iRun for health, i Run for life Pat Cheung, British Columbia

iRun because my heart tells me to William Martin, Manitoba

iRun because it’s in meMichael Foley, Stittsville, ON

iRun because not everyone can Olivia Harvey, New Brunswick

iRun so I can eat ice cream Sandy Bolan, Ontario

iRun to prove to myself I canLesley McGougan, Brampton, ON

iRun to my happy place and some days itís very Doreen May, Alberta

iRun to be free and enjoy our beautiful countryCheryl Carter, Clearwater , BC

iRun all the livelong day Pierre Saint-Laurent, Quťbec

iRun because iLoves my man Beverly Huang, Alberta

iRun because it's cheaper than therapy Leah Boulter, Alberta

iRun because endorphins are free Cassandra Chouinard, Ontario

iRun because I want to be a role model for our six kids Catherine Empey, British Columbia

iRun for overall wellbeingTrish McCourt, Halifax, NS

iRun because couch potatoes die young Cathy Andrew, Ontario

iRun because it gives my day a boost of energy Sara Campbell, Nova Scotia

iRun because I cannot say no to a second slice of chocolate cakeEmily Shandruk, Vancouver, BC

iRun to someday win the race Lindy Dunlop, Yukon

iRun at 50 years old because at 43 I couldn't Peter Cicalo, Ontario

iRun for relaxation and to motivate my two sons Keith Bradbury, Newfoundland

iRun because the wall is meant to be broken Jonathan Bird, Ontario

iRun because it reminds me of how strong I can be Monique Lavoie, Ontario

iRun to eat Maureen Tritscher, Alberta

iRun because somebody once told me I couldnít Heidi Abbey-Der, Saskatchewan

iRun because iEat Sherry Maligaspe, British Columbia

iRun whenever I feel the need to escape Iona Hillis, Ontario

iRun away from the negative and towards the positive Teri Lepard, Alberta

iRun at 50 years old because at 43 I couldnít Peter Cicalo, Ontario

iRun because I like to be healthy Melanie Oickle, New Brunswick

iRun because it cleans up my life, because I drink more water, sleep better and eat healthier foodsRobin McIntyre, Ottawa, ON

iRun because I want to qualify for Boston and raise money for charities near and dear to my heartChristine Gracel, Calgary, AB

iRun away from the abyss Charlene Thomas, Ontario

iRun because Iíve lost 80 lbs and running has become fun Cheryl Kelly, Ontario

iRun to kickstart my day Sharon Strueby, Saskatchewan

iRun to feel great Kathryn Rachar, Saskatchewan

iRun because otherwise Iím grumpy Alexandre Charest, Quebec

iRun because it gives me freedom to relax my brain Marie-Claude Gregoire, Nova Scotia

iRun to inspire my children! Wendy Bowen, Manitoba

iRun therefore I amDuncan Walsh, Nottingham, UK

iRun slowly!Jason Hoffman, Manitoba

iRun because all the ladies are chasing my sexy runner’s bodyChris Baker, Etobicoke, ON

iRun because I love the solitude Janene Tailleur, British Columbia

iRun to eat more, especially sweet potatoe fries Joanna Skomra, Ontario

iRun for me! Judi Wearing, Saskatchewan

iRun because it makes me a better person, a better wife, a better mother and a better friendNathalie Joncas-Caissie, St-Antoine, NB

iRun because I am not as clumsy I thought I was Hanna Baer, Quebec

iRun because I like buying running clothes Pamela Blaikie, Ontario

iRun because it makes me feel powerfulCarlene Paquette, Carp, ON

iRun because I never thought I would be able toGary Morris, Winnipeg, MB

iRun because when I run I feel most aliveMeghan Lynch, Ottawa, ON

iRun for the challenge and to remember to fully live Pascale Synnott, Quťbec

iRun because I love the sense of accomplishment Amber Moase, Nova Scotia

iRun because itís fun when itís done Sue Matte, Ontario

iRun because I liveGeorges Schneller, Laval, QC

iRun because running is like breathing to Stephanie McEvoy, Ontario

iRun because I need it to soothe the soul, keep me in shape and for overall wellbeingBeth Neil, Lombardy, ON

iRun because it helps me see things more clearly Jennifer Pitts, Ontario

iRun for the moment when both feet are off the ground Catherine Anderson, British Columbia

iRun because it makes me whole Denis Ladouceur, Quebec

iRun for relaxation and to motivate my two sonsKeith Bradbury, Newfoundland

iRun because I can and I’m gratefulTerry SanCartier, Gatineau, QC

iRun to satisfy the irresistible urge Tim Nixon, British Columbia

iRun because I canít dance Mario Javier, Ontario

iRun to maintain a strong physical and mental state Tammy Rainville, Ontario

iRun to unleash my inner athleteAdelle Densham, Avonmore, ON

iRun see where my feet will take me todayMegan Dolinskas, New York

iRun for the cool t-shirts! Pina Bevilacqua, Ontario

iRun because there is no finish line Claire Kilgour, Ontario

iRun because itís like flying, only lower Glenn Johnson, Ontario

iRun because food tastes better afterwards Patrick Houston, Alberta

iRun because it is my tonic and my salvation Georgia Ioannou, British Columbia

iRun to challenge my perceived limitations Cassandra Williams, Ontario

iRun because it gives me freedom to relax my brainMarie-Claude Gregoire, Nova Scotia

iRun to stay fit and release those running endorphinsLiliana Plava, Calgary, AB

iRun because I learn more about who I am with every km Steph Mansell, Quebec

iRun to challenge my mind, body and soul Sonia Mendes, Ontario

iRun to stay ahead of the weight gainMyra Abstreiter, Alberta

iRun for my heart, so it runs for me! Cathy Brzoza, British Columbia

iRun for the challenge to go faster and farther Steven Matejka, Alberta

iRun because it reminds me that I am capable of so much more than I have doneJames Sauve, Ottawa, ON

iRun because walking is too slow Barry Knapp, Ontario

iRun because I want to live to be 100! Colette DeJean, Ontario

iRun because it has saved my life John Marshall, Alberta

iRun slowly! Jason Hoffman, Manitoba

iRun for the individual pursuit Robert Pelletier, New Brunswick

iRun but not enoughMichael Shaw, New Westminister, BC

iRun because it makes me feel good, allows me to spend time with my friends and gives me a feeling of accomplishmentHelen Kolodziejzyk, Calgary, AB

iRun because itís a great way to see the world Sherry Mahoney, British Columbia

iRun because people around me inspire mePina Bevilacqua, Caledon, ON

iRun because endorphins are freeCassandra Chouinard, Ontario

iRun because itís better than almost everything else Nathan Carey, Ontario

iRun so that I can live longer and stronger Derek MacPhail, Ontario

iRun so my daughters know that they can, too Shelley Kirkpatrick, New Brunswick

iRun and run, and run, and run, and nobody can stop me Andrei Lucaciu, Ontario

iRun to challenge myself, physically and mentallyKathleen Keenan, Brampton, ON

iRun because I learn more about who I am with every kmSteph Mansell, Quebec

iRun so I donít say never ever again Linda Klaric, Manitoba

iRun to correct years of sedentary living! Mike Scott, Ontario

iRun because it's a great stress release Brooke McKenzie, Yukon

iRun because I get foot rubs afterward Kate Howerton, British Columbia

iRun because itís cheaper than therapy Leah Boulter, Alberta

iRun because pecan pie, french fries and beer are chasing meTeresa Sterling, Ottawa , ON

iRun because of the peace and strength it brings meMichelle Jordan, Ottawa, ON

iRun because iEat Sherry Maligaspe, British Columbia

iRun to get to know myself, my strength and my spirit Lisa Groulx, Ontario

iRun to inspire my kids to tryGlen Johnston, Nunavut

iRun because it sure beats the bus Robin Robbins, Alberta

iRun because somebody once told me I couldn't Heidi Abbey-Der, Saskatchewan

iRun to prove to them that iCan Catherine Smith, Manitoba

iRun because couch potatoes die young Cathy Andrew, Ontario

iRun because it gets my husband out there Tricia LaLonde, Alberta

iRun for the fresh air and adrenalin Charlyn McGregor, Saskatchewan

iRun because it is my tonic and my salvation Georgia Ioannou, British Columbia

iRun because i love to Mirella Petriello, Ontario

iRun for meKiza Francis, Ottawa,ON

iRun because it makes me feel powerful Sarah Kallaghan, Alberta

iRun because it's better than almost everything else Nathan Carey, Ontario

iRun because I like buying running clothes Pamela Blaikie, Ontario

Cover photo from the current issue of iRun Magazine
Calgary 2017 Flagbearer

Workout Wednesday

My Best Running Race

June 2010

Back to Table of Contents


Better, Stronger, Thinner, Faster?

A WEIGHTY QUESTION. Many people run to lose weight. In fact, weight loss is often cited as the most common reason adults start running. Once a runner is hooked on running they may look at weight loss as a strategy to run faster. Over time, weight loss becomes a means to a goal and not the goal. Will losing those stubborn last five or ten pounds really make a difference in your next 5k race? What about your next half-marathon? Watch a race and you quickly realize that successful runners of all shapes and sizes proudly cross the finish line. You do not need to be a certain height or weight or build to be a decent runner. Still, there is no denying that the world’s elite distance runners have one glaring physical characteristic in common. They are small-framed and very lean.

NO MAGIC BULLETS. The danger in advocating weight loss as a performance enhancer is that it can lead to unhealthy temptations. Quick fixes. Fad diets. Restriction cleanses. Pill popping. Ill-advised weight loss won’t speed you up. Quite the opposite. Ten days on the maple syrup cleanse may sabotage your best efforts at a new PB. It should go without saying, but it is worth saying anyway: any weight loss must be part of a sensible and nutritious dietary plan. Moreover, there must be extra weight to lose. If a person is underweight or at a healthy weight, there is no additional benefit to be gained by shedding a few pounds. Underweight by conventional BMI standards, I would run the risk of hurting my performance, not to mention my health if I tried to speed up my marathon times by losing five pounds on the grapefruit diet. With those disclaimers in mind, dropping a few pounds of surplus body fat may help you post faster race times than you would see at a heavier weight with the same training regime. Ah ha, another catch. Weight loss alone is no magic bullet. You can’t escape the training.

One second per mile per pound does not sound like much of a bonus, but those seconds add up over the long run. As the weight loss and the distance increases the time savings are impressive. It is tempting to look at the table and start subtracting minutes from your PBs. Ten pounds to the Boston Marathon! Two pounds to a sub-40 minute 10K! The trouble is - and there’s always trouble - weight is difficult to separate from any number of performance factors. Genetics, environmental conditions, nutrition, sleep, health, training and countless other variables too numerous to list are all mixed up into a package that will determine your finish time on any given day. A bit of weight may make a difference, but all that other stuff matters too. Maybe matters more.

WHY IS LIGHTER FASTER? When it comes to racing, we control what we can. If losing weight will help, even if it isn’t a magic bullet, it is an appealing plan. Every season on The Biggest Loser the newly slimmed down contestants are forced to participate in some sort of challenge that requires them to carry around weights equivalent of their total weight loss. If they lost 100 pounds, they wear a 100 pound weight vest. The strain is evident immediately. It takes a lot of effort to move that extra weight. Their breathing becomes laboured. There is less spring in their step and slower turnover in their stride. Their knees and backs hurt. They slow down. In short, it’s hard to move. Matt Fitzgerald, in his book Racing Weight: How to get Lean for Peak Performance, sums up the thin advantage nicely: body fat adds very little to performance (it may serve as a limited fuel source), but that extra fat increases gravitational resistance, decreases aerobic capacity (V02max), and increases thermoregulatory strain. You don’t need to remember high school physics to appreciate that mass and resistance are not a friend to runners.

SKINNY IS AS SKINNY DOES. With all of these factors in mind, however, it’s important to remember not to feel limited by your size, especially if your finishing times are improving regardless of what the scale says. Finishing order is not determined by weight - if it were, there would be a lot more supermodels moonlighting as elite marathoners. Think about that next time you pass someone who looks like they belong in the elite division.

HOW MUCH FASTER IS FASTER? You’ve read the disclaimer, you have a bit of weight to lose, and you set a realistic weight-loss plan. How much speed can you hope to gain as the pounds melt away? Drawing on an equation widely attributed to Tom Osler in The Serious Runner’s Handbook, most experts ascribe a two second per mile benefit for every pound lost. For the metric runners, that’s about 1.25 seconds per kilometre. The formula can be faulted as overly simplistic, but we can use the numbers for illustrative purposes to show the kind of time you could save over various distances:


1 mile





1/2 pound 1 second 3.1 seconds 6.2 seconds 13.1 seconds 26.2 seconds
1 pound  2 seconds  6.2 seconds  12.4 seconds  26.2 seconds  52.4 seconds
2 pounds  2 seconds  12.4 seconds  24.9 seconds  52.4 seconds  1 minute and 44.9 seconds
5 pounds   10 seconds  31.1 seconds  1 minutes and 2.1 seconds  2 minutes and 11.1 seconds  4 minutes and 22.2 seconds
10 pounds  20 seconds  1 minutes and 2.1 seconds  2 minutes and 4.3 seconds  4 minutes and 22.2 seconds  8 minutes and 44.4 seconds
15 pounds  30 seconds  1 minutes and 33.2 seconds 3 minutes and 6.4 seconds 6 minutes and 33.3 seconds  13 minutes and 6.6 seconds
20 pounds  40 seconds  2 minutes and 4.3 seconds  4 minutes and 8.5 seconds  8 minutes and 44.4 seconds  17 minutes and 28.7 seconds
25 pounds  50 seconds  2 minutes and 35.3 seconds  5 minutes and 10.7 seconds  10 minutes and 55.5 seconds  21 minutes and 50.9 seconds

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