Why you should go into each run with an optimistic mindset
Ever have a run planned where you’re dreading getting out the door?
That you know is going to suck.
That your muscles will not be happy that you’re doing..
I thought my easy run yesterday was going to be rough.
The previous day (Tuesday) I put in 12 miles with some track intervals, and then at night played tennis for almost 2 hours. Oh, and it also hit 90 degrees and was humid. Needless to say, I was pretty beat up by the time I got to bed.
So I was not looking forward to my scheduled easy Wednesday run.
Finally Wednesday afternoon comes, time for the dreaded run.
I lace up the shoes and get out the door, and after a little while I start wondering where the pain I was expecting is. Where’s the stiffness? Where are the random aches all over my legs? Why are these hills so easy to climb?
I felt great. I felt fast. I finished my easy 8 miles with a quick one to close it out. As much as I wanted to keep pushing, I thought it best to still leave it as an easy day, there will be other runs to push hard, and that wasn’t the purpose of this run.
Maybe I just got a really good night of rest, maybe I hydrated perfectly, or maybe that late night mac and cheese dinner was just the antidote I needed to recover from the post-workout day aches.
I have no idea why I felt so good.
What I learned from this, and what I hope to remember in the future, is you never know when any given day can be your day to feel good and feel fast. I’ve definitely been guilty plenty of times of going into a run expecting the worst. Expecting my body to rebel.
But that defeated mindset is pointless.
Sure, you really might be sore, and the run really might be uncomfortable and painful. It’s totally possible your run will suck and you’ll have to tough it out to get through it.
You could feel amazing and rejuvenated, and have the ultimate pick-me-up; a good run.
Thoughts on intermittent fasting and why it can benefit runners.
Intermittent fasting (IF) has played a key factor for my running success, and without it I would likely be heavier (and slower) than I am today. I want to share the basic strategy of IF and its benefits, but as a disclaimer I am not a dietician. This will just be my personal strategy and thoughts / opinions on the topic, and why it works for me. It won’t work for everyone, but if you’re struggling with appetite control, I think it might be worth considering.
Before diving into what IF is all about, let’s get one thing straight; the RUNGER is real. Runger, or running hunger, is the increase in appetite you feel as you increase your mileage and the calories you burn. It’s a pretty simple formula; more running + more calories burned = bigger appetite. Your body has a good idea of what it needs, and as you burn more fuel it pushes you to replenish that fuel. The problem is, some people (myself included) have a hard time turning that hunger impulse off. Once I start eating, it’s hard for me to stop.
That’s where intermittent fasting comes into play. Intermittent fasting is a dieting strategy gaining in popularity that can be a beneficial option for people who have a hard time keeping their appetites in check. It takes some discipline to get into the habit, but once you do you will be able to continue to eat foods you enjoy in the portions you enjoy them, while not gaining weight.
IF involves a long period of fasting, and a short eating window. A common ratio of fasting to eating for people following this strategy is 18:6, 18 hours of fasting with a 6 hour eating window. An 18 hour fasting window may seem daunting, but it’s actually not as difficult to attain as you may think.
Let’s consider the normal daily schedule of a hypothetical person named Bob. Bob goes to bed at 10pm and wakes up at 7am. Bob doesn’t eat a couple of hours before going to bed, so he is done eating for the day by 8pm. So from 8pm – 7am Bob doesn’t eat. That’s an 11 hour fasting period, which many people probably already do. Bob also skips breakfast, electing to only have black coffee and water throughout the morning (black coffee is both great for waking you up and for suppressing appetites). By doing this he can hold out until a late lunch before eating. So if Bob eats his first meal at 2pm, he can eat all his daily calories within the period of 2pm – 8pm.
Now, you may be thinking that sounds miserable; waiting until the afternoon to eat your first meal. However, you can adjust the schedule to fit your needs. If you love breakfast and lunch, but can do without dinner, flip the schedule so your eating window is in the morning and afternoon, and stick to tea / water at night. As long as you go about 18 hours straight without eating, you’ll be practicing IF.
I don’t want to sound like I’m pressing this on people or make it sound easier than it is, so let me explain why it works for my specific situation.
I am horrible at controlling my appetite. When I start eating, shortly after getting full I’ll become hungry again. This would be a serious problem if I were eating all throughout the day. So instead, I’ve trained my body to not eat until after my daily run in the afternoon. I sip coffee all morning, and since I almost never eat breakfast my body doesn’t expect it and doesn’t crave it when I wake up. I’m also able to run on an empty stomach without issue, so as long as I can make it to my afternoon run, then I have the rest of the day afterwards to get my calories in. As big as my appetite is, it’s not easy to consume 3,000+ calories (my total daily energy expenditure given my size / gender / activity level) in a small period of time. So I can still have a big dinner, and a big second dinner, and come in right around my caloric goal for the day.
Now, some people say eating many small meals throughout the day is healthier and key to losing weight, others say breakfast is the most important meal of the day. The fact is, different eating habits work for different people, and at the end of the day if you’re eating fewer calories than you’re burning, you’ll lose weight. Some people like to micromanage exactly what they consume, and that’s great! I wish I could be that scientific about it, but I’m not. I’m a slave to my cravings, and I’ve found that by at least controlling when I allow myself to eat, I’m able to keep how much I eat in check.
What do you guys think about IF? Do you have any experience with it, or do you have another dieting strategy to help you control the runger? Let me know!
Why being unable to run at the pace you planned to does not make that run a failure.
As we all know, weekends were invented to give runners time for our long runs. Some people prefer Saturdays, others prefer Sundays. I’ve used both and like them equally, but this week my long run was slated for Sunday.
So today I had a 20 mile run planned, and I wanted to have 2 sets of 4 miles at my projected marathon pace (MP) in that run, hopefully somewhere under 6:25/mi. I’m a proponent of some long and medium long runs having race pace miles worked into the mix. The purpose of this workout was to run long with a couple sections of fast miles, in order to exhaust me while also allowing me to complete that long distance.
I started out with 5 comfortable miles, then crushed the next 4 in about a 6:22 average as planned. It was tough, (and hot), but I spent the next 7 miles recovering, fueling (raisins YUM), and hydrating, and got started on my second set of 4 miles at MP. The first went alright, but the next two I just couldn’t get myself to keep the pace up, and about halfway through the final mile I gave up on trying to and settled into a slower pace for a bit, before pushing hard at the very end. I wanted to average around 6:22 again for these last 4 miles, but instead my mile splits at the end were 6:18, 6:48, 6:42, and 6:56.
So I failed… I couldn’t complete the workout as planned.
Just as I was starting to feel down on myself, sitting on a bench trying to catch my breath, exhausted, I thought about the purpose of this workout. The purpose was to go on a long run, with a couple of sections pushing the pace hard. I had a plan for what that pace should be, but in the grand scheme of things the purpose wasn’t to run those exact splits. I ran a long run, and there were two sections where I pushed the pace and was left exhausted, and that was the real goal of this workout.
There’s no way to know for sure what your body will be capable of on any given day. You can plan to run X miles at Y pace, but behind the scenes your body may have other plans.
Every workout should have a purpose, and you should do all you can to run with that purpose in mind. You can and should have a plan for your workout as well, but when things don’t go to plan, it’s not the end of the world. Your run wasn’t a failure just because you couldn’t do what you planned to do. You still went out there and ran, and that in and of itself is something you should be proud of. And if you ran with purpose, your run was a success.
2 step method for preventing a side stitch during a run.
Here’s a tip I discovered somewhat accidentally when trying to cure a recurring case of side stitches (or stomach cramps, side cramps, whatever you want to call them). It’s a two step process:
Step 1- On a normal run when you don’t get them, take note of your breathing pattern. Track how many steps you inhale vs how many steps you exhale. A common pattern is 2×2, meaning you inhale for 2 steps, and exhale for 2 steps. My pattern is 3×1. I found that I’m most comfortable inhaling for 3 steps, and exhaling hard for one. Your rate can change depending on your speed, but find out what your comfortable breathing pattern is and stick to it!
Step 2- If you feel a stitch coming on, adjust your breathing pattern to do the majority of your exhaling on your foot on the opposite side of the stitch. Not sure why this works, but it does. You might feel constantly on the brink of getting one, but sticking to your comfortable breathing pattern and exhaling on the correct step should stop it from becoming a full on stitch.
That should hopefully be enough to help you fend off a side stitch, but if you can’t seem to get rid of it you may need to take an extended break from the run you’re on, or even cut it short. Running through that pain is a grueling experience and stumbling along in agony is not going to make you a better runner.
I have a theory that getting a bad case of side stitches one day leaves you more susceptible to getting them again the next day, which is all the more reason why if you feel it coming on, stopping and choosing to live to run another day might be wise.
So there you have it, my two steps to preventing side stitches. If you have any tips drop me a comment and I’ll test them out next time the need arises (which hopefully won’t be for a long, long time).