Your Racing Weight

sarah cuff Sports Nutrition Coaching Leave a Comment

kara running

Olympian Kara Goucher

Do you know what your racing weight is? Are you there? If not, how many pounds away from your ideal body composition are you? Do you even really know what your racing weight should be? And then how do you get there?!! Ah, so many questions! Let’s find some answers.

Your racing weight is the weight and body fat percentage at which you are both healthy and able to run your fastest race times. Hypothetically, the leaner and lighter you are, the faster you’ll fly across the finish line and post that PB. Racing weight is something many runners that come to me aspire to reach. On a side note, they want to perform, but most want to rock their favourite pair of jeans too. I totally get that, especially as we get closer to nicer weather! Big races and beach days are just around the corner.

When it comes to figuring out what your racing weight might be, it’s not actually your weight I’m most concerned about – it’s your body fat composition. According to Matt Fitzgerald, author of Racing Weight: How to Get Lean for Peak Performance, you want to take your current body weight and multiply it by your current lean body mass percentage, then take that number (your lean body mass) and divide it by your optimal lean body mass percentage. Voila – your estimated optimal performance weight!

tanita scale

Tanita body fat scale

If that sounds way complicated (it should) but you are dying to know what your estimated racing weight is, you can either buy Fitzgerald’s book (it’s a good read), or just shoot me an email (include your age, weight and body fat percentage) and I’ll get your estimated racing weight back to you within 24 hours.

The amount of time it takes to reach your racing weight is completely dependent on your starting point. The key is to fuel your body with nutrient dense foods consistently while training smart and getting good sleep. The majority of runners that come to me for coaching are usually anywhere between 6 to 12 weeks away from reaching their racing weight.

How to get there? Here are three nutritional strategies you can implement immediately to help you reach your racing weight.

1. Choose Nutrient Dense Foods

Miso-Nut Rice Bowl

Miso-Nut Rice Bowl

Don’t reach for the typical runners fare of bagels and pasta! Instead build your meals around nutrient dense vegetables, especially leafy greens. Then add grains / legumes / protein. I always ensure my meals have a leafy green, a green vegetable, a red or orange vegetable and a white or yellow vegetable. For example, tonight’s meal had spinach, broccoli, carrots and cauliflower. Then I added some brown rice to that and a sauce made of coconut milk, almond butter, miso and fresh ginger. This gave me a filling, nutrient dense meal that provided me with all the macro, micro and phytonutrients my body requires. (If you were wondering, my meal was a variation on Miso Rice Bowl, click here for the recipe.)

2. Choose Whole Foods 

Did it come from the ground or have a mother? If not, it’s a no go. Choose foods that are as nature provides them to us – lots of vegetables (getting repetitive, aren’t I?!!), fruits, nuts, seeds, organic eggs, wild fish, lentils, quinoa, whole grains, chickpeas, beans, organic fowl, pasture raised and grass-fed meats. Stay away from the processed and packaged stuff, as much as possible.

3. Avoid Sugar

Seriously, I mean… Do. Not. Eat. Sugar. Can I stress that any more? And especially avoid high fructose corn syrup, or glucose-fructose as it’s called in Canada. Sugar messes with your performance and it most definitely will mess with your attempts at reaching your racing weight. Do not consume artificial sweetener either.

Figure out what your estimated racing weight is. Then choose nutrient dense, whole foods and avoid sugar. Want help? Just ask! The end result? You’ll be flying across that finish line with a PB to be proud of – and beach body to boot!

To PB’s and good health… Happy running 🙂

Sarah J Cuff, RNH, PTS

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