Photo from Mount Royal, Frisco, Colorado.

"That is happiness; to be disolved into something complete and great. When it comes to one, it comes as naturally as sleep." - Willa Cather

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

PW (personal worst) due to lack of sun spots?

While some people were running The Rocky Raccoon 100 miler last weekend in Texas, I ran my worst ever 10k time on a snowy route around Bagsværd Lake. And here's what I'll blame it on:

(Just when you thought you'd heard them all)

There are hardly any sunspots. (This is a NASA shot of the sun today)

You think I'm kidding. Or that I have gone crazy. But the truth is, the less sun spots there are, the colder the weather is. Sun spots disturb the electromagnetic field around the earth, allowing more heat in, so when there aren't many, it gets colder.

I learned this from SR's dad. And being the director of a world-renowed science museum, this is the sort of thing he knows.

But what am I really trying to say? I ran slowly because the weather was cold and there was snow over the entire route.

I ran the same route again afterwards just to take pictures (large camera in backpack).

A PW is just hard for me to accept, since I have been training so hard.

But my slow time is not just because of the sunspots. It is also 1. training a bit too much 2. not being at my ideal racing weight (BMI 18).

Interestingly, I have been notified by a number of readers about articles showing that it does not help your race times to weigh less (and I just love hearing news and getting article from people who read this blog ---- thank you!).

Well, here's what I have to say:

1. Weight matters a lot in races which are marathon length or shorter (though muscle matters more in less than 1k).
2. The closer one can get to a BMI of 18, the faster one gets at shorter races, assuming one stays muscular.
3. Below a BMI of 18, you risk losing muscle, but I think this also depends on your diet and some people can go below this BMI and get even faster.
4. In ultras, as Danni pointed out with an interesting article she sent me, body composition matters more than weight (Hoffman MD, Lebus DK, Ganong AC, Casazza GA, Van Loan MD. Body composition of 161-km ultramarathoners. Int J Sports Med 31:106-109, 2010.). The favorable body composition is more muscle, less fat. And body composition is even more important for males than females. But only in ultras does weight not matter and 10k's are not ultras.

Bottom line: Weighing less helps in short races, weight doesn't affect performance in ultras. So if one wants to be good at both distances, be thin and lean (it won't hurt you for either). No big mystery!

So what was my PW time? 45:05.

At least I've got these guys (hey and they turned 2 and 9 this past week!).

(I love Natali in the dress I bought her at H&M)

The poor Lorax has been sick with a fever and URI the entire week, but I did mange to get a shot of him looking happy.

Running - cool down - meditation song of the day: Splendour by Pantha du Prince


Danni said...

I don't think anyone can reasonably disagree with you. For me, it's a balance between caring about performance (which I currently don't at all, even a little) and enjoying life. Thank god for vanity or I'd be eating and drinking myself into morbid obesity right now :p

varunner said...

Even your PW is a very fast time to some of us ;-)
I totally dig The Lorax's hat!

cherelli said...

Yep I'd be happy with your PW, feel free to hand over that time to me. I would agree I definitely feel lighter and faster when I weigh less but in this case I don't wonder if the "training hard" in the leadup didn't contribute more? A good taper should be able to overcome a little higher weight if the training has been good (at least in my very-unexpert opinion!). I'm sure that hard training will pay off where you really want it to though!

The Chapples said...

The trouble with the BMI of 18 is that it might hinder your goal of Baby #2. As a physician, you know that a BMI of under 18.5 is considered "underweight." I know that's your goal (to be underweight) but it doesn't really jive with your goal of having another baby. I suspect that there's a point where you have to sacrifice one for the other. Good luck!

sea legs girl said...

I just need to respond to The Chappels comment quick:

I went years without a period, was told by a well-meaning doctor to gain weight in order to get my period back. I gained almost 20 pounds (a bit more than I had intended!) and still didn't get my stupid period. So I was like "oh, well, screw it... I'll never get pregnant anyway." I then got down again to around a BMI of 18 again and got my period and got pregnant (this time I was eating fish, though)! So, I both due to personal and general medical knowledge disagree with your comment. General nutritional status and stress level can have more of an influence than weight itself. Now, you are all allowed to jump on me and (perhaps) prove me wrong.

Jrahn said...

I had a BMI of 17, and hadn't had a regular period for years. I went to a fertility specialist, who also told me to gain twenty pounds and to cut back on the running. I did it quickly, in two months. Within a month and a half, I had a regular period back. Within another month and a half, I was pregnant with my daughter, who is now six months old. I am convinced that I couldn't have gotten pregnant with a BMI of 17.

The Chapples said...

I guess I was wrong!

sea legs girl said...

Jrahn and The Chapples,

Thanks for making an interesting discussion out of this. The truth is none of us is wrong. All women are different. It is really hard to generalize the reasons why women do and don't get their periods. I do have to admit, though, it is hard to find a competitive gymnast with a regular menstrual cycle. But remember a BMI of 18.5 is just an artificial cutoff. How low is too low varies from woman to woman. Paula Radcliffe's BMI is around 17 and she got pregnant.

Jrahn said...

You make a very valid point, SLG, and one that I agree is correct. Every woman's body deals with weight and hormones differently.

If I were able to conceive at a low BMI, I'd be a lot less stressed throughout my childbearing years...

We're gearing up to TTC our second baby, and I fear that I'm going to have to gain a ton of weight again. What with breastfeeding, I don't know if my lack of period is due to a low BMI or lactational amenorrhea, and there's only one way to find out.

I really don't want to have to give up the running again, but I'll do it in a heartbeat if it means I get another baby out of the deal. ;)