Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Where did my runger go?

I love the word "runger," coined to describe the increased appetite that comes along with running.

After my running sabbatical ended, I sat at work one day with a growling stomach and thought with delight: "The runger is back!"

It's not something I necessarily love on its own virtues, like the runner's high and the improved sleep quality, but I was glad to see it because it meant I was back running again.

I'm still running, but I'm not as rungry lately. I didn't notice this until yesterday, when (oddly) I took a rest day. My breakfast was the same — oatmeal — and came at the same time, yet before I'd even left for work, I could hear rumbling.

This wasn't a deviation from run days. What was a deviation was how it didn't subside after an hour or so at work. I broke into my lunch much earlier than normal, anywhere from one to two hours early.

Normally, I blame an increased appetite on either lack of sleep or substantial exercise; neither were true yesterday. What went on?

It dawned on me much later that night, after my usual hunger cycle had been upended a few more times (to the other extreme), that I'd read something on the New York Times Well blog about running actually suppressing appetite.

At the time, I most likely viewed it with skepticism. Not entirely unwarranted, because only at the end does it make this statement:
And longevity counts. You need to stick with the program for several months, (researcher Catia) Martins says, to truly fine-tune appetite control.
But it's true that in the early days of my running career, I was ready to plow through a snack as soon as I returned, while in the past year or so, the peanut butter graham cracker sandwiches began to sit rather heavily in my stomach.

So it's probably also the case that my midmorning cup of coffee — in between a run and lunch — satiates me and holds me over until that second meal, while a run-free morning has me eyeing my lunch bag greedily.

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