Talk at Gustavus – Goal Setting and Nutrition

I went down to Gustavus last Friday to partake in a workout with the
team.  It’s their early camp and they had
a longer up-tempo workout – super fun to be able to run with the team!  Gosh, it makes me miss college & the
team.  It also makes me feel a little
old, since I’m ELEVEN years older than the freshmen this year.  How did that happen?!?
One of the fun things I did after the workout was to do a
talk with both the men’s and women’s team about all of the things I’ve learned
about running post-college.  Although I
did well at GAC (5 school records, 4x NCAA qualifier), I feel like I left a lot
on the table.  I never finished
All-American, didn’t really improve over my 4 years (until my senior year, outdoor track, when
Dale had me running higher mileage (which was 40-50 vs. the 30-40 I had been
doing previously – I made NCAAs in the 10k for the first time).  There’s a lot that I would change about my
collegiate career.
My main message centered around goal setting and
attitude.  I don’t know how I developed
my current love of training and racing, but know that it’s a little
unique.  I truly love the process of
training, chasing goals, PRs, and making the most of each day I’m given.  It’s such a deep passion, too – there are
very few days that I don’t want to do what’s on my training plan or push as
hard as I can through a hard workout. 
Each day, each workout, each strength session, etc is an opportunity to
make myself better, stronger, faster.  I
love that pursuit.
The second part of my talk centered around nutrition.  Although I am not at all an expert, there has
been a LOT that I’ve learned lately, particularly with Donna Marlor’s
help.  A few of the highlights, since
I’ve been meaning to write about this for a while:
Obviously, being fit/lean is a part of running/racing
well.  I always assumed that meant eating
less – really it means eating BETTER. 
Back in 2010, I was literally eating almost all of my calories from
packaged or processed sources:  frozen
pizza was a common evening meal, frozen meals for lunch were common (and
convenient!), and I loved snacking on any chocolate/cookies/baked goods.  I targeted the right “number” of calories, so
wondered why I didn’t look like the other women around me.  Must be that I was eating too much?
What I’ve found is that it was completely WHAT I was
eating.  Now that I’ve switched to a
mostly fresh and/or plant based diet (I still cheat, definitely! And I really
like meat, but find that I truly love vegetable/bean dishes), I’ve found my body
has responded remarkably well.  I look a
little more like the women around me, and best of all, I recover faster (MUCH
faster), am running better, and feel better overall. 
So, what have I changed?
-I just don’t buy the packaged/processed
stuff.  Period.  Not even if it’s on sale with a coupon (this
is hard for me! I love stretching a dollar as far as I can!)
·        –
“Give me a dollar” jar – if I’m snacking in the
evening, I need to contribute a dollar to a jar – which Nate gets to use to buy
candy.  Since that’s something I don’t
support, I have to be really desperate to “cheat” and contribute a dollar to
his jar.  To this day, there is just $1
in it.  A moment of weakness…
·       – 
In working with Donna, I’ve also defined how to
eat the right amount at the right time.  This two things have probably made the
BIGGEST difference in my running lately, I’m not kidding.
o   First, # of
calories/day – since I’m a smaller person, my basal metabolic rate is just
lower than average.  (Bummer #1)
o   When you add in
the number of calories needed for daily activity, plus the number I burn/day
running, I’m at around 2100ish/day. 
That’s based on general nutrition ratios (can estimate using any online
tool) and more importantly, monitoring my weight/caloric intake for a period of
time.  At 2100/day I was maintaining
weight.  2100, you’re asking yourself?
That’s so low! Yes, it is… but I guess that’s what I get for being a pretty
efficient runner.  (Bummer #2)
o   Bummer #3 comes
when I’m trying to target race weight.  We’ve
based that target on body fat %, based on averages published in Racing
Weight.  Granted, everyone is so
different… but at least that gives me a general guideline.  My target race weight is mid 104’s.  It’s very possible that I don’t have the
genetics to get my body fat down to that level (My parents are not athletes, by
any stretch of the imagination, don’t take offense Mom or Dad if you’re reading
this!!) – but it’s a target, nonetheless. 
So – why is this a bummer?  It
means I need to be BELOW 2100/day to get to race weight.  Donna has suggested 1800/day, with obvious
fluctuations.  That is a somewhat
depressingly low number… especially if you love cookies, brownies, and all
things bad for you…
I now have caloric targets for meals and snacks,
also something different.  Although 1800
isn’t a lot, I don’t find myself hungry – which is odd to me.  Whenever I’ve tried to lose weight in the
past, I’ve had days where I’m just HUNGRY. 
I think that was because I was eating way too little, and my body
responded by wanting a LOT (and I’d respond with a day of eating a ton).  Now, I’m more consistent because the caloric
deficit is small. (Duh)
Donna’s given me targets for carbs, protein, and
fat.  I often struggle to get to my
protein and fat targets… and by often, I mean that every day I’m looking into
the fridge (packing my meal for the day) and thinking… okay, this combination
gets me about here, but wait… there’s not much protein here… what can I add?
Another HUGE change has been eating immediately
after a workout.  I thought I added this
in last cycle when I scarfed down a handful of almonds and ate an apple after a
workout.  After reading Camille’s blog
post, I decided to give her calorie targets a try.  What have I found?  In the month that I’ve done this, I have
recovered SO much quicker.  You’ve seen
my blog posts lately – there has never been a month that I’ve been able to
maintain mileage like this, feel as good as I do, and recover so quickly.  It could be a coincidence, but I don’t think
so – since although we’ve tweaked the training plan again this cycle to better
fit me, and although I’m stronger – I really don’t think those two things would
have made as big of a difference as I’ve seen in this cycle.
I have to be careful, then, with how these
calories add up since I’m often running 2x/day. 
I now generally try to eat breakfast after a morning run now, or time my
noon run to end early enough where I have time for lunch at my desk before
having to rush off to meetings.  
I’ve lost over 2 pounds since starting with
Donna, which has been great – especially since it came off so easy.  I generally struggle with those first few
pounds.  I guess what was has been so fun
about working with her is how easy she’s made everything – I don’t really have
to think much, just try to fall within my ranges, be aware of the total number
of calories (love!).  If
I feel like eating a cookie or pasta or a bagel or anything, I can!!  I just have to log it & fit my other
meals smartly around it.  Yeah – freedom (Before
I was just eating a lot of the same, because I thought those were the only “good
foods” – turns out, everything is good, in moderation… duh, Nichole)!
That’s all for now. 
Time to catch up on work.  If you
have time Wednesday night, stop by the Co-op! 
I’ll be talking about my journey, goal setting, and more details on how
nutrition has helped me get there (and will help a ton going forward).

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  1. Although I understand that you are an efficient runner and not very tall, it seems like 1800 is a really low number of daily calories for a runner of your mileage. Is your nutritionist certain that this is okay for your amount of activity? I fear it may eventually lead to low energy levels.

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