A Coach’s Perspective On Body Weight and Running

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Body weight and running.
It’s been in the running news quit a bit recently. Unfortunately, not for the right reasons. And I wanted to share a coach’s perspective on body weight and running.

As a coach, the athlete’s health should always be priority and we should be thinking of their longterm development, not just short term improvements. Athletes should take responsibility for their own health and coaches should be educating them, supporting them, and providing them resources to improve. If an athlete is fat shamed, put down, or ridiculed, it doesn’t solve a problem or miraculously make them faster.

Does weight have an effect on sports performance? Sure it does. But we’re all built differently. We have different weights, shapes, heights, and body compositions. Body weight should never be looked at in isolation from everything else. An athlete’s body weight is not the sole predictor of race performance, just as VO2 Max is not the sole predictor of race performance.

A Coach’s Perspective On Body Weight and Running

The human body is an intricate and complicated creation and nothing ever works in isolation from another part. When there’s a change in one part, it affects the whole. Reducing body weight alone will not help you win a race. Instead of focusing on losing weight, athletes should work on proper training, good nutrition, mental training, and strength training in order to reach their ideal body composition and to be physically and mentally ready to race well.

Our perspectives and opinions play a part in how we coach and our coaching style, but we cannot let that override scientific and medical truths. Just because one thing may work for one athlete, doesn’t mean it will work for another. As a coach, all aspects of training and health must be taken into account and we must remember that every athlete is individual and different from the next athlete. 

But like every other profession, while there are many good coaches out there who care for their athletes and look out for the athlete’s best interest, there are also some that are unethical and only care about themselves. Maybe they’re on a power trip, maybe they only care about how they’ll appear to others, maybe they’re only interested in making a buck. Whatever the reason, those are the people that should not be coaches and who give a bad reputation to the profession.

It’s our job as coaches to keep our athletes healthy, to be honest with them, to guide them to be the best athlete and person they can be, and to follow the rules in order to keep a level and fair playing field. Coaches should never degrade an athlete or put their mental and physical health at risk. We should be educating our athletes, giving them the resources they need to improve, and empowering them to improve and remain healthy.

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