Wednesday, March 08, 2006


There comes a time in every former fat girl's life where her thoughts turn to maintenance. Either the imminent necessity of doing it, or the complete failure to think about it at the right time. Bizarrely I think that I'm coming at maintenance in two separate areas at the same time, but I'm realising the same thoughts need to apply to both.

I've always liked something big to aim for. I remember the day I qualified as a solicitor I felt deflated, because I didn't know what I was meant to aim for now. Whether it's tasks I set myself or pleasure, I like something planned for the future. The day I get back off a holiday I feel the need to start looking for my next one. The day after a race I wonder what I should be training for next. I like to have an aim. And recently, that aim has always been something bigger, better, more challenging than the one before. Whether it was moving from 5k to 10k to half marathon, or from a 50lb lost goal to 70, 80, 90, 100. (Indeed there's always been goal creep on the weight loss front as I'm starting to think of my goal as more like 155 than 160).

But over recent days I've started to realise that I can't keep pushing myself like this, always wanting something more. If I get to 155, what then? If I run a marathon, what after that? Eventually in everything I do I'll reach the limit where I really can't go any further, or not without changes to my life that I'm not prepared to make. At some point I'm going to have to be happy with staying at the level I'm at. (For running there is the option of running the same distance a little quicker at least, but in terms of always aiming for a longer race, there is a limit).

I need to fundamentally change my mindset to a point where I'm happy where I am. I've never been in that position before, with my weight or my fitness. I've never been in a place where I can sit back and say, this is it. This is where I need to be. I don't need to try any harder or push any further. As long as I do enough to stay here this is enough. I've never thought like that, and I worry that it will be hard to start thinking like that.

Where this really struck me was in looking at marathon training schedules last night. I'm never knowingly underprepared for anything, and I wanted to count back and double check when I need to start working towards Berlin, and what level I need to be at to start the training proper. And it struck me that not only do I only need to start training in earnest at the beginning of July (I'd been thinking mid May for some reason), the first few weeks of the sub 4 hour schedule I was looking at are less than I currently run. It says that to start off all you need is to be running for at least 20 miles per week and long runs of an hour. Last week I was recovering from the half marathon and still ran 22 miles including a long run of 1 hour 15. That was a light week compared to what I'd been doing in the run up to Blackpool.

So this led me to wonder what exactly I'm going to do between now and July. After all, the increases in my fitness over the past year (and the associated weight loss) have largely come because I've pushed myself for longer and longer each time, racking up more miles, or minutes. I've got faster too, but it has been the increases in my mileage that have really impressed me. The fact that I can run for two hours solid, for example. But now I'm in the situation where I don't need to increase at all over what I already do. Doing that would only make an injury more likely (no matter how tempting it is for me to think that starting to increase now would make the marathon easier). I could afford to scale back my mileage and still be in a position to start training for a sub 4 hour run in July. In fact it may even benefit me if I give my legs a bit of a rest from excessive mileage.

But scale back my mileage?

That's the sort of thing that tends to be unthinkable in my brain. It goes against my tendency to push for more and more and more. It makes me scared that I'll lose the fitness that I've built up, and that I'll be in a worse position come July than I'm in now. Which is precisely what scares me about weight maintenance. That I'll start sliding back, and undo the hard work that I've done. I know that it makes sense, and I know that it's what I should do, but the thought scares me. I'm scared of scaling back my exercise and eating a little more freely. How did that happen?

As far as the running goes, I have a plan to help convince myself that fewer miles is a good thing. At the moment my times are on the upper edges of what it suggests to be using the sub 4 hour schedule. (The upper edge being a minute or so above the suggested starting half marathon time...). So I'm going to try to concentrate on speed rather than distance, and try to give myself a nice solid base of running a little faster before I go back into distance running. The aim is going to be to get under 50 minutes for a 10k, and I'm entered for three between now and June which gives me a few opportunities to do that. I'm going to keep my long runs slightly longer than 10k (probably around 8 miles), and allow myself one longer run every three or four weeks or so, but nothing over 12 or 13 miles. I'm still considering entering the Blackpool Half Marathon, but I won't train specifically for it, I'll just use it as an extended training run to get more experience of racing longer distances than 10k. I will not run more than 30 miles in a week unless I have a very good reason for it, and I will make sure that my shorter runs focus on the quality of the session rather than the distance I'm running.

And for the weight, we'll see what happens. I'm not intending to scale back as such with what I'm eating, but I really want to resist the temptation to think "if I am strict with my eating this week I might drop another pound". Another pound at this point would be nice, but not essential, and I need to start accepting that. I'd rather learn to eat as normally as my status as "reduced obese" allows rather than nurturing messed up attitudes to food for longer than necessary.

So, that's the challenge ahead. To be happy to stay roughly where I am for a while.


Blogger Tashie said...

I don't know quite what to say. I lost 20 lbs awhile back while visiting 3FC, and got to know your website. I'm now back up 15 lbs...let's say I blame it on stress. But honestly, it's me who puts the food in my mouth and me who continues my path in maintaining my "fat chick" status.

Your website and posts continue to bring me back to check up on you. I want most desperately to be where you are. I want you to know how unbelievably proud I am to know that you are still going strong. It makes me believe there is hope for me.

11:27 PM  

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