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Runners – To EAT or Not to EAT

by Garima Dhamija

You are reading this probably because you are interested in running or fitness in general – and if you have anything to do with fitness, there is  also a high probability that someone has commented on your Weight – ‘you weigh too much’, ‘you weigh too little’, ‘if you want to get faster in distance running, lose X kgs’….

I have had a coach who always wanted me to eat well and become stronger.

One of my friends had a different coach – he was very often talking about runners (read ‘women runners’) needing to lose weight! My friend, who was new to fitness and running, took it as one would take a Coach’s word – as gospel truth and and as something that had to be complied with. She lost weight and got faster very quickly. Everyone was happy. Soon enough though, she faced dark days. Well, I exaggerate. But she was hit by gloominess, sadness and wasn’t motivated to run. Some of us thought that it was intense competition and social pressure that was getting to her – because everything else was good – she was lean, had hit PBs which other people had hit in years of running. But it wasn’t just social pressure – She soon quit running and well,let me cut a long story short, she put on some weight and got happier.

During this time, all I knew was, that I despised anyone commenting on my weight or anyone else’s. Isn’t a coach supposed to ‘enable’ you to achieve more, to keep progressing? And here was a coach who was unduly concerned with that extra 2 kgs.

Lets just say, human beings are sensitive and when someone tells them they are small, big, thin, fat – it impacts them!

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We all know that in this diet and weight obsessed world how easy it is to believe that you should be a certain size and shape. And let’s acknowledge that in sports, this obsession is more rampant than ever before. Ha – there is science behind ‘race weight’. And  myopic view of this science by coaches results in women endlessly counting calories or leaving out food groups to achieve numbers (yes, ‘weight numbers’).

Most coaches don’t invest time learning women’s physiologies. Diet experimentation sometimes leads to imbalanced diets (based on superficial knowledge from the internet) which can play havoc with female hormones – leading to fatigue, drop in motivation, burnout and a sense of gloominess.

In these times, when the world is talking about RED-S (relative energy deficiency in sports) and fab Olympians like @karagoucher and @runmarycain are taking up implicit and explicit abuse by coaches like Alberto Salazar, I just write this note not against sports coaching but to reach all the wonderful women around me who set out from home to run or engage in any form of fitness – “You are enough the way you are”

Discussions on shape, size, weight – are just endless and completely useless. I have felt and performed the best in running when I eat enough and eat healthy, not when I only count calories.

Different points of view on nutrition notwithstanding, there should be no argument about eating enough. Don’t resort to unreasonable calorie deficits and land up with eating disorders! Eat clean, eat healthy and eat enough. If you often wake up feeling tired/sluggish/unmotivated to workout, examine your nutrition – you may not be getting enough of vital nutrients. Keep health’ and ‘fitness’ as focus, and not other people’s ideas about our weight.

No! – less weight is not always better health!


  • Garima Dhamija
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    Garima is an extremely focused and determined woman - she is an entrepreneur by the day and a mother, wife and runner most other times. Professionally, she leads the Executive Search practice at Salto Dee Fe Consulting, a consulting firm she co-founded with her husband over 8 years ago. Prior to that, for 15 years she worked in the corporate, leading large sales and operations teams to drive business. She works in Talent Assessment, Selection and Development. When her daughter returns home in holidays, Garima loves spending time with her. She enjoys going out for a cocktail with her husband at Speakeasy and in general loves speaking her mind, especially when it comes to equality of women.

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Vikas Tewatia November 19, 2019 - 1:06 am

I do agree.. and yes healthy eating habits make u stronger and fit in long run… eat well work hard and stay happy

Deepti Chaudhary November 26, 2019 - 3:41 pm

I agree with you. Thank you for this important knowledge and u stood upon that …
Weight doesn’t matter health matters we have to be strong physically and mentally both.. if we understand right than Running is very helpful in this journey …


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