A majority of people take up the activity of running to not only get fit, but to lose weight. After all, running burns calories faster than any other sport. So after a few weeks of running and the scales aren’t changing…you may ask yourself, “What am I doing wrong??” Here are a few things to consider:
Running Too Slow- Most distance runners smartly follow a training plan that has them running at “easy paced” or L.S.D. (Long Slow Distances) all the time. These are great for building up endurance, and with minimum stress on the body; however, what it doesn’t do is burn a lot of calories. If your main reason for running is to lose weight you will need to add a few faster paced runs in to your weekly routine.
The best way to gauge whether or not a run is fast enough is by using the talk-test. If you can talk while running…you aren’t running fast enough. Adding even 5 to 10 minutes of fast running into each workout can boost your calorie burn. I advise that you seek help on how to add speed days to your training, as to avoid any sort of injury. Best to progressively build up your faster runs and train smart.
Overtraining- Another common tendency among runners is to run a lot…sometimes everyday! If weight loss is your goal, you may be inclined take this even further. What you may be setting yourself up for is an injury, if you get injured you can’t run at all. Not only are you not burning any calories while you’re injured, you’re probably feeling frustrated and depressed about it, which can lead to emotional eating and drinking.
It’s much safer to run slower and shorter and to give yourself a day or rest in between. Neither weight loss nor improvements in running performance will happen overnight, be patient.
Doing the Same Run…Always- Any time we try a new activity, our bodies have to work a little harder to get it done. However, once we’ve built up the muscle memory, we actually become more efficient and use less energy. The best way to overcome this is to change your running routine. Add tempos runs, Intervals, Hills and give your VO2Max a little push. I advised 2 days of speed work per week. You can also spice up your runs and head out to the trails, not only great for leg and hip strength, but it’s always fun to explore somewhere new.
Skipping Strength Training- A lot of runners tend to only “run”; they don’t understand the importance of strength training. While running is a great way to burn calories, it is not a great way to build lean muscles. For that, you will need to do strength training at least once a week. You can save time by performing compound, multi-joint exercises, which work multiple muscle groups at one time. Some examples include: Squats, Pull-ups, Lunges, Bench Presses and Push-ups.
Eating Too Much- This is one of the biggest culprits! All of those other things I’ve talked about today—the pace you run at, avoiding injury, mixing up your training runs, strength training—they just don’t matter if you overeat.
Humans tend to be reward-driven creatures. For example, it takes 30 minutes for an average runner to burn 300 calories, 100 calories for every 10 minutes, running at an easy-medium paced run. It takes that same runner just 30 seconds to consume 300 calories!! The trouble is, most of us either don’t bother to pay attention to the calories in/calories out equation, or we do it poorly. The best way to keep track of what you are consuming is by keeping a food log for a few weeks. See exactly how quickly and easily the calories you eat and drink add up, and undo your hard work out on the roads, trails or treadmill.
So keep running, mix up your workouts, lift weights, mind your diet, and learn to curve those reward-seeking thoughts. You’ll be much lighter if you do!