Fitness Diary, Week 6 of 52

And just like that, the first month of the year is over!

Did you know that it was my blog’s eighth anniversary last week? When I first started blogging, it was hard to imagine a blog being around for that long — but here we are and I’m still running and writing about fitness, although I don’t go to races as much as I used to.

What have I learned in the last eight years?

Well, for one thing, that I’m not as young as I used to be and that some of the things that I used to do, I can’t anymore without paying some sort of physical penalty. (Like, for instance, racing a marathon and an Olympic distance triathlon on successive weekends.) Another thing I’ve learned, which has grown even more evident to me lately, is that being able to run fast and/or long is not a requirement for staying healthy or losing weight — although the enjoyment and sense of accomplishment one gets from finishing a race is certainly still something worth pursuing.

Over the past six weeks, I’ve lost approximately six pounds and shaved off ten percent of my body fat. I’ve done this not by running long and fast, but going for a maximum of 55 minutes of walking and running, three times a week. The times I am running are nowhere close to my old personal records, either. I thought it was all really strange until I realized that because I wasn’t running at efforts my brain thought were extraordinary, I didn’t feel entitled to eating anything I wanted. I also removed a lot of stress from my work life (by letting go of an exciting but heavy project) and found that I wasn’t stress-eating as much.

So really, managing my weight has boiled down to exercising moderately five times a week, and not overeating.

But weight control is a lot different from personal fulfillment. I miss when I could go out for a 10K race on Sunday, get a PR or hew close to it, and wake up feeling great the next day. I’m not back at that level of fitness yet, but crossing a finish line gives a bigger endorphin high than that from finishing an hour on the treadmill or completing a circuit session.

Maybe the most important thing I’ve learned in the last eight years is this: I’ve got my whole life ahead of me to engage in running and triathlon. These are lifestyle sports that many age groupers continue to do way into their 60’s, which means I am looking at potentially another 30 years of enjoying the sports I love.

(Aside: I am really, really thankful my paycheck doesn’t depend on whether I win races. Let us all sit back and appreciate the magnificence of what professional athletes do.)

So there’s no big rush for me to get back into the swing of things. That’s been my downfall in the past, and I refuse to continue making those same mistakes. So, I will get back to racing eventually, depending on how my body responds to increasing my training hours and intensity.

For now, I am happy I can still run!

(In photo: the Nike Zoom Fly I’ve been using for running these past weeks!)

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