123 days: Racing Weight

I have a plan to raise $10,000 for some awesome organizations by Sept. 22, 2013 – the day I run in Ironman Lake Tahoe. Just 4 months away! Raised so far: $5,947! Want to increase this total? Chip in a few bucks to one of our causes here, or find out how you can get involved by pinging me on Facebook or by dropping me a note.

Suzanne and Tawnya are on the march! Follow along as they trek the Camino de Santiago de Compostela, “The Way of St James” – a 500 mile pilgrimage starting in southern France and across northern Spain. They’ve posted several updates during the first week of their journey.

Please sign up for the Kyle’s Special Heart 5K/10K! June 8 in Rainier, WA! Details and registration information are here – please help out my cousin and his wife as their newborn son Kyle fights with the fury of a thousand ninja babies to heal from his congenital heart issues. More information about Kyle and his fight can be found on their blog. I won’t be able to make it – I have the Redondo Beach Triathlon that same weekend – but I will be there in spirit!

Racing Weight

I ran across a fantastic article this morning on Triathlete.com titled How the Pros Stay Lean by Matt Fitzgerald. The general idea behind the story: so many of us trying to lean down for racing performance (or to just lose a few pounds in general) tend to gravitate toward “diets with a name” such as the Zone Diet, Paleo Diet, veganism, gluten-free, etc. Most pro and elite athletes, however, don’t. They follow a few simple tenets and a basic “normal person” eating plan to maintain their weight targets in order to optimize performance.

The author of that article, Matt Fitzgerald, also published a book a few years ago that goes into greater depths on this topic, Racing Weight. I have a copy at home and have been using it for the past several months. Lots of really good suggestions in that book – the moral of the story, though: try some of these things out, but listen to your body and adapt the concepts to what works for you.

This article particularly hit home as I read it this morning. I’ve spent the last couple of nights doing the “great purge.” You know… going through my overflowing closets and drawers filled with clothes and deciding what to keep and what to give away. So far over 5 bags of clothes filled with quality merchandise… and more on the way. A whole pile of old running shoes. And I haven’t even started purging my athletic gear, yet.

These are a portion of the bags of clothes that are part of the "Great Clothing Purge of 2013"

These are a portion of the bags of clothes that are part of the “Great Clothing Purge of 2013”

So, what made this purge different than the rest? Following those basic rules that Matt Fitzgerald suggests – tending to eat healthier foods, moderating between meal snacks, and watching portion sizes (I am a very slow eater, which helps with that one) – I’ve been able to maintain my weight quite well over the years, even when I haven’t been diligently training or really all that active. In fact, since about the age of 16 I’ve been wearing the same clothing size… clothes would normally hit the purge bag only when they had become threadbare, ridiculously out of style, or simply ignored for years.

This last year was different, though. As I ramped up training to move from running events and short distance triathlons toward longer distance triathlons, things began to change. My weight went down a bit, sure, but not that much… but I shrunk. My tailored suits started to look like I was a kid trying on dad’s suits… my pants started to slide right off… shirts began to look like tents. And I was already a fairly thin guy to begin with. I’ve begun buying new clothes that fit, partially because I’ve grown fatigued of the bemused look on my wife’s face as I put on an outfit that just doesn’t look right. If I’ve done my job correctly, those who’ve been around during this change won’t notice a single thing because the wardrobe has adapted somewhat in pace (albeit a few steps behind).

This purge had now become easier than most! Now I just started looking for clothes that looked ridiculous on me. That now giant shirt? Gone. Those pants that ride down gangster style? Gone. Those shorts that won’t stay up without tying them up with extreme prejudice? Gone. Lots of good stuff is headed toward a local charity.

What happened? A few simple eating rules… increased training volume and intensity… nothing too fancy. Not too fancy at all.

Full disclosure: I did have a handful of potato chips last night. Boy were they tasty. And that is OK… because it doesn’t happen every night.

Right now, I am technically at about the weight I want to race at in Lake Tahoe. But it isn’t all about the weight, as Matt talks about in the book, it is the composition. I still have some work to do in order to not only maintain this weight, but to also turn it into an even more lean racing machine. I think I’ll get there if I can keep up with the “agnostic healthy eating” approach, as described in the article, and keep up with my training plan.

And, hopefully, I won’t have to go out and buy ANOTHER new wardrobe after this is all done…

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