Tuesday, December 11, 2007

My mortal enemy - The Scale

I stepped on my scale for the first time in a while this morning. I weighed 196.

Over my running career, I've raced at weights as low as 165 and I've been as high as 227, although I don't think I ever raced when I weighed over 210.

In my 10 starts at 100 miles, I've been as light as 176 or so at Hardrock (they don't weigh you there) and as high as 202 at Vermont in 1997. Not surprisingly, I didn't finish that race in 1997.

I weighed in for WS at 187, VT at 194, 197, 198 and 202. I was 189 at Wasatch.

I ran my marathon PR (2:57:35) at 168 pounds. I ran my 5K PR just a few weeks before my marathon PR, at 170.

Except for Hardrock in 2004, I've never been under 180 pounds for an ultra.

A typical pattern for me will be something like this:

Decide on my key race for next season by the end of the previous calendar year. Enjoy the holidays and enjoy some beers after skiing early in the season. Step on the scale on the first of the year and freak out. Plan to lose x pounds by race day. Divide x by the number of months, n, until the race. The number will seem small. So, I'll figure I can make a few moderate changes and I'll get there slowly. Then, I eat well for a week and go right back to my normal habits. I'll drink beer after skiing every Saturday and Sunday. I'll eat cheeseburgers for lunch while I'm teaching skiing.

Suddenly, it will be the first of February. I still have x pounds to lose, but one less month. So, I need to lose x/(n-1) pounds per month. It still sounds doable.

Repeat January's habits in February. Repeat again in March. Finally, ski season ends and I switch to running on the weekends, but I'm now behind on where I need to be weight-wise. This affects my ability to run the number of miles that I'd like to run. I get frustrated, and eventually simply accept that I'll lose a little weight during my higher mileage training, but "x" is not going to happen. Maybe x-10 or x/2.

On raceday, I show up weighing more than I'd like, and despite all my training, I'm left wondering "what if". Fit and fat - story of my life.

So, here we are again. Is it time to lamely repeat the past?

I have a set of bodyfat calipers. They're kind of cheap, but I use them every month or two and I get pretty consistent numbers.

According to those calipers, at 198 pounds one month ago, I was at 21.7% body fat with a lean body mass of 155 pounds. It's hard to imagine that I'm ever going to see 10% body fat, which would be 172 pounds if my lean body mass stayed unchanged.

However, I imagine that as my running mileage increases and I cut my weight training from 3x per week to 2x, I'll lose some lean body mass.

I made it to Hardrock in the mid-170s back in 2004 and I finished 65th of 125 starters. That was probably the ultra race of my life so far.

So, I want to make 175 pounds my goal for Western States. Perhaps more important than the weight is my body fat percentage, depending on what happens with my lean body mass as my mileage increases. So, I'm going to set a goal there as well, although it may be unachievable: 12%.

I have just over 6 months until the race and I'm saying I'd like to lose 21 pounds. Hmmmm, that's just 3.5 pounds per month.

Here we go again...

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