What does diet free living have to do with running?

Sorry for disappearing for a few days. My social life got a little hectic and I knew I really wanted to write this post but it needed a nice chunk of my time. Anyways, here is what I wanted to share with you…

It’s a few days after May 29th. Any guesses as to why May 29th is of significance? Don’t worry, I’ll won’t make you guess for too long. It was the date of the run to remember half marathon I was signed up for and chose not to run.

No, I was not injured.  No, I was not out of town. I chose to sleep in and spend an amazing day with my husband. (We even went on a 3-mile run together. And it was hot. And I was very happy I didn’t have to do another 10 miles in addition to it).

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know this is not typical Elina behavior. In fact, I was signed up for the same half marathon last year and despite giving it up earlier in the training season, still ran it. I couldn’t let myself give up.

[Me last year, swearing I'd never run another half again... only to sign up for the exact race 6 months later!]

I’m in a different place this year though. With the decision to stop dieting and put an end to emotional eating, came the necessary work (in progress) of body acceptance, feeling my feelings (instead of eating them) and digging deeper. Questioning my actions. Pursuing only goals that feel truly right and abandoning those that are made for the wrong reasons.

And it relates to so much more than just food (mostly because most of this journey is really not about the food at all… food is the effect, not the cause). It has… IS… impacting my whole life. And running is part of it.

I’ve had a love/hate relationship with running for a while. It’s given me the highest highs and the lowest lows. I signed up for this half because I really liked to have a goal and seriously started enjoying running again (I took some time off after last year’s half… I swore off all running for a while, not just half marathon racing). And I promised I wouldn’t do it if it wasn’t going to make me happy. And eventually it stopped making me happy but I still could not let go. I’m not a person that just gives up.

With the deeper work I was doing on the food-front, I started to realize a somewhat dysfunctional relationship with running, though. Just like in the old days I would classify a day as good or bad based on whether I stayed within my calorie range, I started classifying days/weeks as good or bad based on how far/how fast I completed my planned runs. The entire week I’d fear the upcoming long run (would it be great or miserable?) and right after finishing (regardless of how I did) I started fearing the one coming up next week (Will I finish? Will I drive myself insane?). I was constantly on an emotional roller coaster and I didn’t like it.

Eventually I realized that it was not about the actual race (surprise surprise). I was clearly not happy but went back and forth about “just sucking it up for a few more weeks” or “stopping while I was ahead.” It was about my inability to give up on my goal. Which is noble unless than goal was no longer important to me (the idea of finishing gave me no joy, just anxiety because of all the work left to make it happen).

I had a defining run with my sister during which I decided that enough was enough and I promised her to really accept my decision and stick to it (she made me do it… she’s wise like that ;) ). There was no reason in going back and forth about something, making a choice that felt right only to go through the same motions again. It’s most likely you’ll make the same choice again but you’ll be miserable (re)figuring it out (again and again).

This felt so right. I realized that I was not giving up at all. This was a learning experience for me. I kept forcing racing on myself. I liked the idea of it. I liked how it measured me against my previous self and others. Except it wasn’t for me. And now I really knew it. I no longer care to know how fast I could finish a half marathon “if I trained hard enough” because for the first time in my life I realize that it’s someone else’s dream/goal, not my own.

It feels good to listen to my body+mind. Highly recommended! :)

Have you ever stopped training for a race you signed up for because it no longer felt right?

Running – love it or hate it?

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21 comments to What does diet free living have to do with running?

  • I think running and dieting have a LOT to do with each other.

    I found myself obsessing with miles and pace just as I obsessed about calories and weight.

    When I declared running MY exercise, I took it to the extremes (like dieting)

    And when I decided to let it go (like dieting) I’m finding that running is something that can be enjoyable for me on my own terms.

    Just have fun with it! That’s what it’s all about :D

  • Lee

    There was a half-marathon a few years back that I signed up for and midway through training, decided that I didn’t feel like doing it, so I didn’t.

  • I feel like anything extreme in our life defines a part of our inner mind. I was the same way with running as you, it had to do with calorie deficits and how I measured. After getting pregnant and running throughout my pregnancy I realized running is FUN and should be done as a workout because it’s a work out I love and not because I have to work off calories from bad eating. It made me learn to love many kinds of working out and now I do more variety.

    Congrats on finding yourself and your strengths through this journey. You are inspiring as always.

  • I’m not a runner, so I’ve never been to a race, although I do run occasionally. I prefer other types of activity, such as inline skating, working out or just going out for a relaxing walk. I see a lot of bloggers stress about their runs and to me that just doesn’t seem like a hobby anymore … I like my workout/activity to be something that relieves stress, not cause it!

  • Again, I love your honesty in this blog post. I am a new runner and love running but haven’t been in a few weeks due to allergies and my new job. Hopefully I’ll get back into the swing of things!

  • I love this! I haven’t run any big races but have sometimes felt a little inadequate reading about all the bloggers that run halfs and full marathons like it is nothing. It has sometimes been hard not to feel pressure to do more. It is amazing what you are learning about yourself from this journey!

  • I love running but I go through periods where I just am not in a good place mentally to continue to run regularly. I deferred a marathon because of this. I feel great about listening to what I really wanted and needed and deciding not to do it. I don’t regret it at all. Now that I’m in a better place with running, I love it again and am thinking about signing up for another marathon. There’s an eb and flow with my relationship with running. I’m so glad you recognized that you needed to take a break and not race. I’m sure you’re a happier and healthier person because of it.

  • Last year I was signed up to a 10k that was about 6 weeks after my first half marathon. For four weeks before the 10k, I travelled in Europe, and apart from a 5k run in Hamburg, didn’t run at all. I was frankly fed up. I just plain wasn’t interested in running a 10k, and I didn’t want to think about it either. I chatted to a pysch major girlfriend of mine who reckoned it was because I’d already done the half, so in a way I was sort of “done” with my running goals. I think she was right.

    I still did the 10k when we got back, and it HURT – but I finished (in like 1:08 or something…still not horrible!)

  • I have a love/hate relationship with running. I can’t explain it.

  • Kim

    I stopped training for a marathon that I was supposed to run on 5/1 because I had been injured, I was recovering, but realized that risking further injury was not worth it. I love running and being injured means I can’t run. I have BTDT last year and I don’t want to go there again. So, I decided to throw the towel in on the full marathon (after my 20 mile training run) and focus on the half instead. I knew I could run the half with no issue. I felt such peace once I had made the decision. Running had become more of a chore than a pleasure.

    I am so glad that I made the decision that I did. I ran the half and had FUN doing it! No stress!

    Good for you!!

  • I know that running emotional rollercoaster, but after a while, I kind of got tired of setting the tone of my days by the length or quality of my runs. If I got tired/hurt, I’d walk. And then I’d just feel good that I went out there and tried. That took a lot of stress off of things. In training it’s your overall work that matters, not a couple of poor runs. I’d say as long as you don’t go out too much and injure yourself, it’s all good!

  • Last year I was signed up for the hartford 1/2 marathon and was really hating my training (and as a result not really doing it). I dropped down to the 5k and am totally OK with my decision. Sometimes you need to know when to push it, and when to let go.

  • The Napa Marathon was a similar experience. I just didn’t want to do it. Sure, after I decided not to run, I got the worst flu ever, and I can blame it on that, but I knew long before the flu came that I would hate the entire thing.
    Running and other activities outside of work and paying bills are supposed to be FUN. If they aren’t fun, then we can find something else that is!

  • love it. the whole acceptance and realizing that it might have been made a goal for the wrong reason. i try to be careful in choosing goals, but i’m not perfect!

  • I don’t enjoy running so I don’t do it. Why do something that causes you stress, anxiety or makes you doubt yourself?

  • It sounds like you really know you made the right choice which is awesome! There is no point in making yourself unhappy for something you think you need to do. Esp something like a half marathon…it’s hard enough as is, if your head isn’t in it then it’s just even more difficult and frusterating. Sounds like you had a lovely morning with Adam instead :) Running my first half with Brian was definitely a big boost for me, I probably would of been more frusterated alone…esp since it was so hot/humid! Missed you though!! Although in that crowd I probably wouldn’t of found you anyways haha!

  • I love running.

    But I was burnt out on my marathon training. At the time, it was so daunting to try and finish 26 miles. Even during the race, I wanted to give up a few times. But I like pushing myself to see what I’m capable of. But I make sure not to get burnt out again. :-)

    I ran the R2R and it was tough. The humidity was awful. I’m sure you had a wonderful day with Adam.

  • Elina, good stuff here. Sounds like you’re ‘food work’ has healed you enough to recognize another unhealthy coping mechanism in running. Freedom is great and key to being “Healthy and Sane.” Keep at it!

  • Holly

    Yep. Running a marathon is on my “bucket list.” I did two 5k’s last year – one of them being a few days before my Son’s 1st birthday which made me feel really good.

    After my 2nd 5k, I realized that I just don’t like running, I don’t like training for a race and that I would most likely – never run a marathon. Ironically, one of my best friends is running a half marathon today. Anyway, I love crossfit and right now I’m pretty addicted to spinning. I’ve decided to just move my body in ways that are somewhat fun or doable rather than torturous.

    Considering that still heavy right now (5’8″ and size 12), my knees thank me daily.

    The intuitive eating has been REALLY hard recently. Not sure why but I’m self sabotaging and not eating thoughtfully.

    My trainer says it’s 80% food and 20% exercise and I pretty much believe that to be true. I have got to get back into my IE. Going to work on a couple worksheets tonight (I’m in cognitive behavioral therapy right now with a therapist that deals in ED’s) and finally finish the IE book.

    Hoping this helps get me re-focused. Ebb and flow right?

  • We’ve talked about this before so you know my opinion on running. I definitely have a love hate relationship with it. I love it, I can’t live without it. But it tortures me, especially distance running. Thats why I allow myself to get out of distance shape between marathon or half marathon training. Case in point… I haven’t run over 4.5 miles since the boston marathon and thats okay with me! Its what my body needs. Listen to your body and your mind and I’m sure you will get re-energized to run regardless of pace or distance : )

  • inna

    “I liked how it measured me against my previous self and others. Except it wasn’t for me. And now I really knew it.” => insert goosebumps here.
    it’s so hard to recognize when a goal you made for yourself no longer serves you. i’m so happy you were able to sort it out before wasting any more of your time + happiness on accomplishing a dead weight “mission”.

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