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home > community > viewpoint > we who about to eat salute you!

We who about to eat salute you!
I over train so I can over eat.

We who about to eat salute you!

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By Chris Russell
Posted Sunday, 8 May, 2005

Admit it; you love eating. I love eating. This why we train, am I right? Isn’t that in the back of your mind when you’re putting in those 20 mile training runs for the marathon or those two-a-days for a triathlon? While you’re training are you thinking; “Man, I can’t wait to eat!”? My thoughts exactly! In fact, if you’re like many of us, you cherish being able to stuff your face, and hard training is the justification you use.

I won’t tell anybody if you don’t. Let them think we’re all health conscious athletes. When they look at us, all hard and healthy looking, I’m sure they assume carrots, celery sticks, and legumes. You and I know the truth.


Yeah, I’ve been training for a marathon, I feel pretty good


“You look great! You’ve lost some weight!”
“Yeah, I’ve been training for a marathon, I feel pretty good.”

Notice the word ‘diet’ never entered the conversation. They have no idea of how hard we have to work to maintain those 15 pound love handles and extra-wide hips while running 50 mile weeks, do they? It’s not easy. You have to eat 24 X 7, but I gladly make the sacrifice!

Not only do we use our training to justify over eating, we also use it to justify eating food that is bad for us. Maybe you don’t, but I sure do. I think subconsciously we believe that putting in those extra miles not only balances the calorie total but somehow cleans out all the trans fat and sodium too, (not to mention alcohol). We think of our training like some blessed panacea. It’s a purgative penance that brings us back into balance.

You know what? Great! I’d eat too much crappy food if I wasn’t running and probably be as big as a house. This way, at least I’m breaking even and I feel pretty good about it. Maybe it’s a win-win situation. It also fits well with my built in Irish Catholic need for suffering! I need guilt and penitence; that’s the ticket.

Let me share with you some of my favorite training foods. I’m interested in yours as well. Send me a note about the wacky or odious victuals that you stuff down your throat and I’ll write a story on it, ( Winner gets a dozen Tim Horton Maple Creams, (they make all other donuts seem like low-calorie Snackwells).

Let’s start with the comfort food. Number one on my list is Hooter’s Chicken Wings. I like them breaded with the hot sauce. I could care less about the coeds in hot pants; just serve me up a 20 plate of those bad boys any night after a hard run. They have the perfect combination of deep fried greasy meat wrapped in delectable carbohydrate coating liberally dunked in sodium and Tabasco. That’s training food!

My number two comfort food, (and by comfort food I mean “food that will put you into a catatonic trance), is Chinese food. There is nothing more satisfying than a few pounds of General Tsao’s spicy chicken to clear the lactic acid. Another magical combination of deep fried and breaded meat slathered in hot sauce. Yum! I can finish any number of intervals if I know the Good General is waiting at home for me.

Number three is fried Calamari, or any well fried sea food. Squid is brain food. Are you noticing a trend? I’ve found that even the healthiest foodstuffs can be converted to the dark side by deep frying.

Let’s not forget the perennial favorite in every city worldwide, number four on our list; Pizza! Not that wimpy cheese stuff you feed your kids. I like it with ‘the works’. Big piles of smoked meats and grilled vegetables that should make the box hard to close. Grease should be soaking through the paper plates into the table cloth. That’s a meal!

Note: Any food that hardens and turns white as it gets cold is a potential winner!
Note: If you have to put the box it came in outside because of the reeking smell, it’s definitely a winner!

Can you visualize my arteries sealing themselves shut with partially hydrogenated vegetable oil? Yes Sir! Bring it on!

Each of these offerings is about 8,000 bad calories, but, that’s only an extra 800 miles of easy running and I was planning on doing that anyhow.

I like healthy foods too, but only in mass quantities. For Example, I love sushi. Sushi is brain food. It’s yummy and densely packed with protein. Of course, you must start with a large Miso soup to cleanse the palate.

When I sit down they bring out the extra large sushi boat. It’s more like a sushi barge. The little bingo card that they have you fill out looks like a completed New York Times crossword when I’m done with it. I think I’ve personally depopulated fisheries and put some species on the endangered list in one sitting. I’m so ashamed; such gluttony! I’ll have to throw in a couple extra 800’s to make up for it.

My other favorite healthy food is the salad. Not the normal salad, the big salad. When you want a big salad you need a big bowl. You can descend like a locust plague on your local salad bar or make them at home. Those all-you-can-eat salad guys break into tears of insolvency when they see me coming. I do to a salad what Dagwood does to a sandwich.

Start with a good foundation of lettuce – (iceberg – romaine- butter crunch). On top of this erect a sturdy scaffolding of your favorite vegetables, (Broccoli – cauliflower – carrots – cukes – onions – peppers – celery – cabbage – tomato – basil). Apply a layer of standard decking materials (Mushrooms – a can of Tuna – Boiled eggs – chicken bits) Garnish with tasty sprinklings (Raisins – cranberries – olives – almonds – sunflower seeds – gorgonzola – mozzarella – pepperocini).

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not implying that you choose a couple from each category. No way, put all this together in a big bowl. That’s it. Don’t despoil the natural cornucopia of taste with salad dressing, that’s fattening right? And don’t ruin it with croutons, (nasty bits of dead bread that tear the roof of your mouth to shreds). If you want some variety you can wrap it up in a really big tortilla or make 1/2 dozen pitas.

That’s a lunch! There’s enough roughage there to keep a brontosaurus regular. That will counter balance a few dozen Hooter’s hot wings. It gives new meaning to the phrase, “I’m just going to have a salad”.

Hey, we need our energy, right? Surely all those long runs clean the pipes out. It’s ironic that some of us with the healthiest bodies may have the unhealthiest diets. On close inspection we may be stuck in some strange binge and purge dementia, balancing one addiction with another.

Don’t you hate it when you get injured? It doesn’t take long for that 8,000 calorie a day diet to catch up to you when you’ve got your feet up, does it? Yikes! I’m going to invent a new word for this phenomena; “Ballooonification”. Like it?

I wonder what would happen if I ate well. What if I kept training and stayed away from the fat and processed salty foods? What if I adopted the soy bean and fresh fruit mantra? Would I shrivel to an anemic shell of a man? Or would I have some great metabolic epiphany? We will probably never find out, but be sure to say nice things about me when my heart finally gives up pushing all that Crisco around!

I did try some of the new age food that is popular now. I bought some rye grass drink powder and began drinking it instead of soda. That’s right, powdered grass that you mix with water. It’s supposed to be chock full of amino acids and other elementary unprocessed stuff. For $30 bucks a jar it had better be multi-orgasmic as well! My kids had great fun telling everyone I was drinking grass. I’m afraid I couldn’t stick with it. Actually, $30 or not, I couldn’t finish the jar.

Similar stuff, available now, that is really tasty is “Smart Food”. They mix the grass with a bunch of fruity bits to create a sort of sweet green slurry. It’s actually very filling and very energizing. I’d recommend it, seriously.

Where does this leave us? Same place we started. We love to eat. It comforts us. We love to run. It comforts us as well. The two together form a nice symbiotic ying and yang. As runners we are not among those cold and timid souls that know neither hunger nor satiation. We tend to live at the extremes and live our lives fully. Isn’t it far better to have tasted pain as well as lobster bisque in any given day than to have sat wanting on the sidelines of life hungry and untested? I’ll take pasta over pabulum.

Go out today and eat something you’ve never tried. Go to a strange restaurant and order something off the menu that you have no idea what it is. You can always run it off tomorrow.



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