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Gaining while training for a HM

JthanmyfitnesspalJthanmyfitnesspal Posts: 1,997Member, Premium Member Posts: 1,997Member, Premium Member
I'm training for my first half-marathon (1 month to go), and I've definitely fallen into the weight gain issue that many articles discuss (see below). It's just really hard not to over-eat after a long run. You need to eat more the day of, but I've been ravenous the day after, which is usually a rest day where you don't burn many calories at all! And, the added weight just makes running harder, of course.

The only thing to do is double-down on logging. It's easy to get sloppy when you have 1000+ "exercise calories" to eat.

Anyone else working this problem?

https://www.runnersworld.com/nutrition-weight-loss/a20842460/how-to-avoid-weight-gain-from-marathon-training/
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Replies

  • dsg2000dsg2000 Posts: 27Member Member Posts: 27Member Member
    I hate it when people tell me "oh, you had a long run today, that means you can eat 5,000 calories today, right?" Noooooo... I wish!

    I've definitely fallen into this trap before. It's harder because, as you say, the days are so variable: one day will be a very long run, another will be very short, and I've taken to trying to look at a week as a whole rather than do CICO day by day. Otherwise I'd easily eat back all the calories on long run days and then be starving the next day.

    I've also found that being conscious about the water weight that I'm losing on runs is important. I easily lose five pounds or more of water weight on a long run in the summer, and I think my body gives me hunger signals afterward when what it really wants is water. You could either try to just drink more afterward and see if that helps, or, what I've found works best for me, is to eat a lot of water-heavy fruit like melons or grapes. Lots of quick sugar and water, for very low cals.
  • JthanmyfitnesspalJthanmyfitnesspal Posts: 1,997Member, Premium Member Posts: 1,997Member, Premium Member
    @dsg2000 You make good points. I should try to spread the feed-back out more. This is kind of new to me because I had been training for sprint triathlon, where you basically just do a short workout every day (swim-ride-run) and keep going. Training for a long-distance running event has been a change, and the recovery days are very important for your body to adapt. Voila, I'm gaining weight!

    I think it's a sign of age, but I've been getting a weight spike the day after a long run. I think this is basically due to swelling. It goes away in a day or two.

  • slbbwslbbw Posts: 277Member Member Posts: 277Member Member
    I just completed a half marathon and now have about 7 lbs to lose in part due to vacation and in part due to training. It is possible to do for sure. Eating a bit more the day before my long run definitely helps. I find I am a bit hungrier on the long run day but not as much as I might otherwise expect. So if you do not give yourself a free pass on the day of and save some extra calories for your rest day that can help as well. So 1200 calories extra for a long run on Saturday, use 300 friday 600 Saturday and 300 on Sunday.

    I also find a walk or light run ~1 mile is super helpful for recovery after my long runs. A light bike ride or swim would be similar. I find as long as I am getting enough sleep, getting a full rest day actually hinders my ability to keep my weight down and does not significantly increase recovery over a very light activity like a 1 mile walk.

    All the above for me only really applies when my runs are over 10 miles. I like to use low high, or even low low high training for my long run distances. 6, 10, 8, 12, 6, 10, 14.... so that can help mitigate the Runger a bit.
  • sijomialsijomial Posts: 15,523Member Member Posts: 15,523Member Member
    Long distance cyclist rather than a runner but I find that if I eat appropriately on the day of the exercise itself (high to very high carbs) then I don't have hunger issues the following day.
    For me at least running down my carb (glycogen) stores is the trigger for wanting to switch to the "see food diet". ;)

    It's easier as a cyclist as you can more comfortably keep topping up your carbs while you ride.

    e.g. yesterday's 100km / 2,000+ calorie cycle ride I had a carby breakfast, ate/drank about 600 cals in carbs during the ride, ate a carby meal afterwards. Today I'm just eating as normal, even skipped breakfast as I didn't need it, no hunger issues at all.
    edited September 9
  • JthanmyfitnesspalJthanmyfitnesspal Posts: 1,997Member, Premium Member Posts: 1,997Member, Premium Member
    sijomial wrote: »
    Long distance cyclist rather than a runner but I find that if I eat appropriately on the day of the exercise itself (high to very high carbs) then I don't have hunger issues the following day.

    I seem to be constantly hungry the next day and I need to override my natural impulse to pig out.
  • sijomialsijomial Posts: 15,523Member Member Posts: 15,523Member Member
    sijomial wrote: »
    Long distance cyclist rather than a runner but I find that if I eat appropriately on the day of the exercise itself (high to very high carbs) then I don't have hunger issues the following day.

    I seem to be constantly hungry the next day and I need to override my natural impulse to pig out.

    Even if you fully eat all your exercise calories on the day of your long run?

    How are you allocating those exercise calories? (Sticking to certain macro percentages or targetted at your needs that day?)
  • GregInORLGregInORL Posts: 133Member Member Posts: 133Member Member
    The runger is real. I try to occasionally look at how many calories I’m burning through running throughout the week and figure out what daily maintenance would look like with those calories accounted for. Giving a flat target to hit every day. This might mean a big deficit on your long run days and a slight surplus the other days.
  • apullumapullum Posts: 4,382Member Member Posts: 4,382Member Member
    dsg2000 wrote: »
    I hate it when people tell me "oh, you had a long run today, that means you can eat 5,000 calories today, right?" Noooooo... I wish!

    I've definitely fallen into this trap before. It's harder because, as you say, the days are so variable: one day will be a very long run, another will be very short, and I've taken to trying to look at a week as a whole rather than do CICO day by day. Otherwise I'd easily eat back all the calories on long run days and then be starving the next day.

    I've also found that being conscious about the water weight that I'm losing on runs is important. I easily lose five pounds or more of water weight on a long run in the summer, and I think my body gives me hunger signals afterward when what it really wants is water. You could either try to just drink more afterward and see if that helps, or, what I've found works best for me, is to eat a lot of water-heavy fruit like melons or grapes. Lots of quick sugar and water, for very low cals.

    Just adding that if you are losing that much water, you should probably be replacing electrolytes too. Drop an electrolyte tablet in your water; put some salt on that melon :)
  • ahoy_m8ahoy_m8 Posts: 1,874Member Member Posts: 1,874Member Member
    Id be curious if you still see the weight spike (that you attribute to age and swelling) after you spread long run calories over the long run & recovery days. Bigger than normal glycogen (and associated water) swings wouldn't be unexpected in a heavy training situation.

    And good luck in your race!
  • mitch16mitch16 Posts: 2,109Member Member Posts: 2,109Member Member
    Do not, I repeat, DO NOT start a cut with less than a month to go to your race--your performance will suffer (been there, done that). Unless you don't care about your performance. By all means, scale back on the calories a bit, but don't try to lose those extra 7 pounds between now and then.

    I'm a month out from my next half (first one since ACL replacement surgery)--I think this one will be my last as I've had a heck of a time getting my mileage up this time.

  • JthanmyfitnesspalJthanmyfitnesspal Posts: 1,997Member, Premium Member Posts: 1,997Member, Premium Member
    sijomial wrote: »
    How are you allocating those exercise calories? (Sticking to certain macro percentages or targetted at your needs that day?)

    I go a bit higher on the carbs than on other days. But I try to include a good percentage of fat and protein.

    To be specific: I had a piece of toast with butter and jam and a banana prior to the run. My post-run meal was a "waffle supreme" at a local restaurant, which consisted of a plain Belgian waffle (butter added, but no syrup), two eggs, and two pieces of bacon. I had a turkey sandwich for lunch and went out to dinner at a pub, so I don't think I was in much trouble of under-eating! Note that my weight has recovered to pre-workout, so things are good, in general.
  • deannalfisherdeannalfisher Posts: 5,168Member, Premium Member Posts: 5,168Member, Premium Member
    i def. found going towards a more TDEE focus during training helped me more than an eat back as you burn - because your workouts are more consistent. I also found that having my rest day as a refuel day worked better before a long run because it allowed my glycogen stores to be rebuilt prior to that long run
  • heybalesheybales Posts: 17,096Member Member Posts: 17,096Member Member
    After the base loading period where 1 run started ramping up - I'd go from mainly MFP method to a TDEE/MFP combo.

    So I'd do TDEE for all the planned workout days except the extra time the long run started adding on (I actually did this once for HI tri also for bike getting longer).

    That day of the longer run/ride I'd do MFP style of eating more for the extra done.

    So basically if I had 3 days of running 1 hr, and whatever other workouts done, I'd figure weekly TDEE on that, and eat that daily.

    Then the long run day if it was 2 hrs, I'd eat back whatever 1 hr of the workout was.

    That seemed to satisfy and give the extra on day it was needed.
    Took a bit of work, but only used it for the 1-3 months of specific training where days were laid out to hit goals.
    Normally MFP method used.
  • sijomialsijomial Posts: 15,523Member Member Posts: 15,523Member Member
    sijomial wrote: »
    How are you allocating those exercise calories? (Sticking to certain macro percentages or targetted at your needs that day?)

    I go a bit higher on the carbs than on other days. But I try to include a good percentage of fat and protein.

    To be specific: I had a piece of toast with butter and jam and a banana prior to the run. My post-run meal was a "waffle supreme" at a local restaurant, which consisted of a plain Belgian waffle (butter added, but no syrup), two eggs, and two pieces of bacon. I had a turkey sandwich for lunch and went out to dinner at a pub, so I don't think I was in much trouble of under-eating! Note that my weight has recovered to pre-workout, so things are good, in general.

    Sounds like you are enjoying the calories! :)
    Could try getting a lot closer to the classic 4:1 carb:protein ratio recovery food though to see how it impacts your hunger?
  • JthanmyfitnesspalJthanmyfitnesspal Posts: 1,997Member, Premium Member Posts: 1,997Member, Premium Member
    sijomial wrote: »
    Sounds like you are enjoying the calories! :)

    You know it, man! In terms of re-feed macros, I wonder where beer fits in.

    Here's the spike in all its glory. Note that it stayed high for two days!

    l7dmonzgal92.jpg
  • collectingbluescollectingblues Posts: 2,487Member Member Posts: 2,487Member Member
    @dsg2000 You make good points. I should try to spread the feed-back out more. This is kind of new to me because I had been training for sprint triathlon, where you basically just do a short workout every day (swim-ride-run) and keep going. Training for a long-distance running event has been a change, and the recovery days are very important for your body to adapt. Voila, I'm gaining weight!

    I think it's a sign of age, but I've been getting a weight spike the day after a long run. I think this is basically due to swelling. It goes away in a day or two.

    You might have more success with that. I'm rarely hungry on long-run days, and don't worry about feeding it then. Instead, I work with TDEE, so give myself the latitude to eat when I *am* hungry -- which is inevitably the next day.

    Related: It's why I think that MFP's methods really don't work the best for those of us who are *regular* distance athletes. It's not uncommon to not be hungry the day of, but to want more on the rest day. But unless you're willing to see red numbers on some days, MFP treats you like you're overeating unless you take the week view of it.

    The spike the day after is also totally normal. I *always* gain two pounds the day after a long run (usually anything over 2 miles, actually -- so even my midweek runs), and it *always* comes off within a few days. It's just what happens when you pound the pavement that much.
  • dsg2000dsg2000 Posts: 27Member Member Posts: 27Member Member
    If anyone is interested, I use trainingpeaks as well as mfp for training-logging purposes, and one of the graphs that I look at pretty regularly there is a weekly calorie one. It's also got macro splits in percentages (which I find easier to make sense of than the simple gram targets I get here), so it's pretty sweet. It syncs with mfp automatically, which is also super convenient.
    edited September 12
  • JthanmyfitnesspalJthanmyfitnesspal Posts: 1,997Member, Premium Member Posts: 1,997Member, Premium Member
    dsg2000 wrote: »
    If anyone is interested, I use trainingpeaks as well as mfp for training-logging purposes (...)

    I hear good things about it. I already use Garmin Connect, Strava, and MFP. Does Training Peaks add anything to that? Another friend recommended Runtastic, but I'm a cross-trainer (swim, ride, run, etc.).

    MFP should add the multi-day average to both weight and net calories. I've posted that to Suggestions/Feedback.
  • pjwrtpjwrt Posts: 98Member, Premium Member Posts: 98Member, Premium Member
    I'm training for my first half-marathon (1 month to go), and I've definitely fallen into the weight gain issue that many articles discuss (see below). It's just really hard not to over-eat after a long run. You need to eat more the day of, but I've been ravenous the day after, which is usually a rest day where you don't burn many calories at all! And, the added weight just makes running harder, of course.

    The only thing to do is double-down on logging. It's easy to get sloppy when you have 1000+ "exercise calories" to eat.

    Anyone else working this problem?

    https://www.runnersworld.com/nutrition-weight-loss/a20842460/how-to-avoid-weight-gain-from-marathon-training/

    Here's a quote I use. Guess who said it...."I'd ask myself, 'What are you more hungry for? Am I more hungry to be Mr. Olympia, or to eat what I want and look like everyone else?'" he says.
  • pyrusangelespyrusangeles Posts: 301Member, Premium Member Posts: 301Member, Premium Member
    I gained about 7 lbs during my year of marathon training. In the middle of that I tried really hard to stick to a smaller calorie allotment, but I did not succeed. My marathon experience was so terrible (I barely finished, a lot went wrong) that I quit running for about six months and ended up gaining an additional 10 lbs.

    Since then, I have changed my diet habits in a big way, and I've also taken up weight lifting 3-4 days a week. Those 17 lbs have come off plus a few extra, and my body fat percentage is much lower. When I run now, I am faster and recover easier.

    Long-distance running burns a lot of calories, but it makes your body want to get those calories back in and hold onto fat for fuel. The Runger is Real. It's a huge challenge for many people. I wish I had the answer for how to stop that cycle and continue to train, but I don't. For me the answer was to pursue a different fitness activity focus altogether.
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