Sunday, May 19, 2013

food is fuel. food is fuel. food is fuel.

i wrote a week or so ago about my struggle with finding a nutrient solution/supplement for fueling my runs. the ingredients and nutrient components of a proper pre-run drink have been difficult (the right carb to protein ratio, no gluten, no soy, etc)... but there's another aspect that has been adding to this struggle that i failed to mention. that aspect is a mental roadblock.

as someone with a body image disorder and with disordered eating, my food world revolves around "what can i or can i not eat so that i don't gain weight or so that i can lose weight." and 90% of the time, i'm thinking about the second half of that - what can i put into my body, or not put into my body, so i can lose weight. i've conditioned my brain very well to think "input needs to be less than output."

but wanting to lose weight and wanting to be a high performing endurance athlete are two very conflicting goals. for weight loss, you need a calorie deficit. for endurance sports, especially those at a high intensity, you may actually need to consume more calories than you think you would to fuel your body and maintain your weight.

for as long as i can remember, i've always thought about my workouts as a way to lose weight. even when my goal wasn't to actually lose weight, i always thought about the calories i was going to burn and my super secret goal was to make sure i didn't "cancel" those calories out by consuming the same amount of food as i had burned.

super secret goals like this are not always smart, and as i've been finding out over the past few weeks, super secret goals are counterproductive to the other goals i wanted to accomplish, like being super fast so i can break my 5k pr.

the truth is, your body, my body - all bodies - need energy. we need a base line of energy just to do our normal body functions and we need more energy to be physically active. we get energy in the form of food. and when our bodies don't have enough energy to do what it needs to do, or what we're asking it do to, it cannot perform.

and that's what has been happening to me. i have not been consuming enough calories or carbs to fuel my body for running. in the back of my mind, i think i knew that, but was too stubborn to admit it. 

i've literally been running on empty for too long!

for my last two runs, i changed my mentality and my pre-run fueling regime. i had nearly double the calories i had been consuming previously before runs, and i staggered them; 4:1 protein/carb ratio 45 minutes before the run, and a strong carb fuel 15 minutes before the run. the result? i haven't been gassed like i have on every run for the past few weeks. in fact, i've felt strong. i've felt like i can push myself. and i'm starting to feel confident as a runner again.

with my 5k race this upcoming saturday, i needed to feel confident more than anything.

i know this is a super long post, but its an important part of me figuring out how to be a healthy athlete. i need to think about myself more like a car  - if i don't have enough gas in my tank, i won't be able to make it down the road (let alone finish a 5k)!

so, repeat after me: food is fuel. food is fuel. food is fuel!

smiling and feeling confident after a 5 miler
this weekend. yay for proper nutrient timing!


  1. Paulette FerenceMay 19, 2013 at 9:57 PM

    Glad to hear it! Food is fuel, so true. Such a cute photo of you.

  2. Thanks lady. Funny how the simplest of lessons can be the hardest to learn :)

  3. I know this won't magically change your self-image but I have to say you could gain 20 pounds and still look great.

    Food is fuel was tough post-baby too. Everyone wants to look like their former self but breastfeeding requires a lot of eating protein and fat to help the munchkin thrive. We could all repeat that mantra more.

  4. I think a lot of people have that thought process. I'm glad you were willing to try something different and noticed the positive effect!!!

  5. Agreed. It gets pounded into our heads everywhere it looks, doesn't it???

  6. You're so sweet :) Thank you.

    I've never thought about food and post baby (probably because I don't have a baby)! There's so much pressure for moms to lose weight, internally and externally. I can only imagine how hard it would be to find that balance!


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