Weight Loss - A Primary Key to Fast Running
It cannot be overstated how much losing excess weight affects your running performance. Weight is the single most important factor in running speed and performance. Sit on the sidelines of any road race and you will see the steady progression from skinny sleek runners at the head of the race slowly evolve into the larger bodies with higher body fat content at the end of the race. Even slight reductions in weight can have measurable benefits to your running speed and performance. Look at running shoe performance in relation to weight of the shoe.
A 5 or 6 ounce reduction in the weight of a running shoe can lead to as much as a one minute performance increase over a 10K simply due to the ease of lifting and moving your legs with a lighter shoe on.
Now imagine knocking a few pounds of fat off each leg and you get the idea. Of course using lightweight racing flats give you the benefit of a lighter shoe but you lose the benefit of the great cushioning of a traditional running shoe.
Let's say you are going to train for the Boilermaker this summer. Well it's the beginning of winter so if you are training for a race that is still many months away you should aim to do your dieting and weight loss as much as you can before you being the actual running portion of your training. The reason for this is two fold. One, because when you are in your performance training, running your actual runs, your body will need to take in more food and calories to help build and repair muscle and maintain your energy levels. It's hard to get motivated to go out and run when you are dieting because you may feel energy depleted already and you need food energy to train.
Don't worry, you will continue to naturally lose weight while you are in the training period because of the increased exercise levels.
The other reason for dieting first is injury prevention. A lighter body is less prone to being injured due to the jarring effects of running on your bones and joints.
So how fast can I go? As you lose weight you almost certainly will see your running times improve. As you train, your VO2 max (a measure of your fitness) will automatically improve, allowing you to easily improve your speed. So just as a ballpark estimate, for every ten pounds of weight you lose you can expect about a 30 second gain in your rate per mile speed of running. Now this obviously varies from body to body but this is a good estimate. So if you ran the boilermaker last year in 1 hour and 30 minutes at 180 pounds. You could simply lose 10 pounds and run the same race at the same fitness level in about 1 hour and 25 minutes.
So let's all focus on getting as fit and trim as we can first so we can see our running speeds increase, our waistlines decrease, and our overall fitness levels improve! Good luck runners!