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3 Ways That Running Can Make You Gain Weight

And how knowing them can help you become a better runner

Photo by Jenny Hill on Unsplash
“Obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.”
— Michael Jordan

“Have you lost weight?”

I heard this three or four times in the beginning. It felt great to get back into running again for the first time since high school, about a year into my full-time desk job.

But my naivety slapped me in the face and soon I had gained some of that weight back.

I’m still paying the price for not listening to reason when I first began running.

After 3 half marathons and a full, I believe anyone can run a half marathon and more, but there are plenty of lessons I’ve learned from starting my running journey that I wish I could have begun with.

Whenever we begin something new, we’re often so filled with excitement and optimism that we fail to recognize that a healthy dose of realism can go a long way.

It’s that realism that I wish I had practiced at the beginning, but that now lets me hopefully help another beginning their running journey.

You Think “I deserve this [junk food item] because I went running today”

This is an all too common problem for anyone who exercises on a regular basis.

You get excited knowing that you burned all those extra calories.

You might even see it in a calorie tracking app like MyFitnessPal.

So you eat that extra cheeseburger, decide to have that slice of cake or swing by the store for some ice cream on your way home from work.

It’s not easy to deal with this type of mindset because it usually comes to beginner runners unexpectedly.

But if you know right from the start that some days you’ll feel like you deserve to eat unhealthily, then you can be prepared to say no to those foods that won’t serve you or your health goals.

It’s Easy to Overtrain and Get Injured

Running is a lot of fun.

Or rather, it becomes fun the more you do it.

Anyone can learn to love running. Anyone can become better at running.

It’s easy to become addicted to it and run too much.

This was the first problem that I learned a lot from right in the beginning. Many days were spent trying to figure out what was wrong with my knee. After discovering that it was IT band syndrome, I was able to resolve the issues I had developed.

But along the way, I had fallen out of the habit of running on the days that my injury got really bad. And in the process, I gained some weight.

Injuries are a natural part of running and should be expected by every new runner. Having a backup plan for a form of cross-training when you start will be invaluable to your success later on.

It’s Even Easier to Get Excited, Overtrain, and Get Depressed from Trying to Work too Hard

This was my biggest problem starting out.

I ran two half marathons after only a few months of starting to get seriously into running.

So, naturally, I thought I was ready for a full.

I may have been able to finish a marathon.

But I was unprepared to finish training for it.

I got excited, pushed myself too hard, and ended up depressed because of it. I overtrained and almost entirely fell out of love with running. I had worked so hard to learn to love running that I had loved it too much and ran myself physically and mentally into the ground.

It wasn’t worth it.

If I could go back, I would tell my younger self, excited about the new habit of running that I was developing, to relax and take more time to train. But I can’t do that. Instead, I can help you.

When you start running, or even if you’re continuing and finding yourself gaining weight, take some advice from one who has gone too far.

Don’t let yourself overeat on any day while running. Except maybe the occasional cheat day.

Don’t let yourself overtrain. The practical way to do this, rather than just telling yourself “don’t overtrain”, is instead to let running be part of your life but not your whole life. Practice balance.

And most importantly, do not push yourself too hard.

Take your time.

Know your limits.

You can love running, but do it at your own pace.