Running & fuel


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Ok, here goes:


Rewind to early 2014: I was very overweight, unhappy, and determined to get my health under control (also have FMS, which can complicate matters).  In June, I discovered I was pregnant, and, to add complexity, I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism (which explains at least part of my weight gain for the approximately 9 months preceding and my inability, no matter what I did, to lose any weight). Over the course of my pregnancy, I gained about 10 lbs, which was healthy for my situation. 3 months postpartum, I decided it was time to get back on the bandwagon, so I cleaned up my diet a little and started an interval running program. 3 weeks into the running and seeing no results (either in my endurance or on the scale), I decided to buckle down and do a W30 (my second ever). My results were incredible, but to save time (as this is already getting too long), let's skip ahead to today: running 14+ miles per week, down 50+ lbs from my pre-pregnancy weight, and generally just feeling awesome (I stick to a mostly W30 diet even when not doing a W30).


So here's where I'm at: I still have some weight to lose to get to a healthy BMI, but my weight loss has really slowed down, and I'm hoping for some insight from someone who can see my situation with perspective that I'm lacking. To be clear, the number on the scale doesn't define me, but it is a tool I still use (I've debated throwing my scale away, I'm just not quite there yet - and neither is my husband).


Now to the questions/thoughts:

1. Even though we don't count calories, does anyone find it a useful way to gauge whether you're eating enough? I.e. should I do a quick and dirty calculation to see if, on an average day, I'm eating enough? I eat to satiety, but I'm wondering if I need to do 4 smaller meals instead of 3 larger ones (I get up at 4:30am and usually go to bed between 8:30-9pm).

2. When I first started running, I didn't really include an extra pre- or post-workout meal because my context didn't seem to warrant it (I wasn't running very far, less than 5k at a time, and was carrying a lot of extra weight). I now alternate with 2 short runs (3.5-4 miles) and one long run (~7 miles) per week, and my pace is significantly faster - do I need an extra regular-sized meal on the long run day? Are the shorter runs long enough to warrant a snack-sized meal?

3. Did anyone find that their needs changed as they changed body composition/increased workouts? If I'm smaller, my initial gut response is that I should need less food, not more, but that could just be 3 decades of improper programming...


I feel silly that I even need to ask these questions (it's my body, after all), but I think I need some advice from someone who's been through this part already. :) TIA!

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1. Calories do not give you useful information. If you use calories to judge whether you are eating enough, you will make bad decisions. We give you a meal planning template based upon the size of your hands and proper meal composition to help you approach eating the proper amount. And we suggest adjustments. Use the meal template. 


2. Maybe. Maybe not. It depends upon how hard you run or how long you keep your heart rate up. The idea with pre- and post-workout food is to consume it when your exercise is hard and to maybe skip it if your exercise is modest or not very challenging. Another important factor is whether you get hungry between meals. If you are getting hungry between meals and exercising only modestly, you may need pre- and/or post-workout food to make up for the extra energy burned. 


3. The amount of food that you need to eat will vary a bit from day to day based upon sleep, activity levels, hormones, etc. You should never eat less than the meal template minimum and you may need to eat more. 


How much to eat
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Thanks Tom! I've seen and used the template quite a bit, I guess I was just hoping someone out there had some real-life experience with this issue. There's a difference between academic knowledge and practical knowledge gleaned from experience. ;)

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I have tried tracking my calories with an online service at times for a day or two "just to see" and honestly I  changed the way I aet to do it, and it's not good.  I end up hungry and grumpy.  But you know what, doing it the "right way" I lost 13 pounds my first time, running and training for a 1/2 marathon (and it is actually easy to stay the same or gain while training!).  I started out at 155 and ended at 142, going from a size 8 to a size 4/6, so I wasn't bad off to begin with.  - Yes everyone will tell you "it's not about weight" and "it's not a diet" but from someone who had real life concerns as I ran and wanted to get to a healthier weight I get that concern eating all those foods that we have been programmed for years to avoid.  It works.  Really listen to your body, it will get to a point that you can trust it again because it won't just be after the next sugar fix anymore!

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