There is always something we wish we could change about our body. Since body type is basically determined by genetics, there isn’t much reason to continue wishing you were built differently. Certain people are tall, long and lanky while others are short, broad and husky and some in between. The secret is to use what you’ve got to your advantage. For me, I was built with shorter legs and a long torso and long arms. A great body for swimming, not so great for running.
If you’ve ready my bio you’ll know that I’ve been competing in triathlons for a few years now. Progressing from sprint-distance events to half-Ironman distance and now working on completing a full Ironman. When I first started competing, I weighed in at a lean 125 lbs. Fast forward to present day and I’ve packed on almost 20 lbs., putting me around 143 lbs currently. Should this worry me? No, as I’m stronger than ever in my training with the muscle I’ve added. As the year progresses I may see myself lean out a bit more with the extra training, but I’m going to continue to focus on feeling healthy and not the number on the bathroom scale.
Being lean and light has it’s advantages in triathlons. Carrying around extra body weight can impact performance (especially when running). However, skinny doesn’t always mean faster. For triathletes competing in sprint and Olympic-distance events, leaner athletes tend to do very well. However, for the more ambitious that are tackling longer-distance events then leanness doesn’t always take you to the podium. It’s important to be able to carry fuel and strength after 5+ hours of exercise. How do you expect to climb that final hill with power when there is little left in the tank? Plus, taking your body fat level too low in fact can be unhealthy and lead to illness, injury and poor performances.
Endurance athletes tend to fall into one of two categories: 1) Those who want to gain muscle and weight to increase their strength-to-weight ratio and 2) those who want to lose excess body fat to have less to carry. Since we can’t do much about our height, we invest our time and energy into manipulating our weight. Rather than obsess over your weight, change your focus on your training and eating habits.
Everyone has their optimal race weight. It may take some trial-and-error to determine an optimal weight for yourself. Just now that this is a weight that you can realistically achieve, maintain easily and perform well at without compromising physical and mental health.