How to Lose Weight Running
Learn how to lose weight running. It’s one of the most simple forms of exercise, but it’s far from simple in the benefits it gives us when we take it seriously. Some of the most obvious benefits are increased fitness and motivation, improved mental health combined with a general feeling of achievement and wellbeing that you get from exercising and working out.
If you really want to get the most out of your running and weight loss programme then you need to combine running with a calorie controlled diet. Read on and we’ll spill the beans on what food you should be eating and how far and often you need to run in order to see a significant improvement in decreasing your body weight.
In essence, running is without doubt the most beneficial exercise formats that you can choose to do if all-round physical and mental health is your number one goal. Cardiovascular health will also improve immensely through running regularly.
The Runner’s Toolkit – Different Methods for Losing Weight
While there are many different forms of running, with each having their own distinct benefits, when it comes to losing weight there are a couple of options that stand out due to their effectiveness. The weight loss benefits running gives us are in a nutshell awesome.
Running for weight loss:
- Long, slow distance run. Running slow enables us to consume plenty of oxygen and that enables us to burn fat more effectively.
- Interval training sessions otherwise know as HIIT – high intensity interval training. These enable us to attack the fat from the other end, by working our body extremely hard and increasing our fitness levels. The fitter we are the easier it is for our body to burn calories – and fat – while we are resting.
- Fartlek: this is the time-tested Swedish running method that essentially means “speed play.” When using the Fartlek method, itself a form of interval training, though not rigidly structured, you can alternate between walking, jogging, running then repeat.
- Continuous run at your 10K race pace. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t run a 10K before. All you need to do on this one is keep at a quick pace and aim 30 minutes of hard graft running.
- Tempo run: this isn’t essential for weight loss, but it’s still good to spice up your running by putting a tempo in every week or once per fortnight. You should be running fast at your 5K pace. It’s important that you really test yourself on a tempo run, as it’s a barometer of your fitness level. Try and keep the same pace each time and then the results will be more accurate.
A Calorie Controlled Diet is Essential for Weight Loss Success.
- To lose weight we need to burn more calories than we consume.
- There’s no point working hard running then eating more calories than we need. That would cause weight gain, not weight loss!
- There are approximately 3500 calories in 1 pound of body fat.
- To hit our weight loss goals we need to incorporate running with healthy eating, otherwise known as a calorie controlled diet.
- So to lose 1 stone (14 lbs) we need to lose a grand total of 49,000 calories.
- Divide 49,000 by 500 and we get 98 days – presuming we aim for 500 calories per day. If we set that as our minimum target then aim for a 1000 as a bonus we should lose 1 stone in anywhere from 50 – 100 days.
High Intensity Interval Training Comes in Many Different Formats
There are lots of different types of interval training that we can call upon when our goal is to lose weight and gt fit.
However, there is one that is renowned for its effectiveness, although that comes at a cost.
The cost being the suffering you go through when the lactic acid builds up in your legs after a couple of runs up your favourite hill. If you’re a city type then you can find a suitable steep staircase to brutalise yourself on.
If you’re a beginner then don’t pick a hill that is too steep. While looking at a photograph might not convey how hard hill repeats are, when you actually get out there and do them it is surprising how even a slight incline can seem to turn into a monster straight out of the Tour de France.
Start off with a mild gradient and you can always go steeper as your fitness level increases.
Hill sprints or hill repeats, whatever you wish to call them are great for improving your leg strength.
You should only do hill repeats once a week or no more than once every 5 – 7 days if you really insist, as the stress level is high and getting plenty of rest to ensure your body is fully recovered before each outing is super important.
5 Keys to Successful Hill Running:
- Make sure you have a base level of fitness before you start out hill running.
- Ensure that you have warmed up properly. Although you should warm up with every workout, it’s paramount that you warm up when it comes to hill sprints because they stress your body to the limit and that is when injuries tend to rear their ugly mug.
- Don’t go too hard on your first attempt. You can always increase speed and reduce time as necessary.
- Chose the appropriate gradient to suit your level of fitness.
- Incorporate the correct form when running. Use your upper body effectively and your arms should be lower and shorter. They will help to power you up the hill.
One last tip we’ve got for you is if you live in a very flat area or you prefer to workout indoors on the treadmill, say it’s mid winter and you wish to keep warm and dry. You can use the incline function on the treadmill and do intervals using the inbuilt timer on the running machine.
While a treadmill isn’t as good as the real thing, it is certainly an alternative and better than not doing hill sprints at all, because they are an awesome exercise that really tests you.
Although you tend to burn glycogen more than fat during high burst of strenuous activity, it is the increased fitness levels achieved through hill sprints that will help you in your weight loss goals.
Using Fartlek Training to Lose Weight When Running
A Fartlek session can be achieved in many ways, as it is a supremely flexible interval training method. You can do Fartleks when on your normal trail route through your local woods or in a road course through your local housing estate. This flexibility is what makes Fartleks a popular choice among runners of all levels and with many different goals in mind.
You can use your judgement to pace yourself and after you’ve correctly warmed up start walking, then jogging and finally running for a few hundred metres. Don’t burn yourself out on the first set. You need to spread yourself out so you last the session of half an hour or so.
The more you run the sooner you will naturally find yourself at ease with pacing yourself. By pushing hard on the sprinting sections you will give your body the best chance of improving itself. When you attempt your regular run you should feel the benefit of your intervals.
Aerobic Track Intervals With Rigidly Timed Segments
Track intervals differ from a Fartlek because where that is flexible a rigid interval is doing the exact same thing each time. For instance, if you are running 400 metres, with a walking or jogging recovery lap, you will repeat the 400 metres again.
Alternatively, if you structure your interval session to enhance your finishing (if you are feeling tired on the end of a run) you would start off easy and build up to a harder end.
You could run 200m, rest, 400m, rest, 600m, rest, 800m, rest. This is loading the end of your interval with more work.
On the other hand, if you want to test your speed more, rather than endurance, you would front load the interval session.
Start off by warming up thoroughly then running, 800m, rest, 600m, rest, 400m, rest, 200m, rest. This example is the reverse of the first one, but the great thing about intervals is you can set them up to suit your needs.
Remember when exercising, you are merely putting your body through a portion of hard work that encourages your body to repair itself and leave you in a better position than before you started out.
How you test your body is entirely up to you. Of course we have to train seriously and in a suitable manner, but above that their really isn’t a right and wrong way to structure a workout. As long as you come back knowing you’ve had a hard workout then that is what counts.
We’re all familiar with the basic structures of physical exercise that we were taught at school, but today working out has spread out into literally hundreds of new directions.
The reason being is because they all work. It’s about being innovative and keeping your training fresh and interesting.
Some of the best coaches now are the ones with the newest ideas that challenge the old and replace them with better ways of running and testing our selves. It’s the reason why times keep falling in races and people beat their personal best times.
Our knowledge is always growing above and beyond what our predecessors had. Some of this is down to science, but a lot of it is down to the skill and imagination of the best coaches and trainers. We live in the best time ever when it comes to health and fitness. Look how much the human race has improved over even fifty years ago.
The Long Slow Distance Run: Weight Loss Secret Weapon!
When it comes to running to lose weight, there really isn’t anything better than grinding out a long slow distance run or LSD. No, we don’t mean what the hippies used to take in the 60s. We all might turn a bit Charles Manson if we go down that route.
The key to the LSD is that we are running below our usual pace, which enables the body to gather plenty of oxygen, which is essential to burning fat. Combine this with the long distance and the fact that, even though we are working relatively easy, we are working for longer, anywhere from 45 minutes to 90 minutes.
Rest Properly After Each Long Run
You should only do one really long run per week, usually on a weekend is a good time because it’s great to relax on a Saturday or Sunday with the wind in your hair over the moor tops. It’s essential that you rest the day after as well because your body will be completely diminished of fuel and nutrients. If you tried intervals the next day at best you would feel extremely flat and tired and at the worst you would probably end up injuring yourself. Take heed and rest properly.
If you did a shorter LSD, say 45 mins then it wouldn’t be a problem if you wanted to do two in one week. However, you will get more benefit from doing a full long run on its own, because your body is working on its natural limitations. You will feel absolutely shattered after a proper LSD, because they are essentially the same as doing a half marathon.
When your glycogen stores are empty you are forcing your body to switch over to burning fat, which helps deplete your fat stores. If you are training regular and keep it up it’s a great feeling when you start to see your stomach flatten.
Depending on what body type you have will also depend on how easy you lose body weight and ultimately body fat. If you’re unlucky like me and are a skinny fatty, then you will find it hard, but the key is to keep on believing in yourself and keep on training hard then the results will come. It all depends on how much you want it!
Personally I think it isn’t about being perfect with a buff six pack, as long as you’re trim and fit then that is enough for most people.
Eating Correctly to Support Weight Loss
As we all know, eating a healthy and balanced diet is part and parcel of losing weight as a runner. Not only do we have to eat the right foods, but we also have to eat the correct amount of them too.
Dieting can be the toughest part of losing weight, even more so than the physical exercise itself. However, stay staunch and you will be fine. We have a few articles on motivation if you need to pep yourself up in order to beat your belly.
Don’t get too hung up on being the strictest dieter in the world. If you are too fanatical it could harm your mental health and you may end up with an eating disorder. Sadly there are plenty of people who either genuinely have an eating disorder or there’s others who imagine they have a problem. Still you have to be careful that you don’t fall into the trap.
Instead aim to have a balanced mental approach, just the same way as you should be eating a balanced array of foods.
Focus on Cleaning up Your Diet
Rather than spending a fortune on a dietitian, focus on cleaning your diet up. Cut out all the junk foods such as fizzy pop, kebabs and pizzas. Eat fresh food stuff like fruit and chicken for your protein.
If you like milk switch over to skimmed milk or half-skimmed instead of full-fat milk.
Fruit and vegetables are full of fibre and a host of micro nutrients that are brilliant for general health.
Imagine having to count calories for the rest of your life. It isn’t practical and it isn’t very nice either. The best way is to see how it goes once you’ve tidied your eating habits up. When that is combined with your running you should start to see an improvement on the scales. Only when you stop losing weight do you need to go to the next level with your food.
Let’s face it, if you’re at a healthy weight that you’re happy with and eating foods that you enjoy – as long as you’ve found a happy medium then there’s no need to be a pea counter like Posh Spice, is there?
High quality foods:
- Vegetables – including legumes.
- Fruit – apples, pears, oranges, bananas, etc.
- Nuts seeds and healthy oils, such as olive oil.
- Dairy – excluding butter, but including probiotics.
- Fish – cod, haddock, tuna.
- Poultry – chicken, turkey.
- Red meat – beef steaks, etc.
Low quality foods:
- Refined grains – white rice, white bread.
- Sweets, fizzy pop, processed sugar.
- Processed meat, kebabs, sausages.
- Fried foods, chips in saturated oil, etc.
What Happens if I’m too Tired to Run?
The great thing about working out on your own as a runner is that you can do whatever you want. So when you’re too tired to go running, then instead of sitting in the house feeling guilty, you can always go for a nice walk in the countryside or your local park should you life in the city.
A long walk will give your legs a mild workout, while getting the blood pumping and flushing out any toxins, which should help with any soreness or stiffness that may have set in.
Due to its mildness, walking is great for burning fat. Yes, it isn’t as hectic as running, but pound for pound, walking uses more fat as a percentage of calories burned than running does. That’s why you should embrace walking and you can do it as many days as you wish. Even on your off days if you’re really keen, presuming you don’t go berserk and walk twenty miles that is!
Set Clear Weight Loss Goals for Yourself
So you aren’t running around like a headless chicken, it’s best that you set yourself some clear goals. Be strategic with your weight loss plans and have a figure in mind. This will enable you to calculate your length of programme, but not only that it will give you something to aim for.
Imagine being a child and waiting for your birthday, but not knowing when it is? Well in a similar way, that’s what you’re doing when you are wanting to lose weight, but you don’t have any set vision to aim for. Without a vision you can’t possibly put dates and figures down, can you?
Get a schedule made up then you can plan ahead with your running or log any mileage you’ve done afterwards.
It’s also worth investing in a set of electronic bathroom scales. You can get them these days that measure body fat. They might not be super accurate, but they should be accurate enough for home use and give you a good idea of how you are progressing.
Five More Runner’s Reads
- Intrinsic Motivation Vs Extrinsic Motivation
- Half Marathon Pace Chart
- 21 Inspirational Running Quotes to Turbo Charge Your Motivation
- Running in the Heat – Sun Safety
- How to Breathe While Running – Nose or Mouth?
What’s Your Weight Loss Target?
Hopefully you’ve enjoyed reading our article on how to lose weight running? Have we inspired you to aim a little bit higher? We really hope so, but if you are already reaching for the stars and you’re confident of success kicking the weight to the kerb then good on you.
If you’ve only just started out running again, all you have to remember is that it will get easier each time you train. Up until a point that you will naturally plateau, which is to be expected, then running should be enjoyable and rewarding without being punishing or unpleasant apart from the usual levels of suffering that you expect as an athlete.
So now it’s over to you. Good luck and please let us know how you get on. It would be great to hear a few success stories from our readers.