How to Lose weight by Running... Just to clarify: When you say 'Lose Weight' what you really mean is "get rid of excess fat", and your clothes (or measurements) are a better way of measuring this than a weighing scale. There are loads of different kinds of running, and there's a lot of conflicting advice about which is best for "weight loss". And like most things in the fitness world, the correct answer will depend on the person. First up is the important question of WHY you're gaining weight in the first place. This ALWAYS comes down to lifestyle factors, so the good news is it's completely within your power to change it. The main factor is of course, how many calories you are consuming versus how many you actually need. It could be a few extra each day, or it could be quite a few, over time these extra calories add up. Other factors involved in putting on weight include your everyday activity levels, the quality and quantity of sleep you get every night, and how well you are able to deal with stress. I talk about this here If you have been gaining weight, all of these factors are involved to some degree, but the exact mix will be unique to you. So, with all that in mind, let's get back to the question: How to run for weight loss? Identify which of the factors listed above is going to be the MAIN cause of your weight gain. Pick the kind of running most suited to tackling that specific factor, and work on that first.
As that becomes a habit, identify the 2nd biggest cause of your weight gain and run according to that. This means you will now be doing 2 different kinds of running. Brand new to running? If you haven't run before, your best bet is to start with a couch to 5k plan, which consists of a mix of walking and running for preset times or distances, done for about 30 minutes 3 times per week. Can You already run/jog for 15 minutes without stopping? If you can, then you can start getting more focused on HOW you run.
Running according to weight gain factors:
If Calories are the issue, run for a longer time or longer distance at whatever kind of effort works for you. At a lower level of exertion you can do this practically every day; if you are pushing hard for the whole run, do this no more than twice per week. Alternatively running up hills will help you become stronger, as well as burning calories more quickly during the run. The downside to hill runs is they tend to be shorter because you'll be bloody knackered! If the main problem is inactivity then short bursts of hard work followed by short rest periods will get the heart rate up, then give you enough recovery that you can go again. This is a form of INTERVAL training, and it's the most time-efficient way of improving your fitness. In terms of effort.. start by giving it about 80% during the 'work' part, then 40-50% during the recovery part. The time periods will depend on your level of fitness: Start with 20 seconds work, 40 seconds recovery, and aim for 8-10 of these 'bursts' of work. as fitness improves, increase the work interval and/or decrease the rest interval (e.g. 30/30 instead of 20/40).
If poor sleep is something that you are affected by, there are 2 ways to approach it: You can aim for a steady, easy, relaxing run (effort level of 50% - 60% of your maximum effort) and use it as a form of moving meditation (particularly effective when running in a natural setting such as a park or beach); Alternatively, it may suit you better to go for a run first thing in the morning, in which case a more demanding run is probably going to be more useful. This could be intervals of 90-100% effort during the work period with 40-50% during recovery. Another option here is hill sprints, which are as challenging as they sound. Find a hill, pick a fixed point at the end of a steep section, then find another fixed point about 40 seconds to 1 minute walk downhill from the end. After a 10 minute easy warm-up run (include a few bursts of 10-20 seconds of increasing effort towards the end), get yourself to the downhill point and sprint as fast as you can up that dammed hill till you reach the end point, then walk back down gasping for air as you go. If your legs were starting to get wobbly as you reached the end, your effort level was about perfect, so well done! Begin with 3 of these sprints in a session, and gradually increase up to a max of 10 uphill sprints in a single session. Because they are such high intensity, ALWAYS allow at least 48 hours recovery between hill sprint sessions, and preferably finish each one with a 10 minute easy run as described below.
If high stress is a big factor in your life, then the easy, relaxing run mentioned above is going to be very useful for you. No headphones, just focus on the feedback from your body as you run; how is your breathing? is it easy or forced? Are your shoulders lifting towards your ears or are they staying nice and relaxed? How do your legs feel? Your hips? The goal of this run is to literally relax and loosen up the body, so take it easy. You can do this everyday for stress reduction. It's also a very nice way to finish off a run; 10 minutes, nice and easy being mindful of how the body feels. As I mentioned a the start of this article, the exact mix of weight gain factors is different for everybody, so it can take a bit of time and experimentation to see which is going to be the right blend of runs for you.
Sometimes you just have to run how you feel; if you've had a crazy day you might want to run like crazy, so go for it! One final point about running for weight loss. At the end of it all, if you want to get rid of excess fat, calories consumed must be less than calories burned. You cannot outrun your knife and fork! I hope you found this article useful. As always, I'd love to hear your thoughts..
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