Fit Fueling Course: What I Wish I had Known Then (Marathons 1-8)

This is a part of a series of our Fit Fueling course posts that outlines how and why Kelly Jones, RD CSSD and I decided to create a virtual Intuitive Eating and Sports Nutrition course for active women. Register for the next round! 

My first marathon training cycle memories are full of bottomless mimosa brunches in DC and freezing winter runs. Training was a lot of fun. The race was not fun. Really, if we’re being honest here (as always), I didn’t enjoy it. I felt nauseous, overheated, and fatigued for the entire second half. I crossed the Finish Line with little to no sense of pride because even though I “didn’t have a goal time,” I didn’t run as “fast” as I thought I could have. What I could have used is a lesson in intuitive eating—and some major expectation management—not a months-long half-assed training cycle mixed with orange juice and champagne.

fit fueling for your marathon
FLASHBACK. Hello, 2010. (I didn’t run in flip-flops.)

Fit Fueling: Mindful Eating for Active Women
Register for our next Fit Fueling course 

For the next few cycles, I took things much more seriously. I stuck to fall races, which meant a little less summer fun for me. I was young and able-bodied, so a slight hangover didn’t wear too hard on my long runs. (I didn’t say I had NO summer fun, is what I’m saying.) But I put a lot of pressure on training cycles; by that I mean, I wasn’t drinking bottomless mimosas. I expected “training” to give me discipline, instead of bringing discipline to my training. I was following training plans of sorts. Eventually I worked with a coach, one-on-one. During training, I was more conscious of what I ate or didn’t eat. I wouldn’t say this was disordered eating, but I was experimenting with some food rules. There was a lingering diet mentality. With each marathon, I tried to eat a little more ON the run, but still not enough. I had phases of eating gluten- and dairy-free for reasons we won’t fully get into here. I ate fewer bread and pasta products as a result of those phases.

For a long time I honestly thought these were my personal food preferences. I didn’t like sandwiches that much, anyway. I didn’t miss pasta bowls. I didn’t dream of bread baskets, fall to the “carb flu,” or resist any urges to eat chips by the mouthful. In the absence of cravings or urges, I saw no fault in my patterns. Now, I can see this was a diet far too low in carbohydrates for runner, especially a marathoner in training. Also, I see very clearly that these food rules kept me in a diet mentality, whether I wanted to admit or not.

Fit Fueling course, a mindful eating intensive for active women — Week 2 focuses on Ditching the (Athlete) Diet Mentality and Honoring Hunger

After eight marathons in six years, I declared a break.

No more structured training plans or races. No more disciplined training cycles. Not for a while. I was exhausted. I was tired of the tiredness. I wasn’t hitting my stride anymore and that must mean I needed a break. My periods were normal and health otherwise great, so nothing else seemed off. I just couldn’t hit my BIG marathon goal time, so my ego hit the pause button. STOP. Can’t handle. Do something else for a bit.

fit fueling marathon photo
Marine Corps Marathon 2016—”OK, but after this? We take a break.”

As the universe would have it (always getting its way!), this is when I started studying Intuitive Eating (IE). There are ten principles of IE—the very first is Ditch the Diet Mentality. I read this chapter and realized the concept of “food rules” was too familiar. Things that may seem harmless, that may seem like honest ol’ “healthy eating,” that dictate how and when and why and what you eat? Those aren’t healthy lifestyle habits. No, those are clearly a set of rules. That sounds like a diet. I was doing that. Sure, there were some good intentions, and some vanity and some self-imposed “discipline” (see also: control). There were even sports nutrition guidelines that I had adopted as self truths. Things that are “best for” everyone, so must work for me. I was blindly following food rules that I considered best practices. There’s hardly anything intuitive about that.

Kelly Jones and I started talking about how intuitive and mindful eating could be paired with sports nutrition.

Decades of research have given us our go-to sports nutrition recommendations, with new studies emerging all the time. These are not to be discounted with the flip of a righteous IE hand. They are also not GOLDEN nuggets of population-wide truths. They are suggestions. They are effective practices in studied populations. As with all things nutrition and health, there is room for individualization. It’s something we learn through working with clients. There is no perfect eating pattern for everyone, or every athlete, on this Earth.

There are ways we can be active and eat intuitively, honoring what our bodies are telling us and what they need. And there are more specific ways to fuel our activities of choice—running, cycling, walking, backpacking, swimming, dancing, unicycle riding, ETC.—that help our bodies do their thang. (Are you consciously about repairing muscle tissues or placing the right amount of glucose back into your muscles and liver for storage? No. Our bodies are rockstars like that. THEY GOT IT.)

Fit Fueling Course: Mindful Eating for Active Women

Kelly and I designed a one-month virtual course for you active ladies. It is a combination of our collective sports and IE knowledge and experiences. It is a month-long self experiment in fueling your sport, ditching the diet mentality, honoring hunger and feeling fullness, and putting IE and sports nutrition together in a way that works for you. It is a collection of handouts, recipes, videos, and deep-dive emails for you to read at your leisure. It is a group of women learning alongside you. It is Kelly and I there with you, answering questions, being real about our own stories, and also learning from YOU and your unique needs.

Fit fueling course registration

Fit Fueling Course Details:

  • This course is recurring. Register for the next round! 
  • Each week provides you with two themed emails focused on sports nutrition and mindful eating, recipes, printable handouts, videos, and all the Q&A time you need.
  • You can join virtually, from anywhere at any time. 
  • The content is yours to keep!
  • Nothing is time-based. You go at your own pace, can ask questions anytime, and won’t miss out if you’re traveling or working during the time you take the course.

Read more about our Fit Fueling course on Kelly’s blog and our course page. If you have questions, contact us: FitFueling at gmail dot com. 

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