The Great Weight Debate


Today’s topic: Weight gain & loss during marathon training

I was a little apprehensive at first to open this can of worms, but I want to hear from you all as a lot of us training for big endurance events right now.

I have been tracking measurements of my body since I started marathon training back in May. I wanted to see what parts of my body would change with high distance running and be able to see the changes made in my body during the process.

I have heard the myth that most people end of gaining weight during marathon training, but that bodies tend to change regardless of weight change.

At first this didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me, as I realized I would be running farther than I was used to, therefore burning more calories, so in turn I didn’t see how you could not lose weight.

But apparently there are many other factors that kick in when you start training for such endurance events.  Any of these sound familiar?

  • Like… hunger! Yup, you just ran X amount of miles, you need to replenish your body with nutrients so you eat.  And then for some crazy reason, you are still hungry after that! So you eat again.


  • What about the whole scenario that I just ran X amount of miles, so I can eat whatever I want! (I’m guilty of this for sure.) Extra calories are justified… right?!


  • I just ran X amount of miles, I’m going to sit on my couch for the rest of day “resting”.  You may actually end up burning less calories in the end of the day by not moving enough the rest of the day.


  • Maybe you didn’t drink enough water? This can account for weight loss during a run.

Keep in mind, everyone’s body is different and the things we eat, drink and do on top of training all account for what happens to our bodies.

For me, I was on a little journey I dubbed the “face diet”. Sounds crazy, because the only difference that has been noticeable since I began training was that my face was slimming and becoming more defined.

I have weighed and measured all parts of my body and saw month after month a steady number. I actually felt good about this, because I knew I was probably going to come out of this experience with my weight in a similar place from where I started. But as I just mentioned, the only change I could tell was in my face. Weird right?

Well two months ago, I saw a  half-inch loss in my hips and a 2 lb loss. But I can gain and lose 5 pounds in the same day so this didn’t strike me as anything but normal.

Then I went to the doctor yesterday for my “annual” check up. The girl weighed me like they always do and she exclaims “Woah, you have been losing weight haven’t you?!”

I was like whaaatt??

I have measured and weighed myself every month and have only seen very small changes nothing to freak out about.

But she was right, the scale had me down between 7-9 pounds.


Something apparently changed in my body during the month of September.

The weight loss actually has me a little freaked out.

Don’t get me wrong, I really want to lose weight and feel great about my body – but with everything I have heard about marathon training, that losing weight while marathon training is bad.

That means I’m probably not eating enough or something?


Is is possible for someone like me (a few pounds heavier to start with) to lose weight while training, but for it to be a natural healthy thing? I have been very good about refueling after runs and making sure I am eating enough.

I want to be happy about my body but I want to be sure I’m being as healthy as possible.

What are your thoughts on this? Have you dealt with a marathon gain or loss?

P.S: Good luck to all my friends who are racing this weekend! Rock the 10-10-10!!  🙂  


12 thoughts on “The Great Weight Debate

  1. It does seem rare for many of us to see a loss during marathon training, but I certainly don’t think it’s a bad thing. If you were dropping a few lbs every week, I would be concerned!

    Congrats on the weigth loss, but most of all CONGRATS ON YOUR TRAINING!

  2. I’ve gained a few pounds (probably 3, haha) in training for my half but I’m fairly certain it is from the insane amounts of water I’m drinking and all of the food I’m eating. I’m not shy about fueling my body 🙂 My running buddy, on the other hand, is training for the philly marathon 11/21 and I have to remind her to eat! If you are running these long distances you HAVE to provide your body with nourishment.

  3. I lost about 5 pounds total, but I was eating and drinking like crazy so I didn’t think too much about it. As long as you are feeling good, that’s all that matters!

  4. It’s definitely ok that you lost some weight while training. Especially if you had a couple pounds to lose, it’s not like you have to fuel-fuel-fuel for your body to have fat to burn. I’m the same way! Generally my “fighting weight” is a little lighter than I am now, so while marathon training I completely cut sugary baked goods from my diet, which also slims me down (but doesn’t mean I’m losing muscle). Don’t worry too much! You’re doing all the right things!

  5. Yes, it’s totally possible to lose weight and still be helpful. Don’t worry. Since you didn’t drop HUGE numbers, I’d say you’ve achieved healthy balance – a good mix of fitness, nutrition, and body weight. Don’t worry, girly. Just keep doing what you’re doing.

    And hey, nice job!

  6. Great post — very introspective! I think it can be fine to gain or lose a little weight while mary training. I have gained maybe 3-5 pounds. But losing is not necessarily a bad thing, as long as you feel good and have enough energy!

  7. I wouldn’t be too worried about it. I was overweight to start with (still am) and have lost about 15 pounds and usually feel good during my runs. I have actually been trying to eat more not to lose weight, but still am, so whatevs 😉 Don’t stress is!

    P.S. I had a dream I was running the Chicago Marathon with YOU last night! Funny!

  8. It’s so funny that you posted this because I was actually going to leave you a comment about how you were looking slimmer earlier this week. It sounds to me like you’re doing everything right, and as long as you’re feeling good I’m sure you’ll be fine! My weight has stayed the same throughout training, though I have become leaner. The first few days of my taper I put on 5lbs (SO hungry!!), but promptly cleaned up my meals and focused on my crosstraing and I’m in a good place again.

  9. I have no idea as I never and never will do a marathon training.

    But I recognize some things about being hungry after long runs or not doing anything the rest of the day because you already run.

    I can only speak for myself. When I started running last year March I didn’t lose weight (which was disappointing at that time) but after a while I started to lose some weight. But it maintained and the only way I lose now is to adjust my eating, only running doesn’t help. At this moment I’m maintaining again but it’s okay because every week my fat percentage is lower and my muscle percentage is higher so my body is changing for the good.

    Linzi I’ve got the perfect recovery for you after your marathon: I’m hosting a virtual run in the last weekend of October and would love it if you’d join me. Check my blog for details.

  10. My first marathon I actually gained 7 pounds during the training, mostly by the things you mentioned, I ran x amount of miles, so I can eat whatever I want as well as the “you’re not supposed to diet while training”. I wouldn’t worry about the weight loss, maybe its just your body catching up with the calorie burn.

  11. I’ve never trained for a marathon, so I’m definitely not an expert on this, but if I were to guess. I’d say losing/gaining during training depends on a lot of things, and it’s not necessarily true for all that they should gain weight. I’d guess things such as, your activity level and weight before you started training, are important to consider too

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