Eating to Run + Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

Just a reminder to please get your daily vote in for the Runner’s World Cover Contest!

I haven’t been writing here as often as I would like for a couple of reasons – less “connected” time, more time unplugged, vacation. I’ve also been writing some posts on Competitor Running (last couple of months as part of the 26 Strong Team) as well as another site which I hope to be able to share with you this week! I honestly don’t have enough to say to fill two other websites as well as my own on a regular basis…so less posting here for the time being.

I wanted to share a post I wrote for Competitor a couple of weeks ago. We were asked to discuss our viewpoints on nutrition/fueling – what do we eat, how do we approach it, etc. I discussed how I now eat to run rather than running to eat:

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When I first started training for marathons, I assumed I could eat whatever I wanted. I was logging more miles and completing longer runs (I had never run more than 7 miles before) and therefore needed more calories. In my mind, calories equaled calories. And so, despite training for and completing my first marathon, I put on weight and actually felt unhealthier than when I first began.

It wasn’t until a couple of years ago that it clicked for me. For years, I had been running to eat. And these competitive runners were eating to run. It was a big shift in my thinking and the way I viewed food.

To read the full article, click here. 

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Running has had it’s up and downs the last couple of weeks and I feel like I start to make progress only to take a step back every couple of days. I talked about training through our vacation in this post. I had hopes of immediately getting into a rhythm again when we returned, but it’s been a lot tougher than I imagined. Jet lag has completely kicked my butt and I’m really just beginning to get back on a normal sleep pattern again. My husband and I have both stayed up until after midnight almost every night we have been home (unintentionally) and there’s been two nights where I actually did fall asleep early only to wake up and stay awake until close to 5.

Obviously this is not the biggest deal, but it has impacted my running – I have had trouble getting up at 5am for my morning run, I have felt tired and exhausted, I’ve slept in a few mornings and gotten my runs in on the treadmill and I’ve had to skip a few runs, as well as a race, because of lack of sleep.

The end of last week started to look better – I was on track for the highest mileage week in this training cycle so far – but then had to skip my long run yesterday due to neck pain. I must have slept on it wrong the nigh prior – I woke up Sunday unable to stand up straight without shooting pain. I’m hoping to try to get the long run in sometime today – fingers crossed!

Last Week: 6 runs, 51 miles, 1 workout, 1 missed run/workout

– Monday: 6 recovery miles (8:11 pace)

– Tuesday: 9 easy-paced miles (8:05 pace). Coach is starting to increase my daily mileage from 8 to 9 – this was first “easy” day of 9 miles of training cycle. Although there was nothing “easy” about it – 75 degrees, 72 dew point. My clothes were soaking by mile 4.

– Wednesday: 8 easy-paced miles (no garmin)

– Thursday: 11 miles including 3×2 tempo. Unintentional treadmill day because of a bad night’s sleep. Coach changed the pace a bit and had me treat it as a progression tempo. Splits: 7:03, 7:00, 6:55, 6:50, 6:48, 6:44. 

– Friday: 8 recovery miles (no garmin). This was almost a 3.5 mile run. I had been up for a while in the morning (my husband went for a run first) and I didn’t eat anything before leaving. By mile 2, I started to feel “off” and stopped to walk/quit at mile 3.5. I started walking back to my house (I was still about 1.5 miles away) and convinced myself to at least run home. When I got close, I was feeling better, so set out on a 3 mile loop.

– Saturday: 9 easy-paced, sunrise miles. Best run of the week, hands down. I felt great, my legs felt recovered and loose and the weather was cooler than it has been in a while. It was the perfect run to chase the negative thoughts that were still lingering from Friday’s tough run.

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How do you deal with jet lag? Any advice? 

Are you training for a marathon? When is it? 

Do you eat to run or run to eat? 

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I don’t post here every day, but I post all of my workouts (and other happenings) on Instagram on a daily basis {NYCRunningMama}.

For More NYC Running Mama training updates, pictures and ramblings, check out:

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    12 thoughts on “Eating to Run + Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

    1. I started running about a year ago and definitely “run to eat”. Now I’m training for my first marathon and notice that my eating habits make a HUGE difference in how I feel. I’m trying to focus on smaller, healthier meals and concentrating on fueling my runs instead of running to eat. Thanks for the post – great motivation.
      Emily@WhateverFloatsYourOats recently posted..EveryMove!My Profile

    2. Great article :) at this point with my running goals and general life goals what and when I eat has to make me healthier and support my goals for training and maintaining good energy for everything else in my life. So I guess I eat to run and live as well as I can. I have no desire for junk food anymore since I’ve felt the impact of it and don’t like it at all.
      Michele recently posted..5 Things I Want to Change About Myself as a RunnerMy Profile

    3. I loved your post about food! That is so helpful for me. I definitely workout to eat… I need to change my mind on that and focus on eating to workout. I know I feel better when I do that, but I just love my sweets. It is funny, because I never used to be like that until I got married and had a baby. When I lived at home with my parents we rarely had dessert… but my husband has a HUGE sweet tooth, so it was hard for me to sit and watch him eat candy and not have some myself. Before I knew it, the weight started coming on… Then only a few months after our wedding I got pregnant and had the “I’m eating for 2” mentality and there it went! After I started training for my first half last year, the weight came right off… 25 lbs gone, and I felt SO much better. I’ve been maintaining, but I would be happy to lose 5-10 more pounds, but at least I am healthier and more fit. So now, I feel as though I have the exercise under control, I just need to work on the diet aspect (and when I say diet, I don’t mean counting calories, just being more mindful of the food I am eating). I have a friend who is all about JERF (Just Eat Real Food). So I am working on that 😉
      I totally understand the jet lag and just staying up late and not getting good quality sleep. I use Melatonin to help with that. It is all natural, and doesn’t make me feel too groggy the next morning. It is so good to just listen to your body and take rest days when you need it… Good luck!!!

    4. I definitely eat to run, and I am also someone who does not count calories, carbs, fat, etc. As long as I listen to my body and eat whole foods I’m good to go. Some days I’m naturally more hungry, so I incorporate some more food on those days. It makes things feel pretty simple. But you know what they say…everything in moderation, including moderation! I do love my wine and coconut butter :-)
      Sarah recently posted..Sunday Morning Runs and Comfort FoodMy Profile

    5. Jet lag or lack of sleep for any reason is tough! Sometimes I take melatonin tablets to help me go to bed when I normally would or sleep through the night if my body is out of sync or I have too much on my mind or something.

      I saw this article when it first posted, I am always trying to improve my diet and focus on nutrient dense foods….but I also like a little piece of chocolate on a regular basis and I’m likely to have ice cream after a hard week or long run :)
      Beth @ RUNNING around my kitchen recently posted..What I’m doing differently this training cycleMy Profile

    6. Jag lag is so tough!! It crushed me when I traveled to Spain for a race. I had heard that you need one day for every hour time change but I shrugged it off. I definitely shouldn’t have!!! I think you just have to get though it and, you’re doing the right thing by skipping training and racing until your body feels rested again. Good luck!!
      Allie recently posted..BIG NEWS! I’m A Fly GirlMy Profile

    7. You are doing awesome with your training, how you manage it all is truly inspiring (I know I always tell you this). 2 steps forward, one step back isn’t the worst thing….sometimes we need to back off and then be able to bounce forward. Think of a sling shot, gotta pull back before launching forward! I can’t wait to see you kick ass at Wineglass, you are going to probably get the biggest hug EVER when i see you!
      Laura @losingrace recently posted..Week 7….Anti-TrainingMy Profile

    8. Ugh I am sorry! Not fun, but I know the feeling. I have been on the move since June, and I just crave a routine. It is amazing how much of a difference it makes on your running, especially moving time zones!!! I did a tempo on Thursday morning after driving for 6 hours the evening before, and my pace was around 20 seconds per mile slower than it usually is, even for this point in my training. When I saw a 6:17 first mile, and I did not feel good, I tried not to panic, but it was definitely a mental game the rest of the way. And sleep makes a HUGE difference. I found melatonin tablets really help for jet lag though….just make sure you don’t have a lot on your mind, or you will have horrible nightmares….well I did anyway. Good luck, and I hope things settle down for you!
      Tina Muir recently posted..Adapting to Weather Changes: HumidityMy Profile

    9. Eating healthy and paying attention to consuming calories that matter has always been important to me. Even before I started running seriously again and amping up my training for 5ks, 10ks and half marathons, I was focused on eating natural, unprocessed whole foods. As a mother of one child and being a full time elementary teacher, I always feel more rested, energetic, and sustained when I only eat food that has a purpose and meaning. Now, I’m paying more attention to food to keep me fueled and healthy as I train for my very first marathon. I do have weak moments- Sweet Frog frozen yogurt, but those weak moments are very rare now. My body has been accustomed to and craves healthy choices. Michele, I’m excited to follow your newest writing/blog! Hope you can share soon! -Kara
      Kara A. Forrest recently posted..Recharge and Refocus: Why I Still Call Maine “Home”My Profile

    10. Really love the article Michele! I am working towards fixing some of that though right now as well. Calories DO NOT equal calories and it is time to eat to fuel my running rather than just eating whatever I want because I think I can!
      Sara @ LovingOnTheRun recently posted..Be a BelieverMy Profile