POUNDING PAVEMENT

Three and a half weeks ago, I laced up my sneakers and began my annual 3 season sport of pounding pavement and I struggled. I truly struggled to get through the 3 mile route I had mapped out. After a winter solely focused on weight training and minimal cardio my body was no longer the long and lean machine it had been last summer. However, one of the biggest lessons running has taught me is one of perseverance. My mind always tries to chicken out before my body does and it’s pushing through these moments where the magic happens. This is where I grow.

Once again, I am reminded how quickly the body adapts. We evolved from athletes. While some of us are more athletically blessed than others, we are all programmed to physically adapt to our climates. Three and a half weeks ago, I finished my 3 miler with every muscle in my lower body aching, my heart pounding, and my lungs starving for oxygen. I had pushed myself to the point of nausea and I felt like a failure. Fast forward to week four (this week) and I am pushing through 7 milers with strong stems, a steady heartbeat, and abundant air in my lungs. This is a big win for me because I tore both of my iliotibial bands in high school and long distance running has always been out of the question.

Last night I finished my run with a .25 mile sprint and literally had to force myself not to keep going. The truth is though that while runners look forward to the runs where they feel literally feel invincible, we immediately start formulating a way to create complete exhaustion again. We have learned that pain equals reward. Running is a hard sport. It requires self discipline in the purest form, a lot of heart, commitment, and a tad bit of crazy.

This year I have decided that I wanted to run for more than just exercise and endorphins. I want to run for self-awareness. I want to learn my physical and mental “limitations” and then surpass them.

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MUSCLE vs. FAT

First of all let me reiterate how much I HATE scales. As an aspiring dietitian, I am constantly stressing that they are never a true evaluation of a persons health. Remember weight is just a number! It comes as a shock to most individuals along their health/fitness journeys, when the number on the scale does not reflect the image they see in the mirror or the way their clothes fit. How is it possible that we can weigh MORE, but wear clothes two sizes SMALLER?

The answer is that as we set fitness goals and achieve them, we are often replacing fat with muscle, and although the two weigh the SAME, their densities differ significantly. A five foot five 25-year-old female may weigh 130 pounds and appear leaner than she did at 125 pounds, simply because she gained lean muscle and reduced her body fat.

As a female, one of the most frustrating things I hear from many young women is that they don’t weight train because they will gain muscle and look bulky. Not only does muscle improve body composition, but the more muscle you have on your body, the more calories you burn throughout the day. In other words, muscle gain boosts your metabolism, allowing you to consume more.

I am a cardio queen, but I weight train 5 days a week because I have seen major body composition improvements, I can eat more, and I experience psychological benefits as well (great confidence boost!!). If you have limited time to spend at the gym, I would suggest cutting your cardio short by at least 15 minutes and slowly adding some weight training. Don’t be shy to ask someone to show you how to do something. I have had several people come to me for advice and I NEVER MIND! Most of the time people are flattered and more than willing to help. If this makes you embarrassed, you can often watch videos online and start out at home or request a trainer at your gym. In a month, I promise you won’t regret it!