Monday, June 13, 2011

Glorious Food

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?


  1. Sounds familiar... always a struggle to get enough calories. Although I have to admit the look of sheer disbelief on someone's face when they see how much I eat is always good for a laugh.

    A lunchtime salad slathered in Udo's does wonders for my recovery, by the way.

  2. Jacob - So true about others' reactions to our portion size. I find that kind of funny myself. And, I'm becoming a fan of Udo's too but haven't quite figured out how to incorporate it into the daily diet yet, so I appreciate the tip!

  3. Somehow I never have this particular problem, even in the back days when my miles were up to 100/week, and 3xgym workouts. What's wrong with me?

  4. I'm with Olga. My metabolism is measured in geological time. Glacial.

    But eggs! We work on a farm and get fresh eggs from free range hens. There is nothing like a just-laid egg. It is a whole other species of food. So good! Once you start eating fresh eggs you can't go back. We're building a chicken coop! True converts.....

  5. Oh, man ... welcome to the club. I'm embarrassed to say how much I've been eating lately. For what it's worth, you still looked totally skinny at Auburn.

  6. Olga - 100 miles a week? I think my body would eat itself alive. Or I would spend all my waking minutes eating. Maybe Russians have a more stable metabolism? :)

    Pam - Oh so jealous of the chickens!!! It is a constant topic of discussion around here. I want them! Fresh eggs ... mmmmmmm!

    Donald - Yes, well, that's part of the bonus. Not at all concerned about my weight. These times don't last long though, so I'm appreciating them!

  7. I'm looking forward to running the mileage again that I need to worry about how to get enough calories. :-)

  8. I just read your post while consuming my favorite high calorie food, homemade nachos with lot's of cheese, Trader Joe's pineapple salsa, black beans, sour cream and a hint of lime juice :)

  9. I find a breakfast of protein, like eggs and greek yogurt, keep me feeling fuller than one with mostly carbs, like cereals and toast. Those Chobani's are the best, aren't they?!

  10. OMG Gretchen, I am on the same egg/greek yogurt kick! I love Trader Joe's greek yogurt-yummy! I haven't seen Chobani yogurt before. What stores do you find them in? I also try to hold back on the carbs and eat an omelet almost everyday, stuffed with my favorite veggies and a little Parmesan. :) Between me and those growing boys of mine, we finish off 5 dozen in less than 2 weeks! When I do go for some grains though, I try to find the heartiest kind I can find- quinoa has a lot of protein in it, and Kashi Go Lean cereal has as much protein in one serving as an egg! And I like to sprinkle almond slivers on it for an added bonus. :) Nuts are a satisfying afternoon staple when I'm hungry, and cottage cheese has lotsa protein too...

  11. Sarah - Go go go!! It feels good to get the mileage high, at least for a while.

    Jamie - Oh man you just made me so hungry! You should have seen the plate of food I piled on at our end of the year banquet. Yeah. Lady-like, I am not.

    Anne - Exactly! And yes, I love the Chobani's. Totally addicted.

    Amber - Ooh yummy! I just get the Chobani at Safeway, or you can get a huge package at Costco. that's what got me hooked, actually. They have fruit on the bottom, but still way less sugar than regular yogurt. I like them better than the TJ's, but too bad they're not organic.