As fitness professional, a recent article in USA Today made me wonder just how long will it take the general public to “get it”. The premise of the piece was that if you are a skinny driver you will spend less money on gasoline. The study concludes that Americans are burning nearly 1 billion gallons of gas more each year, than they did in 1960, because of their big fat “as is”. There is no doubt that as Americans we are increasing our girth. Daily we hear of the child obesity problem, and that we have doubled our overall obesity figures from 15% to 30% in just 19 years. There are many contributing factors to this overall increase in Americas weight and the point of this article is not to rehash those factors.
I however, would like to point out a more relevant fact as it pertains to running. If it takes more gas to power your overweight car, it makes every bit of sense that it takes more fuel to power your overweight body. If you would like to decrease your work load while exercising, save more energy, perform at a higher level, and increase your time to lactate threshold, lose the extra pounds. As a triathlete, I have joined in on many amusing conversations where my fellow trigeeks make constant notation of the overall weight of their bikes, and how much they have spent to make them lighter. What I find amusing is, they make small and expensive adjustments to their bikes trying to cut an ounce or two off the total overall weight and then go about their day seemingly clueless to the fact that they are 10-20 pounds overweight themselves, and loosing these ounces will cost them nothing. In a presentation that I give to clubs and associations, I list principles to follow if you want to improve your overall running performance. The first principle of that presentation is, if you want to run faster, weigh less. Check your body weight against the table below and see where you stack up.
The Stillman height/weight ratio table for distance runners:
The average man is allocated 110 lbs (50kg) for the first 5 feet (1.524m) in height. Thereafter, he is allocated 5½ lbs (2.495 kg) for every additional inch (O.025m) in height. Some ultra marathoners subtract 10% from this total.
Now, no one wants you to look like the Kenyans, and anorexia is just not cool, but if you want to run with the best, try looking a little more like the best. Your heart will thank you, and think of all the gas you’ll be saving.