99. Train chubby, race thin.

Running tip #99

Runners tend to worry about their weight because, it’s true, the leaner the better if you want to run fast.  I’ll admit, early on in my running career I was a bit obsessive about counting calories.  But I soon grew bored of weight watching … so, because I was in the sport for the long haul, I had to come up with a sustainable way to remain competitive without getting injured or sick or burnt out or amenorrheic (because I did want children some day) or chronically fatigued or chronically irritable from being HUNGRY all the time like all the other get-rich-quick dieter/runners out there.

Here’s what I came up with:  Train chubby, race thin.  

Like a wrestler, I treated the national championships as a match I needed to “make weight” for.   I would “let” myself eat normally – while training very hard – without worrying about the scale for most of the year (my body had a set-point training weight of 103 pounds).  Then, about 6 weeks before the championships,  I would consciously cut out dessert, snacks, and seconds on meals until I lost one pound per week to get down to 97 lbs racing weight.  I know that sounds obsessively thin, but I am only 5’1″ so it’s still on the not-so-lean side of the elite-runner spectrum.

My college coach once called me “Nubby” because of my name “Nesbit” and my lack-of-height (pencil nub?) so I snapped this picture on a road trip.

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You can see by my full cheeks ^ that I was in the “train chubby” phase of the year.  Fast forward to the end of track season, senior spring at UNC, where I had safely lost those 6 pounds in order to be lean enough to break the ACC record in the 10,000m.

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Today, my mantra is more along the lines of Train Chubby, Race Fat because I’m still in it for the long haul and, besides, nobody likes a skinny (cranky) Santa.

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