World-class runners offer weight-loss tips

Marathoner Linda Somers (center, at the '96 Women's Olympic Marathon Trials) stays slim by keeping her sweet tooth in check  Credit: Matthew Stockman/Allsport
What do elite runners do when they want to drop a few pounds?

Make the H2O switch. Dan Held, seventh in the 1996 U.S. Men's Olympic Marathon Trials, replaces soda and coffee with water, drinking 2 quarts a day. "It saves on the sugar calories (soda). Plus caffeine tends to make me edgy and, therefore, more likely to snack during the day. That doesn't happen when I drink water."

Hit the track. Cheryl Collins, second at the 1997 U.S. Women's National Marathon Championships, runs a hard track workout when she wants to trim down. "Twenty-four hours later you can tell that you're still burning calories," she says.

Cut out dessert. Linda Somers, 1996 U.S. Olympic marathoner, curbs her sweet tooth. "Dessert calories aren't essential calories for training," she says. "And they're easy to cut out you just leave the table after your meal."

Run before breakfast. Keith Brantly, 1996 U.S. Olympic marathoner, swears by this. For two reasons: It raises his metabolic rate so he burns more calories throughout the day. "And it also makes me eat less for breakfast and for the rest of the day," he says. "That's because running releases beta endorphins a natural form of morphine which also suppress your appetite."

Eat at home. Steve Spence, 1992 U.S. Olympic marathoner, plants himself at the dinner table when he wants to shed a few pounds. "So many people get into the habit of eating out all the time," he says, "and when you do eat out, you're more likely to eat food that isn't as good for you and is high in calories and fat." Make dining out a treat, say, once every week or two weeks. "That way, you can indulge and not feel guilty about it," Spence says.

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