Marathon training is hard! No joke! After my 17 miler and stomach issues on Sunday I desperately needed a rest day by Monday.
Tuesday: 5.3 miles at 9.20 min/mile pace
Wednesday: 8.3 miles at 7.53 min/mile pace. Stomach issues completely gone!
Thursday: 4.2 trail miles at 9.50 min/mile pace + express yoga class. My legs felt really tired on this run. And my half-moon is still not happening. Getting closer but so awkward.
Friday: 1 hour strength training. Right leg slowly catching up.
Most of my gym hours are done in zombie mode – 6 AM is not conducive to human interaction. But this morning I noticed one of the summer regulars. I see this girl every time I’m at the gym, which is usually once, occasionally twice a week, and she is hitting the elliptical/treadmill like it’s going out of fashion. And every time I see her, I get flashbacks to college and watching one of my close friends being taken over by anorexia. Now, I don’t know personally know this girl and she could be perfectly healthy or have some health issues not obvious to a perfect stranger (and I know some people have a difficult time putting on weight and are shamed for being too thin) but seeing her is a trigger for me.
This trigger is seeing someone who is clearly exercising just to burn calories. Someone with no body fat but also no muscle definition. With that cover of downy hair, sunken eyes, wearing baggy clothes. It brings me back to the time when m friend turned into someone else – with no interest in ANYTHING. Literally fading away in front of my eyes. It was terrifying looking in from the outside so I can only imagine what it is like to live INSIDE. She did eventually “recover” (and I use this term lightly – this is a forever illness), but this period has made me hyper aware of the dangers of crossing that fine line into disordered behaviors. I periodically will check in with myself to make sure that the exercise/eating that I’m doing is healthy and not obsessive. That I shouldn’t feel guilty for missing a workout, or taking a little extra dessert. If you’re doing good 90% of the time then that is plenty good enough.
This brings me to something else that has been on my mind lately: trigger blogs. These are blogs that I read that are supposedly focused on healthy living but are clearly written by someone with disordered thoughts about exercise/food. I’ll often wonder if I’m doing enough by running only 35 miles a week. Crazy, huh? Then I’ll quickly wake up and realize that I’m following a well-tested marathon training plan with specific aims and one that includes designated rest days/workout days/crosstraining. No junk miles here.
And I know that I’m lucky that I can have these thoughts and almost immediately dismiss them, but a lot of people aren’t so lucky. These fitspo blogs can encourage compulsive/obsessive behaviors – and that is completely irresponsible. Sure, professional runners routinely log 100+ miles per week, but they also take naps during the day, sleep 9+ hours a night and replace ALL of those calories to fuel their training. All of those miles serve a purpose – and that just isn’t to burn calories – but to get faster, stronger or go longer.
This can also translate into “healthy” eating. To me, healthy eating mean eating a variety of fruit, veggies, grains, dairy – with nothing being off limits (unless you have an allergy, obviously). Personally, I think egg yolks are great to eat, you don’t need to make a cauliflower crust pizza, nutritional yeast has no place on human food and real pancakes are just fine. Balance is the key. By putting restrictions on food, creating “good” and “bad” foods it is easy to develop an unhealthy obsession with otherwise healthy eating – orthorexia. This is a lot easier to disguise as plain ol’ healthy lifestyle. But symptoms may include:
- Planning their daily menu more than 24 hours in advance
- Getting more pleasure from the perceived virtue of food than from actually eating it
- Decreased quality of life as the focus on “better” quality food increases
- Being increasingly rigid and self-critical about their eating
- Defining self-esteem and self worth by the quality of food they eat
- Having a lower opinion of people who do not eat what they deem healthy
- Describing healthy food as “pure,” “proper,” or “correct”
- Eating only at home where they have total control of the food, therefore withdrawing socially
- Feeling guilt or self-loathing when they eat “incorrect” food
And I can see how that can happen. You cut out junk food and feel a million times better. Then you decide to cut out something else and maybe feel even better but at some point it becomes a fine line between eliminating certain foods from your diet and becoming constricted by a rigid set of rules about how to eat “right”.
As bloggers (and people!) I think that we have an obligation to check in with ourselves and make sure that what we are sharing with the world is positive. I love to exercise and to eat (and I am conscious of the food that I buy/prepare/eat) but I need to step back and make sure that I’m being responsible – for my own health and for anyone who might stumble across this blog.
Apologies in advance if I’ve offended anyone with this post but it’s something that’s been on my mind for a while.