Why Are Runners So Skinny? [Briefly Explained]
Have you ever been to a marathon? Or even a half marathon? Even if you didn’t attend one, I bet you’ve seen some marathon runners in the video. But did you notice that almost everyone is super skinny? Why are runners so skinny?
You must be wondering how come they’re so skinny, yet they are competing in one of the most challenging endurance sport in the world. I don’t know about you, but whenever I see a marathon runner, I can’t believe it, that guy will be able to finish 26.2 miles.
But being skinny, they can sustain endurance and cover the marathon distance. This body type is what makes them great.
Every sport has its body type. In swimming, almost everyone is tall and has a lean physique. Their hands are lightweight. In Sumo wrestling, everyone has to weigh more than ordinary people to compete and gain victory. Years of practice in these sports make people more lean or muscular according to their sports.
Like any other sport, marathon runners have their body physique.
Pro marathon runners are very skinny because, during the race, they consume all the calories in their bodies. They don’t need muscles to sustain endurance. On the other hand, pro sprint runners have to use that bursting energy, and they have strengths in their bodies.
Marathon runners need to run for 26.2 miles, if you think about it. That’s a long run. During this time, they need to keep track of their pace, their lap time. The skinnier they are, the easier it is for them to finish the race. Long-distance running is all about endurance. Runners need to burn all the calories inside their bodies to finish the race in one piece.
They don’t need body muscle because even 1 pound of extra weight will make them slower than others. On the other hand, if you look at short-distance runners, they cant be skinny. Because they only have to run for 10/20 seconds. Maybe less than a minute. So they need to burst their energy from the start. That’s why they need more body muscle which marathon runners don’t need.
These marathon runners are powerful, both mentally and physically. Many people confuse strength with body mass. You can be strong and have a lean body. If you don’t believe me, see any UFC MMA fighters.
If I take a few top names, Eliud Kipchoge‘s name will come at the very top. That guy finished a marathon in under 2 hours. Before that, we used to think that it was physically impossible for a human being to finish a marathon in under two hours. But Eliud Kipchoge proved everyone wrong.
He finished it in under two hours and did it with style. You can see in this video that even after finishing, he was smiling and hugging everyone.
That was such a massive milestone for humankind. There was one comment in that video that said, “It’s amazing all the people decided that Eliud Kipchoge is the only one who can achieve this.”
Now imagine if Eliud Kipchoge had a different physique. Like if he had the figure of Usain Bolt. Would he be able to finish then? I don’t think so.
Suppose you want to learn what goes inside your body, then concentrate on what I’m saying now. Long-distance runners mainly build their aerobic power plants. You have tiny blood vessels in your body, named capillaries. In addition, you have capillaries around your muscle fibers. When long-distance runners have more capillaries, they can store more oxygen. And then they can deliver the required nutrition to those power plants.
When long-distance runners have more power plants, they have more energy. That’s how they can keep resistance and endurance during those 26.2 miles of the race.
We discussed fast twitch and slow twitch fibers in the body. Marathon runners use slow-twitch fibers during the run. Slow-twitch fibers get bigger during high endurance training, and fast-twitch fibers get smaller.
Even if runners get skinny, that doesn’t mean they are not strong. They do have their strength training as well. It’s just they do strength training and endurance training separately.
Long-distance runners usually run every day. They have different training sets allocated for different days.
When you’re running for an hour, your body uses the glycogen store for fueling your body. When glycogen store gets low, your body will use fat metabolism. After the run, you will eat to recover your body.
But recovering your glycogen store fully will take some time. In this time, your muscles will grab all the carbs so that nothing will be stored as fat.
Recovering will take time. And when you’re running almost every day, your body will adapt to that lifestyle. It will slowly make your body adapt so that you will be able to resist a longer run.
Regular running has its benefits as well. For example, your bone density will improve.
By being skinny, it’s easier to run. You can experiment yourself to see that. Just ask two friends to run. Make sure one friend is fat, and the other one is skinny. You will see that the skinny friend can cover more distance quickly, and the fat friend will find it challenging and exhausting to cover that same distance.
Long-distance runners have different goals in their life. They want to cover more distance, and they want to do it fast. So they don’t try to gain muscle.
I’ve talked about many other things on this website that you can check if you want. Like what to eat before and after a half marathon. Even in a post, I’ve discussed what gears you need to prepare for your next half marathon.
Does running make your calves bigger? I’ve answered this question as well.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re into short or long-distance running. Please do what you do best and enjoy the time while doing it.
Also, you can check out my journey of running a half marathon for the first time.