Thursday, 13 October 2011

Finding My Ideal Running Weight

Running has become a big part of my life over the last few years. And in the last year I took my running to a completely different level. Rather than just running routes around my neighbourhood, alone, and strictly for my own personal fitness - I actually started signing up for RACES. Anyone who has ever run in a race knows that running and racing are two completely different things. So this year I have started to get more serious about racing and training, all while setting my sights on greater distances (ahem...half marathon and marathon status...hopefully). And one topic that I just can't escape when I sit down and seriously consider all elements of my training program is the issue of weight and its affect on running and performance.

I am a middle of pack runner - something I originally prided myself on. I mean here I am with a pacemaker and defective heart and I am some how managing to keep pace with other "normal" people. I was just excited not to be dead last. But my competitive nature can't be stifled. The more races I do, the better I long to be. I am becoming one of those runners, you know the ones I mean. The runners who are time focused, are all about the PR, and are signing up for races every couple weeks. You know the type. The type I would have said were crazy if you asked me about it last year...well I think I might be morphing into one of them.
And I have found myself wondering if I would exert myself less and perform better if I reached a more optimal running weight.

I will be the first to admit that when lining up in the corals before a race I can't help but notice the fact that the women in the fastest coral are all lean mean fighting machine. Those women are ripped, and I am easily distracted by their flat abs and lean legs. I have runner-body envy in a big way. So along with the aesthetic benefits of losing a few more pounds (a six pack would be a nice side effect) I also think it might make me a better runner. And I am hoping it might also make my lofty goal of achieving marathon status a more viable option for this Darwinian Failure.

With all that in mind, I started doing some research and I have discovered that my musings actually make sense. I found a great article on the LIVESTRONG website outlining the benefits of reaching your ideal running weight. (You can read the whole article at ) But they discuss how excess weight puts pressure on the legs, wastes energy and places stress on your heat regulation and the heart/lung apparatus that carries oxygen to the cells. Unnecessary weight also makes the heart pump inefficiently. Therefore, it limits both speed and stamina and dramatically increases the risk of injury. My heart has enough trouble as is, so I feel like losing some LBS is a MUST if I want to make my marathon goal a reality.

The same article gives you a formula to calculate your ideal running weight. The baseline for women is 5 feet 6 inches and 120 lbs. For every inch above this height, add 3 lbs., and for every inch below, subtract 3 lbs. Your range should be about 10 to 13 lbs. above or below this target. I am 5'4 making my ideal running weight 114 lbs. And confession time: that is not what I currently weigh. I also think because I have a small frame that I would probably want to be somewhere in between 110-115. Those numbers look scary, even to me.

I sit pretty comfortably between...I can't believe I am posting this on the Internet...120-125 lbs depending on the day. This weight is pretty easy for me to maintain. I workout sporadically (always a couple times a week), indulge in the occasional treat, and the occasional glass/bottle of wine, but also don't have to be too strict about things. My ideal weight is 10 lbs away from where I am currently sitting, and I feel like to lose those lbs from here is going to require some SERIOUS effort. But this year I have decided to make a health a priority, so it seems like as good a time as any to really give this a solid go.

So there it is people, in back and white, for the whole Internet to read and keep me accountable. This Darwinian Failure is trying to lose (*cringe*) 10 lbs all in name of marathon glory. Here goes nothing...

Love your favourite Darwinian Fail,