Weight Control

Optimum Weight

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06/10/2002 at 09:37
As an overweight runner whose weight varies depending how much running I have done etc. Has anyone done any research into optimum running weights, frame size, age etc. How much quicker will I get for each pound I lose until I am too slim and the graph goes downward again. I would like to set myself a weight target.
06/10/2002 at 20:50
Hi Philip,

Rather than trying to set a weight target based on your running, I'd be inclined to set one based on the healthy weight range for your height and build.

If you go to something like Yahoo! and search for "Body Mass Index" or BMI, you should be able to pull up some info on BMI, which is a recognised way of determining healthy weight ranges for your height.

If you can't find anything suitable, let me know and I'll send you some info.

I have personal experience of this - about 2 years ago I was *way* overweight and couldn't run upstairs without getting out of breath. I now compete, on road and track, for the local club and am having a great time with the running having lost 4-and-a-half stone to get back to my ideal weight.

One hint, though: Don't obsess on the scales! It's easy to do that.

One other thought just struck me - you could talk to your GP and they should be able to recommend a suitable weight?


07/10/2002 at 12:22

I am a 40 year old, 5'10" man, and I used running as part of a weight loss plan. When I ran my first 10k race I weighed about 13.5 stone, and finished in a little under 44 minutes. Just over a year later, with my weight down to 10.5 stone, my 10k time was down to just under 35 minutes. Now, weight loss on its own didn't account for all of the improvement - I was training pretty seriously as well - but it certainly helped. The other point to bear in mind is that weight loss improves your ability to train hard and consistently, since it reduces the impact on joints, and therefore the risk of injury. The optimum running weight for me, by the way, is about 2lbs for every inch of height, plus 10 lbs. This calculation gives a BMI towards the bottom end of the healthy range of 20 - 25.

07/10/2002 at 12:28
Just a note - the formula in my previous post is a useful rule of thumb for men in general, not just for me personally! Hence the target (competitive) running weight for a 5'10" man = 150 lbs (10st 10lbs). For a six footer it is 11st.
07/10/2002 at 14:05
I think the weight at which you would run the fastest is actually way below what is medically healthy. If you look at most of the elite distance runners, they are pretty emaciated and wouldn't fill a normal pair of jeans.

Obviously, losing weight will help you run more comfortably and probably faster, but aiming for that optimum weight is probably unhealthy. I agree with Dave that BMI is a good indication of where you might want to aim for. www.realslimmers.com have an online calculator which also gives the ranges that are considered healthy. If you want to be lighter than these guidelines, you should check with your GP as to whether it would be healthy or not.
07/10/2002 at 15:25
What I understand from these postings is the lighter you are the faster you should be able to run. I must be a real bad bad runner, a BMI of 17.3 and very slow, imagine if I would actually have some weight to carry around, I probably wouldn't be able to move at all.
07/10/2002 at 16:26
Sorry to change the subject but I don't agree with the original article that says you use the same amount of energy whatever speed you run.

The most energy efficient mode of gait is walking because the body's centre of gravity follows an almost straight path. As we run, we incorporate a flight phase into our gait which becomes longer as we increase stride length. (running speed is a product of stride lenth and stride frequency)

The longer the flight phase, the greater vertical distance travelled by the centre of gravity each step and thus the greater energy cost. This is independant of the energy used in braking and propulsion at each step.

In my opinion, the reduction in biomechanical efficiency coupled with the increased energy cost of respiration means that the amount of energy used per unit distance run increases with speed and does not remain constant.

I also know it certainly feels more tiring to run a set distance at a fast rather than slow pace.
07/10/2002 at 16:48

Possibly (in other words I'm not clever enough to know for sure) the rule stands because the losses due to mechanical (in)efficiency are insignificant in comparison to the overall energy used in moving the mass of your body from A to B.

It feels more tiring running faster because you have to expend a similar amount of energy in a shorter time bringing all sorts of complex energy systems variables into play.
23/04/2003 at 16:06
I was 15 stone, I now weigh 13 after starting running a year ago.

Don't run to lose weight, run to get fit and eat a healthy diet and you'll see vast improvements all round.

I agree that BMI is the way to go, but use it as a rule of thumb and don't get obsessed. You can rest assured that taking up running is one of the best things you can do, and you are going in the right direction. Just don't use it for anything other than

1. Enjoyment
2. To get fitter
3. To feel good

I know this is fairly basic, but if you're lucky you'll meet loads of like minded people who are very friendly, doing the same.

To find that out all you have to do is enter a race and get involved, or join a club.

I did both and now I feel great rather than wasting away watching Reality TV Fodder and stuffing curry down my neck.

Although I have to confess I still do this now and then, just not as often

24/04/2003 at 08:52
Hi All

I would like to add my 2 cents worth to this debate. I would not put too much faith in the BMI readings you get off different web sites, instead go to your GP and get your body fat measured and work towards lowering this figure if required.

The reason I say this is that BMI does not take into account body composition.

ie. If Arnold Swartzenegger (sp)in his prime had used a web site to measure his BMI it would have reported that he was obease which was clearly not the case as he had very low body fat % and a very high lean muscle %.

As I said, Just my 2 cents worth.
24/04/2003 at 09:06
I like Daniel's '2lb for every inch of height + 10lb' formula - makes me spot on my ideal weight! Not that this will stop me obsessing though.
24/04/2003 at 09:11
Being vertically challenged i don't take much notice of "official" ideal weight charts. For the majority of people the difference in build alone throws the process into oblivion. Who wants to be average/normal anyway?
24/04/2003 at 09:18
Optimum running weight is very skinny - end of story.

24/04/2003 at 09:50
Does the 2lb for every inch of height + 10lb formula work for women, or will it be different as women naturally have more fat in their bodies than men ?
24/04/2003 at 10:05
I distrust any formula that only uses height and not width or muscles...
This one gives 150 lbs as my ideal weight. If I lost 15 lbs and reached that weight I would be really skinny - last time I was there people started feeding me apple pie spontaneously :)

It may be an ideal weigth for running though.

Mags2: women have more fat but usually also less muscle and smaller bones. A woman and man that are the same height, and both slim, maybe the man would be heavier?
24/04/2003 at 10:19
I agree with Tim Weatherhead about running to enjoy it and feel fit. I started following a training programme to improve endurance and fitness. A side effect is that I've lost a bit of weight, but not as much as I would have if I was following a diet and exercise programme with the specific aim of losing weight. Yes, I'm watching what I'm eating but in the sense of eating for maximum fuel for my run, rather than "ooh, I can't have that cos it's fattening". But! Because my goal is different to simply losing weight, I'm not disappointed by the meagre loss (about 7 lbs or so in the last 2-3 months). Instead, I'm chuffed that I can run and enjoy it without feeling like an overstuffed sack of tatties. And, would you believe it, someone said to me yesterday that I look like I'm much thinner and have lost a lot of weight. Definition, definition, definition!

(Hmmm... methinks my wee rant is off the subject of the original question!)
24/04/2003 at 10:19
my optimium running wieght is always going to be about 15lbs lower than whatever weight I currently am
24/04/2003 at 10:31

i think that runners like paula radcliff - although i admire her etc etc - are just too skinny - its just not natural. theres a couple of girls at my gym whom are sooooo skinny, i want to feed them up!
24/04/2003 at 10:31
Chopping off a piece of leg is a fast way of losing 15 lbs. Not sure what it will do for the running though.
24/04/2003 at 10:39
As part of my marathon training this year I lost about a stone in weight, and now fit perfectly with the 2lbs for every inch + 10 (I am 5' 10")
My running and training intensity have significantly improved this year also. IMHO the two factors (ability to train intensively and the lighter body weight) are interlinked, i.e. it is difficult to train intensively when you are heavier/overwieght without getting injured, but training intensively will also help you lose weight/keep it off.
I guess this might be one of the reasons why you should only increase you mileage by 10% a week..
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