I do it. You do it. We all do it. I’ve set a resolution to reach my ‘race weight’ but after a few months of focus, training increases and I start to feel great! The number just doesn’t seem all that important any more when you’re working out hard and burning through calories in the process.
I fluctuate 3-5 pounds every year, though, and can’t seem to ever lose those last few pounds. In fact, I often gain weight in the on-season blaming it on muscle gain. News flash! I’m an endurance athlete, gaining weight as an amateur athlete is never a good thing. Proven studies show that losing a pound leads to a :10-:60/mile faster 10k. Endurance athletes should find the weight they perform and feel best at, called ‘race weight‘ and stick to it. But when I start training, of course I eat more to sustain the energy output. This is ok, but if I’m trying to perform my best, I should continue to control my cravings and food intake into all training sessions.
You won’t believe how many people say they are training for an Ironman triathlon or marathon who are extremely overweight. It’s an admirable goal, but is it the healthiest? You have about 3X the amount of impact coming down on your joints when you’re running, now if you’re an overweight individual that is going to be painful! Of course you’re going to hurt and probably get injured. Your lungs and heart might get strong, but you can keep these healthy without all the joint, tissue, and bone damage – pick up a shorter distance until you’ve reached your goal weight (or at least a healthier weight). Your older body will thank you – know when you’re ready and be truthful to yourself about it, don’t follow the crowd (slow and steady wins the race). Likely, you’ll be SO much faster when you do bump up the distance.
Getting back to gaining weight while training. It happens ALL of the time! Why? Because particularly endurance athletes fill their bodies with crappy on-the-go foods (“foods” might not be a good word to describe things like gels, bars, etc.) which are filled with sugars. Not to mention, most people overuse this stuff. If carb loading correctly, you really don’t need to fuel until about an hour and a half into a run. These foods are loaded with simple sugars for quick carbs which make us crave sugars more outside of our training, thus putting on weight, adding to our inflammation, and a whole array of problems.
Not to mention, after training, we see that we burned 500 calories during a run. What’s the next logical thing to do? Replace these of course! Wrong! Of those 500 calories, 300 of them were fat because you weren’t taxing your carb loads – you either jogged slow at conversational pace or did something else of low intensity. This is when our fat stores are taxed – yay! But when you workout past a certain point or a harder intensity, carbs are being burned. This is what you replace and can quite naturally with normal, healthy eating. The fat we don’t want to restore though, especially if we’re still trying to reach ‘race weight’. So, all of those 300 calories should not be replaced. Get it?
If not, contact me and let’s get a plan going for you before you fall into this trap…again.