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Not my scale.

I’m in the thick of marathon training, so naturally, my hunger has gone through the roof. And, not so concidentally – so has my weight. OK, it hasn’t gone “through the roof,” but I’ve packed on an extra 5 pounds or so. And with the big race coming up pretty soon, I knew that weight would weigh me down and possibly slow down my finish time. I’m not realistically aiming for a BQ or anything, but I do want to make every second count. So, I downloaded the Kindle version of Racing Weight, a book that’s been making the rounds in runner’s circles for a few years now. The book purports to tell you all about the best way to slim up and get to your ideal racing weight – for most people, that’s somewhere in between “Have you put on a few?” and “Wow, are you sick?”

There’s nothing especially groundbreaking about the nutrition advice in Racing Weight. Eat more veggies and fruits, don’t eat doughnuts and fries. Only eat when you’re hungry. What is different is the real-world approach that Fitzgerald uses when it comes to things like portion sizes. When I did Weight Watchers, everything had to be measured down to the tablespoon, cup or ounce. With Racing Weight, a portion of lean protein is the size of your palm. Cheese is about two slices. This makes following the plan much less of a fussy prospect.

If you like specific goal weights and rigid guidelines, this may not be the book for you. Fitzgerald provides some general guidelines for estimating your ideal racing weight, but you’ll have to go through a process of trial and error to figure out the exact number. In other words, you slim down until your times start to suffer, and then add a few back on. Fitzgerald also recommends getting a body-fat scale to measure how much adipose tissue you have. I did not do this, but I used the YMCA body fat estimator to get a rough idea.

Fitzgerald recommends starting his plan by doing a “quick start” in the off-season – you’ll have to buy his other book to do this – and then switching over to the long-term plan. I purchased the quick start book from an Amazon reseller, and it’s still on the way, so I haven’t had a chance to delve into it yet. Also, it’s still training season for me, so a quick start (I’m guessing with less calories) probably wouldn’t be ideal right now. So I just started using the long-term plan right off the bat.

I’ve followed the plan more or less faithfully over the past six days. During that time, I have lost 7 pounds, according to the number on the scale. I’m attributing some of this to water weight. Before, I was eating a lot of processed food and, I assume, quite a bit of sodium. When the salt intake dropped, the water fell off, too. I think that my scale weight will begin to drop off more slowly in the coming days, and I’m OK with that.

I haven’t seen any improvements in my times during training runs since beginning the plan, but neither have I seen any slowdowns. Time will tell. My approximate goal weight is approximately 13 pounds down from where I am now – I’m guessing that being that much lighter would have to help at least a little. I won’t reach the goal in time for my race, but it’s nice knowing that I’ll be part of the way there when I get to the starting line.

FYI: I have NOT received compensation of any kind for this entry! I bought the book myself and simply wanted to share my experience with it.

Photo courtesy Thinking Tree/flickr

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