I would say there is NO sport where you see a diversity of body types the way you see in running.
I am the person that says “you exercise to be better at exercise” so this makes me very happy.
But if you are a larger runner here is something I think you need to hear.
You are almost certainly under eating unless you are super conscious your energy output versus calorie intake. Why does it matter if you under eat? Let’s take a look:
We talk a lot about this but your bodies built in mechanism for balance called homeostasis adjusts to what you give it. Here is what that means in a few bullet points…
1. Without the appropriate amount of food and protein you are more prone to lose muscle
2. Some resistance training helps a lot in terms of building and holding onto muscle and in the off season there is a case for drastically reducing your volume of running to regain some of the muscle you may have lost.
3. The more you run, the more you should eat.
Yesterday a runner reached out to me that isn’t as lean as they would like to be and is trying to cut while in season and is getting real frustrated at a lack of progress.
The problem is that, for this person, we didn’t know what they were eating previously so I quizzed them a bit and as it turns out we were trying to get blood from a rock.
THEY CAME TO US UNDER EATING and running a lot.
That’s pretty much the reverse of the formula I mentioned above.
Furthermore, if you are looking to get leaner IN SEASON where weight loss would be possible you will have MUCH better success with an abundance of food. A lot of this comes down to rest and recovery, without the raw materials for recovery there are a lot of bad downstream effects. BUT THERE IS ONE THAT IS THE MAIN CULPRIT….
Lack of sleep. Without sleep and without the appropriate amount of food the muscle and tendons you are breaking down don’t repair.
This makes you more susceptible to over use injuries.
Much of what I am saying is DIETING 101 but let’s be real, running is about effort and mentally sometimes we can push ourselves beyond our capabilities.
When you don’t listen to your bodies signals eventually your body just gives up and that becomes the new norm. Most overuse injuries are simply that person using things too far for too long and ignoring very obvious signs along the way.
There are lot’s of great tools that can help, Heart Rate Variability is more widely available and can give you some indication on whether or not you should workout or lower intensity from day to day.
Getting a Dexa Scan for bone density can give you some indication on whether or not you are feeding yourself appropriately for your output (and also whether or not you are recovery well also).
If you are a bigger runner and your journey is no longer about weight loss I think that’s awesome but that’s just the first step.
The next step is to make sure your are truly taking a more healthFULL approach. Ironically having more of a fat layer does provide you some protection but that’s just an insurance policy that should only be used when necessary.
The rest of the time you should be eating an appropriate amount for what you do and if you are a bigger runner that probably means you need to eat a lot more than you think and specifics matter.
If the goal is weight loss eventually I support that too but you will have A LOT more success with reducing calories out of season.
RUNNING is a very stressful endeavor and just in case you don’t know I RUN, I don’t know that I can be called a runner per se but I used to run 20 miles every Sunday just a few years back. So this isn’t someone giving you advice that doesn’t understand what you do and why.
Dieting is also stressful so if you eventually decide you want to lose some weight you are WAY better off doing that out of season with only one stressor (I am speaking to physical stressors for this article but outside stressors also play a role).
Also if you don’t have a coach helping you with amounts you are almost certainly going to miss the mark.
With all that said, if you just want to run, you enjoy it and you want to stay the exact same as you are now I support that whole heartedly.
But you might need to add in some food with significant calories that might currently be on your “naughty” list because it’s hard to chicken and kale your way to enough calories so that you can get better at running long term.
Lastly and maybe most importantly is that WEIGHT is your best asset when it relates to holding onto muscle when you are moving. This confounds many heavier runners that feel they should be losing weight faster when in fact running acts as a defacto resistance tool holding muscle and potentially even building some. So if you lose 20 pounds but GAIN 5 pounds of muscle that is like losing 25 pounds of fat. That’s important and is likely the case for pictures in addition to scale weight.