Race Weight - How much difference does this make??

So I'm currently training for a hilly 10k race.

My current PB on a flat measured route is 38mins 20secs, but the 10k race I am doing is quite hilly and mostly on trails so I am expecting about 42mins in the race. I  have completed the route several times in the last week, so I know this is a realistic time.

A week ago (three weeks before race day) I decided that I would trial dropping my race weight down to 10 stone for the race (I am normally just under 11 for races). I was 11 stone 2 pounds and I am 5foot 9inches, so I wasn't over weight. This would see my BMI drop from 23 down to 20.6 which would still be in the normal range. I only plan to lose fat and maintain muscle. I have currently lost 5 pounds with two weeks till race day.

I know there are lots of people out there who will say they lost weight and got quicker. I imagine a lot of these people started training more which contributed to their improved speed as much as the reduced wight, where as I do not plan to up my mileage from my existing 80km a week. 

My question is, for those regular runners who drop to weight in the month before a race without drastically altering their training. Does this make a big difference? I appreciate everyone is different and this will affect people differently, but does anyone know how roughly how much quicker I could be by losing this weight? 

Any views or advice would be greatly appreciated image

Comments

  • Tom, be careful losing weight so quickly

    Being lighter will definitely help with times, I don't cut weight for a race specifically

    As a rule of thumb I know I'm in good shape when my mum keeps offering me cake and chocolate!

  • Hi Tom,

    I do think it makes a difference if you can lose fat and not muscle. I try and hit 'race weight' for important races but it's not a weight I can sustain long term and be healthy and train well. As LSH88 says be careful losing it too quickly. I think what you're looking for can be found here: http://www.runningforfitness.org/faq/we there is a link to a calculator near the top of the article.

  • Matt Fitzgerald is a trainer who has written a book on racing weight. While I haven't read this particular one, I can recommend him as a writer based on his other book on diet cults. He's pretty scentific as you might gather from the titles, not prone to fads.

  • Losing weight may help longer term, but losing 16lb in 3 weeks is not a very clever thing to (try and) do. It probably won't work anyway because the first 5lb may have been mostly water. But if you do manage to lose that much fat that quickly my prediction would be that you'll perform worse because you'll be hungry and knackered.

  • If you lose weight this quickly i would think that your race would be slower than you would expect.......

    its a long term thing.....

  • Tom - losing over a stone in 3 weeks before a race sounds a bit mental and I would also agree with others that it sounds liek it would be detrimental and leave you tired but it would be an interesting experiment except that you've chosen to do it before a race where we will be no clearer afterwards.

    How will you judge whether it was a success or not?

  • Thanks for all the advice everyone. So Iast week was first week of this plan and I trained the same amount as usual except four of my runs were on the 10k route I'll racing on 22nd June. I have also run the route once this week. My times so far were;

    2 June - 50mins 50secs (recce of route, lost time checking map)
    3 June - 44mins 26secs
    4 June - 43mins 43secs
    5 June - 43mins 35secs 
    9 June - 43mins 5secs.

    I plan to the run the route again on Thursday after having a rest day tomorrow. By regularly doing this run another three/four times over the next ten days, I'll be able to see if it is having an affect. Although I guess it is possible that I am just getting used to the route which is making me faster. I guess at least by doing this I'll be able to stop if I see any adverse reaction to my times.

    I obviously don't know whether this will work or fail. Just desperate to get quicker before the race.

  • The only way you can lose significant amounts of fat in a short space of time is through liposuction.  If you run a good race time it's most likely because you're getting fitter and more familiar with the route, which helps with pacing, etc.

    I'd concentrate on eating healthily and training well up to the race, then maybe you can look at getting leaner in the long term.

  • How on earth do you lose 5lb a week when you are already a healthy weight? I thought rule of thumb was to eat about 500kcals less per day to lose 1lb a week - so if you maintain weight on 2500kcals per day then to lose 5lb a week you must eat nothing! What's the plan - tapeworm, amputation, cholera, run a marathon every day..? I saw this guy on TV who had a stoma from his stomach so he could just eat normally, then drain the food straight out of his tummy and into the toilet in a tidy way, rather than vomiting.

  • Ah. Now I'm not so hungry...
  • Tom: there are some very wise, sensible people posting replies for you! I know several of the people above and would definitely listen to their advice.

    The way to keep weight off is generally to lose it slowly, and by that I mean no more than two pounds a month. I would forget about losing weight for this particular race, and then lose it naturally through long steady running: at present it looks as if you are racing yourself each time you train. Look at a much more balanced training plan.

    And I hope the race goes well!

    Cheers
    Ale
  • I will definitely be listening to everyone's advice. I genuinely didn't know whether it was a good option which I why I thought I would ask on the forum.

    @Marrows - I can assure you I don't have a tapeworm, plan cholera or amputation image In terms of food, I normally have three healthy meals a day plus a tonne of unhealthy snacks, chocolate and beer etc. Whenever I stop the unhealthy bits my weight seems to drop. I dread to think how fat I would be if I didn't run. Before I started running 2.5 years ago I was nearly 15 stone. I'm a fat person in disguise! image

  • Little M.iss Happy wrote (see)

    I try and hit 'race weight' for important races but it's not a weight I can sustain long term and be healthy and train well.

    I do this too, maybe 2-3 times a year I'll bother to drop the extra ~2KG above racing weight, that I tend to carry when training normally and treating myself to some red wine and chocolate when I feel like it.

    This seemed to work for my marathon and HM PBs. However my fastest of four 10K races so far this year was actually at my heaviest - mainly because it was the best weather of the lot. ie once fairly lean and fit, all the other variables on race day are much more likely to make a noticeable difference than 1-2KG either side, so whilst it might help you'll never know for sure.

    But Tom you're talking about losing 16lbs in 3 weeks, which is equivalent to 56000 calories in 21 days, so a calorie deficit of around 2600 calories per day. That's not possible to do healthily, especially for someone already at a healthy weight. The 5 pounds lost already is probably mostly your dwindling glycogen reserves being used up and the associated water weight that will have been shed with it, it's extremely unlikely that you would have lost 5 pounds of fat within a week unless either by starving yourself or by eating normally and running a 20miler every day!

  • marrows wrote (see)

    How on earth do you lose 5lb a week when you are already a healthy weight?.

    It's weight from water retention, marrows. He won't continue to lose it at that rate (and would be better off not trying).

  • Tom throught for you if the race is on trail's mostly, depending on where it is and what sort of trail's? You might make better time thinking about tactic's than weight anyway. I do a fair bit of felling racing on and off and there are bottleneck's on some races as not possible to pass people at some point's, with gate's, river's, narrow down hill's ect...

    If you think about where those bottleneck's might be assuming there will be for this race and plan out right I will hammer it here pass all these people and recover here it might make a difference.

    This is from fell racing through so might be a very different beast to the race your doing.

  • Tom Needham 2 wrote (see)

    So I'm currently training for a hilly 10k race.

    My current PB on a flat measured route is 38mins 20secs, but the 10k race I am doing is quite hilly and mostly on trails so I am expecting about 42mins in the race. I  have completed the route several times in the last week, so I know this is a realistic time.

    A week ago (three weeks before race day) I decided that I would trial dropping my race weight down to 10 stone for the race (I am normally just under 11 for races). I was 11 stone 2 pounds and I am 5foot 9inches, so I wasn't over weight. This would see my BMI drop from 23 down to 20.6 which would still be in the normal range. I only plan to lose fat and maintain muscle. I have currently lost 5 pounds with two weeks till race day. I know there are lots of people out there who will say they lost weight and got quicker. I imagine a lot of these people started training more which contributed to their improved speed as much as the reduced wight, where as I do not plan to up my mileage from my existing 80km a week. 

    My question is, for those regular runners who drop to weight in the month before a race without drastically altering their training. Does this make a big difference? I appreciate everyone is different and this will affect people differently, but does anyone know how roughly how much quicker I could be by losing this weight?  Any views or advice would be greatly appreciated image

    The old rule of thumb, although not an exact science by any means is that for every pound lost you gain 2 seconds per mile for as long as fitness is the same.

    The problem is, losing weight too quickly down to either overtraining/calorie watching/use of diuretics results in the body metabolising muscle, depletion of glycogen stores and generally reduces performance potential.

    By all means aim to lose the weight, but do it much more slowly. I'm the same height as you and when I weighed around 11 stone my 10K was in the 38 min region. I'm now at 10:6 and hope to be under 34 mins in a 10K next week.

    But the jump from 11 stone to sub 10:7 for a 5'9 gent isn't easy at all and requires a sensible plan over perhaps three months minimum....if you want to maintain fitness.

     

     

  • Six months ago I was 72kg, and running 10k at 8min miles would ahve by heart rate at 150beats per minute.

    I'm now 73kg, though with slightly lower body fat percentage and 1hr of 8min miling gives me a heart rate at 138bpm with much less upward drift too.

    I don't have any all out time trial data to compare over the two periods. The point however is that you cant relate it just ot weight. form, fitness, body composition etc can have much more influence on your performance. 

  • About 3 years ago I lost 6lb in the week before a half marathon, due to a combination of stress/loss of appetite. I thought that I would do the race anyway and it seemed to be going well until mile 10, at which point I crashed and burned big style (losing about 4minutes per mile). From this experience, I would advise against trying to lose so much weight in such a short period before a race.

  • I note you say your (putative) low weight is still in the healthy BMI range.  The only trouble is, for some of us - and not just bodybuilders - the BMI ranges are bollocks.

    I'm 6'2" and a tad, and hit 12st4lbs for VLM.  Comments offered by my wife on my racing weight included "bony Maronie", "nothing left of you" and "you look like you've just been released from a Japanese POW camp".  (As you can see, my wife tends not to hold back.)

    Just for a laugh, I thought I would play around with the BMI calculator and see how I was doing.  To my surprise, it suggested I could afford to lose another 2 stone and still be in the "healthy" range.  

    Two stone!!!  That is totally ridiculous.  I'm not as naturally slender as your true 30 min/10k racing snakes, but nor do I have a big frame at all, and no upper body muscle to speak of since I started running longer distances.  The only way I could hit 10st4lbs would be by amputating something, or contracting anorexia nervosa.  Which seems like a funny definition of "healthy" to me.

  • BMI isn't perfect no one says it is, but it's reasonably accurate overall when you use it over x million of people. There is nothing that will be a perfect formula for everyone.

    I'm just healthy now the lowest I've ever got is about 23.9 my average weight is 24.8-25.1 and I get told I'm skinny, but I still have a decent spare tyre image 

     

  • Yeah, I realise that BT, but my point is in response to the OP's that he could lose X amount of weight and still be "healthy" under the BMI - for some people, and not just body builders, this will simply not be feasible, or would require an interesting interpretation of the word "healthy".

    I currently have no spare tyre, but am sure I can put that right with a few World Cup beers over the summer.

  • Ok, I think I'm going to go with what the majority of people say and lose the weight at a slower rate. I have lost 7 pounds so far but will maybe look to lose the rest over a couple of months.

    Interestingly, my time on this route dropped again today and went down to 42mins15secs (50secs improvement), so at least there must be something I'm doing right. That's six times I've run the route and I've got faster each time. Only two more attempts planned before the race, hopefully I can fluke a sub 41min by race day with a weight of 10stone 9pounds image

  • Putting weight to one side for a moment, the biggest mistake you're making at the moment, and something picked up by Alehouse the other day, is time-trialling all your training at the moment.  You've now effectively run hard six times in ten days. I'm surprised you're still managing to eek out improvements because pretty soon you'll be knackered, potentially before the race.  Please take it easy now, and make sure you have a good few easy/rest days before the race.

  • Phil - I was planning an easy run tonight. Day off tomorrow, parkrun Saturday, day off Sunday, 10k route Monday, Day off Tuesday, 10k Wednesday, easy run Thursday, Day off Friday & Saturday, then race on Sunday. I normally have about one day off in a week. Do you think this is too much? Is there anything you think I should change?

  • Tom Needham 2 wrote (see)

    Phil - I was planning an easy run tonight. Day off tomorrow, parkrun Saturday, day off Sunday, 10k route Monday, Day off Tuesday, 10k Wednesday, easy run Thursday, Day off Friday & Saturday, then race on Sunday. I normally have about one day off in a week. Do you think this is too much? Is there anything you think I should change?

    Sorry to interrupt; basically you'll be covering 15.6 quality miles between Saturday and Wednesday (3.1 mile park run, and 2 x 10K time trials) before a race on Sunday! Crackers!!

    I'd keep your easy runs, the park run 5K race; but if you insist on running the 10K route again I'd only throw a couple of race pace miles in.....then taper nicely for the three days before the race. Just 30 mins easy running for those three days will be perfect.

     

     

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