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Buh-Bye, Gym! Tips For Transitioning From the Treadmill to the Road
Saved 4/18/10 to RunningSugar

Training For a Marathon and Still Gaining Weight


Losing weight is no easy feat, and the worst part is that even though you're working hard exercising and eating right, you may not see changes happening as quickly as you had hoped. FitSugar reader Leilanic1 took on the Get Fit For 2010 challenge, and she's having a hard time with her results after 12 weeks. Can you offer her any advice or encouraging words to keep her motivated?

Week 12 and I feel fatter than I have ever been in a long time. I'm running three times a week plus cross training on two other days. I am doing good towards meeting my goal of running the half marathon in June but I have also been steadily gaining weight. I'm up four pounds since I started training. I don't feel like I'm eating any more than I used to so it's incredibly frustrating. I went to the doctor a week ago and had them check my thyroid, cholesterol and hormones and according to the doctor everything looks great and to keep on doing what I'm doing. I know I should be proud of my accomplishments with running especially since I ran 6.55 mi outside last weekend without walking and I'm healthy. But I'm also trying to lose 15 pounds and not gain weight so I'm just not sure what I'm doing wrong.

Many of you can probably relate, so I'm sure she'll appreciate any insight you have. And if you're on your own quest to lose weight, check out the Weight Loss Support group. You may also be interested in learning new recipes to try, so be sure to pop in to the Healthy Recipe Group.

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SkinnyandFabulous SkinnyandFabulous 2 years 26 weeks
I know this is how it happened for me as well when I was training for my Half Ironman. You need to be super careful in what you are eating and when. Make sure you have a good post run snack. Watch when you eat. Please go over to my site for more suggestions that I have already posted over there. http://skinnyandfabulous.com
socorroklei socorroklei 3 years 15 weeks
I too gained about 7-10 pounds form upping mileage. I've actually had to decrease my calories to lose some of the weight. Do you think you're snacking more often than you should? I know I am. At some point you just have to be honest with yourself. are you consuming more than you used to? for me, I am . so I just had to realize eat when hungry, stop when full. I hope this helps! http://www.care2.com/news/member/660513039/2826146
SuperJeni SuperJeni 3 years 18 weeks
i don't know if anyone had mentioned it, but a lot of your weight is from water. If you are consuming more carbs to fuel your workouts, you will retain more water. Also, your trained muscles will hold more water. Fear not! Don't worry about the weight, focus on performance and how you feel :-)
3 years 20 weeks
im actually training to become a nurse and the whole thing about body muscle weighing more than fat is actually a myth! so yeah just keep track of what your eating hun! xx
3 years 35 weeks
I've gotta say the number one problem is with people consuming too many of the wrong kind of calories. It's extremely hard to avoid them too! If you are training for a marathon you have to eat the right foods to keep yourself from not starving or over eating. You cannot eat processed foods basically. You eat lean meats/ beans/ potatoes/ nuts/fresh veggies and fruits/ drink lots of water/ no alcohol / no soda/ no espresso drinks/ etc. Very limited condiment selection and you have to eat small portions about every 2-3 hours. Never get super hungry and never get super full while eating. Eat until you are satisfied not stuffed. This is extremely hard to stick to but necessary to look like an athlete or celebrity (ex. Angelina Jolie).
4 years 20 weeks
Hi everyone, Delighted to hear everyone's comments...I started running back in Jan (in conjunction with giving up smoking) and I also decided to train for half marathon, which by the way, is this Sunday!! Fingers crossed! Anyway since training my shape has definitely changed. Although I have toned up on top, my thighs have got much bigger!! A lot of my jeans/trousers feel so tight now that I can barely wear them! I am really hoping that if I lay off running after the half this week for a few weeks, things will return to normal....I can't afford to buy new wardrobe ha ha!! Any advice welcome.
redgoblin redgoblin 4 years 20 weeks
Although Sasseefrass is right about your body becoming more efficient with cardio (Rachel is right on that), I would argue that you need to log all your food for a week before you make the blanket assumption that it is your bodies efficiency and not your food intake that is making you heavier. I use DietPower to log my food. Also, I would make sure you are doing some type of strength training as part of your cross training.
Frank-Eubanks Frank-Eubanks 4 years 21 weeks
Your goal should should be to be no lower than the optimal weight for you to run a road race at the fastest possible speed you can run it. If you are below that weight you will be weaker and slower.
ticamorena ticamorena 4 years 22 weeks
Leilanic1, if you are gaining weight but your clothes are looser and your measurements smaller, then don't worry about it too much; in the 4 months of training I've done, my weight dropped a little initially, then I gained back half of what I lossed, but in that time my dress size decreased from a UK 10 to an 8 or 6 (US 8 to 6 or 4) but I stayed, at 5'7" , between 128-132 range. Definitely reassess your diet though, even if you're losing fat or getting smaller, as you'll need to maintain variety to ensure you don't plateau.
Leilanic1 Leilanic1 4 years 22 weeks
Thanks for all the great insight and information! i had been under the impression that i would lose weight while training but i think i do need to pay attention to how much i am eating on my training days. i have noticed that on the days i do my long run i feel more exhausted and probably am eating more than i normally would. i'll start with tracking my food and see if that helps.
inlove23 inlove23 4 years 22 weeks
Oh, and I eat really healthy.
inlove23 inlove23 4 years 22 weeks
I'm gaining weight too =( I'm not training for a marathon, but I do a lot of lunges, squats and different arm workouts. I was guessing mine is muscle, but my stomach is still hardly budging! I can see it in my legs, arms and back though.
4 years 22 weeks
I am never heavier than when I train for a marathon, but it is only 4-5 lbs. I definitely think it is muscle growth, especially in the legs. I get leaner everywhere else but my jeans are always tighter around the thighs when I train for a marathon. I do eat more but I am also burning more. I try to spread my food out throughout the day by snacking. I have just come to accept that my body needs the extra fuel when I am running 20+ miles.
chloe-bella chloe-bella 4 years 22 weeks
Runningesq, I think that's a myth. Women can't gain so much muscle that they look "bulky" unless they lift weights and eat tons of protein, but women can certainly gain smaller amounts of muscle. If someone doesn't run at all and then suddenly trains to run 13 miles, how could their legs NOT change? I gained 10 lbs of muscle when I trained for my marathon. Then I took 2 months off from running during which time I didn't run any more than 6 miles at a time, and my legs slimmed down immediately. Then when I started training for my next half, I put the muscle back on. I think it all depends on how much muscle you have to begin with. I also totally agree with you that if someone's main goal is to lose weight, training for a marathon is not a good idea. Anon #18 - I think it's easier to lose weight when training for a half than it is when training for a full because most of the training runs for half marathons aren't that long. When training for a full marathon, it's really hard to eat enough calories to fuel a 16+ mile run, plus weekday runs, and to still create the caloric deficit needed to lose weight. If you try to cut calories too much, you risk not recovering properly.
4 years 22 weeks
Weight is just a number. Important thing is: does she look better or worse?? The mirror matters much more than the scale!
4 years 22 weeks
Same with me, but be careful not to cut back too much. On long runs, you need to fuel up properly right afterwards (not to mention during), or you won't recover effectively and then you'll really sabotage yourself. I used to eat a full meal of chicken and pinto beans at El Pollo Loco after anything over 10 miles. Protein is important.
Spectra Spectra 4 years 22 weeks
When I first started running hardcore, as in more than 4-5 miles a day, I became very lax about my food intake. I ate healthy, but I still ate way too much and put on some weight. The thing is, your body gets used to activity and becomes more efficient. Plus, when you become more active, it's extremely common for you to become better at utilizing carbs for energy vs. fat, so you store what you eat in your muscles as glycogen for quick fuel. Glycogen holds water, so it's very easy to gain 5 lbs in water weight very quickly. Start watching your food intake closely and stop looking at the scale all the time. You're body is definitely improving even if the scale is going up a little.
4 years 22 weeks
Ah, got it. I will say again i dont think it was the smartest thing to do, and I am no longer restricting that much, nor would recommend it.
4 years 22 weeks
I read the article sassferas linked on intervals, I wonder if that author or the OP do/did speedwork? Speedwork is essentially interval training or running hills or any other kind of interval running. It'll improve your fat loss and your runs!
runningesq runningesq 4 years 22 weeks
I said that solely training for an endurance event will not necessarily reslt in weight loss. Weight loss worked for you because you limited the amount of calories you consumed.
4 years 22 weeks
Runningesq when did distance running & dieting not become an effective weight loss program? Im a distance runner who lost 2 lbs a week training for a half for 4 weeks straight. And its stayed off. I just had to make sure to stick to 1500 cals a day. Which makes you damn hungry ill admit when youre burning 5-800 cals training. But simple math tells you if you consume 1500, burn 800, and still need cals for basic metabolic function then, yes, youre going to burn fat. HOWEVER, i will say that kind of stringent cal intake was probably not the smartest thing to do considering how much i was training and it isnt easy to keep up. I still need to lose 6 lbs and am struggling with sticking to a super reduced calorie intake with training cuz i get hungry. So im upping it. But the point is, yea, running like crazy and dieting will lead to weight loss. But whether you should be dieting when also training for an edurance event is another question.
NillaWafer88 NillaWafer88 4 years 22 weeks
I have been working out since january. Five days a week, alternating between yoga, strength training and running on the treadmill. I don't want to lose weight, I'm already really skinny (5'10" and 118lbs) and I've lost several pounds since working out. All I want is to tone up and try to become stronger so that I'll look nice and not flabby in a bathing suit. I have not seen any results at all, except for the few pounds lost. I eat pretty healthy, I'm a vegetarian and most of my dinners are made up of steamed veggies and I've replaced ice cream with green tea at night. But I have no idea what I'm doing wrong and it's so frustrating. I'm about ready to give up except I don't want to stop working out. I know if I stop, I'll be completely sedentary forever.
runningesq runningesq 4 years 22 weeks
I doubt it's muscle. It's really hard for women to gain a lot of muscle, especially if you aren't weight lifting. Bottom line is that weight loss = calories in versus calories out. And that said, marathon training is often not an effective weight loss program. Focus on what you are accomplishing and not what the scale says.
chloe-bella chloe-bella 4 years 22 weeks
Limecoconut and the others who pointed out that muscle weighs more than fat are absolutely correct. Yes, 1 lb of muscle and 1 lb of fat both weigh 1 lb, but muscle takes up much less space so therefore if you took the same volume of mucle and fat, the muscle would weigh more. When I trained for my first full marathon last summer, I went from 117 lbs to 127 lbs. I added A LOT of muscle to my butt, calves, and thighs. I went from being a size 2 all over to a size 0 on top and a 4-6 in pants and skirts. This is likely what's happening to you, especially if you weren't running a lot of miles before. Numbers on a scale might not be the best way for you to monitor your progress at this point. My advice is to start measuring your waist and to pay attention to how your upper body looks. If your waist is staying the same or getting smaller, then you'll know that the increase in your weight is likely just muscle and that you're not putting on body fat. My other advice is to make sure you're integrating in some kind of cross-training. If you're just running, then you'll plateau at some point.
wackdoodle wackdoodle 4 years 22 weeks
Thank you Syako for posting the truth of the matter re: the myth that everyone LOVES to spread that muscle weighs more than fat. That is utter BS. Perhaps the people that continuely state this don't live on Earth or in our dimernsion, so maybe a ton of feathers weighs more where they live than a ton of iron. The only way that muscle weighs more than fat is if the laws of physics and gravity didn't apply her on Earth then it would be possible for an equal weight of two different substances not to weigh the same thing. What people mean is the densities of fat and muscle are different. Muscle is denser than fat. So you can lose itches and lower your body fat and increase the amount of muscle you have and therefore you add more weight to your body. It's so sad that we women are so obsessed with the number on the scale getting smaller rather than focusing on our bodies getting stronger and healthier.