I become ravenous during longish runs and the sugar-laden junk food and packaged fuels make my stomach ill. It honestly never crossed my mind to eat real food before I read Ultramarathon Man. In the opening chapter, Dean Karnazes describes his consumption of a whole large Hawaiian pizza, rolled up like a burrito and an entire large cheesecake while solely completing a Hood-To-Coast style relay (200 miles). It sounded good enough to me so I tested it out during the Knickerbocker 60K. Many people (mostly spectators) crunched up their noses and “ewwwed” my nutritional choice, but you know what? Other runners who stopped, held their hands out for fries, which I gladly shared (turns out, they’re not as good as you’d think. Although the salt was great, the fries are too thin and get really, really hard in the cold November morning, making them difficult to swallow). The cheeseburger on the other hand, was magical. I even shared one with a teammate at the end. We devoured our cold cheeseburger halves like it was heaven. I am tempted to pack cheeseburgers in the pockets of my hydration pack when I run my first trail ultra in December though I am a bit nervous that the burger fumes will be too tempting for the Tennessee wildlife on Lookout Mountain, making me a target for them to hunt down. Or maybe I can use the predators to test how good my flight or fight response is.
I cannot say it enough, “Listen to your body”. We spend so much time listening to other people’s advice and reading blogs like this one or books by runners to mimic what has worked or not worked for them. I think it’s important to test everything out to see what works for you. I don’t slurp down GU just because it’s in front of me and if I have an intense craving for kale (it’s happened), I do everything possible to find the nearest House of Kale (this does not exist, but it should) otherwise, the cravings go unattended. If I crave super premium ice cream, I am not wasting my calories on low fat sorbet. Period. The cravings need to be satisfied to go away even if that means Ben & Jerry’s Fish Food topped with crumbled bacon, chased with a crispy kale salad. I feel that way during long run distances. By mile 23ish, I could eat a steak the size of my head and GU, pretzels or oranges are not what my body is craving. One year when I’m not running the NYC Marathon, I think I’ll set up a slider aid station and serve mini cheeseburgers and flat coke at around mile 22 just to see how popular my aid station will be.
Since November 2012, I’ve been following a primarily 801010 RAW lifestyle. I still believe in real food, which for me is anything that does not come in a package, but now my real food is uncooked. Follow my journey into 801010 here.