body weight and running times

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This topic contains 3,791 replies, has 71 voices, and was last updated by Profile photo of LewuisMig LewuisMig 6 days, 21 hours ago.

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  • #7836
    Profile photo of Leroy Bonkers
    Leroy Bonkers
    Participant

    does anyone know of some quanitative numbers/research regarding the effect of body weight on running times?

    I heard that general wisdom dictates 1-2 sec/mile per pound of body weight (that’s 8+ min off a marathon for just a 10lbs drop, or a minute off a 5K). But I’ve never seen any hard data. A recent article on ironmanlive mentioned some sources I have not been able to track down.

    Ancilary question: Does body weight have any impact on swimming?

    #89054
    Profile photo of Brad Nicholson
    Brad Nicholson
    Participant

    i think the body weight impact on swimming has more to do with body composition.
    bone and muscle don’t float as well!

    however – over this past fall’s trail running season i went from 160 to 150 pounds and by the end of the race series. i felt a lot faster, and my results were good. i ended up finishing 7 overall for my age group in the whole series.

    #89057
    Profile photo of Tikal Dog
    Tikal Dog
    Participant

    I have to say based on experience that those number are WAY to low!!
    Whenever I gain some weight or loose some weight my 5K times suffer in a range of +-5 to 6 min.

    It could also depend on where I am in my training season but I always feel weight slows me a lot!!!

    #89071
    Profile photo of ChunkyB
    ChunkyB
    Participant

    I think the cause and effect might be a little backwards here. The fact that you feel better/faster when you run lighter might have more to do with the reason that you’re lighter. If you’ve been training more lately, then you’ll probably be a little leaner, and you’ll probably run faster too.

    Discuss.

    #89072
    Profile photo of TriSooner
    TriSooner
    Participant

    “In a 2007 Runner’s World article, Amby Burfoot presented a table describing how much time runners could save by dropping 2-20 lbs. For just a 2 lb. weight loss there is an estimated one minute improvement for the ½ marathon and 1:45 improvement over 26.2 miles. For every pound of (body fat) weight loss an athlete could gain a two-second per mile speed advantage. While this may not sound like much, for those of you that have more than a few pounds to lose, these numbers can add up quickly.”

    http://www.ironman.com/training/nutrition/jennifer-hutchison-offers-advice-on-increasing-your-speed

    #89075
    Profile photo of Iron Dan
    Iron Dan
    Participant

    Personally, 1-2 seconds per mile sounds about right to me. When I started running again 2 years ago, an all out mile for me was just over 10 minutes. I have lost about 90 pounds since then and run a mile at about 6 minutes and 45 seconds, at about the same perceived effort. That is roughly 200 seconds better per mile. Taking into account that I am also in much better shape now, I would say that it is about 1-2 seconds per pound.

    #89076
    Profile photo of Leroy Bonkers
    Leroy Bonkers
    Participant

    TriSooner – that article is what got me thinking about this. I’d love to see that table from Burfoot but I can’t seem to find it. According to the figures in that statement the benifit per mile of a 2 lbs loss would decrease as the distance increased. Does the benefit also decrease (per mile) as the amount of weight lost increases? Can I brag to my former econ teachers that I remember the phrase “diminishing returns”?

    #89080
    Profile photo of cjhoffmn
    cjhoffmn
    Participant

    I’m pretty sure Ken Mierke has some research on this point. He makes a claim about the results you get, but I think he related them in %s. I’d bet he can post some info about it – or he’s usually happy to email some of his research too.

    #176947
    Profile photo of pilatessteve
    pilatessteve
    Participant

    hi the book “racing weight” quotes 3sec/mile per lb of body weight.
    lose 10 lbs and train 30secs a mile faster for no extra effort, then you get al the other gains and adaptations.
    the book explains it all.
    hope this helps.
    great to kick your butt for NY resolutions

    #176977
    Profile photo of TriathleteTalk
    TriathleteTalk
    Participant

    I find it difficult to imagine that body weight necessarily makes you run quicker or not (talking about a normal healthy range of weight here, not the extremes). What would seem much more scientific is your body composition, and the ratio of fat to muscle you have! Someone who weighs in at 160 lbs. and is in great running shape may be capable of running a 1:25 half marathon, however someone of the same weight but mostly fat may have a slower time. Therefore its hard to say that weight can effect your run time. It is more dependent on an individual’s training, body composition, and experience!

    If you find this interesting please take a second to check out this website for triathletes: http://www.triathletetalk.com

    #176979
    Profile photo of Ironmom
    Ironmom
    Participant
    TriathleteTalk wrote:
    I find it difficult to imagine that body weight necessarily makes you run quicker or not (talking about a normal healthy range of weight here, not the extremes). What would seem much more scientific is your body composition, and the ratio of fat to muscle you have!

    Actually, when running, weight is weight. Yes, the weight you carry will help you run faster if it’s muscle rather than fat. But the laws of physics says you still have to carry that weight against the force of gravity for the entire distance of the running race. Therefore the oft-quoted 3 seconds per mile per extra pound of body weight.

    This is why the guy on the left is a marathon runner and the guy on the right is a sprinter. Their body fat percentages might even be identical, but the extra pounds of muscle means that the guy on the right is never ever going to beat the guy on the left in a 26.2

    marathoner_sprinter2.jpg

    #176985
    Profile photo of TriathleteTalk
    TriathleteTalk
    Participant

    Ironmom, I completely agree with you! However, what I also said is that run times are a matter of your training, diet, and experience. What I meant by that is, what you train for will most likely determine your weight, body composition, and racing style. The subject matter is very broad, and it is difficult to place standards on individuals with many different goals. Would you agree with that?

    #176987
    Profile photo of Ironmom
    Ironmom
    Participant
    TriathleteTalk wrote:
    Ironmom, I completely agree with you! However, what I also said is that run times are a matter of your training, diet, and experience. What I meant by that is, what you train for will most likely determine your weight, body composition, and racing style. The subject matter is very broad, and it is difficult to place standards on individuals with many different goals. Would you agree with that?

    I don’t agree that what you train for determines your weight, body comp, and racing style. In general, I’d say your genetics to a large part determines your weight and tendency to large fast-twitch muscle or thinner slow-twitch muscle, and thus your racing style, distances, and goals. Someone genetically predisposed to be large, bulky, and muscular will probably never be a 2:15 marathoner, but might successfully deadlift 400 pounds. Someone born think and lanky may indeed run far, but not be able to lift a 40 pound sack of dog food.

    With training, we are all capable of modifying our general body type to a certain extent, but I think that run times will only be affected to a certain degree by that training. We all have potential, and how we use that potential is up to us.

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