Running Fiesta

Writing and running in Austin, TX.

Hand Over the Breakfast Taco and Nobody Will Get Hurt

I’ve been thinking about food lately. 
As pretty much every female Rogue can tell you, one of the most galling aspects of this 40-miles-a-week regimen is the fact that we–or I at least–haven’t lost a single pound! Not one! I went to the doctor last week for a routine check-up and almost went into shock over the numbers on the scale!!
Several smart, well-meaning people have told me, “You just can’t look at the numbers.”
To which I say: Have you seen doctors’ scales these days?? How can I NOT look at the numbers when they’re on a giant 4×8-inch digital display?!? (Why so big? Just in case I’m visually impaired? “Sorry you’re going blind, but hey look, you’re still fat!”)
Okay, okay…I don’t really think I’m fat, nor is anybody I run with. But during our 18-miler this weekend, J and I once again began pondering the large number of people who have disappeared from the group and the possible reasons for their departure. 
I remember one girl in particular who is (was?) running the Chicago Marathon and then getting married the next weekend (presumably in flats). Though a little faster than us, she had been friendly, and the planning of a wedding is an excellent topic to keep three girls’ minds off the activity at hand. Alas, we have not seen our betrothed friend in several weeks. J’s theory: She’d been using the marathon training as a torturous “Bridal Bootcamp”.
Thinking rather bitterly of that doctor’s scale, I opined, “If you’re doing this primarily for weight loss, you not gonna make it.” 
Face it: 1) Weight loss isn’t sufficient motivation to justify these ridiculously early mornings, 2) as previously noted, I haven’t lost any darn weight, and 3) after three months, you pretty much have to be crazy to still be doing this. 
Christine Luff at about.com writes an interesting article about her own theories of weight…err…non-loss during marathon training. 

“One explanation is that as you’re training, you’re building more muscle mass, which is denser than fat.”

Ah yes, I’ve heard that one before. And I’ve always liked it. Perhaps my jeans are tight because of my dense “waist muscle”.

“Your body is learning to store carbohydrates as fuel (glycogen) for your long runs. Those glycogen stores are important to completing your long runs without ‘hitting the wall’, but you may see a couple extra pounds on the scale.”

Hmm, is Luff saying I’m on an impossible mission? 
Although if that’s the case, how is it possible that Deena Kastor  (US record holder in the 5K, 8K, 15K, half marathon, AND marathon. But she married a massage therapist, so she’s kind of cheating…) looks like this:
Photo by thomas_sly

And then the dark truth comes out:

“Also, you may have been increasing your calorie intake without realizing it…running a lot does not give you carte blanche to eat whatever you want.”

Luff goes on to suggest that we runners, as a group, also tend to drink a lot. Since about.com is a fairly PC site, she focuses on the evils of Gatorade, but let’s be honest, beermile.com is a real Web site. (Chug a beer, run 400m, chug a beer, run 400m…until you complete 4 beers and 1600m. Plus a penalty lap if you vomit.)

Yes, running burns a lot of calories, but running also makes you really really hungry. On a long run day, I get hungry roughly every 90 minutes, regardless of how much I ate previously.

During the run itself, your body does an amazing job of letting you know exactly when and what you need to be eating. Suddenly dreaming of juice? You probably need some glucose. Fantasizing about pretzels or, in my case, breakfast tacos? Sodium’s low. Feel like you’re about to pass out? For the love of God, eat something now.

It’s after the run that’s hard. After the run, you lose that zen-like feeling that comes from your entire existence being reduced to the pursuit of forward motion. After the run, you’ve stretched, iced, and pulled up a chair to relive the glory of your run over a huge breakfast with your fellow runners.

After the run, it’s impossible to believe that one or two or twenty-five little M&Ms could possibly do any harm. You just ran 18 miles! You’re a calorie-burning machine!

No matter how hard I try to intellectualize the situation, after a long run, I just can’t get my brain to focus on calories in vs. calories out.

So now I’m wondering if I can trick myself. If I can surround myself with heaping piles of fruits and vegetables, can I convince it that I do not, in fact, need 3 huge breakfast tacos to prevent imminent death?

Rogue is hosting an info session with a nutritionist on August 7th, so maybe I’ll run my fruits and veggies idea by her. Assuming, that is, that I can put down the breakfast taco. This isn’t going to be fun…

One comment on “Hand Over the Breakfast Taco and Nobody Will Get Hurt

  1. Jeanine
    August 3, 2010

    I nearly missed this post and now I am so glad I read it. Cracked me up! It really isn't fair that running approx 30+ miles per week does not equate to weight loss. Bastards.

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This entry was posted on July 27, 2010 by in nutrition, weight loss.
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