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,


  1. I'm a runner. I'm also 5'4" and I weigh about 120/122 (I fluctuate a lot). I'm not petite, but I'm not large either - probably med build. I have a full chest, round hips, and meaty legs, but I generally wear a 2 or 4, depending on the store. I certainly could stand to loose 5 lbs for vanity. About three months ago, I decided to do it. To stop hating the fleshiness that covered my thighs and hid my strong core. I've followed a killer workout schedule and and beefed up my diet. No processed foods, no sugar, lots and lots and veggies and a variety of protein from quality sources. I got down to 118 and felt great and strong, but I wanted to be lean. I tried adding more weight training and HIIT to get the lean runner's body. I can't tell you how much work and time I've put into my 'fitness' and my 'health'. I cook absolutely everything from scratch and buy all of my food from the local farmer's market. I exercise six hours a day and still...still, I can't loose the vanity pounds. You can't deny that I am strong and healthy, and fit. I can run 12 miles and do 20 pushups (I only used to be able to do 2 or 3). I have the slightest bit of visible abs and biceps, but I want definition.

    It is hard. And I think it's unrealistic for most people to try and be that lean. I will never look like a model or an actress because I have more bulk and I don't think I'll ever look like a professional athlete either. I am willing to admit that I want to me skinny. I don't want to celebrate my womanly figure and strong muscles, but we need to accept that's it's not achievable to all.

    I wish you the best of luck on your journey to loose ten pounds. I couldn't do it...but maybe you can.


  2. Alanna,

    WOWZA! That is some serious hard core training you are doing. So major credit is due to you for that.

    To be honest it sounds like we have a really similar build, so you are right this "ideal" might not be realistic. But I have found that I have gotten complacent with my fitness routine, b/c I am pretty comfortable with my numbers. I decided to set the new numbers in hopes of motivating myself to really push for those workouts. Because while I do workout at least a couple times a week, there are lots of times that I slack off. So...time will tell. But I promise to be honest and make health my #1 priority!

  3. you have to eat a balanced diet food to remain healthy and fit . . you can also run in this weight !