Saturday, February 07, 2009

Getting to the Core of the Issue

I need some help -- major help! I have been running 4-5 times a week with my long run usually falling on a Saturday or Sunday. I have the National Half Marathon coming up next month and am not really following a training plan, which I'm fine with. Each week I'm adding another mile and during the week I'm running 3-5 miles on the treadmill.

However, I seem to be hitting a snag. While I appear to be gaining speed, which I have wanted to so long, I cannot lose a stinking pound! Last year when I trained for my first half marathon, I was in the best shape ever, and about 8 pounds lighter than I am now. But when I was training for my full marathon which was last October, I put on about 7 pounds and I cannot shake it. I'm still a good weight for my height, and in the healthy range for BMI, etc. I'm not fighting a weight issue, but feel better (and much happier) when I'm 7-8 pounds lighter.

I'm weight training, carefully monitoring my calories and as I mentioned, running 4-5 times a week. I'm adding in cycling and swimming (since I have my first sprint tri in May) and I'm hoping the cross training will help.

From every I've read, strengthening your core is important for runners. It just so happens my weight is right there ON my core. (Gotta love what 2 c-sections does to the belly, certainly not helping) Belly, buttocks and thighs. So what advice do you have? I've added the abdominal crunch machine at the fitness center but I'm sure I need more than just that.

I'm considering visiting a personal trainer to get better insight, but am completely stumped as to what is happening. I am thrilled that my lungs feel amazing when running, I'm rarely short of breath and I feel strong - so I KNOW I'm getting many good benefits of running, but I feel like in other ways I've hit a plateau.


Lisa said...

Sometimes when you are training really hard, your body holds on to weight. Don't just look at calories...look at how you are fueling your body. Are you getting enough carbs? I know a lot of weightloss theories say to go low carbs, but a runner definitely needs carbs to fuel your workout. You need plenty of protein to recover after a long run. An online food journal might be helpful. I have used with some success. It tells you calories in and calories out as well as protein, carbs etc.

Good luck!

Lisa said...

Oh... and one more thing (sorry I am so wordy today). Yes, core strength is important. However, doing more core exercises will not get rid of fat in the middle. You can have extremely strong abs, but still have belly fat. Only burning calories will get rid of fat.

Try a plank as a core exercise. I think it works the overall core better than crunches.

Frannie said...

Thanks Lisa! I do use and like it. It has me on a 1320 calorie intake to lost the 8 pounds. When I add in my cardio it adds back calories since I burn them. It doesn't track calories burned with weight training, but that's okay, that only boosts your metabolism anyway, right?

I will try the plank exercises.

I need to realize that while I might have some more weight on me I think I am the healthiest I have ever been, so that's more important I suppose. I'll just avoid mirrors for a while ;)

Dax and Jen said...

A big thing that often happens to serious runners is that they do tend to hold onto a few pounds that they would rather not care to have. Try mixing up your cardio throughout the week. Instead of only running, try jumping rope, elliptical machine, or whatever sounds interesting to you. Muscle confusion is one of the best ways to move up to the next level and to try and lose those stubborn pounds. Good luck!

sigzag said...

Frannie, We are going through exactly the same thing. Would love to correspond with you, so maybe we could help each other out! How frustrating to be doing what seems to be all the right things, and still struggle!

Robyn said...

This is the one frustrating thing I find with running- that my body is not as toned/tight as it is when I am focusing on other activities. If you are training hard for a marathon or longer race, you put so much energy into getting your runs in, it's hard to cross-train as much as you'd like. Some sort of Catch 22.

My suggestions for getting past the plateau are- Watch the calories closely. I think nutrition determines about 75% of weight. If you don't want to get complicated, just start eating as much whole foods as you can. Replace snacks and meals with salads, fruit, chopped veggies, etc. Also, shake up your routine (it sounds like you are) add in some pilates/yoga, a different weight routine or boot camp-style workouts. I have the book "Making the Cut" by Jillian Michaels and it's very helpful- lots of recipes and circuit workouts for a month. Includes photos of all the exercises. BEST OF LUCK!

Frannie said...

Thank you all so much for your comments. After really watching my calories and exercise and watching the scale creep up, I realized it might be something not in my control, and I think I figured out the culprit -- hormones. So I'm figuring that out while I continue to watch my calories and will definitely mix up the cardio to confuse my muscles. Thanks for that advice.

Robyn, I might have to look up that book! I do eat a lot of natural, whole foods, so that's why this has been such a kicker - while I love the idea of junk food, I don't keep it in my house. Goldfish is about the junkiest snack here! lol. But you're so right, when you're training, you can't add too many other activities because you're on a running training schedule.

Oh this is great to have people to bounce ideas off of and who understand. Sigzag, let's get in touch. How can we exchange info?

sigzag said...

Frannie, I'm new to this website, so not sure how it works. Aside from posting our email addresses on here, I'm not sure????

Russell Family said...

A lot of others have touched on mixing up exercises during the week, and I agree. It keeps the workouts fun and different body parts aching!

I like to go to because they have a lot of free workouts you can try out and download, which is really nice. Good luck!