Last week, I wasn’t able to weigh myself on Wednesday because I was traveling. Instead, I weighed myself on Tuesday before leaving for the Independence Series. I weighed 121.4 pounds. That was my “before” weight. This morning, I weighed 120.4 pounds. That’s my “after” weight. I actually lost a pound while on the road for a week.
I almost always gain weight while I’m traveling. Even when I run two, three or four marathon, I expect to come home a pound heavier. Running marathons on five consecutive days seems to be the tipping point.
Losing weight while racing every day isn’t a good thing. It means I wasn’t replacing the calories I was burning. That, in turn, means I probably wasn’t replacing the glycogen stores in my muscles. It may also mean that some of the protein I was eating was meeting metabolic needs instead of supplying the building blocks for repairing damaged tissue.
When you race on consecutive days, getting enough of the right foods is an important part of post-race recovery. I apparently wasn’t doing it. I blamed my deterioration on days three, four and five primary on lack of sleep. Running a bit too fast in the first two races may also have been a contributing factor. Now I have to wonder how big a factor nutrition was.
I’m a light-weight runner, so I don’t need as many calories as most runners. I’ve estimated that I only burn 1,500 calories on a rest day. I burn an additional 80 calories for each mile I run. On days that I run marathons, I need about 3,600 calories.
Apparently, I didn’t even eat that much. It’s not as easy as it sounds. Before a race, I don’t eat a full breakfast. At most, I eat about 300 calories. During the race, I’m drinking Gatorade, but I don’t eat solid food until after the race. In a longer race, where I’m taking walking breaks, I’ll eat solid food. In a marathon, where I’m running continuously, I’m more comfortable just drinking.
After the race, I ate post-race snacks, but it was less than a full meal. I didn’t usually eat lunch until after traveling to the next state. By then it was mid-afternoon, so I had one meal in place of both lunch and dinner. Sometimes I had another light meal later. Sometimes I didn’t.
When I’ve done a series of races before, I've paid more attention to nutrition. I usually go grocery shopping the day I arrive, so I have food for breakfasts and post-race refueling. This time, I neglected to do that. I’ll have to pay more attention to nutrition in the future.