Is running the best way to lose weight?
As we’ve talked about before, running comes with a lot of health benefits. Mentally, running can reduce stress and increase productivity by releasing endorphins. It also can improve your mental faculties, sometimes resulting in improved memory and cognitive flexibility. Physically, it can strengthen your whole body (even down to your bones!). It can even improve the fitness of your cardiovascular and respiratory systems. With regards to running to lose weight, all jogging or running exercise burns plenty of calories. Running can help you achieve or maintain your personal, ideal weight. But please remember when it comes to “weight”, everyone’s targets and goals will differ, person to person!
Which running exercises are right for me?
If you’re new to running, or exercise in general, you may not be aware of all the various kinds of running exercises available to us! Having a goal in mind when planning your schedule is paramount, and makes tailoring your workouts to suit your fitness targets much easier. Sure, running to lose weight, is for some, the only motivation behind their efforts. However, fleshing this out can be a useful step in the right direction. For example, instead of just thinking “I am running to lose weight”, broaden this to “I am running to get fitter” or “I am exercising to maintain my health”. This will allow us more freedom of choice during workout sessions, avoiding boredom caused by a repetitive fitness regime. Conversely, having a more specific goal such as “I want to run a 10k” or “I want to improve my sprinting speed” instead allows us to achieve new, tangible levels of personal growth, whilst simultaneously running to lose weight. Defining your own, personal goals should certainly not be overlooked!
That said, here’s a quick overview of some of the different running workouts we can try:
If you read our previous blog post you’ll know that we here at Auro LOVE interval workouts. Interval training involves steady levels of exertion interspersed with segments of limit-pushing effort. For example, a long running session with some short, four or five minute sprinting sections, is a classic interval workout. HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) is a more advanced form of this, with shorter rest periods and more intense intervals. A common HIIT template is called “Tabata” which usually involves 20 seconds of hard work, with only 10 seconds of recovery. Intervals are some of the most time-efficient workouts available, helping us push our stamina and fortitude further with each session. Additionally, if running to lose weight is one of our goals, HIIT workouts have been shown to boost our metabolic rates for up to 24 hours after completion!
Long Distance Running:
Long distance running (anywhere over five miles, but usually 10 to 20 miles if you’re experienced) is a fantastic way to improve your endurance. Gradually increasing the distance you’re able to comfortably run at over time is a great feeling, and an should be a centric part of your training plan if your goal is to tackle a 10k race or similar. Distance running can train your body to burn fat for fuel at the same time as carbohydrates, instead of waiting for all of your carb energy to be depleted. This is great if your goal is still running to lose weight, but also helps you avoid hitting “the wall” during lengthy sessions.
If you’ve got a hill with a not-so-imposing gradient in your local park, perhaps think about adding hill repeats into your fitness regime! Often structured as another form of interval training, hill sprints are a fantastic way to strengthen all of your running muscles. In fact, due to the inability to reach your top speed whilst powering up a hill, you’re actually less likely to be injured than with regular intervals. There you have it, effective, fun and rather safe!
Often referred to as “Tempo Runs”, thresholds sessions are sustained runs at a pace regularly described as “comfortably hard” or similar, or if you’re a more experienced runner, it’s often just below your best 10k pace. Threshold runs are usually structured with about five to ten minutes easy running to warm up, followed by anywhere from 20 to 40 minutes at your threshold pace, and rounded off with some more easy running to cool down. Tempo runs can increase your “Lactate Threshold”, hence the name. This threshold is the point where your body can burn off lactic acid at the same rate it’s producing it. Lactate is the main cause of that burning sensation that affects your muscles whilst running, so threshold training is a great way to improve your overall endurance as a runner.
Finally, don’t forget to schedule time for recovery runs! A simple, easy jog once a week allows your body a break from the more intense forms of training, but keeps your muscles mobile and stops your progress from stagnating and regressing. Whether running to lose weight, pushing yourself to become a better distance runner, training for an event or any other goal you may have in mind, recovery runs are absolutely essentially and should not be overlooked.
How can I balance running with the rest of my lifestyle?
Now maybe you’ve decided your fitness goals and have a better idea about how to schedule different running exercises. But, how can you fit this new regime into your week? And what else can we do to optimise the whole process? Focusing on things like diet and complementary exercises is almost as important as the running itself!
Diet can be an especially important factor in supplementing any workout plan. Everybody’s bodies work differently, so we’re not going to go into too much detail here. But, think about basics such as caloric intake, vitamin or mineral levels and meal times. These can all help make sure you have the right amount of energy to get you through your training effectively. If running to lose weight is still one of your primary goals, a meal plan should be a high priority. It’ll take a little research, but the payoff will certainly be worth it!
With regards to other workouts, it’s important to train strength as well as your running ability. Strength and mobility workouts increase your stability. This gives your body a better framework to build on with your running exercises over time.
Running, as with all forms of exercise, must be treated with respect. This is due to the strain it can put on your body, causing injury if not handled correctly. There’s many factors involved that can leave you out of action with injury recovery. Improper technique, such as rushing or skipping your warm ups and stretches, and pushing yourself too hard are all common causes of injury to runners. Running, in all its forms, is a weight-bearing, high impact form of activity. So, please remember to listen to your body! If you’re feeling any kind of strain or cramps forming, think about whether it’s better to take a recovery day today so you can run for the rest of the week. Sometimes people end up ignoring these warning signs and eventually hurt themselves, undoing a lot of hard work.
Running to lose weight – the pros and cons
- Running to lose weight can be a fun and effective way of achieving this goal. Whilst at the same time training your muscles to be able to endure more and work harder.
- All forms of running are good for your overall mental health. It helps to boost your mood, can increase cognitive function and strengthens our mental fortitude for future workouts.
- There are so many different exercises involving running. So, each session can be tailored to your specific fitness goals, and used in conjunction with other schedules and classes.
- Without clear and defined end goals, running can sometimes feel less useful than more targeted strength workouts.
- Risk of injury without the use of proper technique and recovery days.
There’s no better time to get into running than right now. Starting off the year with a clearly defined fitness goal is a great way to shake off the post-Christmas blues. Have a clearly defined schedule will also get you closer to whatever you want to achieve from your workouts. Maybe you found this article purely because you were interested in running to lose weight. But, hopefully we’ve given you some more to think about so that you can use running in a way that best suits you and your goals. Happy new year!
[Image Credit – Google Images]