Shedding Those Last Pounds

Have a question about running? You’re in the right place. Every Tuesday, world-renowned coach, author and athlete Hal Higdon posts and answers athlete questions here. You can submit your question by joining the discussions on Hal Higdon’s Virtual Training Bulletin Boards.


I am training for my second half marathon using Novice 1. I started running to support weight loss. I’m down a total of 83 pounds since February, 2013, but I still have about 20 more pounds to lose. My problem is: as I start to increase my mileage, I find that my weight loss stalls, even though I’m not consuming an excessive amount of calories. Is there a way to balance the carbohydrate and protein needs of distance running and still lose weight?


I would not worry about those extra 20 pounds—at least for the immediate future. Also, not to be critical given your success, but I don’t need a calculator to add 83 pounds and “about 20.” It comes to 100 pounds. Did you choose 100, because it was a round number that offered you maximum motivation whether or not that pinpointed the best weight loss for you and your body?

Nevertheless, as we get closer to “ideal” weight, the pounds come off much more slowly. While aiming at a half marathon offers a great motivational tool, having two goals (race plus weight loss) results in those separate goals getting in the way of each other. You need energy to maximize your training, thus need more calories than a weight-loss diet might provide. The most efficient fuel for runners is carbohydrates, which may or may not be part of your diet plan. As the training gets tougher, we often eat more to provide the necessary energy for the extra mileage run.

Your 83-pound weight loss is tremendous, but for the time being let’s forget about those extra 17 pounds that would get you to 100. Focus on the half marathon, and don’t look too often at that bathroom scale until you finish your half marathon.

Hal Higdon

Hal Higdon is a Contributing Editor for'Runner's World'and author of 34 books, including the best-selling'Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide. He ran eight times in the Olympic Trials and won four world masters championships. Higdon estimates that more than a quarter million runners have finished marathons using his training programs, and he also offers additional interactive programs at all distances through TrainingPeaks.Hal uses'TrainingPeaks'to power his interactive marathon and half marathon training plans.'Check out more of Hal Higdon's training plans here'or on'his website.