By Christopher Cudworth
Three miles into a nine-mile Saturday morning run, my companion announced it was time for a bathroom break. Fortunately she knew there was a Mobil station along the trail. We’ve had a number of such lucky strokes the past few months. We definitely don’t take them for granted.
While she did her business I stood in the front of the convenience store grateful also for a few minutes of warmth. Temps outside were 10 degrees and light snow was beginning to fall. It was actually a gorgeous day for running.
When you come inside from the clean, pure world of running outside to the necessarily overheated front portion of a junk food store, the senses can get a bit confused. The air feels warm, yet stale. It’s hard to stand still. Sweat forms on your body and you wonder what it will feel like to head back outside.
Shifting from foot to foot I noticed a sign below the tall stack of snack foods forming a wall at the front of the store.
“ANSWER THE GROWL,” it read.
I’m always hungry, yet at that moment nothing on the rack looked all that appetizing. Fast food is false food, and not what you normally crave during a 1.5 hour workout. Only the nuts were technically edible. Oversalted of course. Possibly laced with preservative or sugar. Plus you pay $7.99 for about 3 ounces of product these days. Nuts are no bargain.
Distanced from the desire for all that junk food by my perspective as an endurance athlete, none of that junk food caused any real appetite. Needless to say, I did not ANSWER THE GROWL.
Isn’t it interesting the difference in appetite and attitude when you’re immersed in what you love to do versus those moments of weakness when you wander into a junk food store during your commute or between appointments?
The person you are when you’re in the middle of a workout is not the same person you are when you’re wandering around hungry and susceptible to the marketing call to ANSWER THE GROWL and eat things that are not good for you.
The watershed is clear. The things that may taste good and satisfy your cravings are often not foods or drinks the support improved performance.
It’s one of the tarsnakes of a fitness lifestyle. We like to workout so that we can eat what we like. But if we want to work out well, it matters what type of food s we put into our bodies.
We need to be our own surveillance. Our self-image may need to be objective to the point where we can see the runner or the rider or the swimmer in all situations. And when you’re tempted to ANSWER THE GROWL the athlete in you can put a cuff on your wrists and say, “YOU’RE BUSTED. NO JUNK FOOD FOR YOU!”
The only growl you should answer is the growl in your stomach after a workout, and you should be growling for good stuff, not bad stuff.
Of course it’s even tougher for cyclists. When you’re in the middle of an 80-mile ride and the group stops to fuel up, that $20 bill can load up on a ton of junk rather than buying the right kind of food. The Growl can be your enemy over the long haul, after all.
Again, start to see yourself as an athlete at all times, especially when you’re in the middle of a workout. The sooner you start to do that, the faster you’ll feel the kind of fitness that makes you look good, even in the surveillance camera. Or especially so.