Saturday, May 5, 2012

Too much information, sometimes it is better to not know.

I hear it all the time

I can tell you run, you have a runners body.

You move like a runner.

Which makes me think, do I have a runner's body because I run, or do I enjoy running so much because I have a runners body, and do I have a "runner's body"?  What is a runner's body anyway?

In my mind I believe that if you run, you are a runner and so if you are a runner, don't you have a runner's body. We also know that with the right training nearly anyone can run a marathon, which would definitely qualify a person as a runner. Then I go to thinking maybe there is a certain body type that elite level runners share. Are they all short, tall or somewhere inbetween.

Just glancing at an elite distance runner you can see they are very lean.  Sprinters have bigger muscles to help them power down the track, but distance runners don't want all that extra muscle to weigh them down and therefore slow them down.

Training methods aside, the ability to run a marathon in a world-class time will be determined to a large degree by body type and related physiological factors such as oxygen uptake. Variables such as strength to weight ratio, stride length, individual biomechanics, and body fat percentage all factor into marathoning success. Sport scientific research conducted over the past 20 years confirms that the ideal male marathoner will typically be 5 ft 8 in (1.70 m) to 6 ft (1.80 m) tall, with weights between 120 lb (55 kg) to 145 lb (66 kg). For women, the ideal build will range between 5 ft 2 in (1.6 m) and 5 ft 10 in (1.75 m) in height, with weights between 90 lb (41 kg) and 125 lbs (56 kg). These optimum builds are ones that are significantly smaller and slighter than those of the typical North American or European male or female; the Olympic and world championship dominance of African marathoners in recent years, particularly those runners from Kenya and Ethiopia, is confirmation of the importance of size and physique in this demanding sport. source

and there you have it.  At 5'8" I fall within the height but at 130 pounds I am clearly too heavy.  Am I going to stress about that.  Nope.  Pretty happy where I am at.  As this article states  "lean, fit and healthy is a better goal than thin at any price. You are more likely to win with good nutrition than a "perfect" weight."  

That article (which is a very good read) also talks about most elite female runners weighing about 117 lbs and wanting to weigh 114 and race at 112 pounds.  Those would not in my opinion be a healthy weight for me. Sure I could probably clean up my eating a little, but I don't want to be obsessed with it. I think at that weight I would be amenorrheic and stress fractures and amenohrrhea go hand in hand.  I don't want to worry about a stress fracture either.

The vast majority of female runners are not elite runners, but we run, and our bodies are what do the physical part of the running.  Therefore we all have runner's bodies.  

There are a lot of articles out there on the ideal weight for runners.  While I certainly want to be a fast runner, I don't want to obsess over my weight and become a slave to the scale gods.  I love to run and I love to eat.  So far the two things go together very well in my world.

It kind of makes me wish I had not looked up the articles on ideal running weight, especially when they showed how much faster you can run if you lose x amount of weight.  Like if I lost 5 lbs I could run my marathon 4.22 minutes faster.  and losing 10 lbs could make me almost nine minutes faster.  Yowza!

What to do, what to do?  I think I am going to finish this waffle with lots of butter and syrup and go for a run.  My scale will stay where it is half hidden under the pile of laundry.  Hopefully I will forget about how much faster I could be if I lost weight and concentrate on how much faster I can be by training hard!


P.S.  Did you enter my Simple Hydration giveaway?


  1. I understand "runner's body". While I am a recreational running (read do it when I want and when my foot allows), I do not have the runner's body. I have an athletic body--bigger quads and calves from years of cheerleading and volleyball--but not that lean, longer legs kind of body. My legs are shorter and I never feel like I get a good stride. I always think of a runner's body as being longer lean legs, longer torso, more of a "straight" body-type because most distance runners are very lean.

    Does that make sense?

  2. I think that these ELITE runners have nutrition coaches as well as running/fitness coaches and everything they eat and do is about running. It is their career and their life - as with professional athletes of all kinds.

    If it is going to become your life and your career, then it is important, otherwise not.

    But interesting.

  3. See...I always felt like people assumed because I was 5.9 that I would be a great runner. I find that to be so false. I feel like because of my height, I have added weight with it which makes me run slower. I am glad there is some science behind what I have always felt. I agree, for my height that anything under 120 is not okay. That is way too thin for me...especially as an athlete and having the muscles to move me around.

  4. Great post, Christy, I really enjoyed reading this!

    I agree with you and Elle, I'll let those elite people worry about weight and I'll focus on getting stronger and maintaining a normal weight balance. I eat when I'm hungry (well sometimes when I'm not hungry too, but I never restrict my food intake for any reason. I've never had problems with my monthly cycle or anything, I assume I'm doing OK because I just try to listen to my body. I guess I did have that stress fracture, but that was before I started drinking milk and focusing on higher protein stuff.

    I've been literally the same weight (plus minus five lbs. fluctuations here and there) for the last many years, but I have noticed that a number of people in real life keep asking if I've lost weight. And I haven't at all, it's just muscle has replaced some fat, so it makes my face look thinner I suppose? But my weight fluctuates on a daily basis, so I don't try to pay too much attention to the scale, but it's good to check in every once in a while, to make sure that I'm still in a reasonable range (not too high/low.) Like you, I'd rather focus on getting stronger to get faster, not by dropping weight.

  5. Great read Christy- thanks for posting this. I have always felt super insecure about my body/weight. Sometimes I don't like telling people I don't know that I run, because I don't feel like I have the "runner's body". I am by no means built like a runner. I have some junk in the trunk for sure! In college I always felt like the big girl on the team and I hated that feeling! I have gotten much better over the last year, but I think it will be something that I always battle.

  6. This stuff drives me batty too! Ive stood next to Meb, and no joke that he is my height about 5'6 and probably weighs 10 lbs less than me! As you mentioned above- he is an "Ideal" runner type. I actually want to lose about 10 lbs to feel better and run faster, but anything more than that would certainly lead to the problems you mentioned. People constantly ask me at work if ive lost weight- and make the "you look like a runner" comments, its a bit annoying at times- especially when they dog on me for not wanting to share in the company pizza parties or cakes. "But c'mon, youll run it off later!" I mainly am eating healthy and doing exercises to be strong- if I lose weight in the process, then great. But my #1 goal is to be strong and healthy.

  7. Interesting post! I definitely don't have what many would define as a "runner's body" - I'm built much more like a sprinter (which I did at one time, way back in the when) But I'm ok with that. I eat relatively healthy (yes there's always room for improvement) - my goal is to maintain a balance and stay strong.

  8. I think those articles are for the elite group of runners for sure. I am quite happy with my 5'7"/130 lb body - it's a weight I never ever thought I'd see & I love to eat what I want - especially that bag of chips or my waffle with real butter and real syrup. So happy you posted this today!

  9. interesting read Christy...very interesting!

    I think over the years, we have seen a tremendous increase in "healthier" body types in endurance athletes. Once only for the very thin and lean, you now see more sculpted, stronger and developed body types. I believe that goes for most all sports these days as well. People used to just train for their sport by playing/practicing their sport...but over the past 2 decades nutrition, and strength/weight training and conditioning have balanced out the playing or participating part. They go hand in hand.

    Personally, I would say I have a "sprinters" body...5'2 and a half, fast twitch muscles, small, tight and compact. But, you do wonder how your weight would effect your time in a positive way...but I see the negative effects as well...

  10. Why are we concerning ourselves with what the ideal runner body is? None of us are elite runners. And even within the ranks of the elites, there are always exceptions to the norm. Just focusing on being fit and healthy and letting go of attaching numbers to our size is really the way to approach this.

  11. Oh darn it! Being only 5'0 I'm never going to make it to be an elite runner hehe. As ideal as it would be to have the perfect body for running, as long as you're healthy and can run then you're not missing anything. In the end I love running but there are so many things in life that bring me happiness.

  12. I say eat the waffle! :-)
    For me, if I were to get all caught up in that numbers game it would take my joy out of running and eating. I just try to be the fastest I can be for the day.

  13. I always eat the waffle, too. Yes, I could be leaner and I could clean my diet up too. But I'm in pretty good shape (better than 10 years ago!) and I don't have time to obsess about doing better than pretty good right now. What's the expression? "Perfect is the enemy of good." Since perfect is impossible anyway, I'll take good, in running and hopefully everything else. :^)

  14. My thoughts are that at your height/weight, you are doing more than ok. And while those sizes might be ideal for elites, most of us out here in blog land are not elites. And just getting to that size will not make us elites. So yes, be healthy, as you are and forget what you read!

  15. I like to think that running makes up for my horrible food choices at times, but if I probably did track and eat only healthy items I may get there with the weight. But as seen most of us don't want to be THAT skinny, i like a little meat on my bones!!

  16. My thought on all of it is that I am going to do the best I can with what God gave me. I will never be 115lbs like some of the elites, but I can be very fit and in very good shape. I will be as healthy, fit, and strong as I can be while I am trying to be competitive with my running. I will control the things I can control and not stress over the things I can't control. But, I absolutely still "eat the waffle" sometimes, and I know that the elites do too. :)

  17. Damn girl I'd cut off my right arm for your rockin body! I know I'm bigger than even the average runner, but I love chocolate and wine, and life without them isn't worth living (I've had some wine prior to this comment). Knocking 9 minutes or whatever off my marathon time is tempting - but I'd rather do it by training than starving myself! Plus you are super fast anyway, and getting faster all the time!

  18. i would just pretend you never read that info! you are a runner and a dang good one, and your body is solid muscle!!

  19. You're smokin'---and fast as a whip! I think it's hard to determine what "perfect" weight or body type is. If it's working for you now, own it and appreciate it. Don't let those types of reports and things get you down. You, like me, probably don't have millions in the bank to hire elite trainers. And that's most likely what you need to be "perfect" weight (if there is such a thing.)


  20. Runners weigh 117? Yikes.

    I fell so awkward when people make comments like that. Like, I understand you're going to look at me, but I'd rather you didn't make comments that made me KNOW you're checking out my body.

  21. This is great.I like to be thanks for this.i also be share to this with my friends.


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