Overeating, A Common Runner Mistake

Tired Runner

As you reach for the cere­al box to pour your sec­ond bowl, you men­tal­ly pat your­self on the back; you ran 10 miles this morn­ing and you’re feel­ing pret­ty damn proud. Of course you would stop at the first bowl on a nor­mal day, but you were up with the sun and had a long, hard run. Now, it’s time to cel­e­brate and treat your­self. Right? On the sur­face, this seems to make sense. It’s a nat­ur­al con­nec­tion for peo­ple to make, and most of us have fall­en vic­tim to this poor­ly-thought-out con­clu­sion. 

Run­ning uses energy—both men­tal and physical—and leaves us tired and hun­gry. Who would blame us if, after a long run Sat­ur­day morn­ing, we want­ed to reward our­selves with that extra bowl of cereal—or bet­ter yet, a big ol’ waf­fle and a side a bacon? We just ran 14 miles for good­ness sake! Throw some whipped cream on that waf­fle and scarf away guilt-free, right? You know what I’m talk­ing about. C’mon run­ners, whether your glut­to­nous endeav­our was waf­fles, beer, donuts, or piz­za, who hasn’t enact­ed this scene sev­er­al times over? And lat­er regret­ted it, whether hours, days, or weeks lat­er.


Although it should be obvi­ous, we often find our­selves won­der­ing why our weight remains stag­nant or even goes up when we increase our mileage. We hon­est­ly expect the weight to start melt­ing off no mat­ter what we eat since we are train­ing for a marathon and run­ning for hours on the week­ends. We’ve been known to stand there—open bag of chips in hand—asking our­selves, dumb­found­ed, “Why on earth isn’t run­ning work­ing?!” 

The answer is sim­ple. Overeat­ing. Of course run­ning burns calories—approximately 100 calo­ries per mile for most peo­ple, in fact. How­ev­er, it takes 3,500 calo­ries to make a pound, which means you need to cre­ate a 3,500 calo­rie deficit to lose that same pound. That’s 35 miles for one pound, folks. Most run­ners do not run that in an entire week—even when marathon train­ing.

Then, there’s the con­sid­er­a­tion of what type of calo­ries you’re stuff­ing into your body on your run­ning-inspired gorges. Sure, a calo­rie is a calo­rie as far as count­ing up to 3,500, but some foods are obvi­ous­ly going to be used far more effi­cient­ly and leave you with far less waste prod­uct than oth­ers. Does it real­ly need to be point­ed out that 3,500 calo­ries of fruits and veg­gies is going to do you a whole lot more good than 3,500 calo­ries of brown­ies? Although you would be hard pressed to actu­al­ly eat that many calo­ries of raw fruits and veg­gies, please, by all means, try! This is also where oth­er healthy food groups come in, like lean meats, legumes, some dairy, and fish enter the pic­ture.

Healthy Food

The point of this arti­cle, how­ev­er, is not to remind you what to eat and what not to eat. You most like­ly already know that, whether you adhere to it or not. It’s sim­ply to remind run­ners that we are no more immune to the neg­a­tive con­se­quences of overeat­ing as the next per­son. Run­ning will pro­vide you with many things—peace of mind, self-sat­is­fac­tion, and stronger mus­cles to name a few—but a free pass for caloric indul­gence is not one of them. Put in your miles and then help them keep work­ing for you by refu­elling appro­pri­ate­ly. Then, and only then, will you see the amaz­ing-although-not-mag­i­cal phys­i­cal results run­ning has to offer.

By: Audra Run­dle