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Inside VLM: The starting point

October 11, 2012

Nasty cold fully abated, holiday done, Virgin London Marathon Good For Age acceptance form received. It’s time for the marathon training to start again.

So, as a matter of interest, I thought I’d keep half an eye on the physiological changes that I go through in the big build-up to April 2013. Perhaps unsurprisingly, I usually find that I get skinnier towards the marathon but packing away a ton of food. I don’t think I actually drop that much weight, though – I think it’s my body composition that changes. So, this is a way of finding out a bit more about what marathon running actually does to me.

With that in mind, I’ve been sporadically weighing myself over the last few days just to get a sense of what my starting point is. I’ve weighed in somewhere between 9st 12 (post run) and 10st 2 (post Pizza Hut). I’ll take 10st 1 as my starting point. Over the same period, my body fat reading has been between 14 and 15%. And, for what it’s worth, I’ve been a smidge under hydrated (by about 1 or 2%, so within the bounds of a device’s margin of error).

Fundamentally, these are all pretty much bang in the middle of healthy and normal. My BMI (not the most reliable calculation in the world) is around 22, which is again in the normal healthy range. I was quite interested to see that it was on the edge of the higher end of normal (25 being the upper end, 18.5 being the lower end). The elite distance runners often come in as underweight by this measure – so naturally (gfaw) I assumed the same might apply for me. But this is likely to be because they’re generally taller than me – and undeniably skinny!

I’ll be interested to find out what my ‘racing weight’ actually is, and whether it does indeed stay relatively stable, or whether I lose mass (and consequently BMI points) over the springtime. There are some interesting anecdotes citing vague-but-tantalising statistics such as ‘lost 5lb and drop 5 minutes off your marathon time’. Sure, these work up to a point (at the larger end of the scale), but there’s got to be a law of diminishing returns for someone who’s in the normal/healthy range, right?

In the interest of full and complete disclosure, my toenails are normal. They’re not blackened or ingrowing, or anything of that sort. I give it until February until that changes. Below is the mandatory ‘Before’ picture. Sorry.

My pre-marathon feet - not beautiful, but no blackened nails

In the winter, if I were so inclined, I could wear open-toed shoes.

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