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.
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?