These days I can go out and run 17 miles on nothing more than a flax muffin and a cup of coconut oil coffee, with a cheese stick about two-thirds of the way through.
On Saturday’s 11.5 mile Cheat Day run, I had a lot more junk in my fuel tank: a PB&J, a slice of bread with butter, half a cup of cashews and some pretzels dipped in chocolate. And that’s just what I was grazing on in the 1-2 hours before our early afternoon run.
Earlier in the day, I’d had a ridiculous breakfast of a cinnamon roll, a pint of Ben and Jerry’s Chocolate Therapy ice cream, a cup of leftover mac and cheese and half a cup of Strawberry Frosted Mini Wheats. (Ice cream for breakfast? I know, I know, but I’d been looking forward to it all week and didn’t want to wait. Weirdly, I found it rather disappointing.)
Anyway, let’s just say I was worried about the gastrointestinal effect. It seems like every other long run either my sister or I have a period of time where we’re trying to “run through” some intestinal cramping – or at least make it to the campground restrooms. (Usually for me it’s when we run shortly after I get off my early morning newspaper shift, which tends to mess up my “regularity,” if you catch my meaning.)
But this time it was Traci who was suffering, while I felt perfectly fine. The thing is, even though my diet was way off, it could’ve been much worse. On a Cheat Day where I don’t have a run planned, I sometimes inhale too much too fast and wind up with an aching gut at some point. Knowing we had that run scheduled, I restrained myself from that level of ridiculousness. (It’s a fine line, but it’s there.)
The interesting thing to me was what came afterward.
Now, I had plenty to eat, and believe me, it wasn’t rabbit food: A small chocolate Frosty, three slices of pepperoni pizza and a giant oatmeal cookie. But the thing is, once upon a time, it could’ve – would’ve — been even more.
I used to go into a complete frenzy after a long run, inhaling everything in sight. Now that most of my longer run occur on low-carb days, I usually have something like a large omelet with veggies, or maybe two turkey burgers with veggies. A meal, in other words. A large meal, always with plenty of protein, but it’s not a low-carb binge. It has an obvious starting and stopping point.
Saturday’s fattening post-run feast was high-calorie crap for sure, but it could at least be considered a meal: pizza with double dessert. (Or, as I preferred to think of it, pizza with a fattening “drink” and dessert.)
The important thing was, I knew when I was ready to be done. I also knew I’d probably eat something else later in the day, but that’s another story. (It’s one with a happy ending, though: All I craved the rest of the day was cereal and fruit. I had plenty of both, but it could’ve been much, much worse.)
As for the idea that you can get away with overdoing it on a day when you’ve got a double-digit run, forget about it: I was up 4 pounds the next morning.