What Happened to Ginger?

Hi guys! I’m here. But a lot has changed, which resulted in fewer posts. The last time I shared about my running was last year, after my spring marathon. Around mile 24 of that frustrating race, I had a thought that maybe I was done with competitive running. I ended up taking some time off from training after that. In the process, I took up a new hobby: stand up comedy. It was something I was always interested in doing and it seemed the perfect time to explore it. So I did, and it led to even more changes.

By the start of 2018, I was hitting up the open mics 2-4 nights a week, in a new relationship, and living in a new place by myself again. And with all of the change came challenges with trying to fit in running. Even when I wasn’t training for a competitive goal race, I was still trying to maintain running fitness.

I had been running consistently since 1999. My life revolved around miles per week, carbo loading, and endless training logs. I didn’t know any other way to operate when it came to fitness.ย But it started to get bland and I noticed I was running more so to fulfill some compulsion, such that if I didn’t run, I was going to get out of shape and gain a bunch of weight. It was not a fun way to live nor was it making running fun. Plus, it was getting hard to fit in running with my daytime job and nighttime hobby. I wasn’t even running high mileage either (less than 20 miles per week) and yet I felt the urge to explore a new route. Cilantro’s recent post gave me just the boost I needed to make a change.

Running Less, Running Faster

The first step was trying this approach to running again. It worked for me in the past when I trained for a 5k. To this day, my 5k PR still stands from taking this approach. The only difference this time is that it is a strict RLRF approach. I run three days a week now with one day being an interval run of 3-5 miles, another day a tempo run of 2.5-5 miles and a long run of 6-10 miles. What I like about this approach is that it keeps things fresh and the two days of semi-tough workouts gives me enough of a challenge to keep things interesting. I noticed that my paces started to drop over the last few weeks and I have a theory as to why.

Strength Training

Enter strength training. And not just any type of strength training. High intensity training. Dare I say Crossfit-style workouts? I haven’t crossed over to the other side just yet, but I found a way to incorporate some new strength training workouts into my weekly routine. High intensity focuses on staying in both an anaerobic and/or aerobic state as long as possible. As a result, I noticed that I’m building up my tolerance to discomfort, which is why I think I’m speeding up in my running. Most workouts are under 20 minutes so you get the biggest bang for your buck. I never knew I could get the same amount of soreness doing 20 minutes of strength training as I would running 15 miles at marathon pace. Why did I wait so long?

Some of the workouts I currently do include:ย 

  • Modified Cindy – 5 pull ups, 10 push ups, 15 air squats for as many rounds as possible in 20 minutes. I love this one because it uses my running endurance while working on strength.
  • Modified Fran – 2 sets of 21, 15, 9 continuous reps of various body weight exercises (squats, kettlebell swings, mountain climbers, push ups, walking lunges, hollow rocks, thrusters).
  • Tabata-style sessions – 4 of the different body weight exercises referenced above where you do 8 rounds of 20 seconds on and 10 seconds off.

Changing Relationship with Food

In changing my workout approach, I figured I might have to slightly change my relationship with food. As a runner and someone who tends to eat emotionally, I’ve always gravitated toward sugar. Running gave me an excuse to overindulge at times, but that left me feeling like crap afterwards. I wanted to change how I related to what I ate. There is nothing wrong with indulging but I had a habit of taking it to the next level because I was feeling bored or sad. I thought that if I ran xx miles, that meant I could eat whatever I wanted. The fault in that logic is that if I didn’t run xx miles and still ate whatever I wanted then I felt like a failure. So, I focused on utilizing more mindful eating habits.

I slightly decreased my sugar intake by just paying attention to food labels and items that were over 20 grams of sugar, paid attention to what emotions I was having late at night when I felt the urge to indulge, and tuned into to when I felt full instead of eating past the point of satiation. My goal in all of this was to treat my body a bit kinder and improve my relationship with food.

Goodbye Training Log

One last area I felt compelled to change was in logging my fitness activities, including tracking steps with my Garmin Forerunner 230. It was all starting to become something I had to do, similar to running just to say I ran and could eat whatever I wanted. I felt like I had been doing daily activities for long enough that I didn’t need the help of a log to hold me accountable. Putting the log aside feels more like a holistic approach to fitness and wellness. I am doing daily activities for movement, stress relief, and just being a living, breathing human being experiencing life.

So, that’s where I’ve been. If there is anything I’ve learned over the past few years, it’s that nothing is set in stone. Approaching our fitness and life in general with curiosity can make things more enjoyable. We’re constantly evolving, and I’m happy to share my current evolution with you all.

Have you ever stepped back and re-evaluated your relationship with food, exercise, or running?

I write about mindfulness, mental health, and the professional sport of running with the occasional poking fun at the sport. When I am not running, I'm either helping people as a counselor or trying to make them laugh as an amateur open mic comedian.

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2 comments

  1. I started working almost a year ago, and I have stepped back from running and it feels weird, but I’m good with it. Seems like a few of us all kind of needed a HUGE break from running for awhile. a little break up and time away is good. I knew I needed a break when just going out for a 3 mile run felt daunting. A break from social media has helped also. Even though as smart individuals we know we shouldn’t compare ourselves to others it’s hard not to do that sometimes. It sounds like you’re happy and that’s wonderful.