A professional runner is a lithe figure, seemingly all muscle, with no room for decadent dishes like pizza. But Colleen Quigley, a decorated NCAA track and field champion and 2020 Olympics competitor currently training with Nike’s Bowerman Track Club, is living proof that you can be a die-hard pizza lover and still outrun most people.
“My boyfriend and I named our dog Pie after the pizza spot (Pi Pizzeria) in St. Louis where we had our first date back in high school!” said Quigley. “If I had to pick one type of food to eat for the rest of my life it would definitely be pizza.”
Her ideal night is to invite a group of people over and make pizzas with their favorite topping combinations, with everyone sampling each other’s favorite pizza while drinking a glass of pinot noir. “I never get tired of it, and there’s just so many ways you can make pizza that I never get bored,” she said.
In high school, Quigley never dreamt of running professionally. She was already signed with Wilhelmina Models, working gigs around the world that caused her to miss 20 to 30 days of school each semester. Her post-grad plan was to move to New York to pursue a full-time modeling career, but a coach convinced her to compete as a track-and-field athlete at Florida State University. She accepted and hasn’t looked back since. Who could blame her? She gets to enjoy the two best things in her life: pizza and running.
“It’s all about balance,” she said. “I don’t have pizza every night, but once a week is fine, and I don’t eat greasy fast-food pizza. I eat quality pizza with vegetables on it and pair it with a nice salad to make sure I’m getting plenty of nutrients. I also like trying out different crusts like sweet potato or zucchini to get more nutrients packed into the pizza.”
She even invented healthy pizza recipes for driven athletes who can’t quit their love of pizza. Quigley is passionate about nutrition and strives to be a role model for women, issuing a weekly newsletter with advice on morning routines, recipes, nutrition tips and stories of hardships she endured while pushing limits on her running. It’s not surprising that her nutritious recipes draw a large following on her social media channels: 156,000 fans on Instagram; 14,100 on Twitter, and 2,176 on Facebook.
And she hasn’t slowed down.
“I got my boyfriend a PizzaQue [oven] from Pizzacraft for his birthday, and it has been a total game-changer,” she said. “It gets super-hot and cooks the pizzas in about five minutes! I’m going to spend some time this fall trying out some new recipes. I’d also like to try pizzas with root vegetables like butternut squash with brussels sprout shavings or zucchini with mushrooms.”
Quigley and her friend circle testify that even models and Olympian athletes can enjoy pizza.
Her teammate, Shalane Flanagan, even provided two pizza recipes in her own cookbook, Run Fast Eat Slow. “One is with mashed sweet potato on the base and an egg on the top — it’s incredible and so unique,” Quigley said.