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If I needed an added incentive to get myself back on the water, the thought of all the food I’m missing out on would probably do it.

Here’s what Olympic rower, Katherine Grainger, eats in a typical day. Mmmmm… just the thought of that second breakfast is making me hungry.

Instead of eating, though, I’m off to do those exercises my physio prescribed; it’s my best chance of getting back on to the lasagne and scrambled egg diet.

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It’s 4 a.m. and I’m lying in bed, wide awake. It’s not the heat or the cold or even my snoring husband keeping me awake. I’ve been rowing, so I’m hungry. Again. I already got up at midnight for a snack but the hunger pangs have struck again. This time I’m too famished to sleep but too tired to do anything about it.

There’s something about rowing – and it’s not just as simple as the number of calories burned – that makes you hungrier than any other sport I’ve come across. Even cross country skiing, which I tried last year, didn’t make me as ravenous as a session on the water or the erg.

I don’t normally have to think too much about it; I just eat more than I used to in my former, non-rowing, life. The problems arise when I find myself in the company of Ordinary People. Especially if they’re providing the food. One look at the miserable portion on the plate and I know I’m in for a late night attack of the munchies.

Girls’ nights are the worst. Even the obligatory tiny cupcake or brownie wheeled out at the end doesn’t make up for the Lilliputian amounts of food on offer. I literally have to stand guard over the dips at the beginning to make sure I can get through the evening without my stomach rumbling.

If this sounds familiar, the chances are you’re a rower, too. Asking around, I discover that I’m far from alone in needing a ridiculous amount of food just to keep me alive.

“Two different colleagues told me last week that I eat ‘like a man'”, says one (female) rower.

It is lunchtime yet?

Others tell tales of second and even third breakfasts on rowing days. There’s talk of giant pots of porridge, huge plates of pasta, eggs, sausages, muffins, toast, crumpets, smoothies and, of course, the obligatory malt loaf. Oh yes, we rowers like our food.

Special contempt is reserved for what one rowing friend calls her “rice cake-eating colleagues”. Clearly, thin slices of polystyrene don’t cut it in the rowing world. We need real food, and lots of it.

I could say more on the subject, but all this talk of food has made me hungry again (and since I’m rowing tomorrow morning I need to stock up on the calories). I’m off for a snack. Or three.

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