Friday, November 18, 2011

Race Weight

My training is going pretty well. I'm at about 70 miles a week, which is quite manageable for me. I've been going on killer marathon-pace long runs on Sundays on the Cherry Creek Trail, which provides a flat, paved surface that is perfect for road marathon training. Last Sunday I went so hard that I was sick as a dog afterward. Or maybe it was a virus. Or maybe running hard for 17.5 miles at 6,000 feet got to me. I'm not sure. I took Noah to breakfast after my run (I was feeling a little woozy but OK when we left for breakfast) and, as we were sitting in the restaurant, my stomach started going south fast. It was a long day that left me exhausted.

I registered for the 2012 Western States 100. I hope to get in, but I'm not going to hold my breath. Lots of people have entered and will continue to enter through November. I'll find out in mid-December if I got in...or didn't. If I do get in, it'll be my goal 100 for the year, and then I'll just do the best I can at the Leadville 100.

Right now I'm reading Racing Weight: How to Get Lean for Peak Performance, by Matt Fitzgerald. Why? One of my big goals for 2012 is to set a new personal best in the marathon (which will set me up for virtual automatic entry in the 2013 Boston Marathon). From 2008 to 2009, I had a nice little sub-3-hour streak going but the streak ended in April of this year thanks to 30+ mph winds and hot weather at the Eisenhower Marathon. Anyway, I've registered for the 2012 Georgia Marathon in Atlanta on March 18. Though not an easy course, I'll be looking for a new PR there--especially if the weather cooperates.

Living at nearly 6,200 feet, I've found that I seem to have a huge advantage at sea level when the weather is cool. If it's hot and I'm racing, as was the case at the Eisenhower Marathon in April, I don't feel an advantage. So I'll be pulling for cool weather in Atlanta next March.

Back to the book. I think I need to get down to about 165 pounds to have a shot at a new marathon PR, and to perform well at the Leadville 100. Right now I'm about 170 pounds, so I just need to shed five pounds. Fitzgerald's book has some great information and tips to help you achieve your true racing weight. I need to really be vigilant about the quality of what I'm eating and when I'm eating. I've stuck to three square meals a day and I think it's getting time to start eating more meals but less at each.

The bottom line is that it's hard to run fast for a long distance--and climb mountains--unless you're lean. But there's a difference between skinny and lean. Lean means you have muscle and little fat. Skinny, to me, means you lack muscle. I'm fairly lean but I could be leaner.

Also, I have to get off my ass and start doing some weight training. The more muscle you have, the leaner you'll be. Muscle burns more calories. At 38 years of age, I can't afford to keep avoiding weight training. It has to be part of the mix--high reps, low weight. If only I had the time....

If you're looking to shed a few pounds the right way (read: the healthy way), check out Racing Weight by Matt Fitzgerald!


  1. I was kind of amazed to see the stats regarding how weight affects speed. It's a lot. I'm trying to lose a few myself due to the less-active-than-usual summer.

    Bet the nausea was just the higher intensity per the distance, if you haven't been doing that type of run. Empty stomach probably didn't help either if that was the case. Body thinks you're in survival mode, and digestion just shuts down and has to reboot.

  2. Yeah, I think weight has a huge effect on performance--even a few pounds. Just tonight I bought a scale that measures weight and body fat. I weighrf in at 170, which isn't bad considering it was the end of the day. I'd like to drop 4-5 more by March when the marathon roles around.

    On Sunday I ate what I always do--Einstein honey wheat bagel along with a cup of coffee and some water. Took two gels with water on my run. Not sure what hit me afterward. It had been a while since I hit that kind of intensity but oh well.


  3. Moving to a higher frequency yet smaller volume of meals will certainly boost the metabolism and help you lean a bit.

    I switched over to this a few months back and I have seen my weight drop 5 pounds (180->175) despite my actual running volume being reduced.

    Good to see you focusing on a new mara PR. I was debating myself going for a marathon PB in the spring although my focus next year is on my first 100 miler. I don't know if getting in marathon shape is the right strategy or not.

  4. I read racing weight last year and had ate that way for some years now with great results. It was a good read and I learned a lot but I felt there were some unanswered questions and holes in some of the logic behind it.

    I recommend the paleo diet for athletes by Loren Cordain and Joe Friel as follow up reading. I feel racing weight was a stepping stone to the understanding this book gave me. I Wish you a marathon PR in the coming year.

  5. Great Book! Finished it about 8 months ago and am rereading these days. My racing weight is the same as my ex-climbing weight, 145 (Reality Check?) but have not seen that in over 10+ years. In January I was over 200 and now I am about 162 or so. I would like to get to under 150 by the week before Leadville and then eat like a pig the week before.

    Your 5 pounds should be cake . . . My problem is, I just can't give up refined sugar; ate two Krispie Kremes minutes before my 18 mile run up and down Chimney Gulch. I did not eat breakfast . . . Aside from GU.