Whether you’re a newbie runner trying to lose a couple of pounds or a seasoned athlete looking to get in better shape for the upcoming season, losing weight can be an important part of your overall training as a runner. But, sometimes, simply running more miles just won’t cut it.
We often hear that Running is the best way to burn calories. The weight just falls off once you start running. If that is the case, why is it not working for me? Why am I the only one who seems to not be losing weight with this super exercise?
Sound familiar? Even though you feel like you are alone in this, this is the most popular dilemma. Even elite runners have to be conscious of this, and do not lose weight when they are training 90+ miles a week! Feel better now?
Ask yourself – What is your main focus or primary target?
- To improve running performance (Performance Rate – PR)
- To lose weight and desire to be healthier overall.
Certainly, sometimes these two goals – setting a new PR and losing weight – go hand-in-hand, but as coaches we tend to focus on letting weight loss come naturally as the body adapts to training and new levels of fitness.
The people with purely weight loss goal might be wondering: What can I do to speed up the weight loss aspect of training?
Unfortunately, sometimes when a runner first begins serious training, the needle on the scale doesn’t immediately go down, and sometimes it can even head in the wrong direction. This trend can be frustrating and demoralizing to many runners.
However, if you understand the science behind initial weight loss and the practical reasons for why this occurs, you can temper yourself from getting discouraged and make positive and long-term gains both to your overall fitness and to your race times.
First let us see why weight machine does not show the result in first few weeks or months or sometimes years, and rather I would say here are some reasons why you might actually gain weight when training hard.
The Scale is a Trickster – Don’t be fooled
If the scale were a human, he/she would be considered a deceptive trickster. A scale only provides one number, your absolute weight, which isn’t always an accurate measurement of what is happening in your body.
Drink a gallon of water and you’ve instantly gained 8.3 pounds. Remove a kidney and you’ve lost 2 pounds.
Extreme examples, I know, but I think it proves that your absolute weight on a scale isn’t always a truthful assessment of changes in your weight, or more importantly your fitness.
Here are just a few reasons the numbers on the scale will lie to you:
You will store extra water
When you increase your training to gear up for your goal race, your body begins to store more water to repair damaged muscle fibers and to deliver glycogen to the working muscles.
Likewise, you may even be drinking more water to supplement the miles and ensure you are hydrated. All this water adds pounds to the scale, but isn’t indicative of your actually weight loss.
Muscle weighs more than fat
While you’re not going to turn into a body builder after just a few days of running, your body will slowly begin to build muscle and burn fat.
While this is great news for your overall fitness and race times, you’re actually gaining weight by supplementing low density fat tissue for high density muscle tissue. While it may not look great on the scale, it’s much healthier and will help you to continue to get faster and fitter.
Looking for short-term results
It takes a deficit of 3500 calories to lose one pound. Ideally, you should target a 300-600 a day calorie deficit if you want to lose weight safely and be healthy.
This means, you can expect to lose about 1-2 pounds per week. Checking the scale every morning is going to revel very little about your long-term progress or the actual state of your weight loss.
If you weigh yourself every day, you’re simply measuring day-to-day fluctuations in your hydration levels and other non-essential weight metrics.
Many marathon runners automatically assume they are going shed pounds with all the extra mileage they are putting in.
However, not only should you ensure that you’re recovering properly after your hard workouts and long runs by eating the right foods, you also need to account for what I call “hidden calories”.
Primarily, hidden calories come in the form of sports drinks and energy gels, which have a high caloric content.
It’s critical that you practice your fueling strategy during your long runs and hard workouts for optimal performance on race day. Likewise, to sustain high levels of training and to complete long and arduous marathon workouts, you need to fuel during your training sessions with sports drinks and energy gels.
But here’s the kicker:
However, this also means that the total number of calories you will burn from these long runs and hard workouts will be less than you might realize. Again, for optimal performance and training progression, you need these extra calories.
Unfortunately, they can also be the reason you might not see the weight loss on a scale.
Pay attention to how you feel – do you have more energy, feel stronger, starting to fit into your clothes better? While not absolute measurements, these emotions are a much more accurate measurement of your progression.
Xpress Fitness & Running (XFR)
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