Monday, December 3, 2012


How to Train for a Half Marathon and Somehow Still Gain Weight


Monday: Think about running.
Tuesday: Think about running.
Wednesday: Spend $100 on shoes when the cute salesman at Fleet Feet tells you you "overpronate."
Thursday: Spend 30 minutes at work doing research on energy gels.
Friday: Think about running.
Saturday: Think about running.
Sunday: Run less than 2 miles.


Monday: It’s kind of raining a little bit! You shouldn’t run today.
Tuesday: Run 4 miles when you thought you had run 3! You’re doing great! Have some chocolate milk!
Wednesday: “Stretch and strengthen.” 
Thursday: Rest.
Friday: Think about running.
Saturday: Run 3 miles.
Sunday: Skip your long run so you can go see a movie instead.


Monday: You didn’t run yesterday. Run 4 miles.
Tuesday: Stretch and strengthen.
Wednesday: Stretch and strengthen.
Thursday: Stretch and strengthen.
Friday: Stretch and strengthen.
Saturday: Who are you kidding? Drink.
Sunday: You only ran once this week. Guilt-run 4 miles.


Monday: Stretch and strengthen.
Tuesday: Run 3 miles.
Wednesday: 40-minute cross training.
Thursday: Sleep through morning run, but you did intend to run, so it kind of counts.
Friday: Run through the neighborhood with your roommates singing “you don’t know you’re beautiful.”
Saturday: Rest.
Sunday: You’re just really busy.


Monday: This week is going to be different! Run 4 miles!
Tuesday: 30-minute cross training! You are a rockstar!
Wednesday: Start complaining to friends about your “athletic injuries.”
Thursday: You’re going to run tomorrow.
Friday: You’re going to run tomorrow.
Saturday: You’re going to run tomorrow.
Sunday: There’s always next week.


Monday: Maybe you just need some motivation? Run to Firehook bakery! 4 miles.
Tuesday: Think about running.
Wednesday: Think about running.
Thursday: Casually mention that you can’t go to happy hour because you “have to train.”
Friday: Sleep through morning run.
Saturday: That bakery thing seemed to work right? Run 5 miles! Good work!
Sunday: Too hungover.

WEEKS 7 & 8



Monday: Realize you’re still doing this. Run 6 miles followed by ice cream.
Tuesday: Jet-lag, amirite?
Wednesday: Jet-lag, amirite?
Thursday: Run 6 miles.
Friday: Tell everyone at work you’re doing this so you can’t back out even though you really probably should at this point.
Saturday: 4 mile run.
Sunday: 2 mile run. Damn girl, four runs a week? Have some more fries, you’re an athlete now.


Monday: Catch the fear. Run 10 miles. Outrun a rainstorm. You're invincible!
Tuesday: You ran 10 miles yesterday! Have an extra taco.
Wednesday: Two days ago, you ran 10 miles! Have an extra taco.
Thursday: Three days ago, you ran 10 miles! Have an extra taco.
Friday: Stretch and strengthen.
Saturday: Fuck it, just run to Popeyes.
Sunday: Try to run 6 miles. Run 4 instead. Count it.


Monday: 30 minute cross training.
Tuesday: Stretch and strengthen.
Wednesday: 30 minute cross training.
Thursday: Stretch and strengthen.
Friday: Run 7 miles at a pretty solid clip.
Saturday: I think it’s called “tapering.”
Sunday: I think it’s called “tapering.”


Monday: Run 4 miles. Don’t want to tire yourself out.
Tuesday: Come up with super-sweet team name.
Wednesday: Make t-shirts!
Thursday: Try to find where you bookmarked all those energy gels on your work computer.
Friday: Don’t forget to make a playlist!
Saturday: Carbo-load like you’re running a full marathon.
Sunday: Race Day! Don’t worry. Somehow, you will actually get through this.

Mona Madgavkar is an amateur Arabic linguist and professional falafel snob from Washington, D.C.

57 Comments / Post A Comment


I don't (and never plan to) run races, I just run for the sake of keeping healthy, but your Week 5 is basically every other week for me.


@SarahP Same, with week 2 + extra tacos.


the perfect article for me!@y


I used to do half marathons and was definitely NOT my skinniest--those training runs take a lot out of you and I found ways to overcompensate replenishing the spent calories...


@parallel-lines A marathoning roommate of mine once watched some documentary (or was it a TV show? but a documentary TV show) that followed a bunch of people who had never run before as they trained for a marathon. Only a couple people lost weight during the training, and they even put it all back on by the end of training.

polka dots vs stripes

@SarahP Yeah I trained for half marathon to lose weight and definitely didn't - but I stopped gaining weight, so I call it a win.

up cubed

@parallel-lines Maybe Nova? It was incredible to see average people could do something I, as an average, am terrified of trying. One of them ran half of it with glass in her foot!


@parallel-lines @upupandaway That Nova episode is awesome, and last time I checked, available on Hulu.


@upupandaway I think that was it! I only half watched it with her, but I REMEMBER GLASS IN SOMEONE'S FOOT


@parallel-lines I started running and didn't lose weight, but did lose size. But that's because in order to run I also had to actually, you know, have some muscle. So whatever I was burning off in fat I was putting back on in protein, basically.

I became a shaplier, buffer, non-thin, basically.

polka dots vs stripes

I have been trouble responding to comments since last week, so I will start a new one to say:

1. I can't motivate myself to run without having some kind of "fun" goal - either a race or (when I lived elsewhere) a field hockey league.
2. I am "training" for a March 17K right now, which means I think about starting to train in December, but since it's December I'm thinking maybe January?
2.a In my defense, that race is across the country, so I might not be able to go anyway, and who wants to train only to not get to race, right?!?

fondue with cheddar

This is me trying to do just about anything difficult. Only more successful.

Nicole Cliffe

I just lift weights. When someone asks about cardio, I make a fake-sad wince, point to my knees, and say "I have IT band issues."

(I do not.)

Nicole Cliffe

@Nicole Cliffe I feel like I should write a "Dothraki Diet" book, which would just be "ride horses, eat way more meat than recommended, throw rocks during sex, see what happens to your body and then do whatever you were gonna do anyway, like take back the iron throne."

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@Nicole Cliffe "Eat a horse heart, don't throw it up, burn a witch, be nonflammable, ride a dragon, eat fresh fruit while being bathed by servants, never look back at the risk of getting lost."


@Nicole Cliffe Relevant.


@Nicole Cliffe don't forget boning outside. It makes it WAY more "athletic"-feeling and it places major import on the event. (currently devouring box set of GoT books on my Kindle... have forgotten bathing needs and my husband's existence because I've fallen so hard)


Fuck it, just run to Popeyes.

This is always the right call.

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

Replace "taco" with "beer" and we're twins. (Except for Brazil. And that you're an Arabic linguist. And likely much, much cooler than I am.)


Man, I also totally gained weight training for a half marathon! I came to resent the training, stopped doing it as much, but ate a lot. Still finished, though! I like 10k better, I found.


For years my snarky joke was "What are you running from?" until I realized the equally snarky response: "Obesity".


@aliceandstuff "Lions! And you'd better move your ass too, they're almost here!!"

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@aliceandstuff I've always been told that I should be faster than at least one person on the trail to avoid being eaten by a bear. (Also, I run from/with my Feelings.)


@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose maybe I should get back into running. I really can't deal with feelings and beer is not the same as running...

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@theotherginger Ugh, feelings are the worst, aren't they? Darken up that triad, ginger baby. Let's get rid of our feelings all together!


I'm convinced that the entire history of human civilization -- sedentary agriculture, cities, etc. -- was our concerted effort, as a species, to never have to run again. Now wherever I go I am constantly dodging some blur of spandex who is "training for a marathon."

What's wrong with a nice exercise bike, where you can pedal away in the air conditioning and read your Kindle?


@stuffisthings Also, is Firehook Bakery any good? I've peeked in the one in Dupont but only late in the day when they're mostly out of bread.


@stuffisthings I "run" (poorly, but whatever) and I still loved your first paragraph. NICE.

(Also: what's wrong with an exercise bike for me is that I need changing scenery or I will get so bored I will not work out.)


@stuffisthings I run on a treadmill. The weather is never against me, I don't have to worry about being run over, and no one can ever lap me.


@stuffisthings I was reading some thing somewhere where the author suggested that is basically it.

Like, we are actually built to run, especially for long periods. But we also don't want to waste energy running for no good reason, when we might want to use it to get away from lions or whatever. So human feelings about running are a back and forth of

"do it! doooo it! you know you will feel so good when you are doooone!"


"no no no no no no I have to build complex societies and establish sedentary lifestyles because I MIGHT NEED THAT RUNNING CAPACITY LATER."

Don't know if I buy it science-wise. But as stories we tell ourselves go, I kind of like it.


@PistolPackinMama Coupled with the evidence that agriculture arose primarily to brew alcohol, not feed people, I'm satisfied that the current consensus in paleoanthropology supports my lifestyle choices (= avoiding running and drinking as often as I possibly can).


@stuffisthings I cannot run. I'm in good shape and can do any other form of cardio for hours but I can barely run a city block without wanting to die. Literally. Exercise bike forever. I read the NYT on it.

apples and oranges

@stuffisthings I like Firehook! The ladies who work there in the morning (or did as of this summer, the last time I went regularly) are really nice. They have tasty granola bars and coffee. And CAKES. Good, good cakes.


@stuffisthings I miss Firehook! Try the Presidential Sweet cookies - they're my favorite.


Hey while we're talking DC bakeries, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND St. Michel for genuine French goodness. You can get an awesome baguette sandwich for like four bucks and change, as well as all your standard boulangerie/patisserie items. Confirmed authentic by an actual French person! (It's on NY Avenue and 14th Street, and their main location is in Rockville I think.) I highly recommend that you all walk, not run, there post haste.


@stuffisthings Thanks for the tip! I have to be down in DC a couple of times in the next month, so I will make a trip to St. Michel.


I think about running like, every day. And only manage to take walks sometimes around the parking lot at work. I'm vaguely afraid of getting "bad knees" from running, & also, WHERE DO YOU GUYS RUN. I'm afraid of getting murdered? Like, if I become a runner, I'll somehow be that runner in the beginning scene of a Law & Order episode who is murdered.


@fabel No no no, the runners FIND the dead bodies! You're totally cool!

honey cowl

Oh girl, race day is SO MUCH MORE FUN when you are all trained up. It feels amazing to check all your workouts off & go into that race knowing you're ready to own it. I promise.

PS. Long-distance running is not a way to lose weight. It's a way to work on commitment, achieving goals, pushing yourself, and body image. Speaking as a marathoner (note, in my profile picture, me kissing the medal at the end of my first marathon), running has had so many powerful effects on my life. It has totally made me who I am.

BUT if you're looking to lose weight, a combo of weight training & cardio you can do for an hour (aka, not running for most beginners!) is where it's at.

honey cowl

@LaurenF I know I took this way too seriously but RUNNING IS MY LIFE YOU GUYS


@LaurenF I feel you. Own your earnest love for running. It is an amazing thing.


Man, I always feel like i'm in the minority when the issue of running and weight comes up. i used to be about 15 pounds heavier then I am now, and I was off and on depressed and had weird dependency issues. Then I started running about 4x a week and I gradually lost 15 pounds (over a few years). Since i started running i've been pretty happy and and it's been very easy for me to maintain my weight . it's really just the motivation to get out the door that i think is the biggest challenge. anyways, my point is running is the best.

barefoot cuntessa

@peregrina When I actually get up and do it, I love running. I can easily gear up to 10 miles on the outside of a week. It is meditative for me, and the only time I am actually able to clear my mind. I love yoga, but can never get out of my head. The problem is that I love distance running, and it is just so time consuming. And, at my core, I'm a lazy mofo. Mostly the last part.


You definitely don't lose weight training for a half marathon. Running makes you super hungry and you don't want to feel deprived when you're going out on your long run.

But if you've had what I'll casually call "food issues" in the past, this is all a good thing. Getting in touch with your body's natural rhythms, feeling hungry because you've been active and valuing your strength rather than a number on the scale is all for the good.


@Megan@twitter Yes, they have done Studies on this and determined that the ideal amount of exercise per day is 30 minutes. Any more and it just makes you ravenous and you eat way more than you could ever burn off. I guess some people don't have this, but for me it's definitely true, exercise does nothing for my weight loss efforts, and in fact the only way I can usually lose any weight is by not exercising and eating very little. Having the flu for two weeks is really the ideal way, otherwise it's just sort of lethargic slow-starving that works. (but exercise is good for fitness and health generally, of course!)


@WaityKatie "the ideal amount of exercise *for weight loss*" that is.

Nicole Cliffe

This is such a thing. Cardio is amazing for your heart and lungs, you should do it! For weight loss, maybe not so much? Exercise = it's not just for having the dress size of a new-era Sweet Valley High twin.


@WaityKatie I had pneumonia last month and lost a bunch of weight. Obviously part of that was from having no appetite, a fever, and all the medications making me really digestive-ly sick but I'm sure part of it was from not working out. I'm not that big an eater anyway but it's sooooo easy not to eat when you don't work out. The problem is that I like feeling healthy and energetic and working my muscles and being able to lift weights and stuff. But yeah, being sick is the best way to lose weight.


Running has always made me gain weight. I didn't lose weight until I switched to going for long walks.


I recommend signing up for a half training program in a fit of exercise induced summer euphoria, feeling very very not into when the rain hits and every hour it's light out is spent in the office, then "pulling" a hamstring at crossfit and deciding "well, that's as good a reason as any to quit" but continuing to eat as if you're training, with the addition of winter blues eating, which is only compounded by the fact that you aren't getting any exercise and therefore feel more blue.

I almost fell of the scale yesterday in shock. More brownies please! I'm going for a voluptuous look this winter. I think it's working.


I recommend drunk-agreeing to a half marathon (that is in October) (oh, it's only April), arrange a training schedule, think "ok I'll really start training in June," sprain the SHIT out of your ankle in May, get fat.


@phipsi Great plan. I commend your efficiency!


Shit, I've just remembered that Fitocracy account I signed up for. It's incredibly sad and point-less.


Decide you're going to run more than once or twice a week.
Get pregnant.
Suddenly have enormous boobs that hurt if they move.
Decide walking sounds good.
Apologize to your dog for dashing all his hopes and dreams.


Biggest motivating factor that gets me to the gym these days: $80/month is a lot to waste.

Also, on the cardio machines I can watch bad TV without my boyfriend judging me (Breaking Amish!) AND not feel as guilty about the extra glass(es) of wine I drank the night before!


@Ellie The more I exercise, the less I eat (and the better I want to eat). I don't know what you guys are talking about!


My attempts at running go like this:

Weekend: Couch to 5K! It'll be awesome!

Week 1: During runs, swing wildly between "I can do this" and "I am so fat and slow and stupid and I suck at running." At least once per session, fight off an impulse to cry in frustration. After runs, feel ascetic self-satisfaction.

Week 2: Repeat Week 1.

Week 3: Just barely make it through those 3-minute runs, gasping for breath and feeling like you are going to die. Continue to derive a hard, white-knuckled joy from successfully forcing yourself to do this.

Week 4: Push ahead to 3- and 5-minute run intervals. Continue to just barely make it through. Start feeling dizzy by the end, but push your way through it. Stumble off the treadmill still gasping for breath. Collapse on one of the gym benches for 30 minutes before you can make it up the stairs to exit.

Week 5: Get sick for a week -- cold, flu, stomach virus. Quit running. Wait a few months, then repeat from Week 1.

I think I just fail at running.

Post a Comment

You must be logged-in to post a comment.

Login To Your Account