Something funny happened to me when I started doing the 16-mile Monster Month runs: my appetite went buck wild.
I know running and all exercise really tends to rev some people’s appetites. This has never actually been the case for me. More often, running and exercise suppress my appetite. In September and October, I had to force myself to eat the extra calories I needed for training, and my post-run snack was always a bit of a struggle. After seeing a nutritionist, I knew just how much I should eat to lose a few pounds while training, but I was never even that hungry.
And then two weeks ago, it was just like my body went, “Shittttt, son. Three hours of running…give me carbs, biatch!” And now I am starving and looking for carbs like a junkie trying to get a fix pretty much all the time.
On my long run days, I have to eat all day long. I mean, I’m burning nearly 2000 calories during my workout. When I’m not running, I’m eating. OK, so fine. The problem is actually the day following the long run. Because it’s a rest day, my inclination is to go back down to my “so you didn’t get out of bed” calorie intake. Unfortunately my body wants to eat like I just left the “Biggest Loser” ranch. (Mmm…speaking of ranch…Ranch dressing drizzled on everything sounds about ideal on those days.)
Now, of course, so many people like to use running as an excuse to eat; I don’t want to be That Girl. To me, the idea of running a 5K and then eating six plates of spaghetti is almost as annoying as people who drink, smoke, and dance on tables, but still give up soda during Lent. So I really did try to stick to my plan. But then we reached Monster Month…NFA.
Fact: sixteen miles can justify pasta or an extra glass of OJ and does not make you That Girl. It can also enable you to relax and not freak out about tasting a bite of something and not be That Girl. At this point, nutrition is an essential part of my training and recovery, and I can’t afford to not take in carbs. And while I don’t usually worry about my protein intake, and eat a mostly vegetarian diet, figuring “Oh, I’m fiiiiine!” I’ve actually begun watching protein grams again. It doesn’t just matter on the days I’m running; it matters every day.
Because I don’t weigh myself, I have no idea if I’m losing weight. Carbs hold water; what can I really even do? My body is changing, that’s absolutely certain, but when it comes to pounds, I don’t care. I can run for three hours. I’m going to run for more than that in a month. Like, ten pounds…O RLY?
No. And this is exactly why training for something was so important to me. It makes you feel strong and powerful. It makes you put your body first. And, well, the fact is, for the first time in four years I’m not actively pursuing some love of my life and I don’t have the pressure of some weight loss deadline or date party hanging over me. I thought this might mean I’d lose motivation; it doesn’t. It just means I’ve lost the anxiety as motivation. Do I want to lose 10 pounds and be at my happy weight? Yes. Do I care if it doesn’t happen for a few months because I’m training to run 26.2 miles? Nope, I don’t care at all.
And I can be really proud of the fact that I’m filling myself with completely healthy foods. The extra calories are coming from fruit, nuts, yogurt, eggs, bread. And, again, I don’t want to be That Girl, but I just ran sixteen miles. A bite of dessert isn’t going to kill me. Actually, the entire dessert would probably just be burned off in the first third of my run. But I still have treats the way I always have — carefully, mindfully, in moderation because, as I said, nutrition is the most important thing right now. A post-run meal at McDonald’s isn’t going to help me and neither is diet food. I’m eating very whole foods right now, and I feel great about that. It’s making me explore other types of cuisine and cook new meals (I would have never enjoyed an Italian cookbook a few months ago). When all is said and done in January, I’ll be very happy to go salad-crazy and drop the water weight, but until then, I’m really enjoying running on carbs.
That said, I’m going to eat a calorically ridiculous lunch and then head out for a run!