Heels over Head: Fat Comrades

2014-05-25 15:00

It is mere sleeps away before the Comrades Marathon starts and I swear I cannot stop eating. It is all Tim Noakes’ fault.

During most of my long and non-illustrious running career?–?which started with the Under-5 60m sprint in grade 1 and has been interrupted by about three or four booze-fuelled breaks filled with sex, cigarettes and rock’n’roll?– carbo-loading was the commonly held wisdom.

That said, I do remember a maverick teacher feeding us a strawberry shake spiked with raw egg once before a big athletics meeting.

That was about 30 years ago. Maybe he had a future vision, or was being used as an agent by Noakes for some of his devious early high-protein experiments (Noakes allegedly has a slice of cheese and black coffee before his ultras).

For most of it, I remember fuelling up with pizza and pasta the night before a race. It was when pizza and pasta?–?brimming with simple carbohydrates and gluten?–?were still considered wholesome meals.

What I would give to again have a macaroni and cheese (hold the tomato) without feeling like a dirty wench afterwards.

Which brings me to the current situation. My body knows?–?it’s done this four times before?–?that it’s going to be punished, nay, tortured, on June 1 for being healthy and well behaved. For 12 hours on end.

Thereafter, it’s going to be so sore that it will be almost impossible to sleep the entire night and then, for a day or two after, it will have the embarrassing swagger akin to a girl who’s participated in an unbroken weekend-long orgy.

It is counterintuitive to do something this mean to your body voluntarily – and the body knows this. It thinks it is going to die and, like a criminal on death row, it isn’t craving celery sticks and carrots. It’s craving the carbs prescribed by the Tim Noakes of old, and badly so.

And just in case the new Tim Noakes is right, we’re opting for the high-fat, high-protein option on top of that. Care for some yogurt?

Make that a triple Greek. Want some egg? Deep-fry it, please. Go ahead and load that butter on the bread. This neatly combines the old Carbo Noakes with the new high-fat Tim.

As for this eternal contest of mind over matter, this offers a peace pact at last?–?the mind knows the new Tim Noakes has a point, but what really matters now is soothing the body with carbs. So we do both.

I’m convinced I’m the only Comrades runner who gets fat in Long-Run Month (which is April). It’s a lonely feeling, but the words of Comrades legend Bruce Fordyce offer comfort. He said it’s better to arrive at the starting line overweight and undertrained than overtrained and underweight.

I doubt whether the skinny champion Fordyce had ever woken up on Comrades morning to find his club vest fitting a bit tight over his tits and tummy (yes, this happens to some of us).

If he ever does, and if this prompts him to do a Tim Noakes-like 180-degree about-turn on us, please don’t tell me about it.

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