Does weight matter?
  • For a while now I've been wondering how much a runners weight influences shoe selection and injuries. I'm not talking obese or even overweight but so called 'heavy' runners. I'm 6'1 190lbs in my 40s go to the gym, ride and run...in pretty good shape. I've recently done a 45min 10k and a 1:28 half.

    If form is taken out of the equation (being the most important factor IMO) what effect does weight have? Does it matter? Will I be faster? Are shoes really made for light or heavy runners? What about natural running and weight?

    Keen to hear peoples thoughts!


  • I've often wondered the same thing.
    Socks are a scam. Just saying :-)
  • Controlling for factors like form, a heavier runner is going to put more stress on shoes than a lighter one. I've read that losing weight does contribute to faster race times, but I'm not sure if it that could be applied to a person that is just naturally heavier (not due to obesity or anything like that). I'd think heavier runners simply have more mass to move, so it'd be more difficult, but they also probably have more muscle to move that mass than lighter runners. There's probably some sort of bell curve to it, where weight starts dragging your times down no matter how fit you are/how much you train.
  • Fact is, you can never put down less than your body weight as you run--no matter how light your step.
    Socks are a scam. Just saying :-)
  • Think of all the great distance runners of the last hundred years and find one that could be referred to as "heavy". I'm pretty sure weight matters.
  • I'm not talking about great 90lb distance runners but us mere mortals.Obviously weight matters but how much? and in particular what about shoes? do we just wear them out quicker or are some better for heavier runners?
  • Going off what I said earlier, a heavier runner, no matter how light, should wear out shoes faster.  The only reason I think this is because you can't step with a weight less than your body weight.  Therefore, the heavier you are, the more weight (and probably multiples of that weight if your form is bad) you put to the ground with each step.
    Socks are a scam. Just saying :-)
  • I read somewhere (and it's on a dutch website about running: http://www.runinfo.nl/gewichtinfo.htm ) that 1kg of body-weight slows you down for about 3 seconds per kilometer. So that can make a difference of 30 seconds on a 10K run (not a very difficult calculation :) )
    Personally I lost about 5KG weight in the last 5 months. In that time I improved my 10K from 45:30 to 42:45, so it could be legit. Of course there will be a optimal body-weight for running. If you lose to much weight, there won't be any strength left. 
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  • Pete's book covers this with some scientific backing. But stick 5kg in a bum bag and see how much harder it is to run with that and then say whether or not a bit of weight matters.
  • I found Matt Fitzgerald's book "Racing weight" to be pretty informative - so good in fact, I went out straight away and got myself a body-fat scale.  I'm not worrying about it now, but towards next years race season (this starts Easter for me) I'll be looking to shed some weight for competitive reasons.
  • Body weight matters a lot for running economy for sure. There has been a lot of work done out at UC Boulder looking at this. As Harbourboy says, throw on a backpack with 10 pounds in it and see how much harder it is to run.

    As for shoes, my guess is that EVA compression setting is probably hastened in a heavier runner. EVA is a foam, and when the little bubbles pop the cushion breaks down. Here's a post by Jay Dicharry on this: http://anathletesbody.com/2011/05/16/do-shoes-have-feelings/
    Helping runners run | Main Site: www.runblogger.com | Personal Site: www.theblogologist.com
  • Jonathan Savage's great blog which answers quantitatively the question of how weight matters. For your weight and half-marathon speed see:


    http://fellrnr.com/wiki/VDOT_Results?Distance=11&Hours=1&Minutes=28&Seconds=0&Temperature=&TempUnits=Fahrenheit&Weight=190&WeightUnits=Pounds&Mileage=

    Bottom line, losing just one pound off your 190 lbs. weight is predicted by Jeff Daniels' VDOT calculations to translate roughly to 24 seconds over a half-marathon distance. Ten pounds would be predict 240 seconds, or four minutes off your already impressive half-marathon performance!

    This is in-line with my own personal rule-of-thumb (and huge motivational tool to keep my weight in check leading up to a race) of roughly one pound of avoided fat weight equals roughly one minute improvement in a full marathon.

    Clearly these correlations presume that the incremental weight gained or lost is solely in the form of fat, and not muscle. For most Americans this is entirely a reasonable expectation, though clearly some runners can take weight worries to an extreme and begin compromising performance owing to degrading their muscle mass. That being the case, a runner with a BMI greater than 25 can afford to lose some weight if they are interested in improving their performance.
  • FWIW, my BQ marathon came when I weighed 164 pounds, the lowest I had weighed since high school. I've gained a bit back since then and definitely can feel it!
    Helping runners run | Main Site: www.runblogger.com | Personal Site: www.theblogologist.com
  • I have to balance weight loss with muscle mass gained.  From personal, anecdotal experience, I found when I lost weight, and then incorporated some weight lifting with my running, I gained a few pounds back, but my times improved.  I don't believe it is a straight, linear equation that weight loss equals improved times.

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