Many running groups and endurance athletes are notorious for a couple of things: Getting up wicked early on a weekend to get in a long workout, and eating more than any non-runner their size could dream of putting away, especially immediately afterward.
Hell, I’ve finished super long training runs at a decent clip simply because I knew that the sooner I finished, the sooner I could eat sweet potato pancakes. In fact, on a recent group bike ride, my friend Patrick started picking up the pace considerably on the last few miles. I told the girl ahead of me, “Bet you $10 he just got really hungry and is thinking about brunch.” I won $10 that day.
“I’ll just run it off,” is a very typical — even stereotypical, really — reaction runners have regarding not-so-healthful foods. If you look through the Instagram feeds of many long-distance runners, they’re likely to be filled with photos of pasta and ice cream (gotta carb load, right?) and post-run feasts, yet the runners themselves are still long and lean. (Well, sometimes — that’s not always the case, as Jenn and I can attest.)
But just because they’ve got a runner’s body and great vitals now, that doesn’t mean that those eating habits won’t be a problem down the line, according to a recent Wall Street Journal article. According to the British Medical Journal study cited in the article, which compared 42 Boston Marathon qualifiers’ carotid arteries with those of their more sedentary active spouses, at a certain point, exercise might no longer be a key to preventing heart disease.
In fact, it might actually cause it.
Now, it’s just a small body of research saying that there might be a causal link between excessive exercise and coronary disease, and many doctors are quite skeptical of these findings, but there’s one thing they all agree on: A crappy diet (i.e. making “sometimes” foods “all the time” foods) isn’t a great idea, no matter how many miles you run.
Hey, does that sound familiar to anyone else? Everything in moderation? It’s a tough pill for distance-minded folks to swallow because sometimes that froyo or pizza or Coke at the end of the workout is as much an emotional reward as it is a vehicle for replenishing calories. Maybe a really awesome big-ass salad will do the trick instead … at least sometimes, anyway.
Do you tend to eat more foods that offer less nutrition when you’re logging extra miles on your sneakers or hours at the gym? Will this research change that? —Kristen