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Marathon Training Weight Gain…

marathontrainingweightgainEarlier this month on Twitter and Facebook, I posted this status update: “I’m not one to obsess about weight, but gaining a few lbs when I’m running this much for marathon training is ANNOYING.”

That comment sparked a ton of suggestions, reasons and solutions from readers. (We heart you, dear readers!) Ya’ll hypothesized everything from me gaining more muscle (which weighs more than fat, thereby increasing the number on the scale) to mindless eating to eating too much due to running-induced hunger to not eating enough protein. Then I went online and did some research, finding this helpful article and an interesting discussion on PeerTrainer. After doing my non-scientific research and closely examining my food diary, my conclusion was this: I’m running a crapton…am therefore really hungry…and have henceforth had a harder time not going for a second helping of veggie chili. It’s not like I feel justified in eating more or splurging on something unhealthy, I’m just HUNGRY. And I don’t do well with not eating when I’m hungry or restricting myself (for proof, read this).
Plus, there’s the whole one-carb-gram-holds-3-grams-of-water thing. When you’re running long distances, your body basically stops, says “What you doin’ Willis?!”, and then holds on to every carb you ingest for fuel for your next long run. That alone can cause you to gain 3 to 5 pounds of water weight right there. Heeelllooo bloat.
And then I reached another conclusion of my own: Why the bleep do I care?
I’m annoyed with five pounds here. FIVE POUNDS. And that five pounds is somehow getting in the way of what I am doing—running 26.2 miles! A freakin’ marathon. Me, the girl who in middle school never thought that she’d run more than 15 minutes consecutively (seriously, I remember being thrilled with myself for running longer than 10 minutes) is training to run for at least four and a half hours straight. And she’s even kicking ass in her training runs, treating a 9-mile run like it’s normal (and knowing that it’s not). In fact, on most days, her running has been fairly easy and enjoyable. Even cathartic. (Surprising yourself may be the best reward of running of all.)
So I have two words for the scale: SUCK IT. I feel stronger and more fit than ever. And I don’t care what number you read. Whether it’s muscle, water or just extra cushion, I’m going to continue to eat healthy foods when I’m hungry, and I’m going to continue rocking my training. I know my body will take care of the rest. Good riddance, scale. I’ll see you after the marathon, and maybe—maybe—we’ll talk. —Jenn

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  1. michelle says:

    sing it sista! 🙂 I’m training for ING Miami in January. I ran a half yesterday and shredded 8:50 off my time. Who cares about the 5 pounds I’ve gained since training began. I look better, feel better, and know that I’m kicking assand taking names. 🙂 WTG on training!! Oh- I get the “nine miles is now normal) feeling. lol.

  2. renae says:

    Good for you!!!! We all gain during training and yes, it sucks, big time. But you are so right – you wouldn’t be able to run 26.2 without much needed carbs! Great attitude! Now that my marathon is a week behind me, I’m in ‘dump training pounds’ mode. The good news is that they come off quick!

  3. Seriously!! At first, it felt so impossible for me to lose while training, but after seeing a nutritionist, I’m getting somewhere. Slowly. But really my whole body is changing….my arms are much leaner, but my butt is curvier; my stomach is flatter. Oh and my blood pressure PLUMMETED. I bet you’ll have a very different body when all is said and done, and those carby pounds your body is clinging to will just melt off!

  4. Susan says:

    Amen!! I remember my roommie started training for a marathon 1) to raise money, but also 2) to lose weight. She immediately started reading everything she could about marathon training and was pretty defeated when she found out it’s common to GAIN weight during training. I agree with you, the scale can suck it. 5 lbs ain’t gonna matter when you triumphantly cross that finish line, or think back to that moment 20 years from now. And who wants to be hungry all day? That extra serving of veggie chili is fuelling those stellar 9-milers 😉

  5. How about we decide to get healthy for REAL — on the outside AND the inside — and THROW AWAY THE DAMN SCALE!?!?!?!


    You feel great. You CAN RUN! You are healthy. You glow. Your clothes fit nicely.

    PLEASE STOP the numbers game. We need to be better examples for each other and for the younger generations.

  6. That’s the spirit!

  7. i could be off but… technically speaking, muscle doesn’t weigh more than fat. a pound of muscle is the same as a pound of fat… one pound. i think the deal is that, because muscle is leaner and denser than fat, you can pack more of it onto your frame and will look smaller but weigh more as a result. if you had 2 boxes on scales and filled one to the top with fat and the other with muscle (gross, right?), your muscle box would weigh more simply because it’s tighter and denser so you can fit more into it. is that right?

  8. oh and also… i totally agree with telling the scale to suckit. 🙂

  9. Love your attitude!

    Though as someone who will never run 26 miles at once (due to knee issues and general laziness), it’s interesting to discover that such feats of endurance don’t necessarily lead to weight loss. Helps a little with the jealousy I feel when I hear about you awesome fit marathoner types racking up the miles.

  10. Kim says:

    Love it…you go Jenn! 🙂

  11. FitSugar says:

    I feel ya! I have gained weight working with a trainer, but my clothes are looser. Ditch the scale and love the muscle.

  12. FitSugar says:

    I feel ya. I have gained weight since working with a trainer, but my clothes are looser! Ditch the scale and love the muscle.

  13. Good for you for telling the scale to suck it! You’re obviously doing great regardless! It’s awesome that you realize that!

  14. cher says:

    I loved when I came the the “SUCK IT” part!! LOL. you go girl! The numbers don’t worry me. I know when I feel great, and my clothes fit better! Love it!

  15. gina says:

    muscles does not WEIGH more than fat. a pound of feathers weighs as much as a pound of lead bolts, but the feathers are more volumous. muscle is more dense than fat.

  16. katrina m says:

    i feel you here, i gained when i trained for and ran my half too, and it was SO sad to be running my legs off, and see the scale go up. but you’re right, so what?? you’re still doing incredible things and your body needs the fuel.

    one thing i read during my training is if you are really hungry after your long runs, it could be that you aren’t eating enough DURING your run. you tap too much into your stores, so you’re ravenous the rest of the day to try to replace them. a rule they suggested was one calorie per pound of body weight, per hour. hope that helps!! 🙂

    and congrats on kicking ass 🙂

  17. not a real waitress says:

    OMG! I sooo needed to read this today! I’m dealing with the same thing! I have even gone thru metabolic testing and visited with my primary care doc because I’ve plateaued; however I have increased my daily activity level and decreased my calories… it’s sooo frustrating when I meet up with friends (who read my blog about my workouts) and when they see me, tilt their heads and comment, “I thought you’d be smaller by now.” Ugg!! I feel the same way!

    So thank you. I’m boycotting the scale from now on and keep doing what I’m doing, cuz I KNOW it’s making a difference in how I feel and how I look!

  18. It’s because when you worked out you’re building muscle. So don’t worry as long as you feel great then continue! 🙂

  19. Heather says:

    My nutritionist told me, prior to starting to train for my 3rd marathon, that there are 2 times in life you really don’t want to lose weight: during pregnancy and training for an endurance event. You should ideally maintain b/c you’re right, you don’t want to risk your health when you’re running 26 miles!

    What I’ve found during training is that my hunger runs rampant, but my ability to consume a lot at one sitting diminishes. Lots of small, healthy meals prevented me from gaining weight during my last marathon!

    Good luck!!!

  20. Wonderful post — good information about why the numbers on the scale went up, and great perspective on why the numbers on the scale don’t matter so much right now. I’ll look to copy this perspective when my own training ramps up again next year!

  21. Sassy says:

    Great post! It’s definitely frustrating to see a weight gain when you’re training so hard. It’s not necessarily a bad thing that you’ve gained a bit of weight if you’re eating what your body needs. However, you may want to focus a bit more on protein/veggie/fruit intake and just make sure the carbs aren’t over the top. Good luck and way to stay positive! Also, be sure you’re getting enough sleep. THat can make a big difference on the scale.

  22. Christian says:

    I know how you’re feeling. I ran my first marathon in October. BUT- never fear, those are necessary pounds and the week you’ll take after the marathon for rest, you’ll suddenly notice you’ll drop those 5 pounds without even trying…that was nice. Also, your pants are probably feeling a bit tighter, and they are…but not because of fat. If you’re training like I did, you’re doing a long run once a week. Measure your thighs right before your long run and then right after (big difference) and it takes about a week to go away…EEEK! So it’s a continuous cycle until the marathon is over but OH SO WORTH IT!

  23. Julie M says:

    I lost 10 lbs post marathon. Just train and it’s all gravy. I did immediately change the amount I ate after the marathon b/c I wasn’t going to run such long distances. That helped a lot. GL!

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