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Something that has been a goal for me this year is slimming down.

I spent much of 2019 under a lot of stress and I didn’t manage it well. I ran too little, I ate too much, and I had too much to do with a new business, a new baby, and plenty of stress around the house managing it all. I didn’t get nearly enough sleep and I didn’t spend enough time taking care of myself or my diet.

Hence, when I got to the end of the year, I was not in the shape that I wanted to be.

Indeed, we spent Christmas in the north of France at my in-laws where, on previous visits, I had regularly run the canal paths and small hills in nearby villages. This time, though, I barely left the house and, when I did, it was to wander to the supermarket to buy some beer (non-alcoholic, of course). Not the best way to be living when you are already out of shape.

Come the New Year, though, I was ready for a change.

I set myself the task of getting back into running shape – racing shape, really – and started eating cleaner, eating less, and making sure that I was moving around every day. I went fully vegetarian and keto on our return from the north of France and then, on 1 January, I switched things up further to eat entirely vegan and low carb, too.

I’ve heard it takes 14 days to develop a habit or pick up a new way of doing just about anything. Personally I know that if, I can get into good habits, it takes a lot (new business + baby + no sleep + no time to run, for example) to knock me off track. A couple of weeks in I was feeling good and moving well, though not running just yet. A month in I was doing great, losing weight, and even started to run – slowly – a little, too.

Muscle memory kicked in by February and I started running a little longer. Not a lot, mind you, just a little: I stretched it out to an hour or so max. I didn’t need to go further and I figured my first race of the year would be the October 2020 Run in Lyon marathon.

Oh, those naive days before COVID-19 and the lockdown…

Just before the lockdown started a month later I was still eating clean and getting my daily 10,000 steps in. I would carve out time on most days to run, even if just to an office, home from a meeting, or between work sessions. And then as the lockdown got underway, I ran twice outside and…that was it.

I’ve done nothing active outside of the odd trip to the post office or supermarket since.

Yet the weight continues to come off proving, once again, that it is diet and not exercise that causes the pounds to fall away.

All up, I’ve so far lost something more than 43kg (96-ish lbs) in just over four months and I’m getting close to what would be considered a ‘racing weight’. If only I was racing. As it happens, it’s the lightest I’ve been in years and I think I’ll probably drop another kilogram or so, maybe crack the 100 lbs barrier even, before I step out the door for my first run on 11 May.

Looking towards the LyonSainteLyon in December, being lighter is certainly going to help even if that’s not why I started to eat better and cleaner. Last time I ran that race I finished the +80km (+50 mile) course at around 30kg (66 lbs) heavier than I am right now. If I can avoid dragging that weight over the hills in the middle of the night, I’ll be a happier ultra runner, that’s for sure.