Losing weight before a race - a good idea or should I wait until after the race?
I think I am too heavy (70 kg now up from 67 kg in August, 26 M 174 cm tall) and want to lose a few kg before March by controlling my calorie intake. I was really eating too much before, sometimes even more than 4500 calories a day so I want to cut it back.
However I have a race "cold half" (15 km rough ocean race, 18°C expected) coming in 2.5 weeks which I'm starting my taper soon after past 2 weeks of my training peak. I've found out a thread on a running forum talking about losing weight before running a marathon.
Is the advice given there applicable to marathon swimming as well? Should I immediately lose weight by cutting back calories a lot before the race as an attempt to make me swim faster, or should I better wait until after the race?
ultra/marathon running great to be lighter - 18 is not to bad but you said earlier your 10km speed is approx. 4 hours making this a 6hour + swim my advice keep eating
Going into a swim that you feel might challenge you for distance/temperature, having a bit extra is better than not having enough. You may have a larger margin for error (nutrition, temperature, time, conditions, etc.) when you carry some extra reserve. Having a bit of a spare causes more drag in the water, but the impact is nothing like carrying it on land. Eat what you need to feel good.
It's always a bad hair day when you work at a pool.
Why do you think you are too heavy? Close your eyes, get off the scale and FEEL how you feel- then get in and swim and feel how you swim. . . do you feel strong? Sluggish? Noticing a change? How do you feel during and after a long swim? Are you well fueled? Do some foods make you feel stronger for longer? Focus on YOU. I have noticed that losing weight made me feel the cold water more, but mostly when teaching lessons. I swim more in colder water now, so I am ok in colder water for however long I can swim with power.
I'm training for my first (running) marathon in March and it is well known that being lighter can make me run faster, and with less chance of injury as well. My lowest weight in recent years was 62 kg, but after one year of unhealthy lifestyle my weight increased to 73 kg my running performance deteriorated at lot so I definitely need to get rid of my extra weight before I run my marathon. I want to know if this applies to swimming as well as I know I need to get my swimming time faster also.
No need to lose weight for marathon swim eat lots but keep it healthy...that is a tough one I did an ultra run and marathon swim a few months apart not the smartest thing I did.
I am no expert but doing the channel you would be surprised what the experts would say but I am guessing you would be aiming for 80kg
What's wrong when you did an ultra run and marathon swim a few months apart? This is actually my exact plan, alternating marathon running and marathon swimming every few months to keep myself in shape. I am doing a marathon swimming race this month, a marathon running race in March, then planning a marathon swimming race in August, and probably another marathon running race or even an ultra in December. (I want to be a balanced athlete with comparable swimming and running ability, without over-focusing on particular one although I actually like swimming more than running, I don't want my running to become too bad. Therefore I have a goal to complete a 10 km swim and a full marathon in similar times. I'm currently training for speed in swimming and distance in running.)
And how do you think of the people who have completed an Enduroman with the swim leg completed non-wetsuit under CS&PF rules? I have a friend who have completed an Enduroman but sadly he did the swim leg in a wetsuit, and he does not have intention to do a "proper" channel swim because he says he does not have the body fat.
If gaining weight is a must for channel swim, I will not do channel swimming. I'm now at 69 kg and I aim at 64 kg by the end of the cold season (<= 19°C sea temperature) in Hong Kong, and perhaps even 62 kg afterwards when I do more longer and colder swims and do speed training for my swimming in these few months such that I can get it over faster.
Nothing except I did not enjoy the 50km in 5 hours - balanced is good for some but I get a little selfish when a solid swim comes up and I aim to build from 40km - 70km swimming so running drops of, as most of us work and family requires some time as well
And I am lucky for swimming I naturally carry a bit extra - swimming has the ability to allow you to always feel hungry
Several years ago, my best weight during a season when I was swimming well was about 180 pounds, give or take a few each way.
At the end of the season several weeks before a race, I altered my diet a little, and spent more time on the stationary bike. My aerobic conditioning was excellent, and I wanted to see if I could tweak it a bit more
I had been on a pescatarian diet for most of the season prior to that, but was moving more towards a vegan diet. Initially, I felt better for a little while. My speed actually picked up during repeats, but as time progressed, it was not sustainable.
Eventually, about 5 days before the race, I didn't feel quite right. I felt a little weaker, and less resilient. I thought it would pass, as sometimes you can feel out of kilter during a taper.
I had not been on the scale for a while, so out of curiosity, I jumped on it 2 days prior to the race. Lo and behold, I had dropped to 172 . I am slightly over 6', and was 49 years old at the time. I had not been that light since I was 23.
As it turned out, I actually cramped during the race, and had to drag my legs to get through it. I swam much better 1 year before at 188 pounds when I was putting in a lot of volume and eating pretty much what I wanted.
Keep moving forward.
Running is not swimming.
Compare the build / body shape of top ultra runners to top marathon swimmers.
Chalk and cheese.
I don’t think it’s a good idea to lose a lot of weight just before any kind of athletic event or during hard training. Sure, there’s the sentiment that if you’re lighter you may run faster with less weight. However, losing weight is hard on the body when training. You are asking your body to build muscle to adapt to your training, while not supplying it with what it needs to make the adaptation (calories). The added stress on the body and fatigue that results may lead to poor recovery and cancel out any benefits you gain from running with less weight. An ultra runner friend of mine has run into this problem twice, where restricting to lose weight cost him in terms of injury and frightening symptoms of overtraining syndrome (where the body is no longer recovering).
The ratio between cost and benefit is even worse with swimming as the possible benefit of being lighter is drastically reduced by the buoyancy effect of the water. I can speak to this from personal experience from my youth, where coaches consistently encouraged young “elite-level” athletes to eat less and look more lean—with the assumption it would result in better performance. After some weeks of careful restricting, I’d hit a certain number and promptly start feeling fatigued and sluggish. I’d continue to hammer out yards, only to see seconds added to my best times in competition. Since I “looked great”, my coach couldn’t figure out where we had gone wrong. Such thinking is even more foolish in marathon swimming, where fat is a powerful and important adaptation that promotes survival, particularly in the cold, a fact modern humans have lost track of due to our sometimes excessively comfortable environments.
@Bridget excellent advice on this topic. Beautifully worded. Trusting one’s body is the perfect way to address this question.
Thank you so much @LakeBagger -It has been a long time coming, and needs constant attention. Social conditioning dies hard. I got sick last fall, fatigue, stress, upset stomach- and a 15 pound weight loss in a few weeks. . . and even knowing that it was a bad sign, once I was on the mend, I thought, gee, can I keep the weight off? UGH. Fortunately the thought did not endure, I got better, and was able to regain some power.
I now have a plan to stop training completely for about one or two months after my next race before starting the training plan for the one after it (last year I just reduced my training by half after my big race). Do you think if I stop training completely and get my weight down (e.g. by dieting), I can get a lot of speed improvement when I resume training later with a slimmer body?
@Bridget ahh yes, I totally get that. The social conditioning kinda just gets stuck in there and hard to shake sometimes for me too.
@miklcct It’s hard to say since every body is different. Calorie restricting is kind of controversial, in general. It’s very common, sometimes recommended by doctors, and yet there is some emerging evidence it may damage the body in ways we don’t yet fully understand. As a 40 year old athlete, I’m becoming increasingly protective of my body and all of the functions it achieves. I don’t want to damage myself by too much calorie restriction. May I make a suggestion in line with the advice given by @Bridget ?
Stash away your scale for a little bit (I know, I know, try not to shut down, keep reading). Start really listening to how your body feels when you’re hungry. Think how you know when you’re hungry. Pay attention when you’re eating and think how you know when you’ve had enough. Also, pay attention to when you are exercising—maybe you can tell which types of foods make you feel stronger and more energetic. This approach is pretty hard and requires a lot of energy, but I know from your posts that you don’t mind putting a lot of energy and thought into your endeavors.
You mentioned you feel like you may be eating too much—ask yourself how you can tell (aside from the calorie counting). Just for example— one sign for me eating too much is when I notice I never actually feel hungry anymore, whereas when I’m eating the right amount for me, I start to feel hungry about 20-30 mins before I normally eat.
The cool thing is that our bodies are smarter than we are and (if you tune into it), your body will actually just tell you what to eat and how much in order to achieve a more adaptive response to exercise. Then you don’t even have to worry about when to lose weight and how and all that. Your body will give you better advice than I can.