When setting my running targets for last year I identified four factors I believed would have most impact on my running performance that year; weight, diet, sleep and distance. I think most runners would agree that those elements, together with a focussed training programme, are the primary factors for any and every year. Weight and diet are of course closely linked and, looking back at 2013 as I considered my targets for this year, I wasn’t surprised at my progress or lack of it.
I have often opined, on twitter and elsewhere, that “I’m an eater who runs, rather than a runner who eats.” I ended 2013 at a little under 73kg / 11½ stone having begun the year at a little over 70kg / 11 stone and those two values essentially describe the full range of my weight last year. My target for 2013 was to move towards a running weight of 66kg / 10st 5lbs, but instead I moved away and as I write, having set an intermediate goal at the beginning of this year to reach 69kg by the end of April, I now weigh 73.5kg … The weight range is not particularly great and I could easily argue that my weight is not out of control, but actually it is.
My argument would be made along the lines that the general quality of my diet is good and has probably improved over the last two years; the longest period for which I have remained a frequent, regular runner. I eat a cereal based breakfast and lunch and dinner are usually based around a well proportioned combination of basic ingredients such as pasta, rice, potatoes, fish, lean meat and vegetables. I’ve increased the proportion of vegetables in the last year and most of our carbohydrate sources are now wholemeal. I cook most of our food from scratch; the one exception being “sauce-in-a-jar” for curry. We very, very rarely buy fast food and when eating out our menu choices are sensible. That virtuous description is accurate and applies 7 days a week, 21 hours a day. No typo. The last three hours before bed I regularly – at least once a week, sometimes more – eat very poorly and in full consciousness that I am more than undoing any progress I have made earlier in the day. The most common options at this time of day sound fairly innocuous; “cheese and biscuits” for example though for me this won’t just be a cracker or two, but at least half a dozen spread generously and no matter that the cheese is thinly sliced the cumulative total is usually considerably over any reasonable daily maximum. “Houmous and breadsticks” tends to pan out very similarly. Admittedly less frequent, but much more difficult to describe in anything approaching innocuous terms are options like “two finger KitKats (3, 4 … or 5)”, “Nutella and teaspoon” or “bread sticks and golden syrup” …
It seems that though I can run, I can’t weight.