What makes a good run?

Last weekend I ate too much and didn’t go for a run. The rest of the week followed on in the same vein, I did get out for a short run but it was hard work. Somehow, sometimes you can’t seem to make your legs work, they feel heavy and stiff instead of strong and springy. So I ate more ( comfort eating)?and ran less.

This morning I lounged around in bed, we had breakfast in bed (the whole family!) and just read, chatted and played on computers. Very lazy but good quality family time!

Facing facts though, I knew that if I didn’t get out for a run this weekend I could stop thinking of myself as a runner. So I went. And I had a lovely run. I was able to push myself hard without having a hard time. Yes my face had that tingly feeling and there was that burning in the epigastrum that I get when I’m on the edge, really working hard, but the lungs and chest and legs weren’t really complaining much. In the end I even managed an average pace of 11:30 mins per mile, better than my usual.

So what makes for a good run?

i have read a number of sources which have said that you can’t improve your running if you are trying to cut calories at the same time for slimming.  Anecdotally many people have explained that they gained weight when training for a marathon. I have been trying to keep a tight balance on calories, eating more when I run, but using running to keep my daily net calories down, but despite that I’m not losing weight or running faster.

in his book racing weight, Matt Fitzgerald explains that although people with less body fat run faster, it is difficult to achieve this through slimming. He suggests that you eat well, so that you run well and in this way your running will improve and your body composition will adapt and improve in response to your training.

I don’t think that you can lose weight and improve your running at the same time. I suspect that you can plod along to use calories, and use will power to not eat more, but it will be difficult to fight the physiological adaptations that your body adapts to maintain the status quo ( increased ghrelin, production, decreased activity). Some people say that you can counteract this with high intensity training.

So food, rest and running. Is this the right recipe?

what do you think makes a good run? Can you improve your running and slim at the same time?


About mawil1

Hi my name is julie and I took up running at the age of 46! Hence 'mawil' Middle Aged Woman In Lycra. I did it at first because someone asked me to do a charity run with them. I couldn't run at all, but pride wouldn't let me be seen to be unable to run so I started a walk run programme. I stuck with it and to my surprise I found that I liked it- after a couple of weeks of progress I was hooked! My blog is about my progress in running and how I fit it in with the rest of my life.
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4 Responses to What makes a good run?

  1. pwhent says:

    This is a really interesting post Julie, especially from someone with a medical background. I have read Matt Fitzgerald’s book and tried James Duigan’s “Clean and Lean” approach which sort of comes at the topic from the same direction. My experience as a non-medical person is that a) You can’t diet and maintain a high level of physical activity. When you are training calories are your friend! I tried Clean and Lean while training for a half marathon and it was hopeless. b) long slow training like marathon training doesn’t result in weight loss – I don’t know why but I have trained for lots of half marathons and a full in the last 3-4 years and none reduced my weight but……c) high intensity training does shed weight, interval training, short fast runs and the like. The one exception to this is that I have started to lose weight, but not much, in the last 2-3 weeks on my current training regime (I estimate I have burned 12,000 extra calories in the last week), but that is not sustainable and certainly not marketable as a diet!!!
    A friend of mine, Becca Jones, has written a lot about this in her blog. You should take a read:

    • mawil1 says:

      Hi peter, yes the medical take on weight is simple, eat less move more. Everyone knows that if you take in less energy than you expend you will lose weight and people who diet manage this. In the new year when I did the vegan, no alcohol thing, I lost a few pounds but I simply didn’t have the energy to run. Ditto for the 2 weeks I lasted on the 5:2 diet! However, medics don’t learn about how to maximise our exercise potential! Obviously I have read a lot, and I didn’t really believe that eating 200 calories per day less would affect my ability to run, but experience suggests that it does. I thought that I could shortcut and do both, especially having read that thin people run faster! But it’s not working, ie I’m not running faster and I’m not loosing weight! I’ve read about how people tend to move less after exercise, and sure enough when I go for a long run on a Sunday, I love the fact that I’ve run off 800 calories, but I really do find myself just lying on the sofa instead of buzzing around doing my Sunday jobs!
      I do follow Becca’s blog and I was intrigued to read about the Julia Buckley fat burn programme. I’ve been thinking about taking 12 weeks to follow it and even went out and bought some dumbbells on Sunday!
      I think the thing is, I can only have one goal at a time, enjoy running and improving, or lose weight. Ultimately one will hel the other, over time. But which to do now? I think that if running is more fun if I eat more, that’s the way to go, eat well, put the scales aside for a few weeks and enjoy the summer.
      It’s a big thing in health education, that knowing isn’t the same as believing. Lots of people know that smoking drinking and sugar are bad for them , but it’s only when they or someone they love gets liver failure, lung cancer or diabetes that they believe it and change their lifestyle! I found it interesting that you seem to have had similar experiences, but it sounds like you have reached the stage where you are so fit that you can do and extra 12,000 calories of exercise! At that level of fitness you must lose some weight just through not being able to eat enough to replace it!

  2. bitzy-ku says:

    This is a tough one Julie especially for someone newer to running, I’m approaching a year of deciding I wanted to run and still class myself as a total novice – I only get to run at weekends or when I’m on holiday from work. I’ve noticed that if I try and keep an eye on what I eat and exercise then I might look and feel less bloated. I can be set in my ways and feel reluctant to overhaul my diet too much – perhaps I just make excuses. I have a full time sit down job so it’s difficult to get moving about so this puts my running back to square one! I’m have inherited my dad’s stocky build so I have to accept that I’ll never have that catwalk model look 😉 or the athletic prowess of a gazelle!!! I think the key is to enjoy what you do and what it does for you – if you aren’t happy then it’s time to revise and choose something else. I’m still proud of you getting out there and perhaps you needed a time out, you returned with determination – brilliant, well done 🙂 xxx

    • mawil1 says:

      Thanks for the support. It’s just a revelation to make the link between eating enough calories and having the energy to run! Running more fun when you have energy. Also I agree, that even if you aren’t losing weight, you can feel stronger and more toned as a positive physical effect. I’m not a gazelle either, my short legs and wide hips mean that in terms if biomechanics I’m unlikely to ever be a fast runner. But I have got determination, so I suspect that I could plod along for quite a long time with practice, and that’s what I’m hoping for! I don’t think that you need to overhaul your diet, like you say, just enjoy what you do!

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