Thursday, January 9, 2014

Eating to Run & Eating for Weight Loss: The plan to switch gears

I get so many questions about eating to run and eating to lose weight, and they are two very separate objectives. When I first set out to lose weight, the equation that worked for me was pretty simple: count calories ( I never counted macros in the beginning), drink lots of water, work out every day. That worked for me for a really long time. The less weight I had to lose, the more complex the success equation became, and then I became a runner, and everything changed nutritionally.

 Long distance running requires fuel, lots of good carbs, protein, and fats. Long distance running will make a girl hungry or RUNgry (I just love that) as Melissa would say! There is also a mentality associated amongst runners "I run, so I get to eat and drink whatever I want". 

I hate to be the barer of bad news, but no no you can't. I've chatted with so many runners training for the half marathon or marathon, and in many cases they actually gain weight while training. Say what?! Yes, it's true. There's a great article on why that happens here. It's a fact I have been conscience of through out training for my current marathon, as my goal was to lose a little or to maintain, which I have done. Phew!

There's lots of discussions in health and fitness circles concerning running/ cardiovascular training and sustained heart rate for extended amounts of time, vs weight training. Which burns more fat, which will make me lose weight faster, where should I be spending the most time in the gym? Lifting vs Running is not a topic I particularly want to get into in this post, because I personally believe in a balance in activities across the board. Presently, my routine is dominated by running and that has required adjustments to be made in my weekly work out routine, most notably, no leg lifting days, and an increase in daily carb intake. I can't wait to get back to heavy lifting leg days. It's what I have missed the most throughout marathon training.

I fought adding in extra fuel for weeks. I tried carb loading just one day before a long run, and cutting carbs on all other days, and that method did not work. It made for one highly embarrassing moment, and slower run times due to lack of energy. In more recent weeks, I upped my calorie intake per day, and added in one serving of whole grains to every meal, and more fruit each day. Surprisingly, I haven't gained any weight and my run times have significantly improved. This week alone, I've been able to put in two aggressive speed training treadmill runs from my last round of half marathon training. 

 It's felt phenomenal to work back in speed training during the marathon taper weeks. I haven't been able to complete this type of training as either: A my legs couldn't handle this type of aggressive running, or B I didn't have enough energy due to lack of nutritional intake. I plan to continue eating to run, through the Marathon. I'm not losing weight, but I'm not gaining it either, and running has felt pretty darn fantastic lately. I'm having a hard time staying focused on this one goal, as I've been planning my transition back into eating for weight loss, que the band, don don don Summer is coming. 

Ya'll know I live for these Memes ; )
I already have my first bikini weekend planned, which means it's time to get diet serious, on January 21st. Marathon day is January 19th, I would say get serious on January 20th, but I know the RUNgry will really catch me that day. Apparently 26.2 miles will make ya ravenous.

What's the plan? Long time Elle Noel Readers will  recall, at the beginning of last summer I started working with my macro coach Ashley Leahy! Ashley is the owner and operator of Grit Health & Fitness, specializing in personalized nutrition and fitness plans for women. Ashley taught me everything I know about trimming fat and eating the right balance of macro-nutrients for my body type. The plan worked, and the plan worked well. Before I started working with Ashley, I knew diddly about supplementing and building muscle while trimming the fat. Girl knows her stuff. No seriously, she does... She's literally a professional:

Ashley after she won the Pro Bikini Title at NGA Universe in November 2013
Last summer my goal was to hit 18% body fat, which I didn't do. I got very close at 19.5%, and I would still like to hit 18%, however, the big goal is simple: feel at my best this summer, and switch gears after so much running over the last six months. 

I want to get stronger. I want to lift heavier than I ever have. I want to squat until I can't walk, instead of running until I can't walk, something's wrong with her. I'm feeling extra motivated in my new gym surrounded by lots of people who are more advanced than myself. I feel inspired. If they can do it, then so can I!  I got sidelined last summer due to personal issues, and now I want a do over. It's never too late to snatch up a second chance! I am going to own my swim suit body this summer, who is with me?! 

Email me

Daily Motivator


  1. YES to everything in this entire post! I'm about to start Half Marathon training in the next few weeks for a late-April Half. When I was training for my first half I basically stayed in a 4-lb range the entire time, and ended up on race day about a pound higher than that. Crazy how our bodies hold on to calories when we're training so hard... but I guess it works! Can't wait to see the progress you can make when you switch things up after the marathon. I'm sure you're gonna kill it!

  2. I'm right there with you sister. I think I'm going to switch it up soon. I need that pink bikini I just bought to fit me better than it is now! I'd like to see what my body could do without all the hardcore running/racing every month and focus on one race goal with a great diet in there. I think I'm joining your Grit girl for a challenge! (Since you are such a great ambassador for her and all!!! :))

  3. I'm with ya sista! As soon as I am finished with my marathon next month, I too and switching gears and hitting those weights hard! Get it gurl!

  4. Interesting. I’ve always wondered how they actually define “marathon” in such an industry like weight loss. Also, I have found this informative infograph about what exercises can help you burn calories - . All in the phrasing, I guess.

  5. I am for sure concentrating on lifting weights and losing weight... especially since I cant run right now with my injury - I cant squat or lunge either, but I can still do other weights, just have to get creative. I am so excited for you - this time next week you will be a marathoner! I cant wait to hear all about it! :)