Saturday, July 16, 2011

On Bojangles and Trail Running

Consider the Bojangles Sausage and Egg Biscuit. It's got 545 calories, 38 grams of fat, and 17 grams of saturated fat. It's about as unhealthy as it gets, and Bojangles currently sells them at a price of $3 for two of them -- 1090 calories, not counting your beverage.

Today I availed myself of this deal, consumed both of them in their calorie-laden, fatty goodness  (along with a large Diet Pepsi), and lost two pounds. How did I do it?

Before dining, I pre-de-caloried with a 20-mile trail run. According to the simple calorie estimator on the Garmin Connect website, this means I burned about 3,000 calories -- more than enough to merit double-dipping on the sausage and egg biscuit. But this post suggests I may have burned much more than that. How much more? Well, just take a look at the elevation profile of my run:

Count 'em, 4 major climbs!

As you can see, "flat" doesn't come close to describing this trail, in Crowders Mountain State Park. There are two 800-foot climbs, a 700-foot climb, and a 400-foot climb. I think I'm safe saying this is the hilliest route I've ever run. The post I linked suggests that runners on treadmills double their calorie consumption when running on a 20% steeper grade. Are there any 20% grades on this course? Probably not; most of them appear to be closer to a 10 percent grade (with the certain exception of the steep climb -- on stairs! -- in Mile 17). But a treadmill hill is also not the same as a real hill -- you don't have to actually lift your body mass when you run up an incline on a treadmill. I'd venture a guess that a 10 percent grade in real life also comes close to doubling your calorie consumption -- especially on a trail run. If the 3600 vertical feet in this run average a 10-percent grade, that means that 36,000 feet (or 6.81 miles) of running was uphill. So we should add an extra 150 * 6.81 = 1022 calories to the amount I consumed today.

That means the hills alone may have justified my consumption of two Bojangles sausage and egg biscuits; the rest of the run was just bonus calorie-burning!

So why did I do a 20-mile trail run today, and what was it like? I did it because Dave and Jeremy invited me and it sounded fun. Was it fun? About the first fifteen miles were; the last five were quite difficult. That makes some sense -- although I've run farther in marathons, I've never run for as long a duration. This run took 4 hours and 22 minutes -- longer even than my very slow performance at Steamboat.

There were some spectacular views from the summit of King's Pinnacle and Crowders Mountain, and doing a long trail run was an eye-opening experience. I've done some shorter runs, typically on much easier trails than this one. Even though most ultrarunners walk the steepest uphill sections, they're still expending a lot of effort on those sections; arguably more than they do on the flat.

Will I make this type of trail-running a regular part of my workout routine? Almost certainly not. But I'm glad I did it -- and those biscuits were delicious!

Details of today's run are below.

1 comment:

  1. Speaking of Bojangles, I've finally found a great pre-run food that doesn't upset my stomach or make me feel too full: their picnic-size grits. Yes, a little bland because I don't put butter or cheese on them but they have 230 calories, 47g of carbs, 5g of protein, and 2g of fat. For a 3-4 mile run, this with some Gatorade gets me going. I should probably do a few more calories but this has been a great choice for me.