Training symptoms: The Hanger

This morning, I had the most wonderful idea. “I’ll go out to breakfast,” I thought. “I’ll have stuffed french toast with berries and yogurt, maybe a side of bacon, and pair it with some of the best shop brewed coffee,” I thought. It was settled. I grabbed my wallet, swimsuit (because, summer) and phone and skipped out to the car, eager to fulfill my day’s happiest dream.

The car didn’t start. It didn’t even try. Like some of the world’s best plans, mine were foiled. Two hours and several phone calls later I leaned against the tire to wait for the tow truck and continued what had become a steady, sorrowful sob.

The mechanics were condescending, the sun growing hotter and the pavement steaming like the once fickle car engine. My temples ached, my arms and legs lost their energy after a week of training and a morning of the world collapsing in on me. I felt trapped, anxious and victimized, whatever forces had caused my engine to die were now working against me. They peeled away at my layers and filled me with dark, potent disgust for all that crossed my path.

Then my stomach growled.

“Oh my God,” I realized, “I forgot to eat breakfast.”


I checked my watch and calculated the time it would take the tow truck to arrive (their ETA + 7 minutes) and dashed toward the library, the closest place I could think that might have food. There, in the student cafe at the end of the pre-filled coffee pots rested one last neglected, slightly burned but altogether glorious, lemon scone. I lunged for it and hardly had time to pay before it made it to my lips.

The results were instantaneous. The moment that bite of lemony glazed sustenance entered my system, the world became brighter. The birds began singing, my vision cleared. I suddenly had the confidence and gumption to approach those mechanics, I wasn’t upset at the time it took for the tow truck to arrive, I wasn’t even mad when they told me nothing was wrong with the car (ok, I was a little disappointed). I had exited the feared (some say fatal) cycle of the hanger (hungry anger)-a combination of low blood sugar and high emotion that any athlete, teenager and diabetic is familiar with.

Now, this was not my first time feeling the hanger. In fact, it happens to me more often than it should, especially during hard weeks of training. The symptoms vary, sometimes I get quiet and broody, other times I erupt at the tiniest, most insignificant annoyances. I’ll often deny that I’m hungry, and, as a rule, almost always balance on the verge of tears. While a hearty snack will always cure me, I’m far to wrapped up in the present to think of the future (re: professional nordic skier) and by the time I realize as much, I’ve weakened, both in heart and mind, to the point where anything of caloric content proves worthy (seriously though, has anyone had Bugles lately? De-licious).

Film Title: The Incredible Hulkcookie

Essentially, if you ever find me crumbled in a ditch mumbling and cursing to myself as I shove mass amounts of bagged discount grocery goods into my mouth, wait a sec before calling the police. I’ll come back soon.

Like many such conditions, hanger is completely avoidable. Do as I say and not as I do and:

  • Eat more food than you drink coffee at breakfast.
  • Remember that sugar is an addition, rather than a major pillar of a healthful diet.
  • PACK SNACKS. This one’s a no brainer. In your purse, back pack, ski boots, water belt. Energy bars, sandwiches, fruit, pizza, hamburgers, raisins, entire jars of peanut butter, they will see you through!
  • If you do reach the hanger, treat those around you nicely, they might let you have some of their tots.

Remember kids,  only YOU can prevent hanger tantrums.




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