Thursday, February 24, 2011

What it takes to gain (or lose) a pound


Tuesday was "back on the program" day with this week's Interval run.  The Intervals were done at a descending distance and ascending pace.  For reference, 800m is half a mile and 400m is a quarter mile.
  1. 1200m @ 15.9 kph 
  2. 1000m @ 16.1 kph
  3.   800m @ 16.3 kph
  4.   600m @ 16.4 kph
  5.   400m @ 16.6 kph
  6.   200m @ 16.8 kph (actually ended up doing about 300m at 17.0 kph).  
My recovery was a 300m walk at 4MPH (6kph) between each interval.

These were all done at my "A" pace (3h20m training plan).  My ankles continue to take time to limber up, but my calves felt stronger than they have in weeks, so I'll take that as a sign that this whole plan is working.  

I had this really strange sensation like the support structure of my right shoe completely collapsed during my 1000m interval.  It wasn't painful, but it literally fell like the underlying structure of the shoe broke and the ball of my foot could feel the hole under the insole with every step.  These are brand news shoes with less than 20 miles on them, so I know it's not wear & tear.  I stopped after the interval and used part of the recovery time to remove the shoe & check everything out.  Nothing was obviously wrong, so I re-tied and set about completing my run.  Strangeness.

This is the link to the training plan in Google Docs I'm running with (there's a tab there for the half marathons I ran last fall, too).  I need to populate a few more weeks out in the near term, but so far everything is going to schedule.

2011-FEB-22 Diet Log
2011-FEB-22 Run Graph (Nike+)


I'm getting back on The Diet and (this may sound odd) but I'm going to make a commitment to marginally over-eat for a while to see how my body responds.  I've had my input vs. output pretty well dialed for months and one of my goals for this marathon training is to NOT lose muscle mass.  That means I need to keep my daily caloric intake a) consistent throughout the day (no binge eating), and b) equal to or greater than the amount I'm burning.  With the exception of long-run days and off days, that means I'll need somewhere between 3000 - 3100 Kcal to stay level.

Generally speaking, gaining or losing a pound of fat accounts for 3500 Kcal.  To lose 1 pound in a week, I would need to eat 500 Kcal per day under my burn (basal metabolism + activity).  Likewise, to gain a pound in a week, I would need to have a 500 Kcal per day surplus in my diet.  I hear people talk about gaining significant weight in a short period of time (e.g. 2 or more pounds in a week) and blaming a few bad meals for the result.  While it's certainly possible, it would require substantial effort to over-eat by 1000+ Kcal per day for 7 days in a row.

As an aside, the quickest way to gain "fake weight" is through hydration.  Water is heavy.  8.34 lbs per gallon.  To prove this to yourself, weigh yourself, fill a pint glass to the brim with water, drink it, and weigh yourself again.  Congratulations!  You just gained a pound and you're not any fatter, less fit, more muscular, or whatever-you-tell-yourself-when-the-scale-goes-up.  Sure, diet matters and the cumulative effect of little cheats and over eating will eventually make itself known, but getting hung up over minor, short-term fluctuations is fruitless.  

If you're honest with yourself and know what's going into the tank and if you're honest with yourself about the intensity and duration of the exercise you're doing, the equation of "What's going on?" is a simple one. In some cases, adding a 100-200 calories per day can IMPROVE weight loss if your calorie deficit is too low, so you can't game the system by attempting to survive on 800 Kcal per day while exercising for 45 minutes. It's all about balance and finding that sweet spot where diet + exercise = the result you want.  If you're not satisfied with the results, make small modifications and see what changes.  What's the worst that can happen??

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