The new year has rolled around, and it’s the end of my first week of Winter term at PSU and the end of the first week back in school for the kids at my job. It’s also the start of anticipation for my goal this year: qualify for the 2016 Olympic Marathon trials. Things are getting real. The first speed workout is on the books for February 3…..gulp!
I’ve mainly managed to avoid post-holiday blues and deep spiraling depression by staying focused on my weekly schedule. I’m busier than ever, trying to fit class and running into my morning and then work in the afternoon. The weekends are a time for more running and all the homework and errands I didn’t have time to do during the week. True to my detail-oriented, organized ways I even made a weekly schedule to follow….right down to the bus times….I followed it all week and I am amazed to say that it worked incredibly well. I think also implementing a bedtime for myself to make sure I get enough sleep to keep going also played a key factor.
I actually got this pretty amazing idea from a Tedx Talk: Habits of Highly Boring People. The point of the talk was that really successful people, world leaders, tech geniuses, elite athletes, are all actually really boring in their everyday lives. But by being boring and routine in everyday, mundane decision-making, they have freed up all their mental capacities to devote to, and be incredible in their passions and major focuses of life. My major focus right now is to run a 2:37 marathon in the Newport Marathon on May 31st. To do that, I am willing to sacrifice a social life, go to bed early, and be generally boring so that I have the energy to run and recuperate everyday, as well as keep up with my 4 classes and have energy to devote to work.
In the long-term approach, I desire to be an Olympian, or at least a strong contender……and short term sacrifices are completely worth it. When I think of the elites I so admire, Shalane Flanagan, Kara Goucher, and the male elites, Meb Keflezighi, Ryan Hall, and the many others, I think of what they must do in their everyday lives: they run, they sleep, eat well, and if they have families (like mom Kara) they attend to those matters…but that’s it. They are focused and devoted to their goal, like I need to be to mine if I want to have any sort of fighting chance.
I want to talk about one more thing. I struggle with an eating disorder. I’ve mentioned it a lot here on my blog. It’s probably fostered some concern, or maybe even dismissal from some readers (she’s a girl, of course she has food issues, etc.) But it’s a huge problem that I need to overcome if I am going to have any chance as a highly competitive runner. I’ve made a lot of strides (no pun intended) in the past week or so, eating more good foods and bingeing and purging less. Again, this all comes down to what I truly want, and if I truly want to be an Olympic level marathoner, this has to stop.
I recently read a great book, Brain Over Binge by Kathryn Hanson about taking back control and quitting binge eating once and for all. I highly recommend this book. It wasn’t about fixing your problems in life, alleviating depression, or finding other coping mechanisms…..it was strictly about stopping yourself from putting excessive amounts of highly palatable binge foods into your mouth. The main premise was that binge eating is a habit, it’s been wired into your brain and when you try to stop the urges to binge get stronger and stronger until you feel you cannot resist because habits are extremely powerful. Binge eating is simply a bad habit, it is possible to break habits by not doing the compulsion and over time my synapses will weaken and the compulsion to binge eat should lessen. Until then, I have to remember that I am in control and can choose to detach and ignore the cravings. No fighting or reasoning with the urges is necessary, I just need to ignore them enough. It’s so simple. I’ve never read a book about recovery that strictly addresses the cessation of binge eating over everything else. I have to say, I am convinced! It’s a great book, full of good advice, and very self-empowering.
I bring this up, because to my surprise, my running coach asked me about my nutrition the other week. He said, “You are very skinny, and I need to make sure you don’t have an eating disorder like anorexia.” I was shocked. None of my previous coaches, or any of the people influential to my running has ever brought up eating disorders with me point bank, to my face. First of all, he’s a male and in his 70s! I would assume him to be out of touch, and just think that I am skinny because I am a vegan and run a lot, like everyone else assumes. I was also touched, here is a coach who cares about me and my health, he doesn’t just look at me as promotional advertising or a race time. So now I have even more incentive to not let him down, I will not be the one who drops the ball on reaching my running goal.
So here’s to a new me, a new goal and renewed focus.