Weight & Performance

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10/12/2007 at 11:59

people do want to be given absolutes.  no formula fits all.  it's like "your max heart rate is (220 - age x hair colour / nimber of house points earned in third year at primary school)".  balls is it.  that might take you to near the middle of the normal distribution curve, but that's all.

 lots of people on this thread have said "so i have to be x.xx kg". noooo. yu don't.  the point is, that losing fat will almost certainly make you faster.  losing upper body muscle ditto, if that's what floats your boat.  but taken to extremes, you'll start to suffer.

 i think the message is that you can definitely go faster if you get skinnier, to the point where lots of people in our obese society will say you look too thin, but there's no "golden target" that you SHOULD be at.  and if you go too far, it will be counter productive.  so lose the weight if you want to, but monitor your performance, and don't start to obsess about having to be at x.xx kg, because that's what some non-scientific spouter of (often) crap said you should be.

HC
10/12/2007 at 12:45
How? Never been really much above that weight so not really had to lose the weight. I eat a lot more than most non-active people because I need the calories to train and compete, but I stay at a pretty stable weight. Even if you think Frank is spouting crap, you've pretty much just agreed with the content of his articles Candy. The central argument being that high achieving athletes are quite consistent with the percentages suggested by Stillman but there are variations, both ways - cases like Coe as well as Zatopek. 
10/12/2007 at 12:58
i guess it's the interpretation - "so i need to be at x.xxkg" has been a common theme on this thread. the vague guideline is valid, but getting hung up on an absolute is unlikely to be helpful.
10/12/2007 at 15:33

Candy,

It's not really an 'absolute' rather an interesting guide, or at least, it is to me.  I'm embarking on my weight loss out of interest as it's not something I've ever tried before.  When I look in the mirror I see myself as normal verging on slim and with no real need to lose weight for health or cosmetic reasons.  You are, I'm sure, absolutely right in saying that there's no real 'should' but I think a lot of people are viewing it more as an experiment, given that we are, I think, a fit and active bunch.

It would be very interesting to be able to turn the clock back and say to Coe and Zatopek that each would have run faster if the former had been 5lbs heavier and the latter 5lbs lighter, bringing them within the 'norm' of Horwill et al calculations, but no doubt they tried that on their way to success and each found their 'ideal' weight.

I was really interested in your comment about losing upper body muscle as a form of weight reduction and I wonder how much, if at all, this was taken into consideration in these calculations.  The reason I ask is that as a triathlete, I need good upper body strength to swim freestyle, followed by a stint holding myself up with my arm/chest muscles on my aero bars in the bike portion of the race.  Reducing upper body muscle is an absolute no-no for me.  At this time of the year I'm in the gym 3 sessions a week specifically building upper body strenth to prepare for increases in base training distance in the swim and bike.

I'm giving myself til the end of Feb, probably, to judge whether I feel, look, and run better and where on that weight reduction slope my personal ideal might be.  My important race is not til June so if it's all going down the pan along with the reduced weight I've got time to pull things back.

For the number crunchers, I've gone from 58kg on Sunday 02nd Dec to 56.6kg this morning and I'm trying a mini-fast today since I'm not training.  I've had just fruit, fruit teas and 6 brazil nuts and feel absolutely fine so far (in fact better than when I eat sugary rubbish for snacks).

10/12/2007 at 15:50

Candy,

I think when people write "I need to be at x.xxkg", that's just shorthand for "According to Horvill, I need to be at x.xxkg".
We're all talking about the same subject so don't need to spell it out every time.

HC
10/12/2007 at 17:35
I think the most pertinent example Frank gives regarding each finding his own ideal weight is the way Jack Lovelock knew what weight he produced his own best races at through monitoring carefully. I would think triathletes need to be heavier than runners in most cases, and a similar approach might help you find your own best tri weight, Sweepie.
TR
10/12/2007 at 20:16
You don't have to have lots of upper body muscle to be a triathlete, but you do need some muscular strength endurance.If you were a sprint swimmer then you would need some upper body power.

I think all folks need to do some sort of resistance work to make them healthy and strong, which then enables them to train hard and resist injury (like Gobi). If you do build a bit of muscle then you will also get a faster metabolism out of it, and that helps keep you lean.

If someone was to train with Olympic lifts (like athletes do) then they would end up building some muscle, but an ectomorph of a runner or triathlete isn't going to be able to pack on lots of muscle anyway.

I was 12 stone when I came back to running, and still am a year or two later. Anyway its difficult to spot reduce fat or muscle. Not that I'nm trying to. Like I said before, IMO the body will find its right weight. And once you're there then you should just train harder/smarter rather than watch the calories.
10/12/2007 at 22:05

I don't give a sheiiit what Frank Fatman says to be honest... I know what I have to be and do... the formula that he gives just happened to back up what I already thought... so, that's what I'll do... I think if people really were at the level/weight that he gives (and lets be fair it's a ball park figure), then they'd be fine. All this I'm big boned and I'm already thin yet a stone over what he says, nahh... you'r enot thin and I bet your'e not 6% either

But that doesn't matter, it's an opinion, and if people dont' care and just run for fun, great... however, if you wanna run a 2:30 marathon or a 15.xx 5k, then this forumla isn['t far off the mark! 

Pug

10/12/2007 at 22:29

HC,
I totally agree. You are right on the money. The numbers listed in the articles *ARE NOT* Horwill's numbers, they are Stillman's numbers and as HC has pointed out (and as I pointed out too), the take home message from Horwill's articles are that *most* runners would run faster if they lost some weight, but the amount of weight loss required to obtain optimum racing weight should be determined by trial and error.

TR,
"I think all folks need to do some sort of resistance work to make them healthy and strong, which then enables them to train hard and resist injury (like Gobi)."

I'm afraid that I totally disagree with this statement. I think that resistance to running-related injuries stems from many years of conditioning produced by a gradually increasing number of miles run per unti time. It's taken me many years to be able to get to the point of being able to run 90M+ per week. I haven't done any resistance work during this period and in fact I think that it's best that weight is kept to a minimum in order to reduce pounding and impact forces associated with running. 

11/12/2007 at 10:18

sweepie, agreed entirely, there is a trade off in tri.  not sure what distances you do, i only ever did ironman so having the upper body to hold onesself in place on the bike was more noticable than for swimming.  for olympic/sprint, with faster (and proportionally more significant) swimming, i guess that having the upper body for swimming becomes more important still.  but yeah, agreed, there is a huge slant towards running in this assumption, and tri has a lot more to it than running does! 

 i guess for tri the ideal would be to cut the body fat to 5% ish (for a boy - that would be, what, 15% ish, for a girl?) and keep a balanced musculature.  maybe even doing weights, although i never bothered.  (NB i was rubbish at ironman anyway, 11 hours 12 pb!)

TR
11/12/2007 at 12:20
Mmmm,

Perhaps in your case the resistance work that I mention has been provided by running then. You can make your legs stronger by running hills and sprinting – you don’t have to lift weights to provide some resistance.

I don’t lift weights – but I still do resistance work. What folks need to avoid are muscular imbalances, which can easily be caused by too much of one type of exercise or too much (un-varied) running.
11/12/2007 at 13:26

Fair point and Lord Coe did loads of leg work in the gym... and it didn't stop him from being decent runner

Pug

12/12/2007 at 15:44

HC,

Hmmm I hadn't thought of weighing myself after races.  The problem with tri is that there are so many variables that I'm not sure I could get any correlation between finishing time and body weight.  For example a really choppy swim can easily add a minute or so at Olympic Distance and a windy bike can add 2-3mins easily.

I could try it with my 5k prep races though and I'll give it a go in the pool and in timed turbo sessions.  I suspect that my ideal cycling and swimming weights will be a bit heavier than pure running so I'll maybe plump for somewhere between 'non-active' and my so-called ideal running weight.

Candy,

I have had body fat measured before but not sure how to do it myself (it was calipers).  I've heard that these scales you can get (Tanita?) can be really inaccurate so I guess I'll just stick to weight to start with.

Tri distance for next year is sprint.  but I have done an Ironman (UK, 2005).  It was my first and only one but I'd be pretty chuffed with 11hr 12 (I did 12:23).  I'm going back in 2009 to aim for sub 11hrs.  Not really considered the swim/bike strength ratio I just know I'm a poor swimmer and need to work on upper body core and shoulder strength.

13/12/2007 at 07:15

When I look back at pictures of myself at 'my racing peak' in the mid - late 1980s. I was about 3.5 stones lighter than I am at the moment.

Since then I have done countless press ups and have gone from a chest size Medium to XL.  I have over- eaten (obviously) and not run enough  for too long, so my body shape is different.

Back then I looked like a middle distance runner. (Today I don't !) Ok I was never a Coe, as my build is totally different to his.

More like a Peter Snell build, though with nothing like his ability. I hasten to add.

I'm basically going back to what works for me and that involves cutting out alot of 'junk food. It's small steps. I found an Emil  Zatopek quote and post it later about discipling/training yourself. It's helped me.

Interesting debate though.

13/12/2007 at 12:38

My BMI is 21% and I was wondering if anyone could give me some advice.

I plan to loose 14lbs before I run the Boston Marathon on the 21st of April. I am currently running between 30 - 35 miles per week.

I have lost 3 stone since the 1st of June but since October I have worried less about my weight since then and focused more about running.

Should I cut back on my calories for the next 4 weeks and focus on loosing the weight  or continue running and eating as I am letting the weight fall slowly over the next 19 odd weeks?

Part of me would like to shift the weight now so I can focus on running at a better weight. Also, I am aware gains in performance may come much quicker shifting the weight sooner rather than later (I am not expecting miracles btw).

13/12/2007 at 13:18

Down to 84.3kg this morning from 88.6kg 19 days ago

Bring it onnnnnn

Pug

TR
13/12/2007 at 13:22
4 kgs in 19 days is a sensible rate of loss, well done Fatty !
13/12/2007 at 13:49

 Hey, my BMI is now under 25 again, so it's Chubbs to you Sir 

Pug

13/12/2007 at 13:54
Kev, I think, if anything,  it would probably be the other way round.  If you train heavy it will be harder work, so although slower you will get more benefit - bit like being pregnant ?  So although your race times in the meantime would obvoiulsy be faster if lighter, I'm sure your best plan is to keep going as you are and loosing it slowly - esp in view of the dates of the next 2 weeks!
13/12/2007 at 16:16

Found the Zatopek quote.

'When a person trains once, nothing happens. When a person forces himself to do a thing a hundred or a thousand times, then he certainly has developed in more ways than physical. Is it raining ? That doesn't matter, either. Then willpower will be no problem.'

It's about the willpower for me at the moment and this quote helps me !

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