Skinny or thin?

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03/05/2009 at 11:15

I've been running at my club, but some people say I should lose some weight, where others say I should gain some muscle.

I've done halfs and my best time is 1:24, but I want to get sub 1:20. To do that, I need to do some changes to get there. I'm currently 10 st 4 and height of 6ft 3. I've been advised to lose 9lbs, to put me below 10. I don't mind at all doing this am getting quite good, especially on the longer runs. Some of the sub 1:20 ers whoI run with are very thin, even though I'm quite thin myself. Is there any harm in getting really thin, as long as I eat healthy, even though it will be a smaller amount?

03/05/2009 at 12:41
6'3 and 10st 4 - I'm guessing but I doubt it's excess fat that is holding you back.    Looked at your 5 posts - every one mentions your weight in some way - suggests perhaps the last thing you should be doing is losing more.  
03/05/2009 at 12:54

I'd 10 stone 8 and 5 foot 10 ish, best time also in the 1:24s.  I'd say my ideal weight for my height would probably be 10 stone to 10 stone 4, but I like eating and am still thin enough!  At 6'3, 10 stone 4 is probably more than light enough!  Although, being a guy, you are more likely to get away with being very light than if you were female - women have lots more problems with amenorrhoea/ bone disorders etc when their BMI is low, men not so much...  The main worry about dieting when you're training is that you don't eat enough for your body to heal and refuel itself, and this can have a worse impact on your training. 

Maybe increasing your mileage and eating enough to compensate will see your times fall.  You'll probably thin out a bit over the upper body while doing this anyway...

Whoever's telling you to lose weight should at least be able to give you more advice or clarify it better than just saying you need to though

03/05/2009 at 12:57
It's your training you need to change not your weight.
I'm 10st 2 and 5ft 4 and have a PB of 1.17.
Sorry to sound insulting but you must be unbelievably thin.
03/05/2009 at 17:39
Well, I'm just about exactly the original poster's height and weight, just half an inch taller. I certainly wouldn't describe myself as "quite thin". Skinny is the word I'd use. Maybe my weight distribution is different from theirs, but if anyone looked at me and advised me to lose 9lbs I'd advise them a visit to Vision Express was in order. If I were younger and keener I'd concentrate on gym work to build up my physique a bit, certainly not slimming.
03/05/2009 at 17:49

I've tried to build up, but never worked, I've got one or the 'mophs. I do the gym, but just to cardio and doing weights never appealed to me. I can pump weights all day and my muscles still stay small, do running is what I'm good at.

Just got on the Forum now, looks like its been down all afternoon.

03/05/2009 at 17:54
I know where you're coming from killermiles. I tried hard in my younger days to build up muscle in my arms and legs and even joined a weight-training group. Just thought it might work better for you. I'm no expert, but some work with weights won't do any harm and may well help the running by strengthening muscle, even if there's not much visible improvement. Definitely don't think losing weight is the way to go.
Edited: 03/05/2009 at 17:55
03/05/2009 at 19:09

Dont lose any  more weight. Gain muscle. Doing weights may not be enough if you are not taking protein supplements to boost your bulk. YOU  need power to push yourself quicker. NO matter how light you get - you still need the force to move you forwards. If being light would make a difference it would have done so by now.

Have your bodyfat assessed. If it is very low , further dieting will only eat away at your body mass- ie muscle. Seek advice from an experienced trainer in a gym set up and see what they say.

03/05/2009 at 23:46
I wouldn't drop below what is a good BMIrange - for me it would be about 19 minimum and I'm about 19.9 ATM IIRC. There is a broad plateau of overweight ranges that are not too bad for your health, whereas below a certain BMI like 18 or 19 the bad effect on your health rises more sharply. This is covered in the book The Myth of Fat.
04/05/2009 at 10:55
I wouldnt loose any more.  I weigh around 12st 4lbs at 5ft 8.  pb 1hr 24 at a half.  You already sound about right to to thin.  As above try a little muscle building
04/05/2009 at 11:42

Here's a list of weight/height for elite American distance runners.

Name Weight Height Lbs/Inch
Abdi Abdirahman 130 71.00 1.83
Alan Culpepper 130 73.00 1.78
A. Famiglietti 127 69.00 1.84
Adam Goucher 138 70.00 1.97
Ryan Hall 130 70.00 1.86
Meb Keflezighi 127 67.00 1.90
Khalid Khannouchi 125 65.00 1.92
Bernard Legat 134 68.00 1.97
Dathan Ritzenhein 117 68.00 1.72
Galen Rupp 138 70.00 1.97
Brian Sell 140 71.00 1.97
Matt Tegenkamp 145 73.00 1.99
Averages 131.75 69.58 1.89

Looks like you are right in the middle of that range. Attempting to lose any weight seems pointless (and how would you do it, not eat enough?). Professional runners do lift weights, but low weight at high reps for muscle endurance. You don't want bulk which will slow you down. Higher mileage will help out your half times more than anything else.

As for a BMI of below 19 being unhealthy, well, Ritzenhein is at about 17, and I don't think an unhealthy person can put in a 2:10 marathon.

Edited: 04/05/2009 at 11:46
04/05/2009 at 12:08

Looking at Dathan Ritzenhein, I'm about the same build as him, but he has proper training and sponsership. In the US, if you're good, then you get noticed. In the UK, if you good, so what? There are quite a few great runners I know, but hardly get sponsership, if ever and all their training is self-financed.

Luckly i'm never ill and can repel colds/flu quite easily, I reckon I'm as healthy as can be. It is possible to run over 15 miles in the morning and run another 8 later on and keep this up for a week, but I do notice my weight drop considerably - especially in the summer. I think as long as I'm fit, then I'm doing okay.

04/05/2009 at 12:14
kinaseboy wrote (see)

... As for a BMI of below 19 being unhealthy, well, Ritzenhein is at about 17, and I don't think an unhealthy person can put in a 2:10 marathon.

Sure they can. the point was about long-term health, not fitness. There's no necessary connection between elite performance and what is good for you in the long term. There is quite a sharp upturn for risk of mortality from certain conditions for BMIs of the 17.5, 18 or below region. This is a matter of statistics and epidemiology, not speculation.
04/05/2009 at 12:15
At the risk of being over-simplistic, if your weight drops from your current weight (i.e. about as skinny as elite distance runners) then you need to eat more.  If you don't eat enough, you won't reach your potential.
04/05/2009 at 12:42

The book I have to hand Human Body Size and the Laws of Scaling talks about all-causes mortality without specific breakdown. The one I referred to earlier on the Myth of Fat IIRC had more breakdown. The net has a diversity of findings but I'd rather not cherry-pick individual papers.

I'm skinny too. I'd rather a J- or U-relationship weren't so, but if I were to sink below 19 or 18 I believe I'd be storing up problems in the longer term, even if otherwise I might be a better racing weight today.

04/05/2009 at 22:08

Hi Killermiles,

Mate...at 6ft 3 & 10Stone 4lbs,you are seriously underweight!!!.Even for a Distance Runner,you are way too light.You need to bulk up.You're a good Stone underweight at least.

Get some grub inside you for Pete's sake!! Seriously though, you need to eat more and throw some Weights around.Get some Guinness down your Neck!

The emaciated look is hardly attractive.You must be careful when running over Drains,as you may fall through the cracks.

04/05/2009 at 22:48

Get to the weights room and put on a bit of muscle - a properly designed programme won't make you bulky, but help in terms of injury prevention and improve your muscles' fatigue-resistance for running.

I can soon get too lean with just running, however running isn't my only sport and I find I get too weak for climbing for instance if I lose too much muscle.

It's about getting a balance.

04/05/2009 at 22:58
Sorry to jump in here but when people are advising weights work, are they referring to legs and core? Or upper body too? Doesn't building upper body just add weight for no benefit (in running terms)?
05/05/2009 at 10:43

Yeah I would not go all out on upper body - no point developing excess in that area if all you do is run. Just maintenance stuff, but core and legs definitely.

Always think lean runners look funny in that respect - nicely toned legs but stick arms!

05/05/2009 at 13:44
Hehe, yeah. Personally I do train my upper body because I'm never going to be a great runner so I'd rather go for all-round fitness. But I was interested in theory, especially since I don't usually do weights work for my legs, perhaps it's about time.
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