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?

Sometimes you have all the tricks…

Sometimes you have all the tricks down, but your mind just says NO.

12 miles? Not so much. I need a running buddy so bad!!!

Sane running

This weekend was full of proud moments. Saturday I conquered my fear of bathing suit shopping and Sunday I had something a little more physical to take care of… a 10.5 mile run… alone. I’ve never done than before and I’m going to be honest – I was very very nervous! Confused smile 

And since we’re on the topic of running, I guess it’s time to tell you something… I signed up for the Run to Remember half marathon back in January! I didn’t want to mention it on the blog before because I promised myself that I would not go through with the race if the training was going to make me miserable. You may recall I swore I’d never do it again after last year’s Run to Remember half but after a pretty long break from running, I had an itch to run again and once again it was making me happy! Training for an event provides me with additional structure and easily quantifiable accomplishments. What can I say, I like numbers. Nerd smile

But here is the deal – long runs are not only physically but (even more so) mentally challenging (if you’re properly trained, your legs for the most part know what to do if your head won’t get in the way)… and let’s just say during the 9 miler the previous weekend my head got the best of me. Devil

During the evil 9 miler, I felt exactly how I did during last year’s race – my legs felt like lead, my brain was whining non-stop. I started making deals with myself; I quit (and restarted) about a million times and then I finally finished strong. This could have been the sign that maybe this long distance running is not for me after all, but I remembered that everyone has a bad run and I deserved to give myself another change this weekend.

On Sunday morning when I woke up, the sun was shining (it was actually nearly 70*!!), the flowers were blooming and I was ready to get to it. Here is what I did differently in order to prevent another miserable run. Sane running was my moto! Open-mouthed smile

  • I changed the route! I’ve been running for weeks by the Charles River, which is beautiful and flat… and I’m sorry – boring if you’re there every weekend. This time I planned a fun run to a different river (in Jamaica Plain) and then randomly found a cool new park – it made a big difference to see new scenery!
  • I drank alternating sips of water and coconut water after the end of each song on my ipod. It helped me break down the run into one-song intervals Smile
  • I really focused on the music. I literally listened to the words instead of obsessing over how long I’ve gone (or have left!)… I even sang in my head Open-mouthed smile
  • I really paid attention to everyone around me. There were people with dogs, runners, parents with little kids playing around. It was an incredibly beautiful day and I was out for 2 hours to enjoy it… one song at a time! Winking smile

  • Lastly, I allowed myself to take occasional short walking breaks. I only did it a few times and only for maybe 30 seconds to a minute, but not putting time restrictions on myself (or judge myself for wanting to take a little break), allowed me to really enjoy the run more and finish with a smile [in 1:50]

Another totally random thing happened – I ran into my parents at about a half-way point. We were both shocked to see each other (it was at a park somewhere in between our cities). Seeing a familiar face was pretty cool… and my dad’s expression when I told him I ran there (not driven!) was hilarious (and kind of proud). It gave me a little boost for at least a mile after that. Maybe you can randomly run into someone you know too?

I’m so happy I didn’t give up on my training from just one lousy run. Now I’m ready to tackle 12 miles next weekend. I’ll take my own advise above! Open-mouthed smile

What kind of tricks do you use during prolonged exercise? I’m also planning to update my ipod with new music… something new to sing and dance to in my head to. Smile with tongue out [If you have good songs to run to, I’m all ears on that too!]

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