Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Love Your Body

I'm going to focus on something a little bit more serious today. It's national Fat Talk Free Week and I'm apart of a student-run group on campus called Reflections. We dedicate our time towards spreading awareness about eating disorders and promoting positive body image across campus.

The reason why I'm bringing this up here is because runners and all other athletes are not immune to "fat talk" and eating disorders. If anything, we have a heightened awareness of what we put into our bodies, how our bodies look, and how our bodies perform.

I, personally, am in a really good place with my own body. I didn't start to run to lose weight, like many others. However, one thing that did affect me was that I was in shock at how much I was eating when I started running. I started to run because I wanted to become a better runner and race various distances. Still, I was not aware of "runger" (run-hunger) and it quickly caught up to me. I started to become very wary of how much I was eating. It took me awhile to adjust my diet accordingly, but now I know how to fuel my body adequately so I can perform optimally. When I run more, I eat more. When I don't run as much, I eat less.

On the other hand, it's not that simple for others. Food and exercise for some consumes their thoughts to the point where it negatively affects their every day lives. Aside from the most commonly talked about eating disorders such as Anorexia and Bulimia, there are others not so well-known that are  ignored and disguised as an excuse for living an extremely "healthy" lifestyle. Orthoexia Nervosa is a disorder where healthy eating becomes an obsession and sufferers reject certain foods deemed as "unhealthy." Exercise Bulimia is where individuals feel compelled to exercise everyday to burn off calories consumed. This is very similar to the notion of "exercise guilt" that we often hear people talking about.

What I'm getting at is it doesn't matter what size you are. If you run, then you are a runner. You are a runner no matter how fast or how slow you are. It doesn't matter if you run or if you run-walk. Fuel your body, treat it well. As a runner, nothing is more important than "Loving Your Body." It'll thank you and help you reach your goals.

So I urge you to change the conversation about "fat talk" this week, month, year, even for the rest of your life. Saying "I feel fat in these jeans" or "You look so thin in that dress" are examples of "fat talk" that we should avoid. Shift the topic of conversation away from our bodies to other more important things such as personal accomplishments, upcoming travels, and things that simply excite us in daily life. Eliminating "fat talk" one person at a time makes all the difference.

Love Your Body (LYB),


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Rock and Roll St. Louis Recap

For those of you who don't know how I did on Sunday... I don't know how you've managed to escape my excitement thus far. Here's a recap to get you on board!!

On Saturday morning, I took the metro to the expo in Downtown St. Louis. I was in and out fairly quickly as there wasn't really much going on. Compared to the RnR San Diego expo, this one had significantly fewer booths but was still run smoothly.

My friends and I had a pretty fun, leisurely day. Post expo, we went to get crepes and massages. I had never gotten a massage before a race, and I was pretty nervous as to how it would affect my performance. Luckily for me, it wasn't a painful Thai massage and I felt like the masseuse got the blood flowing in my legs to warm me up for Sunday's race. I had decided not to run on Friday or Saturday and leave my legs fresh and ready to go for the race. Then, we went shopping and I got a new race top from GAP, which could have been an extremely bad idea but I didn't chafe! Win.

After a few hours on my feet, we came home so I could rest up and carboload. In other words, I decided it would be a great idea to make triple fudge banana bread from How Sweet Eats. DELICIOUS.

I think i had about a third of the bread that night/morning. Perfect pre-race fuel? I think so.

I made the perfect playlist on my iPod Shuffle. I like to listen to electronic dance music that will keep me motivated and energized. Around 2 am I finally fell asleep...I slept for about 3 hours... from 2am-5am. Excitement got the best of me! I got up pretty groggily, so I had 2 Starbucks' via packets to get me going and then ate a New York City plain bagel. Delicious. Thankfully I had laid everything out the night before so my morning was extremely easy going; I didn't have to worry about forgetting anything last minute. I wore Asics DS racers, Pro Compression socks, Lululemon running skirt, Nike Pro Compression sports bra, and my new Gap tank.

Around 5:45, my friend Jeff (who ran a 1:35! so speedy) and I took the metro down to the race, which was the best idea ever because it literally took us to the start line. It was also so much fun seeing all the other runners up so early in the morning ;) We got downtown around 6:15, and I headed to the Brooks VIP porta potties which were super nice. I had gone to Mizzouri Running Company the week before to get Nuun and the nice guy working gave me the vip pass for free. The VIP porta potties were located in trailers had running water/lights like a real bathroom. The toilet paper even said Run Happy! No long lines= happy runner. After a quick stop to the gear check, some warm up strides, and stretching we were ready to go.
I was in Corral 1.... Immediately after entering the corral I felt extremely nervous, wondering if I belonged there. I have a tendency to start out too fast, only to burn out in the end. I wanted to run a smart race this time so I headed towards the 1:40 pace group only to see PACER RON! He paced me for about 17 miles of the GO! St. Louis Marathon before I fell apart. I was so excited to see him again and hopefully keep up this time. Redemption at last. I also saw my finance professor (he ran a 1:27!!!!) at the start line. Needless to say, everything was going in my favor. The temperature was perfect; It was a cool start and comfortable throughout the rest of the race.

The race started 10 minutes late which bothered me a bit because I had warmed up in advance and had started to get a bit cold. I also didn't feel so great for the first 5 miles or so (the banana bread was catching up to me!), mentally debating slowing down or trying to keep up. I'm glad I ran with Pacer Ron as he kept talking to me and encouraged me to keep running. Around mile 7, I started to feel better and realized that I could potentially hit sub 1:40, so I kept on going. At mile 8.5 I choked down half a gu, and I definitely felt it kick in. I was on top of the world at mile 10, feeling better and stronger than I did at the start of the race. At mile 11.5, Pacer Ron told me to surge ahead. He had been watching me run and said that I looked strong and told me to find my final kick. I dug deep for the final mile and a half and crossed the finish line with a huge smile. THANK YOU PACER RON!!

I finished with an official time of 1:38:56.

Beyond. Ecstatic. Negative splits. Sub 1:40. What else could I ask for?

Everything, and I mean everything played out perfectly. I say perfectly because I don't want to make excuses for why I could have run faster. Could I have? Maybe, probably. Do I actually want to dwell on it? No. I'm proud of my PR and there will be times in the future when I can crush it.

Also, what?? This was on the official website. Sweet. I was hurting towards the end...

Next goal: 1:35. Let's go.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Training Reflections: Make it Hurt, Make it Count.

I'm alive! Don't worry, I have been keeping up with my running despite being swamped with school and work. How fitting that during the week of midterms I finally decide to sit down and write this post. ;)

I want to reflect on my training for the last two months.

Running, for me, is 99% mental.  I run when I'm happy, stressed, or sad.  I run to free myself of any connections to my daily responsibilities, giving myself 2 hours of blissful "me time." I also run to contemplate issues that weigh heavy on my mind.

The mental part of becoming a better runner, however, is a different game of its own. It requires transforming your attitude about yourself from negative to positive. My attitude going into a run determines how I feel the entire duration. If I go in thinking that I'm too tired, then yes, within two miles I'll feel like I need to stop or slow down. Self-doubt is one of the worst things that hinders our abilities to become better runners. I've found that I'm good at running set distances, but awful at keeping pace.

You don't know what you're capable of until you actually do it. I has this mental debate about a week ago when I realized that I had just skimmed through this training cycle without any real work. Sure, I ran pretty much every day, fitting in about 60-70 miles a week, but none these were quality workouts designed to make me a better runner.

So two weeks out from this race, I tested myself to see how far I could push it.

Workout One: Closed a 10 mile run with a final mile of 6:57<--- I never run sub-seven miles, let alone at the end of a run!

Workout Two: Two sets of 5 milers, with the second set faster than the first. <--faster than my sub 1:40 half marathon goal pace!

Needless to say, I've been selling myself short. How fast am I capable of running? Much faster than I've been giving myself credit for.

What am I going to run this Sunday? I don't really know. A sub 1:40 would be great, but I'm greedy and I know my body can do a lot more than my mind says it can. All I can do is taper, fuel up, and get ready to run.