The Numbers Are In

It is humiliating and infuriating to finally accept what I’ve known for years:  the numbers don’t lie.  Running burns about 100 calories per mile, whether I schlepp at a pokey pace next to my husband (I love you, honey!) or get lapped at the high school track by Super Mom - athlete and Brigade member J.S.  It doesn’t seem fair.  When I run really hard, it certainly feels like I’m burning more calories, since the workout feels exponentially harder.  I am wheezing, sweating, and jacking up my iPod trying to dupe my brain into thinking I am neither wheezing nor sweating my ass off.  But the problem is I’m not actually sweating my ass off.  The junk in the truck persists, since it’s the same damn calories per mile.  For years I have logged my miles with a GSP enabled watch that tracks pace, elevation, calories, and other ominous sounding data parameters.  Progressive downloads confirm that I am neither faster nor thinner than I was five years ago.   In fact I’m worse. It’s different on a bicycle; the faster you pedal, the more you can burn.  But I simply can’t run fast enough to create my own drag, or better yet a personal wind tunnel.  Whether running fast or running slow, I’m still propelling my same body weight over an equivalent distance.  Elementary physics, Sir Newton or might I outsmart gravity?  Following a particularly depraved meal that included but was not limited to fried bread, a mountain of fried zucchini, sausage pizza, ribs, ½ of a chicken, and greens doused with olive oil, I’ve elected to share my most intimate numbers with you.     

I ran a mile very hard on the track.  It took me 7 minutes and 22 seconds, and per the watch I burned 120 calories.  Each in-between recovery lap (¼ mile) burned 28-30 calories.  That’s about 116 calories for a 10-11 minute mile.  So what I am saying is that a mere 4 calories (4 LOUSY CALORIES) separates wind sucking pain from idle shuffle.  Why bother?  It barely covers a candied walnut in my waist-trimming mixed greens with toffee pecans, a wedge of brie and crispy chicken strips.  I’m still unconvinced that numbers alone tell the whole story.

As it turns out, running harder elevates post exercise metabolism longer.  Presumably I’ll remain a calorie burning machine as I swipe itinerant pancake morsels from my kids’ breakfast plates, negating the workout altogether.  I also feel better after a good, hard run (not thinner…better).  Justly, “I ran this morning,” can mean many different things.

So what’s the answer when the numbers do and don’t reveal the big picture?  Divulge more information.  Obviously, my 92 point pinot is not just any wine.  It’s awesome, delicious, and extra special, because I made it.  And my 120 calorie mile isn’t just another dawdling jog.  I am incredibly proud that each of our unique, personality-filled 2009 pinots scored 90 points or better.  It is a major accomplishment.  However, I am smart enough to know that a number is just that.  After all, it is just one guy’s opinion.   So if you really want to know about a wine, open it up and judge for yourself.