So I am second guessing my decision to run a half marathon, but maybe not for the reasons you might think – hear me out and then I would love it if you weigh in. I have no perspective in these types of situations. INTERNET, I need your advice. Eep!
:::opens up can of worms:::
I signed up to run the Seattle Rock and Roll Half Marathon a few months back after a night of imbibing and ego-fluffing, clearly. Liquid courage and a few months of CrossFitting will make you feel like you can do crazy things. I was excited at the thought of a new challenge and I am nothing, if not someone who loves to get wrapped up in a new challenge. I thrive off a good To Do List. You know this. This is the personality trait that Garrett will probably mentally order under ‘worse’ when it comes to contemplating that whole “For Better or For Worse” thing. While it is also a strength of mine, it is absolutely my Achilles heel.
When I signed up, my thought process was A) This will be a new challenge and it will feel exciting to accomplish as well as B) It will support my overarching goals to lose 50 more lbs this year. I still feel the same about option A. I am no longer doubting my ability to finish the race anymore and I totally think it will feel awesome to complete! But it is B that is beginning to feel a bit like a gray area.
I began running regularly in February and coincidentally that is also when my weight loss completely stalled. It wasn’t a total shock and it didn’t concern me too much at first (oh, who am I kidding? I had concerns in the beginning when I was only losing 6 lbs per month.) But overallI had lost 70 lbs and this wasn’t my first rodeo — I knew I would plateau at some point, so I started to tweak some things with my approach. I quit drinking alcohol completely. No change. I reduced my fruit consumption. No change. I really reigned in my carbohydrates and started tracking my food. No change. I tried Intermittent Fasting. No change. After 2 months, I hadn’t lost a single pound and it sure wasn’t for lack of effort. I was starting to get REALLY frustrated.
I continued to train for the half marathon, actually even kicking that up a notch, and I tried to remain patient because my body composition was still changing. My pants continued to get looser. If it wasn’t for my friend Sarah and the lovely AndreAnna (who sent me a box full of 12 POUNDS OF CLOTHES, God love her!) I would have absolutely nothing to wear! Things were changing, but the truth was with a goal of 50+ more pounds, something had to give because I was not comfortable staying at this weight and just saying “Oh, this is my body’s set point.” Because it is not. There was something rotten in the state of Denmark, and I was determined to figure out what it was.
Frustrated (and kind of exhausted, frankly) I had decided to take a little running hiatus. Three days per week I had been running 3-4 miles before I started work at 7am and you know what, I WAS TIRED. Especially considering that at least 2 days per week I would work until 4:30, CrossFit at 5pm and then go home to make dinner, handle things on the homefront, and try to squeeze in some active relaxing before I would crap out on the couch just to get up and do it all over again. It was becoming a bit of a grind, and I just didn’t want it to be like that.
I have a tendency to get a little obsessive with goals so trying to employ some things I have learned about balance over the last 8 months, I took this opportunity to try and intervene before I got to the point of quitting out of exhaustion. I weighed my options (no pun intended) about what could give a little, and I chose to take the break from running because even though I enjoy, it can’t hold a candle to how much I love CrossFit. I couldn’t imagine a week without CrossFit, and I thought I could ease off the running without much consequence since I had plenty of time to get back on the wagon before the Half Marathon in June.
My last run was March 24th. Since that run I have yet to get back outside to run or hopped on the treadmill. I have continued CrossFitting 3-4 times per week but I ditched my food tracking and just went back to eating an unweighed, unmeasured Paleo diet because I wanted to get back to being intuitive about my eating. You know with my obsessive personality there is nothing that drives me to insanity quicker than tracking my food. I started having a glass of wine again with dinner on the weekends because DAMMIT! I really enjoy that and don’t like feeling deprived. I bought a giant box of mangoes from Costco and I have been shameless eating them for dessert nightly and that one act alone has brought more joy to my life that you can even imagine. Fresh Mangoes! I could write a love poem about them, but I will spare you.
Also, I lost 7 lbs.
And the only difference was that I was exercising less and enjoying what I eat more. This weight loss journey is just abolutely messes with your mind sometimes, doesn’t it?
I was doing some hop scotching around Mark’s Daily Apple (a great resource for Primal/Paleo info!) and I read The Case Against Cardio. I think he does a succinct job at explaining why rigorous aerobic activity isn’t always a great way to burn fat, but talk about an idea that goes against everything you’ve ever been taught about losing weight. But hey, so does going Paleo, and that seems to be working out pretty swimmingly for me in the big scheme of things! So I kept an open mind. Then I re-read this article about chronic cardio and a little light bulb in my head went off. It was actually this passage that got me thinking:
This kind of training…raises cortisol levels, increases oxidative damage, systemic inflammation, depresses the immune system and decreases fat metabolism. About the only good thing it does in improve cardiac muscle strength – and even then you get to the point of diminishing returns fairly quickly.
Was I doing myself a disservice with all the running without even meaning to?
Needless to say I haven’t been super excited to get back on the treadmill. Sure I have missed it a little bit, but when I go to bed each night and think, “Should I set my alarm for 4am tomorrow and get back on the treadmill?” I never feel the pull of the Siren’s song like I do when I skip CrossFit. I don’t want to stop running forever, don’t worry out there my favorite running buddies! But part of me feels like at this point in my journey, running might need to take a back seat. I am trying to see the forest through the trees here, and my major goal this year is to lose the weight. That is Numero Uno. I don’t want to do anything to hinder that. But I also don’t think I will be able to show up in June and perform well in this Half Marathon if I don’t get back on the training bandwagon — when I stopped running I was only doing about 5-6 miles comfortably. That would obviously need to improve and I am thinking my abilities may have even decreased with the time I’ve taken off, who knows?
The last little nagging thing is that we are already registered to the tune of a few hundred dollars that is non-refundable if we opt out of the race. This point is moot whether we run or not, that money is spent. But if we do choose to run it, we will also have to fork over at least an additional $600-800 for plane fare/hotel/food/etc at a minimum.
I’m starting to wonder whether it is worth the cost. Physically. Mentally. Financially. But damn if the idea of giving up on a goal doesn’t chap my stubborn hide!
I’m struggling. Any words of wisdom, internet?