The secret addiction of one marathon runner

by Tori Howard

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had an addictive personality.  I also obsess over all kinds of things.  Sometimes this drives my family crazy.  These days I obsess over my three children and my one and only hobby….running.  I take marathon training and the goals I set for myself pretty serious.  The problem with being obsessed with running is that it doesn’t mix well with my secret addiction.  My secret addiction really isn’t much of a secret.  Most people who know me, also know that I love eating anything sweet.  What I mean by love is that I could eat sweets all day long.

When I was a kid, my mom would stock the kitchen pantry with all kind of goodies.  I remember finding hidden stashes of little debbie snack cakes.  My dad would hide them so my brothers and I wouldn’t eat them all in one day.  He also tried hiding ice cream but there are only so many hiding places in a freezer.  For as long as I can remember my daily diet had been mostly made up of sweet foods.  When I was old enough to live on my own, my eating habits didn’t change much.

The problem with eating unhealthy foods is that they don’t really make sense when it comes to training for a marathon.  It’s taken me five years to comes to terms with that.  Did I mention I’m stubborn too?  In the world of addiction, I had to hit rock bottom and I think missing boston qualification by 32 seconds was my rock bottom.  I couldn’t understand why I was always sore from working out, why I was so tired, why I was always injured and why I couldn’t get to the next level with my training.  My addiction to sugary foods was out of control and the sugar was controlling me.

This training season I met with a nutritionist.  I had taken that step before but I was more serious about it now.  I wanted to see and feel changes.  In short, eating healthy isn’t difficult once you rid your system of all the junk food.  You can train your body to run harder and faster and the same is true for eating the right kind of foods.  If you work hard at eating healthy you will see and feel the difference.  What I have come to understand is that running is just part of the puzzle when it comes to marathon training.  In my opinion you will never know your full potential if you just run.  There is more to marathon training that just running, you have to eat and drink healthy as well.

Changing my eating habits made such a huge difference for me.  I felt stronger, happier and and I wasn’t tired all the time.  My running was improving and my race times proved that eating healthy was working.  I won’t lie.  It was hard to stop eating sugar.  Some days I really struggled.  There were days I found myself hiding in the pantry eating a sugary treat.  Who was I hiding from?  The only person that would suffer was me.  People think it’s funny when I say this but I really think sugar is very controlling.  Once in your system, your brain continues to tell you that you need it.  It’s a drug!  I was a crack head …I mean sugar head, looking for my next fix!  I wanted to stay away from sugar for 6 months but after two months, I gave into eating sugar.  It was Thanksgiving and I couldn’t resist the holiday treats.  The problem is that Christmas came along and I was still indulging.  I started feeling tired again.  I could tell my running was starting to suffer.  I didn’t feel great anymore.  I was moody and angry.  On some days I actually felt sick and my muscles were tired and my body was fatigued.  I felt like a failure.

The good news is that I’ve seen and felt the other side.  I know that eating sugar is not fulfilling.  I know how great it feels to be healthy. I also know I can do it.  If I stay strong and think about my goals I can stand up to sugar and say NO!  It’s Christmas day and I look forward to tomorrow because tomorrow I say no to junk and yes to eating healthy again.  I have goals to reach and I’m determined to reach them.   From this point forward I’ll ask myself….what’s more important, that sugary treat or reaching my marathon goal.  I think the answer is obvious.

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2 thoughts on “The secret addiction of one marathon runner

  1. I can vouch for Tori that this is all true. I have seen her binge on sugary delights like no one else before. Buying not one, but all of the desserts the Wholefoods created. I watched in awe as she consumed them all too! She made fun of me for eatting thr healthy veggies and tofu.
    I am also proud of her that she is learning to make healthy choices. It will be a life long battle, but I love my friend and for selfish reasons, I want to see her live life to the fullest, qualify for Boston Marathon, and run with me again!

    She owes me a trip to Wholefoods to see her eat tofu and I am planning on taking her up on that!

  2. Tori has really learned to eat healthy!! She recently brought Kale to my house to prepare for a snack!! Eating Kale for a Saturday afternoon snack is as healthy as you can get!! Eating healthy has improved her in so many ways!! So glad she has learned to control the addition to sweets. She still loves to have chocolate candy every now and then!! I will hide it from her the next time she is visiting!!! I’M SOOO PROUD OF MY DAUGHTER!!!

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