Thursday, May 28, 2009

Correlation between pre-race training & post-race binginging

Is there a correlation between a structured pre-race training and dietary regime and a post-race binge? Or, in anthro parlance, is a post-race binge a type of a rite of rebellion that is simler in function to the temporary reversals of normally restrained social behavior by observant Catholic participants celebrating life after Lent at Mardi Gras and or urban office workers going native at Burning Man? 

Or, are post-race binges mostly bio-cultural responses to, and releases from, the chronic pressure experienced trying to fit in a structured and daily regime of workouts, employment reponsibilities, family and other pressures combined with a restrictive sports nutrition diet? Basically living each day with a chronic low-level psychological and physical stress up to race day. Are the post-race carbo and beer cravings due, in part, to a physiological stress response(elevated glucocorticoid levels)* after the end of a temporary period of acute physical and psychological stress felt during racing? 

Or are both of these factors, structured life style and a release of stress, involved in post-race binging? If  you are really stressed before race start and feel pressure (to PR, qualify for Boston or IM or Olympic Trials, etc.), will those factors and increased amount of stress BEFORE the race predict an increased amount of partying AFTER the race? (I'm thinking of Michael Phelps getting caught partying with abandon by the media a few months ago. I mean after years of living like an Olympic monk, can you blame him for letting his guard down and doing stupid things--especially at his age?)

I'm doing two research surveys, one for triathletes and the other for runners, to determine if there are any correlations between pre-race behavior and self-report stress response symptoms and post-race "going Carnival" (binging) behavior. 

I'm doing this research of the cultures of runners and triathletes as part of my MA thesis as a graduate student of anthropology at CSUN. Links to the surveys will be posted soon at this blog. 

If you are a runner or a triathlete please feel free to comment on this research with your own thoughts and experiences.


:) A

* see my next posting for an explanation of physiological and psychological stress-responses


  1. I don't recall any experience with post-race binge eating. but admittedly, I am not a hardcore racer. most of my post-race is looking forward to the next race - either because I did well, and now I'm stoked, or I did poorly, and now I have something to prove. =)

  2. I don't know that my pizza & beer qualfies as a "binge" (I did fill out the triathlete survey)

    I eat what I want in moderation.

    I have a wonderful brewpub 4 blocks from my house that makes awesome pizza. They have a great happy hour ($5 buffalo chicken pizza which I usuaslly eat half of and take the other half home and have one beer with)

    My bike club loves to go there after rides and my boyfriend and I like to go on Sunday afternoons to sit on the deck (Happy Hour all day on Sunday)

    My racing keeps me training and my training means that I don't have to obcess about everything I put in my mouth.

    I can't count the number of times a co-worker has agonized over if they should eat a cookie (calculating weight watcher's points in their head)

    I think programs like those are valuable in teaching people that food is FUEL and to think of it as such.

    But I think it can also lead to unhealthy obcession with/about food that could backfire later.

    I want to turn to them and say, "Eat the damn cookie if you want, just go walk around the block".

    My running club jokes that we are "Eaters with running disorders" My bike club says the same thing....

  3. Thanks for thoughtful and helpful comments. After others made comments similar to yours I realized the stigma of the term "post-race binge". I changed the wording on my survey to "post-race celebration". No one I know, least of all healthy and fitness focused triathletes and runners wants to call themselves "bingers" or say they "binged". I got the term from a former pro-triathlete so I figured it was a common and un-marked term now. I should of gone with my gut feelings.


Thank you for sharing your thoughts.
:) A