When I was a freshman in high school, I ran the San Dieguito Half Marathon. I have only a few memories from the race. First, it was cold and rainy that day, and I wore a very thin cotton t-shirt with a giant Peace symbol on it. Second, immediately after crossing the finish line, I remember collapsing into my father’s arms and being completely drained for the rest of the day and week. The last few miles in the rain were tough, and I was probably suffering from hypothermia. Finally, my time was 1:43:14, which translated to a 7:51/mile pace — not bad for a 14-year old kid — and 500th place out of 1035 participants.
|February 4, 1990||13.1 miles||7:51/mile||1:43:14|
The longest training run that I had done prior to San Dieguito was maybe 10 miles. The extra three miles, the cold weather, and my poor choice of running wear contributed to me swearing off long-distance running for many years. It wasn’t until I met Rae that I ran another half marathon (as part of our personal triathlon training). Last year, I began running more regularly, completing twelve self-supported half marathons:
|January 13, 2013||14.1 miles||10:33/mile*||2:28:49|
|January 27, 2013||13.4 miles||9:36/mile*||2:08:47|
|February 3, 2013||13.4 miles||9:18/mile*||2:04:11|
|February 9, 2013||13.1 miles||9:42/mile*||2:10:02|
|May 5, 2013||14.6 miles||10:17/mile*||2:30:14|
|June 8, 2013||14.5 miles||9:52/mile||2:22:42|
|June 15, 2013||13.9 miles||9:43/mile||2:14:33|
|August 3, 2013||14.4 miles||9:32/mile||2:16:50|
|August 17, 2013||13.3 miles||8:47/mile||1:56:22|
|September 14, 2013||14.7 miles||8:57/mile||2:11:56|
|November 2, 2013||13.3 miles||8:59/mile||1:59:21|
|December 14, 2013||14.7 miles||10:20/mile||2:31:58|
|* Estimated pace before I started using Strava to track my runs.|
As you can see, my runs were between one to two and a half minutes slower than my 14-year old time. I wasn’t running to beat my record on any of those long runs, and I couldn’t even if I tried. 2014 started out slowly due to work and other priorities; by June, I had only logged two runs longer than thirteen miles:
|January 15, 2014||13.3 miles||8:46/mile||1:56:54|
|May 10, 2014||14.6 miles||9:13/mile||2:14:47|
Still, looking at these running stats, one might think I was in good shape. Sadly, despite all this running, the pounds had kept on accumulating onto my body. I mistakenly thought that by doing a few 3-5 mile runs and one long run a month, I could eat whatever I wanted to. Yet, this exercise regimen wasn’t doing enough to reduce or stave off my caloric excesses. By June, 2014, I was about 25 pounds heavier than where I wanted to be. I felt like someone applied a 5-point Photoshop stroke over my entire body; my once-defined legs now looked like blubbery stumps attached to a knee joint. Like many people entering their middle years, I realized that I had let myself go!
It was at that point where I finally resolved to do something about my weight, beginning a coordinated plan of caloric restriction, better eating habits, and increased exercise.
I first began by cutting down the number of carbs and snacks I consumed on a daily basis. This meant reducing or eliminating out some of my favorite foods, such as ice cream, bread, chips, and pizza. Every day, I do my best to avoid the extra snack, portion or meal and go to bed hungry so as to maintain an overall caloric deficit for the day. I’m not following any named diets (i.e. Paleo, gluten-free, Atkins, etc.), just making better decisions on what I eat and what I avoid. I haven’t been a big juice or soda person in years, and water continues to be my drink of choice throughout the day.
Over the past eight weeks, I’ve greatly increased my exercise regimen, aiming to do something to get the heart rate up six days out of the week. If I’m not running, I’m biking or swimming laps in our pool. My runs during the week are of the 3-5 mile variety. These range from easy recovery runs on Mondays to some kind of fast run or speed workout on Wednesday or Thursday. Additionally, I’ve been walking between one to two miles nearly every day around our neighborhood in the evening.
Saturdays have been reserved for my long runs. Since the start of June, I’ve finished six self-supported half marathons, with the last four runs having been completed at a faster pace in each successive week. Most of the runs were to Levi’s Stadium, the new home of the San Francisco 49ers football team. A run past Levi’s Stadium to 237 and back to my house clocks in between thirteen and fourteen miles. Another half marathon route is running past the new Apple campus being built in nearby Cupertino to the pedestrian footbridge overlooking Highway 280 and back.
|June 14, 2014||15.3 miles||8:54/mile||2:15:56|
|June 28, 2014||13.3 miles||8:17/mile||1:50:32|
|July 12, 2014||13.4 miles||8:18/mile||1:50:56|
|July 19, 2014||13.3 miles||8:05/mile||1:47:47|
|July 26, 2014||13.3 miles||7:56/mile||1:45:38|
|August 2, 2014||13.3 miles||7:42/mile||1:42:38|
This increased exercise routine culminated in my run on August 2, 2014, when I finally beat the record that stood for over two decades. I wouldn’t say that I’ve gotten back to my 14-year old weight and fitness level, but at least I can say that this older, wiser, and more experienced version of me had accomplished a new personal record (PR) in the half marathon distance! The time would have been even better — maybe even under 1:40:00 — had the roads been closed to cars, as there are six signals along the route (twelve for the roundtrip).
After Two Months
Because of these changes in my life, I’ve melted off about fifteen pounds from my body thus far. I have ten pounds to go to reach my goal, and I fully expect to reach that goal within the next two months! Once there, I’ll move into the weight maintenance phase and plan to re-incorporate some of my treasured food items back into my life — in moderation, of course!
I can certainly see a difference in how I looked before and how I look today. Here’s a group of images showing my facial fat between February, 2014 to August, 2014:
Some assorted tips regarding exercise, nutrition, and weight loss that I’ve found to be helpful for me over the past two months:
- Go to bed hungry
- Avoid the extra snack, portion, and meal throughout the day
- If you can’t exercise during the day, try to walk at least thirty minutes around the block in the evening
- Eat more high-fiber foods to satiate your hunger (i.e. oatmeal, cauliflower, and broccoli) over processed foods
- Mix up your exercise routines so your body doesn’t get too used to the same old routine
- Share your exercise and weight loss regimen with friends so you stay accountable
- Make exercise and better eating decisions a habit
- Keep pushing and extending your physical limits