot, walnuts, avocado, and balsamic dressing I packed.

1 p.m. — I eat half the soup I brought and some pinto bean and cheddar tortilla chips my co-worker put in the snack drawer.

4 p.m. — Eat the string cheese I brought.

5 p.m. — As I’m heading out of the office, John calls from Trader Joe’s and asks if he should get anything for dinner. I say to get something he’d want, then I trolley home.

ultramarathon runner

Naan bread pizzas for Friday night. Photograph courtesy Rebecca Barber.

5:30 p.m. — Home and I see John bought cereal, eggs, gnocci, and some naan ($9.86). We opt for naan pizzas since we had some leftover pizza toppings after hosting a pizza party the previous weekend. I have mine with onion, tomato, green olives, and anchovies.

8:30 p.m. — My co-worker and close friend got married today in a small ceremony! He invited a bunch of friends and family to his apartment for a celebratory dessert party. John and I Lyft there and have a blast. I sample most of what’s there (Federal Donuts fancy donuts, Fourth Street Deli cookies, Weckerly’s ice cream sandwiches, some homemade taco dip and buffalo chicken dip, and some soft pretzels). I also have two glasses of wine and two Manhattans.

1 a.m. — We don’t want to leave, but we’re ready for bed. We Lyft back home and pass out.

Daily total: $9.86

Weekly Totals

Money spent: $65.55

Workouts: 4

Physical therapy exercise sessions: 3

Things topped with bagel seasoning: 3

Sweet treats: 6

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