Flipping The Switch

My love/hate relationship with Halloween was confirmed again this year, as I once again hit my annual “rock bottom” point immediately following this temptation-laden holiday.  The mythological Sirens have nothing on a bowl of Kit Kats sitting out on my counter – it got to the point this season that I didn’t even try to resist, but instead embraced the idea of committing nutritional suicide by shoving everything I could get my hands on into my mouth.  I savored things that during the competitive season I would view as ‘poison’ – from pizza to Five Guys, Crackle bars to cupcakes, I systematically destroyed them all and went looking for more….

I recently read an online piece on a personal trainer who purposely gained 70 lbs on his otherwise rock-solid frame just so he could experience what it was like to be overweight, and then to see what it would take to then lose the extra pounds and regain his previously fit condition.  Some sort of job-related experiment I suppose, which made the internet “news” because he started a web site documenting his journey.  What I found interesting was his description of the weight-gaining process.  He stated that he found it scary how eating junk food started a vicious cycle – eating empty carbs made him crave them even more, even though they made him feel like crud.   He ate more and more, and worked out less and less.  I don’t know the clinical definition of an “addiction”, but to a layperson this almost uncontrollable craving of this junk could certainly be considered one.  I am not trying to duplicate his crazy undertaking, but there were days in the past 2 weeks that an outside observer wouldn’t have believed it.  I kept running, albeit nothing to brag about, but the internal “on/off” training switch was firmly planted in the “off” position, and it has been one tough switch to flip back “on”.  Sugar is a powerful thing….

This break was probably needed so I haven’t really sweated the lack of quality work these past 10 days or so.  I’ve gotten in a couple hour-long sessions in the pool when the weather was bad, as well as a couple of tempo runs with the cross-country team as they prepare for the state meet this Saturday.   I’ve hit something in the neighborhood of 25 miles each of the past 2 weeks – enough to keep me sane but I’ve probably scuttled any hopes of getting in a good fall 5k before the weather gets too cold.  Big-picture I doubt I have set myself back too far, but this is assuming that I eventually right the ship – can you sign up for an intervention, or does that defeat the purpose?  I think I can, I think I can….

I left this morning on a 3-day trip where I hope to break the vicious junk-food cycle, returning home clean and carb-sober.  Out to Los Angeles today to start the trip, then a couple of cross-country flights back and forth to Newark before getting home on Friday.  The weather has been crazy at home (5” of October snow?!?) so hopefully the California weather won’t disappoint and I can go out and get some long, easy miles to turn over a new leaf.  The second I get home the plastic pumpkins full of Halloween loot is headed for the garbage – the kids will probably figure that I just ate it all in one sitting, so the tears will be minimal and I will avoid being accused of treason by the troops.  Plan is for mileage, mileage, and more base mileage as the off-season develops, with a more dedicated emphasis on strength/core stuff, which I have been lazy with lately (imagine that).  If things feel good and I can find a good race, I’d still like to give 5k a shot, but that is looking a little too far down the road at this point.  Baby steps….


About Nick Berra

I am a 45 year old masters runner from Central Pennsylvania. I have been participating primarily in track events since turning 40 in 2009. This season has produced marks that I have not run in several years, I believe primarily due to starting a strength and flexibility program here at Elite Athletic Performance - I've felt stronger and faster than I have in a long time. That, coupled with lots of underwater running, has kept me healthy and fit - at this age those are things I no longer take for granted... I run USATF events with a team out of Philadelphia, the Greater Philadelphia Track Club. They are a great group who have played a big part in making the sport enjoyable for me again. I also run local races for HydroWorx Track Club, supported by HydroWorx here in Harrisburg PA. Their underwater treadmills and training center has proved to be a crucial part of my training, rehabilitation, and recovery programs. I set personal records in the 800m (1:56.06) in 2010 and in the 1500m (4:02:63) and mile (4:23.48) in 2011. Despite the fact that I am not getting any younger, I nearly PR'ed recently and set the M45 indoor world record in the 800 meters at the New Balance Armory in New York City. I ran 1:56.10, besting the 9 year old record by less than a second. I feel like there are still more big things to come... I am married and have two daughters. I am an assistant XC coach at my alma mater, Cumberland Valley High School here in Mechanicsburg PA. I am also a 1991 graduate of the US Naval Academy, currently working as a pilot for FedEx after serving 10 years on active duty flying in the Navy. Beat Army! Beat Army!
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