Does Weight Affect Running Speed

Weight and running speed are two factors that are often discussed in relation to each other. As an avid runner myself, I have always been curious about how weight affects our performance on the track or road. Does carrying a few extra pounds slow us down, or is it all just a myth? In this article, I will delve deep into the relationship between weight and running speed, sharing both scientific research and personal experiences to shed light on this topic.

The Science Behind Weight and Running Speed

Several scientific studies have been conducted to explore the impact of weight on running speed. One of these studies, published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, found that for every extra pound of weight, runners slowed down by an average of 2 seconds per mile. This may not seem significant, but over a longer distance, such as a marathon, those extra seconds can quickly add up.

Another study, conducted by researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder, focused on the effect of weight loss on running performance. The study followed a group of overweight individuals who participated in a weight loss program. After losing an average of 10% of their body weight, the participants experienced a notable improvement in their running speed and endurance.

These studies suggest that weight does have an impact on running speed. Carrying excess weight puts additional stress on the muscles and joints, making it more difficult to maintain a fast pace. However, it’s important to note that weight is not the sole determinant of running speed. Factors such as aerobic fitness, muscle strength, and running technique also play a significant role.

Personal Experience and Insights

As a runner who has fluctuated in weight over the years, I can attest to the influence of weight on running speed. When I was carrying a few extra pounds, I noticed that my pace slowed down, and I felt more fatigued during my runs. On the other hand, when I shed those extra pounds through a combination of regular exercise and a balanced diet, I experienced a noticeable improvement in my speed and endurance.

However, it’s essential to remember that each individual is unique, and what works for one person may not work for another. Factors such as body composition, muscle mass, and overall fitness level can also impact running performance. It’s always essential to focus on overall health and well-being rather than solely focusing on losing weight solely for the sake of improving running speed.

The Importance of a Balanced Approach

While weight loss can potentially improve running speed, it’s crucial to approach it in a balanced and healthy way. Crash diets or extreme weight loss methods can lead to muscle loss, decreased energy levels, and overall poor performance. Instead, focus on maintaining a well-rounded fitness routine that includes strength training, flexibility exercises, and a balanced diet.

Additionally, it’s important to listen to your body and prioritize overall well-being. Running is not just about speed; it’s also about enjoying the process, staying injury-free, and maintaining a positive mindset. Remember that every body is different, and what matters most is finding a sustainable and enjoyable approach to running that works for you.


While weight does have an impact on running speed, it is not the sole determining factor. Scientific research suggests that carrying excess weight can slow down your pace, but it’s important to focus on overall fitness, strength, and technique as well. Finding a balanced approach that prioritizes overall well-being is key for long-term success in running. So, lace up your shoes, hit the pavement, and remember that the joy of running goes beyond just the numbers on the scale.