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Athletes come in all shapes and sizes, many of which are genetically determined. If you compare a powerful sprinter to a long distance runner you will see two completely different looking body types. While it is true certain body types are slightly better suited to some sports and activities, being fit and healthy can come in any shape and size. As a runner, rather than focusing on trying to reach and maintain an ideal body weight, aim toward creating a healthy lifestyle and training plan that will enable you to remain healthy and keep running at your best for years to come.
Ideal Body Weight
Realize that your ideal body weight is the range where you feel healthy and fit, have no signs of an eating disorder to be able to maintain your weight, and have healthy functioning immune and reproductive systems. Each individual has her own set point when it comes to weight. Trying to achieve an ideal weight based on weight tables, which do not take into account different body types, can lead to unnecessary dieting and unhealthy exercise behaviors. Your ideal weight is where you feel your healthiest and have the energy you need to run and train at your best.
Forget About Numbers
Focusing on a digital weight number can drive you crazy. The problem with the number on the scale is that it does not tell you anything about your body composition. A scale not only measures fat but also muscle mass and food, as well as the glass of water you drank before you stepped on the scale. If you have excess fat, then as a runner it could benefit you to reduce your level of fatness, as a low body-fat level can increase physical and mechanical gains due to an increased power-to-mass ratio. This seems to be most beneficial in sports where an athlete is required to move his body mass over a long distance such as in distance running. However, simply trying to lose weight on a scale could lead to you losing lean muscle mass, which can end up negatively impacting performance.
If you are concerned with your running weight, it is recommended you measure your body fat rather than rely on a scale or height and weight charts. Measuring your body fat will give you more beneficial information and help you determine what proportion of your body is lean muscle mass and excess fat. Using the scale will give you a meaningless number, as it does not differentiate, or tell you the percentage between muscle weight and fat weight. For runners, excess fat weight is a concern, as it can slow you down and places more pressure on your joints as you run. Having a greater muscle weight contributes to higher athletic performance in most sports. While there is no simple and inexpensive way that is 100 percent accurate, the most common methods used to measure body fat include underwater weighing, air displacement and skinfold calipers.
Rather than trying to reach an ideal running weight that may not be ideal for you at all, listen to your body. Each individual has a set point at where her weight generally hovers. Athletes in particular are very in tune with their bodies and can start to feel when they are not in their comfortable weight zone. Your body will let you know in various ways such as by hunger pangs, extreme fatigue or niggling joint pains. Happiness, health and success as a runner does not come from an ideal body weight. It comes from leading a healthy lifestyle that will ensure you are able to train, perform and remain injury free for the long term.