Does Driving Burn Calories?

After yesterday’s post about seeing food as fuel, I am a little disappointed in my eating over the last 2 days. I had written that post ahead of time so that it would go up during the workshop I was at in Chicago yesterday, and so I had not yet experienced the last two days, where I ate like 1000 extra calories each. Ouch.

The problem on Thursday was a typical one: I always overeat when traveling because I am really worn out and frustrated from traveling and I typically do not have time to work out that day, so even though I am hungrier than I normally am, I do not have extra calories like I normally would. I should have known the whole day was going to go poorly after this happened in the morning before I even left Harrisburg (it also damaged the park that I took Belle to the other day: at least 11 birds have died). It didn’t affect my drive, but perhaps I should have taken it as an omen of things to come.

I was already stressed out because I knew that I would have to drive through thunderstorms in Indiana and possibly in Ohio, and I am terrified of thunderstorms. I was also upset because I thought that my advisor was mad at me (he wasn’t, I’m just bad at reading emails). So when I stopped to get gas about 2 hours into my trip, I decided to treat myself at Starbucks and let myself get one of those new caramel ribbon frappucinos. I do not regret this decision: that thing tasted awesome and was totally appropriate for a “splurge” (it was under 300 calories, but I never really drink calories so I always get like 100 calorie drinks there so it felt quite splurgey).  The problem was that I didn’t realize that  I was going to be on the road not for 7-8 more hours…but 11. Yes, that is right, my 600 mile 9-10 hour trip turned into a 13 hour trip.

It all started when I was approaching the PA/WV border. I saw that my time to arrival had stopped decreasing, so I checked the traffic layer on google maps and saw that there was a wreck (I later realized that it was a rolled over Mountain Dew truck…why not ice cream!?). I had not yet hit the “red” area on the map, so I decided that I would keep going and then get off the first exit when I did to eat lunch. I should have stopped before I hit it, though: not only did it take me forever to move between exits, but there was nothing at them anyway, and there were no roads at these exits I could have used to easily circumvent the traffic. So I sat. FOR TWO HOURS. At least I got a break?

My drive across Ohio was then otherwise uneventful, and I had not been doing TOO badly with food up to this point. I was getting tired and frustrated with the length of my drive and the impending thunderstorms and it was over 80 degrees, though, so I somehow convinced myself that the most appropriate dinner would be a DQ blizzard. I thought this would be about 500 calories and would not be that bad (as long as I didn’t eat anything else). As I drove across the state, though, I did not see any Dairy Queens along the highway, and resorted to McDonald’s when I finally had to stop for gas near the OH/IN border. I decided I would not get the blizzard, because I only had a little over 2 hours left before I got home and I was heading into the thunderstorms.

Pretty much as soon as I got back on the highway, though, there was ANOTHER wreck. This time, it was apparently a camper fire. I was able to eventually get off of the highway and take some tiny road through the middle of nowhere (this reminded me of being in my small hometown: they had one cop and one traffic light and everyone including the cop was just standing outside watching in amazement as hundreds of trucks tried to go through this light). The initial stop on the highway and this detour added about an hour-hour and a half to my trip, though, and by this time I was even more tired, angry, and hungry. Then, the storms hit. They were not that bad, but it was the last thing I needed. I had finally made it back into the state of Indiana, and of course, as soon as I did that, a DQ finally appeared and I just HAD to have that blizzard now. This, I regret: it was WAY more calories than I thought it would be (like 700), it wasn’t as peanut buttery as I expected, and it made me feel sick (probably too much sugar/fat/richness in general). I’m just hoping all of my stressing during the drive burnt some calories.

Yesterday was a more predictable calorie overage: I ate reasonably throughout the day – they fed us some mini-danishes and mini-muffins for breakfast and I had about 400-500 calories worth; sandwiches with apples, chips, and a cookie for lunch;  and cookies and pretzels (I had 1 more cookie and a handful of pretzels) for a snack. So far, so good: then we went to Giordano’s. Had I realized that they would give us to go boxes I might have eaten less, but I decided that I wanted to indulge because it’s not everyday that I get real Chicago pizza. I still ate a fairly reasonable amount (2 stuffed slices and 2 thin crust slices along with some salad), but added to the snacking throughout the day (I probably shouldn’t have had that second cookie), and considering the huge amount of calories their pizza apparently has, I again overate. At least this time I did not feel sick afterwards!

Today is going much better, though! I have amazing news: I finished my first double-digit mileage long run: 10.08 miles in 1:30:13!! I’m so excited! I am VERY confident that I will be able to run a whole half-marathon in under 2 hours, now that I have a few long runs at a 9 minute per mile pace – especially because most of my long runs have been hillier and I have been injured/underfed/overfed for them. Plus, today I got lost. Well, sort of. I knew vaguely where I was, but not EXACTLY where and exactly how to get from where I was to where I intended to go. I intended to start my run by running down a hill near my house and then running back “up” the hill by slowing winding through a park at the bottom of it and then re-emerging on the normal road/bike path where I run. Inside of the park, though, I apparently ran in the wrong direction, took probably the hilliest pedestrian route out of there, and came out on the wrong side of the park, where I had to run downhill and uphill again in order to get back to where I wanted to be. This meant that I spent the first 1/3 of my run doing hills and confusedly looking at my GPS trying to figure out what happened and what needed to happen. Oops.

Other good news: I finally broke down and bought one of these. I had been debating about ordering one, because they are kind of pricey and I didn’t know if they would fit my waist/fit my phone, so I had been carrying a little plastic bottle (like the kind you get in 24 packs of bottled water at the grocery store). Today, the label fell off my bottle and almost caused me to inadvertently litter, I dropped the cap twice trying to drink from it, and my hands went numb because I decided not to wear gloves so that I could hold it better  and by holding it they were also more exposed to air than they normally would be (it was about 40-45 degrees). So when I went out to go grocery shopping, I stopped in at the running store (it is like right next door, I had no excuse not to) and actually looked at these in person. It was only like $5 more than online so I’m ok with that as it means that extra money goes to a local business and I don’t have to go through the hassle of return shipping if this thing is terrible. Hopefully I will stay well hydrated, now!


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