Thursday, March 19, 2009

What's a Good Weight?

As a triathlete, ounces matter! Think of it this way, drop a 10 pound weight into a backpack and put it on and leave it on all day long. By the end of the day you will be tired. Same concept for racing. Dragging even 1 extra pound up and down the mountains on the bike and up and down hills on the run for 140.6 miles will take it's toll. So the name of the game is to get lean....but it ain't that simple unfortunatly.

During the Winter I put 8-10 pounds to train from and to keep me warm. You can't believer how cold you get on a 6 hour bike ride at 40 degrees. Seriously, it can take me 4 or 5 hours to warm up after that. It's not fun at all and takes every oune of will power to get out there. In the Spring, right now, I take the weight back off. Now where it gets complicated. Muscle weight more than fat, quite a bit more. All Winter long I have been strength training and have put a bit of muscle on, so what should my racing weight be? I won't share my weight with you because it tends to produce some strange looks as I tend to be pretty lean already. The trick is to shed the fat not the muscle. The process of shedding the fat can, if not careful shed the muscle first. The human body is amazing at self preservation. It doesn't want to let go of that fat if it doesn't have to. It is kind of the last resort of survival. So the key is to do it slowly and to eat the right things which keep the muscle. The right things are LOT'S of lean protein and very little fat, and cetainly no saturated fat. I try to target >100 g of lean protein and <20g of fat (<4g of saturated fat). My baseline caloric level at this time of year is about 1875, which means if I eat 1875 calories a day I will maintain my theory. It doesn't really work that way though because a lot has to do with when you eat what. I've went over the different types of fuel your body uses and which it prefers (glycogen and fat). What most people don't realize is how your body's efficiency can turn a good thing into a bad thing. For instance, the best fat free - high carb food will be converted to fat if not used. It changes from person to person but if carbs are not burned ro used to top off your glycogen reserves your very efficient body will "save them for later", it's way of saving them is to convert them to fat. So you have to be carfull of not only what you eat, but when you eat it. The when you eat it is my biggest issue. When I am done training it is sometimes almost 9:00 at night and I am damn hungry and want to eat a horse. Certain you have to refuel after the workout to get your gycogen reserves back in place for the next workout, especially if it is in the morning, but it is so hard to stop at what most people would call a snack.

So back to the original issue of what is the right weight. I have raced as low as about 2% bodyfat before and was fast, but didn't feel like I had a lot of energy. I am targeting 2.5% for my Ironman races, which means I have about 6 pounds to loose in 93 day's. Works out to about 1/2 pound a week, which is definitely doable. To do this I have to log everything I eat and anayze the carbs - protein - fat percentages. It's really a pain in the arse and I hate doing it, but at least my training log has a very handy tool for recording and tracking it. So long story short

I'm Back on the Wagon Again!!

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