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That was good, darn I just got slower….

The other day I saw a picture. Now I can’t find it.  It showed a guy finishing off some food. The caption read, “That was good!”  Below was a second picture of the guy with the caption, “Damn, I just got slower.” It got me to thinking…..  If you are above your ideal racing weight and you eat something, does that one thing have an effect on your next race? I decided, that with some stipulations, the answer is yes! Here are some thoughts and numbers I calculated on this subject.

  1.  If you are above your ideal racing weight and you eat something and you are still above your ideal racing weight when you run a race, than the extra pounds you carry through your race are no doubt going to slow you down.
  2. Those extra pounds came from the extra things you ate, but did not need to.
  3. Each pound, they say, is 3500 calories.
  4. The extra pounds affect your the volume of air needed to sustain pace through an endurance race. Runners sometimes refer to their VO2 max, or Oxygen Uptake number. This number can be calculated from a race effort. The units for the number is liters of Oxygen per kg of body mass.
  5. If all else is equal and you change the body mass, you proportionally change the VO2 max number, which proportionally changes the time needed to finish your race.
  6. I found one article that stated that an extra pound costs you about 2 seconds per mile that you race.
  7. Using the VO2 max calculator I came out with similar results. For me, an extra pound costs me 7 seconds, in a 5k, 13s in a 10k, 29 seconds in a half marathon and 58 in a full marathon.
  8. Continuing the math, each 500 calories costs me 1 second in a 5k. Each 250 costs me 1 second in a 10k. Each 120 calories costs me 1 second in a half marathon. Each 60 calories costs me 1 second in a marathon.

Example – Every Thursday I go out to eat with the other teachers at Hillview. The most frequented restaurant is Subway. I have some good and some not so good options there. My favorite sandwich is the Spicy Italian. This sandwich comes in at about 550 calories for 6 inches. If I am overweight (which now, I am) and I choose the foot long (bad habit started a year or two ago during Februany February – where all foot longs are $5)  then I consume 1100 calories. Of course, the pricing structure at Subway entices you to get a side order. Most people get a bag of chips, but you have the option of two cookies – chocolate chip is my favorite. Those cookies have 250 calories EACH!

How many of these calories are “extra?”  Some calories and nutrients are needed to live healthily and some calories are needed to have the energy needed for training. Some calories are needed on a typical Thursday afternoon, in order to have the energy needed to run with the kids in the afternoon and then workout with Clay later in the evening. Still, 1500 calories for lunch are probably not all needed.  That extra 6″ of sandwich and the  two chocolate chip cookies cost me 2 seconds in every 5k, 4 seconds in every 10k, 8 seconds in every half marathon and 16 seconds in every marathon until I am down to my ideal racing weight.  A half a year of visits to Subway could easily cost me a minute on a 5k…..

When I was training for marathons, I put in 50-60 miles a week. All those calories expended allowed me to indulge and still lose weight. Since LA, however, I have had a month completely off followed by 2 months of mileage less than half of that. Meanwhile I have consumed some definite EXTRA calories.  Last week’s cruise, of course had lots of extra calories. I am less concerned about what happens over a week, than I am concerned with habits that continue week after week.

So, obviously I need to make better choices if I want to get faster again. Fortunately Subway has released a new $4 lunch deal. Just the 6″ sandwich and a soda for $4!  With this deal there is no pricing incentive to get the cookies. At least not till I am down to my ideal racing weight.

Of course, that brings up a big question. What is my ideal racing weight? I started running at 200+, but have been yo-yo-ing between 162 and 175 the last few years. I am probably 175 now. I have had most of my PRs at around 170 or so.  At 165 -170 I feel like I am still carrying some extra weight around the middle. My bathroom scale reads fat percentage and it has only gotten as low as 19 percent. At 170 my bmi score is 23.7 just barely within the “normal” range.

I did a lot of online research to find the answer to what my ideal body weight should be. I had to do a lot of looking because there is no definitive answer out there. Here are some of the guidelines I found:

  1.  I found one calculator that used my chest measurement of 40 inches and my height of 5′ 11″ to say I should be 168.
  2. Many sites stressed to lose fat, not muscle and therefore stressed reaching a certain body fat composition – something closer to 12-14% would be ideal for a man my age (51). Personal experience with the bathroom scale and with online calculators tell me that I would need to be under 150 pounds to reach those kinds of body fat levels.
  3. One site referenced the “Competitive Runner’s Handbook” by Bob Glover which gave the following formula: (Height in inches x 2) + 10%.  For me that would be 71 x 2 which is 142 plus 14 = 156. This one sounds reasonable.
  4. I came across a “Stillmans” height to weight ratio. For guys it says that a non runner type person should be 110 pounds plus 5.5 pounds for every inch over 5 feet in height. That works out to 170 for me. But middle distance runners (up to 10K) should be 12% lighter and longer distance runners should be 15% lighter. This would put me at 145 – 150
  5. I recall HDR runner Steve Henreich once telling me that ideal was simply two times your height… 144. I found this formula quoted online as well.

So, it looks like I should be somewhere between 144 and 156 pounds. So this is now one of my top goals.

My current running / fitness goals are:

  1. Get faster at shorter distances through strength and plyometric training.
  2. Break the 6 minute mile!
  3. Get faster at all distances through sustained (this time) weight loss. I plan to get to the mid 150s and see what that feels like and then go from there.
  4. Develop better all around fitness through work with Clay, cross training, etc.
  5. Have fun and rebuild endurance by scoring points in the Grand Prix Points contest.

( I have definitely decided NOT to try to qualify for Boston this year.)

3 replies »

  1. There is very little correlation between body fat % and weight. You do not have to get down to 150lbs to have 12% body fat. In fact you could get faster at 175 lbs just by putting on more muscle and decreasing body fat.

    • Good point. But I would have to build a LOT OF muscle mass to be 175 pounds and 12% body fat. I want to be strong, but more of a wiry strong.

  2. I don’t think so. Switch to a higher protein diet of fish and chicken especially while doing the CaVE workouts. Start drinking a protein drink everyday in place of snacks/baked goods/soda. Avoid all eating out except for maybe-maybe once a week. Avoid snacks as in no chips, cookies or soda except for maybe once a week. Eat heavy amounts of vegetables with fish/chicken/pasta and/or take multivitamin. Snack on fruit. Use accelerade or other carb-protein drink to get you through the workouts without having to pack low quality calories. Diet soda’s take up space in stomach that protein drink could be using. My two cents

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