I am conscious about my weight, like most people are. I know how much I weigh and have a fairly good idea about what I should weigh to be healthy. But what should I weigh to be a successful runner?
While I’ve never “cared” about the numbers on the scale, I’ve often monitored them – I just never did anything about it. I’ve never been on a diet. I’ve never made any attempts to lose or gain weight. I always figured that if my jeans fit and I felt good then I was fine. Numbers are meaningless.
But are they?
I’ve been thinking about how to make myself a faster runner, how to shave off a few more minutes from my PRs. My training has been fantastic the last few cycles. I’m (relatively) injury free. But I also know that the faster I get, the less time I can take off of each race. I took large chunks of time off in my past three races (3:41 to 3:22 to 3:18), but a mere 47 seconds faster in Boston. I was 110 pounds for those first three races, but 117 when I raced Boston. So where is there room for improvement? Well, my weight obviously.
I found it a little difficult at first to find information or to even start the discussion about weight because it is a touchy subject, especially among women, and it seems almost taboo these days to even question body weight. But I was recommended a fantastic book that was clear, concise, and an easy program to get started.
I purchased Racing Weight: How to Get Lean for Peak Performance by Matt Fitzgerald through Amazon. I get no perks for this review and these thoughts are my own.
This book is great and I highly recommend it to every endurance athlete. The thing about Racing Weight is is that it isn’t about how much you weigh, but rather your body composition. It is about reducing body fat for a leaner (lighter) body, making your body weight relative. It does not tell you how much you should weigh as there is no exact target. And Matt Fitzgerald does not subscribe to the notion of “lighter is faster”, but rather leaner is faster.
This of course makes a lot of sense. I have always noticed that I do not have a lot of muscle definition in my racing photos. While I see some fantastic action shots with quads bulging, I always tend to look a bit more rounded. I’m very light weight, but I’m not as lean. I don’t necessarily need to lose weight, but rather work on my body composition.
So, what am I doing about it?
1. I read the book. It’s insightful and encouraging. I feel less pressure about how much I weigh and confident about moving forward.
2. I purchased a new scale! I bought this lovely digital scale from Greater Goods through Amazon. It measures weight, body fat percentage, BMI, and more. It comes in eco friendly packaging as well as donating a portion of their proceeds to end child trafficking & counseling services for survivors.
3. I started a food log. I am keeping track of my food alongside my running journal and recording my Diet Quality Scores with it. There is an app that goes along with Racing Weight but I have no tried it yet. I’ll stick with pen & paper for a few weeks first. You can also use the web version of the scoring system here.
4. I started a weight log. This part I am less comfortable with, but I know it is necessary, at least for a few months or through the next training cycle until I actually know what I am doing. While I may weigh myself a few times a week, I only plan on recording all the info once a week, and then once a month once marathon training starts again.
So, here I am, Day One on this new journey towards my own racing weight. My numbers are not good or bad – they just are what they are, that is going to be my attitude through this whole process. These are my numbers for Week One, Day One:
Body Weight: 118.4 pounds – this is a normal weight, but certainly not a racing weight
Body Fat: 17.3% – below average, but can be improved for racing performance
BMI: 20.2 – again, within normal range
Bone Density: 5% – slightly higher than average for women
Water: 59.5% – on the low end of normal
Muscle: 35.9% – slightly higher than average
It may take me a few training cycles to know what my optimum racing weight will be, but my guess is in the 110-112 pound range. I’ll update as I progress through this journey and include my findings with my next few races. In the meantime, I’d love to hear your thoughts on racing weight and body composition. Have you found your racing weight? Would you be willing to try? Leave some comments below!