Thursday, June 18, 2015

Running Weight Conundrum

Selfie from 2013 trying to show my wife the red areas
on my ribs from dry skin at the time, the itching was
about to drive me insane, probably a little too skinny
I worry a lot about my weight.  It probably sounds silly, but it's something I think about constantly. And I know, I know ... it's not really a "guy" thing to say ... but I think most guys would be lying if they said they don't think about theirs frequently too.   Don't get me wrong, I'm obviously not heavy or obese. I've been very fortunate to never have struggled with those challenges.  But I have a certain weight and physical shape that I try to whittle myself down to in order to get the most out of my performance when training and racing.  As a result, I spend a lot of time yo-yo'ing back and forth on the scale.

I'm about 6' 1-1/2", and a good "walking around" weight for me is probably 185'ish.  Although it usually involves a couple of inflated love handles, I feel great at that weight, and it's fairly easy for me to maintain.  Problem ... when I'm at that weight, my running really slows down and workouts are miserable.

So I usually try to keep things below 175 during training if possible.  Problem ... as this 2013 shirtless photo obviously points out ... I'm a little too skinny at that weight.  Actually, I think I was about 172 in that picture. And for the record ... THIS is the only topless photo I have of myself ... and no requests will be granted for more.  I took this when I was on the road in a hotel room, trying to show Michael via text the dry skin on my ribs that was about to itch me out of my mind at the time.  Your welcome.

So here's the issue - when I'm at 175 or below, workouts are much easier and efficient, I'm way faster, and I enjoy racing more because I feel like I'm at the top of my game.  The downside is that it's almost impossible for me to maintain.  I become obsessed with everything that goes into my body, and frankly, I probably don't eat enough because I'm always light-headed and often feel weak.  My face becomes drawn and gaunt and my customers and co-workers ask me if I'm sick.  I'm not necessarily big-boned, but I just don't think 170'ish is a "natural weight" for me.  Heck, I spent most of my life before I started running at about 205-210.  I carried a lot more muscle from workouts then, but man, that's a big difference.

I'll probably stop thinking so much about weight in a few years because I'm almost topped out in most of my personal bests for various races ... which is really the only reason I focus so much on it during training.  After I reach my peak, I'll probably just try to eat healthy as much as possible without becoming obsessed with it.  But I'm a pretty obsessive guy, so who knows.

Is weight something you think about a lot as it relates specifically to running and working out?  Just curious.  Also ... no need to private message me topless pictures of yourself ... this isn't that kind of blog.  Have a great week!
... Be Great Today!


  1. Yes. Absolutely. All the time, every day is counting calories and thinking about where I am re race weight, which is not easy to maintain. (I try not to get too far above it, since losing while training isn't a great approach). For example, last time I checked, I was maybe 5# over my race weight from March 2014, so only a bit less over my Oct 2014 PR weight. (my weight last year was much less than it had been in a long time even though I've always been fairly slender - definitely had the gaunt look going on, which I don't have now)

    So, given I want a big PR in October this year, I'm taking Meb's approach and cutting back (100 calories a day if I can) months out from the race, to minimize the impact and crazy. I calculate the required number of calories for body weight and miles run, then cut 100, and that's my target for the day. I think of everything I eat as something I have to carry with me in training and racing.

    I am trying not to weigh myself, but to go on performance (if I can run the paces and miles I want, and am healthy, whatever my weight is is okay by me). Some have even suggested I'd race better at a higher weight (I AM at the low end for an age grouper, both weight and body fat) but I'm a bit afraid to try in case it didn't work out and I'd have to lose it again. I'm ok with adding muscle (due to my strength work) if it makes me faster and stronger, but as a 49 year old woman (with no thyroid), it's much easier for my body to add fat instead. Gotta fight it. (could do without being food-obsessed tho, some non-guilt junk food eating would be nice once in a while)

    It can be crazy-making. But we also pick healthier food, focus on sleep, do stretching, rolling all the extra stuff because our goals are important to us. As Deena Kastor says - they're not sacrifices, they're choices.

    Good luck!

  2. Weight and body fat percentage certainly plays a huge part in running and racing performance. This book has gotten some nice reviews:

    There has been some studies that suggest that every extra pound adds a few seconds to each mile. There is definitely a balance between having energy for training and losing weight and many a pro has succumbed to anorexia and have been unable to make gains. Running Times recently had an article on this as well and most modern coaches are saying the starving model look is out and the fit / semi-muscular look has allowed elites to take it to the next level.

    For me, I am around 175 and I had my best times when my body fat percentage was quite a bit less and I was hovering around 165. Sadly, as we age, our metabolism drops and I've been less than diligent about my snacking habits.

    Good post and don't let it become an overwhelming concern unless you want to make everything you eat to be about self deprivation.


  3. I wasn't going to private message you a topless pic but if I sent one of this weird itchy rash I have do you think you could ask Michael to take a look at it for me?

  4. Yeah, I remember when I was at racing weight that one time.

  5. I kind of think of it this way: would I rather starve myself and be faster solely because I weigh less or would I like to eat normally and get faster due to working harder? My ego kind of likes the idea that I got faster by hard work (although my vanity likes to weigh less, so there is that, lol). But I guess I'd rather train better than rely on my weight to get me faster. I'd rather enjoy my life outside running, which means no starving.

  6. Opposite problem here.

    I'm close to 6ft. I went from 189lbs to 139. Took years to happen but the consistent mileage kept bringing me down more to my natural weight. If you think 170 is too skinny, I'm not sure that's right. I get that you're 6'1 but this country's warped view on weight is odd. I get skinny shamed too often. I'm now hovering around 143 after my marathon. But being honest with you, when I'm lighter doesn't really make much of a difference in my running. If I was at 150, maybe I would feel sluggish. But at my peak, 139, it didn't feel significantly better than now. Dunno.

    But I'm coming here to say that's not too skinny, the pic posted. 170 to me, is not what I'd call too light unless you're like 6'5 and rail thin. I bet you could pull off 165 easy and be healthy there. People will say there comments like you look sick, because to be quite frank, they are likely bloated. Now if I put you in another culture, you'd be the fat boy even at 170.


Thanks for stopping by ... your comment's always welcome!