Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Great Weight Debate

I recently bought Racing Weight by Matt Fitzgerald:
and of course there are a multitude of diet related products, articles, shows, etc. right now. And it has me thinking about weight, athletes and Americans. Hungry Runner Girl wrote a very brave post about her battles with weight and body issues.

I have been lucky enough to never have a full blown eating disorder, but I have struggled with body issues. I think it started when I was a child and danced at a really competitive ballet school. It's no joke when you hear about ballerinas being pressured to be thin. Americans are in such a weird place in terms of weight, I just heard that over half of adult Americans are obese (can that be true?!?). On the other hand there is tremendous pressure, especially on young women, to be ultra thin.

I don't want to be thin I want to be healthy, strong and during race season, lean. I won't lie that part of the motivation is to look better but mostly it is to help my body (specifically my joints) go the distance.

Soooo that leads me to wonder what my "optimal race weight" should be. According to Fitzgerald the average body percent fat for female runners is 12.4% and 7.3% for men. For triathletes the averages are 12-16% for women and 6-10% for men.

I am not an elite athlete so I think I will shoot for the high end of the range and shoot for a 16% body fat for racing season. I calculated my optimal performance weight by finding my lean body mass then dividing that number by .86. My optimal weight is 14 pounds lighter than I am now, my marathon is May 1st so that gives me four months to lose 14 pounds, that seems doable, right?

I don't know how I will do it yet, I haven't read that far in the book yet, but I am happy to have some help calculating a weight goal.

Do you know your race weight, do you think weight affects athletic performance?


  1. I can't see the pic of the book:(

    One of my resolutions is to find my "race weight" and I really don't know what that is or if it's even realistice for me to try!

  2. I'm basing my "race weight" around when I ran fastest in HS/College, it is also the weight I feel most confident at.

    I have run just as fast at higher weights though, but it doesn't feel as effortless. I am around 4-6 lbs above my Ideal "race weight" (as far as I know lol

    My goal is to lose the 6 lbs (maybe 10 if I get there and decide I can lose a few more) and get leaner and stronger than I ever have!

    I have my first half-marathon on May 1st!! And I'm hoping to get to my fittest by May 30th (when I start lifeguarding :D)

    Good Luck!! You can totally do it and I'm with you :)

  3. I'm just starting to read that book too. I'm only on chapter 3. According to the calculator, my ideal weight is on the high end of that range would be about 20 pounds lighter. It ain't gonna happen. BUT, I am working on getting closer to 18-20% which would be 15 pounds. I have until May as well. Wanna be "optimal performance weight buddies"? :) Good luck!

  4. Beth, email me and we can talk more about this! :) thekingerys at hotmail dot com.

  5. If 7% is average, I guess I'm going to be above average! LOL. I'm at about 12-13%. That makes me seem fat and I'm far from fat. I would probably have to lose another 10 pounds to get there. I can't see doing it. :(

  6. This is so interesting! How did you find your lean body mass?

  7. I wanna race lighter and leaner this year too. I read Dr. Junger's book Clean and am following the 3 week cleanse and then planning to follow a clean diet 80 to 90% of the time. I suspect taht I have about 20 lbs to get to optimal race weight but I'd be happy going down 8 to 10 lbs. can I be part of the club you and Colleen are forming? :)

  8. Did I see something about a club? I so want to be a part of that. I'm debating about this book and his quick start guide. I haven't been successful at reaching a good race weight. And I always put on a few pounds during race season, which is depressing. The last issue of triathlete magazine had an article talking about training and weight loss.