The beauty of examining the ugly

I was mortified.

Snap from my running form reel

Snap from my running form reel

Earlier this month, I had the awesome privilege of enjoying a 5-day running camp with ZAP Endurance in the beautiful mountains of Blowing Rock, NC. One morning, after a fun speed workout in a humid, misty park, coaches captured short videos of us running to review later and assess our running form in action.

I had assumed we would review those clips with the coaches one on one.

I assumed wrong.

We would be looking at those clips as a group. I had a minor internal panic as I realized all my weaknesses would be pointed out in a public setting.

My stomach tightened as we sat down in the lounge to watch the videos on the big screen. I felt myself trying to melt into the couch cushions. I imagined Coach Pete and Matt shaking their heads as my clip appeared on the screen and saying something like, wow, this woman is a hopelessly terrible runner, or suggesting perhaps I should dump this running thing and take up knitting.

I had all these feelings despite all my accomplishments as a runner, including achieving progressively faster marathon times year after year, qualifying for the Boston Marathon at my last marathon, and zillions of hours of rehab/prehab in the gym, barre studio and pool to build myself into a stronger runner.

When my clip came up, I felt my face get hot. Then the coaches asked really insightful questions, a few light jokes were made (apparently I’m a gifted performer of the Marathon Shuffle!), and areas that need work were pointed out, along with specific exercises I can do to work on my weak medial glutes (damn glutes!). It was extraordinarily helpful.

This session also reminded me is how unbelievably brave my clients are.

Every time I meet with a client, I ask them to lay out all their dirty laundry for us to pore over. There is such tremendous courage shown and benefit gained in laying it all out there, looking at facts without emotion, and learning where we can improve.

Check out all the cool goings-on at ZAP here, and please be in touch if you have questions about this experience, or working with me to build healthful lifestyle and diet habits that stick!

Why so down on diets?

FACT: You can lose weight on any diet that creates a deficit so that you are consuming fewer calories than you burn. So why am I so down on dieting? As many of my clients have heard me say, if it takes a drastic intervention to lose weight—like Whole 30, dramatic low carb dieting, juice fasting and long intermittent fasting periods—it will take an equally drastic intervention to keep the weight off.

Most of us can’t and wouldn’t want to stay on these plans indefinitely because they’re miserable.

They ask us to deny our hunger, push down our needs, and follow a set of rules that are often arbitrary and frequently include beliefs not backed up by science (like carrots make you fat, your insides are dirty and need a power wash, and grains are toxic).

We white-knuckle it for a while, but inevitably we give in to the ravenous hunger we’ve been forcing down and denying. The weight creeps back on, leading to a shame and guilt cycle.

What a waste of time and energy!

I’m going to leave it to one of my favorite authors Geneen Roth who speaks far more eloquently than I on why diets ultimately fail us…

geneenroth.jpg

Dump the cycle and listen to your hunger! And if you need some support, I welcome you to be in touch.

Takeaways for this injured runner at running camp

Back in the spring, I excitedly signed up for a summer running camp for grown-ass women. During the course of marathon training this summer, I developed a femoral stress fracture, and when I emailed the organizers to request a refund, I got a hard NOPE. What should have been an empowering weekend for strong women to come together over running...actually was.

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Getting out of the comfort zone

I eat a rotation of similar meals, I buy the same clothes over and over again, I do specific workouts on specific days, I order the same meal from the same small group of restaurants I frequent, I run the same roads and trails, and while I like to challenge myself and try a new thing here and there, I am very much a fan of staying in the comfort zone. 

When some friends were talking about forming a team of eight to run the Ragnar Trail race outside of Richmond, VA, it didn't even cross my mind to join them. It's a relay race where each runner completes about 15 miles of trail running broken into three segments, coming to a total of 120 miles over 24 loops and 24-ish hours, while camping out to complete the feat. The running trails part sounded great, but the camping part? Not so much. I have never slept outdoors in my 40 years, and I saw no reason to start. Plus the group is a tight clique of friends with their own vocabulary of inside jokes, and I'm somewhat on the outside

So yeah, outside my comfort zone.  

At one point months ago, I offered to be an alternate if anyone dropped, figuring no one would drop. 

And then someone dropped, and to my own surprise, I didn't hesitate to say YES when I was asked to fill in. 

The race was this past weekend. Holy smoke was I outside my comfort zone, and damned if I didn't have a great time. While the group was generally laid back, we had good leadership and we planned well in the weeks leading up. We had a few camping pros in the group who made sure we'd have the right equipment. We made new inside jokes. We ate ALL THE CARBS and endured a damp, cold, mostly sleepless night together. The trails themselves were fun--well-marked and very runnable, but with big muddy patches providing their own source of challenge. We were each other's best cheerleaders in completing each loop, and we celebrated wildly as our final runner came through. 

The comfort zone is a great place to be, but the occasional trek outside the zone--under the right circumstances--is an awesome place, too. (Just to be clear, though, I am NOT lining up my next camping trip!)

Photo: Mud Not Blood

Photo: Mud Not Blood