Saturday, October 16, 2010

Counting Calories

It's been almost a week since my marathon success.  I might add I've had my share of epic fails in marathons too, so I'm relishing this one a bit.  I've already signed up for my next marathon, the Austin Marathon, next February 20th.

One reason I felt I did so well this time around was I shed a bit of weight.  I'm not talking a lot, but I'm about 5 pounds lighter than I was for my last marathon, and I've lost about 10 lbs. since July.  I had to brace myself for ridicule whenever I would mention my stricter diet plans because everyone else thinks of me as a skinny runner already, but I knew I had the weight to lose.  I also knew I would feel better, run faster, and run longer without getting injured as easy.  I've been told that for each pound of fat I carry around, I should add 2 seconds per mile to my pace.  Doesn't sound like much until you start adding it up.  Losing 10 lbs. would mean an automatic 20 second/mile improvement or a 9 minute improvement on a marathon time.

Over the Summer, I was at the point where I had gained a few pounds, and even though I was putting in 60+ mile weeks, I needed to change something to get down to where I had been several years ago.  My strategy was to count my calories.  The idea is if I consume less calories than what I burn, I will gradually lose weight, and that's what I did.  Counting calories didn't sound fun, and it seemed impossible to account for everything I ate, but I found a website that made everything bearable.

The website I used is called "" (there are others like it).  You can actually track quite a few things.  Besides keeping track of the food you eat, you keep a daily total of the calories you burn, and how much you weigh.  It has a database with foods to choose from, and if it's not in the database, you can create and store custom foods.  It also tracks the nutritional info of all the foods which I utilized some.  For instance, I could see how many of my calories were coming from fat, carbs, or protein.  From the Runner's World articles I've read, ideally 70% of calories should come from carbs, and 15% each from protein and fat.  I found that even though I tried to eat healthy, I was eating too much fat, up to 30% fat calories per day.

Here are some of my screen shots from to illustrate.

Foods and their calorie breakdown

Daily Activities.  You give duration, FitDay calculates number based on age, weight, sex.

Calories burned versus consumed.  Looks like I was a good boy that day.

Pie Chart showing distribution of calories

My weight chart from July to October.
Maybe this information can help another runner out there who is in a postion like I was.  Feel free to let me know if anyone finds this useful.


Mark said...

Nice work sticking to a plan. I know how it is when people tell you "you're already too skinny, why are you watching what you eat?" You know your body comp and whether or not you can safely shed pounds, not them. And you bet it sure does have an impact on speed. Congrats on your PR!

chris mcpeake said...

Congrats on the PR.