Tuesday, July 19, 2011
1 Pound = 2 Seconds/Mile
I stepped on the scale for the first time in a couple of weeks today. I was pleasantly surprised. I’ve lost a few – I’m back under 155lbs. I like to be between 150-155 for races.
I really shouldn’t worry about weight, but I kinda do. Not because I think I’m overweight or unhealthy – I don’t think I am... although I certainly used to be. No. It’s because the less useless weight my body is carrying, the faster I’ll go.
Now, I should qualify this. Notice how I said “useless weight” – there does come a point when you just can’t lose any more weight and keep muscle mass and stay healthy. However, each pound of excess fat (yes, you do need some) is, in fact, slowing me down. I guess the trick is to find out how much useless fat is hanging on and then try to lose it.
The gains to be made in race times are significant. I found this link to a blog that referenced a Runner’s World article that claimed, on average, runners shave 2 seconds/mile off their race paces for every pound dropped. Apparently, this is based on research. And it makes sense to me. Pretty basic physics.
What this means is that, for the approximately 5 pounds I’ve dropped over the past month, I stand to run my half marathon 2:11 faster, all other things being equal. That’s a lot of time – to me, the difference between, say, a 1:18 and a 1:16 is more than worth the inconvenience of laying off chips and beer for a month.
And the whole thing has got me thinking – how much do I need to lose to become world class? Well, let’s say I run 1:18 for the half at 155lbs. Now, let’s say a world-class half time is around 1:05 – I’m being generous to myself here. So I have to drop 13 minutes or 780 seconds. That’s pretty much a minute per mile over a half marathon. This means I’d have to lose 30lbs. Hmm. 125lbs? For a six footer? Not sure that’s healthy.
But, hey, now I know I’m only 30lbs from world-class running. I wonder how much of me I could cut off to get 30lbs and still be functional? How much does my head weigh? It’s pretty much dead weight.
Seriously, though, the weight loss game is dangerously seductive for obsessive runners. The thing is, you put so much time into training and invest so much meaning in running a PB, why would you want to hold yourself back over a few pounds? But when is it enough? When do you cross that line from shaping yourself into the fittest you can be to harming yourself?
Really, I think I’m a long way from self harm, but I am seduced by the logic and the numbers.
For now, though, the cupcakes that J-A made for me stay in the freezer until after the race. I was allowed three, but the rest will be portioned out... I’m not so good when it comes to self-denial.