Last week I asked for some advice from my seasoned marathon runner friends on Twitter. I noticed that in the 1 month I’ve been training for my first marathon that I’ve put on about 2-3 pounds. Granted, not a huge amount, but on my 5’2″ frame that means my pants are fitting a bit more snug than I’d like!
I got a lot of great responses and, after a bit of additional research, found that gaining weight during marathon training is almost inevitable. It all boils down to three potential culprits:
- Your eating more than you should
- Your building muscle mass
- Your body is holding on to carbohydrates (and therefore retaining more water) to increase your glycogen (fuel for running) supplies
The last two points are things that your body should be doing when you are preparing it to run 26.2 miles. So, the only way to avoid/control weight gain while training is to focus on not over-eating. This is 100% the cause of my gain as I figured out after some simple math!
Hang on now as things are going to get all algebraic on you:
Before training I was eating an average of 1700 calories a day, running 3x a week (about 20 miles) and strength training 2x a week. Total calories in = 11,900. I burned though about 3000 calories a week in exercise and my weight was pretty stable at 117 pounds.
Looking at my caloric intake for the last week my average daily calorie consumption is 2050 (weekly total = 14350.) I’m now burning about 3750 calories a week exercising.
Pre-training I was eating 11,900 a week and burning 3000.
In training I’m eating 14350 a week and burning 3750. So, I’m eating 2450 more calories a week, and only burning an extra 750, so overall I’m taking in an extra 1700 calories a week.
1 pound = 3500 calories. 1700 extra calories a week = 2 new pounds a month.
Isn’t math fun?
So – my plan is to eat less. I’m going to aim for 1700 calories 5 days a week and 2000 calories 2 days a week. If I’m really hungry on long run days I’ll eat more. I’ve found that most of my extra calories I’m consuming happen at night when “I’m getting ready for tomorrow’s run!” or I’m using my run from the morning to justify eating a bit more than I really need to.
Here’s a look at my menu for the week:
Breakfast: Oatmeal with PB2, Flaxseed and 1 tsp sugar + 1 serving of my favorite Green Superfood Drink!
Snack 1: Oatmeal or Protein bars (I tend to go carb heavy in the morning after my runs and lighten up the rest of the day)
Lunch: Mixed fruit and nut salad (if I can stop grabbing handfuls of each every time I go in the kitchen!) with 1/2 c. cottage cheese
Dinner: Sweet Potato and Kale salad very loosely inspired from this recipe.
Snack 2: 1/4 cup Royal Hawaiian Macadamia nuts, sliced apple with cinnamon + 1/4 cup PB2
Total Calories = 1500
I KNOW THIS IS LOW. I also know I will eat over this amount. This way I have a balanced meal plan for the day and 200 calories of wiggle room still for when there is banana pudding at work (which there was every damn day last week) or when I feel like grabbing a few more handfuls of macadamia nuts (which is every time I eat them.)
Any tips on avoiding late night snacking?
For those who’ve trained for a marathon before, does your appetite scale back a bit after a few weeks? (Please say yes)