It's definitely an art. I second and third everyone saying that as long as you keep Spark accurate it should keep you on track.
However, there have been times in the past (training for a tri) for me that I've let Spark set loose guidelines. I listen to my body more so than Spark then. If I'm tired and feeling depleted I might eat more a day or two one week (in about a month) but I make sure that it is real food and not junky snacks. And I do have a day or two where I don't worry about tracking (usually those days) because I know that I just need to rest and refuel and not worry about the numbers.
I've lost weight while I was running and training but for me it was a side effect (a happy one though!) I know that by running I'm getting myself into better SHAPE (whatever the numbers on the scale may say) - my clothes fit better, I have more energy and just overall feel better. The numbers can do what they want as long as I'm feeling and looking better.
I agree with the other posters here. Look at how many calories you are burning in a typical week (which will probably increase over time as your training program and weekly mileage progresses), and update your Spark Exercise Goals (accessible from the LH side of the Start page) with that number.
In coming up with an intake number, Spark takes your Exercise Goals into account.
I also agree that a very aggressive weight loss goal isn't really going to supply your body with enough energy and resources to train successfully, so you should aim at a weight loss of 0.5-1 lb per week, rather than 1-2 lbs.
Also, don't just look at calories in terms of whether your intake is in the recommended ranges, but also macro-nutrients, especially protein. Running is hard on the body, and you need sufficient protein to ensure your body has enough raw materials for all the little repair jobs.
Fitness Minutes: (20,328)
1,964 11/15/12 3:07 P
I just ran my first half in October and I still wanted to stay on track with my weight loss goals... this is what I did. I kept my spark account updated with the approximate calories I was burning per week and tried to eat on the lower end of the spark recommendation. Toward the end though, when the long runs were up to 9-10miles, I found myself going over the calories one or two days that week. I was still dropping weight at a healthy rate (1lb-1.5lbs per week) so I just had to play with it a little bit and really pay attention to my hunger cues (especially before a long run). Join the half marathoners team. You may get some suggestions that way too.
As well as the already mentioned advice about keeping your calories burned fitness goal up to date, also consider changing your weight loss goal.
Long distance running and weight loss are not compatible goals. It might be an idea, if you have an aggressive weight loss goal, to drop it down to half a pound a week at most while training for this event.
Trying to run a half marathon while trying to lose a couple of pounds a week is not going to help either of those goals.
Fitness Minutes: (9,058)
244 11/15/12 8:05 A
Also Spark has a team for Half Marathoners, it's really great and I've found it a great resource for myself, you should check it out!
Fitness Minutes: (103,665)
13,205 11/15/12 7:59 A
as your mileage goes up, make sure you keep Spark updated with an accurate calories burned number and eat in that range.
Not sure where to post this but I'm going to start training for my first half-marathon in December and was wondering if anyone knew if it was possible to have that reflect my calories here? I know I'm going to need to eat more calories than what my current goal says.
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