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May 31, 2017

How to Run to Get Faster, Stronger and Leaner

I remember my very first race as a kid (my dad literally pulled me through it LOL). I was a chubby kid and my parents were very active so naturally they were always trying to get me to exercise. My dad was the guy who left on Saturdays for local races.

It was the last thing I wanted to do.  In fact, I hated it. I could not imagine why people actually did this for fun.

Fast forward to college, I gained the normal 15 from pizza and too much “stuff” and started to run mainly to lose some weight. I was poor, and running was something I could do without much equipment and honestly I really loved the sweat.

I lost a few lbs.

As with most new runners, I got the “itch.” I started to sign up for every damn race within 50 miles. I started to race competitively and fell in love with the run. I always rolled my eyes when people said that like WHAT? Until it happened. I got it. I “raced” my first 5K and I remember it like yesterday.

The endorphins, the clarity, the focus. Such a great feeling.  I was a “runner.”  So proud.  And my dad, well he was over the moon.

Since then I have raced over 200 races from 5K to marathon and even did a tri in there. I have run on the pavement, on the trails, in different states. I love the running atmosphere and community.

But even though I have identified as a runner for years, I didn’t always look like one, meaning I spent many years puffy, overweight, hungry and injured. If they make a brace for it, I have it. Seriously.

Between me loving to run and racing all those races I have been through different “stages,” meaning that I was the girl who ran everyday to now only running 1-2 times a week.  Seriously, max is 2 days per week as of now.  I’ve also had two kids in there :)

When I was running everyday and hitting higher mileage, my body was puffy, injured, tired and a metabolic disaster. I was sent from doctor to doctor because I was GAINING weight while running.

I was on meds for thyroid, got diagnosed with PCOS and had a helluava time getting pregnant (by the way, if I would have just stopped running so much, got my hormones under control and lost some weight I would not have had even close to the amount of issues I did).

So let me paint this picture for you clearly: I was out there DYING and my clothes were getting tighter.  WTF?

I remember when I signed up for my first marathon.  It was a “bucket list” thing but in the back of my head, I was thinking, “I am going to show up to the starting line fit.  I am going to run 26.2 AND be fitter than ever.”

WRONG. So damn wrong.

I was that girl who showed up TWENTY pounds heavier for my first marathon.  My dad actually flew across country to watch me and his first comment was “what happened to you?” Lolol.

I don’t even have a picture of me on race day because my shirt I had made was so tight that I took one from the back for the “memory.” How sad is that?  I refused to get any race pics because I hated how I looked.

I would do run long runs on Saturday morning and for the last 5 or so miles start planning what I was going to eat.  So by 9am, I had downed a footlong sub, no questions asked.  Was it meatball or tuna?  And let’s not even talk about what else I ate that day.  Insatiable hunger and the cravings, worse than when I was pregnant.

I was a running #allthemiles so naturally I should be eating like this. Or so I thought.

It was miserable.  Yes I loved to run but running overweight was FAR from fun. I was slow AF, injured, and could not stop eating. So my love of the run was there but not really.  I am all about running but if I feel like shit and look like shit because of it then I was missing the boat.  Clearly.

So here I was … running everyday and gaining weight. This may not be everyone’s experience but to say I was shocked, saddened and confused AF would be an understatement. I always thought, the more the exercise, the better the results, right?

Well, that was until I adopted the #RunningBeyondBaby philosophy.

I knew that the “old school” way of simply running was not cutting it, plus at this point running wasn’t even fun. My clothes were not even fitting and yet here I was running 30 miles a week. No thanks!
I love to run but I am also the girl who wants to look like a runner. If running more meant I was going to gain weight and get softer, I wasn’t really that into it.

At least as my go-to form of exercise for body change. If I walk to that starting line I want feel confident standing in the 7:00/mile group.  I want to look fit AF.

Enter training to run.

Very different approach than running to train. In fact, the total opposite.

Training to run meant that I was going to train (off the pavement) to be a better runner. I was going to run less to run faster.

Not only am I faster and stronger NOW (even after 2 babies), I am so much leaner.

AND I am still hitting PR’s at 36.

Crazy right?

I cannot tell you how many women I talk to that start to run or run more attempting to lose weight. Unfortunately, the two do not go hand in hand.

You simply cannot run your way to lean and toned.

Been there and ended up with PCOS and adrenal fatigue.

Yes you might lose a few pounds running BUT most will not lose a single ounce of fat and most will actually gain fat as they lose muscle in the process.

And let’s not even mention #eatingALLthefood and feeling completely out of whack hormonally. No one wants that. Especially as we age and our bone density decreases and our metabolism slows, the last thing we want is to lose lean muscle.

“So wait, you are telling me that I am not going to lose weight running?”

Not exactly, but I am telling you that running alone will not cut it and you must train to run by limiting your time on the pavement and increasing your time with strength training. I am not talking about donkey kicks or added HIIT here either.

By training efficiently, you are no longer wasting your time on the pavement (no one has extra time) or spinning your wheels.  And you will get faster and change the shape of your body while still running.  You can have both.

By incorporating the right strength training into your plan on top of a couple very specific running days, you can maximize your training AND look like you run.

We all want to be a faster, stronger and more efficient runner of course.  And most of us want to look like we run as well.

The main takeaways here are: you need more than just running. You don’t need to run everyday (in fact you shouldn’t), you must add strength training into your plan AND my favorite, you absolutely can be strong and fast as a mother runner!


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