I didn’t want my blog posts to be concentrated on body issues, but when you are concentrating on your body so much it is hard not to think about it. When I first started running I made a point that I’m not really built for running and I still stand by that point. I’m not sleek, slender or light on my feet and my breasts need strapping down in a serious way. However, this doesn’t mean that I can’t give it a go. The fact that I don’t look like a conventional ‘runner’ makes me even more determined to succeed and in the last year, I have learned that a huge percentage of reaching your goals in running is linked more to your head than your body.
Athletic records are broken year after year, and the limits of human performance continue to be debated. When we think something can’t be done, someone comes along and shows us that it indeed can be. There was a time when it seemed impossible for a human to run a four-minute mile but Roger Bannister achieved it in 1954 and soon, many others followed. A positive attitude accounts for so much. I find it is far more rewarding to concentrate on what you are achieving rather than what you are not and to focus on several goals rather than putting all your eggs in one basket.
So many people focus on weight loss as their main goal when starting an exercise regime but I feel strongly that this is not a healthy attitude to have. I am the first to admit that I would like to be slimmer but I try not to bore people with talk of calories and rice cakes. I have decided that the thing that is important to me is how I look and feel, not the number on the weighing scales. I would like to improve my physique but I’m not going to let the scales influence my feelings in any way. I have put on some weight and I have to admit, it is making running a little bit more challenging and nobody likes to feel their wobbly bits wobbling around when running but sometimes it’s just what has to be done if you’re going to make a change.
A couple of years ago I decided to start going to a ‘fat club’. I had put on quite a lot of weight and if I’m honest, I was in denial but I had to face up to it. When I stepped on the scales on the first night I was absolutely devastated. I find it hard to put into words just how disappointed in myself I was that I had allowed myself to get up to that weight and abused my body in that way. I lost a couple of stone and managed to keep it off for a while but slowly as my diet changed so did my weight and it crept back up. I wanted to nip it in the bud so I headed back to fat club for a short, sharp shock.
Week after week I would go along and be weighed and then listen as we all made excuses for why we were still fat. I do accept that the moral support of the group can help but it actually made me feel terrible. The only goal we were focusing on or that was recognised as success was the number going down on the scales. I was working really hard with both my diet and with my exercise and for three weeks in a row my weight stayed exactly the same. I knew I was getting thinner as my clothes were getting looser. I also had a piece of string that I used to monitor my shrinking waist but I still felt totally demoralised and a complete failure when I was told three weeks in a row that I had effectively failed.
Another thing that is completely ridiculous is the huge amount of pressure that revolves around one weigh in, on one day every single week. I’m not going to lie, I was tactical about it. On weigh in days I would eat and drink less and try and wee more to be the lightest I could possibly be. I would NEVER consider wearing jeans or chunky jewellery as they may have increased my weight and I’m pretty sure I’m not the only fat club member that has behaved like this. It was quite normal to go home and pig out after weight in night too as I had a week to undo the damage. Surely this is not a healthy way to behave!
Different things can affect your weight too making it seem like you’ve failed. One particular week I had exercised every day and I naughtily weighed myself the night before to have a sneaky peek at how well I was doing. By the time the weekly weigh in came the following night, I had magically put on 4lbs. I looked like the girl that was full of excuses when they told me my weight. I was astounded, I couldn’t believe it. When I got home I stepped on my scales and sure enough, the fat club ones were correct. Amazingly, the following morning the 4lbs disappeared. The extra weight may have been water retention but it still went down in my fat club week as a ‘gain week’ which translates as failure! I am not saying that I completely disagree with slimming clubs as they do work for some people and I do still follow some of the eating guidelines.
I thought long and hard and in the end came to the conclusion that for me, to focus solely on weight is a ridiculous notion. On 1st January I took a number of pictures of myself in very few clothes and they are pretty shocking. I have taken a similar set every Sunday since and will continue to do so throughout my training to enable me to physically see how my body is changing. Getting slimmer isn’t my only goal but it is one of them. For me, running is about feeling good, working hard and achieving things you never ever thought you’d be able to achieve in order to be the absolute best that you can be for yourself.
Today was another glorious day for a run. I headed out to do 11 or 12k and ended up running 15.35k. It was so beautiful and I was really enjoying it so I kept on running. I figured that the weather may not be as gorgeous next week so I should make the most of it. I even managed to incorporate some hills and still keep smiling. Just to make my day even better, I saw two pugs. A pug is a guaranteed happiness trigger when I’m out and about.
I took my phone with me and tracked my run but I intentionally didn’t take much notice of time. I worked hard but at this point in my training, my long runs are not about stressing myself with time goals. I thoroughly enjoyed today’s run and it was a great start to Janathon 2012 week 3.