I am writing this blog to all runners out there concerned about putting on weight after a big race. This is a brief overview of what happened to me, and I hope that it gives you some relief as you step on your scale tomorrow morning:
I am pleased to report that I am back to my pre-ultramarathon weight this morning. <Insert giant sigh of relief here>
When I left for Olympia (and my first ultra-marathon) on August 10th, I weighed myself and - naively - wondered how much weight I might lose if I met my goals of running/walking for the full 12 hours. Of course, this wasn't a weight loss plan; I wasn't trying to lose weight, per se. But I knew that I would be burning lots of calories and sweating a lot in the 90-degree heat, and I assumed that I would have a pleasant surprise when I got home and stepped on the scale.
To my surprise (and horror), I weighed SEVEN pounds more when I returned home on August 13. "How can that be?" I thought. "I didn't eat much during the run, and I threw up everything in my stomach anyway."
My mind kicked into overdrive. I thought about everything I ate after the race and the next morning - a chicken sandwich, a half-can of chicken noodle soup, a large Diet Coke, a snack-size Sun Chips bag, and a gas station breakfast burrito. I couldn't figure out how those items added up to seven pounds, even though the burrito wasn't exactly health food.
I went online and found lots of articles, blogs, and discussion boards describing similar weight gain. Most folks said that they gained 2-4 pounds after a big race ("water weight") and that the weight came off in a few days. That eased my mind somewhat, but I was worried that my weight gain was more significant, and when the weight went up another half-pound in two days, I felt concerned. (Years ago I was overweight, and I worried that I was getting fat again.)
And I felt bigger. I felt like I was swollen and thicker than I should be. I felt all 7.5 pounds.
Thankfully, the past few days have been good to me. This might be TMI, but I have been using the restroom a lot more, and it seems like my body has wanted to get rid of excess fluid and anything else that it has been holding onto (probably because it was in shock over the whole 12-hour race). It seems to have relaxed back into normal life.
This morning I stepped on the scale, and I am at my pre-race weight. My stomach feels flatter, and my fingers don't feel so sausage-y. I'm not a skinny girl, but I feel better, and I am well within "healthy and normal" weight. I'm so glad.
If I do another ultra, I might do a little bit more work on my fueling so that I don't feel so sick after the race and so I don't put on so much weight during and after the race.