One of things I notice about myself every year is that my body always seems to put on a "winter layer". Extra body fat all around. The last two winters I was able to blame it on my vitamin D deficiency and the weight gain that is associated with that, but this year I did not have the vitamin D issue through making sure I was taking my vitamins and getting out in the sun daily and using my sun lamp. I am not sure what causes my body to go into "survival mode" and add an extra layer of protection each winter but perhaps I am eating more comfort foods than I realize.
For fall marathons, I always had the luxury of being closer to "racing weight" meaning having a lower body fat percentage going in to race day with out really trying. Late Spring and Summer the extra fat usually disappears- probably from getting out more and eating more fresh fruits and vegetables. With this spring marathon, I don't want to leave anything on the table. I want to have all my bases covered as I am going for that big, scary goal- the BQ. I was explaining to my husband that carrying around extra body fat is like carrying a dumbbell through the race, weighing you down but not helping you. Muscle weight helps you and powers you, extra body fat is just extra weight. Don't get me wrong, body fat is essential to survival and function of your body. I am not advocating to get rid of all fat (that would be impossible!) but I am saying that you can get into your optimal racing body fat zone.
I just started reading, Meb for Mortals and in that book he explains that he essentially does the same thing. Before a major race, he tries to loose any extra body fat that could hinder his performance. He didn't say how far in advance of the contest he starts cutting back, I am going to ask him that when I meet him tonight!
I recently had my body fat measured by Composition ID located at MINT gym in Dupont, D.C. They have a very high tech measurement process in which your entire body is scanned and you get the breakdown of fat concentrations and lean muscle on different parts of your body. You should check it out, and tell them I sent you!
Anyway, using the data I gathered from my Composition ID, I knew that my body fat percentage was now at 23.5%. (Yikes, it was at one time 14% which was measured from a skin fold test). You can gather your body fat percentage via a skin fold test from a personal trainer at your local gym. A body scan such as the one from Composition ID will be more accurate and will give you not only body fat percentage but also your fat mass and lean mass which may differ from the estimates using the Competitor Magazine Calculations. I will calculate racing weight using only the body fat figure first and then calculate a second time with the additional information I have my Composition ID scan.
Step 1: 116.2 (current weight) x .235 (body fat % as a decimal) = 27.3 lbs (current body fat mass)
Step 2: Lean body mass = 116.2 (current weight) - 27.3 (fat mass).
Step 3: Goal weight = 88.9 (current lean body mass) / .83 (goal lean percentage)
Goal lean percentage is 1.0 minus your goal body fat percentage expressed in decimal form. For me that was 17% goal body fat so that equates to using .83 as my decimal.
|Goal Lean Percentage Chart|
My goal weight for racing: 107 lbs. That means I have 9 lbs of body fat to loose. I have some work to do!
More accurately, the Composition ID measured my body fat mass as being 26.1 lbs and my lean body mass as 85.1 lbs. I will use these figures to recalculate using the same process.
Step 1: Body fat mass from Composition ID 26.1 lbs.
Step 2: Lean body mass from Composition ID 85.1 lbs
Step 3: Goal weight = 85.1 (current lean body mass) / .83 (goal lean percentage)
Goal lean percentage is 1.0 minus your goal body fat percentage expressed in decimal form. For me that was 17% goal body fat so that equates to using .83 as my decimal. Using that for my calculations instead leads me to 102.5 as my more optimal racing weight at 17% body fat. That would mean 13.7 pounds of body fat to loose.....yikes!
In reading Meb for Mortals, he highlighted that even elites struggle with extra weight and work to get down to their optimal racing weight so I guess I don't feel so badly!
Have you ever worked to get down to a "racing weight" for a big race? How did that go for you? Any tips or tricks to share?