Marathons · My Life · Running · Tips & Advice

Why I Gave up Refined Sugar for 60 Days

Towards the end of January, I decided to give up refined sugar for Lent. I did this for Lent last year and was successful, so I thought, “Why not do it again?” I’m always up for a good challenge! But I soon realized that Easter was just a couple weeks before the New Jersey Marathon (April 30th) which I’m running, so instead of giving up refined sugar for Lent, I decided to tack on a couple more weeks and give it up for 60 days, ending on the day of the NJ Marathon. (Because I’m definitely celebrating with a post-race donut or chocolate milkshake…or both).

I did not give up refined sugar to lose weight. In fact, I just weighed myself this morning (4/20) for the first time since mid-January. I am down some weight since last weighing myself in January, but I gave up refined sugar for other reasons. I love not relying on the scale to tell me how “healthy” I am. I know I’m healthy and strong, whether I weigh myself or not.

I decided to give up refined sugar for 60 days to see how it would affect me on race day. I am still training hard everyday, sticking to my schedule, eating a well balanced diet, but something that I know I could change myself was taking refined sugar out of the mix. I have never done this before while leading up to a marathon, so why not give it a shot and see what happens?!

My goal for the past couple years has been to qualify for the Boston Marathon, and I’m still working towards this. This does not happen overnight. It is not easy. If qualifying was easy, then everyone would qualify and Boston wouldn’t be the country’s most prestigious marathon.

I understand that there is sugar in pretty much everything. Therefore, I narrowed it down to refined sugar. More specifically:

  • All desserts – cookies, cake, ice cream, chocolate, candy (didn’t eat any Easter candy), etc.
  • Baked goods – scones, muffins, croissants, donuts, etc.
  • Cereal – All cereal. I love a big bowl (or 2…or 5….) of Cinnamon Toast Crunch or Golden Grahams after a long training run. But there are more effective and healthier ways to replenish your body.

Things I did not give up:

  • Gu Gels – I take these during long runs and races. The amount of sugar per gel can vary, but the flavor I take has 7g sugar/gel, and I take one every 4-5 miles. Sugar is very important during a long run or race.
  • Wine 🙂 (Though I am not drinking a week out before the marathon. Just lots of water).

I have been feeling much stronger this marathon training cycle. Towards the end of March, I ran a 20 mile race (recap to come soon!) at an 8:34 average pace. Physically, I didn’t know I could do that. I think some of it does have to do with not eating refined sugar, but I give most of the credit due to my training. I’ve been pushing myself more physically and mentally on my runs because I know that’s what will get me to the Boston Marathon.

So, 50 of the 60 days are done, and honestly, it’s been a lot easier than I thought. When you get into the routine of just walking past a plate of cookies it doesn’t really tempt you anymore. Becoming a strong runner takes a lot of things – eating well, training smart, getting enough sleep, drinking water…It all adds up. The marathon is just over a week away, and I’m excited to see how I’ll do!

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