On Monday, I ate a turkey sandwich for lunch.
That afternoon, aside from my stomach doing somersaults (an interesting side effect that I didn’t experience during my brief foray into omnivoredom last summer), I felt great. More pep than I’ve had in weeks.
That night, I took advantage of the motel gym to get in an hour of AR intervals, followed by an hour-long hill ride, capped off with an additional 45 minutes of intervals.
The whole time, I felt fantastic. I pushed hard and embraced the burn in my quads and my calves. It was great. The only reason I stopped when I did was because I realized I was starving (note to self: add sports beans or sharkies to overnight bag).
I had a spring in my step as I ran back to my room (the gym was in a separate building), and took the stairs two at a time. After reading that caffeine can stave off muscle soreness, I raided the vending machine for pretzels and diet coke, got in a shower and a quick stretching session, and fell asleep quickly and easily.
The next morning, aside from some mild hamstring tightness, my legs felt good, recovered. Sure, they were a little heavy, but they didn’t have that nagging soreness that I’ve been encountering after each workout the past few weeks.
Was it the Whole Foods turkey-and-roasted-veggie sandwich? Who knows?
Would a shot of concentrated veggie-based protein have had the same effect? Could be.
Was it all in my head? Quite possibly.
But either way, it felt good.
I decided to continue to explore these questions yesterday, this time with a little do-it-yourself action. Brent’s still on spring break and I had a hard bike ride planned for the afternoon, so we headed down to our neighborhood food co-op to pick some local organic sliced turkey (I figure if I’m going to start eating meat, I’d like to at least try to do it sustainably).
I had no idea how much turkey should go on a sandwich, so I had Brent parcel out a serving (‘a light serving,’ he told me). I stirfried up some artichokes, broccoli, and mushrooms to put on top, sprinkled on some raw spinach and shaved parmesan for good measure, and had myself a nice little lunch.
The bellyflops returned, but so did the energy, and a couple hours later, I pedaled strong for two hours, powering up the hills and needing little in the way of recovery.
Could it really be that easy?
Am I really ready to embrace life as an omnivore?
It’s time to find out.
For the next week, I’m going to add in a little bit of poultry or fish (sorry, B, I’m not up to cheesesteaks) to my diet on the days that I have a hard workout planned, and I’m going to see its effect.
Since it’s been a million years since I last ate meat on any regular basis (to be honest, I’m not sure I’ve ever really eaten meat on any regular basis), though, I need some help!
Does it matter if I eat it before the hard workout, or after?
How much do I really need to eat?
Do chicken-based soups count in terms of protein?
When will the stomach flipflops cease?
Are there any other weird effects of eating meat that I should be aware of?
Do you have any suggestions for relatively tame forms of animal protein?
Please don’t get the wrong idea – I’m not taking this lightly. As someone who’s been a vegetarian for more than two thirds of her life, this isn’t a spontaneous decision to eat meat. It’s one I’ve been thinking about for several months, and one I’m ready to consider seriously at this point, as I try to figure out how to get back on track physically.
So, will I be a lean, mean adventure racing machine one week from now? Let the experiment begin!