Would Michael Jordan scarf cookies before a 15-mile run?

Our seats in the nosebleed section at Saturday's Pacers game.

Our seats in the nosebleed section at Saturday’s Pacers game.

It’s taken a long time for me to shake this ingrained mythology that serious athletes who burn thousands of calories in training basically get a free pass when it comes to eating. But watching the Indiana Pacers eke out a win over the Brooklyn Nets Saturday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, it suddenly occurred to me that those guys on the court would probably be the last people to indulge in all those crap calories that those of us in the nosebleed section are encouraged to consume.

Nachos and Dippin Dots are inferior fuel for high-performance humans. But even as a mere mortal, I’m starting to see how inferior fuel affects my performance. Case in point: Friday’s 15-mile run.

Mentally, it’s hard to imagine how I could have been more “on my game” for this run. I was calm, patient, divided the course up into manageable chunks, and tackled all the extra distance before settling into a previously conquered route that took me into Ossian for a bathroom break and fuel stop before the final 7-mile trip back home. The weather was nice, too, for a change: 29 degrees, little wind. I could’ve sworn I heard birds chirping as I headed out.

Colleen and her cousins Max and Monroe chill with Boomer, the Pacers' mascot.

Colleen and her cousins Max and Monroe chill with Boomer, the Pacers’ mascot.

It’s a good thing I was so tuned in mentally, because physically, I was suffering from gastrointestinal distress after “overcompensating” for several days of strict dieting. It wasn’t disastrous. I’ve got a pretty strong stomach, and I was able to ride it out. But it was so … unnecessary. I mean, I can’t control the weather. But I ought to be able to control my diet, especially given how much it influences my comfort level on a run.

The dangerous thing about a run like this, for me, is that because I was ultimately able to overcome the difficulties and turn in a pretty decent performance – I kept thinking about how Michael Jordan once turned in one of his best playoff performances when he had the flu – this lesson might go acknowledged without actually resulting in changed behavior.

Yes, as a recreational jogger I can probably get away with scarfing six cookies before a run. But if I want to run a marathon, I ought to quit relating to the gluttonous dimwits portrayed in Super Bowl commercials and focus on the preparation that goes into playing in one.

Pro athletes have their events, and I have mine. How we treat our bodies affects our performance, which affects our happiness. So in that respect, maybe we’re not so different after all.

A contingent of cousins get ready for the big game.

A contingent of cousins get ready for the big game.

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11 Responses to Would Michael Jordan scarf cookies before a 15-mile run?

  1. bgddyjim says:

    And then the other Michael blows that theory up… Phelps. His diet was awesome, in a fun way. Mine, to continue your ‘non-pro’

  2. bgddyjim says:

    Oops… ‘Non-pro’ line, is very fun when I’m burning through three extra pounds of calories a week. The trick is cutting it back over the winter when I’m only burning 1/2 pound a week.

    • tischcaylor says:

      Huh. I’ll have to check out Phelps’ diet; you’ve got me curious. Yes, I know you love your fast food, but you’ve got discipline that I don’t have, dude. (I’m working on it, though.)

      • bgddyjim says:

        Well, my discipline isn’t what it was last year… I’ve got some work to do. Phelps’ diet was freaking AWESOME. You should get a good chuckle (if you jaw doesn’t drop). Problem for Phelps was he was burning a ton of calories just to keep his body warm in the pool… Once he got out of the pool he balooned so now he has to watch his diet like the rest of us.

      • tischcaylor says:

        Good lord … so Phelps’ breakfast used to consist of three “loaded” fried-egg sandwiches, one five-egg omelet; one bowl of grits; three slices of French toast topped with powdered sugar; and three chocolate-chip pancakes? He clearly was a champion eater as well as a champion swimmer. 🙂

      • bgddyjim says:

        Told ya! Pretty awesome huh? Now here’s how I work this out for me… On any given day I burn 2,700 calories just being on the right side of the grass (if I remember correctly, it might be 2,400 but that seems low). Off season I still burn 500 calories a day on the training wheels… But in-season I average 1,000 a day during the week and 2,500-5,000 a day on Saturday and Sunday (100 miles at 20 mph is 5,500). Now I can’t eat 8,200 calories in one day – tried it, can’t do it – so I have to make up for the weekends during the week. I don’t go hog wild but I’m not afraid of seconds if I’m still hungry five minutes after I finish a meal (I do wait the 5 too). It’s a good problem to have, no doubt about it…but throttling back this year was tough.

      • tischcaylor says:

        That’s one heck of a calorie burn. Didn’t realize cycling burned so much, but then I never get anywhere near your speed. (Or the distance, for that matter.) Unfortunately, I probably COULD eat 8,200 calories in a day ….even now I sometimes have to remind myself I’m a fairly small woman and not a lumberjack when I sit down to eat.:)

  3. I read your caption and thought –if eating some cookies before a run is wrong, I don’t want to be right! Lol! 🙂

    • tischcaylor says:

      The cookies themselves were oatmeal raisin, so that would’ve been fine if I’d just shown some restraint. Trouble was, my stomach had shrunk and then I overloaded it with these large bakery-style cookies. (Will I never learn… sigh. 🙂

  4. Pingback: An athlete’s diet | Car-free, meat-free runner

  5. tischcaylor says:

    I’ve been researching this Phelps diet a bit more and I’m wondering now about how accurate those reports are. Almost every reference can be traced back to a 2008 New York Post article with the memorable headline, “Phelps’ Pig Secret: He’s Boy Gorge.” In a USA Today article posted May 10, 2012, Phelps was quoted as telling Ryan Seacrest that his legendary 4,000 calorie meals were a myth. There’s no doubt that he had to eat a tone of calories, though, to fuel his five-hour workouts. In a Web MD article from Aug. 13, 2008, Phelps was quoted as telling ESPN he ate 8,000-10,000 calories a day, including “lots of pizza and pasta.” It’s interesting that for his 2012 Olympics, though, his diet had evolved, according to Men’s Health Magazine, which quoted him as saying he was eating more whole grains, lean meats and fresh vegetables. The moral of the story, however, is this: History is written by those who write the most memorable headlines. 🙂

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