Running is one of the best exercises to help you lose weight and maintain a healthy weight.
But, if you’re a runner looking to lose weight, you must have wondered whether you’ll get more benefits from running a long distance at a slower pace or if there is to be gained from speeding and running faster for shorter distances.
So which will be the most effective in meeting your weight loss goals?
That’s what we’re going to discuss in today’s post.
As you can already tell, the answer isn’t all white or black, as there are many things to consider, and the answer depends on a host of factors.
Let’s break down the pros and cons of running for distance Vs. and running for speed when it comes to weight loss.
The Basics Of Losing Weight
At around 100 calories per mile, running is one of the best ways to increase burn calories.*
But why is this relevant?
Let’s go back to the basics.
To lose weight, you simply burn off more calories than you take in. This means that your energy expenditure—as in running, exercising, moving, etc.—must exceed your energy intake—as in eating and drinking.
Yes, it’s the good old Calories in Vs. Calories out principle.
You can create this deficit by exercising—and moving—more, eating less, or mixing both. A series of slower miles can pile up and create a consistent calorie deficit leading to weight loss.
Here are the pros
Running faster takes less time, and it’s great for cardiovascular health. Faster miles put a lot of stress on your body, forcing it to take longer to recover. This, in turn, means more calories burnt after the workout, or what’s known as EPOC.
This is not rocket science because the more you push your body to keep up the faster pace, the greater the energy needs.
Faster miles also tend to build muscle mass, which can increase your overall metabolism. As your body tries to recover from the hard work, it’ll continue to burn calories at a higher rate, even long after you’ve finished running.
Although speeding up has a lot to offer. It’s not feasible for everyone.
Unless you have a good running base, keeping up a faster pace for a long time is out of the option.
If you’d like to speed up, you’ll have to spend less time running.
Faster-paced runs can make you feel exhumated later in the day. Not that faster miles mean more impact on your muscles and joints.
There’s a reason you feel sore after hard training.
Distance For Weight Loss
When running long-distance, you’re technically performing steady-state cardio, which is the lower training intensity that can be performed for a long time.
During steady-state training, your heart rate stays within the moderate work zone, not going through the ups and downs it would during high-intensity training.
Long runs work well for improving your endurance and overall cardiovascular health.
Most of your training will be performed at a steady-state pace in most road races, such as 5K or marathons.
Long-distance running can burn a lot of calories with less effort. It’s also the bread and butter of most half marathon and marathon training plans.
Sure, you’ll be shedding more calories per minute, but you’re training for more times, so the total calories burned can rack up.
A 160-pound male runner going for one hour-long run at a pace of 10 minutes per mile will burn around 750 calories.
Just like anything else, long runs aren’t without downsides.
Sooner or later, long slow runs might lead to plateaus. As your body gets used to the miles, it won’t feel pushed, thus burning fewer calories for the same level of work.
Sure, logging more miles is one way to break through plateaus, but you can only run so far. Given time, your body will become used to a certain distance, and your weight loss will eventually plateau.
Slow long runs take twice as long.
Longer runs are hard to fit into busy days, so you might end up skipping on them altogether.
As you can tell, there are pros and cons to running both faster and farther.
So which one works the best for you hinges on your fitness level and training goals.
For example, going faster will be key if you’re training for a shorter distance. But longer runs might be the best way to go if you’re looking to run a marathon.
Here’s what I’d recommend you do.
If you’re serious about losing weight while improving your overall fitness, do both.
After all, variety is the foundation of a well-rounded running routine. Don’t get too focused on losing weight.
You should likely be mixing up your routines to ensure you’re going faster and farther at regular intervals.
In the end, regular training is what’s going to help you achieve lasting weight loss. The rest is just details.