How learning about nutrition is making me appreciate my size for what it is

I aim to stay in this sweet spot to keep myself at my healthiest.

September 1st, 2017 by | Posted in Gotta Run! | Tags: , , ,

I enjoy being a mid-sized woman.

Over the past few weeks I’ve written about introducing more strength work into my training, while also cutting way back on simple, processed carbohydrates and replacing them with quality and complex carbohydrates. So far, so good. I feel strong and energetic on my long runs and there are no signs of injury looming about. Trust me, that has been a struggle in the past.

RELATED: I made a fuelling error and went full beast mode after my long run

While I credit the quality carbohydrates and additional strength training with allowing me to continue upping my weekly mileage, I would be remiss if I didn’t also credit the quantity of food I’ve been taking in. As my mileage increases so does my appetite. My body is demanding proper fuel, which means I have to be on top of my food intake. I have to eat when I’m not necessarily hungry, and pack in post-run snacks and carb-heavy meals. The consequences if I don’t, are that I slip into an less-than-ideal weight. As I’ve learned, that’s just going to make me more susceptible to colds, flu viruses and injury. It can also leave me struggling to keep up my paces.

I’ve come to understand what my body needs, and I can now identify immediately on a run when I’ve blown it with the fuelling the day before, or morning of. I know the distinct difference between feeling like I can fly through 10 miles and feeling like I’m dragging my butt.

So what does any of this have to do with me being a mid-sized woman? I recently read something that caught my interest. A story on NPR’s website showed that the fastest animals are not those with the longest legs, or those with the biggest most powerful legs, nor are the tiny animals the fastest. According to the study cited in the NPR story it’s the mid-sized animals who take the prize. Why?

“Mid-sized animals . . . have a mix of energy and limb size and muscle that puts them in a speed “sweet spot.” They don’t burn out as fast. ‘The leopard or the jaguar have enough acceleration energy to make it all the way to nearly your theoretically maximum speed’,” says Yale University biologist Walter Jetz – one of the researchers on this study.

This made me appreciate being mid-sized. At 5’6 I’m not short, and I’m not tall. My body weight as a runner has ranged between approximately 105 and 118. On the latter, 118-end I’m not tiny, nor am I big. For my frame, I’m mid-sized. Though humans would all be categorized the same, this article made me appreciate being right in the middle. 

So, as I continue on with my strength work, and stay committed to taking in quality foods, I’m also making a concerted effort to get in the proper quantity of fuel; motivated primarily by my curiosity to know what I’m capable of when I find – and stay – in this sweet spot.