Refocusing: A tabula rasa of sorts

Last May I started off on a journey to spend less time on the couch and more time out moving. Obviously, my main goal was to drop the excess weight I’d been carrying around for the last few years. My secondary goal was to start running again. When I was a kid in gym class I always looked forward to the mile run or doing laps around the gym, and I spent a lot of my last 2 years of college running and I really enjoyed it, completing countless 5Ks, several 10Ks, 2 half marathons and 1 marathon. I guess at some level I always have been and always will be a runner.

So last year from May through August I spent 6 days a week down in the basement doing the Body for Life program, which helped me go from a quite hefty 215-220lbs to a less hefty 190lbs. At that point in early August I mapped out a couple of races I wanted to run in, then I started running outside. During the end of the summer and early fall when it was still hot as hell outside I was getting up and running at 4:30am before work, which really isn’t as bad as it sounds except for the creepy factor of being outside at that time of day.

During the fall I ran in my first 15K followed up by the Atlanta half marathon, which I had run for the first time exactly 10 years earlier. That was all well and good, and though I didn’t quite catch up with the ghost of the runner I used to be I considered both events successes.

What I didn’t realized or more accurately what I was denying to myself at the time was that I was letting my diet slip more than I should have while simultaneously abandoning any form of strengh training. I had adopted the mentality that it doesn’t matter what I eat, my body needs the fuel and I’ll just burn if off on my long run. During the peak of my training cycle I wasn’t really paying any obvious price for eating with such reckless abandon. I was continuing to get faster and run further, plus I’d gotten my weight down to 175. For a few months I held steady around 175 which was my goal weight when I started this process last spring, but I could still tell that I needed to be lighter. My scale which claims to measure body fat still had me in the 20% or so range and I certainly could tell there was more work to be done. Doing the running wasn’t the issue, I continued to run 20-25 miles per week through the winter months. I completed a 5K, an 11.5 mile trail race in the winter, and more recently in the spring I finished the ING Georgia half marathon and the Granite Grinder trail half marathon.

With all the running, a full time job, a pain in the ass commute and a family to balance I didn’t have the energy left to do the resistance training, which I think probably would have helped some, but more importantly I’ve been letting my diet slip. It started out slowly with an after dinner bowl of cereal and the occasional fast food run, but lately it’s seemed like it’s gone way off the tracks, so I think it’s time to get back to basics. If there’s anything I’ve learned through this it’s that you simply cannot out exercise a bad diet and my body really doesn’t need as much food as my mind thinks it does.

Lately my weight has crept up into the 180-182 range and the body fat scale is telling me I’m 23% fat, so it’s time to get this train back on the tracks before I end up right back where I started. Oddly, my running pace seems to have stayed where it was back in November but that doesn’t seem good enough. I should probably be getting faster, though in truth, I’m feeling pretty burnt out on distance running at the moment so I’m changing gears for multiple reasons.

Back in May of 2008 when I started my journey I had a list of goals and keys to accomplishing those goals. This time around while the goals are a little different the keys to achieving those goals remain relatively unchanged.

So, what are the goals this time around?:

  1. Eliminate diet soda from my life by June 1
  2. Drop body fat to below 15% by July 21
  3. Increase overall core fitness while maintaining some endurance base
  4. 10 unassisted pullups by September 1

Keys to accomplishing those goals:

  1. Focus more on eating healthy, whole foods
  2. More nutrient dense fruits and veggies with meals
  3. Manage portion sizes
  4. Cutout mindless snacking
  5. No french fries
  6. No alcohol (31 days and counting!!!)
  7. Drink water with meals
  8. Commitment to not miss workouts

Last year my big challenges were just getting my fat ass off the couch and stop eating the crap, which I was able to do with the proper motivation. This year my primary challenges are going to be changing my workout mentality by laying off the distance running and getting in some good quality, INTENSE strength training/interval training sessions, cutting out the excess snacking that I’ve been able to get away with and most difficult of all, keep all of this up with a new baby scheduled to join the family sometime in late June.

I’m going to start off the first 12 weeks cycling through a few of Craig Ballyntine’s Turbulence Training programs. I’m planning on augmenting (hopefully not detracting from) the programs with 1 or 2 distance types runs throughout the week. If it starts to be too much, I’ll cut the distance runs out for this phase, which I’m considering my off season, but I really hate to lose that base I’ve built up this past 7 months.

After this 12 week cycle is up, I think I’ll have to evaluate where I stand. Depending on how life juggling a 2.5 yr old and a baby is going I may stick to this sort of program or I may take a run (haha) at another marathon to coincide with by first marathon 10 years ago.