Sunday, May 16, 2010

Crap They Don't Tell You About Running: #8

To be fair, the joggers around me tried to warn be about the way running roused their hungry horrors. The way training transformed their tummies into bottomless pits. The way they came to the conclusion that the only real solution was to make sure the food they fed their beasts was healthy fare. And though I heard them, I didn't consider what awaking my very own hungry hippo would mean for me. Or more accurately, what it would feel like.

On Friday my long run inched up to ten miles; when I got back to my kitchen just after 11 a.m., my stomach was hollering so loudly it would have freaked out Seymour from Little Shop of Horrors.

Because I had afternoon appointments I made myself a feast intended to last me through dinner. Except then it didn't. As I was driving home just after 4 p.m., my arms started shaking, and I my eyes went into primitive hunter-gatherer mode: I was actively searching the highway for a healthy option.

What I found was a bagel at Dunkin Donuts. Some popcorn a little later at home. A little later than that, a cookie. By the time the husband got home hellbent on whisking me out to dinner, I'd already consumed all my calories for the day. And then some. And yet, I was still hungry.

I should stop here to say my relationship with food ishow can I say this?complicated. If I ever decide to write a memoir about my decades-long battle with food, I'll call it Stuffed: One Woman's Unrequited Love Affair With Food.* But detailing my many issues with food is beyond the scope of the Run for Grub blog, except as it applies to the training. And so here it is. After being locked in an epic war of wills with food for most of my adult life, in the last year I've finally learned that breaking the cycle of mindless comfort eating is as simple as asking myself one question before I eat: Am I really hungry?** Of course, the vast majority of times I've asked myself this very question over the last year, the answer has been, "no." But when I'm burning almost 1400 calories by running 10 miles before eleven o'clock in the morning, I shouldn't be shocked if when I ask yourself if I'm hungry, the answer's a resounding "yes!"

No guilt. No shame. Just a healthy hunger that means my body's working in just the way it's supposed to work.

So starting next week, I'll plan for a fourth meal on my long-run Fridays. But I'd still liked to have been warned BEFORE I started training that the hunger said training inspired would challenge me to flex every good food habit I've worked so hard to develop.

Catherine Elcik is running her first marathon to raise money for a scholarship fund for Grub Street, Inc, and independent writing center in Boston, MA. Sponsor the run at

*Although apparently there's a food memoir about living in a restaurant family called Stuffed. So Gorged, then. Whatever.

**I do recognize that this
is a horrendous oversimplification of a decades-long struggle, but this is a training blog, not a memoir.

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