Like it or not, your weight has a lot to do with your health. And even more to do with your running. If you are overweight, you run slower, put more stress on your body and ultimately are more prone to injury.
What constitutes being an overweight runner? I believe the answer to this is directly tied to your objectives. For example, do you want to run just to be healthy? To be competitive in your age group? To achieve a personal best?
If you're running just to be healthy, is suggest reviewing the BMI calculations. But if you're running to achieve more than just health, you need to be more precise. My experience (which, of course, can and will differ from others') when it comes to my ideal running weight is that I need to be as close to the weight I was when I was 18 years old, or when I graduated from high school. Yes, a long time ago. For me that number is around 160 lbs. I have found that I'm usually in my best shape when I'm within 3% to 5% of that number.
Getting there and staying there is another story. Over the years I've learned to a few tricks that have helped. Do I get off track? Of course. When this happens I have to rely on these tricks more than usual. Here's a sampling of these in no particular order:
1. Don't eat breakfast. "What?! That's blasphemy," yelled the hoards. Yes, I've read all the books, magazines and listened to all the seminars. Breakfast is the most important meal! I know. I get it. However, this is why I put "my" in italics above. It works for me. Why? maybe because I'm usually not hungry in the morning. Maybe its because most of my training is in the evenings during the week. Maybe its because I don't want to interrupt the caffeine induced fat burning zone I enjoy in the mornings. The fact is if I don't eat breakfast I'm not consuming 200, 300 or 400 calories as a result.
2. Minimize Carbs in my Diet. Again, "blasphemy!" screamed the running hoards! What about the age old notion that carbs are the most important part of a runners diet. If you still believe this you need to put down your Runners World Magazine and pick some of Phil Maffetone writings. Do this and you'll know what I mean.
3. Weigh Myself Everyday. Call me OCD, a freak, whatever you want. But when I'm not weighing myself I'm usually gaining weight, not losing it.
4. Increase my miles. Seems this should be as straight forward as it gets. But there is a catch, because increased miles also means an increased appetite. So if I'm not watching my calories, I can easily pack on more pounds when I'm increasing my miles from 40 to 50, 60 or 70 per week. Which leads me to the next gadget related trick...
5. Counting my calories. Now we are into the bowels of weight loss. But with technology, it really isn't that hard. When I need to, I use the app Lose It on my phone and track just about any food or drink I come in contact with. It's amazing how quickly the numbers add up!
I think this quote sums it up well...
"If you wish to grow thinner, diminish your dinner."