Body By Marathon!

Ohhh yeahhh… check out my legs! Check out these muscles!! … that was my comment to the spouse recently. I’ve run a bunch of races in the last couple of years but it hasn’t been until I started marathon training that it started to really change my body. Finally it’s time to brag and show off some pre-race hard work results (well, show off to my spouse I mean).

I’ve gotten down to close-to-race-weight in the last 2 years (aka Ideal Race Weight + 10 lbs), but I never saw muscles like these.  Lately I’ve seen my arms and legs shrink in size, but the damn scale hasn’t budged much. In the back of my mind I thought, ok, maybe I’m gaining muscle and that’s why the scale isn’t moving? But that can also be an excuse people tell themselves when they aren’t losing weight due to poor diet choices (that certainly sounds like me). I’m slightly heavier now than when I did those half marathons so I didn’t know what to believe. Then came a recent doctor’s visit for a lingering muscle injury. My doc said: “Did you lose weight?” Me: “Yes, I’m training for a marathon.” Doc: “How much did you lose?” Me: “I dunno, maybe 10 lbs? I’m still working on it.” Doc: “You look like you lost a LOT more than that!”  Me: “Oh yeah?” … inside voice –> *YAY!!!!!!!*

do these shorts make my muscles look huge?

do these shorts make my muscles look huge? – says the super fit run chick above!… I want to look like her by my 2nd marathon!

I’m pretty much taking that comment as a YES. As in, yes, I have gained muscle weight and I look thinner than the scale is telling me. And that feels pretty great to hear. Marathon training doesn’t equate to massive weight loss. I knew that going into it. And yet you can’t help but step on the scale and go – what the f—?! when you’re monitoring your food intake and logging 20 mile runs and you’re up a pound. It’s demoralizing! If I was already at my racing weight, I wouldn’t care about these fluctuations but when I’m still trying to get there, it sucks. Now I feel a whole lot better!

Before, I told my race buddy that we would definitely just do this marathon and be done. That I’d go back to half marathons and she could go back to 10ks because those were always easier for us to schedule into our lives. Now I don’t know! I’m liking these legs! And apparently my half marathon training wasn’t producing these results. Maybe I was just going about that training all wrong. But the fact remains that if I don’t keep up this kind of mileage and training, I’ll lose these leg muscles faster than you can say “More pumpkin pie, please!

Obviously this post doesn’t tell any veteran runners anything new. All of the people I know who do serious running already have legs like this. But that’s the interesting thing. I don’t do as

strong legs!

Shalane “Strong Legs” Flanagan!

many miles as these folks do but I’m still seeing the results of it. Sadly, I have not given up brownies, nor have I given up scrapping my 4th training run each week. But even with a less-than-perfect approach to marathon training, it still really puts the change on your body. That might be the best news I’ve received all season! If these are the results of a 60-70% effort, what are the results of 80% effort? 90%? Does anyone do 100%? Oh yeah, my run buddy! Brilliant legs!

Moral of this story? Sign up for a marathon! If you get even half your runs in, your body will change! Even if you don’t crank it out like a running obsessed pro, you really will be doing your body a favor. It’s not as hard as you think. Take it from someone who thinks life is hard when there is no brownie at the end of the week.

5 responses to “Body By Marathon!

  1. Wow, your legs look amazing, and super strong! I’m actually gaining weight marathon training.
    Avail us of your wisdom – how are you keeping the runger in check?


    • Oh gosh those aren’t my legs! It was a poor joke about what that chick must think when she’s running. Ha! I wish I had a body like hers! My legs are just looking closer to what they looked like before I had my babies in the last couple of years. 🙂 I’m still working on it! As for what I’m doing, I incorporate strategies from the Elimination Diet and from Racing Weight (book) as often as I can. It’s still hard though. It’s not super fun to watch your spouse inhale bread, cheesy pasta and wine while you have a wee bit of salmon and quinoa. But you probably look thinner even though the scale is going up! Have you taken your measurements lately? That’s what saves me mentally – seeing those measurements go down.


      • I’ve heard a lot of good things about Racing Weight, I may need to check it out. I am pretty sure I put on the lbs the honest way – a few too many pizza/fried chicken indulgences. I’ve backed off those treats and lost a couple of lbs but I should recheck my measurements! I could tell my clothes were a little snug but the are beginning to feel more normal again.


  2. Don’t pay attention to the scale, pay attention to how your clothes fit and how great you feel! FYI- no one cared to tell me that your training appetite stays the same even after all the training is over! So you either need to keep up with the running (which I did not!) or change your eating habits to be back to normal 🙂 Two more weeks– GOOD LUCK!!


    • Thanks! It’s definitely hard not to pay attention to the scale. And I know what you mean about when you stop. I’ve stopped running since exams started and I’ve turned into a giant hippo! Just from one week of not running (but not curbing my appetite in accordance). Why is training so hard?!


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