Getting slower and fatter.

Small_snail_moves

For the past few months Ive been timing some my longer tempo walks (walking at race pace) and the results are pretty much what I feared…..I’m getting slower! In just 3 years Ive slowed almost 40 minutes in the half marathon distance. In 2006 for example, I PRd (personal record) the SF half marathon with a finish time of 2:52. Earlier this year in Rome, Italy it took me 3 hrs 28 minutes to cover the same exact distance. In both of these races, I was breathing well and felt that I was walking as fast as I could. So whats going on here?

Is it because I’m getting older? Am I not as physically fit? Is my lung function having an impact on my speed? Is it because I’m unable to racewalk as much?. Could it be the shoes Ive been wearing?
It’s probably all of the above, but it’s very discouraging because I’m training harder, but getting slower.

And if slowing down isn’t bad enough, my weight is way up. Ive gained 5 lbs in just 3 months. Today I weighed in at 151 lbs! That’s the most Ive weighed in 2 years. My normal weight is about 144lbs , so Ive really ballooned up. Gaining 5 or 6 pounds may not sound like a big deal, but for every pound I gain, it makes it that much harder for me to breath.

Unlike my slower walking speeds, I take full responsibility for the weight gain. Some of it is probably due to all the steroids, but the bulk of it is from all the sugar and fat Ive been eating lately. I’m definitely giving up the Hot Tamales and the Jelly Bellies!

The slow walking thing on the other hand, is going to be a tougher nut to crack. I think one of the things that’s contributing to my slowness , is that Ive lost the “race” mentality that I had when I first took up this sport. Ive become lazy on the course…. a casual leisure type walker if you will. After all, I’m not a runner and will never be fast enough to win a prize or take home a trophy, so there’s really no incentive for me to push myself hard…right? In fact the opposite is true. I do marathons because I love the challenge. I deliberately walk a little slower than I’m capable of, because subconsciously there’s always that fear ( and justifiably so), that if I push too hard, that I will burn my lungs out and not be able to finish the race at all. There’s a delicate balance I have to maintain of walking fast enough where I don’t bore myself to death, and not walking so fast that I throw myself into respiratory failure. It’s much more difficult than one would think. Let’s face it, walking or running 13 or 26 miles is difficult for everyone, even if you’re totally healthy. Ive just got to get a little bit of that competitive spirit back and not be so concerned about my breathing, but at the same time, not go crazy either. Just a little extra umphh on my part would probably make a heck of a difference in my finish times.

In addition to a mental tune -up, I’m also gonna start using my Garmin Forerunner again during my longer training walks. I think the instant feedback you get from these devices, forces you to keep your speed up.

It will be interesting to see how the slower and fatter me , does next weekend at the Rock&Roll half marathon.

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6 Comments

  1. Mel says:

    jelly belly's are my favorite too. Good luck next weekend :)

  2. Susannah says:

    Hi Steve,

    Now I've read this with intent. As I am in a similar rut with my swimming.
    I time my km and my PB is 23 mins. Must have been a fluke. Yesterday it was 38 mins and that is not my slowest.

    I try to keep going and not stop. But yesterday I was almost swimming on the spot! Jaw wide open gasping my last-got me a few comments of 'sure you're ok?' too, LOL.

    My theory is more a case of this is the reality of the situation. Whereas my asthma is actually the most 'stable' ie, unchanging, unvarying from day to day that it has been in about 3 years, my whole LF, FEV1, PF and general attempt at fitness have decreased somewhat. The reason I think I'm feeling ok and therefore go swimming, is because sadly I am being rather accepting of the situation and think I'm ok, simply because my lungs and body have got used to surviving like this. Make any sense? Stubborn trait of us hardcorers?

    My weight as you know is a constant battle to keep up-so please send me some of your tamales and jelly beans (not the red coloured ones though!)-however, my muscle(!) tone varies terrifically and some days my legs do feel like there is no juice in them at all to swim.

    Why do we force ourselves to go through these exercise addictions? Me, because it is one moment in time when I try to be normal-I ditch the O2 cylinder and leave all the drugs, feeds, meds in the locker room-well-usually the mini neb comes with me and always a ventolin-but lots of people have puffers at the pool-not just me-therefore I can blend in.

    I see all these obese people at my clinic who can barely walk across the room they're so out of breath. For me there is a huge difference between, unfit and SOB!

    Yes, like you said, every extra pound you gain can make it difficult to breathe-well-why aren't these patients given weight control counselling? Might cost less in drugs that way.
    If I can get my weight up 5lbs, I feel stronger and therefore have a bit more reserves for a big flare/infection, but as I am so used to being skinny, I always feel it is stuck on me uncomfortably-like trying to breathe after a big meal.

    Maybe my answer is that I should stop timing myself and just enjoy those 40 laps! Nah-I'm too competitive, eventhough I'm never going to win anything.

    Keep on plodding, and I'll keep on swimming backwards, mate!

    hugs

    Sus xx

  3. Danielle says:

    Don't be too hard on yourself! You know what prednisone does to people. Still, I wish you luck in finding your balance for training (the ever-elusive balance!).

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