41 responses

  1. Jo
    May 21, 2013

    Great post! So glad you addressed this issue. I have been in ED recovery for a few years now so I know how just the idea of losing weight to help get better at something can be tempting to some people. People with eating disorders are usually perfectionists.So I could see some people taking it the wrong way. Sorry I am rambling lol! Love this post!
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    • Debbie
      May 22, 2013

      One of my biggest fears as a coach of young people is that the teenagers that I work with will develop eating disorders in their quest to become better runners. Teenage girls in particular, have so much pressure to be thin, then add in what on the surface looks like a legitimate reason for weight loss, and you have a potential recipe for problems. I was rambling a little too. Thanks! :-)
      Debbie recently posted…Will I Run Faster If I Weigh Less?My Profile

  2. Lisa @ RunWiki
    May 21, 2013

    Excellent information, very well said!
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  3. Sarah MomRunningonEmpty
    May 21, 2013

    Great post!!! This past weekend I PR’ed my 10k race 25 pounds heavier than I was when I set the last record. I think at that point I was way too thin, bordering on an ED and I had to learn that I am faster and stronger when I am properly fueled. Thought I work harder at this weight and once a find a happy balance somewhere in the middle I will surely improve my times, skinny or thin aren’t always what is best for your body!
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    • Debbie
      May 22, 2013

      Excellent point. One of the commenters further down the page, Douglas, spoke to adding muscle, which will make you weigh more, but you will be leaner and stronger. That runners should focus on how their clothes fit, not at numbers on a scale.
      Debbie recently posted…Will I Run Faster If I Weigh Less?My Profile

  4. KymberlyFunFit
    May 21, 2013

    I love the balanced, thorough, considered approach to this question. You are a true fitness pro!
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  5. Jill @ Fitness, Health and Happiness
    May 22, 2013

    Well said Debbie.
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  6. Angela @ Happy Fit Mama
    May 22, 2013

    Very well explained Debbie!
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  7. Miz
    May 22, 2013

    SO well stated
    It’s a slippery slope with weight loss etc as we all seem to think it is the magic EVERYTHING bullet…
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    • Debbie
      May 22, 2013

      So, so true. And runners think that way more than many because it is true to a certain extent.
      Debbie recently posted…Will I Run Faster If I Weigh Less?My Profile

  8. Ericka @ The Sweet Life
    May 22, 2013

    I have often wondered if losing a few pounds would help me go faster — and I think that it would. However, it’s really hard to deviate from my natural, happy weight and I don’t think it’d be worth it. CErtainly an interesting topic of conversation though!
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    • Debbie
      May 22, 2013

      It is definitely a complex question which leads to even more questions. It depends on current weight, goals, muscle vs. fat weight. Plus there are a lot of psychological implications. Some people are more prone to develop eating disorders and could potentially get caught up in the belief that losing even more weight would lead to faster times.
      Debbie recently posted…Will I Run Faster If I Weigh Less?My Profile

  9. Marcia
    May 22, 2013

    Great advice! Being lighter definitely helps but at a point its a slippery slope for sure.
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  10. misszippy
    May 22, 2013

    I think you addressed this perfectly. VO2 max goes up with weight loss, but there is a limit. Go too far, and not only are you in danger of the female athlete triad, but you won’t have the energy required for the workouts, either. It’s never easy, is it?
    misszippy recently posted…How do runners say good-bye?My Profile

    • Debbie
      May 22, 2013

      Thank you. On the surface it’s and easy question, but the first thought that came to my mind when asked was, “it’s complicated.”
      Debbie recently posted…Will I Run Faster If I Weigh Less?My Profile

    • lindsay
      May 26, 2013

      Yes, agreed! and it really comes down to a science, ya know?! too far is dangerous. Wells aid friends!

  11. Pamela Hernandez
    May 22, 2013

    You make some great points. Sometimes we can get to focused on numbers to the detriment of our health. But reaching a healthy weight can improve speed and improve how running feels. I know my runs feel dramatically different from when I started trying to run and was about 10 lbs heavier.
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    • Debbie
      May 22, 2013

      Absolutely true. What always scares me as a fitness professional is knowing that runners tend to think if a little is good, then more must be better. I have to watch my cross country runners so carefully, especially the girls. The new runners frequently have some weight to lose, and when they do you really have to educate them. And it’s not like teenage girls don’t get enough pressure about their weight and looks already!
      Debbie recently posted…Will I Run Faster If I Weigh Less?My Profile

  12. Kierston @candyfit
    May 22, 2013

    Well said!
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  13. Douglas Sawyer
    May 22, 2013

    one big thing you forgot to mention, muscle weighs more then fat, but takes up less space. as you train you build muscle and burn fat. it often can happen that you actually gain weight, especially if you are getting significantly stronger or faster, but you can actually be thinner and have lower body fat. as an athletic trainer i tell my athletes not to focus on what the number on the scale says, but more on how their clothes fit. if really worried about how ‘fat’ they are to get tape measure and measure their waist regularly or get body fat checked with calipers. actual weight, and height/weight charts can be very misleading. in high school and college i had 5% body fat (cross country runner) but according to height/weight charts at doctors office i was borderline obese because i was all muscle. so don’t worry about the scale, a mirror and your clothes tell you more…

    • Jen
      May 22, 2013

      I think this is so true, especially for my body type — what I’d call “skinny fat.” I’m on the lower end of the healthy weight range, but I have excess belly fat that I’d love to convert into muscle! I think we (as a society) focus too much on calories and pounds instead of more important metrics like nutrition and body fat %.
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      • Debbie
        May 22, 2013

        Remember that gaining muscle can help your performance, strengthen your bones, and improve your metabolism. Also remember that fat can’t be converted to muscle. We can only lose fat, and gain muscle through appropriate strength training. And improving strength in your core will definitely improve your running.
        Debbie recently posted…Will I Run Faster If I Weigh Less?My Profile

    • Debbie
      May 22, 2013

      Great points. Yes, it is so true that muscle gain (along with fat loss) can lead to actual weight gain, something that will send most runners into a panic if they are not aware of what is happening. The idea of clothing fit, or actual measurements is a great one. And if the runner is training in such a way to improve speed they should see improvement in their running time.

      I still think there is a small little bug that sits on our shoulder that whispers less weight = more speed. Your runners are fortunate that they have you to remind them of the truth about body mass. Not everybody has a coach or trainer, though, so I hope to educate a few people. I thank you for adding to the conversation.

      I am old enough to remember when coaches were the ones to insist that their runners lose more and more weight. In fact, I’m sure it still happens in many instances.
      Debbie recently posted…Will I Run Faster If I Weigh Less?My Profile

  14. Douglas Sawyer
    May 22, 2013

    oh, and therefore you may actually improve performance/get faster by putting on weight instead of losing it. there is a point when too much muscle weight may slow you down, but generally the extra weight from muscle will make you faster, even for ultrarunners…
    Douglas Sawyer recently posted…Our Youth Athletes NEED Your Help! #NATM2013 #YouthSafetyMy Profile

  15. Robin
    May 22, 2013

    Great post. I did lose about 10 lbs before my last marathon (not by choice but lost it all the same) and carved 11 minutes off my time. I’m 5’8 and was about 146 before the weight loss. I found that the perceived effort was the same but I guess, the lower weight, translanted to a faster time.
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    • Debbie
      May 22, 2013

      That’s true. It takes less energy to move less mass. There is no doubt that losing weight to achieve a healthy, lean weight will help you run faster. What makes it so complex is the idea that, hmm, will another 10 pounds make me even faster? It is easy to get caught up in that concept, even for healthy people with no history of disordered eating. That’s when it can lead to problems.
      Debbie recently posted…Will I Run Faster If I Weigh Less?My Profile

      • Robin
        May 22, 2013

        Oh for sure…I can definitely see that. My weight loss probably won’t last, but enjoyed it while it did. I certainly wouldn’t take it down any more. It just wouldn’t be a healthy weight for me.
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  16. Chris
    May 22, 2013

    Thank you for a great answer to a question which is more complex than it seems. So many variables goes into this equation. I guess it’s best for me that if you are overweight, loosing weight will improve your speed. If your weight is ideal for your body type., losing weight might be a disadvantage for you.
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    • Debbie
      May 22, 2013

      That is true. Taking all the psychological issues out of it, yes, if you’re overweight, you can probably get after if you get down to your healthy weight. If you are an ideal weight, probably not.
      Debbie recently posted…Will I Run Faster If I Weigh Less?My Profile

  17. Katelyn
    May 22, 2013

    Great, balanced post. Thank you for your thoughtful blog.

  18. Christine
    May 22, 2013

    I would love to lose weight from running, but have quickly thrown that out the window. Because I have a voracious appetite after running. Especially for hamburgers and ice cold beer!
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    • Debbie
      May 22, 2013

      Haha! That is a problem sometimes for people who take up running to lose weight. While it is a great calorie burner it does make you hungrier.
      Debbie recently posted…Will I Run Faster If I Weigh Less?My Profile

  19. Jody – Fit at 55
    May 22, 2013

    Such an interesting post!!! Thx for sharing all this & your views & insights!!!
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  20. Tamara
    May 22, 2013

    Such an interesting post Debbie! And to a question that I’ve never given much thought to (I don’t train many runners).
    I love your thorough and balanced approach! In fitness, there really is no hard and fast answer that applies to all, is there?
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    • Debbie
      May 23, 2013

      Thanks, Tamara. This is the question that always kind of scares me to answer. There is a lot of disordered eating in high-level running, simply because of the idea that you will run better if you weigh less. And a lot of people who already tend toward disordered eating use running as their fitness of choice…it’s such a good calorie burner. So I am always hesitant when I answer the question. Hopefully, this explains it pretty well.
      Debbie recently posted…Will I Run Faster If I Weigh Less?My Profile

  21. Miss Prickly
    May 22, 2013

    Thank you for this!

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