September: Month of the Hungry Runner

I'll get right to the point. I'm hungry.

And it's not just me. It's September, which means any runner training for a Fall marathon has but one thing on their mind: FOOD.

It's not that we're not eating. Well, some of the more disciplined runners are closely watching their diet but we never really cared for them, anyway. No, most of us are more than getting our fill of food. The problem is that it's not helping. 

My running friends talk about food on our group runs. The pizza the boss ordered in, the yearning for anything with "Ben & Jerry's" stamped on the packaging, the suddenly almost irresistible allure of the Krispy Kreme doughnut... "Just hold out," we tell one another. "Almost there. After the marathon we'll splurge and eat that stuff." Then we pick our tongues up off the ground and keep running.

It's not just a craving for junk food. We just want FOOD, of any kind and in any amount. 

Personally, I can't eat enough. Last Friday I polished off a pasta dinner that a professional linebacker would have been challenged to put away and still wandered back into the kitchen two hours later, ready to eat it all over again. Seasoned runners tell me this is normal. September is where all the high intensity training comes together - long runs are longer and faster. Tempo runs ratchet up from 5-6 mile runs to 8-11 mile runs. Speed work, always punishing, requires almost superhuman effort to convince yourself to even show up for. This adds up to a lot of energy burned and the body is craving refueling. 

The frustrating part about constantly craving food is that this is crunch time to drop those last few pounds before the race. One pound lost = 2 seconds gained per mile. That may sound insignificant, but take a 3-5 pound loss and add up all those seconds over 26.2 miles and you can shave up to 5 minutes off your time. HUGE. 

I'm not doing so well these last two weeks. I've been very good this summer about diet but something has switched on inside me and I'M H-U-N-G-R-Y. I'm hungry before a meal, during a meal, and after I finish a meal. My strategy at this point is to fill the fridge with fruits and veggies and give myself free rein to eat. Maybe that 100th carrot stick will do the trick and fill me up. (And yes, to the in-the-know dieticians out there, I feel confident I'm getting enough protein.)

As I type this, I'm watching the Food Network Pie Challenge. Oh, help me.