For committed runners, weight is a fundamental part of your running efficiency. Both coaches and dieticians agree that too much body fat greatly lowers running performance, so the less excess body fat, the better your running performance.
However, everyone's physical make-up and capabilities vary so greatly that there is no one ideal body weight for everyone who runs.
The Stillman Table
The well-known Stillman Table suggests the best weights for certain running categories, based on the average healthy weight for your height.
So first of all, consult one of the many online weight charts for working out your healthy average weight. Then you can use the weight guidelines from the Stillman Table below to calculate a good weight for different distances in running:
- Sprinters should be 2.5 % lighter than average - about 1.80 kilos or 4 lbs
- Hurdlers should be 6 % lighter than average - about 4.00 kilos or 9 lbs
- Middle-distance runners should be 12 % lighter than average - about 8.50 kilos or 19 lbs
- Long distance runners should be 15 % lighter than average - about 11.50 kilos or 25.5 lbs
There are plenty of exceptions to the rule and you should take into account your individual body shape, but a high percentage of world-class runners weigh at least 10 % less than average.
This certainly tends to support the Stillman Table and the theory that less body fat improves running performance. And one approach for distance runners even suggests aiming for a body weight of about 20 % below the average weight:height with fat intake reduced to 35 g per day.
A runner training for maximum efficiency, speed and stamina should aim to be as lean as possible while maintaining sound strength and well-being. And you’ll need to do some experimenting with diet before you find the correct balance between light weight and peak physical performance for you.
You should find that your running speed capacity increases by about 1% for every 1% of total body weight lost and you’ll get the best results by practising regularly.
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