“Lasting change is the result of a transformed identity.”
Since college, I’ve been a “runner”. I got into running mostly just as a way to stay active and stay in shape. I grew up as an athlete and played softball in college so it was a new “sport” that I could do.
I signed up for a marathon & began training.
As with most people, I initially lost a few pounds, felt better. and thought it was great! I finished my first marathon and decided I wanted to keep going.
After a year or so, my times improved but I developed plantar fasciitis and a few other nagging issues. In addition, I started gaining weight. I added in weight lifting (which I hadn’t really done since college) & that seemed to help offset the weight gain but also required more time to workout.
Without going into much more details of the last 8 years (2010-2017), I was basically stuck in a cycle of workout more, eat ‘better’ (aka whole30, paleo, vegan, keto, etc) or eat less in order to maintain my size. It was a perpetual yo-yo.
There’s nothing wrong with running, but what I was actually doing was training my body to be more efficient. I was training my body to use as few calories as possible.
Think about it— If each marathoner is given the same amount of fuel (assuming their training level is equal), the one who will run the longest and strongest is the one whose body works Most efficiently.
And by combining a “diet” with endurance training, my body was adapting by becoming more & more efficient. It was doing exactly what I told it to do.
My story is anecdotal but you can read more behind it here.
It was hard to see this while I was doing it. To me, it seemed logical that I should be able to see results from my training & if I couldn’t, then I wasn’t training hard enough or doing the right ‘diet’.
In fact, I actually gained 5lbs whole training for my last marathon even though I was lifting, running, tracking food.
After a month of not running now, I can tell my body is just really good at what it’s trained to do. It got really really efficient with running. On the flip side now, it’s getting good at repairing the muscles I use during my lifts, sending more energy to my brain and other body systems.
It’s actually gotten leaner since dropping running (read more about this here) and seems to be moving through my macros faster each day – I’ve been running out of most of my macros by 3pm most days .. and eating salads for dinner since that’s all I have room for (aka my metabolism seems to be escalating).
So, this is just a bit of my story! Running (or an endurance sport) can be fun & burn lots of calories in an hour, but keep in mind that you are training your body to do it better, which means it may slow the metabolism down overall.
In contrast, lifting weights may not burn as many calories, but the signals it sends to the brain/body are ones that will pay off with increased metabolism 🔥 over time.
Lifting will also shape the body in a way that endurance sports do not (if that’s important to you).
Again this is all stuff I knew- lifting and rest is good, cardio isn’t necessary, etc. But there was an inherent fear that I’d gain weight if I stopped running all together.
For anyone considering this, I’d encourage you to give it a chance. Running will always be there to go back to if it doesn’t work.
For me, I knew I’d have to stop running at some point because the plantar fasciitis never really went away- I just did my best to alleviate it (daily foam rolling and stretching) & I was always kind of nervous of what I would do to stay in shape.
Now that I’ve let it go, I’m much less stressed and am actively working on a new hobby right now (it’s still a secret!) that I’m excited to pursue. It’s a whole new life ahead of me 🙂
Somewhere I knew that I needed to let running go in order to fulfill a more meaningful purpose.
In the last 32 days, I’ve turned my body upside down .. or right side up ?? I’ll go with “made a 180degree turn for the better”! 😂.
1 Other thing to keep in mind: Fitness and Running are Industries! Yes, it can be fun to train for a race as a goal, etc, but the idea behind an industry is for consumers to spend more money/sign up for more races/buy more gear/etc. I’ve spent my fair share so I’m not throwing stones here– it’s just something I learned along the way in NPC and running. It’s hard to not get swept up in it because everyone looks like they’re having so much fun! Haha and it can be fun, but just be wary of the marketing.
Back to my original point—
The body is very adaptable.
What are you training yours to do?