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Running- Is it really worth it???

Friday, July 02, 2010

(The following is a result of some deep contemplation I've had lately about my about my running...This is purely just my standpoint, and I am not trying to advise anyone in any way.)

I'm a runner, and, well, proud of it. People who know me are always amazed at how I do what I do, especially being a mother-of-4 (I get asked constantly how I find time..., the answer to that is that I MAKE time). My husband lovingly tells me I'm a "machine", because of my ridiculous dedication! But lately, I have really been struggling to find the motivation. I decided a couple of months ago that i was going to try for a full marathon. For the first few weeks of my training program, my spirits were high, it was exciting, I was motivated. But then a couple of weeks ago, I hit a wall, particularly when it came to my long runs! Where has my enjoyment gone? Why has it suddenly turned to a drudgery??? To top this off, my eating has been out-of-control, only making me feel like I HAVE to run harder to burn off the calories, and then I'm even more hungry. It's a vicious cycle. Not only have I been struggling controlling my calorie intake, for MONTH'S now, but my weight is creeping up ever-so-slowly... Maybe my problems with my appetite are just that I have gotten into the bad habit of making too many allowances. Maybe its a psychological thing that I think I deserve it, or that I think I am burning it off. It seems like the more I give in and eat, the more my body wants me to eat.... It's almost like I have become too reliant on exercise, and taken needed emphasis off the diet part. It's all very frustrating.

This whole situation really got me thinking. First of all, I am not new to the weightloss/maintenance game. Weightloss for me has only ever come from carefully watching my diet AND exercising simultaneously - never only diet or exercise, but both. And I distinctly remember losing weight in the past with a whole lot less running - though I did have to be more restrictive diet-wise. If running is causing me to have a bigger, less controllable appetite, why push myself so hard? Wouldn't it be better if I ran at a reasonable rate, and was able to have a better handle on my appetite? I know I'm not the only long-distance running to face issues with appetite control. In fact, recently I read a fellow long-distance-runner's page where she said she was working on losing the weight she GAINED during marathon training! Yikes! I'm basically in the same boat. What is really my purpose? If I can have the same results running less, why do it? Not to mention, what WOULD I DO if I were not ABLE to run????

Here are some other personal cons I've pin-pointed:
** TIME consumption- now, I'm an early morning runner, partly because I love the way I feel starting my day with a run, but even more largely due to not wanting to delve into family time to go running. Trying to get myself out the door to the running trail after the hubby comes home from work, or even in the afternoon on weekends, is like pulling teeth. Running in the morning before he leaves makes me feel like I'm not taking time away from him or the kids. Saturday is always long-run day, bright and early. But a couple of Saturdays recently, I have been unable to go on Saturday morning, making Sunday afternoon the only other available time. To be completely honest, going out for a 2.5 hour run on a Sunday afternoon was agonizing! And then, I started thinking about the training for the full marathon, running 3 or 3.5 hours on a Saturday morning as a long run??? That's nearly an entire morning!!! To get back by 8 am, I'd have to LEAVE at 4:30!! UUUGHH!
** ENERGY - I need energy to manage a house with 4 kids, plain and simple. While running does increase my energy and stamina for sure, running to such lengths leaves me feeling quite tired, and more napping is often necessary. Meaning, the left over time I have is often not quite as productive, because I feel kind of wiped, mainly following really long runs (those, to me, being longer than 13 miles). (Just a side-note here, eating more carbs did NOT help me here.)
** INJURY or PAIN - I've been having some pain in my left leg for about a year now, sadly. It wasn't so bad, which is why I never really stopped to take care of myself like I probably should have. I thought it was no big deal, that it would go away... But it hasn't. Now it's an issue (the ligament on the inner-back side of left knee?) where I think it's damaged permanently.

So, with these adverse side-effects in mind, I reluctantly decided NOT to run the full marathon I was planning for in August. I'm a bit sad, and feel a bit defeated in backing out, but for now, I feel it's the right decision. For now, I will stick to the half-marathon and 10 K distances. I feel that the training for the shorter runs is more reasonable for me and my family, and for me physically. I can always go for one in the future when I feel ready to take that on! I'm sure I'll want to tackle one of those just simply for the achievement's sake, but in strongly feel now's not the time.

As far as my diet and calorie-control issues go, I have taken a break from running, and now have started back much lighter this week - shorter, much easier runs. And have instead turned to intensely watching and controlling my eating. What it all came down to for me, was that, if I can have good results with less intense exercise, less taxation on my body, and still have great energy, why push myself so hard? I needed to take a big step back, and re-learn some appetite control.

So, running - is it worth it?

My 9-year-old son had a year-end party a couple of weeks ago, so, thinking it'd be some great alone time with him, I arranged it so I could go without the other kids. I wanted to really spend time with him, so I ran off and played with him and his friends, quite literally running all over this park in the woods! His friends thought I was so cool! And as I out-ran all of them over and over again, and didn't even barely feel winded, I thought, "I'm so glad I do all that running!!!" Here I am, 30 years old (well, actually turning 30 next week, July 9th), and I can run around like a kid, and still have energy for more???? The greatest benefit, to me, is being able to connect with my son in that way! Priceless, I tell you, priceless. Not to mention that running has always been my first choice in exercise to lose weight and stay fit, and without a doubt, has always served me well!! All-in-all, I absolutely feel it's worth it, but maybe not in such large doses! Everything in life needs its balance.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

CHUBBYSISTER1 7/23/2010 7:55AM

    What a great blog! It home with me on so many levels! I love running so much as well but have my days where I want to throw in the the towel. I really want to do a full marathon as well but for the same reasons as you will postpone it until my kids are a little older. I haven't lost any weight since I started training harder and am struggling to even maintain. But as you said, it is worth and I guess I need to find a little more balance. Thanks so much for sharing your insight and are incredibly wise.

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WATERMELLEN 7/3/2010 7:58PM

    You really struck a chord with me. In my early 40s I was running 10 km pretty much every day -- landing on my heels, relying on the shoe technology, long stride, weighed about 20 pounds more than I do now -- and I blew out my hips and knees. So I had to stop running.

I've resumed running now, using the podrunner intervals programme, alternate days at most -- working on the gateway to 8km -- POSE technique (short stride, midfoot landing, rapid cadence etc.) -- and keeping the hip and knee joints strong with weights machines in the gym. A few little twinges in the right knee but so far so good: and I'm being careful. And running is such a pleasure for me again; a kind of euphoria that I don't get with any other form of exercise.

I've blogged about this quite a bit -- and know for sure, I can never exercise enough to eat whatever I want. Weight maintenance is at least 70% careful and vigilant nutrition tracking for me.

We get a lot of attention when we lose weight AND we get a lot of praise when we identify ourselves as "runners". But really it's about being healthy and fit and being able to keep up with our kids . . .

You've made the right decision for yourself and your family right now . . . .

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WHOLY_FIT_48 7/3/2010 4:59PM

    I think you have made a wise decision based on where you are in your life right now and what your needs are. I know I wouldn't want to run if I no longer found it fun or if it had moved into the I "must" do this category. You are young enough to delay doing a marathon. The marathon races will still be around when you are ready. I recently read somewhere that the 1/2 marathon is the fastest growing race, especially among women. There is a reason for that and you mentioned's a long enough distance to make it a challenge but short enough to not be all consuming in the training. It's very doable for most people whereas a marathon is definitely not. I know that I'm not mentally ready yet for the commitment to a rigorous training program I will have to do to complete a marathon and until I am ready, I'm not going to push myself to start training in that vein - half marathons or less for me right now.


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ROOT4HOME 7/2/2010 8:06PM

    Sounds like you know what you need...lower mileage and more balance!! All the best!!

Oh, and have a great 4th of July weekend!! emoticon

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WAKE UP call - time to revamp!!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

OMG! I just weighed myself yesterday, and weighed in at 130!!! To some, that may not be a lot, but to me, it is very disappointing. Last year, I worked my butt off (literally) to lose more than 50 lbs, going from 175 to 122. My goal has been to stay under 125, which was going well until right around/after Christmas due to all the endulging.... =) Hey, I wanted to enjoy myself, and I had spent MONTHS being so overly hard on myself, I deserved to endulge a little, right? So, the endulging, I don't think is that bad once in a while, and around certain holidays and such, but it has allowed some bad habits to creep in, and my weight has been slowly, very slowly working its way up. TIME TO TACKLE THE PROBLEM!!!

Ok, so for starters, one bad habit that has been creeping in is the lack of calorie counting. A few busy days in a row where I lack time to count and enter my calories, and my whole train is off the tracks. Once I stop counting for several days, its SOOOO hard to start again. BUT TODAY, I AM GETTING BACK ON THE BAND WAGON!! I have already gotten in gear and started tracking today.

Secondly- and this may even be more detrimental than the counting- THE SNACKING!! I used to be so good about not snacking, but in recent months, I nibble on EVERYTHING! It has become more and more of a problem! I nibble when I cook, I nibble when I prepare the plates for the little ones (yes, nibbling on their food too!), I nibble on anything I see in the cabinets between meals, I nibble on my husband's snacks when he gets something out!! All those mindless calories.... NOT GOOD! So, time to cut that out.

A third problem I see is drinking water. I haven't been tracking it and I know there are days when its no question I haven't drank enough water.

In addition to these things, part of my game plan is to load up on more veggies and fruits. Yeah, I know we have all heard this a hundred times! I already eat pretty healthy at meal times - lots of good protein, veggies, whole grains, fruit. But I want to put even more focus especially on the vegetables and fruit. Fruit would be a much healthier snack (lower in calories and more filling) than, say, grabbing a piece of bread, or delving into a bag of chips my husband has left laying around. My hungriest time is usually mornings - I run or bike early in the a.m. and usually feel very unsatiated between breakfast and lunch. I then end up snacking and snacking and snacking, and then by lunch, I have already eaten most my daily recommended calories! (This leads to being down on myself, and giving up, and not caring for the rest of the day!) If I can fill up on lower-calorie stuff, and keep my calories low between my breakfast and lunch totals, then usually I am good for the rest of the day.

So, let's see how this goes. My goal is to go from 130 to 122 by the middle of June or so (so about 6 weeks from now). It's going to take discipline... Honestly, I find it harder to find the motivation to discipline myself at this point. It seemed so easy last year when I had the ball rolling- I was able to say no and stick to my guns so much better. But now that I have been 'maintaining' (or not!) for a while, cleaning out the bad habits is harder. I make so many exceptions, and end up not losing anything at all. I have got to get in the driver's seat once again, and stop letting my impulsive eating take control.


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

WHOLY_FIT_48 4/27/2010 5:47AM

    emoticon I have always thought "maintenance" was much harder than when I was working to reach the "goal". I am exactly in the same place you are ... although I eat well most of the time and my fitness routine is good, I'm still gaining weight. I know the extra weight has hurt my running times. Reading your thoughts about it and action steps reemphasizes to me that I need to do the same - to hold me accountable, I'm going to be in a challenge on one of my teams to track my food. Thanks for sharing. I know you will reach your goal. emoticon

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Ten years of running.... more or less.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

I find it funny that running is my cardio exercise of choice. I HATED running when I was in school. I remember when I was 11 or 12, when we started having to run for P.E. A couple of days in the week, we just ran 1/2 or 1/4 mile - no problems there. But once a week, we were FORCED to run ONE WHOLE MILE! It seemed so incredibly long to me. I absolutely hated the mile-running day in the week. In fact, I walked it EVERY WEEK just out of protest. Well, with the exception of ONE time. That day, I don't know why, but I decided I was going to run the whole way, and I did. I still remember my time to this day - 8:15. And I still remember that one of my class mates was really impressed that I ran the whole way, and she turned and congratulated me when the P.E. teacher announced my time, which was the custom in our P.E. class.

But that was not enough to get me interested in the sport. I ran when we had to for sports or P.E., but I didn't enjoy it. It wasn't until I was 19 or so that I started being interested in it. I had some friends whose parents were marathon runners, and they were always talking about fitness stuff and running... My interest was a little peaked, because I wanted to lose a few pounds, and thought it might help to run. But it wasn't until some of my other college friends had started a running group of about 4 or 5 girls that I decided to jump in.

The others had already been running together, and their routine was to run a mile, walk a quarter, and run a second mile. No biggy, right? So the first night, I ran 3/4, and had to stop, then I picked up with the next round after walking a bit and ran another 1/2 mile. I ran the next 2 days with them, and was so sore, I could barely walk up the stairs, but I was determined to get it. And it helped motivate me to have other peers doing it too.

I soon became independent, and started lengthening my runs, even going running by myself when the others weren't able to go. 3 miles became my average every-day run, but sometimes I went longer. But I never saw any change in my weight. A little discouraging, yes, but by that point running had started to FEEL GOOD, and I looked forward to the exercise, even though it wasn't getting me to a lower weight. At that point, I knew nothing really about counting calories, and cutting back on what you are eating in order to lose the weight, and it wasn't like I was overweight anyway.

Now it has been almost exactly 10 years since I started running. I mean, I will be honest, there were periods of time of many months that I did not run at all, mostly due to pregnancies, but I started my journey as a runner almost exactly 10 years ago. So, I thought about it. What is it that has really kept me motivated to run? Well, yes, I started out with the intent to manage my weight. And yes, it does feels good, sometimes not so much during, but DEFINITELY after.

But I think even above these 2 reasons, I believe what motivates me to keep running is simply that I like being "a runner." There is something rewarding in just being able to think of myself as "one of them." As simple and silly as that may sound, it feels good to me. During those periods of inactivity when I didn't run, EVERY time I saw a runner, something inside me would stir, and I had a desire to be out there doing that too. I wanted to be one of those runners. Now when I see others out running, I wanna honk at them and cheer them on if I am driving, or I wanna join in and run along with them! It makes me feel good that I am one too.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ROOT4HOME 4/12/2010 2:55PM

    I can TOTALLY relate to your blog! I started running 13yrs ago and have run off and on through the years - usually gearing up each time to loose wt and run a 5k race. Having a goal like that helped but it was never enough. I had to WANT it and I do now that I'm nearing 40!! I'm going to run a 5k on the 24th and my 1st HM on Aug 1st!! Getting excited...great to see you did so AWESOME on your HM a few days ago!! emoticon
I'm adding you as friend, if thats ok, to check in w/you on future runs! Have a great day in Germany!!

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HOLLMCDONALD 4/5/2010 1:07PM

    I love to run too! I love being a runner! I can't wait until I feel confident enough for a half marathon!

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CAROLYN1213 4/5/2010 11:54AM

    I am very impressed that you have continued to incorporate running in your fitness program. I'm just getting going on it. I've been training since October for a half marathon. I will run my first half in 32 days! Yikes! I know I am ready.

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SARAHHEMBREE 3/10/2010 9:27AM

  My brother has always been a runner, and I have always hated it. However, I finally got serious about it and now that I've been slightly successful - it's starting to feel good to crank out a couple of miles.

Thanks for your blog - it makes me want to put my shoes on!

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GARDNERGIRL29 3/10/2010 8:55AM

    I feel the same way about running...great blog!

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Feeling more confident.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

I had some bad days this last week... Days when I ate considerably more than I should have!!! But I think I exercised enough to counteract my overeating. I think I burned 1,500 more calories this week than I had estimated! Trust me, I needed that, because there were a couple of days where I ate 2,200+ calories.... bad me!

And the last few days have been WAAAAAY easier with my eating. I have stayed away from the really high-calorie pitfall foods that I struggle with. I have actually kept my calories down very easily, even feeling full and satisfied, and gotten to enjoy some wine with my husband!! It feels great to come to the end of the day, and reward myself with a small piece of chocolate and/or a glass of wine, and know that I am still within my calories for the day!

I think this maintenance thing is going to get easier and easier, and I am determined to make it through this holiday season (the stores here in Germany are already packed out with the Christmas chocolates and goodies!), allowing myself some treats (within reason, of course), and still being able to maintain my weight.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

JORDANADDO 10/25/2009 6:04AM

    it's great that you've found a balance that is working for you.

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Maintenance is frustrating....

Friday, October 23, 2009

So, this has been my first week really on maintenance. And I have to admit, I am not doing really well. My confession - I have been binging on high-calorie foods (not necessarily unhealthy, but ones that should definitely be limited) AND sweets that are weaknesses for me... Oh, the chocolate splurges.... Really digging myself a bad hole here.

The thing I have really noticed, is that those foods that I think I want so badly, the ones I am 'craving', leave me totally unsatisfied. I am far better off eating a good, healthy, balanced meal, yet I keep letting my guard down and giving into the other things.... I have got to get a handle on this cycle BEFORE it becomes a habit!!

I also feel that all this calorie-counting (aka - calorie obsession! haha!) is just making me think about food too much, and is driving me to eat more??? Not sure. It seems like I had an easier time watching what I ate before I started counting calories a few months ago, because I just employed good, old-fashioned self control. Don't get me wrong - I think calorie counting is a MUST to really achieve the weightloss you want, but I will be glad when I feel it is 'safe' to not rely on counting so much as just watching my portions and trusting my satisfaction level to know when I have had enough.

Another driving factor may also be that I have just been so good for soooooooo long - diligently watching everything I ate, eating good, balanced meals at each meal, staying away from the sweets and the chocolate, watching and counting my calories, following my healthy diet guidelines - that now that I am at my goal, I have a strong desire to just let loose and not care... (VERY dangerous, I think, at this point!!)

So, what to do?? How do you stay on track when your brain is screaming, 'EAT THE CHOCOLATE! EAT THE CHOCOLATE!!!'? Ummmm, don't know.

Maybe try to...
Stop thinking about food so much....
Take time to think twice before endulging impulsively in that food that I know I really don't want!!
Take a deep breath.
Busy myself with other things OUTSIDE the kitchen.
RESIST the urge to bake those sweets/goodies!

On the flip side, my exercise has been awesome this week. I have already burned more than 3,500 calories this week with my exercise, so I am doing well. I just need to start getting back to eating 'right', not just obsessing about the calories. You know, making healthier choices. I need to stay focused on the fact that the most SATISFYING meals are those balanced, healthy meals I usually eat - good protein, healthy fats, veggies, whole-grain carbs.... That is what really satisfies!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

DEBINNY 10/24/2009 2:12PM

    Hi, I'm glad you wrote this post. I relate.

I lost 50 lbs from June of 2008 to June of 2009 and reached my goal at the time (125) through counting calories with a different website. Since then, even though I kept up the exercise, I gained back 15 lbs. basically because I started eating too many desserts (I really emoticon chocolate) and I regained a few of my old bad habits.

So here I am trying counting again with a goal of 115 since I'm really short and I have a bulgy tummy that needs to go. I know counting works because it worked before. Even so, I really resisted counting again. Like you, I did it for a very long time and got tired of it. I also wondered if it was contributing to my food obsession.

I don't want to count for the rest of my life. But now I feel like I have to again or I won't lose this weight I've regained. I couldn't bear to keep going on the other website I was using, so I thought I'd try Spark People. In the short time I've been here, I like it much better.

Anyway, your ideas sound good. It's true, healthy food is much more satisfying.

I think this time, I'm going to concentrate on learning to always be moderate, even on so-called "cheat" days. It's too easy to slide into making a string of days cheat days once you quit counting. I realize this is going to be a life-long issue for me. I'd like to get to the point where I don't even have to think about it and just do the right thing all the time, but obviously, I'm not there yet.

Losing weight is hard, but at least people on sites like this are supportive and that makes it more fun. Maintaining is hard too and often means less support and encouragement and people are often jealous. I'm hoping once I reach my goal I'll be able to connect with other maintainers like you.

Congratulations on your success!!!


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