Wednesday 13 February 2013

Give Me Fuel

Give Me Fuel, Give Me Fire, Give Me That Which I Desire!

So snarls James Hetfield with a menacing, vexatious, spiny pugnacity every time Metallica blast headlong in to their epic 'Fuel'. Come on, if you can't be rambunctiously sesquipedalian when describing heavy metal, when can you?

This track has been stuck in my head for the past week since I heard it during the hardest part of my most tortuous run to date (metrics over on the right and here), but I am not complaining for not only is it a tremendous power anthem - especially when you are 3/5ths though track repeats and your world consists of pain and not enough air - but it is also serendipitous as this post is about fuel.
As you may have read, Alison has been conducting her own experiments on optimum race-nutrition, but this post comes courtesy of my experience of non-race nutrition, or (putting my little finger to the corner of my mouth) should I say over-nutrition Mr. Bigglesworth?

In the first two weeks of my switch from 10k to marathon training plan, the jump in mileage had me believing that I could eat absolutely anything I desired; I was, after all, an 'endurance afleet' and the training itself co-conspired by making me want to eat everything I could lay my hands on.  It came as some surprise however when at the end of week two, I found out that I had put on 2kg.
I mulled the muscle-is-heavier-than-fat argument, but since I had not been taking industrial steroids nor had I spent the week pulling trucks or lifting atlas stones, I conceded it was most probably due to me being a greedy boy and since then I have returned to using the tremendous myfitnesspal to keep tabs on my nutrition and the weight has already come back off. 
Deep down I was not really surprised: Alison and I used this fabulous and free tool a while back, losing 25kg (4 stone in old money) over the course of a year and through doing so, we became even more acutely aware of what constituted our food and what we were putting in our mouths. 
Weight gain and loss is for the vast, vast majority of people simple maths: Calories Out - Calories In; if, over time, this produces a positive number you will put on weight, if it is negative you will lose it. The trap I fell in to was one of bad reasoning: long runs = loads of energy = limitless food, but sadly it does not - a medium pizza is around 1000-1200 calories and in order to burn through that, I have to run 10 miles (even in the marathon, I will 'only' burn 3000 calories). Usually, when people hear this they are initially surprised and then shortly afterward aghast as they do the mental arithmetic of converting their mid-afternoon snack in to hours of running and then abruptly change the subject.
Bottom line (no pun intended) is that it is always good to keep an eye on your food habits and maybe even perform an audit every now and again. Alison and I have a solid awareness of what we eat; the majority of our food is home-cooked and through our own research, we have developed a good understanding of nutrition and the food supply chain, however even knowing these things I am still caught out when I'm not paying enough attention and my urge system is singing so loudly along with Mr. Hetfield that I can't hear myself think.
Back to the running, and it certainly doesn't hurt to be eating the right stuff for that...

Ohhh, On I Burn,
Fuel is pumping engines, 
Burning hard, loose & clean 

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