If you’re lucky, this post has never applied to you and never will. If you’re like the rest of us, you’ve had to worry about your weight before.
Now it’s all about perspective. I’ve never been truly overweight. I’ve never had a doctor tell me I should lose weight. That said, I have seen my weight fluctuate a fair amount, and I have busted the button on a pair of khaki pants before, so I’ve had my moments.
I think the easiest place to start is with the effect of weight on running. From a very easy, logical place, we can tell that carry around extra weight is going to have a negative effect on running times. It’s simply a matter of having to haul around 10, 20, 30 pounds extra.
The exact effect can’t be determined exactly because everyone’s different. That said, there are estimates. For a marathon, every pound over would be an extra minute to your time. Another was that for 10 pounds you lose, you can shave 20 seconds off your mile (or a minute off your 5K).
This doesn’t substitute for training. It doesn’t mean you should just purge and ignore your nutritional needs. It does mean that maybe you should pay a little closer attention to your weight. You know, food for thought (see what I did there?).
Of course, this is all just science. It’s abstract. It’s not real to my life. I can look at a calculator and see that dropping 5 pounds would give me a 30-second drop on my 5Ks, but I can also look at the pizza I picked up after a run and think, “that looks delicious. I should eat all of it one sitting and then wear a crown.” I’m not kidding about the crown.
So how do I make this topic real? What makes it count? As much as I love data, I know that’s not what’s going to drive a sustained change. Data will only give me an indicator of what is or is not successful.
We can make this real by showing the real effect on our lives. And since this is my blog, I’ll share the real effect on my life.
I’ve never been a serious runner, probably never will be. At least not a long distances. I was built for sprints. I can put on muscle like someone who’s trying to get from point A to point B very quickly, provided they’re never more than 100 meters apart. After that, my body starts to give on me, especially my lungs.
My legs may not enjoy distance running, but it’s my lungs that crap out on me first. When I’ve been running, I’ve only had to stop because my legs were tired a couple of times. The rest was because my lungs couldn’t keep pace (I get to be the outlier for some article I read about how cardio capacity will improve before the body can).
While I haven’t been a faithful runner, I’ve done all right the past 5 years, with some bad spots. And in this time, I’ve weighed between 170 and 205, including running at all these weights.
I liked running at 170 a lot more than running at 205.
Go into the weight room, grab a 35-pound weight, and then run a mile with it. You’ll understand the difference sooner than later.
Of course, not all weight is created equally. The 190 I’m at now is better than the 190 I was at about 3 years ago. But weight is weight. And over the course of a 5K (which is relevant seeing as how this is the Super Awesome Year of the 5K), I notice the extra weight I have to carry up every stupid hill.
And yet, this is still just a bit too abstract for me. I only did 3 5Ks and a Rugged Maniac prior to this year, so I don’t have a real catalog of experiences.
No, I had something else that makes me aware of when I’m carrying extra weight. Two things, really. My knee and my back. I hurt both in high school, and they only get worse when I’m inactive. Over the years, I’ve noticed I move around a lot more easily when I’m not tipping the scale where I shouldn’t be. And whether the weight is the direct reason or the indirect reason (via helping me move around more easily), my knee and back don’t trouble me nearly as much when I get close to 180.
I’m going to take this little journey on one more route before we finish up, but first I need to fess up to something. I can actually lose weight very easily. I dropped 15 pounds over 3 months once. I dropped about 10 over a different month. I was eating healthy. I wasn’t starving myself. And it was easy.
I also put on 15 pounds in 6 weeks once. Because Fatty likes his cake.
I love to eat food. I managed to stay away from many vices, but food and beverages weren’t one of them. Just today I realized I had some ice cream in my freezer and I got way too excited over that fact.
Even though I know what it takes to lose weight, even though it’s actually pretty easy for me to drop 10 pounds healthily in a matter of a month or two, I still have trouble losing weight because I want to stuff my little piggy face full of pizza, burgers, and ice cream (and I’ve had all 3 within the past 3 days), and I can undo a week’s worth of work in one sitting if I’m feeling particularly vengeful.
So when Fatty fights the scale, he’s got a good reason. I may not be overweight, but I’m definitely not at an idea weight. And while weight isn’t a goal for the year (only doing a 5K every month is), I am hoping it will be an added bonus.