Weight vs. Speed (Read 488 times)

    I have read and heard that for every ten pounds of weight lost (assuming the individual had it to lose in the first place, which I do), said individual would increase their pace by 20 seconds per mile, all else being equal (which it rarely is).


    With the above stated, I'm 5'8" and when I ran a 25:20 5K ten days ago I weighed about 205 pounds.  I figure I have an easy 30 pounds I can lose without negatively impacting my strength, and based upon the above formula, I should be able to run a 22:20 with virtually the same effort, assuming of course I get down to 175.  The thing is, given that "all else" is almost never "equal", I have to believe there will also be incremental improvements in strength, stamina, and breathing, which to my way of thinking, should translate to even more improvement in pace.


    My goal is to start making some noise in my age group (Men's 55-59) next summer which, based upon the recent race I ran with 5,500 participants, would mean I need to knock my time down to 21:40 just to crack the top 10.  If I want to get into the top 3 I would need to burn through a 5K in less than 20 minutes; over 5 minutes faster.



    • The summer months are allowing me to average over 200 miles per month, this winter my mileage will probably drop down into the 120-150 mile per month range (depending upon how much snow we get)
    • I typically run 8 miles 5 days per week on a very technical and very hilly forested trail and then do a couple of 10+ mile runs on a converted 19th century rail-trail on the weekends.



    • If I were to lose the aforementioned 30 pounds by next summer, and assuming my weight loss continues to be brought on by my training, is there a chance for me to lop off more like 40 or even 50 seconds per mile?


    I guess what I'm looking for are any anecdotal stories from y'all regarding how much speed y'all have gained through weight loss brought on by training.

      Given your height and weight now, you could definitely gain some speed by losing weight.  I believe you should be just as concerned about improving your health too by shaving those pounds.  But if your main incentive is to win races, at least you'll get the health bonus attached to it too.

        Lot of 'ifs' in that plan, but reasonable to shave off that much if you are a newer runner, no way I am making that kind of improvement in a year now unless I make running may career.  I went from mid 27's to 22:50 in about 18 months When I first started running.

          it's highly likely that if you really get your weight down that you will see vast improvement in your times (whether you're a new runner or not).   Only one way to know for sure, though.  You gotta sacrifice and work to find that answer.

            Logic tells us that if you apply an equal force to a lighter mass, the lighter mass will move faster. You will definitely see some improvement, but not necessarily what the simple math logic would suggest, due to the mechanical limiting factors. By that, I mean that to run faster, even if you are lighter, you need to either increase stride frequency or stride length.

            I am not saying this to dampen your enthusiasm. I lost about 25lbs when I started running, and brought my HM time down from 2:03 to 1:53 which is about 45 sec per mile. But how much of that was due to weight, and how much due to increased stamina, strength, running efficiency, etc, impossible to tell. Juyst make sure that the weight you are losing is fat and not muscle....Diet is important, I reduced fat intake, and didn't reduce protein or carbs (and made sure that the fat I was ingesting was "healthy" fat)

            Personal bests (bold = this year): 5K - 23:49 / 5M - 38:42 / 10K - 49:31 (track) / 10M - 1:24:26 / HM - 1:52:08 / M - 3:58:58

            Next races: NYC Marathon, Nov 2014 

              From someone fairly near your age, if you're a fairly new runner, I think it's quite feasible for  you to get from 25' to 22' pretty quickly.  From 22 to sub-20 is a big stretch, though.  That said, why be so specific in your longer-term goals?  Just enjoy your improvement as it happens.

              Well at least someone here is making relevance to the subject.

                Thanks folks.  Smile


                Sorry, it seems I should have provided a bit more context.


                I'm not at all new to running; started running competitively back in the early 1970s, and ran fairly consistently until my mid 30s when my wife and I started our family.  Over the last 20 years I ran sporadically for the first ten and then suffered a badly broken leg and partially detached foot; the injury was bad enough that the surgeon who screwed me back together told me I'd never run again.  The day of the break I was 45 years old, running 10 miles on dirt trails in about 78 minutes, and I weighed about 190.


                Between 2003 and 2009 I tried running any number of times, however, due to range of motion and asymmetrical stride issues, I would always pull up lame within a few weeks, regardless of how few miles and how slowly I'd run.  In April of 2009 I discovered a new dirt trail (my trail from 2003 had since been paved over), and started running on that; suddenly I was a runner again.  Unfortunately between 2010 and March of this year, I was working two jobs situated 75 miles apart, and spent very little time on the trail.


                April of this year was when I got my life back, I cut back to one job, started hitting the trail on a regular basis, and watched my weight fall off on almost a daily basis.  I weighed myself on Tax Day and I was 245, as of last night I was 196.6; so something I'm doing is definitely working.  I guess the good news is that my body is remembering how to deal with the rigors of running; I managed 136 miles in June, 218 miles in July, and I'm on track for over 250 miles this month.  I know that the lighter I get the harder it will be to lose each additional pound, but I'm reasonably confident that I can hit ~175 by next summer.


                Thanks again for your thoughts and comments.  Smile

                Chris Pinney

                  My advice is not to stress about the weight loss,continue to just "let it happen". Stress causes weight gain and injury. Sounds like youve eliminated some stress in your life and some weight has left with it. If your only goal is to run a good 5k I would decrease your mileage by adding some speedwork and taking a rest day. Anyways being in your late 50s and running sub 30 is pretty impressive. Good luck.

                    Like you, I hope to place high in my AG in races.  Weight loss can certainly be helpful in that regard.  But your reference to the race with 5,500 participants reminds me of one of the reasons why I prefer smaller races: they improve my odds of doing well in my AG (from basically "zero" to "a fighting chance").

                    Food, Folks, Fun, Beer

                      1/2 to 2 heads of lettuce a day

                      and loads of bananas and dates as a staple do the trick along with lots of  other fruits in unlimited abundance. I ate all I wanted and lost weight.  How much protein you need is a huge myth that keeps money in animal kill industry.  I get enough protein and fruits and vegs. Brown rice, quinoa, and potato if you cant afford all fruit or a backup if your bananas arent ripe yet.  You can only lose so much weight simply running.  On the standard america diet without running, I was 230 lbs.  With running, 180.  With proper nutrition, I am now in the 160's and able to recover from my run's a lot faster.  That's just my experience.  I'm envious that you are able to put in a 200 mile month.  At my current speed, I would have a hard time getting in that many.

                        For awhile now I have been around 165ish and I am very tall 6'3 so I look really thin.  I went on a killer hike and lost a lot of weight during.  Since then I have only been able to get back to around 160 when food is in my belly.  My times surprisingly have dropped during this time.  I went from an 8.00 pace to now in the 730-740 even on my 10mile plus runs.  I don't know if it is the weight or my drive or natural improvement or whatever but it has happened. It may be a coincidence or it may be from losing the 5 pounds. who knows??

                          5k  = 19.48 10/1/13

                        10k  = 45.28 4/16/13

                        Half Marathon = 1:38.53  Summer Sizzle 7/13/14

                        Operation Jack Marathon 12/26/12  4:39.11

                        Solo O Marathon 06/02/13  3:52:10

                        Operation Jack Marathon 12/26/13 3:40.34


                          I had a guy I couldn't beat.  He is a good runner but I am faster.  He would always pass me near the end of a race.

                          One day he told me I would never beat him till I lost some weight.  I had already lost 80 lbs but the last 20 are the hardest.

                          He never beat me again.



                            we have a similar history & in same AG.  (58 in October.) with proper balance in training plan & healty diet you can accomplish your goals in weight loss & racing times.   over last 5 yrs after getting back into a more consistent running/strength training program I've lost around 50 lbs & lowered my 5k times by over 5 mns.  1st 3 or so mns came fairly quickly (within yr or so) but then improvement slowed down ( set new 5k PR on July 4th of this yr).      As you continue to lose weight be sure you continue with some sort of weight training program to complement your running so as not to lose lean muscle mass.

                              I had a guy I couldn't beat.  He is a good runner but I am faster.  He would always pass me near the end of a race.

                              One day he told me I would never beat him till I lost some weight.  I had already lost 80 lbs but the last 20 are the hardest.

                              He never beat me again.


                              "...the last 20 are the hardest."


                              Yeah, that's what I'm afraid of.  Funny thing, I had been losing weight pretty consistently until late July when I switched from 3 hilly 6-Mile runs and 4 flat 8-Mile runs per week to 4-5 hilly 8-Milers and 2-3 flat 8-10 milers per week.  For the next 3 weeks my post-run weights hovered a few pounds on either side of 205; very frustrating.  For most of last week I didn't check my weight because I just didn't want to see 20X yet again; this weekend (including Friday evening) I ran 12, 12, and 10, and BINGO, I dropped to 196.6!  Yeah!  I went under 200 first time since I got out of a leg cast from a broken leg back in 2003!


                                Running a 5K in under 20 min. will be a breeze for you in no time. You just gotta stick with it.