Before Marathoners Had Energy Bars ...

NPR icon by Ian Chillag
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In its October/November issue, Running Times has a piece by distance running great Bill Rodgers. Among the most compelling of his reflections are the details on his diet while training for the 1976 New York City Marathon:

I ate like a horse, consuming 4,000 calories a day. I stepped up my ritual of raiding the refrigerator in the middle of the night, drinking bottles of honey, devouring boxes of Oreo cookies, scooping out gobs of peanut butter or mayonnaise from the jar and, for the grand finale, submerging them in a bottle of bacon bits. On this diet, I was a whopping 128 pounds with 7 percent body fat.

It's worth noting that Rodgers was running as much as 180 miles per week, proving the old runner's adage: "if the furnace is hot enough, it'll burn anything."

If you're curious just how many bacon-bit-encrusted gobs of mayonnaise different athletes need to gulp down, check this handy chart out. Marathoners today are looking at least 3,000 calories of fuel to consume a day. For the record, we estimate 205 calories per bacon-bit-encrusted gob of mayonnaise.

Over in Kenya, our correspondent last year found marathoners noshing on their national dish, ugali, a corn mush made from cornmeal and water that has the consistency of mashed potatoes and almost no taste. Their plates might also include beans and foodie darling kale.

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