By Marina Aagaard, MFE
few lot of pounds too heavy? You want to lose weight? You consider running for weight loss?
Then this is for you; important information and inspiration; a true ‘weight loss running’ program for lasting weight loss and lasting joy of running …
In many popular articles on running to lose weight, the message is clear:
“Even if you are overweight and ask yourself, if you should just go ahead and run,
the answer is: Yes”.
The sensible answer is: No.
It is of paramount importance to your running succes, that you do not just run … eg. “running as far as you can with as few breaks as possible in half an hour” or “from a 30-minute walk to a 30-minute run in 10 weeks”. Because:
If you want to succesfully lose weight through running, 1) you have to find it doable and fun, as opposed to hard and boring, so you want to continue, and 2) your body has to be able to tolerate the impact, so you lose weight without setting yourself up for injuries.
Injuries? But running is healthy and helps me lose weight? Yes and no; only if it is the right program for that person (you). Unfortunately I have seen a large number of beginning runners with painful chronic injuries in their shins, achilles tendons, knees and hips, because of too much running too soon. If you want to avoid this, read on:
Working out with three times your body weight
Before you start running, ask yourself – and answer truthfully – do you weigh 3-5 pounds too much or is it closer to 20-30 pounds too much? This affects how much running your body will tolerate initially:
Every time you walk and put your foot to the ground, you are met by an equal and opposite amount of force applied by the ground on you body (foot); ground reaction force (impact).
During walking the impact corresponds to your body weight times 1-1½.
During running the impact is increased and is now 2-3 times your body weight – perhaps even more depending on the running technique. If your body weight is 150 pounds, the impact may be around 450 pounds!
The heart and muscles handles this fairly easily, while the bones, joints and tendons need time to get stronger for this.
Note, that impact is healthy, because it strengthens your bones – but in the right dose …
Running to Lose Weight Tip # 1 Short runs initially
Not used to running or working out? Start even more slowly, than you think necessary:
Very short runs, short total running time, for the first 2-3 months.
If you want more, add more walking and other exercise modalities.
Recreational exercisers should increase their running by a maximum of 2-5 % per week!
Running to Lose Weight Tip # 2 Short intervals
Interval running means ‘running in periods’, that is a ‘work period’, when you exert yourself and an active ‘rest period’, when you take it easy and restore you energy levels.
Start by running for very short intervals initially. Warm-up by walking 5-15 minutes. Run for 5, 10, 15, 20 or 30 seconds and then a rest-pause of 2-4 times that duration. Repeat.
Many, many beginning running programs recommend longer work periods than that, 2-3+ minute intervals. Do you feel lucky? Evidence point to the fact, that way too many ‘run-for-weightloss-runners’ suffer overuse injuries from that type of interval programs.
Note, a great many running programs out there are designed by young, male, slender, fit, eliterunners, who – in spite of ample physiological knowledge – may have some difficulty in understanding the special running needs of eg. a 50-year old overweight woman.
Therefore, when trying any running program – be inspirered, test it with caution and always listen to your body …
Running to Lose Weight Tip # 3 Long rest-pauses
Rest-pauses can be of short or long duration and this affects the result. After short work intervals the rest-pause duration normally is 2-4 times longer, than the ‘work’, the running.
Most importantly in running to lose weight, however, is to get going in the right way. Therefore your rest-pauses can be as long as you need to recover and get ready … not so long, though, that the rhythm and flow is lost!
Running to Lose Weight Tip # 4 Fewer repetitions initially
Interval running is fun and motivating, but hold back a little, when first starting out, so you do not wear yourself (and your tendons) out … Limit the total running time for the first couple of weeks, run no more than 2-3 minutes per run (if you are overweight).
1 repetition (or cycle) represents one work interval and one rest-interval. Three examples:
- 12 x 10 second run + 20-50 second rest-pause (or longer). Do a warm-up first.
- 8 x 15 second run + 30-45 second rest-pause.
- 4 x 30 second run + 1-2 minute rest-pause.
Running to Lose Weight Tip # 5 Run three times a week
Three days of running per week with a day off between running days is a good choice initially. If you want to exercise more, then add spinning, cycling, nordic walking, rowing, svimming and cardio (exercise using cardio machines at home or at the gym, eg. crosstrainer training) on your days with no running. These exercise modalities supplement running well and have lower impact forces.
Running to Lose Weight Tip # 6 Run and play
If you are not too keen on systems and time-keeping, then the method ‘fartlek’, which are irregular intervals, may be just the thing for you: Do little ‘sprints’, when you feel like it and have a rest-pause, until you are ready for a new sprint, eg. run to the lamp post and then walk to the next lamp post or the one after that. Or run downhill and walk uphill … or run uphill and walk down. And include some stair-walking or -running if possible.
Running to Lose Weight Tip # 7 Run and listen
For motivation enjoy the sounds of nature (and the smells) – be present in the ‘now’ – enjoy mindfulness.
You can also listen to music. Find the music, that motivates you the most, preferably in a relatively fast tempo suitable for running.
Running to Lose WeightTip # 8 Run and keep running
For running to result in weight loss … you have to keep running. If you think it is hard initially, then reduce tempo and time … the best way to experience the joy of running is to take it easy, when you are in the beginning phase and stay on the track:
Make running a habit: Make an appointment with yourself, eg. run monday, wednesday and friday. Keep your appointment, let nothing get in the way.
Make it easy. Have your running shoes and clothes ready, so they are right in front of you, when you get out of bed or return home from work or school.
Running to Lose Weight Tip Tip # 9 Run with a buddy
Some people like running on their own, others prefer to have a running partner. Whatever your preference, it is normally a wise move to team up with a running partner – at your own fitness level – so you have some company; even if you are not talking, it is motivating.
Join a running club. Or have a dog, friend or member of the family run together with you.
Running to Lose Weight Tip # 10 Run with success
Running is a lot easier and a lot more fun, when you:
1) Warm up; first walk slowly, then faster and faster, for 5-15 minutes, before running.
2) Breathe deeply and regularly, laboured breathing and sweating is fine, but you should not be so out of breath, that running feels stressful or painful (the warm-up helps in preventing this).
3) Run ‘light-footed’ (as light-footed you can) and straight forward without bouncing up and down. ‘Fall’ slightly forward with a full-body lean, from heel to neck, land with all of the foot – not just the heel – and move the arms dynamically.
4) Cool down; do not stop abruptly after running; continue walking for 5-10 minutes, so the heart rate drops to the pre-run level. Stopping too abruptly may make you dizzy.
5) Stretch as needed: A few short stretches relaxes the muscles and mind and reduce tension in tight calf, hamstring and hip muscles.
Follow the link below: A unique ‘running for weight loss’ program designed specifically for going from ‘heavy’ to light, while experiencing the joy of running and steady weightloss.