Marathon Weight Gain

by ashleyd on August 29, 2012

Today’s lovely guest post is from one of my favorite running bloggers who inspires many of us to run that extra mile each week. I mean heck, she eats marathons for breakfast on an almost weekly basis; or so it seems! If you’re new to my site first and foremost HELLO! Second of all, I hope you’ll stay for a while and check out not only SkinnyRunner’s story but also the other stories that have been shared over the past year as part of my Marathons+Moderation series. Not, I’ll turn it over to today’s expert and let her share her tips for managing the dreaded marathon weight gain.

Hey y’all, it’s SkinnyRunner. I blog over at the aptly titled SkinnyRunner about a bunch of crap, I mean, marathons and stuff.

When Ashley asked me to contribute to her Marathons + Moderations Series I thought, Well, that’s an honor. And then I thought, Uhhhhhh what am I supposed to write about?!

I thought about injury prevention, compression and Garmins, but decided to talk about something far more dreaded: marathon weight gain.

How?! It doesn’t even make sense! You run all these miles, put in months of work and end up gaining weight?!



Life is a cruel, unfair thing.

Running is a very efficient exercise meaning you burn a lot of calories, but along with that comes a big appetite: your body needs fuel to run all those miles.

Fast forward 4 months: you’ve been training hard and have become used to your long runs and refueling heartily. Now you have 2-3 weeks of imposed taper where you still want to eat (marathon hunger, baby!) like you have a 20 miler on tap, but you’re resting.

Race day comes, you have an amazing day, and then suddenly it’s over and you’re again supposed to reverse taper and take up to a month off to rest and recover. But you still have that big appetite that you’ve gotten used to in the past 4 months! You’re enjoying your bigger meals and extra snacks, but your activity level isn’t matching your intake.

And that my friends, is how you can (some people do, some don’t) gain weight while running a marathon.



So is there a solution or should I just never ever run except to the bathroom?

I would say to NOT run a marathon if you’re doing it ONLY to lose weight.

I love running and think everyone who can, should run one marathon in their lives to experience that amazing sense of accomplishment and culmination of all your hard work, but don’t do one just as another diet fad or way to drop pounds.

You might lose weight, you might not, but you could miss out on the enormity of your accomplishment because you’re only focused on a number on the scale. And frankly, I’ve heard of a lot more people gaining a couple pounds during marathon training than losing them.

Start using MODERATION to eventually match your intake (calories) to your outtake (exercise).

Enjoy yourself post-race: you deserve that beer, burger and whatever else you want. It’s your day; own it and be proud.

In the days after, slowly start taking a look at your diet to see what, if any changes need to be made. I’m not saying to drastically drop to a 1300 calorie diet all of the sudden because you’re not running 50 miles a week. There’s nothing moderate about that.

Instead, look at your afternoon snack: say for the past 3 months you’ve enjoyed a huge fruit smoothie and peanut butter sandwich. Great, nice and healthy. But now, maybe eat the same smoothie with an open-faced sandwich. You’re not doing anything drastic or depriving yourself while still making small adjustments to your eating.


{That was a banana milkshake, not a smoothie}

Find another physical outlet or activity besides running.

Post-marathon it’s recommended to take a day off for every mile you’ve run, so nearly a month. Your body’s probably beat up and you might be burnt out mentally so take a couple complete rest days.

And then find something else active to do: maybe it’s simply walking, or taking a yoga class; whatever it is, do something. Your body will feel better, you will mentally feel better, and you’ll probably make healthier choices too.wordexercise2


Don’t make it a big deal.

Life goes on and in the big picture, it just isn’t a big deal. That bump on the scale might be from muscle you’ve gained in your thighs and legs from all the miles you’ve logged. Either way, those legs carried you 26.2 miles, hot dang!

And if the couple extra pounds really bother you, you can always sign up for another marathon. Who wants to go run one with me?!


Picture source

What are your tips for keeping your weight in check when you’re training for a marathon, triathlon, or other major event?

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