This is me weighing 145 lbs at 19 years of age. I was that weight all through both high school and college up until I got married at 25. I think the reason I kept the weight off for a few years after running track and cross country was that I graduated during the last great recession and was a late bloomer in terms of being gainfully employed. I blog a great deal about losing my pot belly, but honestly I would never want to look like this again. In college I was a cross between Rocky from the Rocky Horror Picture Show and Gandhi after one of his more aggressive protest fasts.
The truth is, I’m fairly comfortable with my current weight. A few years back my mean-spirited skinny sister pointed at my belly and asked, “What’s that?” I replied, “Comfort.” Seriously. I’ve earned my body fat and sort of like some of it. Well, maybe not the double chin but the fuller face is nice. I’m happy to have retreated from 200 lbs but I hardly care to look like a teenager. I feel the same way about women. As a 49 year old, prepubescent is not attractive. I’m not defending Mississippi, but I feel good about carrying a sensible amount of winter warmth around the middle. And I want as much for my friends too.
But a fair question to ask is just how much? Medical charts would probably have me weigh 165 pounds. They would likely have me drink less too. Silly charts. Regardless, the problem with me trying to run all these half marathons is that the conditioning of the stomach is possibly more critical than even the legs. At least if I want to cruise at a decent pace. Some people call it your core. My experience tells me this is true. A few weeks of running will condition your legs for a 10K. It can take forever for your core to toughen up. Running alone will do it assuming you’re going for 6-8 mile slogs. But, except for weekends, I generally only squeeze in 3 or 4 mile jaunts.
Actually, since I’ve been in Texas the last few weeks I have increased my runs to 6-7 miles. And I feel the difference. But I started situps before coming down here and have stopped that activity. It might be a fair trade-off running more miles for less situps, but I need to step it up and start doing both. I’ll be running Moab in a few weeks with some neighbors and I sense those guys are gunning for me. Last time I ran with them, two of them blew by me on the final mile. I suspect most guys my age might discover competition in a tri-county area when they run the big events. I can’t get past a tri-street area in my own neighborhood.
I do like racing. I like running fast even without someone to race. And I sometimes fantasize I’m running a 30 minute 10K again. The key to enjoying these runs is having a strong core, but I’m only going to go so far. It’s one thing to dream of being a kid again but another thing to be one or even look like one. I am impressed by men my age whom can reach such youthful levels of fitness. Assuming they are not totally narcissistic. Anyone can be fit as a teen if they blow off all other responsibilities. I’ll be happy to be somewhere in between. Thirty years later a 60 minute 10K is good. Putting the proper effort and time into my career and family are more important to me than fantasies. If running faster were much more important to me, then losing weight would be more of a priority too. The idea of strengthening my core is about making running strong more comfortable – if that makes sense. I like running and I’ll keep doing it as long as shorts have elastic waist bands and I have a drawer full of loose fitting cotton shirts – because this is me weighing 190 lbs at 49 years of age.