How gaining weight made me faster

Hi friends!

As we kick off this new year, it’s normal to be thinking about health goals: exercising more, eating better, losing a few pounds, and whatever else “getting back on track” might mean for you.

And in the running world, we’re always slammed with this idea that losing weight will make you faster.  Yes?

That concept has truth to an extent but it also drives me crazy.  Because when healthy women lose weight, they risk losing their cycle, losing bone density, more injuries and less energy for strong performances.

So I wanted to share the reminder that (in my experience) sometimes gaining weight is what your body needs to get stronger.

strong-not-skinny

I was 10 pounds lighter for the first 5-7 years that I considered myself a runner.  On the left, I was 18 weeks pregnant with my first daughter and running a ten mile race.

While the number on the scale was more “runners body appropriate” than it is now, I was constantly injured.  I dealt with knee pain every time I tried to build mileage to do a marathon.  I had a stress fracture and a stress reaction in my left shin.  And I assumed I was destined to be a low mileage, injury prone runner.

Fast forward to now… although ten pounds heavier, I’m stronger than I’ve ever been.  I ran two big prs this past year (ten mile and in the marathon), I’ve had no injuries since pre-pregnancy over 3 years ago, and I feel more confident in my own skin.

Obviously, it’s the type of weight gain that matters: I spent the last 3 years emphasizing strength workouts to get stronger, and repairing and building my body with quality protein, fat and good carbohydrates.

I increased my bone density, increased my mileage, nailed paces I’ve never seen and didn’t worry about tracking weight.  It’s amazingly freeing to ignore the scale!

Interestingly, my clothing size did not change because I was changing body composition- more muscle gained, a little less fat.

So if you’re caught in a cycle of feeling like you should lose weight to look like those skinny elite runners and to get faster, but deal with injuries or simply love to eat, relax! Switch your goal to strong, not skinny and ditch the scale for good.

Have you felt the pressure to lose a few pounds to be a better runner?

Do you check in with the scale, or have you ditched it?

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10 thoughts on “How gaining weight made me faster

  1. It’s a struggle for sure! As you know, I have a lot of muscle so I have never been rail thin but I sometimes think I need to lose weight to get “faster.” I really try to not fall into that trap because the important thing is fueling my body for the demands I put it on it and, as soon as I start to restrict too much, it’s directly reflected in my performance.
    I absolutely love that you wrote this! No matter what, everyone should do what WORKS and not for a number on a scale. I haven’t weighed myself in months and it’s amazingly freeing!!
    Allie recently posted..The Rundown – Start HereMy Profile

  2. I used to be 10-15 pounds thinner and sometimes a clothing size smaller, but my running is so much better now. There are times I do wonder how being thinner would affect my race times, but my body has settled happily into this weight and I’ve been injury free. I think performance always beats being at a particular weight- I try to focus on what my body can do rather than just how it looks.
    Laura @ This Runner’s Recipes recently posted..How to Train for a Downhill MarathonMy Profile

  3. Great post! I switched my goal to becoming stronger a few years ago instead of being so worried about hitting my goal weight. It was a good shift and I find myself doing a lot more strength training.
    I have always been a person who has struggled with my weight from a very young age so it is hard to let tracking completely go. I still have a goal weight because there is a little piece of me that knows I could be 50 lbs overweight again, but it doesn’t rule me either 🙂

  4. Love that you brought this perspective to light! I have thought I need to be xxx weight to be a better runner. I know that’s hogwash but the thought pops up every so often. Instead I try to focus on what I can do to be a better runner – strength training and eating right are vital.
    Angela @ happy fit mama recently posted..Last Week’s WorkoutsMy Profile

  5. I don’t weigh myself anymore. It’s a stress I don’t need to deal with. I wish I could say the number doesn’t matter,but for now it does. I am at least 10 lbs heavier than even just 3 years ago. It’s definitely a mental battle to accept my body as I get older and things change, but I also need to remember to appreciate it for what it can do. I’ve had 3 babies, and have run countless miles and am much stronger than ever before. But, that struggle is certainly real.

  6. What a GREAT post and perspective! Thanks for sharing.

    Unrelated, I was scrolling through my Bloglovin’ feed and my daughter saw your picture and kept asking what happened to you in the race picture. I told her you were just running hard and were tired. She said it looked like you needed a nap. I told her that you were also a mommy so that’s probably true 😉

  7. Hi there! I have had a year of idiopathic anaphylaxis with no known cause, and just today saw a natural path doc that wants me to try 30 days of no dairy, grains, wheat, sugar, processed foods, alcohol, legumes, eggs, or nightshades.

    I was googling how to fuel for marathon training on this type of diet (I am running a half marathon in March, and a 77.7 relay race in April…and this blog came up!

    I am wondering if you could share how you fuel for your races…as it appears you have eliminated many of the same foods. Thanks so much!

  8. Funny story…while marathon training my midsection has expanded near my ribcage. I can tell because my sports bras now have to be hooked on the loosest setting and even then sometimes they feel too tight. I have gained about 8 pounds but my paces continue to drop. Great read!

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