Fit, fast and … fat?

Compared to most women in this country, I look like a runway model.

I have what I think is somewhere in the range of 24% body fat, although it could well be higher or lower, since all I have to go on is my consumer-level Moron body fat measurement device. While this number is on the low end of normal for the general female population (especially today, when overweight-to-obese is the new “normal”), it’s on the high side for a competitive marathon distance runner.

The discrepancy I see between myself and the women I finish with in races (who are typically carrying noticeably less extra poundage than I am) has bothered me more for theoretical than practical reasons thus far. After all, if I’m finishing with the skinny bitches, then the fact that I am not a skinny bitch myself is not holding me back. Or is it? I don’t know.

Not knowing something, especially something that might impact something else that’s important to me, really bugs me. So I sought out some expert advice from Mary Coordt, who is not only a nutritionist, but she’s also a three time Olympic marathon trials qualifier and frequent speaker on nutrition for runners. Since if you so much as exchange one email with me your expectation of privacy is null and void, I’ll share what she told me with you.

When I presented her with my plight (“I’m obviously fatter than my peers at the finish line, can’t seem to lose that extra fat no matter what I do, and I fear that it’s slowing me down.”) her response was frank, informative and oddly reassuring. To paraphrase, it went something like this:

You’re born with a certain body type and physiological framework within which to work. You’re in a normal range for body fat and you’re making great progress. So stop comparing yourself to the thinner marathoners and look to the bulkier runners instead (she mentioned Russians in particular) who have no problem moving fast over long distances despite the loads they’re hauling. Keep training and your times will drop. Don’t worry about it.

To me, one mark of a true professional is being able and willing to tell someone that they really don’t need your services.

So I’m going to stop looking for the diet or person who can promise me fat loss. I’m just going to keep running.

Winter Basebuilding: Week 4

09spr-base-04Ahh. A recovery week. And not a week too soon.

With a 25% reduction in volume, I was flying on my feet this past week. I truly needed the day off on Monday, as I was quite tired. Tuesday’s 20 minute effort at 10K was not that difficult physically — the real effort was mental for this run for some reason. I wonder if not running for a day had something to do with that.

I did Friday’s tempo effort on the track, which was a pleasure that day since there was almost no one there. Although at one point I was the entertainment for a PE class of bored eight year olds. I couldn’t help but wonder: did they find me fast or slow?

The centerpiece of the week was Sunday’s run, for which I was lucky to have good weather. Nice and cold and not too much wind. I felt fantastic during this run, managing to crank out eight miles at the end at around 10 seconds per mile faster than my early October marathon pace, all at a lower heart rate.

My resting heart rate is now solidly in the low 40s most days too.

I can hardly believe that I’m nearly halfway through basebuilding already. I’ve enjoyed doing the work and seeing progress, however subtle.

For Basebuilding Week 5 the mileage shoots back up to 85 and I start introducing doubles, on back-to-back days, no less. Then I test out my new and improved wheels and engine in a 15K race in Central Park on Saturday.