Last spring, a few days before the Lehigh Valley Half-Marathon, I ran into one of my former coworkers from Bicycling in the company cafeteria. We chatted briefly about my upcoming race, and he remarked, “You look fit.”
I was taken aback. That kind of comment, coming from a cyclist, meant more than it would coming from a normal human being. (In this case, “cyclist” doesn’t just mean “a person who rides a bike.” I’m talking about the kind of person who rides a bike and borderline-starves to get to race-weight and sometimes refers to thin-but-not-stick-thin people as “big.”)
I did look rather slim last spring. I had been eating lots of big salads, and strength-training religiously. Plus, I was training to run a fast half-marathon, which requires fat-burning speedwork without the pig-out-inducing long runs. My body-fat percentage and overall weight were the lowest they’ve ever been in the five times I’ve had them measured at our fitness center. I fit into tiny clothes. I felt fast, and I was fast.
Now, over a year later, I feel very slow. I’m probably only about five pounds heavier than I was when I ‘looked fit,’ but I’m sure the fat-to-muscle ratio has shifted. The heat has made me sluggish on almost all my runs, and a pinched nerve put my strength-training plans on hold. I’ve not been in the mood for big salads lately, though I have been in the mood for big bowls of ice cream.
I’ve publicly stated, time and time again, that I hope to qualify for the Boston Marathon this fall. How can I do that if I don’t feel fast? How can I feel fast if I don’t look fit? And how can I look fit when Musikfest – and all the beer, gyros, and sundaes that come with it – is right around the corner?