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Run 50 Miles and Gain Weight?

Imagine this.

You spend 8 hours, 23 minutes and 52 seconds running and juggling your way to joggling world record glory. You takeweight gain marathon over 80,000 steps and make that many throws and catches. You burn over 7500 calories while taking in only about 2000.

You’re weight change…+3 pounds.

That’s right, you actually GAIN weight by doing an ultra marathon.

The proof of weight gain

On the Friday before running the Lakefront 50 mile ultra marathon I weighed 192 pounds.

Ran the race on Saturday. Rested on Sunday.

On the next Monday, I weighed 195 pounds.

This seemed unfathomable to me. How can you possibly gain weight after running such an incredible amount of time? Perhaps it’s fluid retention or something like that. My weight has returned to below 192 now but I just don’t get it.

Has anyone else experienced a weight increase after a long run like a marathon?

Caution jogglers, here’s proof positive that the notion of running leading to weight loss is an exaggeration. And according to this article you shouldn’t be surprised that marathon training might also lead to weight gain.

This Post Has 8 Comments
  1. I think the consensus is the body retains water to help in the rebuilding and flushing of muscle tissue. Happens to me all the time. I weigh the least about 5-7 days after I quit training.

  2. It doesn’t seem strange to me at all. Running is worthless for losing weight if you are in the least bit fit. When you are obese and haven’t run a step for 20 years, then yes, any sort of exercise is going to bring you some great gains. For somebody running an ultramarathon, though, they have trained to the point where running is going to lead more towards status quo or a little weight gain rather than weight loss.

    If you want to lose weight, don’t run an ultramarathon. Run high intensity intervals instead. Or lift weights. Both activities are much better for ramping up your metabolism; most weight is lost and calories are burned _after_ you stop running, but if you are only running long slow distance then your metabolism isn’t getting all that ramped up.

    Also, be sure to eat after every workout. 100-200 calories will allow your muscles to repair themselves so that you see more performance gains, and it will also keep your metabolism revved up so that you burn more calories in the long run.

    My 2 cents.

  3. Here’s Karl King’s (founder of Succeed Caps) response to the question of why people gain weight after an ultra:

    “The weight figures during/following an ultra, posted by Jay Hodde, are fairly common. The bloating is a combination of sodium depletion and the body’s reaction to stress. Vasopressin is the hormone which causes most of the water retention. It clears from the bloodstream after a couple days and then the retained water filters back out. All of this is normal, and not a cause for concern. It may be shocking to run an ultra and find that your weight went up, but it is only temporary.”

    So, there’s your answer. You can read the entire thread here:

    Happy Running (or Joggling),

  4. Hey everyone, thanks for the great input. Carey, the explanation you quoted makes a lot of sense. This is why I love blogging. All your questions can get answered, and often the answers are true.

  5. Oh, boy…does this one ever ring home for me! I am a certified personal trainer and have been in the fitness industry for many years. I have many clients who have had this problem. I have experienced aerobics/cardio weight gain myself over many years. I’ve just recently experienced this again as I started to train for longer and longer runs while stopping all resistance training and weight lifting. This resulted in a 10 pound weight gain, flabbier appearance, increased craving for starchy carbohydrates and a drastic decrease in upper body strength. Less than I month ago I cancelled all aerobic exercise and started strength training exclusively again. I have lost 3 pounds and my appetite has shifted more towards a craving of protein. My clothes are now fitting looser, my morning pulse rate is lower, I have almost tripled my strength and breathe easier walking up stairs or running across a busy street than I did when I was running long, slow distances. I will never run long and slow again. I have “seen the light”.

  6. PHEWWW! I am so glad I found this. I did the 10 mile Mountain Goat yesterday which is notorious for its hills at a 10 minute mile and I got on the scale this morning and was 4 lbs heavier and I was SHOCKED! It all makes sense now !! .. I will weigh again in a few days. Thanks!

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