Most people take up running for mainly one reason: To Lose Weight.
Truth be told…that’s what got me into it in the first place.
Years ago, I was fat and out-of-shape, but after taking up running everything changed for the better.
Just don’t get me wrong. Running does shed mad calories, but it’s not a guaranteed recipe for success.
In fact, unwanted weight gain can happen despite regular training, and I know many of a consistent runner still struggling with their weight.
I can’t deny that…
No one can…
With that said, don’t throw your running shoes away yet.
Today you are going to learn how to reach success with your weight loss running routine.
Weight Loss Rules For Runners
As a result, here are 9 rules for maximum weight loss for runners.
1. Just Do it
It’s simple as it sounds.
You just need to do it.
But that does not mean that’s going to be easy. Simple does not always mean easy.
As a beginner, you need to slowly introduce the habit of running into your life.
Don’t worry about mileage nor calorie burn. All you need to concern yourself with is trying to get fit without getting hurt. That’s the motto you need to keep in mind.
Enter The Run-Walk Method
Start off with the walk-run-walk method.
If you are overweight and/or out-of-shape, begin your running journey by mixing slow running intervals—30 seconds for the seek of the argument—with sets of walking period of no more than a minute.
As you get fitter, aim to increase the time you spend running while taking less and less for recovery. (Want more? Check my posts: The 8-Week Beginner Runner Program & Absolute Beginners’ Guide To Running).
The good news is that, on average, and in less than 8 weeks, you’ll be able to run for at least 30 minutes without much huffing and puffing.
Nonetheless, once you are passed that mark, your body, being the amazing and smart machine it is, will eventually adapt and get used to that level of stimulus. This means that you won’t be burning as many calories as before.
This is what’s known as plateau territory
And once that happens, you’d need to up the ante by doing interval training to break through the plateau.
2. Pass the Plateau
Plateaus are part and parcel of any training process. Running for weight loss is no exception. That’s why you need to get ready for them and know exactly what to do to get pass them.
Intervals are ideal for shedding belly fat, and boosting metabolism. They are challenging and will increase the amount of oxygen you use to perform and recover, leading to a greater calorie burn.
For me, getting on the interval training track was a big game changer.
Not only did interval training help me shed those extra pounds I was struggling with for some time, but also improved my running on all levels.
If you have never tried intervals before, then don’t be swayed by their power. Instead, be careful and take it gradually.
As a beginner, start off your interval run by doing sprints at 70 to 80 percent of your maximum effort for no more than 30-second, then jog for one full minute for recovery. Repeat the cycle 8 to 10 times and end the session with a cool-down.
Here is my full guide to HIIT training.
3. Know your Calorie Needs
When it comes to it, weight loss is a matter of doing your math.
Weight loss is a numbers’ game, really.
To lose weight while running, you have to burn more calories than you are taking in; that’s why you must know how many you need in the first place.
Here comes the Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR).
Calculate Your BMR
The basal metabolic rate (BMR) a rough estimate to set your basic energy needs and describes the number of calories you would need to keep your organs and body ticking each day if you did nothing but sleep for 24 hours.
Here are two resources to help you calculate BMR without much hassle:
To shed the pounds, you must reduce your total caloric intake, whether by burning calories through running or following sound diet practices.
The best way is to do both for maximum results.
As a general guideline, to stay on the safe, healthy side, aim to cut no more than 200 to 300 calories per day.
The progressive approach always works way better.
4. Set Good Weight Loss Goals
Goals are the specific markers you need to keep your fat loss resolution going strong. They provide you with clarity, a sense of direction, and will help propel you forward, especially when you feel that all the odds are stacked against you.
Henceforth, make sure to write and rewrite them on a daily basis.
Your goals should be challenging, but they also must be realistic. That’s why I always run my goals though a reality check. And you should be doing the same.
As a result, before you set that substantial weight loss running goal, ask yourself (and be honest) whether it’s actually achievable.
Believe me, it pays, both for the short and long term, to have the right fitness goals.
For more on how to set fitness goals, check my full guide here.
5. Do Your Own Thing
Don’t fall into the trap of setting a common weight loss goal.
The truth is, we are not the same.
I’m different. You are different. Everybody is different.
What works the best for me regarding optimal health, energy and performance may not be the same of what works the best for you.
That’s why you need to set your own goals.
Have a say in your life. Don’t let society dictate what’s best for you.
And keep mind that skinny is not always good, even if it looks good.
Add a Deadline
Also, put a time limit on your goals. The sense of timing adds urgency to your goals, making their achievement more likely. A major reason why most don’t make it down the road is the lack of a sense of urgency, a symptom of overthinking the process and not taking action. Classic case of paralysis by analysis.
6. Stay Fueled
To run your best, you need to stay well fueled. But that’s no invitation to overeat.
You just need to opt for the right foods that can help you perform your best while shedding the extra pounds for good.
In other words, eating should be about fueling you up, not filling you up, period.
Opt for a breakfast that’s high in protein, healthy fat foods like low-fat yogurt, oatmeal and especially eggs (they are my favorite!). Make sure also to eat plenty of vegetables, nuts and limit your intake of fruits—they score high on fructose, a form of sugar that can lead to weight gain.
Steer clear of fat-free processed foods, which often score low on nutrients and high on chemicals.
If you want more, maybe you need a radical lifestyle change. For that case…
Try The Paleo Lifestyle
Something that worked like a miracle for me is following the Paleo diet ( I know it’s more than a diet ;-).
This eating philosophy has helped clean my act when it comes to the everyday diet decision I make. So it didn’t just help lose weight, it also helped me eat much healthier and develop and maintain healthy eating habits—the cornerstone of optimal nutrition.
And most people who tried it have reached similar conclusions. You just need to give your body time to adjust to it. That’s the hardest part.
Here is how to run on the paleo diet.
7. Go Long
Among more than 120,000 runners, the ones logging the greatest amount of weekly mileage were the leanest, according to the National Runners Health Study.
Hence, if you are serious about getting into the best shape of your life—look and endurance wise—aim to extend your weekly mileage.
It’s no secret. The more miles you log in, the more calories you are going to burn off.
As a general guideline, an average person burns off about 100 calories per mile while running.
As a result, if you opt for a 7-miler run, you’ll burn roughly 700 calories. It’s simple math.
Just don’t freak out. You don’t need to opt for long runs every day of the week. In fact, just one long run a week, preferably on the weekend, can help you get the max calories burning benefits.
Any run that’s more than 45 minute can be considered a long run. Nonetheless, this rule is not written in stone. That’s why the exact duration varies from one person to the next. That’s why you ought to find what works the best for you and build on that.
I know this goes against what I said earlier about the power of intervals, but you still need long runs—at least one per week—for a balanced running program.
8. Keep Track of What you Eat
According to a study published by the National Institute of Health, subjects doubled their weight loss when they started keeping tabs on their eating habits.
Keeping a record of your calorie intake can help you prevent “stealth calorie” consumptions and other unhealthy behaviors that keep holding you back from achieving your weight loss vision.
The journal will keep you on track, and you will also learn to hold yourself accountable for what you are putting into your mouth.
Therefore, to max out on your nutrition decisions, keep a daily log of what you eat.
9. Add Strength Training
Strength training will not only help you build a leaner and stronger body, but it’ll also help you become a better runner.
In fact, athletes who strength train regularly—two to three times per week—increased their leg strength and boosted their endurance, which is vital for weight loss and top performance, according to study published in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.
That’s why you ought to supplement your road work with a proper strength training program. For more runners’ oriented strength training guidelines, check my blog post: The Seven Best Strength Training Exercises For Runners
10. Be Patient
If you are anything like me, high expectations and short-term thinking is deeply ingrained within the way you think about the world and how things “ought” to happen. In fact, that’s how we are wired in western civilization.
When we want something we want it now, not tomorrow, not a week from, and definitely not a year from now.
And this type of thinking has got us into all sorts of trouble.
Check this excellent post on the dangers of instant gratification thinking.
Delaying instant gratification is a hard pill to swallow especially when it comes to fat loss expectations.
Blaze Your Own Path
Trying to follow in the footsteps of these overnight makeovers is often overwhelming and will only get you frustrated.
To dodge the silver bullet myth, make small changes, one at a time, and build on them.
For starters, make running a habit.
Then try eating a healthy breakfast every day. And so on. You get the picture.
These habits will eventually add up until you build that desired lifestyle.
Therefore, if you are not there yet, trust just be patient, and it will happen. The universe abides by the law of cause and effect, and as long as you opting for the healthy path (cause), you’ll definitely get to your desired destination.
The key to getting the weight loss results you are after is your speed of implementation. So make sure to start applying the above running guidelines as soon as you can.
In the meantime, feel free to leave your comments below, or send me your questions if you need any help.
Thank you for reading my post.
Image Credit – Ed Yourdon Through Flick