There is no such thing as the ideal weight for a runner. Sorry, it just doesn’t work that way. Runners are so diverse with so many different body types and builds that even the ideal weight for a certain frame isn’t relevant. But there is a very real relationship between a runner’s body weight and his/her ability to run and race well.
Any extra weight you carry works against you. It may seem obvious, but the more you weigh, the more difficult it is to run. Which means bigger, heavier runners have to work harder (and are usually slower) than their much lighter friends.
Making matters worse, heavier runners contact the ground harder with greater forced and are more prone to injuries. A 200-pound man will hit the ground with much more force than a 150-pounder. Extra weight also forces the heart to work harder than a leaner, runner’s heart. Also, a heavier runner has a tougher time running in during the Texas summer heat than a smaller runner does. Body fat works as an insulator, trapping in heat, making it harder to run.
So the deck is definitely stacked against the bigger, heavier runner. Thus, it only makes sense that if you are carrying a few extra pounds and you want to improve as a runner, the quickest way to get faster is to lose some weight.
Easier said than done, but weight loss is one of the primary reasons why people start a running or walking program in the first place. And running is one of the most efficient forms of exercise to burn fat and lost weight quickly.
A runner burns off one calorie per kilogram (2.2 pounds) of body weight for every kilometer (1000 meters or .6 miles) which is run. That’s about 90-125 calories per mile which is substantial. (A heavier runner will burn off a few more calories per mile than a leaner runner.)
In terms of weight loss, it doesn’t make any difference how fast you run. It’s the expenditure of energy—the time spent running—that counts. Nor does it help to wear extra clothes to “sweat it off” during a hot weather run. What counts is the time you spend moving.
Based on the formula of one calorie of body weight per every kilometer which is run, you’ll have to run 35 miles to burn off one pound of permanent fat. That’s a lot of miles. But, it’s actually easier than that to control your weight.
Here’s why: Running works as an appetite suppressant—especially if you’re a beginning runner. Very few runners can come back from a long run of an hour or two or more and eat a huge breakfast immediately afterward.
As you get fitter and run more, it’s quite common to discover that you are actually eating more than you were sedentary. Even if that’s the case, running continues its work as an appetite suppressor by helping to prevent overeating.
Another fat fact is that running burns calories even after you’ve stopped running. This is because after you stop any type of exercise, your metabolism continues for several more hours at that same elevated rate. Even though you may be on the couch after a run, your metabolism continues to burn extra calories and you absorb less food.
So that’s why you’ll see skinny runners eat twice as much as normal people and not gain any weight. They eat more, but burn more calories 24 hours a day than their couch potato counterpart.
Surprisingly, many overweight people don’t eat all that much, but since they don’t exercise at all, they continue to gain weight. As runners know, it isn’t so much what you eat that keeps weight off, it’s what you do that counts.
For example, an inactive person who consumes about 2000 calories will gain weight, while a runner who consumes the same amount won’t gain any weight because he’s burning up all those calories every single day by running.
If you are already running and don’t want to go on diet but still want to lose a few extra pounds, there is one certainty: You must burn more calories every day than you consume. If you can have a negative calorie flow (burn more than you consume), you will lose weight without any dieting.
It’s as simple as that: Burn more calories than you consumer and any excess weight you carry, will drop off.
Here are some other tips for runners who want to lose weight:
1. Drink plenty of water before and after running. We all know the importance of proper hydration, but drinking one or two glasses of water before you eat and it will fill you up and reduce how much you eat.
2. Graze. Eat smaller amounts, but more often. Eat five small meals a day, rather than three huge ones.
3. Switch to alternative, lower calorie foods. Instead of soda, switch to mineral water. Eat a piece of fruit for a late-afternoon pickup, rather than a candy bar.
4. Set goals. You have running goals; you should also have weight goals that you strive to attain. Aim for losing five pounds before the first UT football game on August 30th.
5. Avoid desserts and post-dinner snacks. Once you have finished dinner, stop eating for the night. Brush your teeth right after dinner; you’ll be less tempted to eat. Never eat just before going to bed.
6. Reduce how much alcohol you drink. Or cut it out entirely.
7. Learn how to say no to huge portions and fatty foods. You don’t have to belong to the clean plate club and eat everything offered.
8. Cut out one self-indulgent food a month. We all have several food weaknesses. If you can cut out just one a month, it will reduce your caloric intake significantly.
9. Try to reduce the number of meals you eat out. You’re more likely to eat reasonable portions and eat more nutritiously if you eat at home. If you do eat out, request a doggy bag rather than eating everything.
10. Eat fresh. Increase your intake of fresh fruits and vegetables (especially in the spring and summer), while reducing how much meat and fatty, processed foods you consume.
11. Do a weekly long run—even if you aren’t marathon training. A long, slow run will burn more fat than a short, fast run.
12. Weight loss should be slow and steady. By reducing your caloric intake by 250-500 calories a day, this will result in significant weight loss over a three or four-month period.