Race Weight - How much difference does this make??

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10/06/2014 at 11:13

So I'm currently training for a hilly 10k race.

My current PB on a flat measured route is 38mins 20secs, but the 10k race I am doing is quite hilly and mostly on trails so I am expecting about 42mins in the race. I  have completed the route several times in the last week, so I know this is a realistic time.

A week ago (three weeks before race day) I decided that I would trial dropping my race weight down to 10 stone for the race (I am normally just under 11 for races). I was 11 stone 2 pounds and I am 5foot 9inches, so I wasn't over weight. This would see my BMI drop from 23 down to 20.6 which would still be in the normal range. I only plan to lose fat and maintain muscle. I have currently lost 5 pounds with two weeks till race day.

I know there are lots of people out there who will say they lost weight and got quicker. I imagine a lot of these people started training more which contributed to their improved speed as much as the reduced wight, where as I do not plan to up my mileage from my existing 80km a week. 

My question is, for those regular runners who drop to weight in the month before a race without drastically altering their training. Does this make a big difference? I appreciate everyone is different and this will affect people differently, but does anyone know how roughly how much quicker I could be by losing this weight? 

Any views or advice would be greatly appreciated 

10/06/2014 at 12:01

Tom, be careful losing weight so quickly

Being lighter will definitely help with times, I don't cut weight for a race specifically

As a rule of thumb I know I'm in good shape when my mum keeps offering me cake and chocolate!

10/06/2014 at 12:08

Hi Tom,

I do think it makes a difference if you can lose fat and not muscle. I try and hit 'race weight' for important races but it's not a weight I can sustain long term and be healthy and train well. As LSH88 says be careful losing it too quickly. I think what you're looking for can be found here: http://www.runningforfitness.org/faq/we there is a link to a calculator near the top of the article.

10/06/2014 at 13:30

Matt Fitzgerald is a trainer who has written a book on racing weight. While I haven't read this particular one, I can recommend him as a writer based on his other book on diet cults. He's pretty scentific as you might gather from the titles, not prone to fads.

10/06/2014 at 13:39

Losing weight may help longer term, but losing 16lb in 3 weeks is not a very clever thing to (try and) do. It probably won't work anyway because the first 5lb may have been mostly water. But if you do manage to lose that much fat that quickly my prediction would be that you'll perform worse because you'll be hungry and knackered.

seren nos yn canu    pirate
10/06/2014 at 14:01

If you lose weight this quickly i would think that your race would be slower than you would expect.......

its a long term thing.....

10/06/2014 at 15:00

Tom - losing over a stone in 3 weeks before a race sounds a bit mental and I would also agree with others that it sounds liek it would be detrimental and leave you tired but it would be an interesting experiment except that you've chosen to do it before a race where we will be no clearer afterwards.

How will you judge whether it was a success or not?

10/06/2014 at 15:24

Thanks for all the advice everyone. So Iast week was first week of this plan and I trained the same amount as usual except four of my runs were on the 10k route I'll racing on 22nd June. I have also run the route once this week. My times so far were;

2 June - 50mins 50secs (recce of route, lost time checking map)
3 June - 44mins 26secs
4 June - 43mins 43secs
5 June - 43mins 35secs 
9 June - 43mins 5secs.

I plan to the run the route again on Thursday after having a rest day tomorrow. By regularly doing this run another three/four times over the next ten days, I'll be able to see if it is having an affect. Although I guess it is possible that I am just getting used to the route which is making me faster. I guess at least by doing this I'll be able to stop if I see any adverse reaction to my times.

I obviously don't know whether this will work or fail. Just desperate to get quicker before the race.

10/06/2014 at 16:07

The only way you can lose significant amounts of fat in a short space of time is through liposuction.  If you run a good race time it's most likely because you're getting fitter and more familiar with the route, which helps with pacing, etc.

I'd concentrate on eating healthily and training well up to the race, then maybe you can look at getting leaner in the long term.

10/06/2014 at 16:17

How on earth do you lose 5lb a week when you are already a healthy weight? I thought rule of thumb was to eat about 500kcals less per day to lose 1lb a week - so if you maintain weight on 2500kcals per day then to lose 5lb a week you must eat nothing! What's the plan - tapeworm, amputation, cholera, run a marathon every day..? I saw this guy on TV who had a stoma from his stomach so he could just eat normally, then drain the food straight out of his tummy and into the toilet in a tidy way, rather than vomiting.

cougie    pirate
10/06/2014 at 16:25
Ah. Now I'm not so hungry...
10/06/2014 at 16:25

Tom: there are some very wise, sensible people posting replies for you! I know several of the people above and would definitely listen to their advice.

The way to keep weight off is generally to lose it slowly, and by that I mean no more than two pounds a month. I would forget about losing weight for this particular race, and then lose it naturally through long steady running: at present it looks as if you are racing yourself each time you train. Look at a much more balanced training plan.

And I hope the race goes well!

10/06/2014 at 16:36

I will definitely be listening to everyone's advice. I genuinely didn't know whether it was a good option which I why I thought I would ask on the forum.

@Marrows - I can assure you I don't have a tapeworm, plan cholera or amputation  In terms of food, I normally have three healthy meals a day plus a tonne of unhealthy snacks, chocolate and beer etc. Whenever I stop the unhealthy bits my weight seems to drop. I dread to think how fat I would be if I didn't run. Before I started running 2.5 years ago I was nearly 15 stone. I'm a fat person in disguise! 

10/06/2014 at 17:22
Little M.iss Happy wrote (see)

I try and hit 'race weight' for important races but it's not a weight I can sustain long term and be healthy and train well.

I do this too, maybe 2-3 times a year I'll bother to drop the extra ~2KG above racing weight, that I tend to carry when training normally and treating myself to some red wine and chocolate when I feel like it.

This seemed to work for my marathon and HM PBs. However my fastest of four 10K races so far this year was actually at my heaviest - mainly because it was the best weather of the lot. ie once fairly lean and fit, all the other variables on race day are much more likely to make a noticeable difference than 1-2KG either side, so whilst it might help you'll never know for sure.

But Tom you're talking about losing 16lbs in 3 weeks, which is equivalent to 56000 calories in 21 days, so a calorie deficit of around 2600 calories per day. That's not possible to do healthily, especially for someone already at a healthy weight. The 5 pounds lost already is probably mostly your dwindling glycogen reserves being used up and the associated water weight that will have been shed with it, it's extremely unlikely that you would have lost 5 pounds of fat within a week unless either by starving yourself or by eating normally and running a 20miler every day!

10/06/2014 at 17:27
marrows wrote (see)

How on earth do you lose 5lb a week when you are already a healthy weight?.

It's weight from water retention, marrows. He won't continue to lose it at that rate (and would be better off not trying).

Cake    pirate
10/06/2014 at 17:40

Tom throught for you if the race is on trail's mostly, depending on where it is and what sort of trail's? You might make better time thinking about tactic's than weight anyway. I do a fair bit of felling racing on and off and there are bottleneck's on some races as not possible to pass people at some point's, with gate's, river's, narrow down hill's ect...

If you think about where those bottleneck's might be assuming there will be for this race and plan out right I will hammer it here pass all these people and recover here it might make a difference.

This is from fell racing through so might be a very different beast to the race your doing.

11/06/2014 at 11:29
Tom Needham 2 wrote (see)

So I'm currently training for a hilly 10k race.

My current PB on a flat measured route is 38mins 20secs, but the 10k race I am doing is quite hilly and mostly on trails so I am expecting about 42mins in the race. I  have completed the route several times in the last week, so I know this is a realistic time.

A week ago (three weeks before race day) I decided that I would trial dropping my race weight down to 10 stone for the race (I am normally just under 11 for races). I was 11 stone 2 pounds and I am 5foot 9inches, so I wasn't over weight. This would see my BMI drop from 23 down to 20.6 which would still be in the normal range. I only plan to lose fat and maintain muscle. I have currently lost 5 pounds with two weeks till race day.

I know there are lots of people out there who will say they lost weight and got quicker. I imagine a lot of these people started training more which contributed to their improved speed as much as the reduced wight, where as I do not plan to up my mileage from my existing 80km a week. 

My question is, for those regular runners who drop to weight in the month before a race without drastically altering their training. Does this make a big difference? I appreciate everyone is different and this will affect people differently, but does anyone know how roughly how much quicker I could be by losing this weight? 

Any views or advice would be greatly appreciated 

The old rule of thumb, although not an exact science by any means is that for every pound lost you gain 2 seconds per mile for as long as fitness is the same.

The problem is, losing weight too quickly down to either overtraining/calorie watching/use of diuretics results in the body metabolising muscle, depletion of glycogen stores and generally reduces performance potential.

By all means aim to lose the weight, but do it much more slowly. I'm the same height as you and when I weighed around 11 stone my 10K was in the 38 min region. I'm now at 10:6 and hope to be under 34 mins in a 10K next week.

But the jump from 11 stone to sub 10:7 for a 5'9 gent isn't easy at all and requires a sensible plan over perhaps three months minimum....if you want to maintain fitness.

 

 

11/06/2014 at 13:51

Six months ago I was 72kg, and running 10k at 8min miles would ahve by heart rate at 150beats per minute.

I'm now 73kg, though with slightly lower body fat percentage and 1hr of 8min miling gives me a heart rate at 138bpm with much less upward drift too.

I don't have any all out time trial data to compare over the two periods. The point however is that you cant relate it just ot weight. form, fitness, body composition etc can have much more influence on your performance. 

Edited: 11/06/2014 at 13:57
11/06/2014 at 15:55

About 3 years ago I lost 6lb in the week before a half marathon, due to a combination of stress/loss of appetite. I thought that I would do the race anyway and it seemed to be going well until mile 10, at which point I crashed and burned big style (losing about 4minutes per mile). From this experience, I would advise against trying to lose so much weight in such a short period before a race.

11/06/2014 at 22:47

I note you say your (putative) low weight is still in the healthy BMI range.  The only trouble is, for some of us - and not just bodybuilders - the BMI ranges are bollocks.

I'm 6'2" and a tad, and hit 12st4lbs for VLM.  Comments offered by my wife on my racing weight included "bony Maronie", "nothing left of you" and "you look like you've just been released from a Japanese POW camp".  (As you can see, my wife tends not to hold back.)

Just for a laugh, I thought I would play around with the BMI calculator and see how I was doing.  To my surprise, it suggested I could afford to lose another 2 stone and still be in the "healthy" range.  

Two stone!!!  That is totally ridiculous.  I'm not as naturally slender as your true 30 min/10k racing snakes, but nor do I have a big frame at all, and no upper body muscle to speak of since I started running longer distances.  The only way I could hit 10st4lbs would be by amputating something, or contracting anorexia nervosa.  Which seems like a funny definition of "healthy" to me.

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