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Cover Model: Teri Hatcher

“Desperate Housewife” Teri Hatcher became a runner to help the people of Haiti and now she’s hooked.

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When we spoke to Teri Hatcher last October, the actress was days away from toeing the line at the 2014 New York City Marathon.

“I’ve been told by people who have done a few marathons that the first one is great, because there’s this excitement in the adventure of not knowing,” said the “Desperate Housewives” star. “There’s so much I can’t even anticipate, and so much that I’m super excited to experience. But honestly, I’m nervous.”

Hatcher, 50, who ended up finishing the marathon in 5:06, had never thought of herself a runner. She certainly hadn’t even considered signing up for a marathon until Sean Penn’s J/P Haitian Relief Organization asked her to run one as a fundraiser.

Hatcher explains that last year, she took up CrossFit, which lead to some paparazzi photos of her running half-mile sprints through the neighborhood around her gym.

“I think that’s what gave the J/P HRO people the idea that I was a runner,” Hatcher explains. “They called me and said, ‘We see that you like to run. Would you want to do this for us?’”

Hatcher says the charity’s mission to rebuild the earthquake-torn country’s infrastructure touched her. She agreed and started training.

“I don’t think I would have risen to the challenge if they hadn’t asked me, but once they did, I thought, ‘Well, why not?’” Hatcher says. “I’m definitely a person that likes a challenge and that likes to push myself out of my comfort zone. I think that’s how we reach new heights.”

Related: Training Plan For Your First Marathon

Hatcher used an app on her phone that signaled her to run for 3 minutes and walk for 2 minutes, and built herself up from there. Though she had previously completed triathlons and had a solid fitness base, she says training was exhausting at times.

“In the beginning, I couldn’t even run a mile without rap music or pop music blaring in my brain,” Hatcher says. “Once I started running longer distances without music, I started to understand the meditative high that can come with running. It really does put you in touch with your mind, your breathing and your body.”

Post-marathon, Hatcher plans to continue running—albeit much shorter distances.

“I think I’ll probably go for 5- or 6-mile runs,” Hatcher says. “I love being out and seeing nature. I especially love running really early in the morning when it’s just a little bit misty, and when there isn’t much traffic yet. That’s a really joyful time for me.”

Nature Lover
Hatcher says she’s obsessed with eating all organic—even on the run.

“I just made a batch of superfood dark chocolate truffles with no sugar. I make my own chocolate, so I started with cacao nibs, vanilla bean, stevia and coconut oil. Then, I mixed in dried blueberries, goji berries, walnuts and coconut flakes, and I molded them into truffle balls. They’re delicious.”

Getting political:
“I’m a big proponent of the labeling campaigns for no GMOs. I’m not sure if cooking school was an igniting factor for this, but I’ve always been a pretty healthy eater.”

Running long:
“I do the most organic version of Gatorade I can find. I’ve tried all of the gels and gummies. I even tried organic Fig Newtons to get that combination of potassium and sugar. But for me, it’s just easier to drink the calories I need than to eat them while I’m running.”

Related: DIY Smoothie Packs

What I Really Eat
Fun fact: Hatcher studied at Le Cordon Bleu cooking school! She uses her skills to prepare meals for herself and her daughter that offer a balance of healthy protein and produce.

Breakfast: “We eat a lot of organic Irish oats with blueberries, goji berries, walnuts and pumpkin seeds.”

Lunch: “Usually, we take quinoa, brown rice, avocado, chicken and vegetables like grilled asparagus and sautéed spinach and put that all in a bowl.”

Dinner: “I make a pretty great version of turkey meatball with tomato sauce. I like to serve it with kale that I cut into strips that simulate spaghetti. In general, always balance protein and vegetables. We’re big fans of sweet potatoes, which we wrap in foil and leave in the oven for long enough that they get caramelized on the outside.”

Dessert: “I’ll just take frozen bananas and put them in the Vitamix. There’s something about the texture of frozen bananas that makes them delicious by themselves, but sometimes, we’ll add peanut butter or dark chocolate.”