Running is a commitment. Beyond the sense of the word, it’s not just about doing the 2.4km you promised yourself to this morning. It is also about shifting running up your priority list. And consequently, letting other things slide to the back. These 5 things are top on our list we’re happy to let go of.
When you realise that you’ve to wake up at 5am for your mid-week run tomorrow, late night drama chasing would slowly take the sidelines. You might wake up, but the lethargy might not let you go the full distance. Even if you do finish, you won’t finish as strongly as you would have been able to. Or you might not even wake up. Once your race training starts to get serious, you won’t want a slip up on training like this!
#2 Crash diets
It is common for athletes to get tempted by crash diets that promise immediate results! “Get lighter, leaner, faster” can be such attractive mantras. The problem with those crash diets is that they are often unsustainable and not nutritious enough for an endurance runner. Popular diets like the Atkins diet and Zone diet tend to focus on reducing carbohydrates. However, carbs happen to be the most efficient and most used fuel source. As you move ahead to week 4-6 of your training, you’d learn to take better care of your body – such as eating a small slice of wholegrain bread before a run and then going for a hearty meal with quinoa (carbs) and eggs (protein) after.
It dehydrates you and makes you gain weight – two things you don’t want. With its diuretic property, the fluid loss can leave you dehydrated, leading to poorer performance. This is especially so in humid conditions (like Singapore!). Calorie wise, alcohol contains 7 kcal per g. Compare this with 9 kcal/g for fat and 4 kcal/g for carbohydrates. This 7 kcal is not even nutrient dense. ACSM has already said it: orange juice supplies 4X the potassium and almost 3X the carbohydrates, and it would take 11 beers to obtain the recommended daily allowance of B-vitamin. As you work towards your performance weight, alcohol is going to be the first drink you quit.
#4 Certain foods
Honestly, losing a couple of kgs would tremendously improve your running capacity. In fact, for every extra 4.5kg a runner would need to muster 6.5% more energy. You’re probably not going to all of a sudden clean up your diet and start packing lean protein to work everyday. But you’d start to steer clear of greasy food and carbonated drinks that only leave you thirstier. It could be the byproduct of being more active. You feel generally stronger and want to be healthier. Or it could be the discomfort of having those food jostling around your stomach. You’d learn over the course of your training that some food sit well during runs (AND give you energy); while some don’t.
Many runners finish their 21km, 42.125km or ultramarathons and still come back for more. Running can be a very humbling experience. You learn a lot about yourself and as you talk to fellow runners, you discover that there is so much knowledge to be learnt. You might give up your ego after your first group run session, or it might take several marathons. Whatever it is, you’d find that running is as much a continuous learning journey as it is a physical one.
When you feel like you are giving up one, two or all of the above, give us a shout out and tell us how it feels. Chances are, you’d be feeling pretty good about how far you’ve come!