Last week, with great pomp, I declared that I was going to try to turn myself from an ox into an antelope. When I wrote that, I meant it somewhat facetiously. I know you can’t turn an ox into an antelope and I know I am never going to have the body composition of Ryan Hall.
What I meant when wrote that I wanted to become more like the antelope was that I wished to become a bit thinner, more graceful in my run, and a lot faster. A number of people raised really excellent points about the post. Most importantly, a good friend, frequent commenter here (and BQer!) called me out for the dude privilege inherent in the post. If I were a women writing about attempting to change the nature of my physical self through dieting there would have been choruses of anorexia* but because I’m a dude, I got far more “good job, great will power”. That’s fucked up, and I should have seen it. coming
Frankly, I regret writing the post. At the time I was finishing Bernd Heinrich’s excellent Why We Run where he talks extensively about the antelope and what we can (and can’t) learn from it as runners. I had antelope on my mind and well, I let a metaphor get the better of me.
Now, to add insult to stupidity, I need to come clean about my bold declaration of reshaping my body through diet – I can’t do it. Or rather, I’m not doing it. At least not in the form of the Whole 30. After a mere six days on the diet, I caved on Sunday and ate a delicious carbohydrate and gluten filled bagel.
It was wonderful.
I’d been feeling really lethargic all week, especially on my runs. I was struggling to get through a simple five miler. On Sunday, I had a 13 mile long run planned. I was dreading it. I was worried I would be dragging ass out there for two and half hours. Or worse, that I wouldn’t finish the run at all. The whole point of the damn diet was to improve fitness and here it was, screwing with my training. So I stopped. I order the bagel, (with lox spread no less!), ate the thing, and went out on the run.
And guess what? I felt great! Sure the last mile was a bit of a slog, but nowhere near the slog it would have been if it’d continue to deprive myself of life sustaining bagels.
Some have said that I should have just hung on, that if I’d made it a couple of more days, I would have adapted and burned fat for fuel. Perhaps they’re right. Or perhaps as a wannabe endurance athlete, I just need large amounts of carbohydrates. Or perhaps I lack sufficient will power.
I don’t know.
I do know that when I told my wife I was stopping the diet she made me promise I would never do something like this again. That’s a promise I intend to keep.
So, no more diet. But that doesn’t mean I’ve given up on my antelope metaphor. I’m still aiming to be fast, and graceful in my stride. I’m still trying to be a better runner. Restrictive dieting just isn’t the way I’m going to get there.
* In pretty much all the sports I’m interested in, anorexia is a serious problem. Many, many, distance runners, triathletes and climbers of both sexes have battled with eating disorders. It’s a serious issue I should have considered in the post.