Runners Cannot Live on Lettuce Alone

By Eleanor Barkhorn
barkhorn_wk1010_3-3_post.jpg

*Zoha.N/flickr


Week 10
Total Mileage: 41 miles
Weekend Meal: Fried green tomatoes, crab claws, a shrimp po' boy, and a chocolate-pecan cake at Mara's Homemade

Week 11
Total Mileage: 44 miles
Weekend Meal: Spaghetti and meatballs and salad

Total time in the kitchen: 0 minutes

My hunger switch flipped at the end of Week 10. Monday through Friday, I'd kept myself satisfied with lunches of leftover white bean soup and suppers of risotto or pasta. On a train to New York on Friday evening, I ate a salad from the Amtrak dining car, and that was enough for dinner.

Then, on Saturday, I ran three loops of Park Drive in Central Park, for a total of 17 miles. It was the longest run of my training so far, requiring about two and a half hours of constant movement. And it marked the end of salad for dinner.

In the middle of the week, I had a huge plate of chicken fingers and French fries for lunch, the kind of meal that would have kept me full until the next morning during the off-season—and the hunger pangs returned in just a few hours.

When I returned from the run, my parents had turkey sandwiches ready for lunch, and I devoured mine and some of theirs. I went out to Staten Island with an old friend, and as we waited for the ferry, I ate an order of cinnamon pretzels from the terminal food court. My parents and I went out for dinner at a Cajun-themed restaurant in the East Village, and I ate my way through fried green tomatoes, crab claws, a shrimp po' boy, and a chocolate-pecan cake that tasted like my time in Mississippi. I went to a party later in the evening and could wait only about 20 minutes before attacking the cheese platter.

The voracious appetite didn't relent in the days that followed. I found myself needing a three-part breakfast—a big glass of orange juice, a peanut butter sandwich, then something, anything I could pick up on the way to work—sometimes a Pop Tart, sometimes a doughnut, sometimes just a banana. I bought a bag of mini bagels, a block of cheese, and a stash of chocolates for the work fridge to keep me from getting light-headed in the long stretches between breakfast and lunch and lunch and dinner. In the middle of the week, I had a huge plate of chicken fingers and French fries for lunch, the kind of meal that would have kept me full until the next morning during the off-season—and the hunger pangs returned in just a few hours. The next night, I brought home a pizza for my roommate and me to share. When she ended up not coming home for dinner, I ate all but two slices. The weekend didn't help. I ran eight miles on Saturday and 18 on Sunday, and had brunches to match: a huge plate of migas and beans on rice on Saturday, a giant bowl of spaghetti and meatballs with a side salad on Sunday.

In the midst of all this running and eating, there's very little time for cooking. Despite my promises to make quick, simple dishes, I have not touched my stove since I made the white bean soup almost two weeks ago. (Well, that's not quite true—I made a sorry attempt at pasta with peas and a bacon-white wine cream sauce, which would have been inedible had I not been so hungry.) My contributions to the church potluck for the past two weeks have been a salad—I washed, chopped, and assembled the vegetables, so it's not that lame—and two bags of pretzels (inexcusably lame).

So, no recipe this week—trust me, you don't want to replicate my bacon pasta mess. This weekend, though, I'll get back into the kitchen—I mean it. Any suggestions for healthy, hearty dishes that don't require as much time to cook as a pork shoulder?

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2010/03/runners-cannot-live-on-lettuce-alone/36972/