I have had something on my mind lately that I really wanted to discuss. I’ve been hearing the phrase “racing weight” being thrown around quite a lot lately and I was really curious how folks feel about both this phrase and what is behind it. There are even tons of books on the topic, with the most well known penned by Matt Fitzgerald (affiliate link). There are even online calculators where you can determine your racing weight. There is obviously some truth to the theory that weighing less (or being at “racing weight”) can help you become a faster runner. But is being at racing weight something the casual runner (i.e., someone like me) should be concerned with?
I’m going to preface the next couple paragraphs with this disclaimer: I have a very healthy relationship with food and have a pretty solid body image. I recognize that this is a blessing and that not everyone has the same relationship with food and with their body. I truly think one of the best gifts my mom gave me is that I never recall her talking about her weight in a derogatory manner. I don’t know if it’s something she did purposefully but I think it blessed me to have an overall positive image of myself and my body. I’m so grateful for that.
As I mentioned, I have a healthy relationship with food. I like to eat but food doesn’t run my life (bacon might, but not all food). I eat when I’m hungry and stop when I’m full. I’ve discovered that when I’m training very hard (like I was when I was training for Shamrock), I alternate between being ravenous and having a very small (for me) appetite. As long as I’m eating mostly real food, getting in some protein and carbs, I generally don’t worry about what I eat. I threw out my scale years ago because it just gathered dust. I honestly have no clue what I weigh and am always surprised when I’m weighed at the doctor because I just don’t have a good sense of what my weight is. Anywho, something odd happened as I made my way through Shamrock training. I kept getting comments about how I’d lost weight and looked great – and after it happened more than a few times I realized that it took me aback.
Since I very rarely think about my weight, it was odd to all of a sudden be thinking about. I started to wonder if I had actually lost weight or if I was just in better shape after training hard. Had I finally started PRing races because I’d reaching my ideal racing weight? After a few weeks of pondering this question, I came to the conclusion that for me, racing weight will just mean the weight I am when I race. Not a particular weight to aspire to or to track. I think that part of the reason I’m able to have a healthy relationship with food and with my body is that I’m able to block out all the noise about weight and size and just focus on the things that are important to me. I can focus on my training and how strong I feel . Not to say that I don’t like looking good in my clothes – I do. But for me that feeling isn’t tied to a number.
What are your thoughts on racing weight?