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Compensatory eating

When cycling all day, as was the case during my Round Australia
record attempts, the "Big Breakfast" was a daily feature of my
diet, with no weight impact.
The last three weeks of no running has been a test of my dietary willpower, and I'm starting to lose the battle.  I have never been someone who is naturally thin.....and I like my food.  In my teens and twenties, I didn't worry about what I ate at all.  Youthful musculature and plenty of miles, was enough to keep me at a good running weight.  When I reached my running peak, I began to take more care with what I ate but my best racing weight remained around 64kg, with the lightest I ever remember recording being 61kg.

In my latter years, I have considered 66-68kg to be my desirable running weight, but on occasions, have been as high as 76kg.  If I stop running and eat what I feel like, I can rapidly gain those 8kg, and it takes much longer to lose them again.

A few years ago, it became obvious to me that even when running 80-100 kilometres per week, if I didn't watch what I ate, my weight stabilised around 72kg, too heavy to run really well.  In a somewhat obvious epiphany, I realised that my body was no longer able to support the running necessary to bring down my weight, and that if I wanted to maintain a reasonable running weight and stay healthy for my remaining years, I was going to have to cut down on my eating.

Since then, with the exception of hiking and biking trips, I have adhered to some fairly simple dietary rules - no snacks, no desserts and no second helpings.  As a further measure, I limit the size of my breakfast (usually one slice of toast with peanut butter plus a large fruit juice) and eat it as late as possible, and limit the size of my lunch to one sandwich.  Dinner tends to be larger, but limited to one plate only.  I don't drink alcohol or sugared soft drinks, but do drink a lot of diet cola.  Limited treats (maybe chocolate or corn chips) are allowed after long runs or during trips to the cinema.  I try not to beat myself up if I stray occasionally, and permit limited dietary holidays for Easter, Christmas, etc.

This regime has worked well to keep my weight in the 66-68kg range for most of the last three or four years, but I always struggle a bit when I have to stop running because of injury, and that has been the case this week.  One factor is despondency about my injury and its impact on my Melbourne Marathon ambitions.  Another is the change to my daily routine because of my trip to Melbourne.  It has become very easy to have a biscuit for morning tea, or some dessert after dinner.  Partly, it's because I like my food, but partly it is driven by the need for a "feel good" replacement for the running I am missing.  Of course, the "feel good" part only lasts for a few minutes, while the physical consequences can last a lot longer.

I didn't find time to do my scheduled 5km walk today, but still plan to run and walk 5km tomorrow.  It will be the first running I have done for three weeks.  Normally that would be enough time for a soft tissue injury to repair, but I fear I may have walked a little too much in the first week I had off running.  Time will tell.  I'm confident that if I can resume regular running, then I will find it easier to resume my dietary discipline.  If still hampered by injury, then I will have to give myself a good "talking to" about my deteriorating dietary habits.  It's hard enough to come back from injury.  If you are carrying extra kilograms, it not only becomes even harder, but the risk of other injury increases because of the extra weight you are carrying.