Weight Gain During Marathon Training

Today’s Workout – Easy Run

Total Miles: 11.05 miles

Total Time: 1:41:11

Average Pace: 9:10 min/mile

I think I have mentioned a few times before how happy I am that fall is here! The weather for today’s runs was BEAUTIFUL! 

I broke out tights for today’s run.  I could have probably been fine in shorts, but I never did get real hot.

My husband had 2 pairs of Nike Tights that he got by accident, so he let me have one. I will take hand me down running clothing any day! :)

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These actually are the best tights I’ve worn. They are easy to get on, not super thick like I would need for the winter, and then are so soft and comfortable!

I wish my legs would have gotten the memo that it was time to run, but they never did. They felt heavy and sore pretty much the entire run. I just focused on taking it very slow and easy. I even stopped a couple times to stretch.

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Overall not a bad run and averaged around a 9:10 min/mile.  I’ll take it seeing as my legs and mind were not on the same page today.

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I came home and really focused on rolling my legs because they felt so tight today. I need them back on point for tomorrow’s speed workout.

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Please excuse my hair that is in crazy need of a haircut and a dye job. Maybe it will be in the budget one of these days!

I had a dentist appoint this afternoon and now I am finally home to relax!

I have a very interesting topic to discuss with you all today.  Weight gain during training.

I don’t talk a whole lot on the blog about my nutrition, because to be honest mine isn’t that amazing. I am working on it and every day I make small strides to eat better and making sure my body gets the PROPER nutrition. I am the first to admit that I still have a lot to learn.

Most of the time I don’t even get on the scale for several reasons:
1. My weight fluctuates so drastically during the day mostly from fluid and proper hydration.
2. It can get me down when I see my weight jump around
3. I know I am not eating as well as I should

My husband and I had a conversation about this the other day during our slow and easy run.  He said that it is very common for many marathoners to gain weight in the off season because they don’t really monitor how and what they eat as much.  THEN when it comes to real marathon training (3-4 months out) they really buckle down on eating the right things and get down to their “racing weight.”

My happy racing weight is actually several pounds less than I am right now, and that  is okay. I have almost 8 months until I will be racing.

I would however really like for someone to tell my body that it doesn’t need to be hungry 24/7!! Thank you :)

My question is – do you think it is okay to let your weight fluctuate like that or do you like to stay around the same weight at all stages of training?

About Sara

Welcome to my blog! My name is Sara and this blog documents my journey as a wife and a runner. I train hard and put my heart and soul into my running. My life is a crazy journey full of ups and downs, and I am here to share it all with you!

31 comments

  1. I think your weight when training is really hard to control! I have always lost a little weight training for marathons and always gain a bit in the month afterwards. I get so hungry when I am training that I find it hard to control portions or say no to junk food. I think as long as training is making you feel happy then who cares!

  2. I wish I knew what my actual weight was! My scale is so wonky and half the time it doesn’t even work. I don’t like to go by my weight most of the time though. I can tell in my clothes whether I’m up or down. I’m training for my first marathon right now and I’m just hoping my hunger subsides at some point!

  3. I’ve gained about 6 pounds marathon training. I know my legs are bigger and stronger and that my body needs more fuel and is holding on to more water and fuel. I blogged about it a month ago here: http://breathedeeplyandsmile.blogspot.com/2013/08/marathon-training-and-weight-gain-say.html

  4. Exactly right- race training brings so much extra hunger, unless we are meticulous about what we’re satisfying our hunger with, weight gain happens seemingly over night! I lost weight while training for both my 1/2 and my full, but I was already trying to loose weight and really careful about what I ate.

    • I try so hard to be good and I usually am up until night time. It’s so hard to control at that point. I know part of it is boredom but I swear I am hungry ALL the time! What kinds of foods did you focus on eating to help fuel your runs?

      • The night time hunger beast gets me ALL the time- race training or not!! About 2 weeks into my training plan, my DR. suggested the PALEO diet to address some health issues, so I was limited in what I felt I could eat. When I was carb-loading, I ate a lot of sweet potatoes, oatmeal and brown rice, also Ezekial 4:9 bread toasted with peanut butter before long runs. Instead of shotbloks or Gu’s mid-run, I’d eat dates or dried mango- instant sugar, but totally natural!

        • I actually have a book that sits in my “office’ on the paleo diet. I have been meaning to find the time to read it but just have been so focused on so many other things right now. This may be something I should look into as well! Do you think it has helped you?

  5. I think my weight naturally fluctuates up and down a few pounds but to be honest I don’t weigh myself and I could have just had a lot of water that day! I think as long as you feel comfortable not hungry it’s totally fine. Marathon training is tough and requires some serious fuel so it makes sense you might put on a few pounds. But again it’s important to fuel with the right things.

    • Yes I agree with you! I think eating the RIGHT things is key and that is something I still need to work on! I am a kitchen grazer way too much and really need to work on my self control when it comes to the bad food and work on focusing on getting the right foods in my body!

  6. Such an interesting topic to me! I usually gain a little bit of weight when training for a marathon, and once this first started happening I researched it a little bit – it turns out women (on average) tend to gain a few pounds during marathon training, and men (on average) tend to lose a few pounds (no fair, right?). A podcast that I listen to regularly called Ben Greenfield Fitness adressed this, and you can read the transcript here (just do Ctrl + F for “marathon” and start reading there). I’m not sure about all his recommendations, but I DO think the parts about cortisol and about training your body to store more glycogen are very interesting! http://www.bengreenfieldfitness.com/2012/11/episode-219-full-transcript/ Either way, I think going by how you feel in your clothes/ how you feel energy-wise/ how hungry you are is a better indicator, so if your weight fluctuates a bit, I think it’s fine!

    • Oh wow! Thanks!! I will definitely take a look at that! It sounds interesting! I honestly don’t even really know what I weight per say because it can fluctuate so much throughout the day!

  7. First off … STEP AWAY FROM THE SCALE! :D

    Seriously, scales are worse than GPS watches. In the same way that you should learn to run by feel, so too should you learn to navigate nutrition and eating habits in ways other than the scale.

    I don’t think there is any ‘absolute’ – some people will gain, others will lose. No two people have the exact same physiology, genetics, metabolism, eating habits and starting fitness level. So when someone tells me that ‘THIS will happen’ … I assume they are selling something :)

    I have friends who weight more in winter than summer regardless of anything else (in the Northeast). I have other friends who I think have been within +/-2lbs since they stopped growing in the late 70s!

    Personally my problem since upping my weekly mileage to >50, I have had to be careful to get enough calories. I am not a night eater, and not much of a snacker, so I had to be strategic. Pistachios are a great snack, and I always have seasonal fruit around. But as I mentioned before, cooking more with stuff like quinoa and kale and flax has also helped. And loads of peanut butter.

    It is all about figuring out what works for you. And not over measuring … :)

    • I know I know – scales = BAD. I honestly don’t weight myself that much because as a runner the amount of fluids you need to consume can make your weight fluctuate pretty significantly throughout the day!

      I think my problem is what I eat not how much I eat. I need to be focused on good foods for my body, instead of turning to the not-so-healthy options I do sometimes. I’ve mentioned it before, but during the day I am great it is just when night time hits that I start getting a bit out of control.

      I will keep working at it – every healthy change is SOMETHING!

      And I promise…NO MORE SCALE! :)

  8. Hey sara, I often find that women especially, don’t eat enough calories when training for races. I’m a personal trainer and I watch girls struggle with nutrition and how many calories they should be eating. This is going to be boring, but bear with me cause I can’t just say nothing here, so hopefully this will help out some of your readers.

    Your body needs 1200 calories per day, MINIMUM. And this is for people who literally sit at a desk and are inactive all day. If you go under this number you will store fat and your body will pull nutrients from your muscles & bones if you aren’t feeding it enough.

    For example–If you eat 1500 calories per day and burn 500 from running 5 miles, this puts you at 1000 calories, and your body will go into starvation mode and store fat. Obviously the more you run, the more calories you burn, and the more nutrition your body needs to function (& marathon train!).

    A good rule of thumb is to try keeping your calories no lower than 1200 (factoring in your workout calories). 1200 is still a very low intake, especially when you’re active and don’t have weight to lose. Obviously your calorie requirement can change day to day, workout to workout. I always tell my clients to eat for your day. If your doing a 12 mile run, you need to eat more. If you have a rest day, eat less.

    Remember, you are an athlete! Feed your body good foods that will help your running. You will be very surprised to know that increasing your calories (with good foods) will actually help you LOSE weight and not gain weight. i lost my last 6 lbs by increasing my daily calorie intake from 1400 per day to 2200. Yeah sounds like a lot, and i was scared to do it. But i had more energy for my runs, I got to eat more and lose weight.

    Hope this helps, i know its a lot of info! Have a happy wednesday! love the blog <3

    ps I think this comment is going to be a topic in one of my upcoming blog posts haha.

    • Wow what great information! Yes It is a balancing act. While I do think I get enough calories I think where my problem lies is that I don’t get it from the best foods! I have always struggled with nutrition and now that I am unemployed being able find healthy snacks at a very low cost have become a struggle as well. It is something I think I will always have to focus on.

      I run 10-11 miles a day at minimum so knowing that I need well over 2200 calories to keep my body where it should be. Even though I have been avoiding it I think by starting to count calories (not to make sure i’m not getting too much but to make sure I am getting enough!) will help me.

      I love all this information and can’t wait to read your post on it! :)

    • Another important caveat is that all of those numbers are ‘estimates’ – a 25 year old woman who is 5’2″ will have a very different base burn than a 45 year old woman who is 5’11” and so on. Same for men and women, base metabolism (we all know people who either eat everythig and lose, and eat nothing and gain) … and so on.

      But your core thoughts are very important – to lose weight you need a caloric deficit … but once you get that deficit beyond a certain threshold (again, not a fixed number), your body goes into self-preservation mode.

  9. Great post! I’ve been about the same weight the last 5 years (5 pounds up and down). I love to eat!!! But I try to stick to clean eating, limit white sugar, and just stay away from a lot of processed foods. I find that if I just eat clean, I really can eat as much as I want – grains, beans, nuts, fruits, vegetables, etc. My pants always get tighter when I’m training because my legs get more muscular. I never get on a scale because I’d drive myself crazy!

    • I love this and I think this is so important to remember! I think that is going to be my focus simply to eat MORE of the good stuff! I have decide to veto the scale for a while as well because there is no point knowing especially when training!

      • I think that is the critical thing “WHAT” rather than a raw calorie count. We know calories are not all equal! As for the cost, there are actually loads of resources for cheap snack foods that are healthy our there. Something I always have is a bag of pistachios (in shell, unsalted) – sure even the Walmart ones are ~$6.50 / pound, but they take time to eat and are loaded with protein and fiber and fill you up.

        It is not easy – as I’ve said I have been around long enough that I was in middle school when I saw my mother using the mid-70s version of ‘doctor approved weight loss’ – diet pills, aka speed! Since then I have seen pretty much every food aside from fruit & vegetables called good and bad at various times, not to mention eggs and butter and so on!

        Which is why I love the saying “Eact food, not too much, mostly plants.” My wife was off from work yesterday and created a fully vegan eggplant meal that was fantastic :) I have worked with both kids as well, they love healthy foods and have good habits I never got as a kid (though my younger son did start a #pleasedadstopputtingquinoaineverything tag after my muffins :) )

        • I love the saying “eat food, not too much, mostly plants.” It is amazing that if most would follow that motto how much better it would improve their overall health! I love that you include your kids and wife in your healthy eating! I try to get my husband on the band wagon :)

  10. I forgot to comment on she’s going the distance’s post: oddly enough when I started eating more good food, just better quality stuff, I too lost weight. I’m probably ten pounds lighter than high school and it’s not because I count calories, it’s simply because I eat soooo much better! That was a really great comment above :)

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