August 14, 2012

How I gained 10 pounds while training for a half marathon

I hesitated for a long time about writing this because, well, it’s embarrassing.

Yes, I trained for a half marathon. I trained for 14 weeks and ran countless miles. Yes, I burned many calories. No, I didn't lose weight. Instead, I gained weight ... 10 pounds.

Woo-hoo for running 13.1 miles. Boo for gaining 10 pounds!
How does this happen?, you ask. I wondered the same thing. I actually went into training thinking I'd lose a few pounds. It seems like you should, right? Well, not if you're eating too much, I learned the hard way.

Here are the reasons why I gained weight while training for a half marathon, as well as how to prevent this from happening again:

I just ran 10 miles! I can eat whatever I want.

When I’d first complete a long run, food was repelling. I just wanted liquid. Lots and lots of delicious Gatorade and water, and I don’t even like Gatorade (thank goodness I found Nuun). 

Eventually my hunger came around, though. As in I-can-eat-a-buffalo-and-still-be-hungry type of hunger. This led to eating massive quantities of food with no regard for calories because hey, I just ran 10 (or insert any number here) miles. Not cool. 

Fix: Even though I ran 10 (insert any number here) miles, it doesn't give me free reign to eat anything I want. I still need to make smart choices.

I wasn’t burning as many calories as I thought.

I’ve always been active. Before I started running on a regular basis, gyms, walking, softball and beach volleyball (a lot of beach volleyball) were my exercise methods of choice. All came pretty easy to me. So, when I started running and thought it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, I knew I had to be burning crazy calories, way more than I did with my other activities. Right? Right?! Please tell me I was right.
This level of difficulty and sweat = bunches of
calories burned, right?

You don’t have to lie to me. I was wrong. I realize that now.

How wrong? Well, I know the calories you burn can be difficult to determine. But, using a calculator, an hour of beach volleyball burned exactly the same amount of calories as running for an hour at my slow pace. The same?!? Yikes. I ate a lot more after running than after playing hours of beach volleyball.

Fix: Keep in mind that I didn't burn endless calories. Yes, I can splurge a little more on a long run day, but nothing crazy. 

I took fueling for a run too far.

I had a long run that was absolutely, completely miserable. I didn't have much to eat the day before and determined that I wasn't fueled properly for my run. I was probably right. But, I took it to the extreme before each next long run, eating more than enough to make sure I never felt like that again.

Fix: I need to fuel for runs, but I need to do it the smart way: right quantities of healthy foods. I need to work on this to see what works best, but I need to emphasize quality over quantity.  


  1. You shouldn't be embarrassed about gaining weight while marathon (or half-marathon) training because I'm pretty sure that's way more the norm then losing weight. I gained a few pounds for all the same reasons you've listed. In fact I ran 20 miles one day and then weighed in the next day and weighed MORE bc I gave myself free reign to eat whatever I wanted. That was not a pretty day.

    1. It just doesn't seem like it should be that way! Grrr. I can imagine the nastiness after gaining weight after a 20-mile run! Soooo frustrating.

  2. I thought for sure training for a marathon would get me back to my goal weight. I didn't lose a single pound. And after returning to WW this year, I looked back at my last weigh-in from one year ago, and it was EXACTLY the same. I maintained for an entire year to the date. 2 marathons and no weight lost! You're not alone, losing weight and running don't really go together for some reason, lol.

    1. Even though I wrote out the reasons and they all make sense, in a way, it still doesn't make sense. Does that make sense? :c)


Comments rock!