Why Jumping Into A Fitness & Nutrition Program As A Runner Is A Good Idea
2 hours, 5 minutes, 14 seconds. That’s when I crossed the finish line at the Gettysburg Blue & Grey Half Marathon. I actually exceeded my goal. I wanted to finish within 2 hours and 20 minutes. I also wanted to be able to run the whole time—and I did! I am amazed at and grateful for what my body can do. But fitness isn’t simply meeting a goal and being done. It’s a process. That’s why I started my next 21 day fitness and nutrition journey the day after my second half marathon.
When I first started running, it was really the only exercise I was doing. Going to a gym was a trigger for my anxiety and depression, so running was what I had. At first, I saw results. My stamina was better, I had lost weight, I felt better. But pretty soon, I stopped seeing those results, and it began to spin me into a depressive episode. Through a friend, I discovered a home fitness program that paired fitness with nutrition. I was skeptical—I was running and exercising, why would I need to worry about my nutrition? The gym at my apartment wasn’t cutting it because I felt so lost in there—I didn’t know what exercises to do to focus on which part of my body. So, I started the exercise program, thinking the worst that could happen was that it wasn’t for me. As I embarked on that first 21 days, though, I realized that part of the reason I wasn’t seeing any more results with my running was because I wasn’t fueling my body properly. Not only that, but running wasn’t giving me all the conditioning I needed. Yes, I enhanced my endurance, but I was missing proper strength training.
Since that first month, I have completed that 21 day routine 3 times. I haven’t always been the best at sticking to nutrition, but this time is different. I am more determined than ever. My race has fueled my desire to be better than I was.
So, what good does a separate fitness and nutrition plan do for a runner?
You build strength.
Like I said, running gives you endurance, but weights build strength. Why do you need strength? So your back doesn’t ache at mile 5. So your legs can carry you through those last 3 miles. So you can run with your head held high.
It helps you figure out just what your nutrition needs to look like.
If you’re anything like me, I hate counting calories. I tried it a few times, but I could never keep up with it. It was too much work to be honest. Then I went from counting calories to simply depleting the amount of food I ate. Let’s be clear here: I only ate less, I was still not eating well. A nutrition program can help you see how many calories you need to maintain your weight and fitness level, and it can show you, based on those needs, how much of each type of food you need to eat every day. My program is really simple—I have little colored containers that correspond to each food type, and I fill those a set amount of time each day (based on the calculations for my body), and I get the nutrients I need to stay fueled.
It provides a schedule and routine.
Do you schedule your runs? Maybe you do long runs on weekends and short runs after work. (That’s what I do.) As adults, we have to schedule everything into our day. Knowing the type of workout you’re going to do can help you plan for your day and even your week. And once you do do it enough, it’ll just become a habit. Plus, sometimes routines can help us calm our minds.
It also changes things up.
I don’t know about you, but as much as I enjoy running, sometimes I just don’t want to. Having a separate fitness program provides a bit of a change.
If you’ve done any sort of fitness, you know nutrition is important. But it’s not always easy to know what to eat for your activity level. Taking part in another fitness regimen that ties in nutrition can help you get on track. And, for me, I need that after a race because I’m so inclined to eat junk, thinking “I deserve this! I ran 13 miles!”
If you’re curious about what I’m talking about, be sure to sign up for the newsletter and drop me a message.
So, fellow runners, let’s try to remember not to eat all the doughnuts after the race. And let’s keep running those miles.
Have you ever hit a plateau when you were running? What did that look like? How did you overcome it?
What does your nutrition regimen look like?
Do you pair your running with other fitness types? What do you do?