Larry Rawson's weight comments at the Boston Marathon
by on Thursday, April 30, 2015  (6 comments)

Lightweight? Yes. Also and more important: powerful, extremely fit, amazing stamina.

Did Larry Rawson do a disservice to young and likely not so young runners across America? In my opinion, yes.

I didn't see the coverage live. I saw a lot about the topic as it was happening via Twitter, though, and it reminded me of previous races I did see live where Rawson constantly focused on the weight of the elite female runners. When I saw some replays of the race, I heard at least some of his comments and heard what I feared but also expected given his history.

During the race, as he has done during other races, Rawson repeatedly references the weights of certain members of the elite women's field. He at times seems fixated on their weights, as if the weight of the runner is the most important factor in the race.

What does this do to the high school runners watching the race who want to emulate these runners? When a commentator focuses this much on the weight of the runners, it will appear to some who are watching that weight is the key to their success.

The truth, as is obvious to most of us who will read this, is much more complex. Yes, weight matters. There's a reason 150 pound women and 200 pound men aren't winning major marathons. However, there's much more than just weight.

I would argue that even more important than weight is strength (or power) to weight ratio. Obviously, also, aerobic and muscular endurance. Efficiency also matters. As do various other things that are too numerous to list.

We already have a problem in this sport. Some ill informed coaches and others who young runners, especially girls and young ladies, take advice from already place way too much importance on weight. Eating disorders are a problem for too many runners. I've seen the damage eating disorders can do. While these disorders are complex, focusing too much on the weight of the elite runners surely doesn't help.

Before he does this again, I would ask Rawson what kind of message he wants to send.

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You are right Ryan!! each person has his/her healthy way, there is no magic number. Of course, a fat wanna be runner wont beat a lean,healthy skinny runner. But I refer to fat not a x number in the scale in the previous example. Chris Solinsky was heavy compared to his competitors, He still ran the american record, He was not fat, He was just bigger and that is how his is built. A 160 pounds runner can beat a 140 pounds runner. Again is about finding your healthy weight with the least possible fat.

I am 192 pounds, that is not my healthy weight, since my diet is not the best and I have run my best times in sub 160 pounds, the amount of my increase was in fat, not muscle, so thats a disadvantage to runners, if my increase were due to muscle maybe I wont have slowed at all. Its the escessive fat you carry( realative to your body composition) that make you slower, no the numbers in the scale itself.

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He was super annoying abut everything the entire race.

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Cesar, the big concern I have that I should probably have made more clear in the post is that people who are already thin can't get too concerned about weight just because X runner is YY pounds. When you do this, you limit your calorie intake or practice dangerous habits.

In the best case scenario, limiting calorie intake, you're still doing a lot of damage. Your health itself will be affected but, from a performance standpoint, you're also not doing yourself any favors. You need to fuel your training in order to develop the aerobic capacity, power, stamina and other fitness variables needed to become the best runner you can be.

Of course we should be aware of our weight and our diet. We should limit the junk calories but, especially if we're training at a high capacity, we need to make sure we're getting enough quality calories to fuel that training and fuel our recovery from that training, which is how we get better.

Too much of a focus on weight causes people to lose focus on the fueling aspect and results in worn down athletes who can't train up to their full, well fueled, capacity. This will have performance consequences to go along with the potentially serious health consequences.

All around, it's a bad thing and I wish Rawson would think about what he's doing.

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Charlene, I'm not a huge fan of him myself but this topic specifically comes across to me as not just annoying but downright dangerous. It needs to stop.

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Well stated Ryan!!

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Andrew A. (Guest)

Along the lines of indicating that if lighter shoes are better then no shoes are best of all for performance. Wearing shoes is in fact most ideal because, it turns out, weight isn't the only or most important factor. Yet another Rawsonism, hopefully everyone files it away with the rest of those vapid, forgettable nuggets.

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