Sometimes I Wonder

Sometimes I wonder why I signed up for a marathon. I ran a half marathon a few weeks ago and nearly threw up on the finish line. I'm not kidding. Why do I want to run twice that distance when that was already hard enough? The following week I was particularly struggling with the motivation because it was the week after the Unplugged Half Marathon and my brain was like "hey, I already ran the race. It's time to relax." But no, that wasn't THE race that this training is all about! It was also a cut back week and I struggle so much with cut back weeks...

Sometimes I wonder why I signed up for a marathon my last semester of graduate school. This week I am supposed to be building up my mileage and I am actually almost at my peak training. While that's exciting on some level, it's also a bit daunting because this is also peak job application and peak assignment time (there is only 1 week of school left!). My schedule has never been so busy! The next two weeks are crazy. But the past few weeks have been too.

Some days I wonder if my body can do it. I went into training naive and stupid. I rarely stretched. Now I probably have IT band issues so I'm icing and rolling whenever I can. My quads are super sore. My claves while they are rock solid are so so so tight. It hurts to roll and I'm hoping they start to feel better soon.

I constantly have to remind myself that running is about so much more than just checking the boxes for marathon training. Sure I want to do the training because I love the feeling of crossing the finishing line with utter pride! I love setting goals for myself and crushing them. I also want to be my sister's prodigal trainee. But whenever I tell her this she says I am going to PR. Well, duh, Julie. That's because I have never ran a marathon before!

I need to constantly remind myself that

  • Running relieves stress
  • Running improves concentration
  • Running is social
  • Running is fun (now that the weather has improved!)

Running has also improved my confidence and helped me to see my potential. I never thought I could run tempos or speed workouts. And now it's just another workout. I never thought I could run a sub 1:45 half marathon. But I did it! I never imagined myself running 5-6 days a week and not hating every minute of it (especially after my poor exercise habits during my internship).

Every run is a new opportunity to see new potential or to push myself just a little bit more. And I see this confidence spreading to other areas of my life as well.

I worry about cutting back to listen to my body and prevent further injury. I want to be perfect and get all of my training in. Last week was hard because it was my biggest loss of miles yet (5 miles). And then I missed another 5 this week. I'm working through the mental challenges.

So in that sense, yes I am very busy and marathon training makes it a wee bit more stressful than it has to be. BUT on the other hand, marathon training has given me so much confidence and pride in myself that I feel better equipped to tackle my schoolwork, professional work, applications, interview, you name it. It's teaching me about balance and listening to your body and the flow of your life.  Bring it on.

Body Appreciation

I've always struggled with body acceptance let alone body appreciation. But I feel that changing. Maybe it's because I am getting older. But I think it has more to do with truly appreciating all that I have been able to experience in the past year. I couldn't be where I am without my body and for that I am grateful. This past year during my dietetic internship I spent my days in rotations and my nights doing homework. Weekends were spent doing more homework, cleaning my apartment, cooking, and working. I rarely exercised and it took a toll on me mentally at first. Eventually I realized that this was not the time to beat myself up for not exercising and indulging a bit frequently. The internship gave me so much more than nutrition knowledge and professional experience.

I learned that my body is not perfect and that's okay. I love chocolate and wine and that's okay. Sometimes (...or a lot of the time) I want to sit on the couch and binge watch Gilmore Girls and that's okay. Sometimes I crave vegetables (bring on the brussels sprouts) and that's okay. Sometimes I run and sometimes I don't and that's okay. Life is about so much more than the number on the scale. It's about more than whether I exercise or not. It's about more than the number of squares of chocolate I eat or if I eat chocolate at all.

Julie gave me a bracelet for Christmas that says just breathe on it and I've been trying to breathe more, but also to just live more.

I accept my body because it's the body that has allowed me to work towards being a dietitian this past year. I accept my body because I would not be here without it.

In the past month I have started to move one step further and truly appreciate my body. Body appreciation means valuing what your body does for you. The whole living and breathing thing. The incredible biochemistry that goes on 24/7. The homeostasis. The growth. It's incredible. I attribute this new found appreciation to pushing my mind to the limit during my internship and pushing my body to the limit with marathon training.

Every new distance, every faster pace amazes me. It all started once I crushed my first tempo (maybe I should let me coach rate my tempos). I've also truly began to appreciate that what I eat is fuel for my body and yet eating because I am emotional is okay too. I am not the best intuitive or mindful eater and that's doesn't mean I won't be a good dietitian. Eating is cultural, primal, social, etc. It's so much and really, there's no perfect way to do it. No matter how I eat, the food will be digested and used by my body as energy.

I appreciate my body. I appreciate that I have the ability to run and that my body digests the food that I love. But most importantly I appreciate that I have had the opportunity to learn what I am capable of and to begin the road towards body appreciation. Without this body I wouldn't be this close to graduating with my masters in dietetics. I cry just thinking about the day...

Exercising For Fun

I used to hate running. Like actually despise it. Growing up running was my sister's thing. It was something my dad was good at and my sister was good at. It was something I did because I felt I should. color-run

(Color Run after studying - and eating - abroad for 4 months)

Running for me started freshman year of high school. My sister was recruited by the running coach and I decided to join as well. For the next four years I never let my track coach live down the fact that he recruited Julie and not me. I ran the long distance races because that is what Julie ran and being twins we had to do the same thing, right? Wrong.

first-half

(Before running our first half marathon together)

I forget when I transitioned to the medium-length races, but it was definitely for the better. I started training because I wanted to be better, I wanted to compete. Even still, I dreaded running. I loved talking with my friends while running and I loved being good. The 800 and the 1,000 meters were my races and Julie could have the mile and the 2 mile all to herself. But even still the actual act of running was still not enjoyable.

Looking back on this I can say that I didn't enjoy running because I did it for all the wrong reasons. I ran because my sister did. I ran because I was unhappy with my body shape and wanted to lose weight. I ran because I thought I should.

tired-at-the-trot

(Turkey Trot)

In college I kept running for the same reason. I felt like I had to run to either get in shape or stay in shape. I ran because I was dissatisfied with my body. Every run was a mental struggle to keep going. I felt like I had to reach a certain mileage or the run didn't count. And I hated every mile...every tenth of a mile.

turkey-trot

I should say that I did enjoy running with my dad and my sister. I enjoy running with other people because it's a social event. So I didn't hate that. I thoroughly look forward to times when I am home and can run with my dad.

dad-running

(Sorry for the blurry picture, but I love the reflectors)

My approach to running changed drastically this past year. My dietetic internship gave me so much more than I had expected. I learned how to ask for help, how to manage multiple commitments and how to accept things as they are. Multitasking became the norm. Nothing was as good as I wanted it to be, but with a lack of time it was simply as good as it was going to get. I rarely had time for exercise. While in my clinical rotations I counted my walk to the site as my exercise for the day because every other moment was spent doing work.

running-with-friends

(Running along the beach with friends)

When rotations ended I craved movement. And not because I felt like I had to get back in shape or because I disliked my body. Actually the past year of not having time to exercise and not being able to eat as well as I wanted to or felt I should transformed my mentality. I appreciate my body for surviving and succeeding in the past year. I feel accomplished and mature. I honestly feel like I can handle anything that comes my way.

That being said, I want to exercise now. More specifically I find myself wanting to run. I don't feel like I have to run every day to be a success because any day that I move my body is more than I could do this past year. I run because it feels good. I run because I value having the time to do so. I run because my body is healthy and strong and I can.

I am so grateful for my dietetic internship for giving me profound experiences and increasing my knowledge. I am also thankful for the life lessons and the change in perspective it provided.

I enjoy running now, but I didn't used to. Some days yoga sounds much better to me than running and that's okay. I'm never going to be the runner that my sister is, but I enjoy sharing her passion of the sport at my own level of commitment and desire. I enjoy cheering her on. For the first time in my life I am content with my body and I value all that I have been through. I will continue running as long as it feels good. For now, I look forward to my training runs and seeing what this marathon holds for me.

My First Marathon

My twin sister ran her first marathon a few years ago. In Napa Valley. Talk about go big or go home, am I right? My parents and I went with her because well she couldn't rent a car yet and we all clearly wanted to sip some vino. We had a great time vineyard hopping before and after the race. I ended up biking the last 5k next to my sister because she needed a little motivation. I simply took embarrassing pictures of her and told her that her legs were still there.

(This was not an embarrassing picture I took of her but rather a very embarrassing picture of myself...thank you mom. But it does capture the moment quite nicely.)

julesontherun

Afterwards she cried, looked terrible, and complained for days. I vowed I would never run a marathon. Ever. This girl is six inches taller than me and made it seem like the worst experience ever. My little legs would clearly struggle. (Side note: since then my sister has ran three marathons, qualified for Boston, and developed a passion for becoming a running coach. I don't know it seems like she may not hate it...)

julie-race-happy

Then there is my friend whom I run with. She likes to equate running a marathon to giving birth. Meaning that it's terrible and painful, but once you cross the finish line it's totally worth it. Well now I'm not not running a marathon AND I'm not having kids.

So why now? What made me change my mind? 

For one, I watched the marathon this past year and the atmosphere was so invigorating and exciting. I love races full of hype and wonderful spectators.

On the other hand I was running with my friend one day (yes, the one who thinks marathons are like child birth) and she was like "why don't we run the marathon?" I shut that idea down real fast. But then she elaborated with "what better way to graduate from grad school than to also run a marathon?!" That idea hit the spot... This would be my first marathon to top it off (and maybe last, let's not get ahead of ourselves).

So I bit the bullet. I registered for the Vermont City Marathon and the Unplugged Half Marathon. Why not right? Then I went out and bought new running shoes...since when does it cost so much to exercise? But I am in love with my shoes...

Rotations ended in December and I slowly picked up my mileage. Let me just tell you that after a year of hardly any time to exercise, it feels so great to be back at it. Currently I'm at 20 miles a week. I'm happy with that, but also ready to see what I can handle although I wish it would warm up already...The other day I ran when it was 11 degrees. I had three layers on under a down vest which is not made for running. I also had a ski scarf and hiking socks on...

Just like I can't stop thinking about graduation, I can't stop thinking about the marathon. It's going to be two great weekends back to back. One weekend I will spend with my parents celebrating my future and finally being done with school (I think my dad may cry out of sheer joy) and one weekend spent with my sister carb loading and crying through 26.2 miles...

For now I am going to enjoy my running scenery, my running company, and the time that I have to run. Stick with me through this journey. It will be painful for me, but most likely comical for you.