Monday, June 13, 2011
Anyone who has ever trained for a hundred mile race can tell you: It takes a lot of fuel to feed that fire. It's been a constant struggle this spring to get enough healthy calories when I want them.
In other words: I'm hungry all the time!
Food in our culture has many associations. The two biggest that come to mind for me are pleasure and (consequently) guilt. The beauty of burning so many calories is that food becomes what it is actually meant to be: fuel. And while I used to subscribe to the Quentin Cassidy school of thought - if the fire is hot enough, anything will burn - I have fallen more towards healthier foods and away from my standard cravings for junk.
Why? Simple: better fuel.
I have a horrible sweet tooth, and admittedly I still consume my share of chocolate, but in general the carbs just don't cut it right now. I used to eat a bagel for breakfast every day. For probably the last 15 years, in fact. Now I eat a two-egg sandwich and a banana. (The bagel didn't get me past 7 AM before I needed second breakfast.) I've managed to avoid alcohol, and I go through an extra large bag of apples in a week.
No bagels? No beer? Who have I become?
On long runs it's challenging to carry enough food. Jamie, my training partner and mentor in all things Western States, assures me that this will not be a problem on race day. After tapering, my metabolism will drop down a notch, just like my dress size. Let's hope so.
The last time I really viewed food this way was when I was hiking the PCT. I carefully examined the nutrition information on packages to see what food had the most calories for the least weight. One of my favorite items was a chocolate espresso Clif Bar slathered in peanut butter. About 500 calories.
These days I can't get enough of two things: eggs and Greek yogurt. Strange, I know. I'm loving 'em though. They fill me up and keep me going.
What's your favorite fuel between training runs?