Marathon training seems like it should be a great way to lose weight. Why is it then that many runners gain weight?
It’s not because running will inherently make you gain weight.
There is A LOT to unpack here and we’re going to break it down so you can reap all the benefits of long distance running without worrying about weight gain.
Gaining Weight After Long Runs (Marathon weight gain)
Running itself will not make you gain weight, but there are some super common reasons why people do gain weight during marathon training.
- Assuming we’ve burned more calories than we have
- Not being as active the rest of the day – amazing how many less calories we can burn because we’ve “already worked out”
- Enjoying more “I earned it foods”
- Inflammation – muscle breakdown is a necessary part of all workouts to get stronger
- Overtraining – not doing easy runs correctly
Celebrating With Food
“I ran 15 miles today, so I can eat whatever I want!”
All the pizza.
An extra post run beer.
A double bowl of Lucky Charms mixed with Coco Puffs.
Er, no, you can’t.
Yes, running, particularly long distance running, burns calories, however all those calories you just burned are immediately replaced if you have an attitude of being able to eat whatever you want because you run.
- 100% you need ways to celebrate your runs, it keeps you going
- Can you put money in a jar for a vacation or new running shoes
- Can you limit the food to something smaller
- Or enjoy the food and stop focusing on the dang scale!
How running impacts hunger levels
Those new to running will probably have a voracious appetite at first as your body adjusts to the new intensity of exercise.
While it’s important to replace those lost calories, it’s equally important to pay attention to the food sources you chose to replenish your body.
✅Checkout these tips on managing your marathon training hunger!
Say you ran 10 miles today and burned 1,000 calories. Good for you! That’s super!
Now, you go celebrate that evening over burgers and beer, and let’s not forget that ice cream afterward.
- A typical quarter-pound burger contains 450 calories.
- Add cheese to that, maybe bacon, plus other toppings and you’re looking at 700 calories.
- Ten fries total about 100 calories.
- On to your recovery beer. An IPA contains around 200 calories.
The total is a minimum of 900 calories for that single meal.
If you can somehow eat only 10 fries, and you haven’t even had ice cream yet.
And don’t get me started on trying to not eat the rest of the day to then have this big meal, it’s absolutely going to result in higher coritsol, losing muscle mass and then you guessed it weight gain.
Those who have been around here awhile know that I eat pizza EVERY FRIDAY. I eat chocolate every day.
I do not think we should live in a food off limits kind of way.
But I also know that if I don’t fuel my body with plenty of nutrients, it’s going to make my runs feel worse, my joints ache, my energy drop and eventually my weight go up.
Fueling Your Body for Performance, Not Calorie Cutting
Exercise alone won’t help you drop the pounds.
Do you gain weight after a long run?
It’s extremely common to see the number on the scale go up the day after a long run.
In the immediate moments after a long run, you may see it drop due to hydration. Which is actually a number to pay attention to called your sweat rate and it let’s you know if you need to be taking in more fluids during the run.
However, the next morning you may be shocked to see that the scale has risen (temporarily!!!).
- Muscle inflammation causes water retention
- Carbs required to refuel the body so you can train also cause water retention
- Getting dehydrated then also causes water retention (hence paying attention to that sweat rate)
- Building leg and glute muscles could increase the number on the scale, while decreasing your pant size
In other words, the number on the scale is probably reflecting a change in water.
You did not do a long run and gain fat. I promise.
Overtraining Leads to Weight Gain
The only way you are in fact putting on fat during marathon training is if you are:
- Overeating and thus the extra calories are being stored as fat
- Undereating and cortisol levels are higher causing belly fat storage
If you’re doing all of your runs at the same pace, then it’s very likely you aren’t doing your easy runs easy and your hard runs hard.
This leads to training in the grey zone.
That’s the no no zone.
It’s the looking for injury, going to burnout and absolutely over stress your body zone. If can’t carry on a conversation or sing a song to yourself then your easy run isn’t easy enough.
Looking for more information on running weight gain?
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