Is It Really That Bad? We’re runners but we’re humans too…are some of those ‘human bad habits’ really doing any harm to our running?

I’m a runner…not a nutritionist, I’m not a super scientific sports physiologist, I admit that the vast majority of what I know is through experience, what I’ve seen and what I’ve learned from others who are experts. I’m not ashamed to admit that, and I think one of the best ways to learn something is to admit your own brainiac limitations and seek out answers from credit-worthy sources.
running in forest
Now we are all runners here, but we’re also human; that human thing can offer up some battles of internal wills when it comes to our training. Being human means we have that brain of ours to wage the mental battle when the going gets tough. It also means that we have lives and other things that we do, indulge in, and want outside of miles, core work and sweating.

Balance is awesome and some of the ‘being human’ things actually help our running; focusing too much on a single thing leaves us much too one dimensional and over-thinking your training is another way to send it down the drain. On the other hand the human part of us can sometimes want things that may not exactly be the best for our training…we are human, we have weaknesses, but how bad are some of those ‘weaknesses’ really? Here are my thoughts on a few things…

* Soda. I don’t drink soda, I used to guzzle tons of diet but I had a really bad experience once where I think I must have downed darn near a gallon in a meal and I was gassy and bloated for so long after I kicked it cold turkey. Now there are tons of people saying soda is the devil, others that don’t care, and some that still think it’s totally fine. As for regular soda, I think it’s not doing any favors to the overweight masses, for runners though I still think it’s probably best to avoid because it dehydrates you and you could be drinking something far better for you. Diet, yea, the calories aren’t there but it’s still not an awesome beverage of choice. But I don’t think it’s the devil either.

* Coffee. If you’re totally frapa-macho-machiado’ed to the point where your drink is more like a sundae I think it’s like a dessert. But I’m pro-caffiene if done right, I’ve seen/know too many exceptional runners who swear by coffee not to be. I think that if you want the benefits it comes down to how much and when you drink it; if you build your caffeine tolerance to such a high level that you need an absurd amount to get any ‘perk’ then that’s not so good…caffeine may give you a little extra kick for your workouts but you don’t want to have to guzzle coffee to get in enough caffeine to get your ‘fix.’ So try to keep the intake moderate the rest of the day (if at all) so that when you do have that cup of coffee an hour or so before your workout you get the little boost.
pop tarts
* Junk food. This is opening up a whole can of worms, and I could argue back and forth for ages so I’ll try to keep it short. We’ve all read the Frank Shorter pizza and mayo combo, on the far other end we’ve got the vegans who only eat what they grow in their backyards. We all know cases of runners winning title on either ends of the spectrum, and elites too. The thing with distance running is that it takes up a lot of energy, and that takes calories; if you need some ’empty’ junk calories to keep pace with your energy levels than I don’t see the harm in indulging with whatever. I’ve eaten through boxes of Pop-Tarts and know plenty runners who dig through the ice cream by the pints. The thing though is that for most of them they ALSO take in the good stuff (veggies, protein, etc) too…it’s all a balance kind of thing. Then there is the mental and sanity thing. That said, not every runner ‘can’ eat as many calories as others thanks to that little metabolism thing…it can be an unfair card but it’s the truth too and to not say it would be lying by omission.

* Sloth. I actually love this word and try to use it whenever I get a chance, so I did…hey, it’s my blog. Now you may think, “Me, lazy, never!” 😉 For some that’s true, but there are some lazy runner habits that are running rampant. The warm-up skimper: HORRIBLE for your body and your performance, I’m not going to spend wordage arguing, do a real warm-up people. The cool-down avoider: HORRIBLE again, a bit less only because at least the race/workout isn’t sacrificed on that day but your next runs will be. Letting pools of lactic acid sit in your muscles is only going to make you feel worse and hinder your recovery process…move it no matter how tired you are. Standing during your recovery before the next interval: JOGGING is better in my opinion and I wrote on that HERE. Some may not share my opinion but the majority of top runners I know keep moving during their recovery.

There you have it…just a few things, and again my opinion. I’d like to hear from you guys, do you agree, disagree?

1) What are your thoughts on any of these?

2) What are some of your ‘bad habits’ that make you human; how ‘bad’ do you really think they are for your running?

3) Favorite not-so-‘healthy’ food?

4) Own up, do you ever fall victim to the ‘sloth’ runner temptations?? 😉

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20 thoughts on “Is It Really That Bad? We’re runners but we’re humans too…are some of those ‘human bad habits’ really doing any harm to our running?

  1. I am one of those people who is 100% behind coffee! I really only drink it in the morning but I love it. I used to not drink it before races and workouts but then I did once and the effect was AWESOME so I kept it up! The problem with junk food for me is that once I start eating it, everything goes down hill from there and I crave it all the time, so it’s best for me to minimize that! Warm up’s and cool downs are non negotiable in my book though. My legs will not be forgiving the next day if I skimp!

    • TARA!!! i’m so sorry i’ve been busy and slacking on my blog stalking, but i’m SOO happy to see that u’re getting back to running!! keep up the smart/awesome progress. 🙂 that said, keep on wisely sipping that brew to give u that extra little kick in the pants. 😉 lol

  2. I drink too much coffee to drink pop – lol. Now that it is summer, I am craving DQ Georgia Mud Fudge Blizzards, but don’t indulge too often. I usually don’t warm up before my races because I have 13 miles to warm up on 😉 That is one bad habit that I need to work on along with stretching after a run.

  3. I definitely support coffee, and definitely oppose (personally, I’m not about to tell others what to drink!) soda – diet or otherwise. I just don’t think it can be good for you, in some ways more so with the diet which is laden with artificial stuff, although the sugar in regular varieties certainly puts me off too.

    • i totally feel the same way with the diet stuff too…i don’t harp on it to other people but i just will take a pass. plus, i kno this sounds crazy and there is prolly nothing i can pull up to support it but i SWEAR i’ve had friends tell me that the diet soda they used to chug by the liter made them have more cellulite. haha…these are fellow lean runnerchicks and the only proof they have is they say that when they kicked the habit the dimplies went away??? strange, but hey…lol.

  4. I love coffee but it is definitely a treat 🙂 I just can’t do instant, something deep within my soul is repelled by the thought. I love a cappuccino, or a long black/Americano but only about 3 times per week.
    My favourite unhealthy food by far has to be chocolate. Dark, white, milk, coated in candy or filled with nuts, there has to be some in the house at all times 🙂 But I try to limit myself to a couple of pieces a few times per week. Possibly one of my worst habits is skimping on my warm up (oops….Sorry Miss Cait….) and not replacing my sneakers as often as I should.

    • hey, to ease some of that guilt…that dark chocolate is actually packed with some anti-oxidents so chew away my dear! 😉 and don’t apologize, i’ll always forgive one of my bloggy besties, but just think of me on ur shoulder next time when u think of skimping on that warm-up. 😉

  5. I have often had a pop-tart before I run. It’s a way to get some needed calories in me, and doesn’t upset my stomach. I drink 3 to 4 cans of pop/soda a day. And I love, love pizza and chocolate. That’s my junk stuff, but I also eat a lot of organic, free range eggs, berries, fruit, a little less on the veggies, not a ton of red meat – maybe a steak a month, and don’t like fast food.

    • man, i’ve run some of my best races and PR’s on pop-tarts. 😉 maybe we should start shopping around for a sponsorship?? hehe

  6. I am a sloth in every way!!!!! I don’t warm up and often don’t cool down while running but when I am teaching fitness classes I talk about how important warm ups and cooldowns are. I know I should practice what I preach in my own workouts. And I eat terrible atleast once a day it seems but I try to make sure my workouts take care of those calories.

    • hahaha….oh no, runner sloth!! isn’t it funny how sometimes we wish we could just tell others, “do as i say, not as i do”. 😉 that said, i do warm-up and cool-down…buuuuuut the whole spartan clean eats thing is not for me. 😛

  7. Great post! You described me alot in that post. I am a pretty good runner. I ran xc in Corvette and made it to Nationals(never placed though). However, even though I’m a decent runner, I could use alot of work in all the areas you pinpointed. I never jog(I stop and rest) between intervals, I drink A TON of Diet Mtn. Dew and I eat a ton of ice cream EVERY SINGLE NIGHT. With that said, I do eat eat very healthy besides the ice cream and diet soda. I don’t think my. 2addictions have made me slower. I need. the calories in the ice cream or I would be. a bone. Runners need extra fat and calories. I only ate 100% healthy in college and I began wasting away. I also began slowing down due of lack of energy/strength. But, even if I didn’t run, I think that indulgences make us human. Food(and junk food) should be enjoyed. Its all about balance…just like running. 🙂

    • thanks, glad u liked!! haha…hey, i’m not knocking the ice cream on bit!! i’m like u and if i didn’t get in the extra cal’s i’d waste away too….not gonna lie i think we are pretty lucky, i’ll take that perk! i luv me my foodage!!~ 🙂

  8. I live in the Pacific NW so coffee is just a must. Not only is there a Starbucks at every corner but literally if this town is not overflowing with bikers and runners it’s overflowing with coffee shops. I’m also an addict to Diet Dr Pepper…. Can’t help it :/ even though I know it’s horrible for me. I even did the experiment in HS where you take a rusty nail and leave it in a glass of Coke for a week. How can that stuff possibly be benefiting my body, specially after a 14 mile run?!? Nonetheless I can’t help it…. I’m only human, hahaha! Great post Cait!

    • okay, if u can believe it even as a Portland-ite i didn’t drink coffee!! not that i’m against it, just i never really got into it, maybe i’m just too hyper as myself. now that i’m back in CA tho, i’ve been thinking that OR just ousted me from the state for my non-caffinated drinking habits. 😉

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