One more guest post to share with you this week! This time from the fabulous Sarah of The Smart Kitchen (yep, another friend I met at Blend!). I love her story today, so I’m trying hard not to steal her thunder — I’ll let her share why she’s posting here with you. Note: I know there’s apparently some craziness going on with my blog this week, but I only have Internet on my iPad and it’s a bit pricey at sea. So bear with me and I’ll fix it as soon as I can. Why do these things happen when I’m on vacation?! ;)
Hello! My name is Sarah—otherwise known by handful of people in the blogosphere who actually know who I am as Miss Smart—and I write The Smart Kitchen: a blog about my life in food, whether that is my slowly building Nutty Butter business, vegan (with benefits) recipes and food finds, or the trials and tribulations of packing lunch and snack as an elementary school teacher.
Since I have long proclaimed that I am a food blogger, not a fitness one, I’m taking advantage of guest posting at Better With Veggies to blog about my newfound love of running. I figured since Heather balances writing about food and fitness so well, she’d let me flex my newly fitness-minded thoughts over here. :)
I thought my athletic fate had been determined in middle school.
At twelve years old, I desperately wanted to wear the purple and gold of my middle school field hockey team, and, although I could connect with the ball with a fair amount of consistency, my inability to keep up with the cardiovascular challenges of the tryouts resulted in three years of my name NOT appearing on the team list. So, I settled into my destiny as the branded-into-perpetuity ‘smart kid.’ I never successfully ran the mile in gym class, never made that field hockey team, and once I found the elliptical machine in high school, never looked back.
For those prone to psychoanalysis, it is easy to see why I spent the next fifteen or so years scoffing at the thought of ‘being a runner.’ What we mock is often what we secretly desire. The countless times I called running boring and made jokes about my fitness regimen of Bravo reruns, US Weekly, and lazy ellipticalizing were probably just fronts put up to mask the truth:
I wanted to be a runner.
The immediate bond formed between people who can legitimately rock race T-shirts, defend the consumption of protein powders, buy running shorts to actually run in,* and who actually NEED to buy new shoes because they’ve pounded so much pavement and not just because they’ve gotten dirty from spilling coffee on them post-gym? I wanted that. I wanted to to be one of them.
*As opposed to wearing for some sort of ‘just rolled out of bed but at least I have expensive athletic shorts I can put on’ fashion that is—I have witnessed—all the rage among the current middle-and-high-school set.
I don’t know when it happened. Even as recently as May, when I returned from the outlook-altering Blend Retreat in Colorado, I was insisting in my happy-go-lucky way that I was not a fitness blogger and I was definitely not athletic like everyone else.
But suddenly, somehow, in the past three months I’ve been bitten by the running bug. Running is no longer just ‘what my sister does,’ but what I can do, too.
I suddenly started running 3 miles…then 4..and then 6. Despite successfully completing 11.5 last weekend, I’m not training for anything. As one of my Instagram followers said, I’m just “running like Forrest.”
Rather ridiculous redemption from long-suppressed middle school anxieties?
Perhaps. But I’ll take it.
And here’s why:
1. I feel powerful and strong in a way I’ve never felt before.
Considering that I have never been competitive with others, but a constantly striving perfectionist, it should come as no surprise that my mental determination pushes me farther and farther, over any lulls (generally in miles 1 through 3). When I stop running and discover I’ve gone even .1 miles farther than before, I feel on top of the world. I feel athletic for the first time in my life.
2. I’ve stopped weighing myself (or at least putting much stock in it).
I admit. I was a ‘weigh every day’-er. It was just part of the whole gym routine: lift, weigh, cardio. But after I started skipping the gym to run outside, I started skipping the scale. Every now and then I’ll step back on, but if the numbers have jumped (or lessened) I don’t put much weight* in it. After all, if you ran 8 miles the day before, would you REALLY be concerned about 2 pound gain?
3. I relaxed on the weight-lifting…in a good way.
I think I tried to make up for what I felt was a lackluster cardio routine by overexerting myself on weight machines. I’m sure my form was horrible, and I know I was trying to push too much weight. Since I know that running is making my legs strong, I lessened the weights on ‘lift days.’ Reducing resistance on my legs resulted in reducing resistance on my arms, and I still feel like I’m toning, but I’m actually lifting the appropriate weight!
4. I’ve relaxed….in general.
I’m terrible at relaxing. My multitasking tendencies and inability to sit still—which I’ve termed adult-onset ADD—mean I never stop thinking, moving, writing, reading, texting, Instagramming, watching, talking, etc.
But when you run, you can’t do anything but, well, run.
I review the day. I compose blog posts. I dream about dinner. I think about absolutely nothing for a VERY rare hour in my day.
My mental health thanks me for it.
5. Food has become fuel.
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t track my food intake. It started when I went vegan to make sure I was hitting my nutrients each day, and I’ve kept doing it ever since. But instead of counting calories for restriction, I’ve started ‘counting them’ for recovery.
If I’m still hungry, I eat more. I eat a WHOLE lot more carbs. But I feel like my body needs it. So I listen. Even if that means a second (or third) breakfast now and then. I’ve also become one of those people I used to mock who drinks their breakfast. But oatshakes are AMAZING, y’all!
So, for all those reasons, I will continue to run. I’m still learning a lot—that not every run has to be epic, just how much I DO need to eat so I don’t wake up in the middle of the night craving Weetabix, and that I shouldn’t try to push myself too far too fast*
*Although, fast is really not my problem. I’m really more of a rogger than a runner.
Did I mention the best part of all?
My legs look damn good. ;)