You don't have to be running for very long before you start to realize the impact weight has on your performance. This is especially apparent for those who turn to running as a way to shed excess body weight.
It's not just that your body is being conditioned through a running regimen; when extra pounds start to fall away you'll notice less strain and pain in joints like ankles, knees, and hips when you jog. In addition, running will just become easier all around.
On the other hand, losing too much weight while training for a race could also have adverse effects. If you're depriving yourself of needed nutrients you could suffer fatigue and even injury as a result.
That said, over time most runners discover that there is an ideal weight range for their preferred activity, and that staying near the bottom of that range tends to spur the best performance. Naturally, there will be days when you perform better or worse, regardless of your weight, but how you measure up can definitely make a difference.
So how can you determine your ideal racing weight and reach it before your next competition? Here are a few factors to consider.
Simple Bone Mass Test
Our bodies are made up of a variety of tissues, including muscle, bone, fat, and connective tissues, just for example. Some of these tissues are pretty much set, while others can be changed. One thing you can't really change when it comes to weight is your bones. Before you start trying to shed pounds, you should take the time to understand what kind of frame you're working with.
A simple test to determine whether your skeletal frame is small, medium, or large is to check your wrist. Simply wrap the thumb and forefinger of your left hand around your right wrist. If your fingers overlap, you have a small frame; if they merely touch, you have a medium frame; and if they don't touch, you have a large frame.
This test is not definitive, but it's a place to start. The general size of your frame will have some bearing on your ideal weight insomuch as you're always going to be heavier if you have a large bone structure, whereas a smaller-boned person could have a much lower ideal weight, all things being equal.
Double Inches Formula
Now let's talk about ideal body weight ranges. Perhaps the easiest way to determine your ideal running weight is with the double inches formula, whereby you measure your height in inches and double it to pinpoint your perfect weight.
For a person that is 5'5", or 65 inches tall, the ideal weight would be 130 pounds by this formula, while a person that is 6'5", or 77 inches tall, would have an ideal weight of 154 pounds. This formula is not perfect, of course.
For one thing, we have to return to the question of skeletal frame size for a moment. The double inches formula should work perfectly for those with a medium frame, but anyone with a small frame could subtract 5-10 pounds from their total, while someone with a larger frame could add 5-10 pounds. Even so, it's always best to speak with a qualified medical professional to make sure you're not pushing for an unrealistic or unhealthy weight for your body.
As a runner, you can't do anything about bone structure, and you definitely don't want to lose too much muscle mass. That leaves you with targeting fat if you want to lose weight.
Your body mass index (BMI) is basically a measure of your body fat content, and your ideal BMI will depend on your height. In fact, your BMI is calculated by dividing your weight in kilograms by your height in meters squared. The BMI chart says that ideal BMI for adult men and women should fall between about 18 and 25%. However, most runners prefer a lower range.
It's also important to understand that the chart provides general guidelines for overall health purposes, so it doesn't necessarily apply to serious athletes in competition. In addition, factors like your age, gender, and frame size (among others) will play a role in your personal ideal racing weight.
Losing and Gaining
Ideal racing weight will naturally differ from one person to the next, but what most runners are likely to find is that they gain and lose within a range. Because maintaining an ideal racing weight can be difficult, many runners vacillate between periods of training, when they restrict calories to lose body fat, and recovery, when they increase caloric intake following a race.