Faster, Fitter and Freakier at Forty

me and danny

I’ve been getting quite a few side-long glances lately, and I don’t mean from strangers. No, its mostly been my long-time friends and a few relatives that have been looking at me curiously. They aren’t quiet sure what to make of it, this new me, the old me but different.

My friends that expect me to drop everything and rearrange my schedule to go for a sixty mile bike ride or the friends that expect me to show up at the local race are wondering what has happened to their cardio junkie that could never get enough miles and their overly competitive buddy that could never acquire enough trophies to convince herself she could actually run.

The other homeschool moms are asking why I’m all dressed-up. What’s the occasion? My sister quit waiting for a fight, because I stopped starting one. My kids even stopped being afraid to ask a question, because I stopped jumping down their throat with the answers. My husband still does a double blink expecting his old wife to appear after he clears his eyes. But she hasn’t returned (thank the gods). And the new me is still here. Get used to her, because I’ve fallen in love with her (and so has my hubby).

Don’t worry world, I’m just as vain as ever, I just care less about what the world thinks and more about what I think about myself. If I fall asleep knowing my husband loves the hell out of me, my kids think I’m a superstar and I like myself, I’m gonna sleep well.

You may wonder what the hell all this has to do with running, biking and all the other bullshit I like to blog about, well here it is. I’m fitter, faster and freakier than ever at forty. That’s right, I am faster and fitter and freakier than ever. If you care to be the same at forty, I will attempt to explain what I’ve done without elaborating on how the transformation came about. Just think of it as a transformation that took place because I was exhausted of being my old self.

I may no longer care if the community knows I’m a fast runner, but I still care that I can run fast. A matter of fact, I am running faster now, just shy of age forty, than I have ever run in my life. My latest training run pace was the same pace as my fasted 5K ever. I’m proud of that (and yeah, I did just kind of brag about it). If you are wondering how it’s possible here it is in a nutshell: I run less, do more core and weights, and spend less time working out.

I used to average about 35-40 miles running, squeeze in about 100+ miles on my bike and a 3000 yards swim each week.

Now I run about 17 miles a week, do core/cardio 30 minutes five days a week and swim about 3000 yards one day a week. I work out no more than one hour a day and take off Sundays.

Here’s the thing, I used to run distance because I loved it. I would run away from my problems, contemplate life, indulge in my alone time. I would return refreshed but tired, too tired in fact, to have the energy to keep up with my two growing children. I would drag myself through the remaining portion of the day, dreading chores and schoolwork. By the time my hubby got home I was not only too tired to converse with him, I was resentful that he got to come home and relax while my day was still going. I was a resentful bitch and absolutely no fun to be around.

So now I workout for different reasons. I’m no longer escaping my life, quite the opposite really, I hate to leave for even 30 minutes because I don’t want to be away from my family that long. No, now I work out for my physical health and to look the way I desire to look. That last statement seems really vain, I know, but it is true. My personal happiness is directly related to how I look (so shoot me) and providing I have any control over that, I will work out to meet those needs. My husband appreciates it too, so why not?

Do I worry about gaining weight? No. I figured out a long time ago that weight has nothing to do with how much you work out. I was my heaviest when I was training for my marathon. Weight has everything to do with what you eat (not how much you eat). A calorie is NOT a calorie. If you want to hear more about this, you may have to wait for another blog.

Here’s another tip for those of you pushing forty, especially the cardio junkies: you need more weight training and less endurance training to maintain your lovely figure, especially you ladies. I promise to write a blog about my take on looking hot into your forties next.

So to wrap it up, here is my new me and the philosophy I live by:

Go short and fast (running), do more core and weight training to be leaner not meaner, ride for pleasure not distance, never use a workout as a reason to eat, carb-up, or replace calories.

Always look your best. I don’t care if you are going to the grocery store or to the homeschool co-op, look and be the best you can be. Why the hell would you want anything less for yourself?

If you are too damned tired from your workout to listen and keep up with your kids, then you are being a selfish bitch. Cut it out. They will grow up to hate you.

If you don’t have the desire to jump into your husbands arms and kiss him all over (literally) when he walks through that door, then it’s time to stop and evaluate yourself. Nuf said.

And for those of you who don’t think I was funny enough in this blog, please check out my new favorite website: www.chocolateanus.com. All my runclub friends are getting one of these this year:)

and please, if you like what I have to say, can you please share my blog with your friends?

#running #forty #biking #relationships #racing #kids

Does Running and Working Out Make You Fat? How to Look Good Naked.

I’m probably going to catch hell for this blog post, but here it goes anyway.

chubby runner

My darling sister sent me a link to a blog titled “Seven Reasons As To Why Running is Bad For You” the other day. I read the rather scathing blog and thought, hmm, this dude makes a few good points.  I didn’t care for the way he bashed running (as a person who loves running), and his general negative attitude, but the first reason was rather interesting: “Have you looked at distance runners?”

The author points out that most runners, especially distance runners, are…well…out of shape.  If you look at the majority of people crossing the line of a marathon, they are not the gazelle-looking athletes you would expect.  The author points out that they have, “man boobs” and “spare tires”.

man boobs

He says his goal is to look good naked, and I agree, if you work this hard, you should look good naked!  If you want to look good naked, I give my take on how to do it in this blog.

I would argue that this fact is true for many athletes.  Cyclists, swimmers, runners, the people at the gym who show-up for boot-camp or Crossfit, whatever. Many of them are still not the ‘ideal image of fitness’.

So why?  Why are these people who workout an hour a day, seven days a week not fit?  Why is it that a marathon runner who goes out for four-hour training runs still has a set of man boobs?  Why does the guy doing Crossfit three times a week still have a barrel chest with a gut?  Why does the cyclist who rides one hundred miles in one day still have a muffin-top riding over her bike shorts?  I’ll tell you why, but first you have to promise not to get upset.  Don’t shoot the messenger and please DON’T assume I am ignorant as to the difficulties of weight issues.

Here’s the reason.  Your physical appearance has much, much, much more to do with what you put in your mouth than how many calories you burn.  

vs

We ALL have six-pack abs, though some are more pronounced than others.  The difference is that if you have a thick layer of fat covering them, you won’t see your ab muscles.  A person can be extremely fit and look just like anyone else.

One of the biggest problems people run into when they do any fitness routine, is they over compensate for the calories they burned.  A one hour run, on average, burns about 600 calories.  If you go home and drink a tall glass of chocolate milk and eat a bagel, you’ve replaced the calories you just burned.  And if you are like most fitness junkies, you think you are entitled to eat whatever you want since you work out so hard.  “We need to carb-load” they say.  Bull shit.  You need to eat well, and pasta is not the best choice.

carb load

The person who works out sporadically tends to ‘reward’ themselves after a difficult workout session with a special treat like a candy bar or a Big Mac then wonder’s why they haven’t lost any weight.  When weeks and weeks of this effort at working out results in weight gain, they lose all confidence in themselves and create a downward spiral.  They run to the comfort foods to heal their pain.

I’ve been on long endurance rides with some of the best cyclists in the area and am appalled to see them noshing on gummy bears and a coke at the rest stop.  It’s no wonder they don’t fit the image of the extreme athletes they are.  I can’t help but wonder how much faster and better they could be if they fueled their body with real food.gummy bear

The fact is: if you want to be the image of an athlete, you need to eat correctly and work out.  If you want to feel healthy, you need to eat well.  If you want to be a healthy weight, you need to eat well.  No amount of exercise gives you a pass to eat like crap.  As an athlete, eating well will fuel your workouts and feed your fitness level like never before.  Even if you are not an athlete, you can look better and feel amazing if you just eat well.

What do you mean by ‘eat well’? 

Okay, here’s my take on how everyone should eat in as few words as possible.  Take it or leave it.  But if you want to feel great, look great (even naked) and be the best athlete you can be, you might want to give it a go.

STOP rewarding yourself with junk food.  Cut out all the cakes, muffins, doughnuts, candy, and chips.  It’s junk, it’s filled with sugar and ultimately it will ruin you.  It’s not worth it.  A little dark chocolate on a rare occasion may be fine but that’s it.  Sugar feeds cancer cells (and we all have cancer cells), it spikes your blood sugar creating a feeling of hunger and a craving for more sugar.  Get off the sugar and you will stop the cravings.  It’s a cycle, it can be broken.  One week without sugar and you will be a new person.
Simple.

drink cokeNO sugary drinks.  Drink water, lots of it.  Not only does water hydrate you and make your skin look fresh it flushes toxins from your body and makes you feel full.  Often people eat when they are dehydrated because they mistake the signals for hunger.  Add lemon to your water for flavor, to aid in digestion and cleanse your system.  Other great options are green tea and unsweetened tea.  Beer is fine and so is wine (in moderation).  aspartame

No artificial sweeteners:  Not only are they bad for you, like eating toxic waste (in my opinion) they cause your blood sugar to fluctuate just like sugar does.  These spikes in blood-sugar cause you to feel hungry.  If you avoid sugar and artificial sugar, you will feel satisfied.  Trust me.

No processed foods.  If it comes in a box or a bag it is probably processed. Examples are crackers, nutrition bars, rice crisps, pretzels, chips, pasta, gold fish, wheat thins, most breads, lunch meats, fake cheese, etc.  Real food is perishable. Processed foods are filled with preservatives, chemicals and most of the main ingredients like enriched flours turn into sugar when it is digested.  This crap food, as I call it, is toxic to your system, makes you feel hungry, unsatisfied, (can’t eat just one!), lethargic and is the most detrimental to a lean healthy body. (Even ORGANIC processed food is bad for you!)

NO FAST FOOD: I don’t care what kind of bullshit they feed you on the commercials, NO fast food is a good option.  If you have to choose between paying a dollar for a burger or a dollar for an organic apple, chose the apple.  A chicken wrap is crap. Subway is NOT fresh, it is actually highly processed meats filled with nitrates, veggies that are mass produced and grown with chemical fertilizers and sprayed with toxic pesticides, and breads made from dough that is made in a factory a long, long way away with an ingredient list longer and more toxic than the Ohio river.

mcdonalds

All fast food is bad for you.  It is not really food at all, and your body will treat it as such.  On top of the fact that it is bad for your body, it is horrible for the environment.  I could go on for hours about how horrible fast food is, but I think you get the picture…I’m anti-fast food.

What the hell can I eat then?

Fruit and vegetables, organic whenever possible. I pay for organic because I am investing in my future.  I am willing to buy fresh, organic produce because I know I will live longer with less health complications because of it.  In the end, it will cost me less.

buy organic

Eat them raw throughout the day.  Dip your veggies in humus or bean dip, not ranch dressing.  Saute your veggies in olive oil and butter.  Add salt and spices for flavor.

Eat a variety of colors.  When you crave sweet, eat fruit.  Eat as much as you want, there is not limit to how much you can eat.  This should be the bulk of your intake.

Oil and Balsamic Vinegar: Huge organic salads loaded with veggies and some cheese should be topped with oil and vinegar based dressings seasoned to your liking.  Balsamic vinegar is very flavorful and the best one for you.  Avoid the creamy dressings.

Dairy: Raw is best.  Most people are allergic to homogenized, pasteurized dairy (the milk at the store).  I am able to purchase raw milk and use the cream to make butter and sauces.  If you have to buy milk at the store you should buy organic and limit the amount you drink.  The processing it goes through turns it from a whole live food into a product your body doesn’t deal with well.    Cheeses are not as bad.  Limit them though.

Nutritional-Difference-in-Raw-Milk

 

Beans: Beans are super foods.  Buy organic whenever possible.  They are very filling and a great source of healthy carbs, fiber and beans.

Meat AND Fish: Meat is good for you, but it is also not necessary.  It is up to you whether you want to eat meat or not.  Some of the leanest, meanest athletes are vegan or vegetarian.  I think lean cuts of meat are over-rated.  Fat is not bad for you, if you want to eat a fatty meat than eat it.  I think that most of the issues supposedly caused by fatty meats are due to processed foods in combination with fatty meats.  If you cut out processed foods, you can eat a fattier meat.

I personally buy local, grass-fed beef and meats whenever possible.  Animals raised on a high-corn diet are not healthy animals.  I also don’t support feedlot practices.  This is a personal decision but I encourage you to do your research before making a decision.

go grass fed

Fish is high in protein and filled with Omega 3’s (the good fats that make you smart and your body function well).  Do some research to find the the safest fish that is caught or raised in the most sustainable and healthful way.  It’s challenging but once you find a good source you can stick with it.

Eggs: Farm fresh is best, organic is second best.  If you can find a farm to supply your eggs you can buy them 4 dozen at a time if you want.  They keep in the fridge for months. (Store bought eggs are months old by the time they get to you).  Very high in protein and very portable (when hard-boiled) eggs are a wonderful for you, yokes and all.  Eat them up.  As long as you cut out the processed foods, you don’t need to worry about cholesterol in eggs.  Real food is good for you.

NUTS: Nuts are a great source of protein and healthy fats, both which are very important and make you feel full.  Raw almonds are ideal since you are not as likely to overeat them like you would smoked almonds.  raw almonds

Rices: Organic is best.  Brown, black, wild, whatever.  Rice is a whole food and if you really need carbs as bad as you think you do, rice is a decent way to get them.

Whole grains: If you are going to eat grains, eat them whole.  When eaten whole they don’t cause the spike in blood sugar that processed grains like flour does.  Most athletes are very efficient when it comes to utilizing food and don’t require this type of carbs unless preparing for a long distance race.  Over-doing these types of carbs however, will result in excess fat, especially around the waist.

Real food is always good for you.  Real food has not been processed, it is in its original state.  Real food still has all the good stuff in it and hasn’t been stripped of the important stuff your body craves…or will learn to crave.

eat real food

Once you stop eating sugar and processed foods for about a week, your body will stop craving it.  It may be painful at first while you detox your body.  It is also hard to break habits.  If you are used to having a pop with your lunch, it will be hard to have water with veggies for lunch.  If you always celebrate a long run with a giant chocolate chip cookie, eating four or five clementines may not feel like a celebration at first.  But once your body is ‘off’ the crap food and fully fueled by real food, it will begin to crave real food and expect it.

When you start to see the muscles you have worked so hard to develop and you see the fat melt away, it will be easier.  When you reap the benefits of a well-fueled body with faster times you’ll never go back.

As always, thanks for reading my blog.  I look forward to hearing your response.

not good

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Running Junkie and Fear of Recovery

/>href=”https://dianestrong.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/rain.jpg”>rain

As I looked out my window this morning watching the pounding rain, I thought to myself, ‘I should just stay inside and do yoga’. But then the rain lightened up for a brief moment and I said, “Oh, it looks like it’s gonna stop. I’m going for my run.”

At mile four of my hilly-six miler, when the cold spring rain was pelting me in the face like shards of glass as I ran, I had two thoughts:

1. I am so glad I opted to leave my expensive Garmin Watch at home, although I would REALLY like to know what my pace is right now.
and
2. I am so glad I didn’t opt-out of my run and do yoga.

While most sane people are looking for a good opportunity to back out of a scheduled run, the Running Junkie dreads having to back out of a run. The Running Junkie’s worst day is when he/she is sick, and not because he’s on his knees vomiting into the toilet, but because he is too weak to go outside and run. He fears he will lose fitness and God knows what else.
yoga
While creating today’s blog in my head today during my stormy run I discovered the ‘God knows what else’ of the above sentence…I think.

You see, staying inside and doing yoga this morning would have been perfect for me and my fitness. This is especially true since I did two speed-workouts yesterday (one of them completely unplanned and off the cuff) and my left leg was wound as tight at a pretzel.pretzelAn easy day full of stretching and meditation would have probably allowed my leg to mend and my muscles to repair so that my long run tomorrow would really be awesome…maybe even brag-worthy.

But I didn’t choose yoga, like so many Running Junkies out there, I chose to run.

Now I’m going to tell you a dirty little secret that only a small handful of people (maybe 3 people) are aware of. I think it is pertinent to my discovery this morning so I am willing to scar my perfect image with the sad truth of my youth.

href=”https://dianestrong.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/pills.jpg”>pills

<a

As I ran along, my shoes sloshing through mud puddles I dialed my brain back about 18 years to a time before I was married and long before I became a runner. I was in college, alone in a strange town in Montana and using pills to get me through my long days of school and work. During my college career I had developed a nasty dependency on these pills so much that I was taking them every day and barely able to pay for rent to feed the addiction. I was convinced that without the pills I would fail; fail at school, at work and in life, that I couldn't imagine a single day without my precious pills.

Occasionally I would decide to take a 'day-off' of my pills, to let my body recover and my tollerance to bounce back a little. I was taking more and more all the time, I had hoped that with a day off, maybe I wouldn't require so many pills to keep me bouncing through my day. But the planned 'day-off' seldom came. ???????????????????????????????????????
I feared it. The only way I could manage it was to stay in bed all day and sleep. A day without my pills was like a day without the sun.

Now fast forward to the me you see today, the organic food eating, running, swimming, biking mother of two and wife. I’m so far from the disaster I was almost twenty years ago. But if I look deep into my soul I have to admit I still have an addiction, I’ve just replaced it with running.

mom and kids

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Like so many Running Junkies, whether they are running from a past, a drug, a relationship or whatever, we are junkies. We can't imagine what will happen if we don't get our fix for the day. We run in the rain and do speed workouts the day before a race and choose running over yoga because there is a piece of our brain that just plain cannot imagine what will happen if we don't run. Even when we know we would be a faster runner, win more races and suffer less injuries if we just gave ourselves the recovery/rest days we need…we still run.
runner

In the last few months I have pledged to take one rest day a week. I often end up hiking or doing something active, not sleeping, but it is a day off. In return my body has rewarded me with faster tempo runs and new race PR’s (personal records). When I wake up on my rest day and think about going for a run, just a short one, I think back to my youth and tell myself, ‘No, Diane. You’re a grown-up now. You know what will happen if you don’t run…and it’s a good thing.”

But today was Wednesday, not Saturday, so I couldn’t possibly miss my run:)
must run

So, to all you Running Junkies out there, and to Tim, whom I know is going to try to squeeze a quick four mile run into his layover at San Francisco two days before his big marathon, you are not alone. At least we understand each other. Have a great run, I hope you find what you are looking for.

Happy running to all my fellow Running Junkies AND to the Sane Runners we will never be. (Yes, Running Junkie and Sane Runner DO need to be capitalized:P

#running #junkie #racing #recovery #restday #drugs #pills #training