“Insane hunger”

That’s what part of my training diary entry read this morning. At 3AM, I awoke with two urgent needs: first, do something about the ache in my thighs and calves, the dreaded DOMS*; second, eat something right now.

Random waves of ravenous hunger appear to be one side effect of combining high mileage with high intensity. And the hunger is of a particularly urgent, single-minded sort. It’s not, “Oh, I’m ready for dinner” hunger. It’s “I’m so hungry I’m going to eat that smashed Twinkie in the middle of the road” hunger. I was aware of this kind of “I’ll eat anything as long as it resembles food” hunger from reading about people in ultrarunning races. I had yet to experience it for myself until pretty recently.

But here it’s hitting me at odd times — typically either in the dead of night, or (more strangely) an hour or so after I’ve already eaten something substantial. There also is a delayed aspect to the hunger. Recently, I had two back-to-back days of extreme hunger in the early days of a recovery week. It started after a speed session and continued well into the next day, which featured a mere 7 miles of recovery running. The point being, I’d expect this sort of thing in a high mileage week itself, not in the days following one. I can only speculate that as my body consolidates the previous week’s training-induced stress and recovers from it, it’s demanding help in that consolidation and recovery from food.

I’m building muscle like it’s going out of style, and losing fat. So I’m guessing the demand for food (and craving for protein in some cases) is also to support that repair and expansion work at the muscular level. I have no idea what I’m talking about, by the way — this is pure conjecture.

In any event, I go with the hunger, getting up in the dead of night to shovel whatever appeals into my face, illuminated only by the 40 watt refrigerator bulb and with an audience of one bleary-eyed cat, confused by my sudden presence, yet hopeful that I’ll feed her too. Last night it was roasted sweet potatoes (carbs), spelt (more carbs) and prosciutto (protein, fat and salt). I wonder what I’ll need next.

*A problem easily solved with my favorite regularly smuggled controlled substance from overseas, the wonder drug from the UK, Solpadeine. It’s chock full of codeine goodness, and the effervescent variety works in about five minutes.