Monday, February 20, 2012

Running and eating

Runner's World has an interesting article about running and eating here - Running on Empty. Interesting to me, because it really hit home. At least it did for me, because I can still see some of my eating habits in it. I've always had a...complicated relationship with food, culminating with a period of time between the 10th and 11th grade where I lost nearly 20 lbs. Which, when you're around 5'6"/5'7" and 120lbs, is not healthy. It was, in some ways, a competition with myself. I wasn't training in the summer, and I recently had to stop playing soccer because I had broken my arm. So, since I wasn't doing anything, I felt I shouldn't make the same food choices as I did when I was running, or playing sports. Which was stupid, but then sometimes what we do isn't logical. I ended up gaining back the weight, and eating more or less properly after that, at least for a while. The thing is, I love food, and I like to eat food. But, I've always had a fixation with my weight. I had always been slender, and it was one thing I was kind of proud of, which I guess is kind of weird now, but you hear so much (at least I did) about others complaining about their weight, and I didn't have to do much to maintain a weight between 120 lbs and 125 lbs, so yes, that did make me happy.

After about 10 years of not running, or doing much exercise at all, I had put on quite a bit of weight - when I started up again I was around 165 lbs to 170 lbs. At that point I was rarely weighing myself. I had known I had put on weight, but I expected that - I had heard from friends that at some point in your 20's your metabolism takes a hit. When I started running, I didn't change my diet that much - I wasn't running far, and I wasn't getting hungry at random times during the day. As my distance grew, my eating didn't change much, except for some snacks (usually yogurt) during the day, since I would get hungry randomly in the morning and afternoon. By the time I hit my first half marathon I had dropped about 15 lbs.

Then I heard about the relationship between weight and race times. I knew there was a link - but nothing in cold, hard numbers. Dreams of losing weight and being down to my high school running times (which, if I got down to my high school weight I would be around, or under) came up. In the beginning things were weird - if I got home late from a run I didn't always eat a full meal, because I wouldn't be hungry, and then it would be too close to bedtime. Portions were small, and very few carbs. I stopped snacking and drank tea or water to stave off hunger pains. After a few months it just got exhausting - I was tired of being hungry and it was kind of a lot of work. I am, if nothing else, a closeted lazy person. So, things got better - meals are more balanced, and I brought back the morning snack, and eating after running. My portion sizes are still a bit smaller than they were before. I still don't eat much pasta unless it's Saturday and I have a long run on the Sunday. Despite my love of bacon I don't eat it much anymore. I justify what I can and cannot eat based on how far I'm running any given week. For a while there still weren't any snack foods or desserts, but that ended when I rekindled my love affair with ice cream. I rarely drink.

The thing is, even though I know it's something I don't have to do, at the same time, I know that for me to lose the weight to be at a weight I want to be at I either have to restrict my intake, or train more, and I don't really have the time to do the latter, beyond adding a run on Saturday. But the lure of losing weight is a tempting one, and it's so easy to get really screwed up in your eating. Or at least it's really easy for me. I feel like I'm doing okay now, but I'm acutely aware of the fact that it's a really fine line to cross, and it's really, really easy to do.

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