During the month of August, I experienced two unusual contrasts.
1. The numbers tell different stories
My workplace hosts periodic fitness challenges. These usually involve doing pre- and post-program assessments, which include body composition analyses. Over the past two years, I've undergone maybe eight body comp analyses.
The results have always been pretty consistent... until last week! My body fat percentage dropped nearly 1% compared to six weeks ago! It's also the lowest percentage I've ever recorded. Woo hoo!
I credit this to doing more weight-lifting. Now I am really pumped (get it? pumped? har-har) to keep up the strength training.
I attend Weight Watchers meetings every week where I get weighed-in.
My weight has been stable over the last few years. I have always fallen within a 2-pound range... until last week. This time, I recorded my highest weight since last October.
I want to believe my weight is higher because of muscle gain, and I do have my body comp results to back that up. But even so. Even though numbers are just numbers, it's not fun to see upward movements on the scale!
I've previously mentioned my goal to run 750 miles in 2015. This translates to 62.5 miles per month. I have stayed perfectly on track every month this year through July.
I really thought I would fall off the wagon in August. The heat and humidity with a side of lagging motivation sure seemed like a recipe for disaster.
Fort2Base helped a lot.
I started thinking, if I can continue logging 72.5 each month for the rest of the year, I can get to 800 total miles for 2015. That would be the highest annual mileage I've ever logged, and by far the most consistent!
The entire month was full of mediocre-to-crappy runs.
Last weekend, I finished off August with an 11-mile long run. It didn't go well. My paces were snail-like and I felt like a slug. And unlike most of my other runs this month, I didn't have the weather, fueling, or other factors to blame this time.
It feels bizarre to log my highest monthly mileage all year but to simultaneously feel so underprepared. Here is hoping it was just one of those days and that correlation does not imply causation (or whatever the statisticians say).
Oxymoronic times all around, eh?
I guess it is all about quality over quantity, right? I liken it to my marathon training, where the first go round I did all these miles because they were on the plan. Even though the majority of the runs sucked, and did nothing for my confidence. Contrast that to my training last year and this year, where I do lower miles and more quality workouts. I feel strong and prepared. Makes no sense, if you think about how elites train. But hey, I'm no elite...ReplyDelete
Great food for thought!
Thanks for your thoughts, Wendy! I've thought a lot about the concept of "junk" miles, which I understand to be run at a pace that is too fast to safely build endurance, while too slow to be considered speedwork. I get nervous about running long, slow distances too much because I fear my body will adapt to the slower speeds. But it brings up the question of whether it is better to not run at all versus running ineffectively? Lots of food for thought, indeed!Delete
Since you logged extra miles in August, you could take a step back in September and see how that impacts your overall running. Personally, I believe there is ALWAYS an outside factor to blame for lousy runs, even if it's not immediately obvious (like, maybe I ate well the night before a lousy run, but I ate poorly in the days preceding the night before, or I didn't get enough sleep, or I'm stressed out over other things, or _______ ). Even when you just have "one of those days," I think there's usually something that caused that. Or at least that makes me feel better about poor performance ;)ReplyDelete
Bethany @ Accidental Intentions
I am all in favor of always finding an outside factor to blame for lousy runs! They do say that running is like 90% mental, right? So making yourself feel better about poor performance is more than half the battle. =D I seriously cannot wait for cooler weather to start showing up consistently this month. Weather is such a huge factor!!!Delete
I can't believe you let go of the 62.5! But, I do like the new number too. Running is so oxymoronic. We can feel like snails on short 3 mile runs and wonderful on 12 milers. I wouldn't stress over that. And YES, muscle weighs more than fat. ABSOLUTELY -- please don't tell me otherwise. LOL.ReplyDelete
Yes, you were spot-on about the fear of not being able to run more or less than the originally-prescribed 62.5 per month! But I felt much better about going high rather than going low. =) It is funny how sometimes the shorter runs can feel like garbage. Perhaps our bodies adapt to the longer distances and it takes us longer to warm up for the shorter distances? Who knows! YES - a pound of muscle weighs more than a pound of fat, so to speak. ;-PDelete
Very interesting stuff! This is why I think judging how your clothes fit vs weight works so much better! Weight is deceiving- especially when your legs are all muscle!!ReplyDelete
COMPLETELY agree. Numbers are just numbers. It's definitely way more important to evaluate how we feel, our energy and strength, and how our clothes fit. Cheers to all of us runners for our overly muscular legs. =)Delete
Second this!! I don't worry about the scale weight because muscle is so heavy, and when I'm lifting like I should (obviously I haven't been so good lately), the scale can appear much more scary than it actually is. I focus on if my clothes still fit and I feel good.Delete
But kudos on the % fat reduction!!
Thanks Natalie! Yes to not focusing on the numbers in lieu of appreciating how we feel!!! Yay for heavy muscle!!! =DDelete
This is why I think fixating on weight will drive people crazy. You're getting results in other areas so you should be proud of that.ReplyDelete
Yes! A number on the scale is just a number! I've heard about the concept of folks who are skinny-fat, i.e. they have a small number on the scale but they are completely lacking in muscle. Thank you for the kind words on my results!Delete
Girl, you said it - numbers are numbers. Good for tracking some things but NOTHING to be a slave to. The weight being up could be a fluke. As could the fat being down (not trying to be an ass, but you know!). How do you feel? Do you feel stronger? Do your clothes fit looser? Etc, etc? Take time to be proud of what you can do! Weight goes up and down each week, we all know that!ReplyDelete
And regarding the yearly mileage thing... did you want to run all those miles last month? I think it's great you let go of that monthly number (yay, it has less power now!) but if those runs were all crummy and made you feel like meh, what was the point? I mean, yes, you need to keep mileage up for your races, but why run extra if you don't dig it?
And it was August. You can still blame the weather. ;)
Since we're in the mindset of looking at things glass half full, we will put more emphasis on the body comp progress than on the scale. =) But you do bring up a valid point, I'll have to see if the body fat % stays down in future analyses. I do feel good from all the weight-lifting. It's gratifying for me to find some muscle definition that I never used to have!Delete
Believe it or not, the miles kind of snuck up on me in August. I was doing more long runs in preparation for Fort2Base and Hub City - and they added up in the end. Feelings of unmotivation aside, I do feel that my mileage is probably lower than it should be for what I'd eventually like to achieve. Hopefully the cooler weather will help a lot!!! Thanks for helping me validate the weather blame. =D
See! You ARE on the right track! :)Delete
And that is good that the miles came naturally. As long as you aren't forcing it, but have meh runs, well... I think that is just gonna happen! :) September will be better!
Thanks Kim!!! Yes, September will be better for all of us!!!Delete
I'm shooting for more quality over quantity this marathon training cycle, so I'll let you know how it works out. To be honest, it does make me nervous when I see how many miles other people are running on Daily Mile!ReplyDelete
I am super excited to find out how this approach works for you this marathon cycle! Your analytics are always very insightful so this is going to be a great learning tool for me, too. YES on getting nervous seeing the high-mileage weeks and months others are logging!!! Some of the numbers are insane (and I wonder how those folks don't get hurt!)!!!Delete
Yes, I guess I'm nervous that I'm not running enough, and I'm nervous for the people who might be trying to cram in too many miles this late in the marathon training cycle. I am just trying to listen to my legs and back off if necessary. It is easier to do this when I am flexible with my weekly mileage and not trying to hit a giant number for the week! Getting to the starting line in one piece is the main thing.Delete
When I started on my "get stronger and leaner" campaign last fall one of my coworkers wondered how I could possibly stick to it with all the winter holidays coming up. Turns out, it was WAY easier for me to stick to a diet and exercise plan in the fall and winter than it is in the summer. Summer is for trying new neighborhood restaurants, going to festivals, partying with friends on rooftops, and other indulgences. Winter is...about not going outside :-) So, yes, I realized my weight has crept up this summer, too. But, I know it will be cyclical. And thankfully my clothes all still fit :-)ReplyDelete
Also, I know I sound like a broken record, but letting go of the I SHOULD go for a run feeling has been amazing. Now when I run it's because I want to and most of my runs feel awesome. Something to keep in mind for next year :-)
Thanks for your thoughts, Erin. It's funny - I have problems sticking to a diet and exercise plan pretty much year round, haha. During the summertime, it's for the same reasons you mentioned. But in the fall/winter, not being outdoors as much leads me to less activity... and we won't even talk about Thanksgiving and the winter holidays. Kudos to you for being able to stay disciplined during the fall and winter!Delete
Ah yes, I would love to let go of the feeling that I SHOULD go for a run! Indeed, after I finish the remaining half marathons on my schedule, I'll be able to embrace that freedom, too. Ahhhh!!! =)
I try not to read too much into the number on the scale. Now I go by how my clothes fit. I have a pair of jeans that sometimes fit me tight and sometimes fit fine.ReplyDelete
Agreed, clothing fit is SO much better of a way to measure how we are doing! That, and what our FITNESS is like. When we're getting stronger or faster, THAT is the way to know things are on the right track. =)Delete