As you reach for the cereal box to pour your second bowl, you mentally pat yourself on the back; you ran 10 miles this morning and you’re feeling pretty damn proud. Of course you would stop at the first bowl on a normal day, but you were up with the sun and had a long, hard run. Now, it’s time to celebrate and treat yourself. Right? On the surface, this seems to make sense. It’s a natural connection for people to make, and most of us have fallen victim to this poorly-thought-out conclusion.
Running uses energy—both mental and physical—and leaves us tired and hungry. Who would blame us if, after a long run Saturday morning, we wanted to reward ourselves with that extra bowl of cereal—or better yet, a big ol’ waffle and a side a bacon? We just ran 14 miles for goodness sake! Throw some whipped cream on that waffle and scarf away guilt-free, right? You know what I’m talking about. C’mon runners, whether your gluttonous endeavour was waffles, beer, donuts, or pizza, who hasn’t enacted this scene several times over? And later regretted it, whether hours, days, or weeks later.
Although it should be obvious, we often find ourselves wondering why our weight remains stagnant or even goes up when we increase our mileage. We honestly expect the weight to start melting off no matter what we eat since we are training for a marathon and running for hours on the weekends. We’ve been known to stand there—open bag of chips in hand—asking ourselves, dumbfounded, “Why on earth isn’t running working?!”
The answer is simple. Overeating. Of course running burns calories—approximately 100 calories per mile for most people, in fact. However, it takes 3,500 calories to make a pound, which means you need to create a 3,500 calorie deficit to lose that same pound. That’s 35 miles for one pound, folks. Most runners do not run that in an entire week—even when marathon training.
Then, there’s the consideration of what type of calories you’re stuffing into your body on your running-inspired gorges. Sure, a calorie is a calorie as far as counting up to 3,500, but some foods are obviously going to be used far more efficiently and leave you with far less waste product than others. Does it really need to be pointed out that 3,500 calories of fruits and veggies is going to do you a whole lot more good than 3,500 calories of brownies? Although you would be hard pressed to actually eat that many calories of raw fruits and veggies, please, by all means, try! This is also where other healthy food groups come in, like lean meats, legumes, some dairy, and fish enter the picture.
The point of this article, however, is not to remind you what to eat and what not to eat. You most likely already know that, whether you adhere to it or not. It’s simply to remind runners that we are no more immune to the negative consequences of overeating as the next person. Running will provide you with many things—peace of mind, self-satisfaction, and stronger muscles to name a few—but a free pass for caloric indulgence is not one of them. Put in your miles and then help them keep working for you by refuelling appropriately. Then, and only then, will you see the amazing-although-not-magical physical results running has to offer.
By: Audra Rundle