|Photo Credit: Healthier Happier Bear|
1. I am only referring to my own experience
2. I am aware that I am well within my healthy weight range and I don't have body issues
3. I am not suggesting anyone should come to the same conclusions I have or that anyone should take any advice from me. I am not a professional.
For full disclosure, I have to share my stats with you:
31 years old
117 pounds (post marathon)
112 pounds (pre-marathon)
One year ago, I started training for my first marathon, the Lakefront Marathon in Milwaukee. At the time, I weighed in at a whopping 112-113 pounds. My weight hasn't fluctuated much at all in the last five years, with the exception of one weird gym phase where I dropped down to an unflattering 108 pounds (photo.) Throughout the last decade, my level of physical activity has been consistent as well. I have always been a runner. I taught aerobics classes. I did a lot of bike riding and walking around Milwaukee rather than using a car. I have always had a really clean diet and I don't really stray from it much, because I don't like many unhealthy foods. Luckily.
|At my smallest, looking a little veiny and tired. But still happy! :)|
I qualified for the Boston Marathon at that race, and I immediately registered. Then - all the planning for Boston started. New gear. Travel arrangements. Training plans. (Insert Jaws music) and dietary plans. I thought that since the Boston Marathon is such a big effing deal, I better take it as seriously as possible. I overhauled a lot of the way that I normally do things - and I made two major dietary changes:
1. I started eating a real breakfast every single day. (OK nutritionists - I can feel you getting uneasy. Calm down. I'm not going to tell people to skip breakfast!)
2. I started adding protein supplements to my recovery smoothies.
Historically, I am not much of a breakfast eater. I'm just not. It makes me feel gross and heavy in the morning when I am already grumpy. On a normal day, I have a gigantic cup of coffee and some fruit or a yogurt. I have a more substantial mid-morning snack about two-three hours later. In an effort to be "properly fueled" for the rigors of training for Boston, I started having breakfast. I incorporated more eggs, more nuts, healthy grains, healthy smoothies. I honestly thought I was making healthier choices and I would be better prepared come race day. I was also adding several HUNDRED calories to my diet every day. Yikes.
|Eat to run, not run to eat! Proper fuel is key. Credit: Runner's World|
You mean to tell me - I ran 60-ish miles per week through the winter in Wisconsin complete with snow, wind, ice and rain to come out several pounds heavier? OH. HELL. NO. At first, I refused to believe it. I got off the scale and got back on in hopes that the reading was wrong. Nope. I had legitimately gained FIVE FREAKING POUNDS. Ugh. Gross.
I was extremely discouraged and my initial reaction was to beat myself up about it. I felt grumpy. I ate things I shouldn't. I was mean to the people around me. All totally illogical responses. The more I thought about it, it was pretty clear that the small changes I made to my routine were the culprit. I'm currently training for another marathon in the Fall, and I am also working on getting back to a place where I feel comfortable with my habits and my body.
Live & Learn!
There are many reasons why people experience weight gain while training for a physical event, particularly endurance events. Some of those reasons include:
- increased muscle mass which is heavier than fat
- water retention
- increased food intake, because of over-estimating the number of calories burned
- entitled eating "I can have a brownie because I ran today. Make it two."
The lesson is to pay attention to your body's needs. We are all different machines with similar but different requirements. Don't feel defeated if and when you are a victim to the creeping scale numbers, but do take a look at the food choices (including liquid choices) you are making - then adjust accordingly. I recommend a food journal to track your activity and your intake. And last but not least - even if you gain a couple pounds in your training - don't let it stop you from achieving your goal.
**If weight loss IS your goal, be sure to incorporate other physical activities into your routine. Running is not the most efficient means for losing weight - that is another myth. And remember - no amount of working out can fix a yucky diet.**
What about you? Can you relate to shifts in weight while training? How did you handle it?