March 12, 2012

Lumps and all, the body of an athlete

Lately, I have not been too happy with my body. Namely, I’ve been unhappy with the way my tummy has grown round, creating a muffin top of beer and nachos and margaritas when I wear my favorite jeans. While I still believe in eating all these things in moderation, I need to get better about making sure that “moderation” does not mean “every single night.” It has become less common for me to eat a healthy meal than it is for me to eat an indulgent one, and that is creating a bit of a problem.

But this weekend, I absolutely loved my body. Despite how I am spoiling it with a bit too much “fuel” (because obviously that’s why I needed to eat cheese blintzes with vanilla sauce for dessert last night), I’ve realized that I have reached a level of fitness that I’m extremely proud to achieve – and one that I really want to maintain.

On Saturday, I went on an all-day hike an hour north of the city. I’ve done hikes through Outdoor Bound in the past, but when I say this one was all day, I do mean all day: we left at 6:45am to hit the trail at 8am, hiked till 5pm, and then got home at 7pm. The hike came from their Guides’ Choice series, “for experienced hikers and physically fit individuals who are looking to push themselves farther than on the average hike.” I was pretty nervous about attempting Blauvelt Mountain (though not nervous enough to skip a margarita crawl with Christy, Laura, Jocelyn, and Celia the night before). The hike was supposed to cover 12 miles and 3000 feet of elevation – while I am fit, I’m not by any stretch of the imagination an experienced hiker, so I wasn’t sure how I would fare. And when I reached the designated meetup point and saw everyone with their fancy hiking gear and trekking poles and Camelbacks, I thought for sure I was in big trouble.

Turns out – I did just fine! This hike ended up being 15 miles long but the elevation changes came in short spurts, so the climb didn’t seem bad at all. Really, I think the long distance worked to my advantage. While most people were getting tired just from being on their feet so long, I was unfazed by working out for so long – and in fact, I was kind of annoyed that we kept stopping for breaks every hour. What, you can’t exert yourself for several hours without stopping to sit or drink water? Amateurs! πŸ˜‰

The main problem with all the breaks, though, was that despite layering up, I got really cold every time we stopped. By the time we climbed into the van to head back to Manhattan, I was pretty chilled from all the sweating I had done, and even a large coffee didn’t fix it! I worried that I had somehow gotten sick out there, but a long hot shower fixed things right up – and I headed out with Katie, Celia, Leticia, and a few other friends for dinner and drinks.

Sunday, I was up bright and early. How great is it that cell phones and smart alarm clocks automatically adjust to daylight savings time, so as long as you’re asleep when the time change hits, you wake up already adjusted and don’t even notice? Much better than days of yore when you had to make the adjustments by hand and felt like you were losing an hour!

It was a good thing I was so chipper, though, because at 9am, I was kicking off the usual half marathon training run – this week, covering 8 miles. I was really excited about this week in particular, because Melissa was coming as a guest to speak beforehand and then run with us! We ran together for a loop of Central Park, and I had a great time hearing about her fitness philosophy, which is basically the same as my own: run a few times a week and crosstrain the rest, which helps you avoid injury and keeps running fun. Seriously, everyone it works!

After hiking for 15 miles the day before, I was a little concerned about how my run would go – but I felt totally fine when I did my 0.7 mile warmup on my way to Athleta. Good thing, too, because another special guest (any friend of mine is a special guest, obviously) showed up: Jocelyn, who had 18 miles on the plan for her day. And this is where I was psyched about my fitness prowess: she invited me to join her to finish out the 18 (aka do 15 miles, since she had done 3 to get to Athleta), and I accepted with hesitation. Why? Because I knew I could. HOW AMAZING IS THAT?!

Never when I first started running could I have imagined a friend saying “let’s go for a 15 mile run,” and me being able to say yes without any hesitation (heck, I couldn’t even fathom a day when I would be able to go for a 5 mile run without preparation). Did I carb load the night before? No. (Okay, I ate pad thai and drank beer and both of those are carbs – but it wasn’t intentional). Did I get a good night’s sleep? Nope. Did I even eat any breakfast that morning before I started running? No, no, and no. After hiking 15 miles the day before, I was now just going to run another 15 miles with no preparation whatsoever – and I didn’t even think twice about it.

While this sounds like a stupid plan, it actually went off without a hitch. I had an absolute blast on the first 8 miles with the Athleta group, and then Jocelyn and I tackled another loop and a little bit around Central Park – ending our run at Lansky’s for a delicious brunch. (We both got salad, because obviously that’s what most people crave after a long run. Don’t worry, though, I made up for it later that night when my Dad came to town and we went to a Polish restaurant where I feasted on pierogis, potato pancakes, blintzes, and a huge glass of beer.)

So while my body may not be doing quite what I want it to as far as looking hot in a bikini or even in a pair of jeans, it is going way above and beyond my expectations in terms of performance. I am so excited at how I am able to tackle feats most people would not even consider – and yet I do it with confidence that my body can handle any challenge I throw at it. My body may not be ready for a Sports Illustrated photo shoot, but it is definitely the body of an athlete – and I love it.


9 thoughts on “Lumps and all, the body of an athlete”

  1. love this post! mostly because ive been grossing myself out with my dietary habits but then glowing with pride over my athletic ones (you know, a run on sunday also). and ps what is the polish restaurant?? this fellow polack is dying to know!!

  2. I love this post! Sometimes I think people think too much about the bikini or clothing size and forget all the amazing things their body can do! I hope to be at your fitness level soon and am now happy that I look forward to active weekends just as much, if not more, than time with beer or wine. πŸ™‚

  3. girl, it is not about fat or skinny, it is about being fit and how you feel. I am proud of the fact that you recognize areas that you want to improve. But also celebrate the amazing fit body you have built. Keep on running! You inspire!

  4. I also thought this was a great post! Thanks for the reminder that health, fitness and ability is way more important than how one looks in a bikini. I definitely need to remind myself of that more often!

  5. This reminds me of a line that I read a couple of weeks ago: “Strong is the new skinny!”

    Still can’t understand, how anybody can just run a 15 miler… I mean, did you have at least some fuel on you? I would have bonked so hard.

    Great job!

  6. I think that marathon training is ironically not conducive to toned abs and triceps. I used to be able to have time to go to CoreFusion or Physique57 and had great abs. Now, between work, running, and socializing (brunch – pass the pancakes!), my supertoned abs are gone. I definitely miss them, especially when I’m at yoga. But not as much as I love the fact I can run 13 miles over 10 minutes faster than I could a year ago, have a job that satisfies me, and amazing friends and husband and puppy. Sorry, abs, you just didn’t make the cut.

  7. Kate – my dad loves that you are Polish and he told me that your last name is super unique (like mine), and he actually thinks our grandparents were friends! MUST. TALK.

    Glad everyone liked the post – I honestly surprised myself with how happy I was with my fitness level instead of worrying about my vanity weight πŸ™‚

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