12

Will losing weight make me faster? (Read 3607 times)


Now that was a bath...

    I was discussing this with my husband yesterday and we couldn't answer the question (not surprising as we don't have any knowledge or experience of long distance running!), so I thought I would throw it to the wind on here. (Kirsten - I saw you also wanted a response to this question!) I am currently at what my doctor calls 'the low end of normal weight range for my height'. I am 5ft 10 and yesterday the scales registered 148lbs. I have set a goal weight in my head of 139lbs which would make me very slim, but hey, I like being slim and I thought that whilst I am running I can very easily control my weight and stay where I want to be. I have lost 7lbs in the last five weeks so I can probably be at my goal weight in about 2 months and then I will think about adding extra calories to my diet (hmmmmmm curry). Going down to 139lbs will put me at 16lbs less than my start weight. Will that weight loss aid my performance or is it irrelevant at my level of training? My husband suggested that my body might have a problem building muscle mass if I am losing weight. Should I slow my weight loss to avoid this? Thanks in advance to my online coaches Big grin Claire xxx Big grin
  • jlynnbob "HTFU, Kookie's distal tibia"
  • Where's my closet? I need to get back in it.


    Needs more cowbell!

      I don't have much knowledge on this, but I just wanted to say mmmm....curry! I LOVE curry! Big grin k

      I shoot pretty things! ~

      '14 Goals:

      • 6 duathlons (1 Olympic distance)

      • 130#s (and stay there, gotdammit!)

        Good question. Smile I'm guessing here, but I'd say that if you were say, over 200 pounds and lost down to 139 it would have a huge impact on your running. Since you are already at the low end of normal for your height, I'd guess the difference wouldn't be as dramatic. I've lost 25 pounds this year since I started running. Has it helped? I dunno. Wink I just started running, I'd have gotten better whether or not I'd lost the weight. LOL! I did notice a *huge* difference in my running depending on the number of calories I was eating. As my half marathon got nearer and my weekly mileage was going up I just couldn't function on lowered calories. I had to put the weight loss plan on hold until after my race. Trying to run 10 miles on 1200 calories a day was impossible for me. I had no energy, felt like crap all the time until I upped my calories. It was like someone switching a light on. LOL! Now that I'm not trying to lose any more weight, I can still tell when I'm not eating as much as I should. My workouts really suffer. My advice would be to lose slowly if you are going to lose. A lot of times with a fast loss it is muscle that you're losing. I also found it helpful to do some light weight training while I was losing, building a little muscle and toning up as I went. Teresa
          All other things being equal, losing weight will absolutely make you faster. You can even use the following calculator to predict how a weight loss (or gain) might affect your running performance: http://www.runningforfitness.org/faq/we.php Its only an estimator, but very interesting nonetheless.
          How To Run a Marathon: Step 1 - start running. There is no Step 2.


          Needs more cowbell!

            If that chart is right, then I could cut ~10 minutes off my HM time just by getting down to my goal weight. My goal for next year's HM is to cut 14 minutes, 35 seconds off. Subtracting time for weight loss and increased speed from another year of training could easily have me finishing my next HM in under 2 hours--woot! Big grin k

            I shoot pretty things! ~

            '14 Goals:

            • 6 duathlons (1 Olympic distance)

            • 130#s (and stay there, gotdammit!)

              Going down to 139lbs will put me at 16lbs less than my start weight. Will that weight loss aid my performance or is it irrelevant at my level of training? My husband suggested that my body might have a problem building muscle mass if I am losing weight. Should I slow my weight loss to avoid this?
              So here is the question. Are we talking weight or fat %. If you are building muscle mass your weight may be higher but you will a lean mean machine while weighing more than if you just had more fat and less muscles. I haven't found any definitive answers as to at what point too much muscle will slow a runner down. Any ideas? Ewa
              I would rather wear out than rust out. - Helen Klein You create your own universe as you go along. - Winston Churchill


              Needs more cowbell!

                I haven't found any definitive answers as to at what point too much muscle will slow a runner down. Any ideas? Ewa
                Hmmm...that's a really good question. Most elites aren't too muscle-bound, so I would think having much in the way of bulkier muscle wouldn't be of any benefit. You'd be healthier than a person of the same weight with more fat and less muscle, but it would still be *weight* to carry around. k

                I shoot pretty things! ~

                '14 Goals:

                • 6 duathlons (1 Olympic distance)

                • 130#s (and stay there, gotdammit!)


                A Dance with Monkeys

                  Reverant / Irreverant musings on the topic: http://www.harpethhillsmarathon.com/monkeychatter/viewtopic.php?t=397 The answer is yes and no.


                  Needs more cowbell!

                    Reverant / Irreverant musings on the topic: http://www.harpethhillsmarathon.com/monkeychatter/viewtopic.php?t=397 The answer is yes and no.
                    Interesting...and one guy said pretty much what I suspected to be true--the more one has to lose, the bigger the effect losing weight will have on times. I found this chart interesting, too: Performance Weight Chart For Female Runners Height, Target Weight, Range. 5’1”, 105, 95-116 5’2”, 108, 97-119 5’3”, 111, 100-122 5’4”, 114, 102-125 5’5”, 117, 105-129 5’6”, 120, 108-132 5’7”, 123, 111-135 5’8”, 126, 113-138 5’9”, 129, 116-142 5’10”, 132, 119-145 At 5'3.5" 120#s would be a very healthy weight for me, which is what I am shooting for. Heck, I'd be thrilled with 115, but I probably am a bit curvier than most "performance" runners and I have a feeling if I got much below that I would look bony (my lowest weight in recent years was 124 and I looked and felt about perfect). I think I was around 120 when I graduated HS almost 16 years ago and I haven't grown in height since then. k

                    I shoot pretty things! ~

                    '14 Goals:

                    • 6 duathlons (1 Olympic distance)

                    • 130#s (and stay there, gotdammit!)

                      Weight Chart For Female Runners Height, Target Weight, Range. 5’1”, 105, 95-116 5’2”, 108, 97-119 5’3”, 111, 100-122 5’4”, 114, 102-125 5’5”, 117, 105-129 5’6”, 120, 108-132 5’7”, 123, 111-135 5’8”, 126, 113-138 5’9”, 129, 116-142 5’10”, 132, 119-145 k
                      Gee, getting to 120 would surely take some work for me. Hey, it's worth the try. Ewa
                      I would rather wear out than rust out. - Helen Klein You create your own universe as you go along. - Winston Churchill
                        Yes, I've seen it in my own running several times and in both directions. All else being equal ligher = faster.

                        Runners run.


                        Now that was a bath...

                          Trent - thanks for the link - that made for interesting reading! Kirsten - I'm overweight by 3lbs, lol! Thanks for sharing that chart too. My goal weight at 139 puts me at 7lbs heavier than the 'ideal' by that chart but within the suggested range for my height. Of course it will be difficult to judge how much impact it will have on my running as I am a newbie and therefore my performance is continually improving anyhow. mkleiman - fascinating stuff! Backs up what I thought. That even though my Doc said that I am fine - what is fine for a non-runner is slightly higher than a long distance runner would want to be. I am 35 and I have put my body through the mill in the past. Heck I need all the advantages that I can get! Claire xxx
                        • jlynnbob "HTFU, Kookie's distal tibia"
                        • Where's my closet? I need to get back in it.
                            Why the heck is someone who is 5'10" and 148 pounds, someone who has been running for a whopping 5 weeks, who already KNOWS she's at the "low end of normal weight," even thinking about this? Especially when you're already seeing drastic improvement? Especially when your obviously smart husband - who, unlike us, actually knows your body - is giving you some very good advice? Especially when your freakin' DOCTOR - who, once again unlike us, actually knows your body, and has, you know, a medical license - is telling you your weight is not an issue? That you're, in fact, on that "low end?" For you, for now at least, I think this is the very, very last thing you ought to be thinking about. The idea that less weight = faster is based on a very big assumption that you HAVE WEIGHT TO LOSE, and that the weight is non-functional. Will a healthy man carrying around 20 pounds of useless fat benefit from losing it? Of course. Less weight = less to carry = less work to travel at the same speed. But there are a lot of problems with accepting that advice as a general rule applicable to everyone. The most important point is this: YOU have an optimum weight, for health and performance, for YOU, and going BELOW that weight most definitely isn't going to make you faster. Obviously. Once (as your husband suggests) you start losing muscle mass that you're actually using, you're just going to end up slower, weaker, and injury-prone. Or completely burned out. Or anorexic. Or dead. This is kind of obvious, right? A marathoner may be heavy at 150 and run faster at 140 ... but that doesn't mean he'll be twice as fast at 130 or 120 or 110 or 80. There is a balance. All in all, overall health and fitness and training are about a billion times more important than a couple pounds, even if you had them to lose. Every single thing I've ever read explicitly cautions new runners against even thinking about cutting calories when they begin distance training - unless, of course, they actually have significant weight to lose. Which YOU don't. There are other problems with this discussion, too. A very big one, as SKBunny pointed out above, is the difference between "weight" and an unhealthy body fat %. Those weight charts are at best useless and at worst dangerous, unless they at the very least take into account body frame size, bone density, muscle density, age, and about a hundred other factors unique to YOU. What is healthy for one 5'10" woman can be dangerously thin for another and downright heavy for someone else. Unless you're clearly overweight, the whole idea of "weight" as measurement is just dumb. If you really have to measure something, get out a tape measure, or go get an ACCURATE measurement of your body fat %. And again, a lower % isn't automatically better, or faster. Or healthy. Again, there's that balance, for YOU, that's optimal. For what it's worth, in the last year I've actually GAINED a couple pounds ... while taking 3 inches off my waist, and improving my fitness exponentially. My weight is essentially useless in assessing my fitness. It's gone up while my fat % has dropped. And of course, none of that even touches on the fact that whether you'll be "faster" also depends pretty heavily on your training, and the type of distance you're doing. Sprinters don't look like milers who don't look like marathoners for a reason: different body structures are optimal for different distances. Emmitt Smith (FYI: an American football player) is built like a tank; that chart up there would say he's easily 50 pounds overweight. But he isn't, and he ain't exactly slow, at the distances that matter to him. So when you ask "will losing weight make me faster?" - it's always going to depend on what you mean by "faster" - even IF you had weight to lose. Which, again, you DON'T. If you become a marathoner, you may end up weighing less (or maybe weighing MORE, but having a lower body fat % and more lean muscle mass). If you dedicate yourself to 5-ks or the mile, maybe you'd be smarter actually gaining healthy weight. The answer is always going to be, like Trent - an actual doctor - said: yes and no. I think the difference a very small amount of extra weight makes (not that you have any) is negligible, especially at shorter distances, especially for someone just starting training. Steady, smart training will benefit you far more than losing a couple pounds, especially at this point. Frankly, with the impressive mileage you're already racking up, I'd think getting ENOUGH calories (healthy calories) is a much more important issue than actually losing weight. And as you continue training, your body will reshape itself naturally. Sounds like it already is. If you eat healthy, and train smart, you'll naturally find that optimum "weight." If, in a year or two, after lots of training, you decide losing a few pounds might make you more competitive at a certain distance, maybe it'll be worth considering - AFTER consulting a sports medicine physician and/or a real trainer, who actually knows you. But at this point, five weeks after taking your first step, when you're already at or below a normal healthy "weight," when you're already showing remarkable improvement, I literally can't think of anything worse for you to be focusing on. Go run. Train. Be healthy. Quit sweatin' the tiny details. My 2 cents. But on this one, it's worth more. Smile And for Pete's sake (whoever Pete is), listen to your husband and your doctor before you listen to a bunch of us yahoos on the Internet.
                            E-mail: JakeKnight2002@aol.com
                            -----------------------------

                              I don't know you or your body but for what it's worth, I found the opposite. I'm 5'8" and currently weigh 136. About 6 months ago I was at 125. By gaining 11 pounds (on purpose- seeing a picture of my skeletal rib cage made me realize how unhappy I was with my body at that weight), I've also upped my pace AND been able to run for more than 10 miles without feeling shaky the rest of the day. In order to maintain such a low weight, I had to seriously cut calories and that just really hurt my performance. I'd rather be a higher weight and have more muscle and stamina to run with. And to be honest, I think I look better now. There is such a thing as being too thin, and when you get to that point, you end up not having the energy to run fast and long, I think. And that weight is different for everyone. I think it's only experimentation that tells you when you are happy. I personally would not set a goal weight for yourself. Just concentrate on being healthy and when you are satisfied with your fitness level, body shape/size, energy levels, etc- call that your goal weight. And the great thing is at that point you're already there! Wink


                              Now that was a bath...

                                Blimey! That woke me up JK! I am not cutting calories per se, but I am finding that the weight is currently disappearing very fast due to the mileage so clearly I am not eating enough for my level of exercise (that point is definitely conceded). I do however think that seeing as I am losing anyhow, I might as well manipulate my weight to exactly where I want it to be for both optimal performance and for looks (yes, I am woman, I am shallow). The given normal lb weight for my height is 139-173 with an optimal suggested weight of 156 (normal weight chart not an athletic one). Yes I am at the 'right' end of this range already, yes I don't 'need' to lose weight, but my target is within the normal range. I think that there are three reasons for my current weight loss and two of them are healthy ones. Firstly the mileage, which will be increasing so I need to take that into consideration. Secondly I gave up alcohol completely when I started running and seeing as I had a couple of beers almost every night, that's a fair few calories right there. Lastly I am vegetarian and I think that I may need to consider including a little more protein in my diet shortly. Still think that most of the advice points to added benefits to losing 'a little' weight for lil ole, non-anorexic, non-burned out, not dying, me! Go run. Train. Be healthy. Quit sweatin' the tiny details. JK - from one pirate to another 'I like the cut of your jib young man' I'm off to eat cake, play with my kids and muse over the fact that I still wanna be faster despite only five weeks training and that my arse will look better at 139lbs. I'll concede a little on the 'faster' point but I am willing to take bets on the arse one. Claire xxx
                              • jlynnbob "HTFU, Kookie's distal tibia"
                              • Where's my closet? I need to get back in it.
                                12