The new book “Racing Weight” by Matt Fitzgerald focuses on dialing in your nutrition to achieve better results in cycling, running or multisport. It has been a huge success so far.
It seems that nearly everybody has some weight they are trying to lose, whether its a lot of weight or those last 5-10 lbs. For good reason; it’s been said that for every 1 pound of fat loss, you can run 3 sec/mile faster. That means that if I lose 10 lbs, my 10k time can drop nearly 3 minutes! Not to mention my power/weight ratio on the bike. Here at Gear West Bike and Triathlon, we have our own poster boy for performance improvement after weight loss; Brett Busacker. Brett was a linebacker for his high school football team and played a year in college as well.
Here’s Brett in 2005, at his heaviest: 215 lb
Here’s Brett now, at 155… 60 lbs lighter than 2005 and finishing the Minnetonka Half marathon last year in 1:18 (he’s since ran a 1:17 half). He also just got 2nd overall at the Trail Mix 25K.
In the book, it profile’s several professional athletes daily diet including Hunter Kemper, Simon Whitfield, Chrissie Wellington, and Ryan Hall. I wanted to get Brett’s take on how he transformed his body from a bulky and overweight football physique, to a svelte and wiry runner.
Near the end of my freshman year of college at Pacific Lutheran University, I came to the realization that I was at an unhealthy weight. By constantly focusing on weight and muscle gain for college football, I became unnaturally large, sluggish, and confused about the overall objectives behind reaching total fitness for college football. I was unhealthy to the point that my resting heart rate had become noticeably elevated.
After my second college season, I decided that my body was too beat up to continue. My back, knees, and shoulders had taken enough hits over 12 years of full contact sports. After stepping away from football, I knew right away that I needed to channel my competitive nature into something new and healthier. I soon took up a challenge from my dad, a long time runner, to complete Grandma’s Marathon. The challenge was two-fold. We had a bet going to see who could reach 180Ibs by January 1st and also whether I could finish a marathon. At the time, both were tough objectives given that I was 215lbs and 100 yards of running was unappealing.
As I started to train, I could feel the consequences of my dietary choices. As I began to intake less fat saturated high calorie meals, I felt more energized during my workouts. By setting a short-term goal (weight loss) and a longer-term goal (finishing my first marathon), I had the motivation to remain on a training schedule and watch my diet more carefully. Nutrition choices became easier based on the direct feedback I received from great and poor training runs. When I crushed my weight loss goal in January, my self-confidence and commitment to my long-term goal rose. I was feeling more energetic on a daily basis and running longer distances became less daunting. As June neared, I felt prepared to complete my first marathon and set out to finish in less than four hours.
After completing my first race in 3:56:00, I became hooked on endurance sports for a few reasons. By constantly setting short and long-term goals, I am able to maintain a stable level of motivation throughout my life. Endurance pursuits have helped me maintain an active lifestyle and have given me an excuse to decline unhealthy invitations to things such as the local bar scene. The mental challenges connected to racing are also very fascinating to me. Being able to improve my marathon time by an hour and five minutes and running sub 1:20 half marathons have brought about many barriers and challenges. Barriers such as the mental fatigue at mile 20 of the wall and the daily training grind have become easier throughout the years as I have developed into a healthier athlete. Additionally, I have recently begun to appreciate what maximum effort in training and racing produces. Lastly, the endurance community is great. Even as I have been blessed with many top finishes at local races, the greatest competition remains within myself. Race goals, great local competition, and a community full of health-driven individuals help me bring out my personal best both mentally and physically. Watching others achieve personal goals and the camaraderie shown at each event only makes me want to toe the line again at the next weekend race.