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If you enter a marathon to help you lose weight, think again. Often, runners gain weight during training. You may find that after your race, you lose weight - sometimes almost instantaneously. Learn what to expect race day and in the weeks following.
During the Race
You can lose more than a quart of water an hour through sweat while exercising intensely, says the American Council on Exercise. This can show up as pounds lost on the scale post race, even if you think you are hydrating adequately. For every pound you lose immediately during the course of the race, you should drink between 16 and 24 ounces of water to replace it.
If you underwent a carb-loading regimen in the three to four days prior to the race, you may have put on a pound or three. The theory behind carb-loading is that you increase your intake of carbohydrates to about 70 percent of daily calories to load up your glycogen stores, the energy in your muscles. A side effect is weight gain because for every ounce of carb stores in your body you store about 3 ounces of water. When you go back to eating a normal diet and not carb loading, this weight should come off quickly and relatively easily.
You may think that 50-plus miles-per-week running would turn you into a toothpick, but often the opposite happens. The increased activity may cause you to eat more or at least make you feel like you deserve to eat more, which can cause you to gain weight gradually over the course of your training. Your body may also hold onto fat stores when you run a lot to protect you from running out of energy. You can lose weight after the marathon, but you'll have to be diligent about your eating and cut out the indulgences for a while.
If you ran your marathon and keep going and going for weeks afterward without a notable break for recovery, you risk overtraining your body. One of the symptoms of overtraining is weight loss and lack of appetite. A post-marathon period of recovery is essential to coming back strong. Give yourself at least a few weeks of lighter runs and workouts to allow your body to recover from the stress.