A Little More Each Day

One working mama learning to run & to maintain my 100+ pound weight loss!

TotR: Running and Weight Loss/Maintenance

on March 10, 2015

This week’s Tuesday’s on the Run topic is one that is never far from my mind: weight loss or maintenance while distance running. Thanks as always to April, Patty and Erika for hosting!


I’ve actually written about this before here, with some of the theories as to why people gain weight when they’re doing distance running. It’s funny looking back at that post now, because while all of those things are absolutely true and correct, I wrote that from a place of happy weight-dom. I was in the low 160s, definitely the lower end of my happy weight range. I thought gaining weight while running was a problem for OTHER people. Ha 🙂 Now I’m weighing 15 pounds more than I was then and 10 pounds more than I’d like to weigh and yet I feel like I just rocked a hill 10K this weekend and a speed workout this morning in ways I could never have done a year ago. There’s definitely a bit of a disconnect between the scale and my running, right?  I don’t know all (or any) of the answers, but here are a couple of my thoughts on the whole mess:

– While the problem might be that you’re overeating because of “runger” or the feeling entitlement that comes from a good workout, you can gain weight without doing that. I track meticulously and still weigh/measure food years into this weight loss thing and I gain weight no matter how many of my exercise calories I eat or don’t eat. Bodies are more complicated than the math would lead you believe and for those of us who’ve been overweight a long time or lost a lot of weight or yo-yoed between those two, that math just isn’t as linear as it should be. I say this not as an excuse, but to reassure any of you who get frustrated every time you read that in an article as the “reason you’re gaining weight when you run” that you are not alone in your frustration and your certainty that you don’t fall into that category. I think, for me, it’s not so much that I’ve gained weight during training but that I gained weight in the off season when I kept eating like I did in training and it’s just much harder to lose those off-season pounds with my post-weight loss, well-adapted-to-running metabolism not matter how strong my workouts are in half marathon training.

– When I’m training for a race and really TRAINING with a big goal for that race, I can’t let myself get bogged down in weight as much. That is SO hard for me, but I have to remind myself that if I cut calories further (and make no mistake, I already eat no more and usually less than MyFitnessPal says I can)I would compromise my training and my time goal for the Lincoln Half Marathon. I would also run the risk of hurting myself. Healthy food includes nutrients I need to run and to build muscle. I should never view food as the enemy, but I certainly shouldn’t when I’m training!

– No matter how frustrated I am with the scale creep in the last year, I know that it would have been worse if I wasn’t running. Running gives me a calorie burn, certainly, but it also helps me keep the whole “healthy lifestyle” thing in mind because even in those weeks where I only run a few miles, I’m still a runner. That mentality has kept me from going too far off the deep end.

So what you can do?

Don’t give up. Keep reminding that you’re doing good things for your body by running and by making good food choices, no matter what the scale says.

Be honest with yourself. Be honest with yourself about your food intake and about your exercise intensity. It may be fine and you’ll need to look at other things, but there may be some imbalance there.

Decide on your most important goal – the run or the weight? Ideally, they’d both be achieved together, but if you had to choose only one, which one would it be? For me, it’s that sub-2:30 half marathon right now and the scale is a secondary concern. If it was the weight, I might need to shift things a little bit in food and workouts, away from those training goals. I have to remind myself of this every week when I weigh in and want to throw the scale somewhere – the goal right now is not a number on the scale.

It can surprisingly hard to make peace with the scale.

It can surprisingly hard to make peace with the scale.

Remember that food is fuel – not the enemy and not a reward. I’m not hungry after I run and yet I know that replacing glycogen stores is important in that post-run window, so I eat something whether I’m hungry or not because it’s what my body needs. Chocolate at 10 pm – almost never what my body actually needs, no matter how much I ran that morning or how bad my day was. 🙂

Give yourself credit for the things that are going well. You’re working out, you’re making a lot of good choices so give yourself credit for that and don’t let the scale determine everything about your success!

I’m reading a great book about nutrition and athletes (we’re athletes, amazingly enough) that I’ll be reviewing in a week or two. It’s really helping keep me focused on the “food as fuel” concept during this latter half of my training. I just have to keep my eye on the ball and off the scale quite so much. 🙂

I know there are some of you out there who’ve experienced weight gain despite running loads of miles. What advice would you give to someone struggling with the same thing?



7 responses to “TotR: Running and Weight Loss/Maintenance

  1. Great post! I’m also learning to focus more on my running goal than weight goal, and that’s also really hard for me. After reading up on proper fueling, I realized I wasn’t eating enough/the right things post-workout, so I’ve been increasing what I eat a bit. But you’re so right–while that’s important, eating candy/chocolate at night is not, so I need to focus on food as fuel.

    • I’ve been reading a lot more about fuel too, to start to shift my perspective to a more “eat so I can run” than a “run so I can eat” mentality. What have you read and liked on nutrition?

  2. d20girl says:

    I love your perspective! I know that weight loss will help me speed up, so I try to focus on losing weight for health and athletic reasons, not just aesthetic reasons. When I can keep that in mind it helps me make much better choices! Thanks for linking up with us today!

  3. mkadens1 says:

    You’re so right: distance running and weightloss are difficult to do together! As I’ve aged, the deck has been shuffled even more. I’ve yet to figure it out. One of the things I do is periodize my training so I’m not always running long. From December through February my focus has been on strength training and I feel like I’ve started my run training stronger. Literally and figuratively.

    • I think after my next half marathon, I’m going to try to get back to do other kinds of exercise like more strength training or Zumba or other things just to mix things up and see what happens. You’re so right – any time I’m better about strength training, it helps my running and everything else.

  4. […] about running and how it affects my efforts at weight loss and weight maintenance last week also got me thinking about my food goals for the year. It seems […]

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