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Natural Law: Running Weight

After a weekend of 10 miles of running and 25 miles of biking over 3 days, I happily hopped on the scale hoping for a smidge of improvement.   My weight is consistently within 10-12 pounds of where I know I should be, but I consider it tolerable.   I lose and gain the same pound so regularly that the little fat fairy doesn't even put it in long term storage anymore, she just puts it on the shelf 'cause she knows it will be back at home on my body in a day or so.  So by adding in some extra miles, it could only help, right?   Wrong!Scale

When the needle stopped on the scale, a series of warning lights, loud sirens, and 'emergency' voices went off in my head.   The scale registered 7 MORE pounds than where I started on Friday.  What the ....?!?   This is way out of any level of acceptable.  The logical side of my head took over...let's see...if I use 3000 calories per pound, that would be 21,000 calories.  My mind and body tried to assess the situation:

  • Mindy to Body:  Body, did you eat an extra 21,000 calories when I wasn't looking?
  • Body:  ...well...I don't think I did.   
  • Mind:  Think!  Did you or did you not?  Using Half Fast's Baconator estimates, that would be like eating 17 large greasy hamburgers.  Did you eat 17 hamburgers this weekend?
  • Body: No, I think I remember some onion rings and a beer.
  • Mind:  Or cookies...I know you can't resist cookies...How many cookies?  21,000 calories would be about 140 cookies or maybe even 120 cookies and 20 beers.   Does that sound familiar?
  • Body:  No, really, can't remember cookies..although there was some chocolate chips I found ...  maybe I ate it in my sleep!

And then my running brain kicked in and reminded me of one of the natural law of running.  A dark natural law - one I don't like.  One I had ignored or forgotten because I haven't officially been in training.   

Natural Law:  When you start training for an event, you first gain weight before you can take it off.

I have been running so randomly that I had slipped around this little law for the last fewLittle_fat_fairy  weeks.  I was running under the little fat fairy's radar.  But the extra miles this weekend, and packaged in 3 consecutive days, must have sent up a big red flag to Body and her.  Body immediately put on the hard hat and started assessing my chubby little legs, caboose and gut and telling the little fat fairy to store some fat here, start building muscle there, pump up the blood supply over yonder....(ok, I am not sure all the scientific stuff behind the weight gain). But, 7 pounds...that is just plain overreacting.  It is just plain mean.   What happened to our agreed upon deal of 2, 3, or even 4 pounds.

Now I have a decision on my hands.  For me, I know that it usually takes three weeks of training and weight gain/steady weight before it comes back off.  So I need to really begin training and keep up the mileage so I can get over to the other side to the good natural law where running takes off weight.  If I don't, I could own these 7 pounds for a long time.  And without a single cookie or cheeseburger to show for it!

After I stopped hyperventilating, I found this useful article on weight gain during training.  Granted, I am not doing a marathon program, but I still think I can use any of the reasons listed as an excuse.  And thanks to other bloggers like lifestudent and blueollie who posted about the same law - there is comfort in numbers.   

Photo of scale by gordyt

Photo of fairy by christaitnh20


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Maggie Mae

"You first put weight on before you can take it off". I like that. So...how long before it does come off???

I fluctuate extremely easily, as well. I was looking at pictures taken last fall, literally within days of each other (one was Sunday, one was the folliwng Thursday). I look like I dropped 10 pounds in those few days...and i think those pictures finally made my husband realize the evil I constantly battle.

Sad thing is, those same 10 pounds were probably back on by the weekend.


I have been training for over four months, and have yet to see any decrease in weight - though I must admit my appetite is not as massive as it was earlier in training. There is also a second concern I have heard about: post-training weight gain! Supposedly when you stop training, it takes your body a while to realize this ... so you keep eating and acting like you still are training. With the decreased activity combined with the strong desire for carbs your body still has, many gain weight. Sooo....If I am gaining weight during training, and I am going to gain weight after training, I should be carrying a nice 10-20 lbs heading into the Holidays - where I will then put on another 5. I can already see my New Years resolution :(


I like this post because I've had the same thing going on. Last summer it seemed to take forever to loose weight and then all of a sudden a month before a 10 miler, it started dropping. This summer has gone the same - I feel like I'm eating better, but running more and the weight is staying the same. But this all started when I started "training." Three years ago I lost weight without feeling like I had to do too much and before I got into racing.


My weight seems to fluctuate quite a bit depending on my mileage and my diet, but it's always frustrating to gain those pounds at the beginning of a new training period. By the way, thanks for the mention.


You know, that always seems to be the case...if you're aiming to lose, you typically gain, it does with me. So don't get too frustrated, don't let the 'little fat fairy' get the best of you. :)

Bob Gentile

"You first put weight on before you can take it off"

Yup a pretty true statement... Now I am at 167 from 183 7 months ago, and stronger then when I was 183 BUT I do believe I can drop 5-6 pounds more.... now I run in hot humid FL so after my 2 hour runs I will drop 5 pounds of water weight but put it all back in after the run... so my next 5 pounds of permanent loss will be a lot slower...

Keep that body moving & watch the cookies :-)

The Running Guy

Good post - glad to hear that I am not the only one. As Bella put it in her post, I find the thing that really matters is "watching the cookies". For me, the less food I eat, the better I run. I am not talking about starving myself - just really watching the portions and stopping before I feel full. I could run 30 miles per week and bike to work and still not lose weight if I eat full portions!! Frustrating, but I have learned that my body responds well to small portions and that is what I try to do.


Great post! It's so easy to put on weight and yet so difficult to take it off. I find that drinking a lot of water (much more than 64 oz a day) helps me keep my weight down. That being said, it's true: when you begin training seriously you often gain a couple of pounds before you lose them.

Hang in there, Amy! If you're careful with your diet, the weight will come off!


Well, Muscle does weigh more than fat!!
I had a 50k race this Sunday. Monday morning I stepped on the scale and I weighed 180lbs...the heaviest I've been for almost 5 months! At least my pants still fit.


Again, your comments are comforting! I feel better that I am not officially a freak of nature, but also know that I need to eat carefully - darn it, I hate being a grown up! And as for the water, I drank so much since this little scale incident that I float everywhere I go.

Running Hawkeye

This was the encouragement I needed today. I was mentioning to a friend the other day that I've been training for three weeks now and have cut my calories pretty significantly but haven't seen the pounds melt off yet. Sounds like I need a bit more patience.


Not a pound here either. I am struggling -- keep thinking it should be melting off but I guess the muscle has to get into place first. On the other hand, I am probably guilty of allowing myself some extras "because I have been running so much." Anyone ever had the gyros in the chicago airport down in F?? I would really hate to ever know the nutritional info on those babies, I'm sure the whole experience would be ruined for me....

I must have tried on 3 of my suits today before settling on one that I could actually be seen in public wearing. Okay, maybe I can work on the indulgences!

Tom O'Leary


I've never heard of this rule before but it sure makes sense. I guess it can motivate to step past the short term weight gain and persist till things settle down and we are able to have more control of our body weight via our training.

The moral of the story...we are biological creatures, so our bodies sometimes don't do exactly what we want when we want it.



Wanted to drop in my two cents... Say you state that it takes 3,000 calories to lose a pound.

"One pound of body weight is equivalent to 3500 calories. So in order to lose one pound of weight, we need to create a calorie-deficit of 3500 calories."

So taking this into consideration, you would have had to eat an additional 35 cookies or 23 beers!

Great post and it makes sense. When I first starting running a lot I couldn't understand why I wasn't losing weight. I was eating a ton less and was running a ton, where was I going wrong? So essentially eating less made me lose weight, and the initial stages of running made me gain weight, so I broke even in the beginning. Makes sense.


brilliant post. so true, and SO UNFAIR!
don't worry, you'll soon drop the weight.


You actually have a "little fat fairy"? That's friggin awesome!


I wish the fat fairy was imaginary,like the tooth fairy. :(

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This is the one we did, isn't it??? It's one of my all time favorite runs.

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I like how you worded this. I'm glad that some schools have the Cross Country programs. It is important for our kids to learn these lessons. I'm wondering about trying to get something started at my daughter's school. I'm reluctant because I never had any cross country experience of my own.

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This sounds like one fun race. Can't wait to check out the pictures. Good luck Amy and Tom!

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