January 14, 2016

The “Runger” is Real

When I joined my current project in Dallas, several of my coworkers advised me that Fitbits were really popular with the team, so I found one on sale and bought it for myself. For several months, we’ve been doing weekly challenges (“The Workweek Hustle”) to compete against each others’ step counts. However, in the last month or two, one of my coworkers has really stepped up his game and gotten competitive… to the point where if someone hasn’t synced their steps in a few hours, he’ll go to their desk and tell them to stop sandbagging and fess up to their total. I don’t find it annoying at all, though; I find it awesomely inspiring 🙂

And I’m glad that he’s the one telling people to sync so that my crazy competitive self doesn’t have to do it myself. (You may not be interested in coming to game night at my house.)

I used to win our weekly challenge quite a bit; lately, though, I’m constantly fighting it out for 2nd or 3rd. I don’t think it’s that I work out less now; I think it’s actually that when my Fitbit was brand new, it seemed to be more sensitive and overcount my steps. Has anyone else had that problem? But I miss being on top of the ranking, and this week, I decided I wanted to get serious about winning.

Monday went pretty well, in spite of the fact that getting up at 3am for my commute to work means that I never get a morning workout in. Instead, I did laps around the gate area at the airport while waiting for my flight to board, and then I snuck in a very fast 1.5 mile run in only 11 minutes in between when I got to the hotel and when I needed to head out for dinner. I was pretty proud of that little workout – just goes to show that you can achieve a lot in a pretty short amount of time!

On Tuesday morning, though, I went to Beyond 500 and got an awesome workout in on the fancy Woodway Curve treadmills… and then I left my Fitbit charging in my hotel room when I went to the office. Oops! I honestly considered going back for it (competitive much?) but ended up just leaving it idle until 10pm when I got home from a team dinner. Now I had to make up for lost time!

So on Wednesday morning, I went to a Body Sculpt class at Grit Fitness, but instead of heading straight to my room to shower after, I instead stopped in at the hotel gym. Two miles on the treadmill, coming up! I was really proud of myself for knocking out those two miles even though I had already finished my (hard) workout for the day… and it didn’t hurt that it got my step count back up to where I was competitive with my coworkers 🙂

But later that morning, I was kind of regretting my run. Turns out that while I’m normally pretty okay with a Body Sculpt class (I go to that one frequently and really enjoy it!), adding a run on top of that makes me hungry. Or, should I say, rungry?! By the time 12:30pm rolled around and I could take a break for lunch, my stomach was audibly growling, and I wanted to eat everything ever. I got a slightly-less-healthy-than-usual salad (with cheese and tortilla strips) in an attempt to tame the beast, but I still wanted more.

Fortunately, I eventually got it in the form of a delicious team dinner that night with my coworkers. French onion soup is the best!

There are lots of great articles that document why your workout leaves you hungry and how to tame your runger (written by Theodora!). However, most of those go into the importance of fueling appropriately while not overeating to compensate for the calorie burn. But what I wanted to know was, how much working out does it take to cause an increase in appetite? I haven’t experienced that insatiable hunger lately, so was it really just two measly miles that pushed me over the edge?

I didn’t turn up exactly that, but what I did find was a lot of research on how short workouts can be better for losing weight than long ones. Specifically, comparing people who worked out for 30 minutes to those who worked out for 60 minutes, the 30 minute group had higher weight loss (though lower fat loss). To me, this says that working out for longer periods was more likely to burn muscle (not what I want), but other people interpret the study differently, and the study’s authors didn’t come up with a definitive cause.

So I think my solution is not to try to find some magical number of miles or minutes that is going to prevent my runger. I felt really accomplished squeezing in those extra miles at the end of my workout! I’m just going to make sure I keep some small snacks always on hand to help me take the edge off, without eating back all that I burned. That way, I can have my run without eating it too 🙂


5 thoughts on “The “Runger” is Real”

  1. Haha! I know all about Runger! what i do find is that if i have a big glass of water directly after a run it tends to subside a bit. As for the fitbit challenge with your co-workers – what a great idea, I would love to do something like this, it would motivate me so much to be number 1 (tad competitive over here!).

  2. I feel like I am in the minority. I don’t get ‘runger’. My stomach is sensitive enough that the last thing I want to do after a long-ish run is eat. In fact, I have given up more than a few post-race beers because my stomach was a mess.

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