I’m fit. I mean, compared to the average Jo(e), I’m fit. I’d wager that most regular runners are. I can run up the stairs without getting out of breath. I can run around after my son without (much) trouble. I’d hope I could outrun any potential danger. I can bash out a sub-25 5k on demand, and I’m strong for my size (weak glutes and hips aside).
But am I healthy? I’m tired 90% of the time, I rarely feel ‘sparkly’ and full of vitality, and I don’t recover from hard sessions particularly well. Sure, there’s not much *actually* wrong with my health – no illnesses and what not, but I certainly don’t feel that my health is top-notch.
I’ve hit a bit of a plateau with my running – a year now without a new PB (although I’ve got my eye on a half marathon one next month) and I feel like I’m struggling to make progress. I’ve upped my training, now regularly running 4 times a week rather than my previous 3, I’m making a concerted effort to strengthen my aforementioned lazy glutes, and late Spring will see the start of my training plan for Loch Ness Marathon, which I’m hopeful will yield results and a marathon PB (not difficult when London was such a disaster).
But. I know that to make real progress I need to work on everything else too, and I’m sure that at the root of it all is my inadequate nutrition. Put simply, I don’t eat enough. I’ve always had the appetite of a mouse and have gotten away with it. But running, and marathon training in particular has given me nowhere to hide; I’m not giving my body enough fuel to do what I’m asking of it.
What I do eat is relatively healthy – and January’s aim to eat less chocolate during the day and more water has seen an increase in energy levels – but I need to eat more. Sounds simple, but some deep-rooted issues are at play here – I no longer see being the skinny one as my identity – I want to be stronger and bigger – but even during pregnancy when I had the greatest excuse on earth to eat more I didn’t let myself. There’s a mental block there, and I’m still not sure how easy that’s going to be to overcome.
I’m working with Kate and Sophie at Go Faster Food, who are helping me develop more nutritious and sustaining meals in order to get me to Loch Ness in the best shape possible, and change my relationship with food. I’m also taking on the challenge of fuelling my marathon training and the race itself, naturally. No more gels for me; I’m hoping that by only taking on natural fuel during runs (dried apricots and Go Faster Go Bites are my current successes) I’ll also be able to avoid the stomach issues that plagued my London Marathon experience, as well as keeping my blood sugar on a more even keel thus avoiding migraines, which have also been an issue for me historically.
I’ll be sharing how I get on, but it’s safe to say I’m apprehensive. Food has always been a bit of an issue for me and I know that trying to change my lifelong habits is going to involve some serious willpower, but it’s the missing piece of my ‘healthy’ puzzle, so I’m determined to crack it.