Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Biggest Losers Did Run the Marathon

So I'm a little obsessed with The Biggest Loser in its final weeks. A post earlier today. A reference last week to being hooked on BL. Guessing the contestants sent home a few weeks back. Countless thoughts that got self-edited--just in case you were starting to think that the only time I updated Fit-Ink was before an airing of the show (yes, it might seem like it at times but those life-changing moments manage to motivate me to write, surprise, surprise)--before posting to spare you the frustrations (sometimes), and tips and inspirations (always) from the show. This isn't a Biggest Loser blog, afterall.

But it happens to swing that way on a night when there's rumor of a marathon. And not even rumor, if I had been paying attention earlier and caught this NBC story, confirming the marathon run to be seen tonight. Or that the Biggest Loser Club featured information on marathoning that made the task seem less daunting than it did when Tara, Helen, Mike and Ron became the first finishers. Or that most of the contestants were expecting a 26.2 miler should they surpass the competition to be among the finalists at the ranch. So where was I? Apparently in excuse city, denying that such an event would take place again, just like several deny the need to work out to combat those extra pounds--or Elizabeth last night, rattling off all the reasons for how hard it was to workout, eat right, stay focused, run through a calf cramp, insert-excuse-here now that she was home.

Yet back on the ranch, they came, they saw and they conquered the marathon course. And Ada, who I latched onto long ago when she started shedding weight as fast as some of the heavy-hitting guys, set her sights on beating Tara's 4:55 from BL 7. She cruised to the finish line in 4:38 and change--and that time includes a bathroom pitstop! For someone who was morbidly obese just two months before, 10:37 per mile is pretty darn fast for a first timer. Hmm...could we potentially see a match up between Tara and Ada in the future? Tara did however run a 4:23 at the 2009 ING New York City Marathon with more time to train, not 26 days as given the first time, and this latest batch of Losers appeared to be running much more than those from seasons past.

As for Elizabeth, Frado and Patrick? I'm convinced that some careful editing made those last five miles look a little easier than they actually were--either that or they didn't suffer from my syndrome where I'm looking for the finish line at mile 22 and literally dragging myself up Michigan Avenue to reach the Chicago Marathon finish. But to go from zero to 26.2 in a few short weeks--and still toting extra weight--is pretty darn cool. And they all finished within the time limits that some races have for its participants--8 hours--before diverting them to finish on the sidewalks. Patrick crossed in 5:45, Frado in 5:51 and Elizabeth in 7:27. Congratulations runners, and I really hope you didn't feel too much pain afterward and could jump back into those weight-loss workouts.

I still have to ask the question about how these four survived the marathon and its training with an abbreviated schedule. Doesn't too much too soon spell out injury? Did they really accomplish enough at the ranch to be ready? Yes and yes, but with a little gray area.
  • Most marathon training plans follow a 12- or 16-week schedule, while this group had about four. But as Brendan told That's Fit, their workouts are easily marathon sessions of their own--with eight to 10 hours in the gym every day and only one to two hours of that in the intense zone. I don't have the science know-how to back it up (and I'm going to pull the lazy card and opt out of the research for the moment) but I figure based on personal experience that those sessions could help build a somewhat solid base to train for the marathon.
  • You don't have to be Speedy Gonzales on the marathon course. We're not all as fast as Kara Goucher or Desiree Davila or Josh Cox or Meb Keflezighi, but sometimes--and most times--finishing the marathon is more about getting it done rather than the time it takes. Not to go all cheesy but you can accomplish anything you set your mind to--marathons included. 
  • To back that up, take the suggestions from Michael Scholtz, Biggest Loser Club fitness expert. He says that as long as you can walk comfortably for 45 to 60 minutes, you can finish a marathon, even if it's two weeks away. The keys are to walk more of the ran than run it, and train with an interval style that integrates running bursts into your regular walking routine. You'll be comfortably tired at the end of the workout but not so exhausted that you can't get up the next day to do it again. And you'll build your endurance at the same time. Sounds a little familiar to the workouts seen during the "Last Chance Workouts" on the show with Bob and Jillian pushing them to run faster interspersed with treadmill walking scenes. 
But now the question is who's going to be making up the final three? We know Patrick and Frado are already in the competition--Frado's face showed plenty of weight loss before he even weighed in last night--but who's going to win out between Ada and Elizabeth? I can't even guess how America will vote, but my vote is for Ada. If you set a marathon record, finally see the positives in a rocky relationship with your parents and only now fall below the yellow line, you need a second chance even if that was the theme from another season. Regardless, here's where you can cast your vote.

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