Endurance athletes—triathletes, runners and cyclists—have been known to reward themselves for a long season of sacrificing by indulging in food they did their best to avoid the previous 10 months. For some, that means a bowl of cookie dough ice cream every night after dinner, and to others it means hitting the drive-through for a gooey double cheeseburger, some greasy fries and a thick chocolate shake.
If that’s your thing and it makes you appreciate your long spell of abstinence from that, then go for it. Gaining a few pounds will probably return your body to a more sustainable weight and give your immune system a break. Just be careful to only allow it for a limited time before you get back to business. Enjoy those eating habits while they last, but realize you’ll be a much better runner as you get back to building and fueling with lean protein, whole grains and complex carbs than you will with simple sugars found in junk food, fast food and all of those other treats that taste good but make you feel and perform lousy.
“Every fall I finish the season in great shape, but if I’m not careful I can easily put on 20 pounds in the winter months,” says Kevin Reinsch, an 11-time Ironman finisher. “As the years have had their toll on my joints, it gets harder and harder every spring to burn off the extra fat without getting injured.”