Running with a friend, Speed Work, and Mindset

I just finished a run with a friend. I call these sorts of runs my “therapeutic” runs. They aren’t meant to be a training session, but I make sure that they are not junk miles either. I make sure I factor them into the wear and tear on my body.

But here is a different kid of wear and tear that I am helping on these runs. Mental wear and tear. The friend I run with happens to be an endurance runner as well. He trains for 50 and 100 mile endurance races. So needless to say, he gets it.

On today’s run we got to talking about mental capacity and conditioning. We discussed the benefits of being honest with yourself, reflecting on years past, and always looking towards reducing weaknesses.

Towards the end of the run, after almost an hour of discussing our past week’s runs, events, and more, we got to the topic of speed work. Over the past year or two, we have both incorporated more speed drills into our training. We both admit that speed work lasting less than an hour is far more difficult than a 12+ mile aerobic run. Why? Well, because speed works is hard. It requires you to push the comfort level in a small window of time. Getting through the grind of a long run, although challenging, is not difficult. It doesn’t require your heart and lungs to push beyond comfort. Speed work does. But I don’t want to get into the details of speed work. I want to share the conversation that emerged around the mental challenges one can and must overcome to get anything out of speed work.


At the end of the run there were a few common traits that we shared, which may help you as well. Here they are:

          Year over year, month over month, week over week, we reflect on our behaviors. If we miss a training session or have a poor one, we don’t give ourselves excuses and move on. We reflect on what the decision means for our physical training and what caused it mentally. Before we make the decision on what to do, we think about how it affects the long term goal, and how we are going to make up for it, or accept our choice and adjust expectations.

          We are consistent. We have found our passion in the endurance sport of our choice, which has allowed us to stick with it year over year. As we go, we build not only our conditioning, but our knowledge. Which brings me to the next one.

          We love to learn. Podcasts, audiobooks, others within our field or sport. We soak up knowledge like sponges, deciphering what may or may not work for us. We try some, we leave some. But we always have a mindset of a learner.

          We have our WHY. Why we do it. Why we get up every day. Why we love it. We have thought about this, adjusted it as we go, and changed it over the years. But we have made it part of WHO WE ARE. And when you do that, making the right choices becomes easier.   

Take what you will from this. Learn.  Grow. Try. And always Fuel, Train, and Overcome!

The Food is Just the Symptom

Sometimes the hardest part of convincing a client to work with me (in this age of multiple internet resources on diet, diet plans, recipes, you name it), lies in the understanding that the limit to your success isn’t just in the food you eat. If reaching your goals was as easy as eating the right foods, we would have people limiting their performance potential, continually going on diets, or have an obesity epidemic. Because the truth is that the food is just the symptom. The real obstacle is behavior change. As a Dietitian, my education and experience goes far beyond knowing what nutrients are in the foods we eat. Over the years

I know what to do, it’s just a matter of doing it…

Honestly, I hear this a lot. And it is usually what someone says when they have fallen off of their plan (no matter what that plan is). But these are the hardest people to reach. Why? Because in your mind you have the answers, and you feel it is just a matter of having the willpower to get “back on track”. So why is this the perfect time to work with me? Because this is where your good intentions meet reality. Many Dietitians like to work in an idealistic world, while I enjoy working in a more realistic world. Life happens…pizza happens. Poor choices happen, and laziness happens. So what happened?! Here are a few examples of when I’ve heard these words, but then we have uncovered that the real problem wasn’t obvious to the client at all…

“I was doing good, then I just fell into old habits”

The answer lies in uncovering what caused you to fall back into old habits. Often, the answer lies in the approach. Most often, clients can easily identify what foods to “cut out”. Going out to eat stops, late night snacking on ice cream stops, and portions are reduced. Although cutting out foods that are easily identified as non-beneficial works, it may only work for a short time. The true success comes when we build in better foods, leaving you eating good stuff so often that you never get bored. This way, we reduce the chance of falling back on old habits. What’s more, I’ll help you uncover how much food you really need to eat (which is often more than you think) to keep you feeling satisfied while fueling the energy you need and want. Not enough energy to work out? Not anymore!

“I work out all the time. I know what to eat”

Ok, so this person is slightly different. Often someone who enjoys working out (or has at least built it into their lifestyle) Again, they are the hardest to reach but they feel like they have the answers. Protein shakes, steamed veggies, lean proteins. You’ve got this. Or do you? Did you know that your macronutrient intake may actually be keeping you from losing those last few pounds of fat mass? Or that your fueling strategy is not timed right to give you stronger workouts than you are already achieving? How about mixed training for obstacle course racing? Have you figured out how fueling for runs is different from fueling for strength, and then combining it all for race day? Many people haven’t truly figured this out. But I want you to be one of the one that does!

Runners know the action of running. But the people winning races are the ones that fine tune their training. Your diet is no different. Move beyond the basic knowledge so that you know more that “what to do” but rather “how to succeed for life”.

I Know What I Need to Eat…Don’t I?

Let’s face it, we all know what to eat, right? Eat more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Eat lean proteins. Watch your portions. Easy, right? So then why are so many people not getting the results they want? It comes down to individuality. Your body is not the same as mine, and mine is not the same as the person down the street. You may prefer running, someone else enjoys high intensity interval training, I enjoy obstacle racing, and my friend hates working out. So how can we expect that the same approaches will work for all of us? We can’t.

Now don’t get me wrong. We all need to eat nutritiously, and in the right amounts to reach our goal. But what we need to understand is that everybody has a slightly different goal and that their body is going to respond slightly different to different approaches. That can be confusing. And trying to go it alone means a longer time and more frustration before we get there…if we get there.

How do we overcome this? That’s where the Registered Dietitian comes in. As an RD, I LOVE working with clients to uncover what is stopping you from reaching your true potential. Are you eating enough? Too much? Is your protein intake way out of whack (insert carbs or fats here too!)? What about your goal of improving your workouts? Did you know that the most common problem I see results from clients not eating enough of the right foods, and at the right time in order to continue on a performance improvement path?

So stop wondering why and get back on track towards results. Check out all the plans I have to offer and we’ll find one that helps you reach your individual goal.

Why Everyone Needs To Run A Spartan Race… Alone

In working with a client for a number of months I begin to notice a pattern in her behavior. While she was working very hard to improve her nutrition approaches in order to get maximum benefits from her workouts, she would routinely fall on times of going back in to her old eating habits. Unable to pull herself out of them, she would often look to others for one of two reasons.

She would look to some people for support in staying on track. At the same time she would look to other people to justify the food that she was eating.

For example, posting a picture of a plate of cheeseburger and fries. On one hand she had friends that were cheering her on, saying that the food looks delicious, and therefore reducing her guilt. But behind the scenes she was reaching out to me saying that she was struggling with staying on track. I began to wonder why somebody who has completed multiple obstacle course races, something which I have used as a metaphor for life of coming up against challenges and getting through them on my own through pure grit and mental capability was not able to apply those same approaches to making daily decisions about whether or not she put certain foods in her mouth. Then it dawned on me.

She has never run a Spartan race alone.

She always runs with a group of friends… a team. The team approach helped each of them to make it through by being there for one another. While I think having a support team is beneficial for many things, in this case it was not.

If you truly want to succeed, I mean truly want to succeed you need to face the fact that the only person that you can and should ever truly rely on is yourself. Because in the moment of darkness and when the thoughts are all in your head, you need to be able to turn inward to yourself to get beyond the negativity. This is not something that just happens, but is rather something that is created. And there is no better way to shock the system into learning how to create this like running a Spartan race alone will do.

Get over the 8 foot wall, lift a heavy sandbag on a hoist, climb a rope, do 30 Burpees…alone! If you can do all of these things in a race, then deciding whether or not to put a piece of chocolate into your mouth becomes easier. So what are you waiting for? Sign up, train, prepare mentally, and do it… alone. Fuel. Train. Overcome.