Before getting into the *meat* of this post (that’s a pun…you’ll see why below), I want to quickly recap track workout #1. As mentioned in my previous post, Lina and I were supposed to do a 800m repeat speed workout, but had to cancel at the last minute due to torrential rains. I’m not going to pretend like it was lame of us to cancel on account of rain, because it wasn’t. It wasn’t raining, it was pouring, and quite frankly I think it would have been dangerous to run on the roads on the way to the track. So, we altered our weekly schedule a bit to fit in this track workout, and I’m really happy that we did. The weather was perfect: sunny, light breeze, and still hot but not punishingly so.
Here’s the structure of the workout: 4×800 at 5k race pace (or just under), with 1.5 mile warm-up and cool down. We didn’t Garmin ourselves on the warm-up and cool down portions of the run, but here are our 800 meter times:
We were aiming for 3:30’s, and while my track coaches would have been frustrated by our lack of discipline at hitting the right pace, I am not unhappy in the least. The first 800 was definitely too quick at 3:10, but the 3:22’s felt great and both Lina and I could sense that we were able to recover much more quickly by easing up just 12 seconds. The only thing I would have changed about this run was the water situation. Neither of us brought water along and there weren’t any drinking fountains at the track (that we found), which proved to be uncomfortable towards the end. Thirsty. So thirsty.
Thirst is a good segue into what I set out to talk about today – namely, hunger. I AM SO HUNGRY ALL THE TIME. I remember from earlier this winter that my appetite during the first month of training was impressive, but I think it’s even worse this time around. I’m running almost double the mileage already and my body has taken note. It knows, and it wants more food more often.
The interesting thing is that I am finding myself craving what I think I need, rather than what I usually want. For example, Lina and I just two days ago were discussing how we both have sweet tooths rather than salty tooths (‘teeth’ seems wrong to put here…sweet teeth? no.), but in the past week, I have most definitely been craving salt more than sugar. My theory? I’m losing A LOT of salt in my sweat because, well, I’m sweating A LOT. I truly believe my body is craving salt because right now, it actually needs more of it.
I’ve also been craving red meat (see? now the pun makes sense 😉 ). I am not a vegetarian, but I often don’t cook meat for myself. I also don’t eat out very much, which means that on a weekly basis, I don’t eat very much meat at all. I’ve been known to have nebulous cravings for protein, but only now is it specifically red meat that I crave. Again, I have a theory, and you probably know what I’m going to say. My theory is that maybe even more than the protein, my body is asking for iron.
Women, runners, and especially women runners have high iron requirements. Women lose iron during menstruation and tend to eat less red meat than men, so right off the bat they are more at risk of developing anemia. As for runners, this great article about running and iron says the following:
“Runners are different from other athletes in that we lose some iron through slight gastrointestinal bleeding on runs over 6 miles. There is additional iron loss in foot strike when blood cells burst due to pounding the pavement. Then there are the typical losses any athlete experiences, such as through sweat, urine, and blood and the greater iron turnover in tissue.”
Translation: HECK YES MY BODY IS CRAVING IRON. Female? Check. Marathoner? Check. Sweat machine? Double check.
I have been making myself green smoothies almost every day that contain roughly half a bag of spinach, and spinach is high in iron. The problem, though, is that the absorption of iron is inhibited by calcium, and I also tend to put Greek yogurt in my smoothies. Vitamin C helps the absorption of iron and I usually include frozen mango chunks or orange juice in my smoothies as well, but maybe calcium trumps vitamin C in the iron-absorption game.
Anyways, my solution this week to my red meat/iron craving was to eat homemade burgers two nights in a row. It helped. Unfortunately, I’m still hungry most of the time and it’s becoming a chore to continuously try and find healthy ways to feed myself. If I had more organization I would spend one day a week cooking for myself and then freeze the food in meals, but I’m just not quite there yet.
To end, I think it’s pretty incredible that as we start having true nutritional needs, our bodies tell us what to eat and how much. I’ve been eating more, but I’m not gaining weight. Thus, my body really does need those extra calories, so I’m going to keep listening to it.
-Run Monster, a.k.a. Food Monster