Weight Divisions for Marathons?

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On Monday night, I was on the Facebook page for Run the Bluegrass (I was there checking the progress of my submitted medals in the 2014 Medal of the Year bracket that is going on – vote for Oak Barrel and Navy Nautical 10 Miler) and noticed something strange. For this year’s race, the RD has decided to incorporate Clydesdale and Athena categories. For those of you that do not know, these categories are geared for larger runners. Clydesdale is for male runners in excess of 220 pounds, and Athena is for female runners checking in at over 165 pounds.

Film Title: Run Fat Boy Run

 

 

These are USAT certified divisions, but they are most often seen in triathlons, not half marathons, marathons, or any other running only events. Personally, I think that it is a neat wrinkle to this year’s event, and as a “Clydesdale”, I would be pumped to place in that division. However, the topic seemed to be very polarizing in the comments section (like everything on Facebook seems to be) and as of last night, tempers were flaring. After reading through both sides, I decided to post my thoughts on here so as to share with all of you, and not stoke the flames over there anymore. I just found the debate interesting.

On one side, you have a growing number of runners not cut from the traditional mold. They are heavier and less athletic looking than what a layperson would expect when they hear that the person is a runner. Several are on amazing weight loss journeys, some are deceptively large and will smoke you on the course, and some are out there achieving a goal, and quite possibly embracing a new lifestyle. This group very rarely gets to feel the joy that is associated with a podium call, and the additional accolades and swag that might come from the accomplishment. Often they are in the group of the back of the pack finishers that many spectators and fellow runners forget about once the medals are handed out, and the post race beer is enjoyed. They are running the same course as everyone else, but often feel like they are running a different race.

homer_simpson_run

 

On the other side, by classifying someone by a weight class can be demeaning. Being teased for my weight virtually my entire life, whether it be from family, friends, or foe has left some very real marks on my psyche. A major race labeling their in a manner that will only heighten the attention on this group seems off-putting, and in many ways cruel. Just because a runner is larger, does not mean that they should be forced to wear a scarlet letter as one more reminder of their size! This is just another form of fat-shaming and any race director that supports it should be ashamed of themselves!

And of course, there is also the notion that just because one’s weight is over a certain threshold, does not mean that they are fat! Their BMI (which in itself is a flawed metric) could be in a very favorable range, and they could be quite tall, thus adding weight without adding girth. There are several scenarios at play, and therefore pigeon-holing people into categories is wrong, and should be abstained from.

Last Place

Honestly, after reading the comments, I feel that in no way, shape, or form are the staff from Run the Bluegrass trying to fat-shame, embarrass, or ridicule anyone over the weight thresholds. Rather, they are simply trying to find ways to enhance the experience for ALL runners of the event. The fact that a race is trying to give this group a little extra incentive for the event, and maybe help boost their self-esteem, especially in regards to their running, is commendable to me. And honestly, as I told Susan last night, I wish more races would offer these categories for people like me! Who knows, I could be earning quite a few podium calls if they did!

This post was written a little over-the-top and dramatic for effect. I do not wish or intend to offend anyone, but simply lay out what some extremes of both sides of this debate might be. I would love to hear any input or insight that you might have about this topic.

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Motivation Monday

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Very true

Very true

This was shared from the Route 66 Marathon Facebook page in a group I am a part of over on Facebook. I think it fits nicely with 99% of the runners out there, and certainly the vast majority of the readers of this blog as well as the author of this blog.  So next time someone asks you why you run or why you deserve a medal for finishing a half marathon in two and half hours, think about this. Have a great day!

Health Update

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Last Thursday I completed my physical as mandated by my new health insurance.  This is going to be a yearly occurrence for me going forward, which is not a bad thing.  Back in high school football, physical meant something else, but we will not delve into that on here.  Last May, my employer was having health screenings at the office, so I was able to get accurate counts for the majority of my health statistics.  I will be using those numbers for comparative purposes today.

The silhouette should probably be a little plumper, right?

The silhouette should probably be a little plumper, right?

  • Total Cholesterol: May 2013 score was 125. September 2014  score is 149. The desirable and lowest listed range is 125-199.  An increase, but not too big of one.
  • HDL Cholesterol: This is the “good” cholesterol and your want a higher number.  May 2013 score: 41, September 2014 score: 57.  This is in the decreased risk factor interval.  This score shows improvement from my last testing, so I have that going for me.
  • Triglycerides: May 2013 score was 100.  September 2014 score was 57. Optimal is anything under 150, so I’m golden, and much improved over last testing.
  • LDL Cholesterol: May 2013 score was 64.  September 2014 score was 81.  Optimal is 55-99, and I am creeping to the top of that, so I will watch it a bit closer.
  • Non-HDL Cholesterol: May 2013 score was 84.  September 2014 score is 149.  Optimal is anything less than 130, so I have some work to do here.  I am still in the safe range, but I want/need to get back to the optimal range.
  • Total Cholesterol to HDL Cholesterol Ratio: May 2013 ratio was 3.1.  September 2014 ratio was 2.6.  Optimal is less than or equal to 3.5.
  • Glucose: May 2013 score was 100.  This is 1 point higher than optimal, but upon reading the literature, the 65-99 scale they used was for fasting glucose (only water for 8 hours prior to screening) and since I had just eaten, my target range was 70-119, which I was comfortably within.  September 2014 score was 86.  I did fast prior to this test, so it looks good to me.
  • Blood Pressure: May 2013 score was 124/84, and September 2014 score was 129/86 which are both just over the targeted levels. The doctor did not seem too alarmed about this yet.
  • BMI:  May 2013 score was 36.  September 2014 score was 35.5.  This places me firmly in the obese range.  I’m working on that.  You can read an alternative take on BMI here.
  • Weight: May 2013 weight was 246.5 pounds.  September 2014 weight was 248 pounds.  I am obese by any metric and hopefully I will get a little more diligent about shedding some pounds.
  • Other Notes: The September physical also produced a few other results that the health screening at work did not. Most of my results were in line with where they should be with one notable exception.  I presented with a Vitamin D deficiency and advised to start taking a supplement.  This was actually a subject at boot camp a few weeks back.  I assumed I was OK in this regard and did not take any action.  I guess I was wrong.

After both screenings I was advised that I need to get more exercise.  I tried to explain about my running schedule and boot camp, but when you are 50+ pounds over your recommended weight, no one listens to you.

2014 Goals, Halfway Point Check In

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Before the year started, I composed some goals that I would like to reach this year.  And since it is the halfway point of 2014, I decided that it would be a good time to look at them once again.  Consider this an accountability exercise.

2014 WDW Marathon Medal

2014 WDW Marathon Medal

  1. Run a Marathon. This was not an exact goal since the marathon was 12 days into the year, but it was my first marathon and warrants some mention.

    Very nice looking medal

    Very nice looking medal

  2. Redeem My Germantown Half Marathon.  I did not exactly set a land speed record this year, but I was not injured and I did complete the race, so this goal is complete!

    This was after I finished the event and I had a chance to clean up a bit.

    This was after I finished the event and I had a chance to clean up a bit.

  3. Become a Tough Mudder and a Spartan.  50% complete with the Tampa Special Ops Spartan Sprint in February.  I ended up missing the Tough Mudder event in June.

    My awesome race medal!

    My awesome race medal!

  4. Try New Races.  So far this year I have run in 11 new (to me) races. There was a full marathon, a Spartan Race, 10 nautical miler, and multiple half marathons. Country Music Half Medal
  5. Run More Half Marathons in 2014 Than My Entire Life Prior.  Speaking ofhalf marathons, so far in 2014, I have completed 5 half marathons which is the same number for my entire life prior to this year.  And with 6 more half marathons on the horizon, I should have a couple of chances to eviscerate this goal.

    Log 1,000 miles in 2014

    Log 1,000 miles in 2014

  6. Run At Least 1,000 Miles. Well, at this point to be on pace for this goal I should be at 500 miles.  I am actually at 439.09, so I am 60.91 miles short, so I will need to pick it up in the second half of the year to reach this goal.  February, March, April, and June were all sub-par months.  I need to average 93.485 miles per month for the next 6 months to reach 1,000. USMC Fitness Boot Camp
  7. Focus On Cross Training. By joining the USMC Fitness Boot Camp, this goal will be realized by the year’s end, I just have to stick with it. 10NMMedal
  8. Continue My Race a Month Schedule. So far in 2014 I am 6 for 6, so this goal is going strong.  And I have already paid for at least 1 race in each of the next 6 months, so it is all on me now.
  9. Complete At Least One Pull Up.  Well, this goal has been completely ignored.  I am no closer today that I was at the beginning of the year.  Completing this goal is not looking good, but there are still 6 months left to realize it.

After looking at the data, 2014 has gone rather strongly for me, even if my running times have been somewhat lackluster.  There are some areas that I have lagged, but I have realized quite a few goals as well.  With a few tweaks and adjustments, I should be able to improve on my 2014 results.

Motivation Monday: You Are What You Eat

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The silhouette should probably be a little plumper, right?

The silhouette should probably be a little plumper, right?

I struggle with this concept more than I should.  If I burn 3,000 calories, why can’t I consume 3,000 calories throughout the rest of the day?  I gained weight while training for the WDW Marathon, and I have not lost any of it since the event in January either.  In fact, I have gained some more weight since then despite running in as many have marathons in 2014 as the rest of my life combined!  Why?  I have not focused on my diet like I should.  There have been too many trips to Muddy’s for cupcakes and a reemergence of fast food into my diet.  I have always struggled with keeping a good balance in my diet.  If I log the miles, I should see the results.  Or at least that is what my food obsessed brain thinks.  I need to focus a little stronger on this idea moving forward.

What It Is Like to be a Fat Runner

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So this site leaves little doubt about my physical stature.  I am a fat guy.  Or, at the very least, a recovering fat guy.  I have lost a considerable amount of weight, 116 pounds at my pinnacle.  I am physically nowhere near what I was as recently as 2010, and for that, I am very thankful.  It was not an easy journey to get here, both with my initial weight-loss and trying to maintain a healthy weight since.  Never once in my adult life have I been at my recommended weight, and maybe I never will be.  I am fine with that as long as the rest of my health  measurables as well as my physical activity are at the optimum levels.  My blood pressure, cholesterol, and the such are much more important to me than the number on the scale.  I know others do not agree with this approach, but seeing where I was a few years ago, I think that it is tremendous progress from a guy in college that would routinely eat his recommended daily caloric intake in each meal!

Lap Those on the Couch

This blog was started after the bulk of my weight-loss occurred and actually, I have gained a few pounds since I started blogging.  However, this blog was began to not only give some insight into my running and weight management journey, but to also give some advice on my experiences running large.  I have not given much insight into this field as of yet, but today will be a big one.  This post will share what to expect on race day when you are not the prototypical runner.

True Story

True Story

People are going to look at you funny.  Do not get too caught up in this.  You do look different from others out there, but you are running the same miles as everyone else.  Enjoy it.

Don’t take offense to what people say to you.  Often at races, after staring at me for a few moments, people will approach me to talk about why I am running.  I have heard a variety of things, both to my face and seemingly out of my earshot (little do people know that my hearing is great and I observe quite a bit around me).  The following are some of the most common things that have been said to/about me at a race:

“More people like you should run.” – The sentiment is in the right place, but it can come across the wrong way

“You’re running? Really?” – Yep, I’m fat, and I will be running this race.  It is incredible, isn’t it?

“Is this your first race?” – If you are fat, obviously this is your first race because if you have ever ran a race before, you would not be fat anymore.

“You finished how fast?” – I love this one.  This often is people who assume that I am going to lumber in front of the sweepers for the entire race.

Do not worry about what people say.  The vast majority of them have the best of intentions when they talk to you.  They may come across the wrong way, but they are not meaning to.  Just smile, thank them, and run the best race that you can.

If the race is giving away a tech shirt, chances are that they are going to be an athletic cut.  Some company’s have fuller cut versions of tech shirts, like Nike and Under Armour.  Others run a little tight.  I wear an XL in the vast majority of my shirts, but for certain races, especially the St. Jude Memphis Half Marathon, I need to order a XXL.  So when registering for a race, just be mindful that the shirt might not be a fuller cut.

Make sure to stay fueled/hydrated.  This is great advice for anyone running a race, however, when there is a little more meat on the bones, we think that our excess weight will fuel us along.  Fueling, regardless of the fuel, is vital to performance.  Do not try avoid fueling at a race to save some time unless you routinely run the distance at race intensity without fuel while training.  Do what you do on a training run during the race.

High fiving Mickey at the finish line - this is such a great feeling

High fiving Mickey at the finish line – this is such a great feeling

Finish.  This is why you are at the race in the first place, some complete the damn thing!  It doesn’t matter if it takes you 30 minutes or 4 hours, finish.  The sense of accomplishment and pride that you will get will circumvent any discomfort you might be feeling during the race.  The number of people who hate life while running a race that almost immediately register for another one after crossing the finish line is staggering.  This will likely be the same for you.

Every. Single. Time.

Every. Single. Time.

Your finishing time may be humbling…to you and others.  You will be surprised what a surge of adrenaline can do for you during a race.  You run one way during a training run, but when surrounded by several other runners and the prospect of finishing can boost your time quite a bit.

Slow still counts!

Slow still counts!

For others, they often see you and think “I can beat that guy.”  Often, they are right.  But you cannot judge a book by its cover.  In my first half marathon in 2011 I completed the course 15 minutes faster than my next closest friend, who happens to be the epitome of physical fitness.  I crushed his time.  It happens, so when it does, enjoy it.  A second example of this happened the same year for me at a 5K.  There was another runner there that I had some mutual friends with, but we never were that close.  We both set PR’s that day, but I happened to be about 30 seconds faster.  He asked what my time was, I told him, and his reaction simply was “Oh…” and then he walked away.  It happens.  Just congratulate others on their race, embrace yours, and go on.  There is no need for negativity.  Like I said earlier, you all ran the same miles.

You are a runner, embrace it and do not feel ashamed about it.  Wear your race shirt out, leave your medal on as long as you like, tell people about your experience.  You have earned it!

Congratulations on your accomplishment and I hope to see your out there one day!

Drink Water. Stay Motivated.

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The summer is nearly over and I am just now tackling the issue of hydration.  My timing is impeccable, I know.  There are numerous articles about how much water you need to drink, hydration rates, temperatures, and such, and I will not get into those specifics here.  They seem to change the recommendations with each article and whatever I post here will be out of date next week.  Instead, I will share with you some ways I stay hydrated.  I am not a doctor, I do not play one on TV, and I did not stay at a Holiday Inn last night.  Rather, I am a larger fellow that runs, an the slower side, and I do whatever I can not to fall out on the side of the road during a run.

Drink more water

Drink more water

For anyone that I see on a regular basis know that I am constantly drinking water.  My daily water intake goal is 128 ounces.  I have been striving for this number daily since March 2010 when I was doing Nutrisystem and trying to shed one hundred plus pounds.  Nutrisystem calls for eight glasses of water a day, but I am an overachiever!  Most days I find it easy to reach the 128 mark, and in fact, most days I eclipse it.  As I am writing this post, I have already consumed around eighty ounces today.  I have never been a coffee drinker so that was not a barrier for me to overcome.  I used to drink several carbonated beverages, but I rarely do that anymore.  And honestly, I very rarely drink alcohol anymore either.  In the past week, the only liquids that I have imbibed have been water and chocolate milk, which is my go to recovery drink.  I even refrained from having margaritas for Susan’s birthday party since I knew I was scheduled to run the following morning.    The downside with drinking this much water is that I constantly feel like Forrest Gump when he meets JFK, “I gotta pee!”  This can be annoying on road trips, busy days at work, and long runs, but not unmanageable.

I use several vessels for my water consumption throughout the day.  While I am at home, I primarily use a twenty-four ounce Tervis cup.  I am addicted to these cups, and have over a dozen at the house.  They have excellent insulation for cold and hot beverages, and fit perfectly in my truck’s cup holder.  The only problem with them is that Beau really wants to share my drinks with me in a Tervis.  At work, I use a thirty-two ounce water jug, a twenty ounce Tervis water bottle, or my twenty-four ounce Polar Bottle.  I try to rotate them to help keep them clean.  Everyone on my floor are accustomed to seeing me walk to the water fountain throughout the day, and probably would call the authorities if they did not see me coming down the hall for a couple of weeks.

Tervis 22 oz, Nathan Quick Draw Plus 20 oz, Polar Bottle 24 oz, CamelBak 3L

Tervis 22 oz, Nathan Quick Draw Plus 22 oz, Polar Bottle 24 oz, CamelBak 3L

On my runs, I use three different vessels.  I have a twenty-two ounce Nathan Quick Draw Plus handheld bottle.  The bottle comes with a pouch that is advertised to be large enough for your iPhone.  This is a rather bold statement, and at least for the iPhone 5, this is not a true statement.  The pouch is, however, great for storing running gels, keys, cards, and the such.  There is also a reflective stripe on the bottle that is nice, and you can adjust it depending on how large your hand is.  The bottle is ideal for quick runs because it is not well insulated, and gathers quite a bit of condensation during a run.  Within thirty minutes, your water is warm.  I also run holding the Polar Bottle, and despite not having a strap, it is very easy to carry on a run.  Water stays cold longer in the Polar Bottle, and there is not as much condensation as the Quick Draw Plus.  The Polar Bottle is perfect for a run of about an hour.  After that, the air temperature and your body heat significantly warm up the contents of the bottle.  If you are in an environment in which you are not constantly holding the bottle or in extreme heat, the contents stay cooler longer.  The third option that I use is a CamelBak Military Hydration Pack 3L.  This is by far the easiest option to run with since you wear it versus carrying it.  When full, you are adding a little bit of weight, but it honestly is not that noticeable.  The water in the pack stays cool for over two hours, which is great for my longer runs.  I have only had two major issues with it in the three years that I have had it.  The first is that I get soaking wet wearing it due to heavy sweating underneath it and the fact that the pack produces a fair amount of condensation.  Of course, when I go on a long run, I end up soaked anyways.  Second, the Velcro on the adjustable straps wreak havoc on my running shirts.  I noticed this one day when I was washing my laundry.  At first, it was my older shirts and I thought that they were just wearing out from use.  It was after noticing some fabric on the Velcro as well as rough spot on a new shirt that I put two and two together.  I have since reversed the straps, and last weekend I did not notice any damage.  I am going to keep a close eye on it.

I also feel compelled to admit that I enjoy the taste, or lack thereof associated with water.  I get that this kind of makes me a freak, and most people cannot stand drinking the amounts of water they need daily due to this.  For these people, I suggest that you use Nuun tablets or Crystal Light or some other water flavoring product that is not full of sugar and calories.