Becoming Fit And Slim – Running For Weight Loss – Part 3

A Guide On How To Run And Lose Weight

In Part 1, a “Getting Started” phase for the process of running to lose weight and get fit and slim, was outlined. Some tips on how to comfortably adjust to and manage such a fit and slim undertaking were provided.

· don’t panic
· breakneck speed not required
· slow walking at first
· combine walking with running
· run for longer intervals
· increase running intensity (speed)
· begin the process of running to lose weight.

In Part 2, the importance of proper dieting to support running exercise activities to lose weight and become fit and slim was discussed with reference to:

· eating healthy both in quality and quantity of foods.
· some special eating tips and special eating practices were recommended.
· the need to set weight loss targets and to develop a consequential plan.

Yes – combine healthy dieting with your fitness and health running routines, and you will be well on your way to achieving significant weight loss, becoming fit and slim and attain true fitness and health.

“Warm up” before you start your running and “cool down” at the end of your run.

You have probably frequently witnessed the very “elaborate” stretching exercises that some runners do just prior Stretching Exercises
to their setting off on their runs! It might look like an “exhibition” or “showy” pantomime (and sometimes it is!), but it is for a good cause!

In running for weight loss and in general for your fitness and health, stretching exercises are very critical in preventing running injuries. If you are not “warmed up” just before a run, particularly in cold climates, your muscles will be “stiff” and “tight”. If in this “cold” state you therefore set out first thing on a “hard” run, you are likely to end up with running injuries such as a strain or a pulled muscle, particularly in the calves.

You therefore need to prepare your muscles beforehand for this exceptional “stress” by increasing their flexibility. This is called “limbering up” and you achieve this by doing some warm-up “stretching” exercises. Groom your muscles for your planned fitness and health (non-competitive!) run, by jogging easily and slowly for about 10 minutes before starting on the “hard’ run. In cold climates, or if you feel “stiff”, walk first (about 10 minutes) before starting to jog.

Carry out stretching exercises also at the end of your run! Your calf muscles or your lower leg muscles especially, will be “conditioned” and greatly benefit greatly from a good stretch after running. Finish a “hard” run with a “cooling down” routine of at least a 10 minutes jog.

Do some strength training and cross training

Go to the gym and “pump” some light weights, pull springs, use treadmills, etc – there is a great deal of special equipment available for this purpose. You might also want to engage in some moderate hill running. Doing this Strength Training
kind of training (mixing up your usual straight running routines with other exercise forms), will not only burn calories at a higher rate but will also lead to all round physical development and the building of lean, strong and solid muscles. A great benefit from this also is that the risk of the usual running injuries is significantly reduced.

Challenge yourself with your running routines

Do some “speed” work in your running routine and include interval training. This means running at speed for short time intervals. This methodology burns up a lot of calories quickly and can significantly contribute to your weight loss and becoming fit and slim achievement. It also increases your muscle mass, improves your metabolism and causes more calories to be burned throughout the day.

Be regular and consistent with your running

Consistency is critical if you are to lose weight by running, and hence the strong emphasis which is placed on a Running In The Park

proper and personal training schedule. Running is not an instant magic potion for losing those unhealthy and unsightly avoirdupois. These desired and beneficial outcomes take time, effort and dedicated training to materialize and achieved.

The experts opine for example, that while as a beginner you can run a mile in 10 minutes, you cannot rest there on your laurels as this apparently “significant accomplishment”, contributes only minimally to cardiovascular health and the sustainable achievement of weight loss. Your running routine needs to be extended to 30 or 40 minutes intervals over an extended period of time in order for you to achieve significant and sustainable results and benefits.

Some prefer to spend 5 days per week, or even 6 with their running routines. Still others will argue that running every other day is best. Some suggest that running be alternated with jogging, fast walking, or similar low impact exercises for anywhere from 4 to 6 days per week. Still others run even twice per day for a varying number of days (3-4) per week. All this would suggest that there is no “golden rule” nor “one size fits all” running regimen.

You do not want to overdo it, but at the same time, you will not lose weight if you only run intermittently or infrequently. You should not allow too many days to pass without engaging in some routine running activity and neither should you allow too few days to pass between running activities, as getting enough rest is essential to avoid burnout and/or the risk of injury.

You therefore have to find that balance of exercise, frequency and rest which facilitates this process and allows you to achieve your goals. It might be 3 days running per week, or it might be 6 days. You have to experiment to find out what is best for you, what maximizes your efforts and what takes you most readily towards your weight loss and slim and fit goals.

However as a rough guide, almost everyday activity with a relatively “light” routine (with the proper rest!) in the very early stages, is preferable, but if this is not possible, shoot for 4– 5 days each week. As your routine becomes more “intense” and your fitness level and stamina rise, you might reduce this to 3 – 4 times per week.

On days which you had planned for your running routines but for unexpected reasons you find yourself unable to do your full routine, do not just do nothing, but settle for a “partial” routine. At the worst, grab yourself a skipping rope and do a fifteen minutes skipping stint.

Skipping is actually one of the best exercises for building up stamina, strengthening and toning muscles, etc, Skipping

and should be given a higher “pride of place” among exercise routines than it now enjoys, and I will be writing more on this later. But for now, utilize to “fill those blanks” and not feel too guilty about missing out on running!

Exercise patience and self control

Losing weight (and especially so if you are very much overweight!), will not come easily no matter what method you undertake to bring this about, and running as an exercise with this as an objective, is no exception. Dramatic weight loss occurring almost overnight or even quickly is only wishful thinking and if you do notice this happening, you had best consult your physician as it is not happening because of your exercise routines but most likely because of far more pernicious reasons!

The usual and very noticeable “before and after” weight loss states which are often depicted in images, will not  Before and After
be achieved in short order. So do not try to hurry the process. Losing weight too quickly is unhealthy and can have serious consequences for your good health. Building good eating and exercise habits while you are losing weight will make it easier to keep it off and will keep you healthy

“That is probably one of the biggest problems that people have when starting any exercise,” says Kevin Davis, a fitness specialist and personal trainer at Loyola University’s Center for Health and Fitness in Maywood. “They don’t see results right away, and so they quit.” Word of truth and wisdom!

Keep your expectations moderate.

Set yourself realistic weight loss targets because if you try to hurry the process, not only will you not achieve your goal and become discouraged, but you can injure yourself in the process. For a “short term” weight loss goal, one half to one pound a week might be realistic, while for a” long term” goal (3 months, say), a weight loss of 6 to 8 pounds is achievable. Do not push it too much or your health will suffer and you will have a setback!

Maintain Daily Records

As you go along, keep a diary or journal. Write down your physical goals and degree of achievement as well as Keeping A Diary
what you eat and drink. In the first instance you will be able to track your levels of weight loss, while in the second instance it will give you a chance to see the effects of particular foods and to make key adjustments in your diet regime if this is necessary.

Plan motivation strategies

Running to lose weight can become boring and monotonous and at times you will need to have strong motivation to keep your running exercise routines going. Motivation here therefore needs its own planning. Just as when as a runner, you set up your future schedule and plan your future runs for losing weight, in like manner, you have to plan how you are to maintain your motivation to run! Don’t wait till your motivation runs out or so will your running!

When you are planning your running routines, at the same time include plans and strategies on how to deal with those times of “low” motivation levels as these times, even under the best of circumstances, will come. There are motivational mechanisms such as planning running routines, keeping training logs, running with friends or organized groups, making your weight loss goals realistic so you do achieve them, developing a “self reward” system for when you achieve your targets, posting running benefits material around your home, linking up with a beginner, taking “strategic” ‘time offs”, diversifying your training routines and altering your route, etc., etc.

Many tips on motivation strategies which runners can use to keep their running motivational levels high, have been provided elsewhere on this site and these can be used to inform remedial measures for motivation which can be taken by runners.

Get sufficient rest

This is one element of the “running exercise for fitness and health” equation the importance of which is very often overlooked and yet it is every bit as important as any other element of the process! Do not think of rest periods as wasting time! These are essential in your pursuit of weight loss and becoming fit and slim by running. To get this fact accepted at the level of importance it deserves, the matter is elaborated on here.

Rest Period
Your muscle fibers get broken down when you run and are restored only when you rest. Your body then gets the chance (rest) to build more muscle and your lungs are given the chance (rest), to build up endurance. By giving them rest, they repair and build up, replacing your “fat” with toned muscle.

Without sufficient rest the entire process will fail and rather than becoming fit and slim and healthy and strong, you will degrade your body and decrease your strength! As odd as it might seem, it is during the rest periods that you actually get the benefits of running!

Taking a day or two of rest, will allow the muscles and joints to repair themselves for the next run (and a higher level of fitness!) becoming more agile and gaining strength in the process Without the proper amount of rest therefore, this ”repair” and “buildup” process is inhibited.

There is also another benefit to resting since in addition, rest acts as an injury prevention mechanism. When you first begin to run, your body suffers great trauma. It is not prepared for the ordeal to which it is being put (it probably has been used to a soft and cozy life – or one of neglect!), or the harsh treatment which it is getting in the process of exercise. It is hard on your muscles and joints. As these can only take so many traumas, you must give them time to recover from each run.

The several injuries to which runners are prone, have been discussed extensively elsewhere. It therefore is a matter of logic, that the less one runs, the less the probability of incurring these injuries – but of course this logic cannot be taken to its extreme or one would never run!

Some Weight Loss Statistics for your Personal Comfort and Satisfaction

The common dictum is that to shed belly fat, lose those over weight pounds and become fit and slim, your body will need “to burn off” something of the order of 3,500 calories in order to lose a pound of body fat. Accumulated collective research and experience, and in particular from research at the National Control Weight Loss Registry, suggest that to consistently lose weight in a healthy manner, requires as a rough guide, that you burn through exercise, something of the order of 2,800 calories each week. Weight loss can amount to about 5 pounds per month for a 180 lb person who runs for about 5 miles a day.

According to Elizabeth McLeod (1), “how fast a person runs has little effect on the number of calories he or she will burn. The most important factor is weight. For example, a 220-pound person running an eight-minute mile burns 150 calories, while a 120-pound person running at the same pace burns only 82……

Most runners lose weight effortlessly at first, but eventually, their weight stops declining and reaches a plateau. In order to continue to lose weight, some serious runners will intensify their workouts, as extra weight will only slow them down. Otherwise, recreational runners can maintain their lower body weight by continuing to run consistently”.

Which all means that weight loss will be rapid at first but the process will slow, and eventually you will begin to lose less weight for the same amount of effort! You will not continue to lose weight indefinitely, but will “plateau out” at some level which, through exercise, proper diet and sufficient rest, you can continue to maintain for health and fitness purposes.

Research has shown that running over longer distance at slower rates will burn off fat more quickly and effectively than if you ran shorter distances at more rapid rates. Therefore for best results in your efforts to shed that belly fat, it is suggested that your running be done at a slow measured pace rather than as a hurried activity at a fast and furious pace. For example, take slower runs about 5 times per week for about 30 minutes each run rather than engage in fast paced and arduous running routines.

The benefits of running to lose weight and gain high levels of fitness and health, are like those energizer batteries – they keep going and going! You keep burning fat long after you have actually finished your running workout and you are either slaving at your desk at work or comfortably relaxing at home watching your favorite TV show! After you have finished your running workout, your metabolism continues to be elevated which entails the burning of more calories!

However, like almost everything we consider to be desirable because of their being “good” for us, there is a “downside” here which relates to the future. Research indicates that your recovery from the stress of your running gets faster as your fitness level rises. The result of this is that your elevated post-metabolic rate gets back sooner to “normalcy” when you are “fitter” than when you were less “fit” and so fewer calories are burnt away in this case than it would for the occasional runner who runs far less frequently than you do!

What a contradiction in what you are aiming for. However, make the choice the “fitter”level!


1. Sadler, Elizabeth McLeod, The Benefits of Running, Psychology Department, Vanderbilt University.

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