Getting Smaller But Gaining Weight

I am seeing progress after a long plateau since November and recovering from some backsliding several weeks ago.

I love http://dailymile.com. I have used MapMyRun for ages, but I find it slow-moving and sometimes tedious. I am keeping my MMR tracking going until the end of the Winter 100 Challenge I am participating in, at the end of which I will screensave and send my monthly totals from MMR in, and then I think I will leave MMR behind for good.

After slacking on my training during the two weeks around Christmas and New Years (not completely stopped but down), my average pace increased by almost a minute and I needed a lot more walk breaks on my runs. I saw no real progress with my strength training during that time either.

Daily Mile’s really cool graph system is allowing me to see in a very visual way that my average pace is once again on the decrease (hooray!). I discovered yesterday that I suspect the HMTT I am running with is having a good/bad effect on my training. I think I get a little “race-like” when I start off with the group but then by the end of the run, whatever the distance, I am totally gassed and doing more walk breaks. When I ran by myself at home yesterday, my only break was the few steps I slowed down for to get across Hopkins Road safely. I slowed significantly after running up the Beulah Bitch but even after that hill, I never had to slow to a real walk. My overall pace was faster.

In other news, I am falling into that weird situation where I have gained back all the weight I lost in the first 14 days of the year (only 2 pounds) putting my weight back up to where I was on New Years Eve when I was carrying about 4 extra pounds since Thanksgiving. That being said, I have had to move my wrist watch to a smaller hole and my size 10 pants are now almost unwearably baggy, and my size 8s, that have been my bread and butter size pants for so long, are getting loose.

What gives? Is the combination of the longer distance runs and the moderate weight lifting I have been doing paying off with more muscle mass? Can you gain a couple of pounds of muscle mass in a month (or really, since early December when I started both the half marathon training team and upper body strength training)? I only started boosting my protein intake at the beginning of January, so I tend to discount much of the work I put in for December after we got our YMCA memberships.

I don’t know what is going on with my weight. I do NOT want any extra fat weight to carry on my 13.1 mile run in March, but if I am gaining strength and muscle, then those are worthy pounds to carry because stronger legs and core will especially help me with the trail aspect of this half marathon. The evidence points to muscle (smaller wrist watch size, looser pants) but I am still wary. I am also not trying to get back into the habit of agonizing over every single pound up and down on the scale because that is not a healthy mental practice for me.

Finally, after spending the last week reading through a stack of relatively recent RunnersWorld back issues, I have let the magazine convince me to start a lower body weight training routine. I have shied from lower body strength training for two reasons. The first has been fear of injury; when I am adding on miles every week, the idea of strength training already fatigued legs seemed like a bad idea. And the second has been…well, to be honest, the fatigue I mentioned above. I am a little more than 6 weeks from my half marathon, more than halfway through the training program, the mileage is climbing and the honest truth is my legs are tired all of the time.

I began today with a workout from another source intended for people with very little time. I figured if I am not spending an hour agonizing over a weight training session with my legs, I am unlikely to overdo it, but using good multi-joint lifts with moderate weight ought to help with the strengthening I want, and hopefully avoid injury or overtraining.

It is really short: squats (I used dumbbells), calf raises (I did them standing with a 30 lb dumbbell in my hands), and hamstring curls (on a machine and sitting up rather than laying on my stomach). I did 2 sets each of the squats and curls, and 3 of the raises.

I also did a core workout including back extensions (unweighted), the proverbial crunch, and a “reverse crunch” I saw in RW magazine. Simply put, you lay on your back, arms flat by your sides, raise both legs into the air and then, engaging your core, lift your butt a couple of inches off the floor and then lower it back down. You don’t move your legs much so you don’t put as much leverage on your lower back (ouchie!), but holy crap, I felt this 10x more in my lower abs than I ever felt with a standard leg raise.

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