Why it is Good to Indulge (& Gain Weight) After a Marathon

I know there has to be a happy medium to many things, but I feel time after a marathon is crucial time for you to rest your system as well as show a little appreciation for what you have been through. Here is how I felt while being an Elite, as well as right now.

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I have already told you that I believe in the importance of taking time off after a big race, especially after a marathon.

Today I wanted to talk a little about something that goes hand in hand with time off for runners. Something that strikes fear into us, and is the reason most runners are afraid to take time off; post marathon weight gain.

I believe it is GOOD to indulge, and I made the most of my time there…..even if it meant being at a weight that was not particularly good for running fast.

Elite Runner Tina Muir discusses why it is GOOD for you to indulge (and gain weight) following a marathon, and how elites overcome the negativity associated.

So today, I am here to tell you that it is good to gain a little weight after your marathon. Especially if you have leaned down a lot during the season, and had reached your race weight.

I know that when you have reached that race weight, it can be tempting to hold it there.

You feel strong, you know you look good, and that weight allowed you to accomplish your goal (or be as ready as you could), but please believe me when I say that it is not worth it to try hold it there.

When you take time off, your metabolism takes a few days to realize what is going on, and will still be churning away repairing the damage not just from the race itself, but the entire segment.

This means you need to consume more calories than you think you do for someone who is not running.

More importantly though, I honestly believe it is good for you to gain a little.

Then not only can you enjoy eating those reward foods, and indulge after your race without feeling major guilt, BUT you then have something to work off during your next training segment. You also have something to look forward to post season.

I have found I am more likely to commit to healthy eating in those last 6 weeks if I know there is a light at the end of the tunnel where I can enjoy the treats I want 🙂

Your body cannot hold its race weight year round.

It’s not healthy. Life is full of ups and downs remember ☺. Even went I went through my goal of getting my period back and flat out quitting running for a good 3 months, read about that more here.

If you purposely hold your weight at a specific number…..which actually is completely unreliable, especially after a marathon, when your body is all over the place, confused with what just happened….you are toeing the line of spiraling that into an obsession.

I find that when I worry about gaining weight, that is when I start to feel miserable, think about it way more than I should, and make choices that put my physical and emotional health at risk.

All very well me preaching to you, but do I actually do this myself?

Yes.

You may have seen my many instagram photos of the sweet treats I indulged in the week after the race, and I am not kidding when I say I had sweets for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks in between. I did….as well as my meals.

In my week off after the marathon, I put on around 7lbs. I was down to around 113lbs, and by the end of that week I was at 120lbs….and still there now.

Not only did I have a huge burger after the race, but my next meal was fish and chips; batter and all. Got to make the most of English food :)

Not only did I have a huge burger after the race, but my next meal was fish and chips; batter and all. Got to make the most of English food 🙂

Does that bother me?

Honestly, yes.

BUT

When that little gremlin does show up in my ear, I am able to remind myself, I earned it!

I committed to my goal, ran a happy 2:41 in the marathon, and eat healthy most of the time.

THIS is the time to enjoy; no holds barred, and you are kidding yourself if you think people will notice those extra pounds.

I originally intended on putting a photo on here to show a comparison, to show the difference in the way I look right now compared to how I looked the day before the marathon, BUT I did not want to insult anyone.

To almost everyone out there, you would never notice the difference, especially as my gaining weight still only puts me at 120, which would be much lighter than a lot of people.

That may lead you to think that I am either a coward for not wanting to show it, or that I have not actually gained any weight, but let me tell you that the number on the scale has been consistent for a week now AND Steve even said that my belly came back shockingly quick…..another reason I thought a photo would not be a good idea.

Here’s why:

Even though to Steve and I my belly is visibly bigger, I did not want to upset anyone as I know others would kill for my weight. Does that make sense?

By the way, before you think Steve is some nasty, downgrading, control freak about my weight, let me just say, as you should know, we have a very open communication channel (you would have to for this coach/athlete/love relationship to work), and I told him about it twice before he said anything himself…..in a very gentle way of course 🙂

Back to the point:

I can now reflect back on that indulging time, like a great vacation, happy memories, and I wish I could have gone on, but now I need to make smarter choices, and slowly ease my way back into doing what is best for my body.

I did the same thing when I was in Australia for my honeymoon. I knew it was a once in a lifetime trip, and I wanted to make the most of it. I gained 9lbs in a few weeks, but guess what, I ended up running a HUGE PR of 2:37 in the marathon just a few months later.

That way you appreciate it, but know the reality is more fulfilling in the long run.

I know the weight will drop off as I begin training harder, but if you try to force it, if you allow it to make you restrict yourself, that is when you obsess over it more, and are less likely to lose that weight as you can fall into the binging trap.

You don’t have to just listen to me, 2014 Boston Marathon winner Meb Keflezighi gained 12lbs in his 10 days off, and he said that it is good to gain weight for recovery.

I think we can all agree that Meb knows what he is doing.

I am not sure if this post will be helpful to you, but I thought it would be good to see that YES elite runners do gain weight in their time off, YES we do binge on sugar, and YES that little voice is there tempting you to diet, BUT you are better than that. You will be happier if you let yourself just be YOU!

Be Brave, Be Strong, Be You ☺

 

Do you allow yourself to indulge post race? What do you do to push that little voice out?

Need ideas?

Writing a list of things you enjoy to do seems easy, right? You are so much more than a runner! So why is it a lot harder than it seems to actually think of ideas? Let me help! Over 130 ideas to choose from

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26 Comments. Leave new

  • I kinda indulge all of the time, before, during, after races, when I am in the mood. My sweet tooth is an ongoing thing 🙂 I never deny a craving because I feel that it sets one up for disaster so finding balance which includes my favorite desserts is key for me. I haven’t stepped on a scale in years but my clothes fit, I feel good and I get my period regularly so I know I must be doing something right 🙂 Love the picture of your cold stone ice cream!

    • Oh yes, you are so right! I guess I kinda made it seem like I restrict like crazy….you know I definitely dont cut it out completely….I can’t do that either, I just meant cut down 🙂 I always love hearing from my sugar loving friend!

  • I absolutely indulge post-race and I love every minute, hour, day, etc. Not just because it’s good for my body but oh so good for my mind!!! I’m not as brave as you are though and I don’t get on the scale. I know I’ve gained weight and I don’t need to see how much 🙂 Another great post Tina! And yes, everything you said about posting the pictures makes sense BUT this is your blog and your truths. Some people may look at your 120lb pictures and wish they could be that weight on a good day but everyone knows their own demons and 120 for you is your “over” weight and I for one can completely understand that!

  • jillconyers
    May 15, 2015 6:50 am

    I allow myself to indulge almost always as often as I want. If I tell myself indulging in a favorite is off limits it makes me want it more. Crazy, right! Fortunately for me I don’t want to indulge often 🙂

  • Michele Rosen
    May 15, 2015 6:51 am

    I think especially for an elite runner there HAS to be some “give” after the marathon, especially if you wind up at “race weight” like you said meaning too low to sustain while remaining healthy. Logically we should restore a healthy weight after the goal race is accomplished.

  • Luckily for me, I am not an elite runner, so I use my training to help me maintain and gain weight, lol.

  • Ok, so my issue is weight gain during training!! I eat clean and healthy during training yet still manage to gain 10 lbs EVERY TIME!! I lose after the race is over, it’s extremely frustrating!!

  • This is a wonderful post! I tend to eat the same thing for breakfast and lunch Monday-Friday just to keep my stomach settled and happy with me. I eat dinner after my run and I tend to eat whatever sounds good whether I indulge or not. Post marathon, however, I like to eat something greasy and salty. I try not to worry about what I’m eating for a few days post race (though that can be difficult!).

  • Yes, all so true! I always gain around 10 pounds, but it comes right off when training starts back. I’m looking forward to all the post-race indulging in a little over a month! (So much ice cream 🙂 ) Thanks for sharing, Tina!

  • you know i believe this. the body needs so much repair and healing and pounds on after all that training. it’s james favorite part. haha. well kinda.

  • Absolutely spot on, Tina! Great, great post. I am a big believer in having a little of what you fancy most of the time but after a marathon I fully let myself go for a few days. Not that I restrict myself before a race but I will go a bit crazy in enjoying food and not eating what I’d describe as a very good balance of food groups (hello sugar)! 😉
    After a long run though on a Sunday I will treat myself to something I wouldn’t have every day – usually cake or a meal out. I feel like I’ve earnt it! But most days I’m generally quite healthy.

  • Lisa@runningoutofwine
    May 15, 2015 8:27 am

    I definitely agree with what you said about indulging and enjoying a break after training without concern about weight gain! I don’t weigh myself, and Im not even sure if I lose weight while training for a marathon, but I do notice that when I take time off after a race and eat whatever I want I end up feeling kind of gross and have less energy- so that’s usually my motivation to start cleaning up my eating a bit again! I kind of indulge a little bit every day, but when Im more seriously training I cut back on sugar and alcohol (somewhat:))

  • Elite runner Tina Muir is right! I don’t run long races, but I know that everyone needs some time to relax their eating standards after prepping for a big event. Just the mental break alone from having to RESTRICT or DIET does wonders for people. I don’t have experience here, but I definitely agree with what you’ve said. And you don’t have to worry about showing the photos — as an elite athlete your version of “out of shape” is clearly different than most people’s! But it’s all about you as an individual at a certain point on your journey, so I get it. Oh and I am still in awe of your time! Great run at London! 🙂 And happy Friday!

  • It’s great to see you indulging a little after your hard work and encouraging others to as well.

  • Great points, Tina! It’s really important to relax mentally, physically, emotionally after all the effort and focus that goes into a training plan! Ironically, my body type seems to always interpret distance as stress and holds onto a little more around the belly while I’m training, and then I lose it when I cut back and relax (I assume because my cortisol, stress, drops significantly). I don’t think I indulge more or less before or after training, it’s usually pretty consistent with dark chocolate daily and larger treats weekly or so, but the weight issue is flip flopped for me!

  • So, so, so glad you posted this b/c there are SO many runners who need to see this! I think post-marathon is kind of a danger zone for runners in many ways. The temptation to run too much when you should be resting, and also the temptation to cut back calories b/c you aren’t running as much. Hopefully by seeing how you do it, these folks will see that it really is ok–and even encouraged–to give in a bit and enjoy some indulgences!

  • Jen@milesandblessings.com
    May 15, 2015 10:43 am

    This is such a great post! I try to be very balanced with my eating even during training. I allow treats if I want hem, just in small portions. Here is my trouble and source of confusion right now. I recently (2 months ago) gave up all diet soda cold turkey. I am SO glad I did! I also have been changing my diet a little…just tweaking it to make it healthier. Adding in more fruits and veggies, drinking more water, trying to cut some of my sugar intake (I will never be the type that can cut all sugar or go gluten free or anything, but I wanted to cut back a little). I also switched from white to wheat products (bread and rice). Since this (the last 2 months) I have put on a good 5-6 pounds. I have not changed my training nor do I feel like I am eating too much so I am confused. Part of me wants to say forget it and go back to how I was eating before, but I know this is healthier. This 5-6 pounds is also not necessary for me, I was not underweight. I am 5’5″ and went from 124 to 130 or so. I would really like to get back to that 124, but am not sure how to go about it. I am not a “go on a diet” person AT ALL. That is actually a big pet peeve of mine. I want to be healthy and active and I want that to be the example for my kids…not diets…but I am kinda thinking that 124 is a better race weight for me….any thoughts?

  • I just read, “Meb for Mortals” and he talks about gaining weight after a marathon — very much mirrors what you are saying. The topic of weight is always tricky as we are all so different. For the first time in my life I am stuck at one weight… one that is a little high for my body frame. I have some serious hormone issues right now ( I’ve had a period for three months, tmi, I know) and my thyroid is so low that it’s showing nothing on my blood work ( even though I’m taking 100 mcg of sythroid and one other med for my thyroid) It’s time for me to head to the doctor and figure some of this out.

  • Yippee! You look so happy. You ran a 2:41 fricking marathon. You could wear a clown suit and snort chocolate pudding up your nose and I wouldn’t judge. You kinda rule, and I’m assuming you know what you’re doing, you know, seeing as you’re able to run that fast.

  • Laura Anderson
    May 15, 2015 1:44 pm

    After the race I definitely indulge for a bit. I never felt overwhelming guilt, but there is always some. This year after Boston I stopped tracking my food intake and I also stopped wearing my fitbit (actually have a post coming about this!) because I didn’t want to think about it. I wanted to recover right, and didn’t want to see the numbers or feel guilty for what I was or wasn’t eating, and for how many steps I was or wasn’t getting in. I think it’s helped me recover more properly this time around, and also mentally keep me in check.

  • I do allow myself to indulge post race, but I need to learn to indulge for more days after the race. I am signing up for a couple more half marathons so I will definitely work on this…LOL! I hate that little voice but I have gotten better about just ignoring and knowing that nourishing my body is so important for me to train better and harder. And love how you love a good burger too! XOXO

  • Love this and think it is so important to discuss. My issue is being basically how to balance doing almost nothing while trying to heal from surgery. I can’t obsess about it because I will drive myself crazy. I have cut back on some things, but I know I have gained weight and it’s not really going to go anywhere until I am running again.
    Always great to see what the Elite athletes are thinking and feeling!!

  • Jamie Whittendale
    May 18, 2015 9:54 am

    Love this. I think it is something I definitely struggle with – finding the balance between indulging and still remaining healthy. Sometimes I think the hardest part of marathon running is the recovery.

  • fuelingforfitness
    May 19, 2015 10:18 am

    Thank you for another awesome post at the time that I needed to read it the most, Tina! After my marathon, I’ve been feeling really blah and was trying not to worry about my clothes feeling tighter but it was hard not to especially as we were at the end of our trip and staying in a lot of hotels due to last minute booking issues. Glad you’ve been having a great time off and that you’re back to running again already (and feeling relatively good considering you just KILLED a marathon!). 🙂

  • Hi Tina, you’re awesome and so fast. What a marathon achievement! Great to see you really enjoy life and have a very balanced approach with your training cycles. I’m sure that must keep you going, and enjoying the rewards of your hard work will make you strong and fresh for your next goal! Thanks for sharing. Christina xx P.S I just ran my first half marathon on Sunday which I loved and I enjoyed a lovely meal out afterwards, but I didn’t go crazy with indulgence and am back to healthy eating now because it keeps me feeling good and obviously my training schedule was, and is, a lot less intense than someone who has completed a marathon and/or an elite athlete. And my diet leading up to my events would not be as restricted.

  • Louise ,Greece
    April 21, 2016 4:28 am

    Hello Tina! I am so glad i ‘ve found your blog!! Since my last marathon, 4 days ago, i weight myself every morning like a freak and these 3 damned kgs , refuse to drop !! I am really relieved ,after reading your article, and i will loosen up a bit until Monday that i intend to go back on the streets.
    You rock!! 😀

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