It doesn’t even feel real, but a defining event has changed the way I eat. This was my registration for a half-marathon! Yes, you read it right! When you think about it, it’s not that unexpected; there’s still a logical connection. But to be perfectly honest, if someone told me before that one day I would eat better thanks to my participation in a half-marathon, I’d have laughed in their face.
The news comes
Two years ago, after a conversation about sports during a boozy evening with a friend, I told her I wanted to put on my running shoes again after a 15-year break. As for her, she has been running every week for several years. So far, so good. But for some reason, she made a bet with me. Running a half-marathon! She had read an advertisement on the subject a few days earlier; the idea must have been in her head since. When the news broke, I told her that it was simply impossible, that I would lose my organs as the kilometers went by, that I would end up on the ground like an old slug. I just wasn’t good enough. And then she tried to convince me. My friend knew me well; she knew that in general, I am always open to new experiences. And so, after yet another glass of Champagne and because I enjoy being challenged too much to refuse, I did accept the bet!
The thing is, we only had 5 weeks of preparation before the week of the event (i.e. only 5 training sessions, the last week being one of much needed rest before the 21,0975 km race (you can’t overlook the last few meters!) What a surprise that was. I said to myself at this moment: “what kind of a mess did you put yourself in…” (and generally, it’s the moment where I raise my eyes to heaven)!
I took our bet seriously because, yes, most of the time, I do devote myself fully to everything I do. So here I am, running around the city the next week with her. Our first running lasted 1 hour and 50 minutes for 15 kilometers. I still remember! Don’t ask me how we did it! After an hour, we started to get tired, but nothing could stop the both of us, we motivated each other until we reached our goal. I kept telling my friend that we had to finish this 15 kilometers; it was the one condition we had to respect if we were to be able to finish the half marathon five weeks later. With very short time, the plan was as follows: start with 15 kilometers, then add 1 kilometer each week until we reach the week before the half marathon with 19 kilometers. The last 2 kilometers would be kept for D-Day.
We had assumed that with the excitement, enthusiasm of the other runners and spectators during the race, we would have the energy to surpass ourselves. But let’s go back to that first training session. After 1 hour and 50 minutes of running, I could neither feel my knees nor my thighs. My adductors were hurting terribly. I went back home proud to have gone all the way but exhausted. My Sunday ended in a one-to-one meeting with my couch in front of the TV. The following days were tough. I walked like a duck, to be honest I even limped but 3 days later, I was ready again to continue the intensive training program.
I got caught up in the game and something new appeared in my habits. I started eating healthier without really realizing it. I can’t explain it. I felt good in my body after each run, I was more and more motivated; dopamine (the pleasure hormone) played its role. One thing is for sure, when you practice a high-intensity sport, the effort is so great that you avoid wasting the benefits it brings to your body by rushing to the first pastry that comes along. I just wanted to make it last, just like the state of well-being I had in me. I gradually immersed myself in reading a bunch of books on nutrition (preferred foods as well as those to be banned and mixed and matched) and articles on the benefits of running. It was enriching. So in one month, I slimmed down without even realizing it while eating tasty dishes. As surprising as it may seem, I also refused cake several times, just because it somewhat disgusted me (unbelievable coming from me, an inveterate foodie). The new Eléonore was born! I started to cook healthier dishes, to distance myself from my fat-meals and my sugary ones, to reduce the volume of my plates etc.
But did I finish this half-marathon? Well, yes, and what a joy! I remember having a great time running that day. Followed by my great friend and animated by the passion for winning this incredible challenge, ready to fight, determined, excited, on the starting-blocks, nothing could stop me! I finished my half-marathon in great shape, so much so that it even occurred to me, at the end of the race, to register for a second one, two months later. Running was now in me!
Why was this challenge fantastic and what conclusions did I draw from it?
- When there’s a will, there’s a way! It proved to me how crucial the mind is to success! I took this adventure as a truth about life in general. I am convinced that if you have the necessary motivation, you can achieve great things; move mountains! I have a mantra that has been following me for years; it’s never to give up! Always follow your dreams even if you have to work hard, or if the road is long, full of obstacles and winding. I am convinced that anything is possible when you want it deep down!
- Step out of your comfort zone. Sometimes we think we can’t achieve certain things. We put up barriers, driven by fear. It’s human, and it’s perfectly normal, but at the same time, I think we shouldn’t be afraid to take risks. The greatest entrepreneurs have all experienced failures. I have always had this fear of failure; I always want to give my best and I put a lot of pressure on myself. But at the end of the day, I have come to understand that this can prevent me from moving forward. Pressure can be a motor, but it can also be a barrier. So take risks, learn to discover yourself, try things that frighten you and get out of your comfort zone – you will grow and become a better version of yourself!
- Sport has brought me fantastic physical well-being, but it has also led to a change in my eating habits, which, in retrospect, now allows me to lead a healthier life. I am more attentive to my body, the sensations it conveys me and I am comfortable in myself!