Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Weighty Issue, Part 2

What's the single best way for most runners to improve their performance? Lose some weight. Here is a list of reasons to lose weight:

1. Your Max Vo2 will rise. Think of a car; if you tear out a bunch of extra junk from the trunk, but leave the engine alone, the all important horsepower/pounds ratio increases. And this ratio is the auto equivalent of your Max Vo2 reading. While Max Vo2 isn't as important to a 100 mile runner as it is to a miler, the idea is to have the same cardiovascular output but a smaller body to push up and down hills. If you weight 180 pounds now, and manage to lose 20 pounds, you'll use less energy and burn less calories at the same pace.

2. Less stress/pounding means less likely to sustain an injury. Running is a pounding exercise, and any lessening of this pounding is bound to help your knees, achilles, etc.

3. You are likely to live longer and suffer less non running related health issues. Ever seen a fat 100 year old? Seriously, just because you can run a 50 or 100 mile race doesn't meen you are healthy.

I was thinking of weight recently in the context of shoe weight. Finding the lightest shoes seems to be a common topic with a lot of runners (and I too prefer lighter shoes) but I find it odd that many people will agonize over an ounce here or there on their shoes, but neglect the dozen or so extra pounds they are carrying around on their bodies. Of course there are other reasons for choosing light shoes, as the lighter shoes often fit and feel better, and provide more flexibility. But, wearing the ultra light shoes also adds an element of injury risk (see 2 above) if you are carrying more than your ideal body weight. Just remember, a lot of the people you see wearing the lightest shoes are themselves light (Matt C, Tony K, etc). They would be great runners regardless of what shoes they wore.


chisholm said...

It is easier to buy "lite" shoes than "lite" hamburgers or "lite" lasagna or "lite" milkshakes.

WynnMan said...

Hey Paul, good luck at McNaughton. I know Andy puts on a great event. Hopefully it's not to greasy on the hill climbs. I hear that trail can get pretty slick, but that's the essence of trail running.

Glad to hear the hammy is improving.

Kel said...

Great post!

Paul DeWitt said...

Thanks for the comments.

Wynn - good luck with your new 50K coming up in a few weeks. I def. plan to do that one next year if I can ever get this leg back to where I can do quality work. I'll be sticking to the longer stuff in the meantime - I'm too slow for a 50K right now!
- paul

Shane said...

Paul: First of all, I must say that I met your dad near Sugarloafin last July after we had both finished long LT100 training runs - very nice man!  I suffered a serious knee injury at mile 46 in LT100 and had to lay off running for 17 weeks.  My return is primarliy a result of the weight training portion of my rehabilitation. I was amazed at how weak I had gotten in the past few years - I'm 44.  Your blog on weight training mirrored my own recovery efforts.
Take care and try wet heat on that hamstring. Trust me on this - sit on a heat pad (12-15 min) that has a foam pad that you can moisten with water. Stretch when you're done. Good luck.