Last year when I started training for the Frederick marathon, I was also trying to lose 10 pounds at the beginning of my training program. I counted my calories - and posted them in my blog to keep myself accountable - and I ripped off 8 pounds in about 5 or 6 weeks. However, as my mileage started to increase I had a week where I felt weak, lethargic and my runs were getting tough at the end. I dropped the calorie counting and let my body dictate how much I needed to eat - I started feeling better and I pretty much maintained my weight.
Until the taper.
You see, during the taper period my weekly mileage decreased substantially...but my appetite did not. I ended up gaining a few of those pounds back in those last 3 weeks. It didn't help for the big run.
Fast forward to this year's training. I paid no attention to my calories at all. I have dropped about three pounds since I started training 15 weeks ago (and I'm still about three pounds heavier than when I ran Frederick last year).
However, I'm going to start the calorie counting this week and try to continue through the taper period. My goal is to hit somewhere around 2,000 net calories a day - this should allow me to maintain my current weight and not gain additional weight before marathon day.
Days like yesterday - where my 5.5 mile run had me burning over 700 calories - are much easier. It is much easier for me to consume 2,700 calories than 2,000 calories :-) There will be days that will likely go over - like this Sunday which is a non-running day for me and it is my younger son's 4th birthday party.
However, by avoiding the nightly "pantry raid" while watching a game on TV, I think this strategy will get me to the starting line feeling less lethargic - and maybe even a little lighter!