Ahh here we are at the beginning of a new week again. Well at least the weather is still warm here, I will continue wearing flip flops and shorts as I long as I possibly can!
Thank you for all of your well wishes, compliments and supportive words from Friday’s post. And not just on the new kicks and baking disasters (although I did laugh at other similar occurrences), but most importantly on the race I ran on Saturday morning, the Wicked Half Marathon in Salem! As I discussed on Friday, I realized after careful consideration that I truly wanted to run this race, and for what I believe to be the “right reasons.”
I want to reflect on the race, but first I need to get some thoughts out on this… bear with me
For so many years now, running has been a hobby I have adopted because I am (pretty sure) I enjoyed it. But what I can now understand is that while yes, I loved how running allowed me to step back from my life for a period of time, the main motivation to continue this activity has always been to lose weight or at least maintain my weight. After I quit swimming my senior, I sought another activity that could substitute the endurance-demanding sport I had participated in for so long. When I took up running, it was because I desired to stay in shape, and most importantly it was to lose the extra bit of weight that had crept on after I stopped swimming.
Therefore, ever since I began this sport, the underlying goal has always been about calories and weight loss. Slowly but surely, I have allowed running to become an activity that I “have” to do or else I will gain too much weight, or I will fall out of running shape if I don’t job for more than 2 days in a row. I am not talking about complete rest days leading to being out of shape, I am referring to my irrational fear that no running for more than 2 days= I lose my stride.
When an activity is thought of in this way, it eventually becomes a chore, something you have to do, and not because you want to. That is exactly what running had become for me prior to just this summer. Somewhere along the way, this hobby became an obligation, a requirement that I had no interest in taking part of. However, my routine, controlling, illogical self would never “allow” me to stop such any sort of activity having to do with food and weight. Those two things have always (well for the last 5 or so years) have been the most important aspects of my life, so anything that enables me to control these aspects stays put.
It didn’t matter if I would rather sever my own arm off then go for a run, I would do it anyway! Running had to remain a part of my life because it meant I could keep my weight down, while burning tons of calories, giving me the illusive permission to eat a bit more than usual. I was stuck in this ridiculous trap of feeling compelled to run, as the alternative was to stop, get fat, and hate my life even more than I already did.
I ran the Boston Run To Remember at the end of May and didn’t do as well as I hoped. Reflecting on it now, it would have been best for me to NOT participate… and yet even with all of the advice from readers, I still went ahead with it anyway. The race was not terrible by any means, but I was definitely overly-fatigued and simply needed a break. I will admit now that as much as I would like to tell myself I did the Run To Remember for the “right” reasons… I didn’t. A huge part of me was excited at the prospect of burning so many calories… Phew, I just admitted that.
When I began my internship this summer, my workouts changed with the start of the season. I went from steady jogs, tempo runs, speed workouts, and distance runs, to boot-camp style fitness, much more weight training, and shorter and faster runs. I began to fall in love with these types of workouts, as they went by so fast, challenged me and also changed my body in ways I wouldn’t expect. I am so much stronger now, proud of the muscles I have gained after allowing them to waste away during the darkest times of my eating disorder…
Okay so what in the heck does this all have to do with the race on Saturday? Well a lot… so allow me to actually discuss the race
As I said before, I ran this race because I truly wanted to… and after some self-reflection, I understood that it had nothing to do with weight and burning calories. I was not hoping for a PR or anything like that, but just to experience the race vibe, the cheering, the support, the sense of accomplishment… all of these things that make the sport wonderful.
My morning started bright and early with a wake up call at 4:15, as the race started at 7:00 am. I wanted to allow myself enough time to wake up, move around a bit, get some blood flowing, and have coffee to hopefully get things err moving along… (TMI, sorry). But seriously, if I don’t go before races, bad news bears, as I spend the entire time suffering with stomach cramps.
Sooo anyway, crisis averted! To prep for the challenge I was about to take on, I fueled myself properly with 1.5 whole wheat flat breads, spread with 2 tablespoons of plain, unsalted almond butter and a banana. A very standard pre-race meal but one that seems to work for me.
My date for the event was my mom of course (thank goodness for her love and support in this!) and we arrived with a bit of time to spare.. aka me walking around impatient, nervous, and debating whether or not I had to pee.
The gun went off at precisely 7 am and we were off!
With no specific goal in mind, I began to run and gauged how I felt- tired? stiff? sore? energized perhaps? In the beginning I was quite tight and not really feeling it. However as the miles went on, I felt progressively stronger and was maintaining a pretty fast pace for me. It really wasn’t until I hit mile 10 that my body started to wonder what the hell I was subjecting it to and began to rebel against me. I felt incredibly fatigued those last 3 miles… could not WAIT for it all to end, as I am pretty sure I have never been so tired in my life. But in the end, it was all worth it.
Quite unexpectedly, I PRed by 4 minutes from my previous time of 1:40.40 at Boston’s Run To Remember in 2010, and came in at 1:36.40! According to the results I was the third woman in my age group (20-29), and 40th out of 850 (ish) people.
Immediately after I drank water and gatorade and nibbled on some bread to stop myself from fainting over simply keeling over. Oh and putting my legs up like this helped to get some of the blood moving again that seemed to be MIA from the rest of my body.
The only downside from all of this was that I felt pretty sick the rest of the day. I was crampy, nauseous and just bleh… but I pushed through those feelings by eating and drinking pretty much all day. It wasn’t the distance that effected me, it was the effort I put into this race that really through my body for a loop. As I said before, I am fairly positive this was the most tired I have ever been during a run! But again, all worth it
Seriously, I could not have been more pleased with this. I was truly not expecting to PR but when I saw around mile 9 that I could get a best time if I went under 10 minute miles, well I was thrilled. As much as it hurt to push myself to maintain a 7:30 ish split those last few miles, I did and was rewarded.
I think it’s safe to say I am falling in love with running (once again?). I am tentatively adding “once again” because as I mentioned before, I can’t really decide if I ever enjoyed running, or have just thrived off the physical results it has provided me with… weight loss. This past summer and countless other articles and books have showed me that running is certainly NOT the only way to stay in shape, far from it as a matter of fact. By allowing myself to take a step back from the sport and try other things, I am rekindling a passion that has been hiding within me for so long now.
That being said, I am not suddenly going to stop my strength training, plyometrics and other similar-style workouts. In fact, my love for those different types of fitness grows each and every day. Running will be incorporated into my weekly schedule, but it no longer feels like an obligation, and let me tell you, that is a relief.
I believe I am reaching a point where fitness, working out, running, etc, is something that I do because I love the way it makes me feel. I won’t lie to you though and say that vanity, calories and weight is not still a tremendously large part of why I workout… because it is. How much I weight, how many calories I burned that day, how I look… these things are always on my mind, but I am seeing them differently. I am realizing that fitness is beyond controlling yourself to appear a certain way, it can actually bring you emotional and mental rewards as well. Duh yes, we have all heard this, but now I am actually experiencing it for myself.
This weekend I was able to PR because I am that much healthier, both mentally and physically… I mean things could not be more clear. My body is stronger, properly fueled, rested (I could relax more though!).. and you know what else? I achieved a best time even with all of the dreaded “extra weight” I have put on. I have proven to myself that adding weight is not equal to a slower me, in fact, the exact opposite has occurred and in the best way possible. Mentally, I was ready to take on the challenge of the race and for what I consider to be the right reasons.
This one race has shown me so much- allowed me to realize a number of different aspects that are part of this recovery, and that the hard work that I am putting in to get myself better… well it’s actually paying off. Who would have thought? Not me that’s for sure, but I am going to continue this rather rewarding process
Have you ever done unexpectedly well or better than you believed you could in some kind of race, event, test, etc?
If you had lost interest in something, how have you rekindled this something you used to enjoy? Or how do you plan to?
Do you have any further suggestions of how to enjoy working out beyond the weight-related benefits? This is still a work in progress for me after all!
What is the best thing you did and ate this weekend?! I included the eating question because I have so many wonderful recipes to share with you later this week… some of these were the best thing I consumed
Have a nice rest of your day!