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Losing weight while building miles

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Losing weight while building miles Empty Losing weight while building miles

Post  Penelope on Tue May 01, 2012 10:05 pm

Has anyone here been successful at losing weight AND building miles simultaneously? I'm starting to think it can't be done, that you can do one or the other for any given time, but not both. I figured once I was running regularly / training well, it'd just melt right off and I'd be back to where I was before. Not so. I trained for a half marathon coming up this weekend and did a decent job of getting back into running but haven't lost any weight. Whenever I try to reduce my calories, running suffers. Especially the long runs. I learned the hard way that not eating enough is a great way to ensure a terrible long run. I would feel sluggish, heavy, etc. Finally I got frustrated and started eating more, and suddenly running is easy again and the scale remains unchanged.

But I still have 10 lbs I wanna lose!

Does anyone else have this problem? Maybe I should try again in between this half marathon and when Chicago marathon training starts, where instead of building miles I'm maintaining?
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Post  Admin on Tue May 01, 2012 10:26 pm

I build miles and lose weight... I run a lot of doubles and watch the calorie intake. If you can get into the habit of doubles and build them slowly you can run a decent calorie deficit while training. However, I always take 1 day a week and eat what I want. I only run long (>14 miles) in a single run about once every 3-4 weeks. Add to that a little weight training and you can get a decent weight drop fairly quickly. Of course, you can gain it all right back pretty quickly, too.



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Post  Mike MacLellan on Tue May 01, 2012 10:35 pm

The only time that mileage increases have automatically led to weight loss for me was when I was doing 100+/week. And I was still having a HUGE pig-out day once a week. Like, 5000+ calories.
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Post  Ben Z on Tue May 01, 2012 10:53 pm

Absolutely it can be done. It's all about calories in versus burned, right?

Do you track your intake vs. output daily? Perhaps try to create a small deficit, say 100-200 calories/day. Monitor your energy levels though so you don't overdo it though. And in a few weeks you should be able to shed a couple of pounds. If you are able to continue training at the desired level and mileage then maintain a slight deficit. If not then sustain for a few weeks before trying to create a slight deficit again.
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Post  Mark B on Tue May 01, 2012 11:31 pm

Can it be done in a training cycle? Yes, but it's a lot harder to do when you're ramping up the miles and stressing your body.

I found I always had the best luck losing weight when I was doing lower levels of mileage. It's easier to run the slight calorie deficit when you're not at risk of bonking on a long run.
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Post  mul21 on Tue May 01, 2012 11:57 pm

I dropped close to 10 lbs. last year training for Chicago and didn't really suffer any from it. Also, keep in mind that you probably tacked on some muscle since you were running quite a few more miles than you had been in the previous couple years.
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Post  wrichman on Wed May 02, 2012 12:03 am

It seems like men lose weight easier than women with upping their milage. I don't have any evidence to back this up, but it's my personal observation and talking to other runners. I never lose weight - even running 80-100 miles a week. I do however, lose body fat. My clothes fit a little loser and sadly my "girls" stink a bit, but I'll always have an athletic build and I've given up on budging the scale.
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Post  Julie on Wed May 02, 2012 2:25 am

I'm pretty sure I've read articles that support that men lose weight through exercise more easily than women, and women's appetites tend to compensate and make us just eat more. I have lost wt while building miles but I have to be pretty careful because as you know, if you eat too little then it's harder to run and that is frustrating. It's a pretty fine line for me. Logging what I eat helps and avoiding some obvious high calorie foods in the house like baking cookies or brownies or whatever else.
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Post  carleenp on Wed May 02, 2012 9:26 am

I normally gain weight when increasing miles because I get really hungry all the time. I think every marathon training before the current one I have gained 5-8 pounds. But this last marathon training cycle I maintained my weight and then lost a few pounds. I think though it is because I went off of birth control pills and that seemed to cut my appetite some. I don't think my running or food choices had much to do with it.
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Post  Nick Morris on Wed May 02, 2012 10:16 am

I definitely lose weight as I build up my mileage. I normally lose 10-15 pounds during a 18-20 week training cycle. Like the others have said, it is about calories in vs. calories out. I do not deprive myself of the nutrients that I need, but I also am taking in less calories than I am burning. I continue to include weight training along with my running, but tend to cut back on that as I get closer to my goal race. It can definitely be done. You just need to find the right mix nutritionally.
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Post  Jerry on Wed May 02, 2012 10:23 am

Jerry's experience is to deal with two challenges:

1. Priority: if you experience physical stress with increased mileage, you should put weight loss as a priority, meaning pulling back mileage, but stick to the hunger diet. Too hard to do both.

2. Mental Stress: when Jerry feel stressed for whatever reason, Jerry eats. I remember you have a busy work schedule. Hope it is better or workout makes you feel better, then it becomes relatively easier.
Oh, one more thing, eat good stuff, simple fruits,vegetable(no dressing please lol! ) really counts.
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Post  Liz R on Wed May 02, 2012 11:03 am

I don't gain during training, but I only lose a little weight, maybe five pounds. I eat a healthy diet, but don't count calories or restrict in any way. Dessert every day, and I mean cake or cookies, not fruit. The summer my husband and I ate ice cream every night, my weight was stable.

Having said that, I'd use this in between time to focus on losing the ten pounds. Run, lift, whatever you do, but just a moderate amount, say up to an hour every day. More than that could tip you into eating too much to lose weight. The advice you have been given is sound. Log everything you eat, so nothing slips by, like a calorie laden whipped cream coffee drink, and focus on eating lightly processed, high fiber foods.

I have three more pieces of advice/suggestions: 1) focus on performance and not weight loss. That was a big breakthrough for me. I stopped looking so much at the scale and started looking more at what my body could do. 2) try a restrictive diet for two weeks. DK if this will work for you, but for some people, including my dad, also a busy doctor, following a plan in which every meal is prescribed really helps. An old running body followed South Beach for two weeks and dropped ten pounds. 3) pick up Matt Fitzgerald's book on Training Weight.

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Post  Mike MacLellan on Wed May 02, 2012 11:08 am

Jerry and Liz bring up great points.

I want to add to what Liz said about tipping you off to eat too much: this is what happens to me when I exercise more than 5-6hr/week. Below that, my hunger is minimal. Above that, I'm rarely found without food in hand. Which is why I have to get well above 60-70mpw to lose weight when I'm training.

Mind you, I'd guess that ~40% of my calories (~65% of my food's volume?) come from fruits and vegetables. The rest is whole grain (generally in highest quantities pre- and post-workout), eggs, soymilk, hummus, nuts, and legumes. Yeah, I eat a lot of hummus.
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Post  Michele "1L" Keane on Wed May 02, 2012 2:36 pm

I think what the women have told you Penelope, is pretty much what I have experienced myself. I tend to lose a little weight - maybe 3-5 lbs - when I ramp up the mileage and watch my diet, but I really "lean out" so to speak enough so that a friend mentioned it when he saw me at Boston - first time in two years. I try not to overly restrict my diet during training, but I do pay a lot more attention to what I eat and don't use the excuse of "I'm training so I can eat that ice cream or have that extra glass of wine". In the last two marathon cycles, I also gave up drinking alcohol during the week (no glass of wine with dinner) and kept it for just Friday or Saturday night where I would enjoy no more than 2 glasses. No fun I know, but it also helped with keeping me at the weight I wanted to be.

Hope you are enjoying Chicago!
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Post  ounce on Wed May 02, 2012 11:05 pm

I would try a few things. First off, you need to shake up what muscles you're using. Therefore, I would do some strengthening exercises and weight lifting because you're building up the muscles and it's going to require more fuel to feed and build the new muscles.

Second, I would do a calorie restriction on your weight lifting day to where you're only taking in 1,000 calories of 50% protein and 50% carbs from non-processed and no refined sugar foods, this includes bread, cereal, cookies, etc. Be sure not to eat more on other days, otherwise you're in the same boat. And do it just once a week, but not near your long run. Yoiur body will key off the fat in your system for sustinence. Overall for the week, make your diet more alkaline and your Omega 6 to Omega 3 ratio 1:1. And I'd only do the calorie restriction up to when your long runs are at 13 miles and greater.

Finally, sleep. Sleep. Sleep. In sleep mode, your body is repairing and that burns calories, too.


Last edited by ounce on Wed May 02, 2012 11:22 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : tweak)
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Post  Penelope on Thu May 03, 2012 12:46 pm

Thanks for all the replies! I have this app called LoseIt on my phone that helps track calories in / out. According to this app, to lose 2 lbs a week I should eat 817 calories / day if no exercise, and depending on the pace of the runs, add back about 75 calories / day for each mile run that day. Or do 1067 /day if I want to lose 1.5 lbs per week (plus whatever deficit you gain by exercising).I'm just not sure eating that little is safe while ramping up miles. I guess now that I'll be in a maintance phase for a few weeks, I can try it and eat enough to make up for the calories burned when running. Or aim for 1 lb/week / do it over a slower time period.

And to clarify, I really don't care what the actual number on the scale is, because you're all right, I'm sure I have gained muscle mass. What I care about is how I look (still a little curvy / bumpy in bad ways; ie love handles and a gut), how my clothes fit (new wardrobe when you gain 20 lbs--I miss some of my dresses!), and how I feel. I have noticed a correlation with how I look and with the scale, so I've been using that as a more objective measure than just how I look.

Before I gained the weight over these 3 years, I would never fluctuate much, and never worried about what I ate. In fact, during marathon training, it was a struggle to keep a healthy weight because I would just keep gradually losing. I'd go to starbucks and drink a large hot chocolate with whole milk every day just for some calories. I guess this is a "that was then this is now" deal.
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Post  Mike MacLellan on Thu May 03, 2012 1:07 pm

Going to chime in here and very strongly urge you to NOT drop below 1300kcal/day. Anything below that risks putting your body into starvation mode, which will cause you to keep/gain weight. Plus, it's extremely unhealthy and the hormonal effects of that can last for quite some time.
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Post  Liz R on Thu May 03, 2012 1:13 pm

That is a good point. I am a crappy dieter, and I am bigger than you Penelope, but in my twenties when I would diet, I would eat 1200 calories a day and lose weight quickly. I could only sustain that for two weeks, then I'd be ready to chew my arm off. Most of the time, I could only go for a few days like that. As a runner and a doctor who needs her energy, I am guessing you need more like 1500 calories to function. (This opinion is not based on anything but personal experience.)

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Post  Julie on Thu May 03, 2012 1:50 pm

Don't go below your weight x 10. I can't go below 1800 for more than a few days or my blood sugar is too low to sleep let alone run (I'm 5'7", about 147, typically run 40-50 mpw). If you eat 1500/day and are exercising you should lose wt but don't do anything you can't maintain long term.
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Post  Penelope on Sun May 06, 2012 1:19 pm

@Julie wrote:Don't go below your weight x 10. I can't go below 1800 for more than a few days or my blood sugar is too low to sleep let alone run (I'm 5'7", about 147, typically run 40-50 mpw). If you eat 1500/day and are exercising you should lose wt but don't do anything you can't maintain long term.

I like the rule of weight x 10. For me, that would be 1250 / day, which I think would be very hard, but definitely much safer than < 900 / day. Maybe I'd do 1400 or 1500 per day--may be more realistic.
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