"If you’ve raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in thickets by the Jordan?" (Jeremiah 12:5). Our journey is intended to be more than simply "stumbling" through the days while the world "wears us out.” We are made to experience the thrill of "running with horses” and to navigate life amongst the "thickets." The RWH blog focuses on both the spiritual race of which Jeremiah speaks, and the physical act of running that I absolutely love. In short, it's where "the miles meet the Message" to provide insight, perspective & encouragement that might enable you & I to successfully run either of the races set before us. May our course be purposeful and may we be passionate in our pursuit of the abundant life He desires for us.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

No Way? Yes, Weigh!

Perhaps the better title for this post might have been, “Do I lose weight to run, or do I run to lose weight?”  It’s an interesting question with a surprising answer.  The fact is, when I’m in training I do end up losing weight very quickly and then hold steady, or even put on a few, when the weekly miles top 40.  This is due to the additional fueling needs at high mileage consisting of mega carbs, GU’s, chocolate milk and, of course, doughnuts.  In other words, running an intense training plan will not necessary result in weight loss.  It will definitely keep weight off, but it may not get you to that lean and mean target all by itself.

However, if the goal is to run faster and farther, than losing weight is key to your improvement.  I guess that’s pretty much a “duh” statement, but I have discovered more than once that you really can rely on the generally accepted formula that says for every 1 pound you lose, you will run 2 seconds per mile faster.  That is the weight loss impact solely.  In other words, if you are 200 lbs and run a 24:00 - 5k, then shed 10 lbs and you will cross the line at 22:58 on your next run! Weight loss only.  2 sec / mile @ 10 lbs = 20 seconds across 3.1 miles = 62 seconds.

Again, this is not theory, I have seen it work several times along this personal roller coaster ride of weight management that I have been on the past 20 years. Certainly, the miles and training that goes into shedding the 10 pounds will help you run faster, but however you get there, it works. The added benefit is that lighter on your feet means lighter on your knees as well.  That’s always a good thing.

So, what’s the moral of this story.  First, I find motivation to watch my weight by thinking about the new personal records that I want to set on upcoming races. As I lose the weight I am more confident and feel better about the runs.  I started the marathon training last year at a weight of 206, I ran the marathon at 193.  Had I not watched my diet and stayed in the 206 range, even if I were totally trained, I would have expected to finish approximately 12 minutes slower - ouch!  That’s my answer, I prefer to think about running and weight management as "losing weight to run faster.” Plus, I have found that if I am consumed with putting in the miles for the purpose of lowering my weight, I put in a lot of empty miles that increase risk of injury (which results in time on the couch and gaining weight - how tragically ironic).   But ultimately, the bottom line is that whichever way you think about running and controlling your weight, it’s good for you - GO RUN!

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