Episode 016: Overcoming Overtraining with Jessica Hofheimer

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I shared my experience with overtraining in Episode 012. But I feel it's important to have other athletes share their stories of overtraining too because it shows up differently in each person.

So in this episode, I’m joined by Jessica Hofheimer. She is a mom, a Pilates instructor, a running coach, a 19-time marathoner and a survivor of overtraining.

You’ll hear Jess get super transparent about what her experience was like, what she did to address it and how she’s overcome overtraining.

While our hormonal responses were very similar, how overtraining showed up for her, was very different than me.


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Click Here to Read the Episode Transcript...

Naomi Nakamura: A couple of months ago, I was scrolling through Instagram and a profile popped up in my People You May Know section. I normally don't click on those things but I happened to click on this profile. It was of a woman who was a runner. Her most recent post talked about coming back from over training.

Now if you listened to Episode 012 where I shared my experiences with this, then you'd know how there really aren't very many people being transparent and sharing their experiences with over training. When I saw her post, I became very intrigued and I started following her. After a few weeks of seeing her thoughtful captions and the things that she shared, I knew that I wanted to hear more about her story. I reached out to her. Introduced myself and invited her to come on this show and here we are today.

Now, when you have your own platform, your own podcast or your own blog and you invite someone to come on who you don't really know, you've never had any contact with them before, there's always a potential for things to get dicey. Because you don't know what they're going to say. They may not align with your core messages but I have to tell you. Jess and I were 100% in sync.

In this episode, I'm joined by Jessica Hofheimer. She's a mom, a Pilates teacher, a running coach, a 19-time marathoner and a survivor of over training.

You'll hear Jess get super transparent about what her experience is like, what she did to address it and how she's overcome over training. While our hormonal responses were very similar, how over training showed up for her was very different than how it showed up for me. That's really a testament to bio-individuality. That's why I wanted her as a guest in this show.

I want to share with you other stories from other people of how this shows up for them because we're all different. We're all going to experience different things. I think the more that we share our stories, the more we help other people. Without further ado, let's get to the show. Hi, Jessica. Welcome to the show.

Jessica H.: Hi. Thank you for having me.

Naomi Nakamura: I came across your Instagram just a couple of months ago. You're in my People You May Know. It just so happened that you had posted a photo and your caption talked about overcoming over training and how you're running your first race in two years. That really captured my attention because I myself struggled with pretty severe over training. I've been following you for a couple of months. I just thought you had such a great story that I would love to share with my audience.

Jessica H.: Great. I'm happy to share about it. That's really fun how they popped up into your thing because we have this in common, I guess.

Naomi Nakamura: Exactly. Before we get into over training and what happened, what was your running life like before then?

Jessica H.: I guess it's a pretty long story but I'll try to summarize it. I started running for the sake of running. After college, I was in my early 20s and just out of shape because of the college years. I'm not at all taking care of myself. I discovered running. I trained for my first marathon in the year 2000, so a long time ago. It really did change my life. I ran a five and a half hour marathon in Philadelphia. I was dating my husband at that time. I just love. I love that there was something to work towards that didn't have anything to do with the size of my waist or the number on a scale. It seems like this completely crazy thing to do that could I really run 26.2 miles but I did.

I learned so much about myself and I found that it helped me so much with my mental health and my confidence in myself and just cultivating healthy habits or self-care. Over the years, I continued to do marathons and races of other distances. Got married and had kids and my running came in and out during those years. It really wasn't until after I had my third baby, which was in 2011 that I started to understand. I was probably actually honestly over under doing things all the time up until that point. I had gotten my coaching certification because I really just wanted to teach myself a little bit more about how to train right. I was tired of training for races and then having a bad race.

I just didn't know enough about how to train properly. The irony of it is that I did learn how to do that and I applied my knowledge and did that very well for a few years. I took my marathon PR down. At the time when I started that part of my journey, I was a four and a half hour marathoner. I [chilled 00:05:39] away at it over the course of a few years and brought it down to a 3:11.

Naomi Nakamura: Wow.

Jessica H.: Yeah. Yeah. Honestly, during that time, it was smart training. I was self-coaching. I was applying a lot of things that I had learned both through education like formal education as well as reading books and talking to people who were really knowledgeable and people that I trusted. I just need small changes each training cycle. I never got hurt. It was a careful, gradual progression and then I hired a coach.

Naomi Nakamura: I was just going to say that was amazing that you avoided injuries during that time.

Jessica H.: Yeah. I did not get injured. Honestly, it was really a good time in my running life. After that, I started to recognize. I did have some GI distress. That just was hand in hand with my running since the beginning of time. I didn't necessarily make the connection. You hear a lot about runners shots. People are always making poop jokes in the running community. I just thought, "That's just what happens. It's normal." I learn how to mentally deal with it and move on. After I ran my 3:11 marathon, which was Boston of 2014, I had a really bad stomach issue during that race. I ran a half marathon. During the tune up for that training cycle in 1:26 and I had a horrible GI upset about Mile 12 of that race. I stopped and took care of it and then kept going.

Both of those races, those are my personal best times in those distances. In both cases, I had horrible GI upset. It was just upsetting that, "Gosh. I've got all this figured out," but that is an important piece of the puzzle that isn't figured out. I hired a coach to help me. The first time that I hired someone to help me with my running, I worked with him for 18 months. It was during that time that I really over trained. I think I didn't listen to myself as well. I wanted to do what this person was telling me to do, this very knowledgeable person. He's a great coach I think for many people but I learned for myself that I wasn't looking into my intuition. I pushed myself in a way that wasn't right for me. After that, we also had a lot of life stress coincide.

We moved to a new city. We have three kids. I tried to continue with my running at this very high level during a time that my life was under a lot of stress and then I developed plantar fasciitis on my foot. At that point, I stopped working with the coach but prior to that and thought, "Okay. I will just take a break." I think it was already the nail was in the coffin at that point.

Jessica H.: I had lost a ton of weight, more weight than was healthy for me to lose. Some of that probably contributed to unfortunately ... It's something that makes me really sad about this sport and some others that dropped. I was faster during that time. I think that because I didn't have any injury or any boost to my menstrual cycle, I looked for these red flags that weren't there. Because I didn't have those red flags, I just thought, "What happens when you push yourself to this level?" You just lose a lot of weight and you get faster. Definitely, I had a history with eating disorder when I was younger. This really triggered some patterns in my behavior but under the guise of, "Well, I'm running really fast and this must be fine. Because it certainly put my running in a good place."

Naomi Nakamura: Right.

Jessica H.: I really fell into disordered image of myself. I wasn't eating great. Honestly, my GI issues would be triggered by if I had a lot of food in my stomach. I was doing a lot of fasted running, which unfortunately in the short term, it has a lot of benefits. Long term, later can start to have negative side effects that will impact you and your metabolism and your energy levels. For me, it was this slow process. I don't think anybody enters into that with any intentions of doing any harm to themselves. It's not as always very easy for the person to see when they're going through it. I started to recognize that I was over training about two years ago during the New York City marathon. I went into that race over trained and just didn't have the desire. I love running.

It's something I love so much. I just didn't love it. It's one of those things where it just felt like, "Here I am at the most amazing, exciting race ever and I just don't feel like being here."

Naomi Nakamura: Yeah. When it starts just not to be fun anymore.

Jessica H.: Yeah. It really wasn't fun. My whole family came to my race. It was a really special weekend. I was fit and strong, around my old 20, 21. Usually, I'd be ready to push to race the marathon. I just didn't feel like it. I saw my family on the course. I stopped and hugged them and cried. My husband was like, "What are you doing?" I just felt down. I finished the race but I didn't have the joy that running had for me for a long time. I felt like everything just felt like a deflated balloon. After that, I started to think. I coach runners. I look for signs of over training. I couldn't see it in myself. I didn't feel despite telling my coach, I feel something isn't right. It was like, "No. No. You're fine." I had to take it into my own hands.

I actually did seek the help of a holistic practitioner who works with endurance athletes, particularly with females. I got her help. She was like, "You need to just pull back." I really take a step back from my training and heal my gut because I developed allergies, weird allergies to things that I'd been eating my whole life. All of a sudden, I couldn't eat them. My skin would just break out in hives. I felt my body was raging a war against me. I didn't connect it to my running for a long time. I just thought that was separate. She was like, "No. It totally connected. Exercise is stress." You need to-

Naomi Nakamura: That was a huge learning for me, too. Because we're always told, "You exercise and you'll be healthy." I worked with a functional medicine doctor, too, like you did. I remember when she told me that you are overdoing your exercises and stressing your body. My mind was blown. Because I thought, I never believed exercise is a stress.

Jessica H.: Yeah. Isn't that crazy? I saw it the same way. "It's a stress reliever, my therapy." It totally is. I was just going hard all the time. My body was just elevated, cortisol and it just took too much of a toll on my system. My gut was compromised because of the stress on that. That's why I was having all the issues. She thought, "Well, this might not even be true allergies. It could just be gut distress. You might have leaky gut and things that shouldn't be getting into your bloodstream are and nutrients aren't getting absorbed." She put me on a gut healing protocol. That involved a diet that was rich in nutrients and drinking bone broth everyday along with certain supplements to heal the gut, like glutamine.

She also instructed me, advised me to not train for a marathon, to really pull back on the intensity of my running. Not to do fasted running and with that, I also started to notice that I had some plantar fasciitis. It's not an acute injury. Your body's systemically saying something's wrong. I really didn't have much of a choice. My body was demanding that I slow my goal. I did.

Naomi Nakamura: I wanted to get into what was that like when she told you that you needed to pull back. Not just physically but also emotionally because for me, it was a huge emotional thing. Because so much of my identity I had tied up in running. That was a huge emotional shift. How did you work through that to shift your mindset?

Jessica H.: The time I contacted her, I was so tired of feeling bad. I kept thinking, "I thought I did pull back when she told me to pull back." I was like, "I already did."

Naomi Nakamura: I was the same way.

Jessica H.: It's funny because I ran the Boston marathon that April. This was April of 2016. I ran that marathon. I left my Garmin at home on purpose. My goal for that race was that I was just going to run it and have fun. I wasn't going to care about how fast I did. I was going to high five everybody and kiss the girls in wild glee. Just have a great experience and not care about my time. I wasn't going to stress myself out. I thought that was so low-key but I was running a marathon. There's nothing low-key about running a marathon. In my brain at that time, it was like, "Yeah. You're low-key. You're pulling back. You're just running it without your watch. You're not racing it. You're just running it." It's so funny now.

Yeah. I did that and then I thought after that I'd recover and then I was going to hire this person to help me and then I could train well with this nutrition piece. I was ready to go after a late fall marathon, see what I could do. She put the brakes on it. She was like, "You don't have to do this, obviously." This is just my assessment of what I think would be the best thing for you if you really want to get better. I was like, "Okay. I can do that. I can table the training for a marathon. Maybe I'll do a half or something. I can cut it down and focus on what she wants me to focus on." Then my foot started to hurt. I was like, "Maybe I'm not doing what she wants me to be doing. Why is my foot hurting?"

This is just plantar fasciitis. I'd never had plantar fasciitis before but I know enough. I teach Pilates. I know about the body. I know about these things that can happen with the body. When it happened for me, I was like, "Okay. I've got to get to the bottom of this." I pulled back. I really did acknowledge that. I stopped running. It was emotionally hard but I don't run in pain. I don't. Even at the times that I've pushed myself, I would say I was uncomfortable but it never actually hurt. What I did don't hurt. That just felt wrong to actually push myself to this place where I thought I was harming myself. When that happened, I pulled it back and I went and saw chiropractor, ART specialist, massage therapist.

I did the things that she told me to do like yoga and really thought, "Okay. Well, I'll just take a break." A couple of months into it, my foot was not feeling better. I really truly did not run. I started swimming but I had signed up for the Boston marathon for April of 2017. It's already signed up. My doctor was, "You know, if this isn't going on, I really think we need to give you a shot of cortisone in your foot." I was like, "Okay." I'd never had anything like that before. I was weary of it but I was tired of my foot hurting. I knew I was being honest and doing all the things everyone told me to do because I wanted to get better. I went ahead and let him give me the cortisone shot.

When he did that, it literally tore the fascia on my foot. My body couldn't handle it and then my body made scar tissue around that tear. It was a partial tear. The scar tissue around that injury was like a hard dollop of tissue that literally pressed on a nerve in my foot. That's in my foot and at my leg for months. I'm telling you. There was no way. I had to honor what was told to me to do because it hurts. I did not train for Boston. I really felt I needed to calm down the inflammation that was systemic in my body. I worked with both my nutritionist and someone locally here who did active release therapy on my foot. Eventually, I had to have a procedure done on my foot to clear out the scar tissue because it wasn't going anywhere.

Once I did that, I was so much better. I felt all those months of not running, not pushing myself, I see them a few days a week. I did give myself a goal related to swimming. I worked toward that because I'm very goal-oriented. I followed the protocol of what my nutritionist was telling me to do. She also had a test done for me back in September of last year that was a dried urine test. It's called the Dutch test. Have you ever heard of that before?

Naomi Nakamura: I had it done.

Jessica H.: You have? Okay. I had that done in September of last year. My foot started hurting in August. I had the Dutch test in September, which came back telling me that my cortisol was low. I was in early stages of adrenal fatigue. I had the cortisone shot in October. All those things combined honestly, I don't think I could have pushed myself to that. I was really sad. I felt sad. I felt like, "Oh, my gosh. I did this to myself. I don't know what to do. I miss running but I need to get better." I did everything that they told me to do even though I wish it was different. I felt like, "Well, it's your choice. Be sad about it or find little things to celebrate what you can do and put your energy there and heal." That's what I chose to do.

Naomi Nakamura: Now you're back running.

Jessica H.: I am. I did a half marathon yesterday. I started running again. I had a procedure done on my foot in March of this year. It was about four weeks later that I started a run, walk, really conservative process. Gradually, over time, I increased my run time and decreased my walk time and then I was running. I set this goal for the half marathon that took place yesterday. I trained for it. Everything's different. I am a totally different runner now than I ever was before. My times are not what they were. Okay. That's going to be a given right now but I feel so strong. I feel so healthy. I feel so happy. My running is a fulfilling place for me and a healthy place. I'm 41. Actually, I was the second woman yesterday in the race who was over the age of 40.

I got an award for being the second place masters female, which was fun. I recognize and know that with age, I don't want to fight that process. I want to embrace it. I want to believe and I do believe that I can continue to improve and be better. Better person, better runner, better everything as I age. My time here on this earth, God-willing continues but that definition of what better is, it changes. I used to have this mindset that faster was better. That was the only way that you were a better runner is when you improved how fast you got from the start to the finish line of any distance.

Naomi Nakamura: Right. I think that's the way that a lot of the community judges how good you are.

Jessica H.: Yeah. It's a totally different mindset. Another thing that I did, there are so many components. I also started working with a therapist a little over a year ago now who has done cognitive behavioral therapy work with me around body image and my relationship with food or my relationship with myself, my relationship to exercise, just everything.

Naomi Nakamura: I have to tell you. I've worked with a therapist, too. I went through the same thing.

Jessica H.: I think it's so important.

Naomi Nakamura: I did. It is.

Jessica H.: It's so important. I'm so grateful and I will see her and I joke with her all the time. It's been so helpful. That piece of the equation has been super helpful because I feel like with regards to social media, I think it's a wonderful tool in a way to connect with the community, to be real and inspire others.

Unfortunately, I think it's also a really unhealthy space potentially. I think that I used to fill my feed with people that ... I do feel my feed with people that I find inspiring but my definition of what that was has drastically changed. Now, when I see certain things and my goal, okay. That isn't something that I want for my brain right now.

I've actually un-followed a lot of accounts that I used to look as totally badass and inspiring that I can't look at now. Because I'm like, "Wait. That person isn't healthy. That isn't healthy for me to see that." I'm not necessarily criticizing them because I think I used to be that way.

Naomi Nakamura: You're just protecting yourself because you're in a different space right now.

Jessica H.: Yeah. I do feel there's a lot of people that are running really fast. They're really popular in that space. I can tell you. It is absolutely so apparent to me that it's not healthy. That there's going to be unfortunately they're going to wind up in a really bad place like I was at. Other people are going to see that and they're going to fall down that path. I'm a lot more sensitive about that. I want to bring this more to the surface. I want people to find moderation, what's courageous and badass. I want people to look at that and have their heads turn. Like, "Whoa. That person is living a balanced, healthy life and look at what they're accomplishing." It's about longevity. It's about being healthy and real and balanced and extreme to what's whole in our society. It just makes you sad sometimes, all the time. It makes me sad.

Naomi Nakamura: What advice would you give someone who thinks they might be going through this?

Jessica H.: The over training?

Naomi Nakamura: Yeah.

Jessica H.: Well first of all, trust yourself. Trust yourself. Don't ignore that voice inside of you because I think if that is even an inkling inside of you, you have got to honor that. Pushing that aside just delays potentially what is inevitable. A lot of us, I think we don't trust our gut. Maybe we don't want to believe that we are on to something because we would rather it not be true. Serve yourself well with over training and with everything honestly. If you really listen to that voice inside of you, I think that intuition is a very powerful thing. That would be my biggest piece of advice would be to listen to that. Seek help. I think a lot of us think that the courageous thing to do is to take care of it ourselves.

I know for me, it took a lot of courage to call on people like my nutritionist and my therapist and get help from them. I think that takes a lot of courage. I think it's also really truly important stuff in those cases. If you've been going hard, if you start to slow down or feel uninspired by your running or your sport, whatever it is that you're doing that used to bring joy to your life, most of us aren't here to be professional athletes. We need to take care of all areas of our lives. This is something that does bring joy and health into our life. If it isn't, then that's a big red flag, too.

Naomi Nakamura: Absolutely. I loved everything you've just shared.

Jessica H.: Good. I always thought I was outlier because I didn't lose my menstrual cycle and I never had any bone injuries. Nothing. Knock on wood. I never had anything like that. Usually, when you read articles about over training, you hear things like loss of menstrual cycle, stress fractures, repeated bone injuries. I didn't have either of those things. If your immune system is acting up, especially with regard to autoimmune, I found some more anecdotal evidence that this is actually a very common sign of over training. Especially in my coaching, I revamp my full load of coaching, the questionnaire that I give my athletes before I start working with them. It's four pages long now. It digs really deep into things that are way beyond just your running. Because you're a whole person.

Everything is connected. Don't silo things. I think a lot of us do. A lot of runners, people who train for marathons, there's certain things that we share in common. One of them is typically we're very Type A. We like to have a plan. We like to be organized. We follow things by the book. We're not always the most flexible people. We put things into these little buckets. We don't connect the dots always. I think that opening your mind a little bit to that is really important. I see constantly a lot of people, they'll say like, "Oh, yeah. I had these crazy highs. I don't know. I developed this weird food allergy." Weird things that they don't think are over training. A lot of times, it is part of over training. Look at all the aspects of your life if you're questioning whether or not you might be over training.

Naomi Nakamura: Absolutely. 100%.

Jessica H.: I hope that's helpful.

Naomi Nakamura: It was. It was. I see so many parallels between what you experienced and what I experienced. There are differences, too. Because over training will show up in so many different ways for each person because we are unique individuals. Yet there's so many underlying similarities. I say amen to everything that you just shared with us.

Jessica H.: Yeah. I wish we'd talk about it more because I think that if it were, there would be a lot more like, "Yeah. I get that." If you have more people taking care of themselves and helping one another, it's so funny. Last year, when my foot was hurting me and I just got my Dutch test results back about my adrenal insufficiency was what she called it. I was feeling really blue. I went to take some hot yoga because that was one of her recommendations for my healing was do hot yoga. I went to this class. I couldn't do a lot of the single leg balancing because my foot hurt. Standing on that foot, all the little muscles had to really turn on and work in order for me to not fall over. It just hurt. I was modifying a lot of things in the class. I'm a teacher.

After the class, I went up to my yoga teacher. I was like, "I just want you to know I wasn't trying to be rude. I'm doing my own thing in the corner. I just have this foot thing. I'm a runner." I was mumbling and grumbling about it, apologizing to her. She was like, "No. It's totally fine. I'm a runner, too. I had a foot injury last year when I first moved here." Because she's moved to this area a year before I did. I was like, "Oh, my gosh. That's so crazy. I had this adrenal thing." I don't even know. Many people, when I would mention adrenal and they're like, "What's that?" She was like, "Oh, my gosh. I had adrenal fatigue and low iron." I was like, "You did?" She's one of my best friends now. We ran the race yesterday together.

It just feels like the walls were down and we started talking about this. She actually hired me to coach her for her marathon this past fall. It was so fun. I wouldn't ever have known this about her. I thought I was so weird. I was like, "I have this adrenal failure."

Naomi Nakamura: I didn't even know what my adrenals were when my doctor told me I had adrenal fatigue. I was like, "Is that like adrenaline?" I had no idea. Then I realized how disconnected I was from my own body. Even though I was someone who is training for marathons and doing all these things. Yet I lack just basic knowledge of how the body functions.

Jessica H.: Right. Right. I'm a sponge. I knew all about it. It was so funny because when I reached out to my holistic healthcare practitioner to get her help with it, I didn't know that I had adrenal teetering on that. I didn't know that. I actually was working with Inside Tracker in getting my blood taken. I was so amazed that my cortisol result. I was like, "I just thought it was going to be through the roof because I was so stressed out with this move and our three kids getting to move to another state." My husband took the job before my kids and I moved here so we were living in two different states. I was working and trying to sell our house and get it ready. Single parent, it was so stressful.

I was training for the Boston Marathon but low-key. All this stress and I thought for sure, my cortisol was through the roof. When I got the blood test and it came back low, I actually said to my nutritionist. I was like, "We should be looking at all the data, too." I was like, "I'm just so proud of myself that my cortisol is somehow low." She was like, "I hate to burst your bubble but blood does not always tell the whole story. We need to do a Dutch test." I was like, "A what? Huh?" I know that was a crucial piece of information because then, when she said, "You have not completely tanked yourself. You're listening to me. You're doing what I'm telling you to do. You're going to be okay." I love her so much. I actually have never met her in person.

She lives out in California. We did all of this over the phone. There was one time I was in Key West with my husband this past winter. It was in January. Height of what would have been my Boston marathon training cycle. All my friends and this is what I call dwell training for it. I couldn't even go for a walk without my foot hurting. The only exercise that I could do was that didn't hurt. We're in Key West. It's this beautiful place in the middle of winter. We're there with friends. I didn't want to drink alcohol and stuff. I need to be so zen. I'm trying to heal here. We're celebrating a friend's 40th birthday. I don't know. I felt so delicate.

I was like, "I'm sorry. I'm just trying to heal my adrenal. I can't go for a run." Robert and I went to bike and that was really, really nice because I could do that. We went low-key, on an island. They all stayed out at night and I went back to our hotel room. The next morning I remember, I was checking my email. My husband's still sleeping because he was out until two in the morning or something. She had sent me an email. She was like, "I had a dream about you last night. We cried and talked." I just started crying. I'm like, "She really cares about me."

Naomi Nakamura: Yes because it's about seeing you as a person and recognizing that yeah. You have this physical thing going on but you're going to have to grief from having to and it is a change of lifestyle. It doesn't have to be forever but it has to be for right now.

Jessica H.: Yeah. I just felt I had to really surrender to that. I needed this to happen to me. You probably get it because you've been through it. I have a lot of gratitude for that happening because I finally learned some lessons that I don't think were going to stop pummeling me in my life until I listen.

Naomi Nakamura: Yes.

Jessica H.: This is what it took. This is what it took. I had to have a complete shut down. I don't know. If you ever read or listened to any of her books.

Naomi Nakamura: Yes.

Jessica H.: I love her so much. She does one thing and I'm not going to get the quote exactly right but it was something along the idea of when you've been completely annihilated, you recognize that there's this thing inside of you that's completely indestructible. That annihilation was so important because now you know.

Naomi Nakamura: Well, now you have this immense self-awareness.

Jessica H.: Yeah.

Naomi Nakamura: I'm sure now, you feel so much more empowered.

Jessica H.: I do. I feel like, "I have a totally new standard now.

Naomi Nakamura: Yes.

Jessica H.: I was afraid for a little while. I don't know that I trusted myself. I was like, "Okay, Jess." I said this before but there's that little quote. You repeat what you don't repair. I felt like, "Okay. How do I really repair this? Are you going to go down the same road again?" Especially if I'm going to run again, I want to be a better runner. There is this part of me. I haven't figured it out yet but there is this part of me that can I run faster than I ever did before but from a healthy place? Is that possible?

Naomi Nakamura: Trust me. That goes through my head all the time.

Jessica H.: Does it? Yeah. I wonder. Yesterday for my half marathon, this is like, "Okay. This is where I'm at. I wanted to celebrate where I am. I wanted to really truly embrace that and be very present with it. Okay. This is where you are. You are being healthy. You are doing the work. You have a fulfilling life. Where do you go from here? Does it even matter?" Yesterday, when I did the race, a lot of time throughout my training for this throughout this process and coming back to running since being healed. I have a good new standard. I know there is temptation when you see in the running world, especially on social media is like, "Yeah. You could eat really clean and lose 10 pounds faster."

It's like, "Okay, Jess. You know how your body needs to be nourished. It isn't on some whole 30 or juice cleanse or something. That's not right for you. It's not long term sustainable. You want to feel good and healthy and balanced. We're not going there." You see it. You see it everywhere and it taps at your brain sometimes. That's where the cognitive behavioral therapy I think is really helpful to me. I can have just recognition and then tell myself good things. Where I'm at now like yesterday for my race, I'm so happy to be there at that start line. It was like, "Oh, my gosh. I'm about to join a race. I'm happy and I want to be here." There's this glamorization of going to the pain cave. Make yourself suffer. That whole thing is so glorified in our score. I look at that and I'm like, "That's crazy."

Naomi Nakamura: Yeah.

Jessica H.: I want to see what I can do from this really good place inside. There was one analogy. I wrote about it a little bit but it's a hard thing to articulate. I can go to the extremes really well. I know that about myself. I can be honest and I can be all out. I'm good at that. I think a lot of us are especially in this sport.

Jessica H.: We have a similarity with extremes but it's that courage to go to the middle and trust that. If I think about it like the ocean, the edges, it's pretty shallow when you're on the extreme edge. If you look at the middle, that's what that is. That's where the true exploration is a possibility when I think about it that way. If I keep myself on the edges, I'm probably really very self-limiting. It's potentially dangerous. I'm missing out on a lot unless I can really tiptoe my way out into some of that. Be very fully aware and trusting of what would be there for me. Yesterday, I really said about that in my race.

It was like, "I know how to execute. I've done this. I ran 19 marathons at this point. I've done it every way you can possibly do it, I think. There's always a lesson to be learned. I know how to execute. I'm smart with that." It was just like, "Okay. Well, apply what you know. Have a good strategy. Listen to your body. Be very in tune with yourself. Above else, enjoy. Enjoy the experience. Enjoy the moment and celebrate where you are." I really did that. I felt so happy crossing that finish line yesterday. It was such a joyful experience. That doesn't mean that I didn't think during the race like, "Third in a row. You have to go."

I was in this ability to have the negative thought come up, have a negative feeling pop up and evaluate them and be like, "Okay. Where is this coming from? Okay. I think we're good. Let's keep going." I executed such a great race. It felt so good. Now it was about 15 minutes slower than the time that I have posted as far as what's my best time. When I ran the best time, I was a mess. I was probably a good 20 to 25 pounds lighter than I am now. That wasn't a good thing.

Naomi Nakamura: You were in pain.

Jessica H.: I was and intentionally and I had such horrible GI distress that I had to stop at Mile 12 and go to the bathroom behind a dumpster in Capitol Hill in DC and then keep running. I finished that race and I felt completely depleted and exhausted. The thing that I could pin up to say, "Go me," so that I just ran a 126 half marathon and I was the first person in my age group. Things that to me now, I'm like, "Well, that doesn't really bring me happiness."

Naomi Nakamura: Right. A lot of times, we don't see the whole picture. So many can post their photos saying that but you don't know what was the story that went on behind that.

Jessica H.: No. I was in a lot of pain in my heart during that time of my life. Running was what I look to for my self-worth. It's really interesting now because I think, "Okay." I signed up for a marathon. I'm doing one in March. It'll be my first marathon in two years. I'm sure I will not run a 3:11. I know the science enough to be able to tell you. My fitness wouldn't be there. I think there's so much to celebrate.

Naomi Nakamura: Yeah.

Jessica H.: I have a really great experience. I was going to say something about that. I know what I was going to say. When I think about this, I want to apply all of the things that I know from a scientific standpoint like smart training, all of that. I know I'll do my best. There are certain things I'm not willing to sacrifice. I'm not willing to sacrifice time with my family in extreme. I won't be running 100-mile weeks like I did when I ran my 3:11. I wasn't as present for my family when I was doing that. I won't be trading that off. I will make sure that I'm nourishing my body properly. Fueling well, hydrating well, getting sleep, really taking care of myself during this process. I want my children to see me take care of myself. I wanted my children to see me doing this hard thing well from a whole person standpoint.

I want to make myself and my family proud. I don't think it's worth it to sacrifice all these things for some time goal. If it's going to wreak any havoc on the other things in my life that are so deeply important to me. I think about my grandchildren. I know I could really wreck myself and run really fast. Will my grandchildren ever be like, "Wow. Our grandmother ran a three-hour marathon." They don't care. Because she did that, now she can't kick a soccer ball with us. Because she's had all these injuries, whatever it is. I don't know. I think I sacrificed myself for some goal that was in the name of health, which it sounds so messed up. I think health and fitness, they can really compete with one another.

Naomi Nakamura: It's funny you say that because I always bucketed those two terms together. If you really think about it, they're two very separate things.

Jessica H.: Have you ever read any Phil Maffetone stuff. Do you know who he is?

Naomi Nakamura: Yes. Yes, I have. Yes.

Jessica H.: Okay. There's a concept behind the fit but unhealthy. I see it all the time. These people that are so super fit. They're so lean. They can run for forever. They look so chiseled. They're just crazy fit but they are so unhealthy.

Naomi Nakamura: Yes.

Jessica H.: That was me. I was fit but unhealthy. I was super fit but I was so unhealthy. My relationship suffered. My sleep suffered. My gut suffered. My mental health suffered. I was not healthy. I was not healthy.

Naomi Nakamura: That was a big thing for me to realize that. That was one of the biggest things.

Jessica H.: Yeah. People really don't want to talk about it. It's not an attractive thing to talk about. Because everyone needs to see things. You don't see what's going on on the inside. You can be around a person and I'm really in tune with that now. There's an energy to it. I'll be around someone. They might be so fit, star of the community. "Wow. This person's winning all the races." They're so crazy fit but I just feel it. I feel the energy around that. I'm like, "That person isn't healthy. I want to give that person a hug." If you had two glasses of water next to each other and one was the glass for health. One was the glass for fitness. Sometimes, for a performance, you have to pour some of the health glass into the fitness one.

You just do. Not necessarily the healthiest thing to push yourself to run and it will all be clear. You got to do it. You got to run and win the race and whatever. Sometimes though, you have to do it the other way. You have to let go of some of your fitness in order to be healthier. It's a dance between the two sometimes. You're not going to be your best without that. A lot of people don't understand that. For some, it's an addiction. They need to move their bodies in this way that feels like they're pushing or they don't feel like they did anything. That's a problem.

Naomi Nakamura: I think that goes down to something that's deeper than just the exercise. That's what it was for me because when my doctor said, "You have adrenal fatigue. You need to stop." For me, cutting back was instead of running 16 miles, I ran eight miles. When she said, "You need to stop and you just need to walk," I was scared out of my mind and also insulted. Because I was like, "What do you mean? I'm capable of so much more." I didn't understand but it's what I had to do.

Jessica H.: Yeah. I coached a few people who run but then they're also doing all these little things. Even for their job, they're so gifted as teachers but they're teaching cycle classes or group fitness or yoga. All these things and they're doing the workout while they're teaching. They don't necessarily recognize that that's actually exercise. You're doing that. We have to be mindful about the running. Sometimes, you need to do less in order to accomplish more. Especially when it comes to exercise.

Naomi Nakamura: Absolutely.

Jessica H.: That's so true.

Naomi Nakamura: On that note, thank you so much for joining us. I can't even tell you how much I enjoyed our conversation. I think I could talk to you all day.

Jessica H.: Me, too.

Naomi Nakamura: Before we end, how can people just connect with you? Because I think you have so much to offer.

Jessica H.: Thank you. I have an Instagram. It's @paceofme. I'm also on Facebook as @paceofme and on Twitter, as @paceofme. I have a blog, which I don't write as often. I do write posts every now and then but there's information on there about my coaching and about my Pilates teaching. We didn't talk about this but I have Been Better where my coaching is, Move Better. I have information on Pilates and then Live Better where I'm also talking about Beautycounter. You and I didn't talk about that.

Naomi Nakamura: I'm all about Beautycounter. Yeah.

Jessica H.: I know.

Naomi Nakamura: Yes.

Jessica H.: Because I learned so much about how what we put on our bodies is just as important as we put in them.

Naomi Nakamura: Yeah because it all goes back via adrenals and the hormones.

Jessica H.: It's all connected.

Naomi Nakamura: Yeah.

Jessica H.: My website is paceofme.com.

Naomi Nakamura: Awesome. I will link to everything in our show notes.

Jessica H.: Okay. Fantastic.

Naomi Nakamura: Well, thank you so much.

Jessica H.: Thank you. Absolutely.

Naomi Nakamura: Wasn't that great? I could have seriously talked to Jess all day trading stories and experiences that we had. Now, there are five things that I'd love for you to take away from our conversation:

  1. Over training shows up differently for each person. That's where bio-individuality is.
  2. You can't silo your health. Everything is connected.
  3. Stress shows up in many different forms. When over training is combined with another source of stress, the effects are magnified. Now, in Jess' case, it was a big family move to another state. In my case, it was a work related stress but the effects were the same.
  4. Your mindset is the key factor in how you respond and recover from over training. That's something that took me a really long time to learn. I was always searching for the one thing but really, it was all about my mindset.
  5. If you are in the depths of over training or you suspect that you might be, I want you to know that it's going to be okay. It's not going to be easy. You're going to make some hard changes. It takes a lot of work but you will emerge better than before. I promise you that. It happened for Jess and it happened for me and if this is you, it will happen for you, too.

As I've shared before and I will continue to share, over training was the catalyst and the pivot that I took to become a health coach and take a whole different approach to my health. In addition to all the other topics that I talk about, sharing more stories in over training is very important to me.

I hope you found this episode valuable. If you did, I'd love for you to share it with someone else who you know could benefit from it, too. The more we share our stories, the less someone else has to feel alone in their struggles. Thank you so much for listening. I know you're busy so I truly appreciate you. See you next time.


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Hi, I'm Naomi

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I’m a Certified Holistic Health Coach. I help smart and savvy women who suffer from chronic stress, unexplained weight gain and burnout, breakthrough their healthy blind spots and relieve symptoms through natural healing with whole foods and by making lifestyle and environmental changes. Why feel tired when you can feel fired up and ready to go every single day?

I love running outdoors, connecting with like-minded people, and exploring the San Francisco Bay Area with my pup, Coco Pop.

Connect with me:  Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest