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The Recipe to Running Success

The Recipe to Running Success

On November 5, thousands of runners will take to the streets for the iconic New York City Marathon – including Eataly Net CEO Franco Denari. Eataly Magazine sat down with Franco to discuss how good food and good running go hand in hand.

In 2013, Franco co-founded Eataly Net, the online store that comprises and, with Oscar Farinetti. Today, he is based out of Eataly’s corporate office in New York City but frequently returns to Italy to meet with his Italian e-commerce team, visit family, and run the odd marathon.

Hailing from Piemonte, Franco attributes his running and business success to dedication, discipline, and, of course, food! On the eve of the marathon  — his seventh! — he and his running friends will dine at Eataly NYC Flatiron and NYC Downtown, which are offering special marathon menus on November 3 and 4 (plus complimentary Prosecco to marathoners after the race!). The pasta dishes are designed to give the runners an abundance of energy, endurance, and speed the next day. (The Prosecco is to toast success!)

Runners, check out Franco's advice below, then join us to fuel up before the big day!

casarecce pasta

Franco, we are only a few days out! How are you feeling about the marathon on Sunday?
I’m very well – hoping we’re going to have nice weather! I’m really excited and can’t wait to be on the Verrazano Bridge for the starting line. The New York City Marathon is one of my favorite days of the year. (Editor's note: to date, he has already run five marathons in New York, plus two in Milano and one in Chicago!)

When did you first start running?
I’ve been running for more than 10 years. At first, it was due to my health: I’d been overweight for a while, so I said to myself, “Man, it is time to change your life. I want to be able to run 10 marathons."

Then, something strange happened. I started running once a week, then twice a week, and now, I run at least four times every week. You know, running produces endorphins. I started to feel so good when I exercised that it was as if I had taken mood-altering drugs. It’s something like euphoria. Also, I work a lot and am always busy. Running is a way to clean my mind after a busy day.

What is the recipe for running success?
Have a clear goal and a strong plan. A great thing about the marathon is that there is a clear goal of 26.2 miles and a proven training schedule. You need a plan. It should be really clear in your mind.

And if you’re not a runner yet, get out of your comfort zone, and start thinking outside of the box. Try to visualize the goal, and imagine it finished. Step by step.

That sounds like a certain CEO I know! Do you see a connection between your business style and your passion for running?
They are the same. I believe that you have to enjoy every single day of your life, e.g., business, running, and family. Do it because you love it: I love running, I love my company, and I love my job. You have to have a plan for your business and on the road. You need to know your finish line and your goal. You need to give hard work and be disciplined, every day. Eat good food: it gives you good energy in life.

NYC Marathon

Have you ever hit "the wall" during a race?
Yes, sure. I’ve run the NYC Marathon five times and two marathons in Milano. During each marathon, there is the wall. Usually, it happens after 20 miles. You start telling yourself this is impossible what I’m doing right now. Your mind and your brain start telling you, “Please, stop, walk, and enjoy these streets.”

How did you overcome it?
It’s hard. You have to stay focused; you have to get energy and motivation from your soul and heart. Say to yourself, “I’m better than yesterday, I’m not in bar with a beer, I’m running this marathon, and I have to complete this race.” It’s a moment in which you need to talk with yourself, and later you will know better your soul.

And again, most importantly, you have to eat well before and during the race to have energy throughout!

What is your pre-race food ritual?
I love the three days before the marathon. I eat everything I love, such as pasta, cakes, and cookies. I prefer whole-wheat pasta and brown rice with proteins. On the race morning, I eat breakfast at 5 a.m.: two turkey panini and coffee with honey. Then, 30 minutes before the race, I have four spoonfuls of honey, and I’m ready to go.

How do you think Eataly's special pasta dishes are going to help you on Sunday?
They’re great pasta dishes with protein – the perfect combination for the race. Thank you, Eataly staff!

What are you going to do after you cross the finish line?
First of all, I’m going to find a coffee shop and order a big American coffee with two muffins! Then, I’ll go home and enjoy a relaxing evening with pizza and beer.

franco marathon

Bravo, Franco!