Madison Mini Marathon

I have been asked by a few organizers and sponsors of the Madison Mini-Marathon to help promote this event. This is a brand new event this year and it features a half marathon (13.1 miles), and a 5K race.  The race is August 29th at 7 AM.  They are limiting the races to 2500, so you need to register soon if you are interested.

I hesitated to promote this, because as you know by now, I am very against marathons as a form of weight loss.  The research out there shows that it is an awful way to try to lose weight.  I personally haven’t met anyone who was trying to lose weight and did a marathon and actually lost weight.  But, I have received countless emails, and had many conversations with people who gained weight and fat during the training of such long endurance events.  I even had friends doing 50 mile running races and training 6 hours a day, and they continue to put on weight.  Long slow cardio eats away at muscle and will spike cortisol levels, leaving your body no other choice, but to conserve all the fat possible in order to survive.

I am also very hesitant to promote the half marathon because it is still quite a long distance and takes at least 2 hours for most people to run, but it is a much better option than the full.

The 5k race is much better!

You can go at a much more intense pace, can incorporate more intervals into your training and race, and it doesn’t take as much time to complete or train for, and you could very well lose weight training for one.

I am sure I will get some hate mail from the marathoners out there.  If you want to do marathons, more power to you!  I am not telling you not to, I am writing this to my audience who are trying to lose their unwanted body fat… I am sorry, but the chances of training for a marathon to do it, probably won’t work. (of course there is always exceptions to this).

I hope that many of you who live in the area go and sign up for the 5K and make a team together and enjoy beautiful downtown Madison and do something active and fun!


  1. Hi Dustin,

    I completely agree with the post. I have multiple clients that come to see me for weight loss that are currently training for marathons and half marathons. Most of the time these individuals have the hardest time losing weight because of hormone imbalances that long distance cardio creates. As you mentioned, I too, have multiple clients that have actually gained weight…especially around the mid-section. This is because we forget that exercise is can be stressful on the body and increases stress hormones…like cortisol that break down muscle tissue and lower metabolism. Resistance training, burst training, bootcamps and the right nutrition are a much better way to lose weight.
    Doing the wrong type and amount of exercise can work against you. A lot of athletes also have the mind set…since I am working out a ton…it doesn’t matter what I eat. The combination of the right nutrition and exercise to balance your hormones and heal your metabolism is really the key to HEALTHY weight loss.

  2. I too totally agree with the post. I like half marathons just because I love to walk and jog, not to lose weight. In the Madison Half Marathon this past May I was last in my class and third to last overall. I don’t know how many people didn’t finish, but I did it because I enjoy it although my knee went out on me on mile 8. Oh well. I feel great after a 5K training session and I like to eat healthy after one. For me it is more about health and feeling better.

  3. I think this is an interesting post because I did a marathon and I agree – you don’t lose weight, if anything I gained about 5 lbs during the training. However, I didn’t embark on the marathon training program with the mindset that I wanted to lose weight when I did it. I actually did it because I was TIRED of trying to lose weight!

    All my life everything I ever did that was fitness related was always focused on the same end result: lose weight. I wanted to do something different for a change – complete something fitness related that that was really challenging and JUST DO IT with a focus on the mileage. Could I complete a marathon? For once I didn’t have to focus on losing weight and it was a welcome change after years of always doing that. I fueled my body to make sure I was able to run the mileage. I trained with a program that used Jeff Galloway’s run/walk method which I felt good about in terms of staying injury free during the process.

    I did complete that marathon! I felt amazing. And yes, I gained 5 lbs but it was a great feeling to accomplish a fitness-related goal without focusing on whether I was losing weight.

    So, if you are someone that has always struggled with weight loss – don’t do a marathon if you are trying to do yet another thing to lose weight – Dustin is right about that. However, if you want push yourself into accomplishing a really difficult challenge, give it a try for that reason! It is exhilarating to cross that finish line after running 26.2 miles (or 13.1!).

  4. I’ll be running in the Good Neighbor Fest 5K that morning in Middleton! I’ve never enjoyed running so I joined a running group at work to prepare. I was amazed at how much more powerful my runs feel when I incorporate boot camp workouts into my training.

  5. Some marathoners that I know have said that the “High” they get afterward can last for days…I guess that would be pretty addictive but a 5K distance is enough for me to feel great afterward and still be able to move the next day… unlike a lot of marathoners 🙂

  6. I ran a half marathon in 2007 with weight loss as a primary goal. While I had a great time at the race, and discovered over months of training that I really do enjoy running… I didn’t lose a pound. So now, I’m running shorter distances at faster speeds, and incorporating Dustin’s Fit Moms DVDs in the mix. I really do miss the long runs, but with a 4 year old and a 5 month old, a half hour 5K is much more feasible!

  7. You are right, Dustin! I have done one marathon, and gained weight doing it!!!!! That has been 12 years ago, now I train as a bodybuilder, and do interval training for cardio…love sprints…
    Look at a marathoner….then look at a sprinter…enough said…of course all has to be backed up with clean food in the right amounts 🙂

  8. Agree with many here, marathon running with the goal of weight loss isn’t ideal.
    However, goals of this nature give us something healthy to focus on! Not everyone is in it to lose weight. The runners in our boot camp are the strongest women in the group with the most endurance.
    So to not promote the marathon is certainly your choice. Promoting healthy lifestyles and attainable goals to build confidence is what it’s about!

  9. Anne Watman says:

    Sorry, but I hate running. However, I do like to walk and that has been a great way for ME to keep a healthy weight. Running was hard on my knees and there were so many times when the weather made it really difficult. When I got into walking I found I could handle just about any weather as long as I dressed for it. When I didn’t have a treadmill I would actually walk in sub-zero weather.

  10. I have run my share of marathons, half marathons and other distance races and agree 100% with you Dustin. If you want to lose weight, you need to focus on strength training and burst/interval training.

    I have three daughters 7,4 and 1 and no longer have time or the energy for long distance training. I have always incorporated hills and intervals into my workouts and felt they have provided me with additional strength. After watching Mama Tone during my daughter’s gymnastics classes this spring, I decided to commit to get in better shape and run a faster 5K. Being from Waunakee, I set my sights on the Waunafest run which happened this past weekend. Since May I have focused on interval/burst training slowly taking time off my 5K in my training runs. I then joined Fit Moms for Life to work on my strength.

    At the Waunafest run, I took 5 minutes off my 5K time from last year and was the 14th woman to finish! Thank you Dustin for your motivation. Even though I can’t take a lot of your classes, Fit Moms for Life has been a good fit for me. I incorporate these videos with my interval/burst running. On average I run 12 miles per week. Since your program is flexible, I can incorporate the DVD’s with my running program. I have lost 6 pounds since May and today did 3 sets of 20 push-ups.

    All I can say again is THANK YOU!


  11. Louise Schrunk says:

    Thank you Dustin!

    I hate running, have no desire ever to run a marathon but so enjoy the small 5K runs. Some day I think I might to a mini triathon as I love to bike but hate swimming so that is what prevents me from taking the plunge so to speak and signing up.

    I am doing a bootcamp in Milwaukee, after month 2, I have lost 18lbs, definately something i could not have done alone!

  12. Bethany M. - gourmet goodness says:

    Hey Dustin,
    I have been doing burst training 4 -5 times a week.
    I have been using “The Daily Plate” feature on the live strong site to track my eating, caloric intake and exercise.

    I am having a hard time knowing what to put into the tracker for the number of calories burned while doing the burst training. There is no “burst training” workout to select, but I have been using other workouts like, high level circuit training.
    I did notice that I can manually enter the time or number of calories and heart rate.

    What do you reccomend?


    • Bethany,

      Great question! What I would do is not put the exercise into the plan and see how many calories it tells you to eat. That way it will underestimate your calories you need to lose weight. If it is really low (less than 1300) you should increase the calories a little bit. But I have found this to be an effective way, to underestimate your energy expenditure.

      Great job for running hard!

  13. Bethany M. - gourmet goodness says:

    p.s. I just did my first 5k a month ago and came in second to last out of 30, but I did it and ran hard!

  14. Karen W. says:

    I can speak first hand about not losing weight while training for a 1/2 marathon. I trained for 2 months running 3 times a week and did not lose a pound. Fortunately it wasn’t my goal to lose weight (although it would have been nice)! My goal was to finish the run without stopping! So in that regards it was a great experience mentality. I still use the mental training and confidence of the race I gained in my workouts now.

  15. Theresa says:

    As a marathon runner weight loss is not the goal, endurance is. However to lose or maintain your weight you need to add speedwork and weights to your routine. Please dont discourage people to run long distance. It is all about being healthy.

  16. Have to respect a professional who is willing to stand by his beliefs and convictions rather than take the chance at a little free press and notoriety. You are a good guy Dustin, this is why we all trust you the way we do.

  17. Kat Hawkins says:

    I realize that many start off their fitness regime wanting to lose weight and get into shape and when they don’t notice their results it can be discouraging. However, exercising and getting healthy is more than fast results. It’s as much a process for the body as it is the mind! I too am a fitness professional having worked in the field for 9 years. I am also the volunteer coordinator for the Madison Mini Marathon. I have completed many full, half and shorter distance races. To me, it’s not so much about the race itself, but the journey getting there! Training itself can be a huge reward and accomplishment. You learn you can achieve more than you ever thought you could. You eat better, you sleep better, your endurance increases making every other activity in life that much easier. It is amazing when you realize you just went 1 more mile or one step further than you ever did before! I know long distance running isn’t for everyone. You have to want it and enjoy it, but I do think the benefits FAR out way the negatives. If a 5K is more your thing, great! Be the best 5K’r that YOU can be! And on race day, if you’re not on the course running, consider coming out to volunteer and encourage your fellow athletes and applaud them and yourselves for committing to becoming a more fit and healthy YOU!

  18. based on the email 9/11/09 –

    I found it a bit ironic that you mentioned the ironman and how exciting it is in your email with this today. You said that they are some of the best athletes in the world – – – however just a few weeks ago you were discouraging any long running, just half of a marathon. You even said that marathon runners have more fat then other athletes. These Ironman athletes are essentially triple marathoners (biking and swimming and running) yet you classified them as great athletes. Can you talk a bit about that?

    From your Madison mini-marathon post, I was not feeling very positive about myself or what you would think of my training. Now I am even more confused and what you think is good fitness.

    • Megan,

      Great question… I should have put, “some of the greatest endurance athletes.” I love the ironman for the pure mental and physical challenges that it creates in a person. Do I think ironman training is safe and healthy? I think it is too early to tell (they have been only popular the past 10 years), but I would believe that training so many hours a day and week isn’t the best for the body.

      I don’t think ironman training is the best for weight loss, and that is what I was referring to on this post. The good ironmen will include resistance training, core training, and intervals into their training to make their bodies a little more balanced out.

  19. Mallie Sarna says:

    Wow.these are cool.I’m gonna get one for sure ……………………………………………………………………………………………………….Will Barry Age 9

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