Tag Archives: endurance athlete

Why I’m Not Doing Any Big Races in 2016

 

runningmeditation

I made a routine visit to my chiropractor last August, who also happened to be my running coach for Chicago Marathon. We started the visit with the usual: checking out my posture, alignment, palpating my upper hips, shoulders, and ribcage.

My face went flush when he remarked I lost weight as most marathon runners do. Over the previous weeks I noticed my clothes fitting differently but it wasn’t until it was confirmed that I had lost weight that I allowed myself to believe it.

Strangely, what was intended as an innocent observation by my coach became my obsession. I was on such a high from my coach’s innocent observation and inspected subtle changes in my body as mileage piled on each week… 6 miles on Tuesday,  8 miles on Friday, and 18 miles on Sunday. Every mile was like money in the bank: An investment to maintain thin.

With every additional mile it was like money in the bank that I would maintain the weight loss. An investment to maintain thin.

Meanwhile, in the height of summer I was experiencing flu-like symptoms, taking naps daily as my body often crashed half-way through the day. I pushed myself through nearly all my runs to maintain my training schedule and, as much as I hate to admit this, I liked this new thinner version of myself! I was keeping the weight off by running like a maniac.

Bloodwork showed my iron levels were extremely low, and my doctor cautioned me not to proceed with the marathon training as it could jeopardize my health by pushing myself too hard.

My solution was to take supplements and adjust my diet so that I got enough nutrients. Not once did I deprive myself of food while training. I ate, and still can eat, like a horse. But in the back of my mind I knew this “diet” was also beneficial for weight-loss so, in making this diet change I was in a win-win situation: increase my energy / iron AND keep the marathon weight off or, even better, on a steady decline.

I finished Chicago Marathon and had the time of my life. Thanks to the training program specifically designed for me by my coach I felt strong and capable. In the days preceding the race I got the post-race blues and scrambled for “what am I gonna do next?!”

I love the thrill and challenge of a race and I love running. The training is tough but strengthens me in so many ways beyond physical and there is an exhilaration around race day like none other. My foray into endurance sports has not been entirely a means to a weight-loss, body fat deprivation end.

But as I got off my high Chicago Marathon horse I started noticing something: I was terrified of when the weight would come back on. (I know – the amount of weight is negligible and something few people would notice.) Once my body recovered I started running again and tracked how many days per week I was active and constantly questioned myself, “was it enough?”

About one month out from the race, my jeans tightened around my waistline. I stared at myself in the mirror and said FUCK. It was too late. While I was busy getting my social life back in order, those pounds piled right back on and I said hello to a familiar friend: the bulge around my belly and my expanding, softening love-handles.

I turned to more yoga classes, meditation, and in the hopes that I would find salvation and solution to my “problem” I pinpointed my next race: a  half-marathon trail race in mid-Spring.

Meditation took up more of the time that I once filled with running and with the help of that practice I realized how obsessive I became about my body’s softer, post-marathon shape. A trail race is something I have wanted to do for a long time but now I found myself posing the question: is this the healthiest thing for me to do? Is this really the answer?

Once you have an eating disorder you are never wholly “cured” from it. Yoga healed me and pulled me out of a deep, dark hole but I always knew I was never immune to bulimia residue surfacing as I got older and here I saw I was absolutely right. Running and a packed training schedule took the role of purging.

So as I enter into 2016 and consider my “race calendar,” I proceed with caution and curiosity.

Call it a resolution, an intention, or a goal – this year I will mindfully approach the endurance athlete within me. As I visit a race page I will pause and ask myself what are the motivating factors compelling me to click “Register” and hand over the following 4 months of my free time to training.

My body has settled into what feels like my normal shape and size (but then again, what is normal?) and I have voluntarily taken an indefinite break from running and excessive exercise. I’m listening to my triggers and when my boyfriend tells me he likes the softness of my love-handles I do my best to believe him and see my body from a much kinder place.

For any endurance athlete out there, I am not writing this to discount or discourage your sport. I am merely noticing my own experience and how my love of running combined with a “never give up” attitude took me far beyond my limits and into dangerous territory that was no longer serving me. It’s time I take a few steps back and recalibrate in the hopes that I can revisit my running shoes while maintaining a deep love and respect for the shape of my body.

All in due time.

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3 Reasons Endurance Athletes Benefit from Health Coaching

Why Do Endurance Athletes Need Health Coaching?

Ironman Lake Placid 2012 – just before the finish!

I have been fortunate to coach some pretty incredible endurance athletes over the last few years. And we aren’t talking professional endurance athletes: we are talking the athlete who has a family, a career, hobbies, and somehow manages to integrate a training schedule with enough hours to constitute a part-time job.

I love working with these people because of their intense drive and motivation – and also because I speak their language. I understand feeling like the “crazy” one who leaves a dinner party at 8:30PM because you have a 5AM training session.

So I was thinking about this – why DO endurance athletes need coaching? There are a myriad of reasons so I’ll start with three that really stick out in my mind:

Don’t ignore the basics: food and hydration.

Are you feeling drowsy every afternoon because of that 5AM brick workout, or because you are low on your water intake? Or could it be that skipping lunch because you are “too busy with work” is finally starting to catch up on your energy level during evening hill repeats? Proper hydration and nutrition seem simple enough but when we are juggling training for an endurance event PLUS everything life throws our way, we need to make sure we don’t ignore the basics.

It’s training for your mind and soul.

We spend so many hours every week fine tuning our body in preparation for race day. But what about preparing your mind? In coaching we confront all of the fears … the “what if’s?” of race day. One of my biggest fears around Ironman Lake Placid (and this is probably a popular one for many of you) was “What if I don’t finish?” I worked with MY coach and confronted this fear and came up with a mental game plan for how I might feel or react if I didn’t finish. And when I explored the what if’s instead of ignoring them, it felt like I got all my worrying out of the way. Like I had just “cleansed” myself of worries and had an (almost) worry-free race day!

It makes race day that much more meaningful.

One big reason I love coaching endurance athletes is that these folks have giant hearts and they aren’t afraid to dream big. They have an internal drive that pushes the envelope and is constantly curious what the human spirit is capable of. When you find tune your intention and reason for racing it’s like giving yourself an unlimited stash of mental GU gel. It’s a natural burst of energy that keeps you going through challenging training days and culminates in that final push on race day. Every race, every year, the reasons may change – they shift because we go through different obstacles in our lives. But when we cross the finish line, it’s so much more than just a PR or just a race – it’s a celebration. And that race can become one of the greatest learning experiences you’ll endure.

 

If you are interested in health coaching in preparation for an endurance event, or have any questions about what coaching might be like for you, please don’t hesitate to email me at maggie@maggieconverse.com. Your first 30-minute session is on me!

 

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