When I hear that phrase images of ridiculously fit, toned and lean people pop into my head.
So naturally, I was surprised to read that a lot of people actually experience weight gain while training.
With the mileage you run during training, it’s pretty normal and natural to expect you’d lose weight, or at the very least, stay right around where you are- you’re burning that many calories, that you’re obviously going to be fighting to keep weight on, right?
A lot of runners actually experience the opposite and find themselves gaining anywhere from 5-10 lbs over the course of training.
The most common reasons?
- Over-estimating the amount of calories you’re burning
Yes you just ran 5, 10, 15, whatever miles but you fueled before, you (hopefully) fueled during with GU, shotbloks, what-have-you, and you had a post-run recovery snack/meal to restore energy to your muscles. Even though you’re logging a lot of miles doesn’t mean you get a free pass to feast on anything you want once the run is completed. (Le sigh. I wish it did. I don’t call this blog Running on Hungry for nothing!)
Eating as you normally would (adjusted depending on the calories you’re burning on your longer runs) is a better bet. Make sure you have a healthy ratio of:
- Lean proteins – helps to restore and rebuild your muscles – Salmon, Chicken, Grass Fed Beef (lean cuts), Organic Eggs, Greek Yogurt (plain – the flavored kinds load up on sugar), Tempeh
- Whole grain (slow digesting!) carbs – Whole Wheat Bread, Quinoa, Farro, Barley, Oatmeal, Brown Rice, Whole Wheat (or Brown Rice) Pasta
- Fruits/veggies – Great source of fiber and antioxidants
- Healthy fats – Avocados, Nut butters (almond butter is the best bet)
Think of the food you put into your body as fuel- what’s going to help you run your best and give you the most energy?
You burn roughly 100 calories per mile that you run… so a 7-mile run isn’t burning enough to be able have that bacon cheeseburger, fries and a milkshake. For breakfast. (Trust me, I’ve rationalized up and down the street, it’s just not enough caloric expenditure vs caloric intake.)
- Gaining Muscle
You’re logging a ton of mileage, incorporating hills and speed work, so naturally your muscles are going to expand and get bigger (STRONGER) in order to carry your body 26.2 miles across that finish line.
I find that yoga and pilates are great for this. . . they keep you long and lean, without sacrificing any strength. They also have added bonuses of strengthening your core and give you a great stretch!
- Cutting Out Variety
Pre-Marathon Training, you probably had a whole slew of workouts you did – weight training, spin classes, aerobic classes, etc. You lifted, strengthened, toned and worked all of your muscles. It’s no secret that weight-training is great for you and complements a cardio program nicely. But strength training also boosts your metabolism, with some exercise physiologists estimating that the body continues to burn calories for up to 36 hours after your workout. Source
When you start a training plan for a race it’s pretty normal to focus on your runs, but don’t forget about cross-training and weight training – it’ll keep you in the shape you were in before… and then some!
**Sidebar: I am not a fitness professional. nutritionist or personal trainer. The above post is solely based on previous experiences (running three 1/2 marathons), and also on ways of eating, workouts and tips that I follow and have seen success with personally. Not meant as anything else but some helpful ideas.