My Fitness Pal

Off-Season Nutrition

Caitlin, our resident nutritial coach, shares her thoughts on nutrition and in eating while in recovery, the off-season. Jessica and I keep our hunger at bay during the off season by eating food that keeps us full, such as lara bars, apples and homemade granola. And thanks to Caitlin, Meghan understands the power of the food journal - she's been using it recently to lose a few pounds before she begins her half-marathon training.

One of the most common side effects of long distance training is an increased appetite. Many runners love this part of training - it gives us the ability to have an extra treat or cheat a bit on a long run day and not see the usual side effects of weight gain. Although it is definitely possible to maintain or even gain weight while training for a race, it is even more likely that you gain weight directly after a race. Why does this happen?
Right after you race, your body (and appetite) is still used to the high activity levels of training and anticipates a high level of calorie burn. Basically your body is asking for fuel to burn. However, most runners immediately step down their workouts post-race - leading to more calories consumed than calories burned. Our bodies still think they need more fuel for higher intensity workouts while we are taking more rest days. So how can we avoid weight gain during this time? 
  • Keep moving! You don't have to keep up the intensity you built during training, but don't go from running 30 miles a week to never leaving your couch. You might not be training, but try to get in a little activity each day - whether it's an easy run, a long walk, a bike ride, or a restorative yoga class.
  • Be mindful of calories in vs. calories out. This might be a great time to start/restart a food journal or track your food using an app (My Fitness Pal is my personal favorite) and become aware of what you are putting into your body. Remember that if you are looking to maintain your current weight, it's okay to take in as many calories as you burn, but if you are looking to lose weight there needs to be a deficit - you must burn more than you take in. And if you eat more calories than you burn, you're looking at a likely weight gain.
  • Be patient with yourself! It takes some time for your body to adjust, so you may feel hungrier for a few days. Listen to your body - feed it with healthy fuel, drink plenty of water, and be patient. After your body figures out that it needs less fuel, it will adjust and you will feel less hungry over time.