I feel like I've been dying to run a half marathon again forever. Let me clarify. Last May I fanagled my way through the Brooklyn Half Marathon with literally zero training and got a darling case of achilles tendonitis in the process. LOVELY. So, when I tell you I'm running a half marathon on October 7th, its not even the race that actually is getting me all psyched up.... its the training!! I did a THIRTEEN mile run yesterday and I woke up today feeling awesome. Not sore. Not like I got run over by a bus. Not starving. A bit sleepy but that's about it.
I really hope that this year my training doesn't lead me straight into a dead end. I want to run.
So. Here we go. I am hoping to race and not develop an injury in the process. So I am taking the precautions necessary to run injury free. I've been incrementally increasing mileage since July, recently started adding some slow(ish) & short(ish) speed workouts, and doing Jordan Metzel's Iron Strength workouts twice weekly to prevent injury. I'm foam rolling and massaging my legs using my BelleCore more often than I have in the past, although I admit I'm not great about it.
I JUST FEEL GREAT. OKAY? And I'm all excited about it! I keep reminding myself that I am not chasing a PR on October 7th, but chasing the feeling of finishing a half marathon, injury-free and strong...then celebrating with a bloody mary and some yummy brunch! (just being honest!). I do admit that shifting from a PR mentality to one where I just want to finish has def been tough! I am such a speed-hungry-runner. But the breathtaking views of Manhattan on my long runs this training season have made it easier to relax and focus on the journey rather than the unimportant goal of hitting a certain time.
Anyway, I chose the Bay Ridge Half Marathon because I ran it last year last year and I actually really enjoyed the flat, yet somewhat boring, out-and-back course. The Verrazano Bridge gives me a certain magical nostalgia that I cannot explain, and I am always happiest when running along the water. Its an inexpensive, familiar course ...the perfect race for someone who is trying to stay level-headed and non-competitive.
In terms of body image & nutrition, I've had a little bit of a mental challenge with the whole running thang. I heard on a podcast recently that "there's more to life than looking good in your jeans." That TOTALLY vibed with me, not because I'm looking for an excuse to binge eat pizza, but because part of my anti-running-crusade has been a body image thang.
Since switching my running sneakers for barbells, my body has def transformed in a way that is more aesthetically pleasing to me. That's all fine and dandy, but I miss running. I miss being a runner and being a part of the community. And now that I'm running again I'm remembering that so much of this hatred of running was really just me being resentful that I have been injured so often the last year.
I have to find a new medium. One where I do not get obsessed with the competition and speed, one where I still have time to do squats and lunges and play with kettlebells because these tools have led me to a ton of self-love. And I am forever grateful for that.
When lifting was my main squeeze, I was practicing intermittent fasting most days where I would stop eating around 8-9pm and then fast until 12pm the next day. It worked super well for me all summer, even when I was traveling almost weekly and consequently did not have access to a super-balanced diet (meaning less protein and more carbs than I'd like to eat to stay super lean!). The fasting definitely helped me stay trim and strong, as fasting can help with insulin sensitivity, fat burning and boost growth hormone to help with muscle growth.
That said, I always tell my clients that you have to choose performance or fat loss. Right now, I am choosing performance, and I realized that amping up mileage and intensity of workouts has meant that hours of fasting does not feel right. My muscles felt tired when not fed post-track-workout and I felt irritable and starved during my fasts on post-long-run-days. Intermittent fasting can work, but it stopped working in a way that's realistic for me as I shifted my focus to eating to perform and recover rather than aesthetics. *
I'm now focusing on eating a nutrient dense diet, alternating higher carb days (when I run hard/long) with lower carb days (and when I say lower I still eat around 150 grams of carb!). I'm focusing on protein for recovery and loads of anti-inflammatory fat from grassfed butter, avocado and sesame oil.
Basically, I'm less worried about how I look in my jeans and more worried about refueling my hungry muscles and quelling the inflammation that ensues post-run. I want to eat enough calories to keep cravings at bay and support running as fast as my totally-out-of-running-shape bod can run.
I'm doing this for me. All of me. My body, my mental state, my emotional fortitude. I am falling back in love with the one thing I've always loved (even when I hate it)...running. And its made me giddy with happiness to be on this journey (again).
Does anyone else have a similar experience with running? How about with body image and running? I'd love to know I'm not alone in this!
*Its possible to practice IF and eat for performance, but I am not willing to manipulate my eating window so that I'm fasting for majority of the evening! That's just not realistic FOR ME.