The final nail?

Marathon #5 may be the last, I know I said it before, but today it became more obvious that while I love the training and the thrill of it, I am not a fan of what it does to my body.  Looks like I have some soul searching, or maybe rather fitness goal searching.

It’s hard to swallow what science had already told me would happen during marathon training.  This isn’t my first rodeo, but then again, I wasn’t monitoring the fat/muscle levels before January 2010.    I compared this morning’s BODPOD against the one from July, which was before training technically started (it was low miles then).  Keep in mind, I am a low mileage runner when it comes to training, I run 4 times a week. 

Without changing body weight, I lost ~3 lbs of muscle and gained ~3 lbs of fat during marathon training. My BF percentage went up ~2.5%. 

Wow, how much muscle loss and fat gain would I have had if I hadn’t been keeping up with my strength training (minus the immediate time before and after the race)? I didn’t lift during the taper, as it’s not recommended for performance reasons.

This may be the deciding factor in whether I do another full marathon. I was able to gain muscle in half training, which was supposed to be hard, but I was able to do it. I am now back to where I was in the spring, so it’s a step back.

Do I want to spend 5 months out of the year killing off muscle and gaining fat and spend the other months trying to undo the “damage”?  I’ll admit I do really like full training, but I also really like half training and the fact it’s not as hard on my body.  Decisions, decisions.

Good reads on the topics mentioned:

Hormonal Response to Marathon Running

Marathon Training and Muscle Loss

Final Nail in Cardio Coffin

And here’s a good one for my mood the other day when I was feeling sorry for myself about my GI/mystery illness issues:



6 thoughts on “The final nail?

    • yeah, the BF thing is extensively researched too.

      And i’m one of those people who maybe ate a little more to fuel the runs. I didn’t change what I ate, didn’t use training as an excuse to go nuts. Quality of food was almost the same, just a little more quantity

  1. I have totally struggled with this SAME issue. It’s a really hard toss up for me because I love the challenge of endurance running. It’s so nice to have a goal to work towards, and a plan to follow. On the other hand, I don’t love what it does to my body. I love to strength train, and I think that it’s really important to good health? Have you ever considered a triathlon?

      • Halves are definitely easier on the body, and more fun too. I have never done a triathlon either…mainly because i don’t want to have to get my hair wet all the time training with swimming. How lame is that? The gym I work at actually specializes in training triathletes, so you’d think i’d be all over it, but I stick with the running as well.

  2. Deep breath, heart. Every body is different, and reacts differently to different things. At some point as an endurance athlete, your body will begin to burn muscle. That’s just exercise physiology. No one runs five marathons and then decides that it isn’t worth it, though!

    I think that all of us train differently. We all do the miles, but in terms of additional training to keep the body lean, we have different ideas. I believe that either way, you’ve done an amazing job as a marathon runner!

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