Running for Weight Loss
Tips & Advice On Getting Started
Looking to run your way to weight loss?
Unsure how to get started?
Many have found themselves in the same position. Luckily, it’s easier than you might think.
Why is running good for weight loss?
There are many different exercises that help you lose weight out there. Swimming, cycling, yoga – the list goes on.
But, with running, there’s no equipment needed (apart from the shoes), meaning there are less barriers for you to overcome to get going.
Apart from accessibility, other benefits include (but aren’t limited to):
- It burns a lot of calories
- High-intensity running continues to burn calories even after you’ve finished working out1
- Suppresses appetite, helping you eat less
- Strengthens muscles2
- Improves cardiovascular health
Running for weight loss – beginner’s guide
Your intentions might be good, but getting over the mental hurdles is tough, especially if you’ve never run before.
Here’s some advice to help you take up your running shoes.
1.Take it at your own pace
We would say don’t run before you can walk, but that doesn’t quite work here. Although, the same principle applies.
You don’t need to go crazy when you first start out. Nor do you need to measure yourself against others.
Burning calories and increasing fitness levels is what counts. Even if you work out once a week, that’s still an improvement.
Ignore anyone else’s speed, distance, frequency. Do what you can, and slowly build it up.
Running is a great way to kick-start weight loss, it’s not a competition. Forget setting ‘personal bests’ and just get going.
2. Build up fitness levels
You may need to build up your fitness levels first, particularly if you haven’t worked out in a long time. This will reduce the risk of injury and help you enjoy the experience3.
Start with short intervals. If needed, alternate between walking and running.
Or, simply start out with brisk walking as your exercise of choice. Then you can work up to running when you’re ready.
3. Always warm up
Don’t ever skip the warm up. Enough said. Doing so means you’ll run the risk of pulling a muscle or otherwise injuring yourself.
4. Sort out your diet
Don’t make the mistake of thinking running alone is enough, it should be done in combination with healthy eating.
You’ll need fuel to be able to run4, so forget the starvation diets.
Some general rules include:
- Beefing up your protein intake5
- Eating fewer calories than you burn (the more you exercise, the more you can eat)
- Eat the rainbow. Load up your plate with colourful fruits and vegetables
- Plan your meals in advance
- Eat enough carbs to give you energy for your runs. Avoid refined ones
- Drink plenty of water
If you think diet doesn’t have anything to do with running, think again. A sensible diet is a perfect complement to exercise, and essential for your weight loss goals.
5. Build up speed
Don’t start out too fast, running at full pelt isn’t a good idea. Within just a few minutes, you’ll likely be burnt out6. This will not only harm your efforts, but also your motivation.
Start out at a moderate pace, this way, you’ll be able to keep going for longer.
6. Give yourself rest time
Your body will need time to recover, so make sure you let it do so, especially after your first run.
Give yourself at least one day’s rest between runs, aiming to train at least three times a week7.
7. Find the time that works for you
Juggling a job, family, and everything else can be tough. Trying to throw exercise in the mix can be tricky at first, until you find your rhythm. But with the benefit of many of us working from home, it’s the perfect opportunity to get started!
Some people prefer to get up earlier and work out in the morning, others in the evening. There’s no right or wrong here, both have their advantages.
Benefits of running in the morning:
- Improves diet adherence
- Helps you sleep
- Jumpstarts your metabolism
- Easier to be consistent
- Might help you burn fat
- Increases energy levels in the afternoon8
Benefits of working out in the evening include:
- Less time constraints
- More energy and strength (bodily functions are at their best) resulting in a better workout
- Muscles are warmer, less chance of injuries due to strain
- Outlet to release the stress of a day’s work9
- Get a lie in
Essentially, the timing doesn’t matter: just do what works for you.
8. Plan your days
Plan when you’re going to go for a run. If you have a schedule, you’re more likely to stick to it.
9. Take short steps
Short steps are more effective than long strides, as you’ll be able to go quicker10. The better your technique, the more likely you are to enjoy it and keep it up.
10. Have good form
Some running tips include:
- Landing with control
- Engaging your core
- Avoid overstriding
- Avoid twisting your upper body
- Lean your chest forward slightly11
While there’s a lot of advice about form out there, you simply need to find what works for you and feels natural.
However, whether you’re a heel-striker or a toe-leader, take care to reduce the risk of injury. Rolling your ankle will not help in your mission to run to lose weight.
11. Find a buddy
Nervous, embarrassed or otherwise reluctant to don your running shoes?
Many people choose to run with a friend. This will help keep you motivated, make it more enjoyable and help you stick to your goals.
12. Aim for the runner’s high
While losing weight is a good goal, you should also aim to enjoy it. Exercise is a normal part of everyday life, so find something that you love.
The ‘runner’s high’ isn’t just for those who cross the marathon finishing line. It’s a feeling of elation caused by endorphins that your body naturally releases during exercise12.
You shouldn’t hate the exercise you do; it’s not about punishing your body. Aim to feel good from it (afterwards at least).
13. Make it routine
It will take some doing, but try and incorporate running into your weekly routine. Every week.
Soon, it will become a habit you don’t even have to think about.
14. Don’t be hard on yourself
Missed a workout? Ran for a shorter amount of time than planned? Struggled to keep going?
Don’t beat yourself up.
Even little wins should be celebrated.
15. Not all surfaces were made equal
Wondering what surface you should choose? Here’s a look at the pros and cons of your different running options13.
- Helps you run fast
- Less likely to injure your ankle
- Easy to measure distances
- Easier to build a steady rhythm
- Pedestrians to contend with
- Can be an unforgiving surface e.g. potholes
- Soft and easy to run on
- Makes your muscles work hard (builds strength)
- Plenty of space
- Scenic views
- Can be slippery when wet
- Terrain can be uneven
- Can tire legs out quicker
- Not advised for those with allergies
- Highly scenic
- Soft and easy on the legs
- Terrain can go on for miles
- Terrain can be unforgiving – e.g. muddy, slippery, bumpy
- Higher chance of injury due to rocks, sticks and other hazards
- Smooth surface
- Easy on the legs
- Can adjust speed easily
- No external factors to deal with e.g. weather, dog walkers etc.
- Less exciting, not much to see
- Requires a gym membership or expensive home equipment
- No natural breeze
16. Take breaks
Especially in the beginning, you may have to deal with some unwanted aches and pains.
If needed, don’t be afraid to take a break when running. Start back up again when the pain goes away.
17. Get enough sleep
Running is a full body workout, which means you need to look after your body.
Working out when exhausted will not only negatively affect your performance, but also your overall mood and mental health1.
18. Stop the excuses
The only thing stopping you getting started is you. If you keep putting things off until Monday, that day will never come.
Day one or one day, the choice is yours!
A weight loss plan
Running, and other forms of exercise, are a great addition to any weight loss plan. But, you should also view them as a part of a healthy lifestyle – for the long-term.