April 6

Running for Weight Loss: There’s No Secret it Just Works

Running uses loads of calories and is an effective choice for weight loss.

When starting out, a running program can be daunting. As you shuffle along gasping you are easily intimidated by the sleek runners who glide along making it look effortless.  


So my advice start slow! I know When starting out, there is no shame in kicking off with walking. Then moving on to walking and jogging and then when you're up to it, running.

It's possible for almost everyone. With the swift benefit of enhancing your overall well-being.

Also, it is simple to measure progress and the objective, measurable progress is motivating. 

But running has its downsides. It's tough, and when you start out, it may be uncomfortable and painful. If so, you will suffer and you may be tempted abandon the idea. 

As you get older, you more easily become the victim of injuries. They often take a long time to heal, or even worse, become chronic.

Be assured that over time it will become less demanding and more enjoyable. At times exhilarating!

Understand that running is not a fast track approach to losing weight. Weight is not going to drop off overnight. You won't lose 5 kilos in a week!

But it can become an integral part of a holistic, healthy lifestyle.

How to lose weight by running

If you start with realistic expectations, you won't become one of the many quick quitters. 

One of the many who start with lofty goals and, after a few weeks, are back on the couch. Or one of the others who try to do too much, too quickly, get injured and give up.

When starting, it is essential to be sensible about your current level of fitness and general health. In many cases, it's advisable to start walking and then, over time, including increasing periods of jogging into these walking sessions.

A good start is to do 30 minutes every second day.

The golden rule is: don't increase either speed or distance by more than 10% per week. When ignoring this rule, even experienced athletes become susceptible to injuries.

Running is not easy when you start. But it does get easier after building a "road hardened" base in your legs. Many years ago, an experienced runner told me that this "hardening" would take two years. With arrogance I pooh-poohed his idea. That was for others, not for me. But I learned the hard way that I was wrong. For two years I suffered a variety of stress injuries including illiotibial band (ITB) syndrome and then they were gone!

My running story: I started running in August 1975 with the intention of running the Comrades Marathon in the May of 1976.

Comrades Marathon is a 90km (56 mile) race in South Africa run between the cities of Durban and Pietermaritzburg. It is run in alternate directions in alternate years: 'up' from Durban to  Pietermaritzburg and 'down' from Pietermaritzburg to Durban. 

To qualify I had to run a standard marathon in, if I recall correctly, about four and a half hours. This I planned to do in the January so I made the classical mistake of too much too soon. And suffered the consequences. 

The months leading up to the run at the end of May were demanding but I finished my first 'up' run in a long and exhausting nine hours and thirty five minutes.

This was my start to my running life. And I'm still at it 46 years later.

Running is the most liberating and enjoyable forms of exercise. It can be done anywhere, at any time, and all that's required is a pair of running shoes.

Starting out running for weight loss.

When deciding to start running for weight loss, you need to make a plan. Finding answers to the questions like: "What do I want to achieve?" "Where am I now?" and "How will I achieve it?"

I also recommend;

  • Keeping a record of your runs and other exercises,
  • Buying one of the many fitness tracking wearables available on the market,
  • Subscribing to Endomondo, Strava, Runtastic or any of the other available fitness apps.

Exercise partner

It's great motivation having a friend as an exercise partner.

Someone who ensures that you don't miss sessions. Or at least makes you feel guilty when you do! As cycles of motivation are often different – when you want to miss a session, they don't, and when they want to miss a session, you don't. So it works both ways.

Set a goal

Another excellent motivation is to set an objective or goal like completing a certain distance or of taking part in a race in the future. If you think your resolve might dissolve, then tell everybody that you're going to do it.

Then make an additional commitment by taking a few wagers!

Running shoes

Running shoes come in a wide range of designs with an ever more broad range of specifications and also some outrageous prices.

Whether you're running for fun or training for a marathon, the appropriate running shoes are important as they provide the foundation for your entire body. The right shoes can help prevent injuries and make it far more enjoyable when logging the miles. The initial pair of shoes should fit comfortably from the start and ideally complement your running style.

Here are four decision points to help you find a shoe that fits and feels good:

  1. Consider where you're planning to run. On the road, or trails and gravel paths? Your choices are road-running, trail-running or cross-training shoes.
  2. Decide if you want more or less cushioning underfoot. Cushioning—the thickness of material under the heel and midsole and the firmness of the foam—and heel drop are two factors to consider in a running shoe.
  3. Know whether you need a specific type of support for your gait. Most runners will choose a neutral shoe, but if your foot tends to roll too far outside or inside, other specific shoes will help you.
  4. Make sure the shoe is comfortable. Comfort is most important, especially when starting out. The shoes should fit well from the start without a breaking-in period. It is normal to buy a shoe one size bigger than your normal shoe size as your feet swell when they heat up. 

Running barefoot 

Today even shoes may be more than you need if you decide to follow the 'minimalistic running' movement. The group that claims running barefoot is best. Barefoot running has a dedicated group of supporters who believe that inappropriate shoes and running styles cause many running injuries.

So they believe in going "primal".

If you live in a place where you can do this, then try it. It needs some getting used to and toughening up but makes one feel like a barefoot kid again.


Running, or jogging, uses many muscles, particularly those in the legs, feet, and back. It also tightens specific muscles making them prone to injury. 

Stretching both before and after a run will ensure muscles stay flexible and supple. Done with dynamic stretching before a run and static stretching routine after a run.

Not stretching before and after running will cause muscles and tendons to become tight and lose flexibility. This is not so critical if you're young but becomes more and more vital with age. Ignoring stretching can result in unwanted torn muscles and ligaments keeping runners from achieving their fitness and weight loss goals.

Static stretching should be done after every run while the muscles are still warm and each stretch held for 30-60 seconds. To get added benefit it is essential to focus on breathing in and out throughout the time.

Stretches should not cause pain, and one should stop immediately if they find any position painful. In most cases, it is possible to modify a movement or posture to tailor it to the individual's level of flexibility.

Burning calories running for weight loss

So how many calories will running burn? As a rough estimate (an accurate calculation depends on factors like weight, speed and fitness), running burns about 600 calories an hour.

It requires about 3 500 calories to burn a pound of fat. So you can easily calculate that you will have to run for about 6 hours to lose a pound of fat.

If you're interested, you can get more details here of calories you'll burn for various activities.

Jogging or running will be just one element of your steady lifestyle changing weight loss plan.

Running to lose weight can be fun, social and enjoyable. It is something the whole family can do and always remember we were 'born to run'.


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