You can’t fake a marathon.” That’s the warning Chrissy Camba received from a friend after the former Top Chef contestant, who was very much not a runner, signed up for the 2020 Chicago Marathon. It was delayed by the pandemic, so she deferred to 2021.

Then she procrastinated.

Her friend cautioned that Camba could get injured if she didn’t prepare. So she buckled down and started running four days a week and cross-training with activities such as yoga and kayaking on a fifth day. By race time, she was ready, and though it took her nearly seven hours, she did finish.

Camba, 40, still runs, often waking at 4 a.m. to hit the pavement. “I like the newness of the day,” she says. “It’s so early, no one’s out. You’re focused on your breathing.”

Previously an executive chef at Bar Pastoral, Camba now develops recipes for the smart oven company Tovala, and she also cofounded Stellar Granola, an allergen-free cereal line. She lives in Avondale with her chef husband, a dog, and a rabbit.

Granola bowl, granola, and a hiking boot
Photography: (shoe) Getty Images; (bowl) Emily Knapp; (granola) Aliyah MacCrindle

What other workouts excite you?

“Hiking. My husband, a friend, and I go backpacking once a month for a long weekend. We’ve enjoyed Garden of the Gods [in Herod, Illinois] and Sand Ridge State Forest [in Forest City, Illinois].”

What do you do for fun?

“I always find that I’m smiling when I’m dancing. One day I danced for like two hours with my dog. People who enjoy dancing should do more of it. Do it at home, on the sidewalk, skip, dance with your dog.”

What do you typically eat during the day?

“I try not to eat until noon. I love food a lot; I need some rules so that I don’t overeat. What I eat always changes. For a while, I was making cute little salad boxes in the style of bento boxes. I’m also into bread making.”