Nov 7, 2013

The Half Marathon... I'm taking a huge risk here.  I am going to talk about something that I don't understand.  I am hoping to not UPSET anyone, but to maybe have someone shine some light on the obsession that is the "half marathon training."

Let's not be confused.  I understand what training for a half marathon is.  I understand the long runs and the short runs.  I understand the process that it takes in order to train for the race.  And I also understand the accomplishment factor.  I love that there are people that use this as a motivation to do something AMAZING.  Something that is difficult.  They set a goal and they can check it off of their bucket list.

What I do NOT understand is how many people are trying to use the half marathon as a method for weight loss.  It's simply just not enough.

You have NO idea how many clients when talking recently have expressed to me that they are training for a a half marathon.  Or they WERE training for a half marathon and they quit at some point.  They either had joint pain or they weren't getting the results that they needed.

This is what I mean.

Now before I go any further I have to announce that I LOVE RUNNING.  I enjoy it.  My own sister hosts a running and/or walking challenge EVERY month.  I love the feeling after a great run.  The sweat pouring off of my body, and face.  The pounding of the pavement under my feet, and the ability to think about whatever I want when I'm out there.  I also know that I am done after about 3.5 miles.  As a 31 year old woman I can say without ANY bit of sadness that I have NEVER IN MY LIFE ran more than 4 miles straight.  EVER.  I have never tried or attempted to run more than that, and I have no desire to do more than that at any time in the near future.

This is not because I am afraid to set a goal and not make it.  The only thing that stops me from even attempting such a thing is my ability to run and play with my grandchildren when I'm 60 years old.  I am afraid of the pounding and wear and tear of my body.  I am a HUGE believer in cross training.   My definition of cross training is this...exercise A.D.D.  Keep your body guessing and continuously trying something new.  I may run twice a week and do workout videos the next.  I may jump on the bike one day and do a HIIT workout the other days.  My limit for the day is 55 minutes.   I don't think our bodies were made to do more than that over and over again.  I don't think we should require our bodies to do more than that.

If in order to be healthy I have to do more than 2 hours of exercise...I am not happy.  And, I don't have that kind of time.

Take a look at the picture below...


To me, this is eye opening in so many ways.  You burn around 1300 calories when running a half marathon.  WOW.  That is amazing and mind blowing all at the same time.  The thing that gets me is that the person training for this would have to burn some serious calories as well.  But, as a weight loss plan this becomes a problem.  99% of the people that are training this way are burning off their muscle instead of fat.  This is why after training for a half marathon I still have people contacting me because their body isn't making it to the results that they want.  And, some of the heavier women that go this route end up with a lot of joint pain.

Your body CRAVES muscle.  Give it what it wants.  And training for a half marathon is not the way to get it.

I am NOT the expert on all things half marathon.  Like I said, I have never done one.  But, what I do know is that a weight loss plan is best designed around resistance training and diet.  Cardio is an added bonus.  I know I have shared this picture before and I will share it again because I am obsessed with it.


Again, I truly hope that this post doesn't upset anyone.  I am only expressing my opinion on a subject.  And like I said, I love the fact that so many people are setting a goal and going after it.  My life revolves around setting goals and helping others set goals and reaching them.  I am not trying to talk anyone out of what they TRULY want to do.  But, if you look at the science behind WEIGHT LOSS the half marathon may not be the perfect fit.  It's not just about calories in versus calories out.  It's about what you are forcing your body to do and with what kind of energy.

I would love to hear more opinions and ideas on this subject.  Do you agree or disagree?  Leave a comment so we can discuss.

Haley Signature


  1. Hi Haley, I am that soon to be 60 year old grandmother of 7. I've been a distance runner for over 16 years, in the weight loss business for over 30 and a personal trainer for 8. Appreciate some very sound points in your blog. However some inaccuracies and confusing. By the way, having a ball with my grand kids and moving quite comfortably.

  2. This is sooooooo true! My sister was a marathon runner and she was in great shape but the weight just wasn't coming off! She started doing hiit workouts and short runs and she is the strongest, leanest and most fit she has ever been in! Her inches and weight have changed but mostly inches! She introduced me to the same workouts and I love them who has time to run hrs in a day!?

  3. fourfitsisters@gmail.comNovember 7, 2013 at 5:38 AM

    Amazing Beth. I am glad to hear that you are moving around and totally comfortable. I definitely didn't think that was IMPOSSIBLE. It's just a fear that I have. I am so glad that this type of training has worked its magic on you. I guess it just amazes me how many people contact me after training for half marathons, or in the middle of it. I am not an exercise science major. I just speak from personal experience :) If there are "inaccuracies" I apologize. It is accurate to MY viewpoint in working with women. They need something besides JUST the running.

  4. I lost around 35lbs training for my first half marathon over the summer. However, now I am stuck in a rut and totally agree with this. Have you ever read the book "The NonRunners Marathon Guide for Women"? She trained for a marathon and didn't lose any weight at all (It has been a while since I read this book, she may have lost a couple pounds). I have been trying to add strength training into my routine, but I am lost as how to do it. I really believe that doing this would help me get over this plateau and help me hit my goals. Great post. Thank you!

  5. I am preparing to run my seventh half marathon in the last decade. In my 20's the long distance running made the extra pounds fall off, however now that I am in my 30's I am not getting the same results. I think I am realizing that weight training and a cleaner diet are going to be the keys to weight loss as opposed to hours of cardio.

  6. I totally agree with this Hales! Great post!
    I started half marathon training right after I finished my softball career. I lost SOME weight...but now I know it was my muscle being eaten away because I went from HIGH intensity lifting to no lifting at all.
    Now is the best I've felt and looked in my life...MAJOR diet changes, less intense lifting, and a little bit of cardio. I'm 5 months pregnant and don't weigh as much as I did before I made these changes. I still have about 15 pounds leeway before I weigh what I did when I was playing softball. Crazy how your body function can change drastically with diet and exercise.
    xoxo Maggie

  7. fourfitsisters@gmail.comNovember 7, 2013 at 8:39 AM

    I am getting ready to start an online program that you can follow Sami. Stay tuned. Its going to be AWESOME!!!!!!!

  8. I've run 1 half-marathon and am in training to run another. I do agree that the weight-loss is minimal and that I notice MUCH bigger results from HITT workouts and clean-eating. I will also say that I believe you can be a much better runner by running less and training more. The fitter your body is, the easier it's going to be to run and run fast. So I don't look at it as a way to be thin. I don't look at it as my sole source of exercise. I run because of what it does for me mentally. I run because it's me conquering a goal. I played sports my whole life but was never very good. I'm not all that athletically talented and I often found excuses to not work as hard as I could. Now that I'm grown, I realize I can be as good a runner as I want to be (to a point of course--there's no gold medals in this future). It's up to me to push through whether it's running, HIIT or the elliptical when all else fails. There's no one answer to solve any problem--weight loss or anything else. But running (every other day and not pushing myself to crazy unsafe distances/speeds) for me, it's a way to keep me grounded and keep me going.

  9. fourfitsisters@gmail.comNovember 11, 2013 at 8:32 PM

    That is amazing. I couldn't agree more with running being the perfect workout to keep you grounded and going. Like I said in the blog, I love it too. I love the feel of a great run. There is nothing like it. I also couldn't agree more with setting a goal and going after it. Congrats on your success and best of luck for marathon #2. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  10. Half marathons are my very favorite race distance. I love them! I do agree it's not ideal for weight loss without strength training. And strength training is so important in avoiding injury, but training for, and running, a half is so much more than physical. It's a mental and emotional journey like no other.