In late May 2011, my wife and I agreed to focus on wellness and start reversing a decade of decadence. 12 weeks later we had each lost and kept off 20 lbs. As a result, we embraced our reward — a trip to Maine for a week of cycling (and coastal cuisine)!
But then life got in the way. And the weight started slowly returning. This weight gain occurred while we were running 58, 59, 67, and 71 miles each month training for our first half marathons. Our first was November 5th in Savannah, GA; our second in Miami, FL on December 11th.
How does someone gain weight while training for a half marathon?!
Apparently, it is fairly normal to gain weight while training for a half marathon. The weight-gain culprit? We were eating too much again. A single long run may burn a lot of calories, but it turns on your hunger, too. A night out of pizza and beer (read: liquid bread) can quickly destroy the caloric burning power of that week’s long run.
Consistent exercise is key.
When I look at our exercise calendar, I saw that while we had some high mileage weeks we had reduced our daily exercise to 3-4 times weekly. When we were losing weight, we were exercising 5 times weekly even though getting in less miles. Many of those days were walking, too.
Lesson to learn? Endurance training can increase hunger.
So 2012 is going to be a bit different. First, we are going to aim for exercise 5 times weekly. Even a 30 minute walk counts. The goal is to make exercise part of our daily routine — perhaps something we start every day doing.
Second, we are tracking exercise by counting beans. Each bean color represents a specific exercise.
- White Northern bean: 1 mile of running
- Garbanzo bean: 1 mile of walking
- Kidney bean: 10 minutes of Crossfit strength training
- Black bean: 10 minutes of cycling
Third, the bean counting is a game. At the end of the year we get to trade in the beans for money. We can use the money for whatever prize(s) we want. Every bean is worth $10. I figure that exercising 10 minutes is easily worth $10 in reduced healthcare costs down the road.
So, all of a sudden that 13 mile half marathon is “worth” $130. It truly pays to exercise!
Finally, we are committing to challenges upfront. Below is our 2012 Challenge Calendar. At least every 2 months we have already signed up and paid for a challenge such as a 10k, half marathon, or cycling race.
- 1/1/12 – Resolution 10k (Norcross, GA)
- 2/18/12 – Berry Half Marathon (Rome, GA)
- 3/18/12 – Publix Half Marathon (Atlanta, GA)
- 3/31/12 – 5k Color Run (Atlanta, GA)
- 4/28/12 – Nashville Half Marathon (Nashville, TN)
- 5/28/12 – Portland Half Marathon (Portland, OR)
- 7/4/12 – Peachtree 10k (Atlanta)
- 9/15-16 – Bike MS: Atlanta Ride (150 mile, 2 day cycling fundraiser)
- 11/2 – 3 – Tennessee Ragnar (200 mile, 12 person relay)
Here’s to a “challenging” 2012!