Unsure how to progress

_NMW Posts: 30 Member
Hi all, I've been dieting and running since November and have lost 2 stone, but now I'm a bit stuck... I'm hoping to run a half marathon in October and a full marathon next year, but I'm struggling with my training; I got to the point where I could run for 60 minutes non-stop, but since being stricter with my calories (1300-1500) a day, I seem to be struggling more (also never ate exercise calories back). I'm now in a healthy weight range but I'm not happy with my stomach, so I know I still have fat to lose. I'm looking at upping my calories to 1700 (calculator says my maintenance is 2200) and eating 70-80% of my exercise calories back... The problem is, I don't know how to add the extra calories. I've gotten used to eating 1300-1500 and never really felt hungry unless I left it too long between meals. I'm also going to start following a strength program to lift, and add some swimming because I don't want to look skinny fat from just running. Would this be a good move or should I stick with the high deficit? I'm currently 5ft5 and weigh 10 stone 7. With the higher deficit, and the exercise (went from completely sedentary to running 5-10k races) I did expect to lose more than I have - I can tell I've lost weight due to measurements, scales and clothes fitting better, and I'm definitely fitter, but now I'm feeling a bit stuck. Thanks in advance!


  • rybo
    rybo Posts: 5,430 Member
    You obviously have to eat more. There's no way around that. You are already seeing your runs suffering and haven't even gotten to the higher training volume or the additional strength training. I'd slowly add 100-200 a day for a week, monitor and add again if needed.
  • StealthHealth
    StealthHealth Posts: 2,417 Member
    IMHO - whilst running can be a useful tool for weight/fat loss, my experience is that training to achieve or improve your time in a distance event AND calorific deficit, do not make good bedfellows. I've seen it several times that the trainee has to make a decision whether to push on with the training plan and put weight loss on hold or, compromise on the running plan and continue with weight loss. Failure to address this may (or dare I say will?) often lead to illness or injury. And, as many beginner distance runners will tell you, the trick to getting to marathon levels is to follow your plan whilst avoiding injury.

    OK, that said...

    You need more cals and a simple way to get that extra 200 or 300 in is a sandwich/mars bar/donut/whatever. Just add a snack into your day. Assuming that the rest of your food intake is quality and well balanced you don't need to get sucked into the concept that there are food types off limits.

    It seems sensible to add cross training in the form of strength work and (possibly to a lesser degree) swimming and this should reap benefits in body composition. But, I offer some more advice...

    It seems to me that the successful have come to terms with why they do what they do - Are they in it for kudos, strength, health, ability, vanity, sense or achievement, to act as a role model, to land a specific job, to land a specific partner? There is significant overlap in these goals but begin 100% honest with yourself as to what you want to achieve will put you in an excellent position to determine what your diet and exercise regime should look like.
  • _NMW
    _NMW Posts: 30 Member
    I just feel guilty when I eat junk / processed foods, and upping my calories just seems odd to my brain, even though I'll still be in a deficit. Some people have said that to "recomp" you need to eat at maintenance and lift, but maintenance to me is 2200
  • StealthHealth
    StealthHealth Posts: 2,417 Member
    I can't train for a marathon and sustain much of a deficit at the same time without my runs seriously suffering and just feeling . . . not good. I can do up to 200-250 calories before life just becomes too hard.

    Virtually all processed foods have nutrients that your body can use (and they contain the calories that you need), so try to overcome those feelings of guilt. When you look at people who run seriously, very few of them eliminate processed foods or even "junk." Instead, they focus on meeting their nutritional needs, but also include some foods that they enjoy even if they aren't "perfect." It's the overall context of your diet that counts, not any particular food.

    If you need 2,200 to maintain and you're eating 1,300-1,500, something is going to give eventually.

  • vespiquenn
    vespiquenn Posts: 1,455 Member
    _NMW wrote: »
    I just feel guilty when I eat junk / processed foods, and upping my calories just seems odd to my brain, even though I'll still be in a deficit. Some people have said that to "recomp" you need to eat at maintenance and lift, but maintenance to me is 2200

    Others have already addressed the issue of calories. Now you have two choices. Allow guilt to keep you from fueling your runs and accept that they will suffer, especially the higher mileage you go, or accept that you need fuel and up your calories in whatever fashion you desire. No one can make that choice for you. You need to decide what is more important.
  • janejellyroll
    janejellyroll Posts: 25,878 Member
    edited June 2017
    Clarification, by "run seriously," I mean elite endurance runners. I have no idea if serious recreational runners do a lot of restriction because I don't have the data for that. But when sports nutritionist and running coach Matt Fitzgerald studied the diets of elite endurance athletes (including runners) for his book "The Endurance Diet," he found that one of the trends in their diet was that they "ate everything," that is, they didn't eliminate foods. They focused on quality, but each athlete had things in their diet that we're often led to think we have to avoid in order to achieve fitness (examples were wine, white rice, refined sugar, cured meats, etc).

    Another informal rule of these athletes was to "eat enough." That is, they didn't seriously train while in a deficit. They might have "cutting" periods where they reduced weight but they scheduled these during their off-season.

    It's a fascinating book, worth a look at if you're interested in the subject.
  • oolou
    oolou Posts: 772 Member
    If you want to up your calories a bit (as you are being advised to do to help your training), but don't want to start snacking or eating extra meals, just eat the same stuff but start to slightly increase the portion sizes perhaps.

    Also if you've been doing this for a while, you can get a more accurate picture of what your TDEE/maintenance is rather than a calculated estimate from an online calculator.
  • auntstephie321
    auntstephie321 Posts: 3,586 Member
    My stomach didn't start looking how I wanted it to into I started eating more and lifting. I'm now averaging close to 2000k a day and still losing inches and body fat.