Runner Body vs. Gym-Rat Body

Altering my workout schedule is usually something I try to avoid. I like to make a plan, stick to it, and view my progress. However, life happens. (ie: bad run Saturday leads to long run Sunday, late football game Monday leads to shorter workout Tuesday morning)

I’ve had to alter my workout plan this week for various reasons, and instead of looking like this:

***Note: With the increased distance covered in my long runs, my bike rides have dropped to 40 minutes.

This week’s workouts have looked more like this:


Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
Long Run Yoga/Foot Strengthening 30-minute Run Core, Mini Bootcamp, Upper Body 30-minute Run, Core 30-min Bike, Upper Body 3-mile Quick Run

I’m okay with that. We’ll see how the rest of the week treats me. To be honest, I am really looking forward to a more moderate weekend run this week. 8 miles did a number on my knees and hips. Luckily, they’re already feeling better.

stick to the plan

All this running has made significant changes in this gym rat’s body. When I first started running 3 days per week, all I wanted were simple sugars. Thank goodness decreased… though I’d still scarf a soft cookie (or 3) if the opportunity presented itself. Since then…

  • My butt has flattened. Yeah, it’s a bummer, but I think this will fix itself once I resume my gym-rat ways. Squats, bench step-ups, and lunges will be my friends again.
  • I cannot sit on the floor. My knees prevent me from sitting on the floor. They stiffen up and huuuuurt when I get up. I’m like a 90 year-old woman.
  • My hips/upper thighs have widened. I can still wear my pants, but they fit a little differently. Let’s all pretend this is pure muscle. Then again, maybe this is just my aging self… sigh…
  • I am tired. I’m pumped up for my runs and workouts, but at other times, all my body wants is sleep, sleep, and more sleep.
run run run

My 5k in May

But all this running has done things to my mind as well. Most importantly, it has allowed me to embrace and even kind of enjoy running. I’m going to keep on pushing myself a while longer, and whenever I resume those aforementioned gym-rat ways, I plan to incorporate a run or two into my plan every week… in theory.

  1. Has anyone else noticed a difference in your body when you changed your workout? (Please say I’m not alone! haha)
  2. Is anyone glad I shared these changes, such as newbie runners? Or TMI?

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38 Responses to Runner Body vs. Gym-Rat Body

  1. I definitely see and feel different depending on what my workouts are focused on for a particular week! Its incredible how fast the body adapts!

  2. AmandaRunsNY says:

    I definitely notice changes based upon my workouts. One of the most annoying things to me about training for my marathon was that my thighs while ultimately losing fat over the long term, did get a little bit more muscular and thus bigger. And yoga has definitely helped my butt get rounder (but not bigger).

  3. Corinne says:

    As a runner I always have and prob always will have a flat butt just gottA embrace it lol TMI? Ah reading ur posts make mr jealous you get to do long runs of 8 miles, my hip injury has me sidelined for a few more weeks, sooo frustrating. I actually feel more lethargic when I don’t run, weird!

  4. I change up my workouts a lot, so I never see significant changes in my body. I will say that I “crave” a run when I start increasing my mileage and often get exhausted while weight lifting if I’m not also incorporating cardio at the time.

  5. It seems strange that your knees are hurting and you can’t sit on the ground, that doesn’t seem right. I run a lot and I haven’t had that problem. When my knees hurt, that is usually indicative of an injury – maybe going to see a sports doc to make sure everything is ok. Maybe checking your shoes – are you sure you’re in the right shoes for your biomechanics?

    I typically feel a little run down for the first few weeks when I increase my mileage or overall training load, then it evens back out if I make sure I’m getting enough recovery (and sleep!).

    • Tiff says:

      I have patellofemoral from general misalignment, which I can only assume is why my feet also aggravate me from time to time. I’ve been to PT for it twice, and although it never gets better, the doc says it isn’t something that will get “worse.” And so the running continues! 🙂

  6. When I first started running, my butt vanished. I have none anymore, and I still do my strength 3 days a week. Including squats, lunges, etc. Booo =/ I love running though, so that’s why I run 3 days a week, and strength train 3 days a week. I get to do a little bit of both 🙂

  7. i’m curious what you do for foot strengthening?? i have terrible feet and they’re sore constantly. :/

    • Tiff says:

      I only have 3 things I do, but they’ve helped a lot. I was going to do a post on it earlier, but hesitated posting pics of my feet. Haha! Maybe I’ll throw one up soon.

  8. Sooo I totally thought it was just me! Since I have started running, my hips and legs are getting a bit bigger.. bleh.. but I think that is due to using the muscle a lot?! maybe.. I donno. I am happy and I feel good, my clothes still fit so I am not too worried about it anymore.

    • Tiff says:

      I’m happy it’s not bugging either of us tooooo much, but as bad as this sounds, I’m also happy I’m not alone on this one!

  9. I recently started running and understand the knee pain 🙂

    I recently found your website and love the fact that you are a Beer Nerd too! I love trying new and different beers. I haven’t worked my way up to liking most Stouts/Porters though, but I am getting there. I also love cooking with beer. I make a lot of cookies and even ice cream. They add so much flavor to food.

  10. This happened to me, too! My butt lifted, though, which was nice, and my thighs got more toned, but I was always exhausted!

  11. That’s great that you can adapt your workout routine and still get a good sweat going! Hope those hips and knees are recovering–you are SMART-listen to your body. i made the mistake of upping my mileage too fast and it is hurting me now. Thanks for your sweet comments on my blog–they make my day!!

  12. My hips have seemed to develop more. I’m not sure if it’s the workouts or just my body saying “when the hell is babymaking gonna happen?”

    Either way, I’m ignoring it and pretending I like being a bit more curvy… lol

  13. lindsay says:

    ya, my butt goes fast when i run more. Not fun! but(t) hehe, go do some hill work and it will be back in no time!

  14. Nichole says:

    You is looking hot!!! My mom said the exact same thing about her butt and boos when she started running. But you tone up in so many other places it ends up all being balanced in the long run, pun intended:)

  15. Running makes my legs big too! So big, my pants don’t fit the same way. I don’t like it. It also makes my joints hurt, which is why I try to limit myself, and keep some variety in my routine. It does help clear my mind though!

  16. My booty actually got better with lots of running – but I also focus lower body weights on hams/glutes b/c that is a weak area for me in general. The only difference really is that I have a harder time building and keeping my muscle mass as my miles go up. I have to really pay attention to protein intake.

  17. Paulette says:

    It’s been a few years since I started running a lot, but I definitely noticed the widening in the thighs and hips when I started. Combating it with lots of glute and leg work sort of helps (esp the flat butt), but I’ve also gotten used to the changes. I’m sticking with the idea that it’s all muscle. 😉

  18. Allison says:

    This is my first time reading and so happy I did! I def have noticed a change in my body in relation to different workouts… When I ran a lot, my legs felt longer and leaner, now that I’ve added more types of cardio and weights to my routine it’s getting more muscular and I’m getting a butt [just hope it doesn’t keep growing] 😛

  19. I’ve found since I’ve added more variety to my workouts, my joints don’t hurt as much from running. It took FOREVER for me to figure out what works though. I’m not too sure about my general shape though. I thought running made my butt bigger instead of flatter, but I live in a super hilly area, so I credit that more to the hills than the actual running.

  20. Yes! My body changes when I run more. My butt also disappears and my thighs actually thin out a bit which is one of the reasons that I really like running!

  21. Brittany says:

    It’s never TMI..share share share!! I love reading about different workouts and how it effects body parts differently. Your workouts are awesome and inspiring!

  22. You are not alone!
    I noticed a difference iny body when I was training for my half.
    I wasn’t doing as much weight training as previously, I felt a bit more squishy if that makes sense.
    I am glad to hear you’re enjoying it!!! 🙂

  23. I like my gym rat body better. I have more definition and core strength. Running didn’t do a whole lot for my physique because I heavily overcompensated with carbs, carbs, carbs!! 🙂

  24. When I run a lot I notice that my body looks leaner, but I do not necessarily lose weight. My body just changes shape similar to what you were saying. I have decided to start hitting the gym more often so I am interested in seeing how my body changes with that.

  25. Yeah I’ve noticed a difference in my body when I started running. Now I mix things up with some weight training, spinning, and tennis.

  26. Jamie Walker says:

    I definitely notice when i change up my workouts – my body really responds whether its running, lifting, yoga, or whatever else! you look super cute in your green running top.

  27. Love this post girlie! Yes….once I have stopped with all my jump squats and lunges and am focusing on running more – my body has changed. My butt is also GONE too. It does suck but I love how incredibly strong my legs look. My stomach is also much flatter. RUnning really helps your ab/core.

    So proud of all your new running girl! Tomorrow I have a PDR – 9 miles… whoo hoo.

    xoxo from Trinidad

  28. Bonnie says:

    Love this post – and it’s clear you’re not alone. 😉 Found your blog through Heather’s (betterwithveggies) and have loved looking through your posts! And I for sure see a difference in my body depending on how I’m training. Hands down I’m in better “shape” when NOT running but when I’m instead lifting weights and focusing on metabolic resistance training. Those high intensity bursts = less time spent working out and much better results for my body physically. It’s also probably because I tend to eat more when I’m running a lot and justify it, but with shorter workouts it’s like I don’t feel I worked hard enough to eat more (which actually isn’t true!), so I end up not mindlessly eating.

    Lately I do a mix – I get one long run (12 – 18) miles in a week, an 8 or 10 mile run in, and then high intensity resistance training in the rest of the week. I think it’s the best balance for my body, especially since I’m not training for something right now (obviously I’d be running more/differently if I was training for a race!). Thanks again for sharing – and I agree w/an above commenter – no TMI on our end! 😉

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