I am so bloody hungry! Lets be honest when I started out all this running bollocks I was not worried by weight, I was a bit careful, after all there was a guy at work who had a belly so round it was like re-enacting that scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark with the rolling boulder when he headed down the stairs toward you. It probably wasn’t so much his size as the fact that he was wearing T-Shirts that had fitted him when he was 16, and at 42 with half a lifetime of burgers chips and pizza behind him they really didn’t hang in quite the same way. A naked rotund belly bearing down on you first thing in the morning is enough to make anybody question their lifestyle. So yes I had cut out a few snacks but I did not obsess over food.
After I started running marathons at the rate of about 1 a month the weight really started to fall off. As I got slimmer there were people who lived close by who started to ask the wife questions and pass comment. On more than one occasion she was told that I had started to look unhealthy and with faux concern cancer was mentioned. The irony was that as I lost weight I started eating more. There then came the comments from family and their friends about how lucky I was to be able to eat anything I liked and stay slim. I tried to explain that I burn off about 2 days worth of food a week running, but I am not sure they quite understood. I was not skinny because I was lucky, I was skinny because I had worked bloody hard at running and one of the bonus side effects was that after about 2 years I had gone from a tight size 34 to a reasonable size 30.
At this point I gave up worrying about what other people thought ‘normal’, especially as those that pretended to be worried seemed to have weight related health issues, and pretty much everybody else they knew was overweight. Having almost had the issue forced on me I started to do some research to find out what my ideal marathon race weight should be. After a whole bunch of reading and putting figures into online calculators and cross referencing and checking I worked out that my ideal weight for racing should be about 65kg, when not training for a race I could add on about 8% of that figure, so anything above 70kg would start to be a bit wrong. I started to get on the scales once a week in order to keep an idea of what was going on, and that’s where it really started to get difficult. I hovered around the same weight for months, and could not understand why I wasn’t losing any.
I looked at the calorie content of what I was eating and payed a bit more attention to the calories I burnt while running. This helped and slowly my weight started to drop again, only this time I started to feel the runger, that craving for food that comes after a particularly long run. I discovered fat burning runs while improving my endurance, and even started to look at my belly and count how many extra bags of sugar I was carrying. What I did not fundamentally do was change the type of food I was eating, so there was still ready meals, take aways, snacks and all kinds of convenience crap in the cupboards. I did make a concerted effort to drink more water and always chose the diet drink when given the option. Of course making fundamental differences like this are not easy when you are part of a family. Especially one where food consumption and diet has never really been a concern before.
Eventually the weight loss slowed down once more with me still being about 3 or 4 kg’s off my ideal. At this point I started to talk to other runners and discovered a secret, lots of them were hungry lots of the time, being in control of your fuel was an important idea, and just as the right fuel in a car is important so is the right food in a runner. So I made a conscious effort to cut out cheese for a start, eat wholemeal bread, more fruit and veg, and in general stop with the convenience foods. Well it’s hard to do when the rest of the family thinks that sausages and wedges are a healthy stable diet, but you have to start somewhere. Anyhoo, the upshot to all this is that even though I eat a huge amount I am not completely indiscriminate with my food. For the first time in my life I actually care about what I weigh, and it’s not easy. The bottom line is if you want to loose weight you need to use more calories than you consume, and if you carry that kind of deficit you are never quite going to have enough to eat. It’s a price I am prepared to pay to get down to the magic sub 4 marathon time and my ideal race weight. Until I get there I am going to be hungry all the bloody time!