I swear I’m not body conscious. At least, not of my own body. Mrs. Nitmos knows that I’m an ass man. She’s taking kick boxing right now, in addition to twice weekly runs, for which I applaud enthusiastically. I’d be most happy though if television was filled with Reebok EasyTone shoe ads. I don’t even need the ridiculous laugh-track laden “shows” in between. Just give me gratuitous Reebok ads all day long. There, I said it. I don’t care what you think of me. Go ahead and call me an Ass, man.
Though I’m not overly body conscious, I’m always tuned to my weight especially when it comes closer to race day. There’s no doubt that carrying a few extra pounds is a heavy burden to bear (rim shot, please?) for 26.2 miles. I have a race day weight I like to hit….or, at least, be very near. How did I select this weight? Did I study BMI scales or aerobic capacity vs. weight charts? No, I just picked it out of thin air. Or, rather, it picked me.
As I progress through a training plan, my sour ball and rum consumption becomes inversely proportional to my long run distances. As I arrive at marathon taper time, I’ve usually shed about 5-6 pounds of weight since the beginning of the plan. How do I know this is the best weight for me? In short, I don’t. In long, I’m a believer in the free form running cliché about “listening to your body.” Ugh, I can’t believe I typed that. I’ve been running long enough – and read enough blogs – that I’ve learned to HATE that phrase. But there it is. I eat better. I run more. I feel “fit”. The pounds come off and stabilize right around the same number for every race. So, that’s my race weight. I didn’t pre-determine it. It just happened. I didn’t drive myself to a number on the scale.
I don’t believe in dieting. Let me clarify: I believe in a proper nutritional diet but not “dieting”. No Atkins. No South Beach. No Weight Watchers. No Binge-Purge. Those are a bunch of short-term schemes designed for the lazy and/or a strong gag reflexers. Whenever someone tells me they are on Diet X, I may be smiling and nodding on the outside but, internally, I’m thinking that’s nice but why don’t you just get off the couch and start being active and eat healthy?
To be fair, I think a lot of the diet plans do recommend physical exercise along with the diet. But you know as well as I that in this quick fix, pop-a-pill American culture, the diet might be followed but not the exercise. For example, if folks ask me what training plan I follow, I usually say that I follow a version of the FIRST program. That is, I run three days a week…with almost no cross training. Is that FIRST? No. Is that a “version” of the FIRST? I doubt the FIRSTy people would think so.
There are handy dandy charts and graphs out there to demonstrate how the loss of a few pounds impacts race performance, all other things being equal. Since it’s a “study” and on a “chart”, it must be fact so I won’t quibble. I just know that, as a race approaches and my belt has to be taken in a notch, I feel fitter and faster.
In fact, I usually start coming down with a case of the Faux Fatty syndrome. Every meal plumps out the belly. I can see it, cradle it, tickle it, and dig lint from it. There’s a cute little round belly. It’s there. If you poke it, I would giggle then call the cops because you shouldn’t be touching me there. You’re not a high school guidance counselor. I must have put on a few with that post long run binge of chips and cake. Then, I step on the scale and whaddya know same weight. I didn’t get fatter. Just full. Nothing a good book and thirty minutes on the toilet won’t cure. It’s amazing that, when you drop a few pounds, anything in your belly makes you feel like a bloated pig.
I like to think that my marathon race weight comes the natural way. Mileage goes up; weight goes down. I stand before the mirror and see a gaunt, emaciated refugee and think yep, must be time to race!
Do you have a goal race weight? How do you approach racing and body weight? Or are you just annoyed that, after the opening paragraph, I didn’t talk more about asses?