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Running, Weight Loss, Weight Gain?

Posted Mar 11 2013 6:00am
Now that I've reached the end of training for half marathons (at least for a long while), I've also reached the end of my long runs on Saturdays...which means I've reached the end of eating for those long runs.  And by eating for them, I mean having more carbs than normal.  Now, you might think that I'd be sad at this, but honestly, I've been ready to be done eating like this for a while now.  Why?  Well, they go right to my stomach.  And if you've read my blog for any length of time, you know that I am not thrilled with my stomach - never have been, even when I was at my absolute lowest weight.

The thing with eating for the long run (I'm talking anything 7 miles and up) is that you start at least a couple days in advance, so for me, usually on Thursdays, I'd start having bread or potatoes or rice or pasta.  And, thanks to having a stomach that can turn on me if I eat too much fiber before the run, I was staying away from salads, vegetables, and fruit for the latter part of the week.  Doing this helped to give me the glycogen stores that I needed for the long run, but it came at a price: I felt bloated and blobby, for lack of a better description.  I'd get a few days of normal eating in, and just when the bloat would start to disappear and I'd begin to feel like my normal self, it would be time to start carbing up again.

It was quite the crazy cycle, and something that I blamed myself for:  if only I would run faster, I wouldn't be out there for so long and therefore wouldn't need so much in the way of glycogen stores.  I know, I know...as if running long distance wasn't hard enough for me, I was going to add food guilt on top of it.  Have I mentioned how much fun it is to be me?  Siiigh.

Last spring and summer, when I was running shorter distances (5 miles at the most at one time), I started to see good things happen with my body - everything was firming up, I felt smaller, and I didn't experience the crazy hunger that comes after running longer distances - in short, I was eating much more along the lines of how I like in order to maintain my weight (and hey, if I lost a little, I wouldn't complain).  I wondered if it was just me - if I was the only person who trained for, and ran a half marathon (or three) and yet didn't become thin and tall (don't ask me why but imaginary me is always tall) - so I did an informal, unscientific survey (read: I asked them via a Facebook email) of several of my running club ladies.  The verdict?  A few gained, a few lost, and a few felt like they toned up.  Which can only mean one thing:  we are all different, and once again, you can't count on any one thing to be THE change for your body. 

So, knowing how my body deals with what I have to eat in order to run long distances, would I take on training for another half marathon in the future?  Yes, probably.  But I would also do a shorter training program, which would mean less long runs and therefore less carb-loading, and I'll also probably only do one half.  For right now, though, I'm very happy to be finished with that and to get back to eating a bit more healthy for me - I had a salad for lunch on Friday and felt like I was living on the wild side!
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