The Runner’s Cravings

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To hear me talk about my food cravings these days, you’d think I was pregnant (I’m not), on a diet (I’m not), or running 20 miles at a time.

That, I am. There’s a reason why any seasoned long-distance runner will tell you that training for a marathon is not the best way to lose weight. Far from it. Once you get into these 40+ weekly miles and long runs of 18 or more, food becomes a constant presence in your mind, right up there with your latest split times and next workout.

“I have a 20-miler tomorrow; must eat pasta for dinner.”
“I just ran ten miles; where’s my cheese?”
and just… one big, constant:

Luckily, I’m not too big on cookies. It’s yet another reason why I love training for something: that focus on improving performance and form makes me all the more conscious of what I put in my stomach.

The cravings, I truly believe, are just my body telling me it needs something. For example, after long runs I usually crave pickles (salt!) and cheese (protein!).

And once the mileage really gets up there, all I can think about is avocado. Avocado, avocado, avocado. It’s come to the point of eating at least one a day! That’s a serious amount of calories right there, but I guess I need them? It’ll be that, or snacking constantly on something just as fatty and not as healthy.

Complicating things is the fact that I usually run during my lunch break, and often head out around 1 or even 2 p.m. By then, breakfast has been long digested and forgotten, so the following pre-runch snack is common (and yummy):

Then comes post-runch lunch. The more pickles and avocado, the better! Today’s:

  • Salad greens
  • 1 boiled egg
  • 1 plum tomato
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1 good-size piece of low-fat smoked Gouda cheese (I know, it’s rich in calories; nutrients – not so much. I could’ve done without it. But why suffer?)
  • lots of pickles (Trader Joe’s cournichons, deliciously sour)
  • Trader Joe’s Spicy Peanut Vinaigrette, to taste

Finally, this isn’t really common (in fact, until today I hadn’t made a smoothie in years), but BabyRuns has been into Jamba Juice lately and nagged me all this weekend to make “jamba juice” at home (at what point do I talk to him about brands and the power of marketing?). So I finally stocked up on frozen fruits. Afternoon delight:

Made of roughly equal parts:

  • Low-fat Banilla yogurt (banana/ vanilla; from Trader Joes)
  • Orange-Peach-Mango juice
  • frozen berry mix (strawberries, blackberries, blueberries)
  • ice
  • and

  • 1 tbsp peanut butter

Peanut butter makes everything better.

Your turn: What are your favorite pre- and post-run foods? Any pregnancy training-specific cravings?

Today’s run:

An easy four-miler with 10 strides at the end for fun torture. A stride should be running a flat, straight stretch of 100 meters or so, as fast as you can (or, as they say, in Zone 5). Ideally, on a track, but then I’d be sentencing myself to four very boring run-in-circles miles; so I just decided to set up my RunKeeper to four miles steady, then 10 reps of 15 seconds fast followed by 15 seconds slow.

4 thoughts on “The Runner’s Cravings

  • January 9, 2013 at 6:31 am

    You are going to be SO ready for LA! I continue to be awed by your runs. And yes, the long run is such a sweet justification for so many foods. My personal faves? Pizza, pasta, cheese and chocolate!

    • January 9, 2013 at 7:40 am

      I hope I’ll be ready! You know, I’m also starting to look for eating competitions in the area – obviously I’ll be ready for one of those by then, too. And yes, pizza – how could I forget? Of course, now I want a New York one. Sigh…

  • January 8, 2013 at 5:21 pm

    There are much worse things you can eat than avocado..they’re calorific but a good investment of calories. I just crave bread when I have ‘runger’. When’s your marathon?? Which one is it?

    • January 8, 2013 at 5:26 pm

      aah, haha! Runger! Love it! I agree about avocados – a much better calorie investment than, say, pretzels. I’m training for L.A. on March 17. It’ll be my first marathon since 2006, so I’m taking it seriously 🙂 Using the Marathon: Own It plan from TLAM and all… But this year I want to run at least one or two more marathons (for 2-3 total), so there will be runger year-round!


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