• Anna Hardman

Does being thinner make me a faster runner?

To get your personal bests and run the fastest you ever have do you need to be thinner?

You’re watching the start line of London marathon elite runners and it is clear everyone is lean. Long distance running is connected with a stigma that lower body weight will have a positive effect on performance such as enhancing speed.

Often runners assume weight loss = faster runs but this is not always true, often weight loss and performance has both good and bad news.

This question is complex and writing this post was not the easiest, generally speaking weight loss can make you faster, as you will have less weight to move and your heart won’t need to work as hard however weight loss is NOT a requirement to run faster. Weight loss can make you feel fatigue and your body may start breaking down your muscles to provide you with nutrition therefore making you a weaker runner and overall could slow you down?

One problem is that weight loss in some runners is sometimes taken too far. Eating disorders are active in the running community and it is not something that can be ignored. The pressure to look a certain way is amongst the running community, which leads to some runners adhering to a restrictive diet, which can have detrimental effects short and long term. Even if athletes see their times drop, energy levels also drop. Poor nutrition can affect muscle growth, development and long term increase the risk of brittle bones and injuries.

I would say if you are overweight, or wanting to achieve an ideal body weight then weight loss in a healthy way would be advised.If you are already at a healthy weight for your height, be careful as weight loss despite maybe leading to slightly better race times in the short term, it does not mean it will have a positive impact on overall health and can increase your risk of injuries ( so you might get quicker for one race but then be out for weeks with an injury). It may also increase your risk of developing an eating disorder and have a detrimental effect on performance.

The lighter you are the faster you could be, but losing too much weight or unhealthily losing could have a detriment to your performance and there may not make you faster.

If you are thinking of losing weight or if you are suffering from an eating disorder please talk to a trained health care professional such as a Dietitian before making any drastic changes to your diet.

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