Re-Committing: Boston Marathon Training Week 3

This photo was taken in November. 

Yesterday (Sunday 1/7) some members of my running club were planning to conduct a weigh-in, followed by an 8 week contest to lose weight. I’m told they do this annually as a way to get rid of those pounds gained though the holidays (but they skipped the last 2 years). While I’ve not hesitated to share my weight here on this blog (as a way to tell my weight loss story), the thought of going and weighing myself with other members of the running club brought great anxiety. For me, the anonymity of the internet is safer…except that everyone who knows me can read this as well. Hmmm. They postponed the weigh-in until next week but I probably won’t do it then either.

This morning I weighed 170.2 with 28.8% body fat. This is about 7 pounds more than I weighed a year ago and is a sign that I’ve been eating way too much! One of my great fears is that I’d regain all the weight that I’ve lost since I started running (and mostly eating differently). 7 pounds is not 80 pounds, but complacency is what allows those of us who struggle to allow those pounds to creep back on. Thankfully a party on Saturday night was the last for awhile.

While I was still active when heavier, I don’t want to go back to this…

Now I’m training for Boston, so it’s not the best time to embark on a calorie deficit weight loss attempt…but I can eat well. I can make better choices. For instance yesterday we spent the afternoon taking down and putting away all the Christmas decorations. When dinner time came, my husband suggested pizza, and this did sound good. But instead we had salads of romaine, spinach, chicken, avocado, tomatoes, onion, and feta. I had a homemade vinagrette as well. For me…this is also part of marathon training.

Right now, eating right is a huge part of marathon training. If you too struggle with food and weight…don’t give up because you are worth the effort!

So how did the week of training go? Wonderful. I’m still ramping up and that meant a bit over 28 miles run along with strength training. Here’s my log:

Nancy Switzler
Workouts: 12/31/2017 – 1/6/2018
Sunday, December 31, 2017 Rest Day
Monday, January 1, 2018
8:36 AM Run – Easy Run Planned: 5 mi
Completed: 5 mi ~ 49:44 (9:56 min/mi)
9:30 AM Strength & Mobility
Core & Strength Level 2
2 Sets of the following sequence with ~ 30-60 seconds rest between each exercise.
15 squats; 20 sec. plank; 10 push ups; 20 Crunches; 10 lunges on each leg; 20 sec. plank; 10 calf drops on each leg; 20 Sit-Ups
Completed: 30:00 minutes.
I did these with Scott with some modifications…like squats with 16 pound ball toss to each other. Fun!
Tuesday, January 2, 2018 Rest Day
8:30 PM Strength & Mobility
Hip prehab plus
Three sets each: Bridges (3 types); clamshells w/band; pushups; plank. Gentle stretch and roll. I’m supposed to do this little workout each night to prevent another hamstring pull or other injury. I usually do it when I haven’t done anything else.
Completed: 20:00
Wednesday, January 3, 2018
5:58 PM Run – 2 Mile Threshold Run
Planned: 6 mi
2 Miles Easy; 2 Miles @ Threshold Pace; 2 Miles Easy
Completed: 6.78 mi ~ 1:03:27 (9:21 min/mi)
Note: I did this at track and it was wondeful to be back at track even if I wasn’t doing the same workout as everyone else. The threshold pace was 8:40 (mile 1) and 8:36 (mile 2)
Thursday, January 4, 2018
4:00 PM Strength & Mobility
Core & Strength Level 2
2 Sets of the following sequence with ~ 30-60 seconds rest between each exercise.
15 squats; 20 sec. plank; 10 push ups; 20 Crunches; 10 lunges on each leg; 20 sec. plank; 10 calf drops on each leg; 20 Sit-Ups
Completed: 25:00
Friday, January 5, 2018
8:10 AM 5 Miles Easy
Completed: 5 mi ~ 51:00 (10:11 min/mi)
Workout Comments:

Pretty tired this morning from not getting a good night sleep…got the hours of sleep but I felt like it was more tossing and turning than anything else.
Saturday, January 6, 2018
12:30 PM 12 Mile Long Run (Nice & Easy)
Completed: 12 mi ~ 2:01:06 (10:05 min/mi)
Workout Comments:

Had to do an afternoon run because of a morning meeting. The weather was foggy and cool, thankfully. Overall it just felt nice to get a long run in…even if it was only 12 miles. 100 days until Boston
Planned Run: 28.00 mi // Completed Run: 28.78 mi ~ 4:45:18
Completed Strength & Mobility: 1:15:00

What Happened to Healthy Eating? Boston Marathon Training – Week 1

Real fruit at the bottom yogurt…just fruit and plain yogurt. A good snack when going back to the basics.

The 2018 Boston Marathon will commence 17 weeks from today.

I’ve been eating horribly! Cookies, candy, and various other forms of holiday junk have wrecked havoc on my diet. I haven’t eaten this horribly in years and my body is feeling it! Bloated…skin breaking out…grouchiness. Underneath all this is the fear that if I stay on my present course it probably won’t take long to gain back all the weight I’ve lost and kept off. What’s up with this year?

Last night I remembered that for the past two years I was in the middle of marathon training during the holiday season, and so didn’t indulge as much in the holiday goodies. In early 2016 I ran my 3rd marathon, Surf City (Race Recap – Surf City Marathon). This was the first since I started working with a coach. Then, in early 2017 I ran my first attempt to qualify for Boston at the Carlsbad Marathon. Logging lots of miles helped to burn calories…but more beneficially it lead to better choices in eating because you don’t want to feel horrible on a run.

This year I’ve been mostly walking as I recovered from my first 50k (December 2nd – Race Day – Ray Miller 50K Recap). The first week of recovery was walking with a 2 mile run at the end of the week. Last week I ran 2.25 miles on Monday & Wednesday. Had fun at a Jingle Jog, for 2.75 miles. And ended the week running a nice 5 miles on Saturday. Because I’m leading a Mile a Day Challenge, I’ve also walked at least a mile on non-run days. So I’ve been moving while recovering…but not enough to counteract a horrible diet.

There is also the truth that for many of us, or all of us who struggle with weight, that eating lots of fat and sugar just leads to eating more and more fat and sugar. It is an addiction in that eating at the moment feels wonderful…but is followed by feeling awful as well as guilty (to yourself!).

So, today I’m officially starting my Boston Marathon training… a week early…even if my coach hasn’t given me anything but additional recovery for the week! I can’t think of a more inspirational way to hit the reset button!

This means…food diary until I get my eating back under control and easing back into my 5 days of running per week with a long run on Saturday. Yeah! I love training!

A Nice Progress Marker – Gratitude 7/3

Today it was me, my husband, and my son. Here we are just before the start.
Five years ago my daughter, husband, and I ran our first 5k races at the Channel Islands Harbor 4th of July 5k and 10k. We’d started running earlier in the year. Megan and I were close together but she had a better kick and beat me at the end. She still has a better kick. We both remember our excitement at completing this first race. My time was 36:16. I’m very proud of that time because it is a marker on a new, fit way of life.

July 4, 2012. I’m so happy we were out there that day…and we all sure look different today
We don’t do the race every year because we sometimes travel for Independence Day, so my next race was in 2015, this time a 10k. I was training for my second marathon at the time and this race was in the middle of a longer run. I was absolutely thrilled with my time of 1:04:44. I remember finding one of the coaches for the training program and excitedly showing her my time.

I didn’t run this race in 2016, but ran a 10k on July 23rd in 55:22. I don’t remember the same level of excitement that day. Maybe it was because I was also running a 5k…and it was hot! But I was certainly pleased with the time.

Today I ran the 10k…just my third 10k. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I just started hard running last week, after my recovery from the Mountains 2 Beach Marathon (Recap here). I raced a 5k last Wednesday and was disappointed with how hard it was for me…and for my time. My coach thankfully told me I should be happy that a bad day was better than my best day a year ago.  Ok, I’ll take that!

Then on Saturday I had a nasty fall 1 mile ito a 9 mile run. I’m still battered and bruised…and I completed the run.

A friend took this photo somewhere around mile 5. I gave a thumbs up but not fast enough.
My goal today was to beat my 55:22 from last year…and not crash at the end the way I do in a 5k. I started a bit conservatively, felt good after the first mile, and pushed the pace a bit. Almost every mile felt good, with miles 5-6 being the hardest (as they should be). I got a cramp in my side for part of mile 6 but then it went away. I sprinted the last .2 and finished with a time of 51:56. That’s a 3:26 PR! WhooHoo!

A lesson in all this is that progress happens when you stick with it for the long haul. Another…enjoy the journey along the way.

Today I’m personally thankful for: community races; all the volunteers who were out there this morning; and FREEDOM, may we not squander it.

Happy Independence Day!

Slow & Steady – Racing Weight Week 4

A friend gave me a bike so I’m getting used to this in between runs!

In completing 4 weeks of a more focused effort on losing those last few pounds, I’ve remembered a few things.

Weight loss is not fast, nor is it easy.
Unfortunately many of us expect both. The weight loss industry perpetuates this lie with adds that promise quick results…for a fee. Fad diets also promise quick results, but are often unhealthy or unrealistic. I’ve tried many fad diets over the years. I’ve also given Weight Watchers hundreds of $$$$ over the years. But neither approach resulted in long term, healthy weight loss.

In much reading over the years…and with much experimentation, I’ve concluded that the best approach to weight loss is to expect slow progress while focusing on a sustainable, enjoyable, healthy lifestyle.

What does this mean for me?
Regular, vigorous exercise. Eating healthy, which includes:

  • The occasional use of a food diary. It is important to check food quantities as well as quality on occasion. It’s amazing how portions can slowly grow, while unhealthy food is consumed more and more.
  • A conscious choice to eat a wide variety of healthy food. Sometimes people will say, “I can’t eat carbs.” So, they won’t eat something healthy, like fruit. I ask them, “how many people have you seen become obese by eating too many apples or too much watermelon?” A good piece of advice that I’ve seen in many places is to eat the rainbow. I love rainbows! And I love eating a wide variety of colorful fruits and vegetable.
  • Cutting back on unhealthy, processed, calorie dense food. If I were to stray into fad diet territory I would do it here and say, just cut this crap out entirely. But this is not realistic. So if you have a favorite processed something my advice is to make it a very special treat and only eat it occasionally. Go back to the previous point…if you’re hungry eating an apple and natural peanut butter will be more filling and better for you than say, a bag of Doritos or a cookie. Something I discovered is that when all the processed sugar is gone, real fruit tastes wonderful. Try it!
  • Eating enough. If you are constantly hungry, you won’t succeed…and you will easily overeat when crappy food is place before you.
  • Last, think of it as a life style and enjoy yourself, which means don’t deprive yourself as social events.

Slow is ok
I discovered these tips while very slowly losing 80+ pounds. If you can focus on the journey and enjoy what you are doing each day, you’ll be able to look back at your success. I probably lost about 30 pounds a year, over a few years. Now that I’m trying to tackle those last pounds I need to remind myself of my own tips!

How Was the 4 Week Focus?
After 4 weeks of my renewed focus I lost 5.6 pounds. As I reported last week my other gauge of % body fat is off in that my scale now thinks I’m a bit dehydrated (which I’m not), so it had an increase in this number…but I don’t believe it and will write on that later. And, I had at least one day (sometimes 2) each week of social eating and drinking.

Now the intensive focus will end, but I will continue to eat healthy…because that is what I do. As my training miles increase, I will increase carbs in my diet. When I feel that maybe I’m out of control, I’ll use the food diary…because it is a helpful tool for the occasional check. I’ll report back periodically.

Last, if you are looking for some good advice I recommend a couple books by Matt Fitzgerald, Racing Weight and The Endurance Diet. I read these recently (after losing my 80 pounds) and was pleased to read that I had done mostly what he recommended. They are great resources.

You can read the previous entries on this series here:  Racing Weight – Getting ThereOOPS – Racing Weight, Week 1Ummm – Racing Weight Week 2Really?!?! Racing Weight Week 3

A few years ago…

Really?!?! Racing Weight Week 3

Now that I’ve completed three weeks of my focused efforts to lose those last pounds I can say that I’ve reset my habits…mostly in omitting processed foods and added sugar. I’ve not deprived myself, and have enjoyed food and drink related social events each week. Most days I’m trying to eat more protein, with fewer carbs than I do when in full marathon training mode. The biggest challenge here is that I find it hard to increase protein without simultaneously increasing fat. At least these are healthy fats.

Something else happened that has me a bit perplexed…

Last Friday can be labeled, Big Day of Activity. First, a one hour strength training class. This was immediately followed by an easy 4 mile run. I scraped paint for a few hours in the middle of the day. Took a bubble bath and then joined some friends for Bikes and Brews. The bike ride was my longest so far…about 30 miles in 2 hours.

I’m new to cycling, thus: I don’t dress properly (it was cold! and I would have been overdressed for a run); the physical exertion of these easy rides don’t create as much thirst as running, so in retrospect I didn’t drink enough water (plus I’m not confident enough to drink while moving 😬); I would take in some food in a two hour run but didn’t even think of it in a bike ride.

When we finished I was famished and thirsty. I took a sip of my water when I should have downed the contents of the bottle. I ate the best tasting burrito ever, along with drinking 2 beers.

The next morning my % body fat went up about 3 points. What? I went on my weekly long run (thankfully it was a short 7 miles).  Halfway through the run I was exhausted and really just wanted a nap. That run ended up being a simulation of late-race fatigue.

Once back at home I tried to figure out the increase in body fat and discovered my scale actually measures hydration and calculates body fat from that. So I was dehydrated…that explains the fatigue.

Unfortunately I’ve been rehydrating ever since and by all other signs am well hydrated, but my little scale doesn’t agree. This means that I had a nice weight loss of 3.8 pounds. And a gain in body fat by 3.2%. If this is true I’ve seriously burned through muscle, which doesn’t seem possible. We’ll see how this next week goes.

You can find other entries in this journey here: Racing Weight – Getting ThereWeek 1Week 2

Ummm – Racing Weight Week 2

I weigh myself most mornings, which is a good or bad practice, depending on whose advice you listen to. It’s generally helpful for me. Over the last couple years, as I’ve lost lots of weight, I’ve recorded it whenever I reached a lower number. Of course with the daily fluctuations that we all have it might not stay at that lower number, but I just didn’t record the increase. It might go up for a few days…it might go down. Over time the trend was always down. If seeing these daily fluctuations cause stress, then a daily weigh-in is not for you.

Last week my body seemed to be melting away the pounds.
Monday: 169.4
Tuesday: 168.2
Thursday: 167.4
Friday: 166.6
Saturday: 166

That’s a weight loss of 3.4 pounds! Wow! And totally unrealistic! But part of me was whoohoo…at this rate I’ll get down to my best racing weight in no time at all.

Then Sunday came. Sunday with Father’s Day. Sunday with a family BBQ and appetizers and margaritas and dessert. I sat away from the appetizer table which means I ate less than years past. I filled my margarita glass with water between drinks…and didn’t have that much. I took less food than I have at previous family gatherings. I only sampled the dessert. At the end of the BBQ I was full…but not stuffed and that felt good.

I got on the scale this morning and seemed to erase all of last week, checking in at 169.6 – a weight gain of .2 for the week. Hmmm. I would certainly not have recorded this weight except that I chose to make myself accountable on this blog. My % body fat went down a very small fraction, so there’s that!

Here is where wisdom gained through experience is so helpful (and hopefully is helpful for you too).

  • I know that I didn’t gain 3+ pounds in one day! Nor did I really lose that much over the course of last week. It is somewhere in the middle and will eventually be reflected on the scale. If you are trying to lose weight, don’t be discouraged by “a bad day,” just continue on in your healthy choices.
  • Self worth is not reflected in a number on the scale. Don’t allow your weight (whatever it is) to be anything other than a measurement. Your true worth is reflected in the truth that you are a beloved child of God and are worthy.
  • Participating in life is a good thing…and that means family parties. It’s ok to not deprive yourself of “celebration food and drink.” You have the freedom to indulge, just as you have the freedom to resume your healthy eating and exercising habits as soon as the party is over.

And my last thought… I went to a strength training class this morning, followed by a nice little run along the beach. Both were easy…both felt great and both remind me that the ability to move is so much more important than a number on a scale.

Racing Weight – Getting There

A brief background. I mentioned in previous posts that I started running in an effort to lose weight (Not Always about Speed and About Sugar). It worked as I’d lost approximately 80 pounds by September 2016 (this has been a multi-year journey). I say approximately because I don’t know my heaviest weight…at a certain point it’s depressing to get on a scale. Now it’s time to start again.

It’s about running. Want to run faster? Then lose some weight! Of course this advice is only true for those who have excess weight…like me. I can also attest to the accuracy of this as my speed improves as my weight has dropped. At one point I thought that “all I needed to run a Boston Qualifier was to lose more weight.” When I started working with my coach I told home that I’d read that I’d gain 2 seconds per mile for every pound lost. So if I lost 20 pounds I’d run 40 seconds faster per mile and would qualify. Sounds simple, right? He was a bit skeptical and suggested that I focus on training. I focused on both.

But then I stopped losing weight last fall…and I was training for a marathon, followed by training for another marathon. I began more intensive strength trading and have noticed changes – good changes – in my body. So, I decided to measure my body fat percentage as a better measure and with my new digital high tech scale I immediately “gained” 4 pounds. Of course it wasn’t real but rather a different measure. It also let me know my body fat was 28.5%. In the final weeks before Mountains2Beach I decided that staying off the scale would be better for my morale.

The good news is that I qualified for Boston (story here M2B recap). A couple days after the race I weighed myself and discovered a 4 pound weight gain, for real this time. Yikes! I could have been depressed but instead I thought, “how cool that it was my training that got me there.”

4-6 Weeks of Focussed Eating. Now, I have a bit of a break and have decided to put a little renewed focus on losing those last pounds. How? By doing what I did to lose the first 80… eat real food and not too much of it. I will also target a daily 400-500 calorie deficit. This is not a permanent change. The permanent change is the eating real food and not too much of it.

I want to emphasize something important here…and that is that I am currently happy with my weight, with my size. If I hadn’t become an endurance athlete I would have been happy to maintain here. But I think I have more speed in me and in addition to training hard, I’d like to see what I can do when I get to my optimal racing weight. There’s also the added benefit of less weight for my body to carry.

It’s interesting that I’ve successfully done this previously…and I’ve successf maintained weight loss… and yet I’m a bit nervous as to whether I’ll be able to stick with it for my 4-6 week. So I share here. And I’ll let you know how it goes.