How I am setting myself up for Failure: Why I can’t podium at races anymore

Sometimes when I write these posts I wonder my parents think if they read them. I know when my Dad hears my goals of a constant sub 20 5k he knows I can do it, but secretly thinks I am stupid. I know when my mom reads about the things I think about when I run she knows I am clearly insane… which I am. Today if they both read this post, I think they would agree on everything I am about to say, I have been setting myself up for failure.

I am obsessed with getting faster. I train, I sprint, I race. Day in and day out I live and love this life of repetitive running, but with how I live between the hours of training is setting me up to not improve. For the past five years of my life I have been living with restrictive dieting/eating disorders. My initial thought was if I am lighter I’ll be faster, and for a good time this theory proved correct. I started winning left and right, my 5k time was incredibly fast and I was happy. But then I found my love of long distance.

Have you ever been sick and not been able to eat all day, or maybe multiple days in a row? How do you feel? Tired? Sluggish? I bet you feel light, but how many miles do you think you could run on that feeling? This is my struggle.

I typically eat breakfast, a half a couple of oatmeal, maybe if I am starving in the middle of the day I’ll reach for a 90 calorie granola bar, and then I’ll pick at whatever my parents make for diner. But that’s it. To someone who does not do much, that should be enough food. For someone who runs 7 miles a day on average, will do an additional spin class, coach a sport, and wrap the day up with an ab workout, probably not enough.

My need to not consume calories is hurting my energy supply and I have realized that today during my half. On Thursday I only had an ice cream after softball practice, after a day of a 40 minute spin class. On Friday I had a bagel for breakfast, nothing all day except water, then a cup of soup for dinner. When I reached mile 6 today I was exhausted, tired, my legs were dead, I did not want to go on. I have been setting a 1 hour 40 minute goal for several of my past half’s. I have shorter distance times that support that I can run that, but when I am thrown into the race I don’t have the energy to get past eight miles.

Just yesterday I was sitting in the training room talking to one of my field hockey players when she asked me to make her a diet plan for season. I responded to her that while she is in season she will not be dieting because she will need the energy to practice and preform on the field. If I can give the advice, why can’t I follow it?

In the past several weeks, my mid-week mid distance has been cut short because I felt faint, or felt tired. Hmmm I wonder why. I was blaming everything but myself, but now that I take a step back, I have no one to blame but myself for this mess.

It’s a hard road for myself to fuel like the athlete I am. I am constantly torn between calories, and the need to be skinny. I am better than I was, but until I really let go of whatever is holding me back, I will still be the girl who fizzles out after mile 8. I have a goal to get to Boston, but how can I run a consistent pace if I’m tired and lacking energy? I’m sacred to fuel mid race because of the calories! And I can even tell you that I know how ridiculous that is!

So why am I getting this all out there? I guess I feel like a fake runner. I no longer win, I haven’t won a race since a 5k last year. I can no longer maintain my speed, I can’t maintain my 7 minute pace for longer than 5 miles, and I am embarrassed to run with people because of it. And I need help, encouragement, support, something. I need and want to get back to running my life, and hopefully admitting this is the first step to who I used to be.


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