Before I share the secret, you should know that I became an official SCUM this week.
“Only recently, James? I’ve been reading you for months, and I’m pretty sure you were scum for all that time.”
Nice. No, the SCUM I became is a South Carolina Ultra Marathon participant.
The secret to quick weight loss: run all day, lose weight. It’s like magic!
The Longest Day — 100K Ultra
This was a so-called elimination race. If that calls to mind the Richard Bachman (Stephen King) novel, The Long Walk, that’s almost right.
In Stephen King’s version, 100 participants set out to walk and must maintain a pace of at least 4 mph. One by one, they drop out. They can receive four warnings if their pace falls below that speed, after which they are shot!
In our case, 85 participants had to complete a two-mile loop in a set time, starting at 45 minutes. The loop meanders through farm fields. It is serpentine, as the image above attests, and modestly hilly, with a bit more than 200 feet of elevation change.
If 45 minutes to complete two miles doesn’t sound very fast, it isn't. The evil genius in this race is that with each loop, you have one minute less to complete the next loop. So 44 minutes, 43 minutes, 42 minutes, etc.
That still seems generous for much of the day. But several things happen when you haul yourself up to run the same course again and again.
- You have ample opportunity to ask yourself the deep philosophical question “Why am I doing this?”
- Boredom compels you to perform ill-advised experiments in nutrition. Those choices in the early hours may come back to haunt you.
- You will lose 10–20 pounds of weight in the form of sweat, which you only incompletely compensation with consumption. Hence the weight loss.
- It becomes clear that the larger part of the race is mental. The physical toll that eventually stopped everyone but one runner before 100K comes abruptly.
The Pros and Cons of this Weight Loss Method
The people who are in a position to do this sort of race are the ones who need it least, at least for weight loss. You will see but few endomorphs making the rounds.
Even though it’s a lot of weight to shed in a short time, it’s just fluid loss. What goes quickly also returns quickly.
And although the end is sudden, the aches and pains accumulate with the hours.
- The uneven track claimed some to sprains.
- The modest hills sidelined others with cramps.
- The 90+ degree temperature and the relentless sun added heat exhaustion and sunburn to the quitters’ list.
- That admirably low heart rate starts creeping up and then refuses to go back down. I hit 197 before calling it quits.
- You see the transformation in runners’ faces and postures as the day’s shadows return and lengthen.
What Does It Bring You?
The weight loss is temporary for most of us. But so is the pain and suffering. The memories of our struggles fade as quickly as our aching muscles.
What remains are two things:
- Fond memories of all the good parts, and
- A sense of accomplishment at doing something both hard and out of the ordinary.
Those memories buoy us in tough times. And that sense of accomplishment gives us the confidence that we can do other tough things.
Running an ultra is a genuinely effective method to lose weight quickly. But, I trust you see there are much better reasons to try one than that.
Have you done an ultra? Are you considering it? Let us know in the comments.
I’ve done lots of things that have people choosing between crazy and scum to describe me. Read more of my musings to see the method behind the madness.
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