Thursday, October 23, 2008

TIART: Maintaining Weight

I packed the spandex in my Track bag this morning as it will be a "warm" 52 degrees by practice time with sun and no rain and I am assuming we will be running outside! Yesterday's workout went smoothly but 200m repeats always seem to tire me out more than the 400m repeats. We only did seven (instead of 8 - we are such rebels) but they felt good and were fairly consistent.

The theme for this weeks Take it and Run Thursday (TIART) at Runner's Lounge is Running and Weight. I have never struggled with being over weight but I have struggled with maintaining weight for a sport. There is always pressure in sports to be in your best physical condition and according to my college's athletic trainer, women in a collegiate sport are more likely to have an eating disorder (see this article for more info).

Over the past 4 years I have had my weight recorded and monitored and also had my body fat tested (only while participating in basketball, not track). My freshman year I gained 15 pounds of muscle in my first two months at college and maintained that until I went home for summer. I went from a lean 145lbs to 160lbs and this caused me to start running more.

As a sophomore, I was placed in the starting lineup and the pressure caused me to be nauseous in the mornings so I was unable to eat. I would force myself to eat oatmeal for breakfast and often would eat only a small lunch or nothing at all. There were other factors involved with this but by the end of the season I came down with mono. I was unable to run or workout for a whole month. My problems sophomore year were not that I thought I was fat it was that I wasn't mentally strong enough to handle the pressure put upon me to preform.

Looking back now it is hard for me to understand why I choose not to eat at times. I needed the nourishment to get through the long practices but sometimes I just didn't "feel" hungry. I could go in more detail about my whole experience but I think you get the picture. My Junior year was much better as I knew what to expect and I was eating regularly again with no major problems.

With my senior year approaching I once again began to work out heavily but this time I was more mature and had a better approach. I worked out in the mornings and then made sure I ate snacks throughout the day so that I didn't become starved. I went into my senior season in the best shape ever, at a good weight, mentally strong, and healthy! I finally was able to get everything right and was able to have a great season.

Now I am usually between 150-155lbs which I know is fine for my height. I eat breakfast at 7am, have a snack at 9am and 1030am. I have lunch around 1230pm and then have a good snack before practice at 4pm. I never knew that being a college athlete made me more likely to have eating problems. There is so much pressure to be the best and to improve that often coaches push too hard. Not all athletes deal with this - My coach was obsessed with weight and eating and so that in turn affected all the players on my team.

The track team is totally different from basketball. I am surrounded by girls much skinnier and much shorter than I am but I know that I can run just as well as them. This team doesn't expect me to be a certain weight - they just care about how well I can run and what they can do to help me train better and become a better athlete! I guess maybe it was all about finding myself and my strengths rather than trying to conform to someone else's standards. Everyone has parts of their body that they don't like but I just think "if my body wasn't like this then I wouldn't have the talent or ability to preform the way I do". Sometimes its about taking a step back and realizing what you have right in front of you.


Unknown said...

I think you hit the biggest factor in weight management. Stress. It also seems to be the hardest factor for many of us to control.

Anonymous said...

Nice post. I think many athletes in general have eating issues. Some good, some bad, some down the middle. I think nutrition is one area that isn't always addressed to athletes, but should.

tfh said...

Great post. It sounds like your current team and coach have a better attitude about weight. I think more coaches need to be aware of what kind of unhealthy pressure they might be putting on their athletes. I also know as someone who has been part of cross country and track teams that the skinniest girls aren't necessarily the fastest!

Meg said...

It's nice that as we get a little older we're more mature about realizing what we need to feed our bodies.
That's good to hear that your track team is healthy about weight and more focused on performance. I've heard a bunch of bad stories about women collegiate runners and weight issues.

Nicole said...

Good post. I think a lot of people struggle with the stresses of being an athlete.

Frayed Laces said...

Great job. I know college athletes have it bad when it comes to weight issues, so good for you for keeping a good perspective.

Marlene said...

It sounds like you've learned a lot over the last couple years and have a good handle on being healthy (both physically and mentally) and THAT is a great accomplishment.

Amy@RunnersLounge said...

Great post and great blog! Thanks for participating in TIaRT!

Julianne said...

Sounds like you figured out what works best for you. Yay! I guess it's more trial and error for most of us. :-)