30th December 2014
I’ve been doing some reading whilst I was away. (Did you even notice that I was gone)? A lot of it about running. Funny, that, hey? Me, reading about running. Well, actually, it was a first! Until recently, I’d never read anything about running or by a runner. Not in book form, anyway. (Runnersworld doesn’t count – that’s just actually running, in my mind….) But ahead of attempting Comrades, I felt that I ought to bone up on running knowledge and a bit of runner’s lore.
A friend at work – a runner – who is lean and spry, commented that I’d have to be careful whilst I was training for Comrades to keep my weight up. Oh I wish! But this is unlikely to be the case. You see, I am like a labrador. I do not have a “full” trigger in my brain. And I’m pretty sure I’m addicted to sugar.
Besides, I’m carrying extra weight right now, so I have a stash of kilos up my sleeve. (Well, round my waist, to be fair). If not addressed fairly quickly, I will have to rename myself The Jelly-belly Runner… Christmas hasn’t helped with its mandated constant stream of chocolate being delivered into my mouth as if by Santa’s elves themselves and then washed down with wine… But even before that, and despite the fact that I now run more often and more distance than ever, the weight has been steadily creeping up since the day I officially finished the first round of Michelle Bridges’ 12wbt programme. That worked really well at the time – I lost 8kgs. Good effort, I thought. And no-one in our house was murdered. (It was a close run thing in the first week, as I was feeling a teensy bit deprived when the family were tucking into takeaway, but by week 3 they were eating my “diet” food, as it was substantially yummier than anything I’d have bothered to attempt, on the rare occasion that I would cook: I am no chef). But the food was so good that our meals are still based predominantly on the recipes from the programme.
So I wanted to know how/if running can assist with weight-loss, and the search for answers started with Born to Run by Christopher McDougall. An account of how an overweight, permanently injured man went on to running an ultra in inhospitable canyon terrain (and lost some weight into the bargain). At least, that’s what it’s about on the face of it, but in actual fact, it recounts so many enthralling stories of people, places and a fading way of life; it’s a really riveting read. But it didn’t give me the answers I needed. It did, however, provide some clues.
Chris ran his crazy ultra with a couple of guys and as luck would have it, both have written books. Scott Jurek, a running machine who wins 100 mile races and Eric Orton, who trained Chris back to running health. I’ve just started Scott’s book Eat & Run. Not only is he a beast over huge distances, he’s a vegan. I’ve not read all of it, but it’s on a par with Born to Run for readability and enjoyability, plus it has vegan recipes that look decidedly yum!
Eric wrote The Cool Impossible, which documents his training methods and sets out a programme. (Ideally for use in the off season, so something I might come back to). But the thing that grabbed my attention most, was the chapter “Eat Well, Run Well”. It doesn’t espouse any particular “diet”: he’s not advocating vegan or paleo or any other particular way of eating. But he does believe in whole foods and avoiding junk and only eating to appetite.
Hey! I heard that sigh. I know, it’s nearly the new year, so we need to get healthy and that means trying some new whizz-o diet or fast or detox, right? But that’s the realisation that suddenly dawned as I’ve been picking my way through these tomes. I need to find something that works for me, long term. I’m sick of the yo-yo. I’m sick of my running clothes feeling tight, not to mention my regular stuff. I want a way of eating that is more or less effortless, so that on the days when I’m running late from work, the kids have all got activities at opposite ends of town and I only have some wilted celery, a tin of tuna and some chickpeas in a dark corner at the back of the pantry, I can do something with that, rather than needing a list of gourmet ingredients whose name I can’t pronounce, let alone know where to find on the shelves in Woolies. When it gets too hard, I either head to the nearest takeaway joint or grab a trolley full of processed convenience food. And I usually find several bags of lollies (sweets) magically appear in my shopping bag and then proceed to eat the best part of a bag of liquorice in the car (just to fuel myself to get home). Sound familiar? Maybe.
So, if you need something to start, Eric throws down the challenge to remove sugar from your diet entirely for 20 days. You can still eat fruit, but no artificially added sugar. And I’ve been looking on the labels on the food in my cupboards: I will be eating meat and veggies, pretty much. And sadly, no jelly beans, or any other lolly from the exceedingly long list of sweet treats that I love. They are not truly my friend. 🙁 Other than that, there’s no need for portion control, but you must only eat to appetite. (Bit worried about that one, for reasons mentioned above). And drink at least 2 litres of water per day. Then see how you feel. He reckons you’ll see a weight-loss, so I’m giving that a go. Here’s to losing the jelly-belly and feeling a bit more jolly whilst running!
Do you have weight-loss goals for 2015? What’s your strategy?