For a few years before I moved from Scotland down to Yorkshire I used to do a lot of swimming at the University of Dundee pool. Not just a few lengths followed by ages in the shower, but hours in the pool every day training with a variety of interesting characters from accountancy students (maybe it’s the monotony of counting strokes and lengths that attracted them) to a former representative of Scotland at the Commonwealth Games (who was an awesome athlete – I could write pages on his flawless butterfly technique) to a triathlete who competed in IronMan races (he was a scaffolder by trade, was built like a bodybuilder but had endurance like you couldn’t believe – which is essential for a 2.4 mile swim followed by 112 miles on a bike rounded off with a marathon).
Anyway, I used to train with these sorts of people, battling to keep up with them and their punishing sessions while acquiring quite a physique in the process (I’m sorry to disappoint you ladies out there but the v-shaped back, washboard abs and powerful shoulders are no longer quite there). The irony was that I learned to swim late preferring to burst into tears as a small child when presented with water like the wuss that I was. What I realised when I was 21 was that if my parents had been the pushy sort that pushed their kids into sport, I might have actually made a decent competitive swimmer. Ah well, I can always dream!
Right, I’m digressing somewhat (rambling comes with the territory when I take trips down Memory Lane). So I’d walk out of the pool from a tough session and my arms would feel like they’re about to fall out, my legs would feel like jelly and the goggle marks around my eyes would make me look like I was wearing eye liner. I was ravenously hungry. At the time I wasn’t drinking alcohol, was eating wisely, steering clear of junk food and high fat stuff, generally looking after myself. Except for one vice I allowed myself. Full sized trifles.
The saying “Never go shopping for food when you’re hungry” is spot on as if I went to the supermarket after a workout I’d inevitably come back with a family sized trifle. I’d remove the lid, get a dessert spoon out from a drawer and devour the whole thing (which would normally feed 4) in a matter of minutes.
Digression Number 2: I was at a party once where I’d just finished explaining this piece of gluttony to the hostess who said “I’ve got a trifle in the fridge, I don’t believe you could just eat the whole thing like that”. Cut to 10 minutes later and a horrified expression on her face when I’d done exactly that!
The way I figured it, since I was burning thousands of calories per day and was eating very healthily in general, I could get away with such a high concentration of Trifles Per Week (or TPW) and indeed I suffered no ill effects. Sadly when I moved to Yorkshire I couldn’t find anybody to train with who was at the level I was at so I eventually hung up my trunks and moved onto other things. And curiously, my obsession with trifles went too. I’m not sure whether it was the chlorine or the tight-fitting trunks, but as soon as I was no longer exposed to that lifestyle my desire to gorge myself on trifles disappeared.
It’s a shame really as I’d become quite an expert on trifles having eaten so many varieties (things like varying the ratio of sponge thickness to custard to cream can make all the difference in advanced trifle design and manufacture). Strangely I’ve managed to replace the swimming / trifle combination with a similar football / tiffin obsession so I suspect that different sports have different complementary foods that you (or strange people like me) crave. I may have to do some experiments to find out – huge waistline here I come…