Weight Gain after your race, etc?

Let’s discuss weight gain after your race.  First, I’m not a doctor, just a certified endurance running coach, so please don’t bet your health on my comments below as I can’t see you and don’t know your medical history!

With that said, here is what my experience and training tell me about the weight gain after a long run or race (some experience this more than others): 1) it’s likely water retention which can be caused by a few different reasons (see below), and 2) do not go on a diet to get rid of the extra weight as it will likely go away on it’s own, and you need the proper diet in order to help your body repair itself after your long run/race in order to be better and stronger than before!

The water retention could be caused by being dehydrated (you didn’t drink enough during your race), and/or it could be your body retaining water to help it in it’s repair work, and it could also be made worse by overloading with carbs prior to race day. Carbs at the optimum time and in the proper quantity and quality are important for full marathoners for sure, but many half marathoners can store enough energy reserves via their normal healthy died to last their entire race.  Half marathoners do not usually “hit the wall” for that reason.  Teaching your body to use carbs more efficiently and to be able to store more are parts of a well designed training plan.  If your’ training plan didn’t help you with that, you need a new one, or at least a knowledgeable advisor  who can help guide you in that area.

BTW – The DOMS which many of you are also reporting is a good indication of the water retention being due in some part by the repair process which is underway in your body   (DOMS = Delayed On-set Muscle Soreness).

One word of caution on eating post race. While you do need to eat well after your race to aid in your recovery, you should also make sure that you are adjusting the portions to fit your lower activity level, or the water retention weight will be replaced by fat storage.

In general, the water weight will go away over the next few days/weeks so don’t worry about that.

If you are sore for more than 3-4 days you should see a medical practitioner to ensure that you are not injured, but most times the DOMS will go away on it’s own  (just think of your runners waddle as a badge of honor!).

Oh yes, stay hydrated!  Some athletes think that since they have gained excess water weight they don’t need to drink anything.  Wrong!  Drink if you’re thirsty and make sure that your urine is a pale yellow color.

Your race didn’t end at the finish line, you are still dealing with it and these days can make a big difference in your recovery.

A good training plan will detail a post-race strategy as it’s very important to your recovery and future racing. If you don’t have one, please do some research on the internet, speak with a good sports medicine practitioner or ask here for advise.

I hope the above overview of this topic is helpful.  There’s plenty of general info available on the internet.  Since I’m not your coach (I don’t know any specifics about you from having worked together throughout your training), I can only provide general answers to general topics, but I’d be happy to help guide you with a general discussion of other running related topics, if that would be helpful to each of you.

I ask that you consider engaging with health care professionals (Nutritionist, Physical Therapist, Message Therapist, Sports Medicine Specialist, etc. as required to provide specific guidance). You are part of the small number of endurance athletes (many doctors don’t have much experience working with us as our numbers are relatively small – about 1% of the total population and an even smaller portion of that number for full marathoners).

I am in awe of what each of you have accomplished, and even after all these years, your stories, trials and tribulations amaze and humble me.  You are my inspiration and I thank you for that!  I mean everyone, from our race champions to the back of the pack athletes – if you are giving it your all and a bit more, you are a winner and I admire your accomplishments.

Best wishes,


RRCA Certified Endurance Running Coach
Executive Race Director,
The New Jersey Marathon, Long Branch Half Marathon and Half Marathon Relay

Have a question about planning for race weekend or an ache, pain, strain, injury, etc.? Let’s talk!

The New Jersey Marathon is very interested in helping you to be ready to race with us and in providing as much information and help to you as we can!

This blog is an example of that commitment to helping you as you train and plan for race day.

Our Race Director posts his weekly updates here in order to help you think through and plan for the entire weekend experience with us.  From planning for: the Expo and Race Packet Pick-up,  your arrival time prior to the start of your race, the fluids and food you will find on the course, the post race Festival, and many other parts of your time with us, he is the person with the answers.

On the other hand, if something physical is bothering you during your training, this is the place to turn for advice. Weather you are  seeing signs of wear on your body (it could be a blister, a dull ache, an occasional twinge) or perhaps dealing with a more serious pain or injury, we are here to help you sort through the many questions about what it could mean to your training and racing, what to do right after your injury, when to seek in-person medical help, and much more.

Please leave a comment on this post for Joe (our RD) or Christine (our PT) and they will get back to you as time permits.  We hope that you will understand that as we get closer to race day, these people will be increasingly consumed with that work, and their responses will likely be slower  than normal.

In addition to having a full time PT practice to manage, Christine is also a member of our Race Committee and is in charge of the exciting, free, speaker and exercise series during the expo days, as well as the  therapists who will be providing the free messages, etc. in our Recovery Tent in the Finish Area on race day.  Please note: Christine will not provide an online diagnosis of your issue, but she will attempt to help you to think about the issue in the best possible way in order to help you find a suitable resolution, as quickly as possible.  She is NOT soliciting for your business.  She is an athlete and knows what it’s like to train and work through pain and injuries.

We hope that you will benefit from their knowledge and advise.  All you have to do is ask your question,  by commenting on this or any other of their posts on this site.

Best wishes,

The New Jersey Marathon Race Committee