Q&A with Coach: “How much faster can I run if I lose weight?”

A few years ago, I broke up with my girlfriend and promptly gained 15 pounds.  The spare tire and chubby cheeks were new to me.

During this low point in my life, I stopped running. I ate whatever I wanted. I drank more than I should have.

I was a train wreck:

Jason is fat

Before I hit rock bottom, I actually felt great. I had a blast going out with my friends (3 times per week) and eating opulent meals like bacon bowls and enough snacks to give Cookie Monster diabetes.

But soon the sedentary lifestyle, excessive binge drinking and 5,000 calorie days took their toll. I was overweight, moody and I desperately wanted to feel like my old self again.

So after almost two months of leading a horrendous lifestyle, I finally got my shit together. I started running again.

I lost weight. I begged that girl to get back together with me – and now we’re married! – and I put some races on my calendar.

What surprised me was how slow I ran with that extra weight. It made running hard!

Carrying a few extra pounds was not something I was used to. Being a naturally thin guy, it’s foreign territory for me. Beer pong competitors in college nicknamed my running buddy and I “Team Ethiopia” because we were so skinny.

But now, every run felt like I was dragging a weighted sled behind me.

Was running supposed to be this hard?

Is this how overweight people feel all the time?

It was obviously a challenging time for me.

And even though I gained that weight in a mere 6 weeks (that’s 2.5 pounds per week!), it took nearly six months to lose it all.

But once I did, running because SO much easier. I could finally go for an easy run and finish strong with no sluggishness and without my heart racing.

Maybe you’re struggling with some extra weight  (be sure to check out this article on weight loss) or you have problems maintaining your goal weight.

I get it. It’s tough.

BUT, there is hope! The rewards of losing weight are enormous: more energy, higher confidence, running becomes easier and of course, you’ll end up racing faster.

And who doesn’t want to get faster?

That’s what we’re going to cover today: how much time you could potentially save by dropping some weight.

Q&A with Coach: Episode 7!

Today’s new episode answers three great questions:

  • How much faster could I run if I lost weight?
  • Do walk breaks defeat the purpose of long runs?
  • What is “sustainable” training – and what’s “too much?”

Watch the episode here:

Remember, you can get your questions answered by tweeting them to me on Twitter and using the hashtag #RunQuestion.

Not on Twitter? No problem, just email them to me or leave a comment on this post below.

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  1. I´ve been trought someting similar, gained 8 kg in 2 months because a broken leg, and took me 6 months to get rid of the extra fat…runinng a lot and even training for a marathon during that period…so slow at the beginning…but if you manage to run fast while you´re overweight… when you lose the extra kgs you´ll surprise how fast you actually are.
    great post

  2. I’ll be recommending this video to a friend- we’re both “olds” and I really appreciate that you recognise that we all have different physical limits. Also, I think you are wise to recognize the need to balance workout volume vs. intensity vs. weight loss, and focus on (or ramp up) only one of these things at a time. Beginning to understand the elements of training rather than just “running by numbers” is helping me stay healthy. This is my first uninjured winter (knock on wood) since first starting to run four years ago.

  3. You call that fat, Jason! C’mon man! You actually look better in that “fat picture” than you’re running picture. Good stuff though.

  4. So, is that your “before” picture? Because you were lookin’ pretty good. ; )

  5. Hey Jason, Thanks for these great posts. I’ve been a reader for over a year now. I have a question about body composition, specifically about becoming more lean.
    I am a middle aged female – 47 years old – I didn’t even begin running until I was 44. Three years ago I was 30 pounds overweight. I lost the weight by changing my diet and by becoming a runner. Even though I am in the “target weight” for my height (5’4″, 122#) I would like to have a more lean tone overall, but especially in the glutes and legs. Maybe I need to drop more weight?
    I run 3x per week, averaging 25-30 miles/week, more as I approach marathon dates. I also cross-train with cycling 3x per week and do strength work and yoga. I eat a vegetarian diet and exclude processed/packaged/refined food.
    Thanks in advance for your advice.

    • I’d do more strength work. Not sure what you do now, but there are 9 strength/core routines in Injury Prevention for Runners.

      • Thanks for the reply. I’ve been using your ITB rehab routine regularly for about a year. It worked wonders at recovering the ITB issue, so I now keep it up as maintenance. (I’ve recommended that routine to several friends too.) I will check out some of your other strength and core routines. I’ll let you know my progress in a month or two.

  6. Craig Todd says:

    Thanks for answering my question, Jason. Since I started my “official” marathon training 10 weeks ago, I’ve lost 7 lbs without even trying, and feel so much faster and better overall. I enjoy reading all your posts and articles – great advice, keep up the good work!

  7. Glad to hear that you rebounded from that tough time in your life … back on the horse and feeling better than ever!

  8. Hi Jason,

    Nice article 🙂

    Few years back, I used to weight more than 200 pounds. Now, I am 155 pounds with 10% body fat. 🙂

    I never ran more than 200 meters without stopping. I practiced a lot and now I am able to run 12 kilometers in just an hour. Also, I am able to complete 350 meters in just a minute. Its all about mentality and breaking own limits. 🙂


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