I could blame the heat, and I think I will just a little. It’s been terribly humid, making for especially sweat-drenched runs — when I have the energy to actually go. I could also say that holidays falling on a weekend wreak their own kind of havoc given that the extra Monday or Friday added to create a long weekend inevitably gives way to greater amounts of vacation mode-thinking (i.e. sitting in this beach chair reading this suspense novel sure beats climbing that hill in 88-degree heat…) So yeah, not exactly ideal conditions for sticking with a good training schedule. But I think what really is happening here is that I’m digging the cheeseburgers on the grill, icy-cold beers and post-softball game ice cream cones a bit too much.

It is summer after all, right? And isn’t this why many of us run, to be able to relish such treats with a bit of reckless abandon?

But this diet of late — which also, um, includes loads of french onion dip and potato chips — clearly isn’t aiding my efforts to stay with a consistent running plan. And that may not be so good going into this weekend’s National Cherry Festival 15K.

It’s not that I’m trying to get too strict with myself about definite mileage to attain each week, though OK, I do aim for 3-4 runs a week. Or the kinds of work-outs that absolutely must take place, though yes, I really, really feel saner when I make my 2x/weekly pilates sessions. Same goes for limiting calorie intake or watching every single last thing I eat, which I just have never wanted to do. I guess I’ve never wanted to get too caught up in what I worried could become unhealthy thinking.

Though maybe I should be teetering a bit more to that side of self-control, even during the dog days of summer?

When considering the years I’ve been running, no where in my lacing-up-and-hitting-pavement-and-trail history have I really gotten serious about what I eat. Sure, I know I need to make healthy choices, and thankfully for the most part my mind and body agree about what’s smart and what’s not when it comes to food. And I’m proud about not succumbing to the fad diet of the moment. I’ve always tried to follow this mantra, as my kids will tell you while rolling their eyes: “Everything in moderation.” I truly do try.

But let’s face it, I’m getting older. I feel it, too. Have felt it, I swear, since turning 35 last year. I’ve always loved sleep, and struggled when crying babies and kids stole it from me, but now…my kids no longer wake in the middle of the night, and they go to bed fairly easily enough, but it’s my own undoing when I stay up too late. Bottom line: I just don’t bounce back like I used to.

Same goes with eating, it seems. Guess it’s true that the good ‘ole metabolism changes as we age. File that fact with the other life lessons you can only learn for yourself, rather than from those well-intentioned “older” people who tried to convince you of it back when you were in your 20s. Huh? I’ll take good care of myself, I won’t have to worry about that stuff when I’m your age… Huh. Joke’s on me now.

So how do you balance eating and running, particularly in the summer or on vacation? Do you limit the kinds of food you eat, and if so, has it made a significant difference in your exercise routine, your life?

I’ve got a free subscription to Runner’s World to give away — a random winner will be selected from those who post a comment here. Why Runner’s World? I’ve an avid reader, but I’ll admit that while I read it cover to cover each month, I’m not so good at lingering on the pages about what to eat for optimal running. Though I am thinking I will change that…after my next cheeseburger.

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