Monday, March 16, 2009

Yes, These are My Running Readers - Apologies to Bill Simmons

I am a big fan of Bill Simmons, the writer for ESPN commonly known as the Sports Guy.

As such, I am going to apologize to him for ripping off one of his signature lines. You see, Bill often has a column called "Mailbag" where he answers humorous questions from his plethora of readers about sports, pop culture or whatever. He ends each column with a rather arcane but usually entertaining questions from a submitter but instead of answering that questions says: "Yup. These are my readers."
Click for an example and scroll down.

Now, I hardly receive the volume of mail Bill does but every once in a while I get an email that is just spectacular and I want to share. This one comes from James S in Arlington, Texas.

"Hi Dane

I saw you a couple of weeks ago at the expo for the
Cowtown Marathon in Fort Worth, TX. I am glad that I bought a copy of your book. I finished it in short order, and am impressed by your dedication to the sport. In short, it motivated the hell out of me. Getting up and running, whether a training run, marathon, or even a 5k race, is a much better way to spend your Saturday mornings than sleeping off a hangover.

Besides, I just looked this up. My favorite beer, Shiner Bock (hope you had some while you were here in Texas by the way) has approximately 150 calories per bottle. I run with a GPS watch, and it tells me that I burn about 160 calories per mile. Let's say it takes me a dozen beers to get that hangover that causes me to sleep in and miss that Saturday am run. Instead of being up by several miles worth of calories, I'm now a dozen miles worth of calories in the hole.

I guess my point is that when I look at that beer in the bar, I don't just see the $2.50 draft price, I also see the extra mile that I'm going to have to run to make up for it.

James S"

As soon as I finished this one, I thought "Yup. These are my readers." So, I apologize Bill, but I just had to steal that line.

But on a semi-serious note, James hit on something I have said so often. Many have wondered how I could have afforded what I did in 2006 when I ran 52 Marathons. I told them that besides making it my goal to do so and sacrificing many things, I was fortunate enough to:
a. not like alcohol
b. not like coffee
c. not desire to eat out that much.

When you just do simple math it is astounding what that does to your pocket. My friend drinks a Starbucks coffee every morning before work. She said it averages like $5 per coffee. It told her that over a normal course of a year, that coffee costs her $1200. Her jaw dropped.

I have friends that have at least one night out on the town a week. Throwing in eating out and a few libations, they are easily dropping $75 (maybe more; alcohol is so expensive and I haven't had one in 10 years so I honestly have no idea what its price is any more.) Doing that just ONCE a week is $3900 worth of money out a year. Wow.

Am I saying you shouldn't eat out and treat yourself? Not at all. In fact, you should. Life is about enjoyment. However, you must do it in moderation. You see, the other side of all that expense is all the added calories.

For example, in a Starbucks Blended Mocha Frappucino, (Venti) there are 346 calories. In order to burn off one pound a week, a person must have a calorie deficit of 3500 calories. As you can see, if you only have one of these Frappucinos 5 days a week on the way to work, you are making it nearly 50% more difficult to drop calories. Yep, one is drinking over 1700 calories in Frap. Again, that's only if you have that drink just ONCE a day!

As for eating out, well, you do not need me to tell you that eating out is, for the most part, far more unhealthy than eating at home. I don't even want to break down the calories in and the money out for that little fiasco.

So, while James made me feel good about how much he enjoyed my book, and made me laugh with his hangover equation, he 100% hit on something many of us should do. Less Calories in, more calories out and guess who is going to be fit as a fiddle!



Yellow Scuba said...

Good blog, Dane. I find myself more conscious of what I'm about to eat when I know how many calories I burned, as I hate to negate that loss by eating junk! I just need to burn more calories and what what I eat a lot more.

Dondi Barrowclough said...

Dane, I'm not sure what reference you used for the caloric calcs you gave in this post but there's a phenomenal reference for calorie counting on the web called CalorieKing ( that lists the caloric content of the dishes served at many national chain restaurants such as the Olive Garden, Outback Steakhouse, Red Lobster, etc. as well as the fast food chains. It's a free site and indexes thousands of dishes. Just an FYI for the rest of your readers...I consider it as important to my training as my running shoes.

Dane said...

Thanks, Yellow! We can all live by the motto to eat healty and exercise more. Sure that is not going to produce the exact same results on everyone but it will produce good results.


Great website. I appreciate your sharing. (I just googled "Starbucks" and calories and got my info!)

William Ritter said...

lookin' slick there buddy.

1L said...

Well at least when I indulge in that coffee I always get a skinny vanilla latte (grande) which has only 120 calories. I figure I am due after that long run.

Good points though, Dane, as always. Hope to see you this coming weekend at the ING GA Expo.

SeriousRunning said...

I don't necessarily count calories but I do count the amount of money I spend on food items as I'm sure you do too Dane. Traveling and entering races is expensive!

I find Ramen Noodles to be a great way to get the nutrients and minerals you need as a runner at a dirt cheap price. As a long distance runner, I can't ever seem to get enough calories and water in my body. Ramen Noodles packs a lot of good carbohydrates as well as salt I need to be able to hold more water. They do have a good bit of fat in them too but my long distance running takes care of them.

Try it out. You'll feel like you're in college again!