Friday, February 24, 2012

Weight Loss and Distance Running

If you've been around the running blogosphere for a bit, you've undoubtedly come across posts from various awesome runners on weight gain during long distance running training. It's common to gain a few pounds during peak time as you're fueling your body more to keep it going etc etc. However, there are also some great weight loss stories. See: Vanessa or Erin or Marlene.

Long distance running isn't exactly the best or fastest way to lose weight. Last year, while training for my first two halves, I maintained weight, or gained a few pounds here or there. But, let's get real. 1. I could stand to lose a few or twenty pounds. 2. Eating well is NOT my forte.

I have been trying over the past year or so to make healthier choices. Some times it works, some times not so much. Eggs for breakfast have become a regular staple - as opposed to no breakfast, or an over-sized delicious bagel from the spot next to work. Almond milk has also made an increased appearance. I jumped on that apple with PB train for a snack and am loving the shit out of it. However, things that haven't worn out their welcome as much as they need to: Pizza, Beer. I try to make healthy choices about 3 weeks of the month. Yes, that's a PMS reference, sorry boys. But I am, very admittedly, a sucky eater. I often eat like crap, and I don't often feel bad about it. I guess it's because with running, I eat this shit and don't gain weight - but I don't loose it either.

I also try not to obsess about the number on the scale. Every time I do that, my mental game devolves and I end up eating a chocolate cake or a pizza or a bottle of wine. So, realizing that focusing on weight was self-destructive, I changed my game to focus on fitness. Let's analyze the number of plates on the bar, or the miles I've run instead of the number on the scale.

I still weigh myself once, sometimes twice a week. Sometimes I forget all together. Also, I cheat. How does one cheat the scale? I weigh myself after my long run each week. DON'T JUDGE ME. I know, I'm likely dehydrated etc etc, but it's just sort of general measure of how much it changed from one week to the next. And it's not like I come home from a brutal 10miler and immediately jump on the scale. There's usually a liter of water and a large glass of chocolate almond milk in there first! Remember, the scale isn't the top priority.

There are other ways to measure weight loss than just the scale, too. For example, how your clothes fit. A few weeks ago, post menstrual cycle (again, sorry guys) I randomly lost 4 pounds. I wrote it off as no longer being a huge bloated miserable bitch and went about my day. However, the next week, the scale was the same. WHAAAAT? and then it was lower. oh shit. Yesterday, without realizing it I had cinched my belt in one notch further. Today, all my usual jeans were dirty so I dug through my drawers on a quest to do an experiement regarding jean size that I hoped would work or "dress-down Friday" would be totally lost on me this week. IT'S MY FAVORITE DAY! Anyway, I'm down a jean size. BOOM.

This weightloss is totally unexpected. I'm not "trying" to loose weight, I'm training for a half marathon. I know the two can go hand in hand, and I'd love them to, but they didn't last year, so what gives?

Have I been eating better? Maybe marginally, some days. Certainly not this week. I devoured a 10 oz bag of pretzel m&ms in two days. I shared.... 3 with my coworker, and I dropped one in my car, somewhere. I ate a buncha pizza this week. I don't think I've prepared myself a green vegetable since Sunday. (the blog is about honesty, right? At least I was a bit embarrased by that last one.)
I have been increasing the intensity - I am working out more like 6 days a week, as compared to last year's 4 days, maaayyybe 5.

I'm running faster, I'm doing yoga, I'm being more consistent.

But, I think the real clincher is - weight lifting. I know it's one of those things most runners don't care for, and I let it slide a lot last year when I started training for longer distances. But, admittedly, I like doing it. Even if I'm super self-conscious doing it at the gym. I love the burn. I love that sore feeling. I love feeling strong. Most running plans encourage strength training, but in a way that I think is kind of wussy. I'm not going to go to the gym and pick up some five pound dumbbells and swing them around for 20-30 reps. Lame. I'm going heavy. Now, not as heavy as I would've gone when I wasn't running - especially when I'm doing legs. But, I want it to hurt. I want my arms/legs/body to shake as I try to get a 10th or 12th rep in on my third set. I want to be pushing myself. 

This might be contrary to what most runners are told. And you should really be patient with it, consistent with it and don't be a frigging idiot and over do it (guilty, on the regular). (You should also probably get advice from more places that this lowely amature's blog, don't be a moron.) The prize here is still a half/full marathon finish. But, this is working folks. It's working well, and it's working fast.

Try it or don't. But, I'm wearing pants right now that I haven't worn in two years, and my beloved weightlifting is going to get some of the credit.


Q said...

*like* do you want to eat unhealthy tonight?!?! :)

Vanessa @ Gourmet Runner said...

That's awesome! I happen to love running for other reasons, but when I want to look a little more toned I switch to more strength/yoga instead of cardio. Makes a difference!