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Calorie Intake for Half Marathon Training


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Hi all!

I'm in week three of a half marathon training plan, and am confused about how much I should be eating daily. I've tried an online calculator and it suggests 2000 calories (BMR X  light activity level). I put in a light activity level just because I wanted to know the bare minimum.

2000 calories seems huge to me - any advice on what works for you if you've trained for a half? I'll give you my stats if that helps:

23, female, 5'7, about 154 pounds

Exercise: x 3 runs per week (this week is 3x40 min easy); x2 weight sessions of 30mins; x1 other cardio of about 45 mins.

Basically, my aim is to fuel my body adequately so I can recover and perform at my best, but I wouldn't mind losing a few pounds too.

 

18 Replies (last)

we have almost the same stats-  i'm 5 ft 6, 150.  i'm 29.  i take in 2000 a day, i'm aiming to lose.

i'm in week 9 of a 1/2 marathon training, and i'm doing similar weight training.  i do 4x weekly runs, so no other cardio.

i'd seriously consider using the moderate activity button, at least.  you're 6 years younger than i am, i'm not sure how much of a difference that makes, but i was using moderate and losing 1+ lbs a week.  if it recommended 2000 for you on light, i really think you'll need more than that for all you're doing.  

I agree with pirate_annie - moderate would be far more appropriate (and if anything would be a low estimate) for your activity level.

If you are looking to lose weight, you need to eat a minimum of 1,200 calories if you don't work out. I read that you burn about 100 calories per mile (no matter your speed). So, if you run 3 miles in a day, you should eat 1,200 plus 300. I'm not sure about your weight training days, but I would eat at least 1,500. Experiment at that rate and see what happens. Just make sure to keep increasing your caloric intake as your miles increase.

Thanks heaps everyone - it's sort of hard to grasp the fact that I need more food, and that eating less could in fact make me gain weight (or worse, injure myself!)

For this week I'm going to experiment and do 1500 calories and see how I go.

I really think that 1500 is going to be too low - training for a 1/2 marathon takes it's toll on your body and you yourself said that weight loss would just be a nice side effect, rather than your goal in doing this.

If anything, your younger age will make you burn more calories than pirate_annie, but I really think it will be a lot better for your body if you start higher (2000) and then fine tune it later.

It's a fine line isn't it amethystgirl - I've heard of overtraining where not enough cals results in injury and weight gain. And while I'm trying to focus on training effectively and not weight loss, yes I would like to create a deficit on most days.

If math serves me right:

1800 (calories in) - 2000 (maintenance) - 300 (3 mile run) = 500 cal deficit.

If the above is right, then shoot, maybe I should be going for above 1500. Feel free to jump in and correct me if the above math is totally off.

I think 1800 would be better, and you'll have to go by how you feel. Best of luck in your training!

For me, when I was losing weight and training for a triathlon, I set my activity level to whatever was appropriate for my "non-exercise" portion of my day, and then added my work-outs separately.  That worked out to sedentary, and my workouts were anywhere from 300 to 1000+ calories per day.

You didn't ask for advise on your training program, but I'll throw this out there... And it will depend on how serious you are about training for your race.  But if it was me, I'd replace your "other cardio" with another run.  It won't take too long before cardio isn't your limiting factor; it's your legs (muscles, joints, connective tissue) that will limit your performance.

I would also do one longer run per week, and increase it slowly to get it up to half marathon distance.

Just my $0.02.  I just ran my first half marathon as a trial run this weekend, and have a goal race in May.  I hit my maintenance weight before beginning my training in October, so I'm no longer too concerned about that.  I actually don't count calories anymore, and eat pretty much what I feel like.  I just try to keep my portions under control.

Clint

I am so glad you posted this, because I asked a similar question a few weeks ago and I guess I didn't word it right, because I got answers like, "don't change what you eat just because you are running." The only advice that made sense for me was from amethystgirl. I really just wanted to make sure I was eating enough to fuel my workouts, as I was going from working out 3x week to 6x per week and working much harder- which is a considerable difference!

Anyway, I am also in week 3 of half marathon training, and I am finding out that my body is asking for very specific things to eat! I had one day last week when I got snowed in at work (very literally!) and I did not eat very much at all (which is not typical for me, I am used to eating all day long). During my workout later on in the hotel gym, I felt like garbage!!! I am also finding myself craving things like bananas, peanut butter, and spinach. I am 27, 5'3, 140ish lbs and eating between 1500-1800 cals per day. On days where I work out harder, I aim high. One rest days or lighter workout days, I aim a little lower.

pbear - thanks for your training advice! Bear in my mind I'm only in week 3 of an 18 week plan, so rest assured the runs will climb up and become more frequent :)

samantha135 - good! You understand! My problem is I have it in my head to eat a very low amount, and I honestly don't believe I'm eating enough to fuel my workouts. Since I'm only in week 3, it's only a slight increase in my regular workout weeks (pre-half training), but I think I've always had the wrong idea about how much to eat.

I tried 1350 cals yesterday and felt ok - I'm trying for 1500 today and will see if that makes a difference to my energy levels on my next run!

Wow, this post could have been written by me! I'm 20, 5'6", and 144. I'm also training for a half marathon and I was just about to post something asking how much I should be eating. I think I'll take some of this advice :)

Which training program are you following? I'm not following a specific one, but if you have found one that works, let me know. Good luck to you!

my burn on sunday was 3800+ (the run being 1600+).  that was only one of my runs this week.  with our similar stats, you can see where at some point during this training, you simply will have to eat more.

let us know how 1500 felt! :)  it still seems low, i agree 1800 seems better. 

Original Post by ladychach:

Which training program are you following? I'm not following a specific one, but if you have found one that works, let me know. Good luck to you!

 I am doing this one http://www.halhigdon.com/halfmarathon/halfnov ice.pdf, which I was recommended by other runners on CC- It's going great! I feel amazing. I looked at a few different plans, and it looks like allyt322, the OP, is doing a slightly different one, but Hal's happened to fit well into my lifestyle. I've only done a half marathon once when I was a teenager (I was running competitively otherwise though), so I am pretty much learning to run all over again as an adult. He has plans for intermediate and advanced HM too- but I am definitely not there yet! I just want to finish the darn thing to start :)

The plan prescribes 3 medium runs/week, 1 long run, 1 day cross training, 2 days strength training, 1 rest day.

There are a lot of different reputable plans out there that work for a lot of different people it looks like, so it is just a matter of what works for you.

To add to the other pretty awesome advice here, my two cents is to eat to replace what you lose during training within that 30 minute recovery window after your workout.  This will help your body recover.  If you are aiming for a deficit, do that with your normal meals!

Good luck with your training!

Wes

Original Post by samantha135:

Original Post by ladychach:

Which training program are you following? I'm not following a specific one, but if you have found one that works, let me know. Good luck to you!

 I am doing this one http://www.halhigdon.com/halfmarathon/halfnov ice.pdf, which I was recommended by other runners on CC- It's going great! I feel amazing. I looked at a few different plans, and it looks like allyt322, the OP, is doing a slightly different one, but Hal's happened to fit well into my lifestyle. I've only done a half marathon once when I was a teenager (I was running competitively otherwise though), so I am pretty much learning to run all over again as an adult. He has plans for intermediate and advanced HM too- but I am definitely not there yet! I just want to finish the darn thing to start :)

The plan prescribes 3 medium runs/week, 1 long run, 1 day cross training, 2 days strength training, 1 rest day.

There are a lot of different reputable plans out there that work for a lot of different people it looks like, so it is just a matter of what works for you.

Cool! Thanks for the suggestion. I am going to start following the Hal Higdon plan tomorrow :)

I'm training for a half ironman, getting roughly 12-13 hours of exercise a week (including 2-3 hours of weight training) and I need to eat 3000-3500 calories a day or I start to lose weight. I'm 5'9 and 147ish pounds, so pretty close to your size. You're not getting quite as much exercise as me yet, but you will be soon! You should probably be eating more. Good luck on your half!!!

#17  
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I am 5 feet 0 inches and to maintain my current weight withouth excercise I need to eat 1200 calories/day. With moderate activity (running 30 - 40 minutes, 4 times a week) I need to eat 1500 calories to maintain. Being so much taller than me I would guess you need quite a lot more than 1500 cals expecially training for half ironman.

Hi, I'm 5'6 too, taraining for my second half marathon, (but never ran it cuz I broke my toe two days before.)  and I weigh 149.

I am confused on how much I should eat too... I posted but haven't got any replys.

I try for 1400, but I cant get under 1800 cuz I get SO hungry.

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