Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Ironman made me slow and fat

There are so many misconceptions about Ironman athletes.  I had them before I became one!  I always thought that everyone that was into endurance sports looked like Rinnie or Crowie.  I was surprised and relieved when I did my first race back in 2010 at how there were every shape and size and age out on the course.  I loved it and it inspired me and still does!

However, when I signed up for an Ironman, I thought I would FINALLY drop those last 10 pounds or so that I wanted to. I thought the sheer volume of the training would make me faster as well.  Sadly though, that simply wasn't true, and the more that I talk to other Ironman finishers, it isn't unusual either!

Since embracing HR training almost a year ago (I am still on the fence about this by the way, not totally sold on it) I found that most of my training for IM was in "Zone 2", which is pretty slow if you stick to it strictly.  I tried to stay there and follow my plan like it said to, but I found that because I was always running or riding slow, guess what?  I am still slow!!  In some ways I feel like I am slower than I was before, especially with my running!  Now, that being said, I can go forever at that same slow pace, I have the endurance of a diesel engine, but no speed.  Kinda frustrating!

And as for shedding the weight that I want to get rid of, that didn't happen either.  I found that the nutritionist I visited was way off on what she told me to take in during training in order to train and lose weight at the same time.  She recommended just 1600 calories a day.  Yeah, um, I tried that for a day or two and I was STARVING.  I refused to not feed or fuel my body like it needed to compensate for the heavy training load and ever increasing volume.  But therein lies the issue.  You have to find a fine balance between how much it requires to fuel and recovery properly but at the same time not go crazy too.  During IM training, I ate well, meaning that I ate pretty dang clean, and pretty consistently as well.  I never let myself get hungry eating every 3 hours or so.  I did actually gain a few pounds, which is frustrating, but I am not sure if that is fat or muscle because I also incorporated strength training for the first time as well.  Who knows.  I also think that you metabolism is trying to figure what the heck is going on with this new volume load and increase in food, so it kinda hangs on to what it can.  And lets face it...I am getting older, so its not as easy to drop weight like I would like too.

Since IMTX ended, I have wanted to eat nonstop!  My body hasn't figured out that stuff is over now, so it's back to normal.  I need to adjust and I've tried to eat clean, but it is hard.  I love Oreos too much!

I officially start my training for the St. George Marathon on Monday.  I am excited to be back on a plan, but also this one is a pretty ambitious plan and incorporates speed work and intervals since I am trying to go sub 4 on this one.  We will see how that works out, but I am excited to see if I can't try to work on building some speed with this new plan.  I am also going to get more strict about what I eat and get back to the gym for weight training.  I have found that I am most successful with the weigh issue when I incorporate resistance training into my routine.  Nothing major, but 3-4 times a week seems to help.

So, if you are in this boat of getting slower and fatter while endurance training, YOU ARE NOT ALONE!  It's frustrating!  More and more I am convinced that weight management is not simply calories in vs calories out.  If that were the case I would weigh nothing if you looked at myfitnesspal files while I was in my training. I always had a calorie deficit at the end of every day and still do, yet nothing is moving. 

There's my rant for the day.  At the end of the day, I try not to get bogged down in how I look in race pics, I am not thrilled with it.  Instead I say prayers of thanks for the amazing things my body CAN do.  I am always grateful for the opportunity to do what we do, and never take that for granted.  If I get to do it with a little more junk in the trunk, than that beats not being able to do it at all.  So onward and upwards my friends!

So what's next?  I have the rest of this week as my time off ( I allowed myself 4 weeks of recovery post IMTX) and then Monday my training plan for the St. George marathon begins.  I also do have the Utah Half in August as well, but my plan is going to mainly focus on the run and the marathon.  I have enjoyed some down time, but honestly feel a little lost looking into Training Peaks and not having a plan to follow.  It will be nice to get back into a training mode :)


  1. I feel your pain! No weight gain, but I am soooo flabby! No time for strength training, plus all slow runs just doesn't seem to help with weight or speed, sigh!

  2. To me, on my IM it was not necessarily about speed and going fast as much as it was about finishing. So I think I trained differently then I did in the past. Right now, I am training for sprint races and it is about going faster. I have dropped some weight cause it is a different type of training all together. I understand the frustration of not coming out of IM looking like a stud, but unfortunately we have lives to live and can't devote 24 hours a day to IM. Good luck on the marathon plan, that was harder for me to follow after IM than anything!