10 Tips to Help You Lose Weight by Running
Lose weight by running, is that something you're looking to do? It took me three years before I figured out how to lose weight by running. The first year I maintained, but didn't lose anything.
The second year I worked out with my baby's dad and well, did you ever see those adds by some weight loss pills company where the husband and wife are trying to lose weight and the husband loses so much his pants fall off and the wife stays the same except her breasts go down.
Well after some trial, error and research into what those roadrunners that fly past me on all the races do, I finally started losing weight. So here are 10 secrets I learned when it comes to the art of running and womens weight loss.
1) Engage your abs to better lose weight by running.
When we run, especially those of us who have jogging strollers to push, it's so easy to slump forward and lose control of our form. Not only is this an easy way to get injured, but we are not fully taking advantage of all that hard work we are doing.
Instead if you think about your form when you are running, make sure you are keeping a good posture and actively thinking of holding your stomach in, you will notice that waist line will start thinning out!
So remember on your next run: better to slow down just enough that you have a good form and then work on speed then take off as fast as you can with your head and shoulders half way to the ground.
But keep one thing in mind: good form does not mean tight form. It helps me to think Head up, abs engaged and shoulders relaxed.
2) Burn more calories with hill training.
Running on a flat surface is certainly easier on the joints and lungs but if you really want to lose weight by running and get faster and stronger, add hill training to your runs one day a week.
Try picking a different hill each week to make it more interesting and to keep the workout more challenging. (If you perform the same workout over and over again, your body gets used to it and stops responding optimally.) Then run up and down that hill 5-8 times (depending on the size of the hill).
If you live in a flat area, do this workout on the treadmill. For example run on an incline of at least 3% for 2 minutes then flat for 2 minutes, repeat 5-8 times. From week to week, vary the incline and the amount of time you run on an incline.
Once a month it is a good idea to repeat a hill workout from the month before, just so you can see the progress you've made by doing this consistently.
Oh and remember what we talked about in the previous tip: always keep a good posture! That even applies when your running up that hill.
For more tips on hill training, click here.
3) Add fartleks to make the most of your workout and help lose weight by running.
Don't you just love that word! Fartlek is a form of interval training. It basically works like this. About 5-6 times during your run, speed your running up for a short period of time.
Unlike other speed training runs, there is no particular order or amount of time to this technique. You can pick a lamppost in the distance and race to the lamppost. You can plan your fartleks ahead of time or do them spontaneously throughout your run. Try this at least once a week.
I find this makes my runs more fun and I experience the runners' high much sooner in my run when I do this. And the weight loss benefits of adding fartleks or any kind of interval training to your workout is tremendous.
For more about fartleks and other interval training, click here.
4) Add one or two days a week of cross training.
In case I haven't already mentioned this, I am a big fan of breaking things up. First off, it just makes life much more interesting. And second, you don't want your body to get used to doing just one workout because it stops being as effectual.
Not to mention that running every day can be wearing on the feet and joints. That is why I love taking one or two days a week off from running and doing some other cardio workout. You can swim, bike, go to a belly dancing class, even dance around the house with your kids.
Here are some ideas for cross training workouts.
My favorite cross training exercise is the rebounder. I found when I added rebounding to my workout schedule, I started losing weight at a much faster speed than when I just ran every day.
To learn more about rebounding, click here.
5) Add strength training two days a week.
Don't worry, I'm not talking about going to the gym and building your muscles up to be big and bulky. That will only slow you down and will actually make you gain weight.
A healthy amount of strength training will make your legs stronger so that your knees don't wear out and it will help you build enough muscle that you will burn fat more quickly. And let's face it, we can run all day and we won't be as toned as if we add a little strength training to the mix.
But it's ok, don't be overwhelmed. My friend Kari who is a marathon runner and exercise physiologist will walk you through strength training for runners here.
Or you can just pick up a DVD that incorporates cross training, strength training and abs in a fun 20 minute workout like this Jillian Michaels DVD that I love to workout to.
6) Carb loading does not mean calorie loading.
I know some of us love to run because we can eat whatever we want. But that is only true to an extent. I learned that my first year of running after carbing up on pizza and beer.
Unfortunately, these mostly empty carbs do not help us lose weight by running. And while I still occasionally (and by occasionally I mean at least once a week...hey I know I'm never going to be Paula Radcliffe!) splurge on a pizza and beer after a long run, I try to stick to healthy carbs the rest of the time.
By healthy carbs I mean whole carbs. I always buy whole wheat bread (try some different brands, you just might find one you like). Other delicious whole carbs are sweet potatoes (not the same as yams!) brown rice and whole wheat pasta.
The reason for whole grains is that they are more nutritious so you are not just eating empty calories and they have more fiber in them.
And don't forget to eat your vegies!
In general, think food to help fuel your run. So unfortunately being a runner does not mean you can load up on icecream every night and still lose weight. Sorry to be such a party pooper.
7) Recover from your run with fish.
Fish is great for runners because it is a healthy protein that helps rebuild your muscle after your runs. It also has a healthy fatty oil that is good for your joints, something that we runners tend to beat up alot while hitting the pavement. And when it comes to weight loss, fish boosts your metabolism.
My favorite fish is salmon which I eat steamed, broiled, seared in a little coconut oil or sushi-style. I also love a good croaker or porgy which I steam with peppers, onions, garlic and Goya Sazon spice.
8) When you eat is as important as what you eat.
I'm of the school of thought that small, frequent meals are better than big meals far apart. I love grazing on small healthy (and maybe a few unhealthy) snacks throughout the day.
But here's a trick you may not have heard that will help you lose weight by running.
Right after your run, eat some some form of protein immediately after your run to help with recovery. Protein shake, low fast chocolate milk, fish or egg whites are some of my favorites.
Within one hour of your run, you should also eat a complex carb. Some of my favorites after my runs are lentils, whole wheat pasta, whole wheat bread or potatos. I also love a glass of tomato juice after my runs.
Eating right after your run is also important because your body most effectively turns the food you eat into glycogen in those first 30 minutes after your run. This helps decrease muscle soreness.
9) Drink plenty of water.
Drinking plenty of water is one of the simplest and most overlooked ways to help with weight loss. It is also very important for keeping you fueled for your runs. It's important to stay fueled all the time, not just during your runs.
Drinks like Gatorade help on long runs, but they are not always necessary and can just add to our calorie intake if not used appropriately. If you are drinking Gatorade or some other high electrolyte drink, try to go with a low calorie one and maybe even water it down.
10) Running more frequently will better help you lose weight by running than running long distances once or twice a week.
This is one big change I made to my running this year and I believe it has been one of the main contributors to my weight loss. In my first two years of running, I was busy with work, school, new mom, life, etc. and it was hard for me to get out there during the week and run. So I mostly just did a long run on the weekends.
My coaches warned me against being a "weekend runner" saying it was a good way to get injured, but what they didn't tell me was that if I was trying to lose weight by running, this was not helping.
In my third year of running, I decided if I had to choose between spending my Saturdays running or getting out there 3-5 days a week for a shorter run, I would choose frequency over distance and that made a big difference. So even if all you can do is two - four miles, get out there during the week.
I would say running for at least 30 minutes 2-3 days a week and then at least a five mile run one day a week is a good start (assuming you can easily run 4-5 miles already).
A Note About Running and Weight Loss
So those are my 10 tips for helping to lose weight by running. This is what I did in my third year of running and finally lost all that baby weight and then some. Just two things to make a note of.
1) To lose weight by running is not nearly as important as watching your waist size go down.
When you start working out more, you are going to start building more muscle. And muscle weighs more than fat. Muscle also burns fat.
So if you gain a few pounds but your waist seems to be getting smaller that is perfectly normal and probably a good thing.
It is way healthier to focus on decreasing your size rather than losing the pounds.
2) If you are training for a marathon, it may not be a good idea to try to lose weight by running. In fact many people actually gain a couple pounds when they are training for a marathon (usually from all the carb loading).
If you focus on whole grains and the other things discussed above, you can still lose weight by running while training for a marathon, it just might be a little overwhelming and exhausting.
Especially if you are training for your first marathon, you should focus on getting in your training, plenty of sleep and replenishing yourself with healthy foods and worry about things like how to lose weight by running when your body isn't working so hard.
More than likely by focusing on those things, if you are over weight, your will automatically lose weight by running and if you are under weight your body will automatically gain some pounds.
Remember, always enjoy yourself first and foremost because if you put too much pressure on yourself to lose weight by running, the results might not last.
So have fun and the rest will come. Good luck and HAPPY RUNNING!!!