Posts Tagged ‘weight loss’

Trails with a flat, unpaved surface are ideal for long runs because of the cushioning for your legs.

Long runs aren’t just for marathoners — novice runners can benefit from an extended, slow-paced run as well. A weekly long run can help you build your endurance and running efficiency, improving your fitness level while burning lots of calories. After an hour of slow running, your body will tap into fat burning mode instead of burning carbs. Long runs can therefore be an asset in your weight loss program as well as a tool to help you run faster in races of all distances by improving your stamina.

Here are a few quick tips on how to incorporate the long run into your training program:

  • Do a long run once a week, on a day after an easy workout or rest day.
  • Take a rest day or do an easy run the day after your long run so your body can recuperate.
  • Gradually add miles to your long run. Start with the longest distance you’ve run in the past two weeks and add one mile a week to your long run. Every third week, keep your long run distance the same as the week before, then continue increasing the mileage the following week.
  • Stay hydrated. Drink water every few miles, or try sports drinks for distances over 10 miles. Runners’ tolerance for sports drinks varies, so test them out on your long runs before deciding to drink them during a race. Water is always a healthy fluid option that is less likely to cause stomach upset.
  • Eat something within 30 minutes of finishing your long run. Eating will help replenish depleted glycogen so your muscles can recover more quickly. Try a piece of fruit for a quick sugar surge.
  • During runs of 10 miles or longer, try sports gels, bars or drinks to give your body an energy boost. Experiment with different flavors and consistencies to determine what works best for your stomach and energy level.
  • Eat a large meal within a few hours after your long run. You will need to resupply lost nutrients in your body as well as satisfy what is probably a huge appetite after running. Just remember to keep your choices healthy, especially if your goal is weight loss. A long run is not a free pass to pig out on fried foods, junk food and candy, or you’ll cancel out some of the benefits of your run.

Dennis the zombie slayer has been having a successful week of training and is well on his way to outrunning any wayward zombies. After our initial meeting, I decided on a running plan for him that he can do at the track located right up the street from his house. The track offers a cushioned surface that will be easier on his knee than cement or black top, and Dennis likes being able to walk there and back. He is also stretching before and after working out to help increase his flexibility and prevent injuries or pain, especially in his knee.

Dennis has been following his plan with dedication plus doing extra every day to meet his goal of burning 400 calories each workout. Here is his basic training plan:

  • Walk two laps to warm up
  • Run one lap at 9-minute to 10-minute mile pace
  • Walk two laps
  • Run one lap at 9-minute to 10-minute mile pace
  • Walk two laps
  • Run one lap at 9-minute to 10-minute mile pace
  • Walk two laps
  • Run one lap at 9-minute to 10-minute mile pace
  • Walk two laps
Total distance: 3.5 miles
I told Dennis to aim for 10-minute mile pace and he has been staying on track with running speeds ranging from 9-minute mile pace to 10-minute mile pace. Today his average running pace was 9:20-minute miles and he increased his running speed by the end of the workout, a good sign that he has energy left. He added some extra walking at the end of today’s workout as well as a stride — or burst of speed for a short distance — for the last 200 meters. He then walked home to stretch, satisfied with burning more than 400 calories during the one hour and 6-minute workout.
Dennis has been continuing to use his Cardio Trainer app on his Android phone to calculate his calories burned, distance and time. He also got new running shoes — Asics Numbus 12 — from the mall, which were bothering him in the heels by the end of the workout, and gave him blisters. The shoes are for neutral to high-arched feet so the store advised him to get the wrong shoes because Dennis has low arches and needs more arch support and motion control features. I advised returning them or exchanging them for a better fit.

Dennis near the St. Charles High School track after our first workout.

“I want to be able to run in case of a zombie attack,” Dennis says, of his training goals. Besides fending off zombies, Dennis wants to lose weight before his 35th birthday on August 2. “I feel like if I’m out of shape when I turn 35, I’ll be that way for life,” he says.

Dennis’ goal is to lose 30 lbs. He currently works out lifting weights a couple of times a week as well as uses the elliptical machine at the gym regularly. Dennis tore his ACL in his knee a few years ago, and has gained weight since then, he says. He’s never been much of a runner but is willing to give it a try to get in shape. His doctor has approved running as a form of exercise for him, and I am monitoring to make sure he doesn’t experience any knee pain from our training.

Our first training session helped us both glean background information and allowed me to come up with a training program that would work well for Dennis. We did a lot of stretching and Dennis wore his knee brace, and we ran on a soft surface — a track and then grass — to ease pressure on his knee. I recommended he run on a track or dirt trail to minimize the pressure on his legs, as well as get new shoes (he says his are old and worn) with motion control features and extra arch support because Dennis says he has low arches.

Dennis training plan for his first week of workouts (with five workouts per week) is:

  • Two laps walking on the track (or .5 miles on the treadmill)
  • One lap running on the track (or .25 miles on treadmill)
  • Two laps walking
  • One lap running
  • Two laps walking
  • One lap running
  • Two laps walking
  • One lap running
  • Two laps walking to cool down
Total distance: 3.5 miles
Total running distance: 1 mile
Notes: Dennis is naturally athletic and tends to run at a fast pace and take on more than he can handle at times. I am trying to help him build endurance and maintain a steady pace by aiming for 10-minute mile pace during the running segments. So far Dennis is doing well and is looking into phone apps (considering the CardioTrainer app for Android phones, which Yessi uses) to help measure his pace and time while running.

Stop thinking about needing to run and just go. Save some mental effort.

Though it sounds strange, running is actually an ideal sport for slackers. Why? Because running burns more calories than any other cardio activity so you don’t have to do it for as long as other exercises.

Let’s say you want to burn enough calories to lose 10 lbs. It takes about 3,500 calories to equal one pound, so you’ll need to burn 35,000 calories to lose 10 lbs. A 155-lb. person burns about 350 calories by running for 30 minutes at a 10-minute mile pace. The same person would burn about 150 calories walking at a speed of 3 miles per hour for 30 minutes or 300 calories during half an hour of cycling at a speed of 11 miles per hour. So, it would take this person about 100 runs, 233 walks and 117 bike rides to lose 10 lbs. If you’re slacker, the path of least resistance is running because you don’t have to do it as much.

As any slacker worth his salt knows, the less you have to work, the better. So if you want to lose weight, here’s how to make running work for you, so you can spend the vast majority of your time doing other, more fun things…or better yet, nothing at all.

  • Run regularly. To burn calories, you need to exercise regularly. There are no short cuts to losing weight, but at least choosing the exercise that burns the most calories can help you keep your workouts short and sweet.
  • Run faster. The higher your running intensity, the more calories you will burn. Try doing intervals, fartleks or tempo runs to speed up your running pace and accelerate your weight loss plan.
  • Stop pigging out. Just because you’re exercising more (or, who are we kidding, at all) now doesn’t mean you can pig out and cancel out all your hard work. You would have to exercise more to burn junk food, fast food and other calorie-packed foods with no nutrients, so save yourself the trouble and eat healthy stuff that is included in an actual food group. 
  • Run farther. Increasing your run times will help you burn more calories to lose weight faster. Add a few minutes to your runs each week and you won’t even notice the extra work.
  • Take a break. As all slackers know, doing nothing can be therapeutic. So follow the do-nothing lead and take at least one day off from running a week so you don’t get burned out or injured from overtraining. Just remember to get crackin’ again when your workout week begins.

Yessi's self-portrait after our trail run today.

Yessi and I did some trail running today to give our legs a break from hard trails and to enjoy a change of scenery. We started with 5 minutes of walking to warm up (it was chilly for May, in the 50s) then ran for 10 minutes before walking another 5 and then running for 5. We had not run for more than a 5-minute stretch yet but Yessi did great on the 10-minute run. We kept a steady pace and she did not have trouble completing the run. Our pace times were slower than usual, which is normal for trail running because of all the twists and turns and small obstacles.

Here is our fourth day’s workout:

  • 5-minute walk to warm up
  • 10 minutes of trail running at an average pace of 13-minute miles
  • 5-minute recovery walk
  • 5 minutes of trail running at12:05 pace
  • 5-minute walk to cool down
Total time working out: 30 minutes
Total running time: 15 minutes
Total Distance: 2.05 miles
Trail: Creve Coeur Park bike trails
Conditions: Sunny, 53 degrees
Yessi: Is doing so well! I have no doubt she will be ready for next week when I add more minutes to the running segments. We also have picked out a 5K race to train for, the I Love Forest Park 5K run on June 26.

Yessi and I ran at a high school track today and she completed the same course as the first day with an even faster average mile time. We did a 30-minute workout and covered about 2.5 miles.

Yessi ready to run.

Here is our third day’s workout:

  • 5-minute walk to warm up
  • 5 minutes of running at an average pace of 9:36-min miles
  • 5-minute recovery walk
  • 5 minutes of running at 9:35 pace
  • 5-minute recovery walk
  • 5 minutes of running at 10:15 pace
  • 5-minute recovery walk
Total time working out: 30 minutes
Total running time: 15 minutes
Total distance: 2.5 miles
Trail: Parkway Central track
Conditions: Sunny, 60 degrees, slight wind
Yessi: Keeps getting faster. She said she felt out of breath by the end of the last run segment but she kept up a pretty consistent pace.
She said her abs are sore from the running and she was surprised she’s been getting an ab workout running. I’m really proud of her for running so hard and continuing to push herself. I don’t want her to exhaust herself and try to go too fast though, so tomorrow we will do a relaxed pace trail run. Yessi got some shoe inserts from Champs Sports and she said her ankles have beet feeling better (they started to hurt after Day 1).

My friend and fellow pole dance instructor, Yessi, is my first formal running coachee. Yessi is strong from pole dancing, pilates and strengthening workouts but needs more cardio in her routine, she says, in order to lose weight in her stomach and get flat abs. Yessi says she has never been a fan of running.

Starting out, Yessi said she can run about a mile and then is ready to die. I started her on a program of alternating running and walking to build up her endurance and help her body get accustomed to running. We will be doing at least 30 minutes of the program five days a week, with one day of total rest and a day of cross training with pole dancing. Yessi’s goal is to lose weight in her stomach and get flat abs, and we will be doing core strengthening exercises as well as running to burn calories and build lean muscle mass.

Here is our first day’s workout:

  • 5-minute walk to warm up
  • 5-minutes of running at an average pace of 12:15-min miles
  • 5-minute recovery walk
  • 5-minutes of running at 11:45 pace
  • 5-minute recovery walk
  • 5-minutes of running at 10:35 pace
  • 5-minute recovery walk
  • 5-minutes of running at 10:10 pace
  • Cooldown walk
Total time working out: 42 minutes
Total running time: 20 minutes
Trail: Creve Coeur Lake loop
Conditions: Sunny, 60 degrees, slight wind
Yessi: Said she felt winded at a few points but she did well by increasing her pace naturally once she was fully warmed up. She voluntarily did an extra 5-minutes running to get done with the trail loop faster. Her negative splits and enthusiasm are indicators of many great workouts to come.

People often think crunches are the key to flat abs, but cardio exercise is actually the most important component of a workout plan to get rid of your gut. Cardio burns calories and helps you lose weight, including in your stomach. Without cardio, no matter how many crunches you do or how strong your ab muscles are, they will still be covered by extra weight, hiding your toned torso. You can literally run your way to flat abs by following a running-based fitness routine that burns calories and targets your torso. Here’s how to get killer abs:

  • Run five to six days a week. If you are just starting out, exercise for 30-minute sessions with alternating walking and running and gradually build up to running for the entire 30 minutes. See our Beginning Runners section for more training tips for new runners.
  • Step up the intensity of your training plan. If you are already a runner and have extra weight clinging to your belly or sides, you will need to add some oomph to your workouts to reach higher levels of fitness.  Increase your intensity by running faster or adding hills to your workouts. Adding intensity to your workouts burns more calories and fat and will rev up your metabolism so you don’t get stuck in a workout rut. Try doing a speed workout at least once a week and doing a hill workout once a week.
  • Do a long run once a week. Long runs are especially powerful fat busters because your body burns mainly carbs for the first hour of a run and then begins burning fat reserves. Train your body for long runs by adding one mile a week to your long run and every fourth week give yourself a break by staying at the same distance. Before you know it, you will be able to run for more than an hour and burn excess fat.
  • Incorporate circuit training into your workout plan. Do circuits once a week. Circuits call for high-intensity running alternating with strength training exercises. Circuits not only burn extra calories and fat but also help you build lean muscle mass and tone your abs. For circuits, run fast – at about 85 percent effort level – for three minutes and alternate your running with doing  two minutes of the following exercises: crunches, planks, bridge exercises, side planks and pushups. Do a 10-minute jog to warm up and cool down after your workout.
  • Banish unhealthy foods from your diet. Alcohol — especially beer, fried foods, processed snack foods and desserts are all high in calories and low in nutrients, and can cancel out all your hard work by packing on extra pounds to your gut. Do yourself a favor and eat nutrient-dense foods from all of the foods groups, and reach for healthy snacks like fruit, nuts, yogurt, smoothies and popcorn when you feel the urge to munch on something.

If you want to lose weight and keep it off, forget the latest diet craze or the 10-minute miracle workout – running is your key to unlock weight loss success. Running burns more calories than any other cardio activity, making it one of the best-kept secrets to lose weight fast and healthily.

Weight Loss 101

The formula for weight loss is burning more calories than you consume. One pound of fat is equal to about  3,500 calories, so if you burn an extra 500 calories a day, you will lose one pound in a week. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend losing one to two pounds per week for a healthy, sustainable rate of weight loss. If you lose a lot of weight quickly, you’ll be more likely to gain it back.

You can run your way to weight loss.

Running for Beginners

Beginning runners can get started with a few quick tips for beginners. To lose weight, work up to running for 150 minutes a week total, which is equivalent to five 30-minute running sessions a week. If you are just starting out, do workouts that alternate running and walking. You may start out walking for five minutes, jogging for three minutes, walking for five, etc., until you reach 30 minutes of exercise. Add a minute of running to each segment of your workout at least every week until you reach 30 minutes of continuous running.

Intensity and Duration

If you want faster weight loss results or if you have hit a plateau, increasing the intensity or duration of your runs can help you burn more calories and fat. Try doing a speed workout or long run to boost your calorie-burning power.


See your doctor before beginning a running program to lose weight. Before getting started, make sure you pick out the right shoes to decrease your chances of injury and help you run comfortably.


Running can help you lose weight and stay fit for a number of reasons. Running not only helps you burn calories but also boosts your metabolism, which helps you burn more calories even while resting. Following a regular running program also increases your lean muscle mass, which makes your body more efficient at burning calories.

Besides all the weight loss and health benefits of running, it is absolutely free and you can do it almost anywhere. So what are you waiting for – grab your sneakers and hit the ground running toward weight loss success.

If you’d like to join the ranks of the millions of runners enjoying the health and weight loss benefits of running but don’t know how to begin, don’t worry- it’s really not as hard as you think. Whether you want to run to lose weight, get fit for another sport or tone up, you can reap the rewards of running with some quick tips for beginners.

Here’s how to get going:

  • Check with your doctor to make sure you have no health conditions that could impede your running.
  •  Buy a pair of comfortable running shoes that fit your foot type (see “How to Find the Best Running Shoes”).
  • Start slow. If your body is not used to running, you can ease into a running program by alternating walking and jogging. Try walking for five minutes and jogging for two minutes, for instance, for a total of 30 minutes of working out. Gradually increase your jogging time until you can run the whole 30 minutes (this may take up to a few months, depending on your fitness level).
  •  Run with a partner. Having someone to run with makes workouts more fun and also helps keep you motivated, as it’s harder to miss runs when someone holds you accountable.
  • Take a break. Give yourself at least one day of rest a week to allow your body and mind time to recover from the workout routine. You can do a cross training activity (such as “Pole Dancing for Runners”) for a light workout, or give yourself free reign to do nothing.
  • Record your progress. Tracking how far and often you run can help you see how much progress you are making in your workouts. You can also record your times if it helps you stay motivated.
  • Pat yourself on the back. When you reach a goal or accomplish a running feat, give yourself credit. Reward yourself with new running clothes, some new music or a healthy treat.

Once you get into the swing of running and get bit by the running bug, you’ll never look back. Welcome to the world of running! May many happy and healthy runs await you.

Related post: Track Yessi’s progress as a beginning runner in Training Tales.