You’ve got 4 miles to go, with 14 done. It’s not the easiest run but you’re getting there. Your route has taken you out for one long circuit and now you are passing home about to begin your final and shorter lap. And that’s when you remember, you’ve got a Shephard’s Pie in the fridge only 400 metres from here. Hmmmm….. Shephard’s Pie…... Tasted good last night. Will taste even better this morning. Especially after 14 miles. Sure you could always do the 4 miles later this evening. Hmmmm….. Shephard’s Pie…...
And that’s when it gets you, the hunger.
One of the nicer feelings of long distance running is how, towards the end of a long run is the appetite that builds as you contemplate what exactly you are going to chow down on when you get home to help replenish those lost carbs. I love food and I used to love as I began the last few kilometres with visions of spaghetti Bolognese, moussaka or Indian style-chicken curry, all home-made and often made the evening before that were just waiting for me to heat them up.
Of particular memory were those old Phoenix Park circuits I used to go on with my mate Dave. Starting and finishing from his apartment in Ashtown, at most a mile from the park entrance, when we often returned from our long weekend runs it would be a Chicken Pasta Bake that would be bung in the oven as we survived on some water, bread and fruit as it cooked. Indeed, there is nothing that brings out a love of food than a bag of miles and for years I thought Dave was one of the most accomplished cooks I knew*. (He wasn’t as I later found. It was just that any pasta bake will probably taste sumptuous after 15 miles)
While this is all almost universally positive, the one drawback used to come whenever I ran circuits that towards the end cut close to my house. On these long runs, usually done solo, I had to be wary that the hunger did not come early when I was close to home. This was a particular danger for when I lived in Maynooth. During some long jaunts in order to get the distance I would go up the canal in one direction and then back near my house in the other to get those final few miles. On more than one occasion however, as I reached the closest point to home my stomach, up until then a friendly companion would break out in open rebellion lobbying the brain with any number of reasons why I should just cut short the run those few miles so we could get back to home to enjoy last night’s dinner.
Sometimes it would hire the help of a leg to feign a cramp, or persuade the nervous system that it had left the front window open. However, more often than not, it would simply rely on spreading the hunger throughout the system that suddenly my body felt the slightest bit weak and the only antidote was the creamy chicken and broccoli bake lying in the fridge.
Thankfully we learn from these mistakes and nowadays no long runs pass half-way in front of my door and contain the absolute minimum number of short-cuts home. As a result, if I want to get to that broccoli bake I have to make it the whole way round.
Went on a staff cycle, 50 k in exactly 2 hours with three sharp climbs that allowed me to push the heart-beat up.