Spring marathon training: Dealing with weight gain

Spring marathon training 2013 has begun. For the first week I went a little beyond the prescribed runs listed on the running group calendar. I felt safe doing this because even though I dramatically rolled back my mileage since the October marathon, I felt I had a decent base.

Yeah for me.

bathroom-scaleThe one issue I danced around all week though is my weight. Parents, friends, and others who don’t know me that well tend to scoff when I express my concern about it.

“You look fine,” they say. “You run so many miles, who cares?”

A typical and understandable response, especially from people who doesn’t suddenly have to carry around an extra ten pounds for six miles in their mid-sections.

I started to write a cop-out post about how great it is to be back with the group and some of the runners I met over the course of three marathons and two running seasons. The truth is, it is great to see them, but the pleasure at this point is a given, or not really what’s been on my mind as I start back up again for a spring marathon.

The weight I’ve gradually gained over the past two years is.

And yes, I suspect some weight gain during down time is to be expected. All that built up calorie-deficit building is gone and sometimes it is hard to put on the breaks when it comes to food consumption. Typically though, things level off, or eating habits level down. This has not been my case.

Since my first marathon in 2011 I have went from 148 pounds to my current weight of 163 as of Monday when I last stepped on the scale. As a matter of fact, during my last marathon training program I actually gained weight. And I doubt any of it has anything to do with building muscle mass.

I like to eat. I eat for pleasure, comfort, and distraction. Ever since I was a teenager I have had issues with food, oscillating between overweight to too skinny with a few years of maintaining a healthy weight in between.

And yes, I understand 163 is not a bad weight for my age and build. I’m 36-years-old and 5 feet 9 inches tall. I am by no means too big. I’m just growing uncomfortable with the way the scale is tipping and its stubbornness to trend the other way. I am growing older too. Metabolism slows and it is not as easy to shed unwanted pounds.

In doing a little Internet research on the topic of runners and weight gain to try to inspire something in me to really buckle down and cut out the fast food, the snacking, and the over-indulging after long runs I came across a 2009 post at a Runner’s World hosted blog called For Beginners Only. There Susan Paul answered the question asked by a reader about why they are gaining weight while training for a half-marathon.

In Paul’s response I saw myself in number three. “Gaining weight comes down to simple math: calories in versus calories out. When calorie consumption is greater than calorie expenditure, we put on pounds. Unfortunately, it is much easier to ‘out eat’ our running than we think!” writes Paul.

Ugh, that’s me. My love of food and use of it while stressed, or at time just because I just love to eat really bad food, has out paced calories burned while running. In down months between running I’ve been in a virtual free fall.

Looking forward to my fourth marathon I’m realizing just how right this woman I date a couple of times a few months back was when she said running is a lifestyle. It is a total package, not just lacing up shoes. It is about living healthy off the road as well and that mentality needs to be reflected in everything, especially my diet since, you know, it is that part that fuels everything else.

I have faith I’ll work through my diet issues. Much like starting those short runs this week to begin the long process of getting race ready, I’m committing myself to being more aware of what, and how much, I eat.

I started by finding some guidance such as this 2005 article in Runners World titled, Desktop Dining: The keys to eating right when you’re eating on the job.” The article lays out solid meals and eating times depending on the time of day runner you are. And really, there are no excuses to avoiding putting together a proper nutrition plan, especially when there are worlds of free resources out there, and groups of people who will lend support.

Image representing MyFitnessPal as depicted in...

Image via CrunchBase

Overall, I don’t necessarily want to get down into the 140s again. In my head I’ll be happy with around 155, or 160 if it is solid muscle, but this current flabby state with the scale on the rise must go. More than anything this is about feeling  healthy and happy with my body and running.

So, more cooking for myself, less eating out, and breaking out one of my favorite calorie tracking, diet goal setting phone apps, MyFitnessPal to go along with all the great suggestions from the reading and recipes I find.


6 thoughts on “Spring marathon training: Dealing with weight gain

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  3. Thanks for this post. I too struggle with ‘too many calories in vs calories out’ while training.

    Like you, I often lose the battle and “over-indulging after long runs”, and actually any run. Yesterday, I ran 6 miles after a tough 8 miles the previous day and I was STARVING all day long, so snacked all day long.

    I’d really like to drop 5-10 lbs before my Spring marathon but not sure how realistic that is, without a new strategy.

    Good luck to you.

    • We sound a lot a like. I think planning the best strategy I have. I’ve begun to pack meals and small snacks according to when I know I will be hungry throughout the day. Planning also means I’m a little more healthier in my choices. So far with the new approach I have lost about a pound to pound and a half. This is putting me well on my way to an ideal goal come race day.

      • yeah, good idea to eat more, smaller snack/meals to avoid becoming ‘really’ hungry.

        Today, I ran my weekly long run and again failed to control my post run eating. Ate a HUGE 3 egg omelet with beans and cheese. Sure was tasty.

        Maybe next week, i’ll do better.

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