A few things that might inspire you to run: See running photos your friend posted on IG. Watch exciting videos Olympic Athletics finals on YouTube. The fact that lululemon makes (super cute) running shoes. Or, maybe, a weightloss aim.
If the latter in particular caught your attention, you’ve come to the right place. In progress is a form of movement that you can use to help you lose weight. It’s cardiovascular exercise, so it gets the heart pumping and it burns calories, says Lauren Wentz, PT, DPT, CSCS, a Pittsburgh-based RRCA and USATF certified running coach. (You can read more about estimating your calorie deficit for weight loss hereBESIDES.)
But there are a few things to know before you lace up and hit the pavement. Below, you’ll find six tips for running to lose weight, all according to Wentz. Remember: As with any new exercise program, be sure to consult with a trusted healthcare professional before beginning..
Meet the expert: Lauren WentzPT, DPT, CSCS, is an RRCA and USATF certified running coach based in Pittsburgh.
6 tips for running to lose weight
1. Do not default over long distances.
Yes, train and finish a marathon can be a totally rewarding experience. But if your goal is to lose weight, that might not be your *best* option, says Wentz. When you run for more than three hours (or more than 16 miles), your body breaks down muscle, she explains.
Here’s why it’s important: If you lose muscle, you have a basal metabolic rate, she says. ICYMI, your BMR is the amount of calories you burn performing basic life functions, or in other words, the minimum number of calories you need to maintain your current weight, W.H. Previously reported. So, Wentz suggests prioritizing shorter runs (think: an hour or less) for those with weight loss goals.
2. Follow a strength training program as well.
Although you may feel compelled to go out for a run or jump on the conveyor belt day in and day out, building muscle mass helps you increase that basal metabolic rate, notes Wentz. Plus, she says, “if you keep breaking down muscle mass with too much cardio, you can (end up with) injuries because you don’t have enough strength.”
Where it can get confusing is on the scale. Muscle weighs more than fat, Wentz says, so if you see your weight increase (or notice your clothes fitting differently), you might feel discouraged, even if your muscle-to-fat ratio changes.
In terms of how many times you should force train compared to running every week, Wentz’s general rec is to maintain a 50-50 split – three days of each. But she notes that if you’re really into strength training, you can skip a fourth day instead of one of your runs.
3. Mix up your running workouts to keep your body guessing.
When you think of “running,” you can automatically imagine long, slow jogs. And Wentz recommends incorporating these into your regimen (for 30-60 minutes each). But if you are constantly By logging miles at a conversational pace, she says, your body will adapt and burn fewer calories as it learns to complete the task. On the other hand, varying your speed can challenge your body in different ways (think: anaerobic rather than aerobic), by Wentz.
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Your move? Try interval training for one of your runs each week. Wentz suggests heading to a track (or using a watch that measures distance) and warming up for an easy mile and a half to two miles, depending on your typical mileage, plus a few dynamic stretching and glute activations.
If you’re a beginner runner, start with four to five 400-meter sprints with a 400-meter recovery (read: *super* slow jog) in between each. Over time, you can prepare to do 12 to 15 sprints, she says, adding one or two every two weeks.
As for what constitutes a sprint? Think six, seven, or eight on a scale of one to 10, Wentz says. “A 400 sounds really, really short,” she says. “But when you go around that track, it feels (like) an eternity.” For this reason, Wentz suggests starting at six for the first quarter of the round, then gradually moving to seven. For the back half, you can hit an eight.
For your recovery 400, she tells you can walk, but there is a greater cardiovascular benefit to continuing with an easy jog. (Pro tip: If you feel the urge to walk, start by jogging for 15 seconds to see how you’re really doing. Once you’ve caught your breath a bit, you might find that you can keep going.)
4. Take at least one full day off each week.
Giving your body time to repair and strengthen is crucial, according to Wentz. But she adds that you can do active recovery that day, as yoga (she just cautions against choosing a yoga class with more of a “workout component”, like hot yoga).
Another option, says Wentz, is to take two days off per week (keeping a minimum of two days of strength training in your schedule). If you’re going this route, she suggests taking a full day off and doing some low-impact cross-training on the other. For example, you could swimtake a spinning class (slow), ride a bike outside, or line. You can even choose an activity like pickleball. “You just don’t want to go hard,” Wentz says.
5. Know when not to run.
Sometimes runners feel a little sore or tight, Wentz says, adding that it’s normal and generally okay to run. But you don’t want to run through sharp pains that are five out of 10 or higher, she says.
She also advises against running if you suffer from stomach or respiratory problems or, more generally, any problem ranging from the neck to the feet. (Not sure if the pain or illness you’re experiencing constitutes a change in your exercise plans? Speak to your doctor for advice.)
Also pay attention to air quality. It can become risky to run outdoors once the AQI, or Air Quality Index, rises above 150, BNC News reported recently.
6. Consider your diet.
It is not uncommon to feel able to eat All pizza and donuts when you start running, Wentz notes, but if weight loss is your goal, you’ll still need to pay attention to the calories you eat versus the calories you burn. A 155-pound person running for 30 minutes at a 12-minute pace burns 288 calories, according to Harvard Health– so it’s quite easy to consume what you’ve burned.
If you’re feeling *hungry* as you start to run more, Wentz has some advice: First, ask yourself if you’ve had enough to drink, because sometimes dehydration manifests as hunger, she says. Second, consider the types of foods you eat. Things like potato chips and crackers contain calories, sure, but not so much nutritional value. On the other hand, foods with fiber can help you feel full.
Also remember this: “The diet culture taught us to stop doing a lot of things that we really need as runners to support that effort,” says Wentz. Runners need carbs for fuel, the trainer explains. That doesn’t mean you have to load up on carbs all day, she notes, but it’s important to eat them before your run to help get the job done as well as after (along with protein) to heal the rashes. torn muscles. down during your run. In other words, timing is key.
If you have questions about your unique dietary needs while trying to safely achieve a weight loss goal, talk to your doctor or dietitian for personalized advice.
Erin Warwood is a San Francisco-based writer, runner, and sparkling water enthusiast. She holds a BBA from the University of Notre Dame and a Masters in Journalism from Northwestern University. In her free time, you can find her watching Survivor, trying new Peloton workouts, and reading Emily Giffin novels. His ultimate goal: to become a morning person.