Monday, April 16, 2012


My buddy, Pete, just started a new blog to document his journey into insanity.  He's not really planning to go insane (although who knows how this will go).  He just decided that he is going to do this Insanity workout regimen for 60 days. Aside from getting into awesome shape, he is planning to lose some weight.  This of course means really watching his diet.  

I've recently been thinking that I need to start looking at my diet again after largely ignoring it for the past few months.  I was ignoring it because I was running some serious miles (averaging ~60 miles/week for 5 weeks and ~50 miles/week since the start of this year).  As a result of all this mileage, my weight steadily dropped to below 160 for the first time since high school. But, now after a few weeks of less mileage, I've gained a few pounds back.  So, once again I'm going to count calories for a bit.  This has made me think about my weight over my running career.

Running and Weight

Disney World 2008 (before running) / Disney World 2011 (after running)

When I started running 3 years ago I weighed 188 lbs. I didn't really think of myself as that heavy.  I felt like I was still in a normal weight range just based on appearance but I did want to lose a few pounds.  I thought that 175 would be good. I should also mention that I did not start running to lose weight.  I started running for the sake of running and to complete a marathon. Losing weight was simply a happy side affect and I didn't think about it that much.  

About a year later, I was down to around 170 and feeling pretty good.  At this point I started thinking more about my weight, not because I wanted to be healthier (although that's a happy side affect) but because I realized that I could run faster. I was hooked on running and racing and I wanted to improve my times.  When it comes to weight and racing, it's pretty simple.  The less you weigh, the faster you can run with the same effort.  Of course you eventually hit a limit, but I was no where close to that limit.  At my height (5' 10") I would have to be less than 135 pounds before I stopped seeing a positive affect from losing weight. There seems to be a general consensus that each pound equals ~2 seconds faster per mile.  That may not seem like much, but it really adds up, especially for longer distances.  That means if I lose 10 pounds I can expect to run a 5K a minute faster. That's huge! For a marathon, it means ~10 minutes! 

Reading about it is one thing, but I can say I have experienced this for sure.  When I've been at my lightest, I've run faster for the same level of effort.  If only there was a way I could track all my workouts in the last year on some kind of chart and see if there is some kind of correlation between my weight and my level of fitness.  Oh wait, I've done exactly that:

Average Monthly Weight vs. Max Monthly VDOT/HR

Now I know that correlation does not imply causation, but you can't completely ignore this graph! The blue line is my monthly average weight.  The red line is a bit harder to explain so lets just say its my measure of my max fitness for each month. As you can see, for the last couple months, especially last month, I've gained a couple pounds and so my fitness looks to have dipped a bit.  I'm curious to see how this will continue as I begin to once again lose weight.

Counting Calories

After my initial weight loss down to 170, I kind of got stuck. I needed to think about my diet and not just run more. I downloaded an iPhone app, of course, called Lose It! and I started counting my calories.

The thing is though, I found watching what I eat a lot more difficult than running. I would be good for a few days or sometimes a couple weeks, but then I would binge pretty bad. With how disciplined I got with my training, I couldn't really carry it over to my diet that well. Once again I got to a point where I wanted to be at a certain weight before a race and due to me trying to avoid injury, I ran less miles and gained some weight and missed my goal.  

New Weight Goals

I was hoping to be sub 160 before the Rutgers Half and instead I am somewhere between 162 and 165.  This stinks because I was at sub 160 about a month ago and then I let it slip away. Unfortunately, with the Rutgers Half being this Sunday, I'm not looking to lose 3 - 6 pounds by then.  I'm not really looking to lose more than a pound by then because losing any more would actually hurt me in the race for the short term because it would be too much of a calorie deficit. 

My new goal is inspired by Pete's Insanity training.  I'm not looking to do the Insanity workout (although my interest is definitely piqued). Instead I'm going to count my calories for the next 60 days and really look to lose about a pound a week.  That should bring me to the 154 - 157 pound range by mid June which would be super sweet. 

I just started today and I am already 236 calories over my daily budget. For some reason, I had an Iced Grande Vanilla Latte this afternoon that turned out to be 250 calories.  So I think I'll be skipping those from now on. I know this sounds crazy because I just started and I'm already over my budget, but it's alright.  That's because the way I create my calorie budget has a 500 calorie deficit per day in order to lose a pound a week.  If I eat 500 calories over my budget, I'm just maintaining my weight.  I'f I'm 250 over, I'm still losing weight but at a slower rate.  Plus I always error on the side of caution when estimating calories. Let's see where I am for the week. For some reason, I'm very optimistic about this.

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