“We are not exercising, we’re training. We don’t run more miles so we can eat more, we eat so that we can train harder and run faster.” Coach Beth
I used to be a different person. A confused, helpless and wholeheartedly unhappy person. I don’t like to talk about this former self because it’s not who I am today. That girl, that sad, unhappy girl had no voice, no confidence and no strength; that girl is a thing of the past and I don’t like to think about her. I actually rarely discuss this girl, this former self, on the blog mostly because I want to look forward and not backward. Now the future feels full of hope and endless possibilities, yet every now and then my insecurities arise and a glimpse of my former self appears.
Allow me to explain…
Once upon a time I ran to lose weight. I typically ran for three to six months became frustrated with how hard it was, the slow results and inevitably quit. Actually I never admitted that I quit, rather I started to prioritize other things on the to-do list over my running. Let’s be honest here: I quit. I quit over and over again and each time I gave up on my running, my goals and myself. I repeated this painful cycle for nearly a decade. I quit so many times that it pained me to start over again. Eventually I stopped starting over. I felt stuck in so many parts of my life.
A marriage, a baby and a career shift led me to a new phase of life. A phase where I started to make my health and happiness a priority every day.
Then, two years ago I started training for road races. As I consistently piled on the miles the weight melted off of me. I stopped incessantly weighing myself, stopped stressing over clothes that I was trying to fit into and started to feel comfortable in my own skin. I started to laugh. I started to live.
The best part about my weight loss was that I rarely felt like I was dieting. Running so many training miles, alongside making healthier food choices (ie. limiting meals out from 3-4x/week to 1x/wk, fewer drinky-drinks, and eating significantly more fruits and vegetables) has helped me lose and keep off over 15 pounds over the past 2 years. I mostly credit this weight loss to a large lifestyle shift: Instead of dieting and monotonously working out at the gym I began to look at the big picture. I began to eat to fuel my runs. Then I began to structure my runs to train for a long-term goal race.But at the time my goal races were marathons and my weekly mileage was in 50’s, 60’s and 70’s.
Last week my insecure former self briefly reappeared and part of me started to stress about my food intake. I started to panic. I’m running less. So much less!! Can I eat trail mix? Should I not eat trail mix. All I want is cookies!! I don’t know how to eat for 20 miles/week! What should I eat?? I don’t want to gain weight!! I’ll admit it- I was starting to stress out about food and I hated it. I still hate it.
I have “over thought” food for so many years, I DON’T WANT TO DO IT EVER AGAIN. This is not me. This is not who I want to be. I don’t count calories. I don’t cut out food groups or go on cleanses. I eat relatively clean 85% of the time and munch on cookies and trail mix the rest. Why? Because this has worked for me, my body and my soul for over two years. This balanced running/eating pattern keeps me at a happy, healthy weight. Unfortunately I’m not training for a marathon this summer. I’m running between 20 and 50 miles a week and things will have to change.
I even brought my concerns about my reduced mileage and diet to Beth. After I complained to Coach Beth that a 70 year old in a jazzercise class probably burned more than I did on Thursday’s 2.5 mile recovery run she quickly snapped back,
“We are not exercising, we are training. There is a difference.”
I will begrudgingly admit that Beth has a point. During training your mileage and run intensity will grow with each successive week. The early weeks of the training cycle (where I am now) will be light mileage and light intensity to help build durability while keeping injury risk low. Even though my mileage is low now it will grow! I need to be patient and more importantly I need to truly eat to run! I need to adjust my food intake to mirror my reduced mileage for the early part of the training cycle. Fewer cookies. Less chocolate. Fewer visits to the Whole Foods trail-mix bar. I didn’t say NO cookies, NO chocolate and NO trail mix, just less.
Balance and portion control will be key during this time.
This training cycle I refuse to be ruled by my insecurities and I refuse to over think my food intake. Instead I will practice breaking this emotional connection that I apparently have with food and most importantly I will practice eating to run.
It looks like this training cycle I will be doing a lot more than just running. 😉
This past week I made some changes in my diet that I’d like to share:
1. Eat more bananas! I followed up every run with a healthy, filling banana. This helped reduce visits to the trail mix bar before heading to work ;).
2. I minimized my chocolate consumption during the day (no more chocolate chip trail mix!) and saved a small piece of dark chocolate for after dinner.
3. I made healthy choices. This past weekend we went to NJ to celebrate my mom’s birthday. Instead of filling up solely on pizza for dinner I chowed down on lots of pre-dinner veggies, made myself a sweet potato to go with dinner and had one slice of pizza. I also decided to skip out on the birthday cake and fire pit smores; instead I opted for two small squares of yummy chocolate.
4. I planned ahead. All week I did my best to pack my lunches, snacks and dinners for the work day. My snacks were mostly cut up fruits, veggies, Kindbars (as a trail mix substitute) and yogurt.
Last week’s shakedown
Monday: 3.7 miles @ 9:49 pace (Recovery run)/ Lift
Wednesday: 6 miles @ 8:51 pace (zone 1) / Lift
Thursday: 2.5 miles @ 9:40 pace (recovery)
Frights: Lift and core
Saturday: 5.5 miles @ 8:32 (zone 1~ tad too fast)
Sunday: Superhero Half Marathon relay!!
7.75 miles @ 7:58 pace; 1.1 mi cooldown jog @ 9:47
Total: 26.8 miles