How I Actually Gained Weight Running a Half Marathon
12 weeks of training. 200+ miles leading up to the big day. A one-way ticket to a rockin' bod, right?! In theory, training for a half-marathon should earn me Shalane Flanagan's abs. But oddly enough, I crossed the Kiawah Half-Marathon finish-line last weekend with a bit more than a shiny medal. Five extra pounds, to be exact. 😒
Sure, one could argue that those extra notches on the scale are the result of some larger leg muscles. After all, incorporating more speed and endurance workouts in your training is guaranteed to make you at least a lil' bit stronger. But being as paranoid as I am, I've kept a close eye on how my physique has visibly changed over these past three months: my abs aren't as toned, my arms have lost definition, and I've got a bit more junk in the trunk (which isn't necessarily a bad thing...😉).
And here's why...
1. I went on a hot-chocolate-a-day diet.
I'm not kidding. I was practically sweating out Swiss Miss. And that's because the idea that more miles = more meals really got to my head. I loosened the reins on my diet and reassured myself that I could burn off anything I ate. And then to make it worse, I began rewarding myself with food for overcoming tough workouts. An 8-mile run? Ice cream. A 10-mile run? Pizza. An 11-mile run? Everything Chick-fil-A has to offer. Needless to say, things got a lil' out of hand.
2. I put a pause on pumping iron.
Training for a long-distance race is no joke. Oftentimes, your schedule will have you running up to 6 days a week leading up to the big day, which leaves little time for much else. So unfortunately my gym time fell to the wayside and I didn't get nearly as much strength training as I should have. And by neglecting my dumbbell dates, I missed out on the killer metabolism boost that comes from lifting weights.
3. Carb loading = more bloating.
Some folks can handle a few more plates of pasta when training for a big race, but my tummy? Not without putting up a fight. I don't know if its the increased fiber intake or even possibly... (dare I say it?) a mild gluten intolerance, but when I ramp up my carb intake, my belly grows three sizes. I call it a cruel and unusual punishment for all of those pizza lunchables I devoured as a kid.
4. I became a couch potato.
Ever heard the phrase "runners are lazy"? Well as rude as it sounds, that rumor actually has some truth. When I'm not running, I have a bad habit of, well, not doing anything. I tend to be less active outside of my training, for fear of injuring myself or simply interfering with my race day performance. In fact, over these past three months, I've practically said sayonara to my fitness social life by skipping bootcamps, cycling classes, and all other sweat dates.
So here's my tip to you...
Keep things in balance when training for a race. Sure, you will have to make some adjustments in your diet to accommodate your higher mileage, but don't go hog wild for every Krispy Kreme you see after a long run. Do treat yourself occasionally, but remember to focus on fueling with proper nutrition. Also be conscious (but not obsessive) of the number of calories you're burning so you can be more mindful of what you should be putting in.
And keep your workouts well-rounded. Don't neglect your strength training and yoga classes, because they both are an integral part of keeping your legs strong and injury-free (not to mention it helps to switch things up every now and then).
Last but not least, remember to enjoy yourself. Training for a race is an incredible feat and you deserve a round of applause for that alone. So don't stress if your scale tries to scare you, and remind yourself that a lot of changes are going on in your body right now (you're becoming stronger, your water-weight may be fluctuating, etc.) You're a rockstar for taking on a long-distance race and you should proud of your body for this accomplishment. 👊