Monday, March 11, 2013

Running, Weight Loss, Weight Gain?

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!

36 comments:

  1. I dont run any long distances like you but I am even finding that what worked for me a year ago food wise with weight loss has changed. I guess our bodies need a little shake up with what we eat once in a while.

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    1. I bet there's a lot to be said for the occasional shake up!

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  2. my sister the marathoner would always lament to me weight gain during training...I was still in awe of her and her training
    :-)
    TREMENDOUSLY.

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  3. I am looking forward to the end of the long runs too. Yes I car load because I think it will help. Don't know if it does. Though I have not had a weight problem, I do weigh more since I have started running. But running is worth it.

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    1. ...and that's the thing - you have to decide if it's worth it. For a while, for me, it is...but I'm ready to cut back on both mileage and food right now.

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  4. The only time I lost weight with running was when I started running 4 years ago. At that time I didn't exercise all that much so my body was in shock it needed to work :)

    When I trained for my half marathon (twice) I didn't lose weight either. Probably because I ate too much :)

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    1. You make me laugh with your shocked body - it was probably going "what in the WORLD is she doing to me?!?"

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  5. I have figured out that I can't do salad before I run...even if it is a short run. My stomach kills me, and I am always searching for a restroom!

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    1. Ugh, that is no fun to deal with during a run - I'd avoid salads too, then!

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  6. FALLING OVER laughing at the 'imaginary me is always taller.' I thought I was the only one in the world.

    So, you know, I have not experienced the runner's high. So it does seem crazy to do something that's painful AND makes you gain weight. Eating a lot of froyo sounds a lot more fun to me...

    Also, seriously, I am curious--what would happen if you didn't carb load? Do you get cramps, or feel faint? The nurse in me likes to know these things. But she's too lazy to go look it up herself.

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    1. It I don't carb-load, my legs will suddenly feel like lead during the run...like I'm slogging through thick mud, hardly moving. All energy seems to evaporate - it's a weird feeling, but I've let it happen more than once so for me, it's very real.

      And yes, just another example of why runners are crazy - who would DO this to themselves???

      Glad you could relate to my imaginary tallness! :)

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  7. I had to laugh because when I picture my thin self, I am also taller!

    Glad you are back into your eating groove - we are coming upon salad summer! :D

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    1. How funny - I wonder it it's all short people who imagine height?

      Mmmmm, salad summer. That will begin in about two weeks here in Texas, lol!

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  8. People ask me if I lose weight during my cycling summer days, but alas I just eat too much to really lose. I don't carbo load prior to long weekend rides, I just increase my carbs in general during that time of year and I ingest a lot *during* my rides to make up for the stores. I have found for me that I have to up the carbs with non grain stuff like potatoes and yogurt because I get really bloaty with too much bread.

    Sometimes I wish I could be an average height. Heck - I would even be happy to be 5' 4!

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    1. LOL, I hear ya on the 5'4" - that sounds so tall!!!

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  9. So funny how we are all different.

    When I was with my running club, I was soooo hungry after the long runs that I think I totally ate any calories I may have burned plus interest. But I felt pretty darn good minus the muscle zones and blisters. Lol

    My belly is my hate spot too. Kelly Belly. ;)

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    1. Maybe it's the "name that rhymes with belly" curse that we have?

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  10. You are so funny. I cracked up at your imaginary self being taller. Have a wonderful Monday Shelley.

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    1. Do tall people ever imagine themselves short? I wonder...but I bet not, lol!

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  11. My imaginary me is okay at 5'6", but she has small, dainty feet. :)

    I get the blobbies during the colder (and holiday) months, and I'm sure it's extra carbs. Fortunately that's only a few months and so far, it's gone away when I put it more outdoor activity and eat fewer grains/starchy carbs during the summer.

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    1. "The Blobbies" - I think they had a Saturday morning TV show back in the early '70s. ;)

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  12. I don't think running in itself helps many people lose weight and tone up. There are some fast "flabbyish" 25 year olds running, just sayin'. I think the "eat more carbs" thing messes me up too (I read it as eat more of whatever I want). Looking forward to see how you train now. I keep telling myself I need to lift weights, but haven't gotten around to it much this year.

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    1. What is this "weights" thing of which you speak?

      ...Yeah, I need to do that, too.

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  13. I'm not eating much salad yet and I can't believe how much I miss it!!

    I gain after every race as you know. I'm not even 5 feet tall and it always irks me that no matter how much weight I lose, I'll never have long legs :)

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    1. Doesn't it seem like if you lose weight, you should automatically gain height?

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  14. It's somehow reassuring to hear you all chat about how long running doesn't help you lose weight. That has certainly been my experience. Short running and walking consistently-maybe. But training- no. I've been on a two year mission to get healthier. Weight loss is part of that goal but really hasn't happened despite 1200 miles and several race completions. I think it's time to lazer focus on healthy food. P.S. Short runners should get to count extra miles. right?. I mean. Proportionally we're going farther. :)

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    1. I agree with you on short runners - we definitely work harder to cover the same distance!

      And you are spot on with the hyper focusing on healthy food intake. Spot. On.

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  15. Thats so funny!! You say you treat yourself to a salad. To me that would be punishment!! I really need to learn to enjoy a salad!!

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    1. Oh Deb, you must not be eating the right salads - they are so good!!!

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  16. I've been training for my first half and only recently realized carb loading is important. My long runs have improved a lot ever since.

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    1. Unfortunately, carb loading DOES make a difference in your long runs - well, unfortunate if you are trying to watch your weight.

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  17. Interesting connection to make! I will be watching to see how your food intake and feelings about it evolve as you move into doing more shorter races.

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    1. I'm hoping to see a good change - you know I'll be reporting back! :)

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  18. You are right, we are all different. Me? I don't run at all, and never will. I figure there has to be a better exercise for someone with legs as short as mine. Even my arms are t-rex size! The only thing I like about exercise is how it improves my mood. I don't think it has helped me lose weight much at all.

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    1. Exercise helps me lose weight in the way that I gain muscle, so my metabolism gets a little bit better in that aspect. I do agree that most of weight loss comes from diet, though.

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  19. I'm finally willing to admit, in public, that carbs are affecting my stomach size, too, and I have no excuse to eat them since, as you know, I don't run. I used to limit myself to two servings a day, but that fell by the wayside, as did my flatter stomach. ...sigh... I love bread, but bread does not like me. It's time to break up. ...sob... OR...perhaps I should start running long distances! LOL

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