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Marathon Training: The Reasons Why You’re Not Losing Weight

Marathon Training: The Reasons Why You’re Not Losing Weight

A couple of years ago, I wanted to slim down and decided running was the best way to do it. For a year I ran 20-30 miles a week and felt like I was getting a lot accomplished. However, a few months into it, I realized I had only loss a couple of pounds. I continued exclusively running for a year without significant results. It was when I started adding strengthening exercises to my routine I started to see a difference. In this article, I will share with you what I did wrong and what you need to look out for if you are thinking of just “running more” to shed a few pounds.

Research study

Recent research headed by Mary Kennedy from Harvard’s Institute of Lifestyle Medicine took 64 charity runners to see how long distance running would affect weight loss or gain. The participants ran consistently for 3 months, 4 days a week. At the end of their training, only about 11 percent of the runners lost weight. The rest of them either stayed the same weight or gained weight. So why wouldn’t so much running help all those people lose weight?

Here are a few things this recent research pointed out about long distance runners which were things I was doing wrong.

1. You most likely are not exercising as hard as you think.

When running and training for marathons, most people stick to a pace that is more concerned with distance. This pace brings novice runners (like me) to a pace that does not allow your heart to achieve a rate that is considered vigorous. Vigorous exercise is considered to be exercise that gets your heart rate to 75-90 percent of your max heart rate. Without vigorous exercise, your calorie expenditure is significantly lower. Long distance runners very often run at a minimal to moderate intensity which is not sufficient for significant weight loss.

2. You over-eat after exercising.

Although you might not be exercising vigorously, running long distances at any pace makes you very, very hungry. It is easy to justify eating foods that you normally would eat in moderation because you “worked out.” This also leads to over-eating. Eating more calories than you burned on a consistent basis is a quick recipe for weight gain.

3. Muscle mass might decrease.

Muscle is the most calorie demanding tissue in the body. The more muscular mass you have, the more overall calories your body expends just resting. When you run, you most likely are not building muscle and may instead even lose muscle mass. Even though you spend calories while running, during the rest of the day your body is slower at burning the excess calories you may be taking in. When combined with over-eating, you have a recipe for stagnant weight or even weight gain.

Fitness resolutions

Muscle is the most calorie demanding tissue in the body. The more muscular mass you have, the more overall calories your body expends just resting. When you run, you most likely are not building muscle and may instead even lose muscle mass. Even though you spend calories while running, during the rest of the day your body is slower at burning the excess calories you may be taking in. When combined with over-eating, you have a recipe for stagnant weight or even weight gain.

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Isom Allan, PT, DPT

Isom Allan, PT, DPT

In his spare time, Isom enjoys spending time with his family, exercising, reading, hiking, camping, and traveling. He also enjoys playing racquet sports and trying out new restaurants.