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How Can I Avoid Weight Gain After a Marathon?

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Updated October 08, 2013

Dieter on Scale David Madison
Question: How Can I Avoid Weight Gain After a Marathon?
"When I ran a marathon last year, I gained 10 pounds in a couple of months after the race. I'm about to do another marathon. How can I avoid that post-marathon weight gain this time?"
Answer: It's not uncommon for marathon runners to gain some post-marathon pounds. Many marathoners get used to consuming more calories than normal to fuel their training runs, and it's tough to put the brakes on their new eating habits once the marathon is over. And since they're not running as much as they were doing training, all those extra calories can quickly lead to some weight gain.

Those who complete fall marathons are especially prone to the post-marathon weight gain because their marathons are followed by the winter holiday season, when there's not a lot of time to exercise, but plenty of opportunities to eat.

If you're worried about gaining weight in the months after completing a marathon, here are a few things to try:

1. Keep exercising. Some marathoners are so burnt out mentally and physically from the marathon that they completely stop running and working out. Try not to wait too long after the marathon to get back to running because once you get out of your running habit, it's tough to get back into it. Even though you'll be recovering for a few weeks, you can still do short, easy runs or easy cross training in the days following your marathon.

2. Pick another race. You don't have to plan to run another marathon, but having the date of another race on the calendar will motivate you to keep running. Look for races in your area and running groups that are training for upcoming races.

3. Go easy at parties and other celebrations. After you've completed a marathon, it's tempting to overindulge while you're celebrating your achievement with family and friends. It's fine to celebrate your accomplishment with an indulgent meal and some drinks, but try not to let it turn into a month-long celebration. Follow these tips for portion control and avoiding holiday weight gain.

4. Reward yourself in other ways. Yes, it's fun to celebrate your accomplishment, but there are ways to do that other than eating and drinking. Treat yourself to a much-needed post-marathon massage or buy yourself some new running gear. Getting some new running clothes will also keep you motivated to continue running.

5. Have healthy snacks on-hand. Even though you may not be running as many miles each week, you may still find yourself feeling hungry all the time. Whether you're at work, home, school, or on-the-go, make sure you're always prepared with healthy snacks so you don't eat unhealthy, high-calorie foods because they're more convenient.

6. Track your foods. It's easy to consume too many calories when you're not really aware of how much you're eating and drinking. Once you start keeping track of your calories, you may be shocked at how many calories you're taking in, and you'll be able to identify areas for improvement. And tracking your calories may actually make you think twice before going overboard.

7. Place your finishing photo somewhere prominent. Whether it's on your desk, your refrigerator, or your wall, display your race photo proudly. Being reminded of your marathon completion will help motivate you to continue running and you'll be inspired to fit into that marathon outfit.

Also see: Secrets of Skinny Runners
Why Am I Not Losing Weight With Running?
How to Avoid Common Weight Loss Mistakes
What to Do After You Finish a Marathon

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