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Do run, run…or, um, don’t

Shiny medal

When I look at the Indy 500 Mini-Marathon finisher’s medal that is hanging on my bulletin board, I fondly remember the race, particularly the part where I got to stop running. While I enjoyed the cinnamon crunch bagels and the thrill of accomplishment, I’ve decided not to run the race again this year. I wiffled and waffled for awhile, but I knew if I ran it again it would just be for show since my heart is not in it. Been there, done that, got the medal.

I greatly admire people who take up long distance running, but it is not necessary to run half-marathons to stay in shape, nor is it the best possible way to lose pounds. I actually gained weight when I was training last year. Right now I’d rather focus on maintaining my current weight and perhaps losing another 10-20 pounds, so half-marathon training is not consistent with those goals. I know some people do lose weight when training, but I’m not one of them.

Instead, my personal health goal for this year is to maintain a level of fitness so I could go out and run a 5K at any time. I just hate it when I’m at the office and they say, “Let’s run a 5K after lunch!” and I have to turn them down. At my running speed, that goal would mean being able to run for about 35 minutes constantly, which is doable.

In memory of my past running achievements, here’s a slideshow of me crossing the finish line at the Training Series 10K last year, captured by the official documentarian of my life, my mother. Thanks, Mom!

Chocolate & Vicodin: My Quest for Relief from the Headache that Wouldn't Go Away
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cindy • December 30, 2008 at 9:11 am

Hi PQ,

I am thinking about my goals for this year, too, which is somewhat unusual for me (usually I think of the “new year” as September, as I am a teacher). But I am thinking about resolutions and what I want for and from myself in 2009. Your entry has given me pause for thought. “Doable” is a hard thing to decide on and I am really going to consider what I CAN do as well as what I WANT to do.



Debbi • December 30, 2008 at 9:23 am

I love long-distance running and can’t wait to run another race. However, I gain wait during training, too, and need to focus on getting rid of the extra poundage from the last race.

Should I ever decide to run Indy (I’d love to add that cool medal to my collection) maybe you and your mom could be at the finish line, documenting my effort. heh.


Ashley • December 30, 2008 at 9:24 am

Hey PQ, why is it that some people gain weight when they train for long distance running?


Mom • December 30, 2008 at 9:42 am

@Debbi – @Debbi – Let me know when and I will be there for you. The finish line for the Indy Mini is lined with bleachers of cow bell (handed out by sponsors) ringing fans. I had a fantastic time there last year!


Alexia • December 30, 2008 at 9:58 am

I just read this in Galloway’s book, too — “this” being gaining during training. I figure at my weight I really can’t not lose, training or not. We’ll see ;-) I’m trying to decide whether to do the “just finish” training plan or the “fat burning” training plan. I like the desperate sound of “just finish” — that’s probably how I’ll feel the first time…


Oliveira • December 30, 2008 at 10:00 am

“I just hate it when I’m at the office and they say, “Let’s run a 5K after lunch!” and I have to turn them down.”

THEY DO?! That is one weird office where you work. People at my office say “hey, we ran out of chocolate”.


Oliveira • December 30, 2008 at 10:00 am

@Ashley – Muscle gain, perhaps? Muscle is heavier/denser than fat…


Mymsie • December 30, 2008 at 10:01 am

That’s cool that when you run you have a yellow triangle over your head! Easy to spot you in a crowd. Har har. Guess I’m running low on jokes since it’s the end of the year. :)


Ashley • December 30, 2008 at 10:40 am

@Oliveira – Yeah that was my first guess, but I would have thought all that cardio would outweight (pun intended) any muscle gain.


Helen • December 30, 2008 at 11:12 am

@Ashley – I can tell you why I gain weight when I train for anything over a 10K. it’s a thought process that goes like this:

1. “Whoo boy am I doing a lot of running. I’d better add some more carbs.” This is okay because it’s true.

2. “Let me see, I have to run 15 miles tomorrow at slower than marathon pace. That means I’ll be running for 2:45 (hours). I think it’s okay to have this dessert.”

3. “I just ran _____ miles in _____ hours. I NEED that dessert — and that martini!”

Etc., Etc. Etc., until I am justifying martinis and dessert after my 5 mile runs and have gained approximately 7 lbs. over the course of a 16 week training schedule.

You’d think I’d learn. Sigh.


Helen • December 30, 2008 at 11:15 am

Why is 35 minutes not acceptable for a lunchtime 5K? I wish you lived near me, we could run together! (I would totally motivate you simply because I’m old enough to be your mother hee hee.)


Lyn • December 30, 2008 at 11:31 am

I am never, EVER going to run a marathon, a half marathon, or a quarter block simply because I have no cartilage left in my knees so that would be silly. However, I *am* going to strengthen my muscles enough to continue small short nature hikes with my kids. Isn’t it about what you enjoy, really? I’d much rather walk through forests with my children than pound pavement all day. I say, do what you LOVE!


Debbi • December 30, 2008 at 11:33 am

@Mom – Oh, wow! A comment from PQ’s mom! How cool is that?!?!?

Thanks for your offer … I just may take you up on it! In a year or two …


Melissa • December 30, 2008 at 11:56 am

When I ran the Indy Half Marathon (not the mini, the other one in October) a couple of years ago, I didn’t gain weight. I stayed the same. However, I lost 4 lbs on race day. I weighed myself before and after. I know it was only water weight, but it was great to see the scales down 4 lbs. :)


jason • December 30, 2008 at 12:05 pm

Wow, that is so cool that you ran a half marathon. I like to run marathons as well. It is such a fun way to have a goal that motivates me towards activity. I have done 7 marathons now and I hope to do more. I lost weight during the training always, but I always gain afterward because I keep eating the way I did when I had more liberty due to running more. Well, anyway. Going to keep keeping it off I guess.

Great job with your run.


dg • December 30, 2008 at 12:14 pm

OMG MOM comments! Oh that is the bee’s knees :)


Amy • December 30, 2008 at 12:22 pm

One of the reasons one often gains weight during endurance training is because you need a LOT of calories to fuel your body for 20 mile runs. And you gain muscle. And you’re hungry most of the time. And even on the light weeks, you’re still hungry, and eat like it’s a heavy week. And then, you do start justifying your extra helpings with the “I just ran 16 miles” thing….

I’m training for a marathon starting the end of February, and my goal is to lose 10 lbs before starting the training & then to not gain DURING the training.

And that is a cool medal – way cooler than my half-marathon medal! I might have to come run that one some day! :)


Rachael • December 30, 2008 at 12:25 pm

You actually have people in your office that say, “Hey, let’s run a 5K after lunch”? That boggles my mind! Everywhere I’ve worked it’s more like “Hey, wanna pick up hot fudge sundaes after lunch?”


Alexia • December 30, 2008 at 12:34 pm

@Ashley – the way Galloway describes it in his marathon book is that it’s actually a lot of water being stored in “third spaces”. I skimmed that section right before bed, so there may be more substantial info there ;-) My first guess would have been muscle replacing fat and, in my case, still is since I’m still more fat than muscle!


Karen in Tally • December 30, 2008 at 12:58 pm

Pasta Queen, those pictures of you are actually very pretty, and you don’t look miserable at all. Either you exaggerate how awful it was or you put on the best game face!!


Julianna • December 30, 2008 at 1:35 pm

@Rachael – this is EXACTLY what I was thinking. At my last office they had an ice cream truck come every Friday and we all got ice cream FOR FREE.


Tiffany • December 30, 2008 at 1:51 pm

I just ran in my first 5K on Sunday, from which I am still sore. This was a goal I REALLY wanted to accomplish this year and being the procrastinator that I am, I squeezed it in at the very last possible second. There’s no 5K on New Year’s Eve – I checked! My time… well, that’s not really important, is it? I finished. I ran the whole way. I didn’t come in last, quite… a gentleman finished behind me. I’m pretty sure he was in his 70s. That’s the trouble with living in the SF bay area – everyone here runs marathons and is in great shape. I was definitely the most overweight and out of shape competitor there – I wear a size 6. Pretty demoralizing. Oh – I did want to tell you that I had one of those oatmeal pancake muffin things the morning of the race! I’m sure without it I would have been lapped by the old guy at the turn-around!


Erin • December 30, 2008 at 2:10 pm

@Oliveira – LOL! That’s exactly what happens in my office!! If I heard someone ask about a 5k, I’d have to make sure there wasn’t an illness going around.

*As I pop a Candy Cane Hershey’s Kiss in my mouth*


Just_Kelly • December 30, 2008 at 2:11 pm

While I never fell in love with running, I still, and always will, think runners are badass.

Getting in the pool with a bunch of 85 year olds just isn’t the same as running in the rain!

I set 12 mini- health related goals this year. You can see them at choosinglosing.wordpress.com.


PastaQueen • December 30, 2008 at 2:26 pm

@dg – I thought my mom deserved her own comment style :) I added it in the past week. Now if Krupke or Java would ever get their heads out of the food bowl and leave a comment, I’d give them styles too :)


PastaQueen • December 30, 2008 at 2:27 pm

@Debbi – I’d be happy to cheer for you at the finish line too!


PastaQueen • December 30, 2008 at 2:28 pm

@Helen – This was pretty much my downfall too. I was exercising more, but I was also hungrier, so I ate to compensate. And after a long run I’d think, “I’m gonna’ eat a cinnamon roll!”


Ashley • December 30, 2008 at 2:30 pm

@Helen – Well that does make sense, I do that now and I just jog a couple miles 3 times a week!


PastaQueen • December 30, 2008 at 2:46 pm

@Oliveira – I was joking. The thought that the cake-eaters at my office would ask if anyone wanted to run a 5K is enough to make my spit my coffee on the screen.


Rachael • December 30, 2008 at 3:47 pm

@Julianna – Aha! I see she was just joking now. I didn’t read the other comments before posting. :-)


Heather • December 30, 2008 at 5:28 pm

You look so exhilarated by the race, or is it finishing that puts the smile on your face.

A fitness person once told me that the human animal was not meant to run long distances, it’s unnatural. 5K’s are good. You should come to NY next year for New Years to run the Midnight Run, 5K, I’m doing it next year, even if I have to do it alone.

I’m doing the breast cancer 5k in Florida this year for my mom. I’m at 40 minutes.

Happy New Year.


MaryK • December 30, 2008 at 10:43 pm

PQ, I just want to tell you how much I’m enjoying your recent posts. I feel like you’re finally showing your not-perfectly-perfect side and I really appreciate it and it makes me love you all the more.

Good luck with your training goals in the new year!


Laura • December 31, 2008 at 10:39 am

I started running full marathons last year, and got to the point where I was running them every other weekend, or at one point, for three weekends in a row. The crazy thing is, I gained weight doing that, even while calorie counting the whole time! I agree with you that doing long distance may not be the best way to lose weight :)


Mal • December 31, 2008 at 12:55 pm

This is a super interesting perspective for someone who fantasizes about running and has romanticized it a bit. (I mean, seriously. Runners look like they’re defying gravity, to me. Next best thing to RocketMan!) It’s a good reminder that, just like all good things, you can consciously choose to include them in your life or not. Hmm.


Kristi • January 1, 2009 at 10:52 pm

That’s funny. I just hung a new bulletin board in my office and put my mini medal on it also. I signed up this year and it’s up there for inpiration. Last year, I ran it just to finish. This year I’m making a time goal. I love how I felt after I ran it…aside from the aches and pains..but hated training.


Shana • January 5, 2009 at 1:44 am

I am training for my first half marathon in April. I decided to do it in large part after vicariously following your experience with it last year. So thanks for that!


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Jennette Fulda tells stories to the Internet about her life as a smartass, writer, weight-loss inspiration, chronic headache sufferer, and overall nice person (who is silently judging you). She does this at JennetteFulda.com now, but you can still have fun perusing her past here.

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