Right before running my first marathon, I wrote a post about why I was gaining weight during my training. I didn’t sign up for a marathon to necessarily lose weight, but I sure as heck didn’t think I would put on weight, especially since I was running so much.
In the end, it came down to consuming more calories than my body needed, so I was about 10 pounds heavier on marathon day. When I trained for my second marathon, I kept this in mind, but, once again, I gained weight during my training””not quite 10 pounds, but pretty close.
After that, I took a break from long-distance running, fell head over heels in love with CrossFit, and learned a few things about nutrition and fueling my body along the way.
Fast-forward 4 years… Stonyfield offered me the opportunity to run the Boston Marathon and, of course, I said YES. But, after having just lost 40 pounds after Quinn was born, I really didn’t want to gain the weight back during training, so I switched things up with my diet. I also trained differently this time around, so I think the combination of the two kept the weight off and actually helped me lose a few pounds. Perhaps it was muscle (I’m not totally sure), but the important thing is that I didn’t gain weight. That said, here’s why I didn’t gain weight this time!
I ate ALLTHE(healthy)CARBS. Sure, I ate plenty of treats during my training (more on this in a second), but the majority of carbs that I ate were healthy ones. During my previous marathon trainings, I ate a lot of junk carbs””lots of pizza, beer, and baked goods. I figured since I was training for a marathon, I could eat whatever I wanted and, obviously, we all know where that got me. This time around, training for Boston, my favorite, go-to carbs were oatmeal and steel cut oats, potatoes, sweet potatoes, rice, bananas, Food for Life/Ezekiel English muffins, and cereal. Clearly, they were a much healthier bunch!
I “timed” my treats. Ok, let’s talk about the treats I ate during my training because it’s not like I didn’t eat pizza, beer, and baked goods! What I did this time, instead of eating treats all the time, is that I “timed” them. So, on long run days, I would almost always enjoy some sort of treat after my run (i.e. peanut M&Ms, a donut, wine, Cinnamon Toast Crunch). But, on the days that I didn’t run long, I ate normally and stuck to mostly healthy stuff. This was the big difference between my Boston Marathon training and the other ones. As someone who simply enjoys eating, marathon training was pretty much like a free pass to eat whatever and whenever I wanted. When I started to pay attention to my food choices (I really wanted to fuel my body well), things just came together, and I wasn’t housing unnecessary calories, especially on the days when I didn’t need them. Of course, there were times when I was hungry on a day that I didn’t run long, like the day after my 20 milers, so I fed my body as much as it needed. My favorite I-want-to-eat-everything-in-the-kitchen snacks: Baked sweet potato with nut butter, rice cake with banana slices and nut butter, Greek yogurt with fruit and/or cereal, egg sandwich on an English muffin, bowl of oatmeal, toast with avocado and sea salt, FlapJacked Protein Pancake, healthy cereal mixed with not-so-healthy cereal (i.e. rice Chex + CTC),
I ate a lot. A whole lot. Boy, did I eat. I sort of already mentioned this above, but I just wanted to emphasis how much I ate before and after my long runs and some of the longer mid-week runs (9-11 miles). Ok, so remember when I went to Canyon Ranch and met with one of their exercise physiologists? Well, we calculated how many calories I would need to replenish those lost during a long run. It was around 2,000 calories, and I typically eat about 2,000 on a regular day, so on my long run days, I was aiming to eat about 4,000 calories. This probably sounds like a lot, but I quickly realized that I needed to EAT during my training for proper recovery and my overall energy level. Otherwise, I’d feel like garbage during my workouts.
Protein, protein, protein. Protein was so important to my training””obviously for recovery, but also for keeping my hunger and cravings at bay. After almost every workout (both runs and KFIT/CrossFit), I drank a protein shake (made with SFH Recovery) within 30 minutes or so. I also made sure that all of my meals and snacks had some sort of protein in them. I absolutely think this helped my body recover more quickly and helped me build muscle, which we all know is important to boosting metabolism and burning calories.
I varied my workouts. My marathon training plan had a mix of different kinds of running workouts each week, including long runs, tempo runs, Yassos (oh, so many Yassos), and hill workouts. I also kept up with my strength training and HIIT workouts at KFIT and CrossFit (I usually went twice a week), so my body was constantly being challenged and torching through calories. In my previous marathon training plans, I just ran and ran and ran and a lot of that running was steady state cardio, which is great for burning calories and building the endurance needed to run a marathon, but that alone didn’t help me lose weight.
More muscle = larger calorie burn. This time around, I had a much stronger body, thanks to CrossFit and KFIT, so the extra muscle helped me burn more calories before, during, and after my workouts, so I didn’t put on the pounds this time.