Sunday, April 17, 2011

Training for a Marathon can make you gain weight

Now let me start off by saying that I am not trying to criticize anyone who is running the marathon. It is obviously a HUGE accomplishment!
If you are going into it in hopes of completing it and saying - you did it!, then that is great. If you went into it hoping to achieve a fat loss or weight loss goal, then you might be disappointed.
Long distance running is a form of steady state cardio, and if you have been following my blog, then you know that steady state cardio is not the way to go to lose weight.
When training for long distance running your body is learning to store carbohydrates as fuel (glycogen) for your long runs. Those glycogen stores are important to completing your long runs and marathon without "hitting the wall", but you may see a couple extra pounds on the scale on certain days. Your body also requires additional water to break down and store the glycogen, so that will also add extra weight.
Also, you may have been increasing your calorie intake without realizing it. Keep in mind that running a lot does not give you carte blanche to eat whatever you want. The basic principle for weight loss still applies: You must burn more calories than you consume. To lose a pound, you have to burn, through exercise or life functions, about 3500 calories.
With all the calories you burn by running, some people are surprised when they don't lose weight during marathon training, but they forget that they're inhaling a quart of ice cream and a dozen Oreos for a snack after their run. Make sure you stock your kitchen with healthy foods, so when the "post-run hungries" hit, you'll be prepared with nutritious foods, not empty calories. It's normal to feel hungry when training for a marathon. Just try to avoid mindless eating stick to healthy foods and snacks.
It's also helpful to track your food intake in a training journal. It will make you think twice about the foods you're putting in your mouth and also help you figure out what foods work best for you.
Another area where long distance runners get into trouble is drinking too many calories. Just because you're training for a marathon doesn't mean that you need to constantly drink sugary sports drinks. While it's important that you replace electrolytes during your long runs, you don't need to constantly have a sports drink at your fingertips the rest of the time. Stay away from fruit juices and regular soda since they also add a lot of calories to your diet, but don't make you feel full. Plain water is fine for staying hydrated during the week.
And don't forget some coconut water is especially hydrating. Stay away from sugared drinks like Gatorade.
Good luck if you are running tomorrow!

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