Running & Weight Loss

In this post, I’m going to answer these questions:
-why am I not losing weight from running?
-how can I lose weight from running?

DISCLAIMER: First of all, I have to say it LOUD and CLEAR: I do not like talking about weight loss and running.
I feel like it can cause a lot of negativity in runners and that is NOT something I want to do. Running is a sport where eating disorders are unfortunately present within it. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you already know that I always promote healthy body image and a strong body.

But. That being said…I have a lot of newer runners who ask me about running and weight loss, so I thought I would do a post on it. You would think the two of these things go hand in hand, but they don’t. I feel like I hear/read about two kinds of runners:

-Runners who are trying to PR in a certain running event

-those who are trying to lose weight from running

I have been each of these types of runners at different times. I’ve been both at the same time.. Sometimes, they can intersect: you can have a runner who desperately wants to PR along with cut weight before a “big race”, and it is a well known fact that losing some weight can make you go faster. (That isn’t the only key though and it’s important to me to tell you right now that I eat three meals a day along with one million snacks.)

I would be lying if I said that I don’t get caught up in the “weight loss” side of running. I do. But I have learned, over time, not to let it control me. I can usually tell how much I weigh just by “feel” and weighing myself isn’t something I do on the regular. I feel like if I am weighing myself all the time-then that is all that I will think about and will cloud my mind.

When I first became a runner, it was because I wanted to lose weight. I know from talking to a lot of other runners that that is the reason they also started running. New runners usually DO see a drop in weight: Why wouldn’t you? You’re doing a completely new-to-you activity for your body, and mixing it up! Eventually, your body gets used to the new activity and begins to recognize it, therefore burning LESS calories as when you started out.

I run upwards of 60 miles a week, and I can assume that most people think I eat “anything i want”, and while that IS true to an extent, I have to tell you that the majority of my meals are healthy. I do of course, have some fats in my diet, but they are the good kind. I don’t ever “skip out” on a meal, on purpose either to try to help me “lose” weight. As a serious athlete-I have to have a healthy relationship with what goes into my body. Not enough food will mean low blood sugar and I won’t run well. But, Too much food- I will become a couch potato, and again, won’t run well. Food is a balance. Maintaining a certain weight is a balance for me, too.

Over time, I’ve realized why I can have the occasional “indulgent weekend” and cut weight quickly the next week. The key is to mix up your workouts-even with running-to help you lose weight. Think about what a typical training plan looks like: You have a variation of different types of runs, right? Variety is not only the spice of life, it’s the key to helping you lose weight. When you mix up your training, you get the benefits of new to you workouts which will make you burn more calories.

These are my favorite tips:

Sprints/faster running: Once or twice a week, I try to do a “faster run” that normal. This might be a tempo run, or it be sprints the gym/treadmill. Think of being on a treadmill: If you ONLY run at 5.0 all the time, your body get used to that. Once a week, kick it up a notch. On the treadmill? Do intervals-5 minutes faster/2 minutes recovery, repeat for 40 minutes. Outside? Run as FAST as you can down your Or do sprints. Sprints kill me. The day after “sprint day”, I often feel like I got hit by a bus. I notice a change in my muscles/abs from the different exercise and I know that I am burning fat from the faster runs. SO do some faster running once a week!

Hills: I know. Not a lot of people love the hills. But I don’t live in a nice flat area…I run hills daily because often it’s the quickest way home, so I have no choice but to climb on up one. Hill repeats are a great way to burn a lot of calories. Find a challenging hill, and run up it at your 5k pace. Jog down for recovery. Repeats 5 times. Build on those 5 times next week. Boom. Stronger legs, and you’re burning more fat. And your butt looks good! 😉

Strength Training-I regularly mix strength into my running weeks. I try to do at least 30-40 minutes of various all over body conditioning a week, and I plank every single day. I’m not perfect-sometimes I slack…on those “down weeks” I don’t feel as awesome-I love the way weights make me “hurt so good.” It’s a different feeling that being sore from running. And the added strength makes me a better runner. Some of my favorite workout channels are on YouTube: PopFitSugar, Fitness Blend, and Beach Body to name a few.

Its not about the scale: I always remind myself that it isn’t about how much you weigh, its how you FEEL that really matters, am I right? I have STRONG legs because I do all of the above stuff on a weekly basis. I may be “slim” but I am STRONG. And that is the MOST important thing!!!

Happy Friday everybody!
Got any tips for us all?

Bloggers: Ever blog about a topic that you weren’t crazy about?

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17 thoughts on “Running & Weight Loss

  1. I think any exercise, paired with healthy eating, is a good prescription for weight loss. HOWEVER, I definitely agree with the fine line between running to lose weight and running to train for a marathon or to PR in an event. For me, if I want my body to be in top performance shape, I simply CANNOT be worried about the number on the scale. I need to eat to fuel my body an train correctly. I really think I have found my “happy” weight and at this point, if I wanted to lose weight, I would also be losing a lot of my fitness because I wouldn’t have enough calories to fuel my body for training. I very much see a distinction between exercise for weight loss and exercise for training purposes. I am sure someone who is very experienced could combine the two to a certain degree…. VERY thought provoking post!

  2. I think you did a great job with this post. When I first started running I did lose some weight but for the last year or so (including cycles of half marathon and marathon training) it has pretty much stayed the same. What I have noticed is that I’ve become leaner. I also need to eat right to fuel runs. If I bump up my mileage I need to bump up the calories too so I agree starting running to lose weight is probably not the best idea.

    • Thank you! It was really tough to write it and took me longer than i thought it would. I didn’t want to come across the way and weight loss is a tricky subject!
      I have noticed the same thing in myself-“lean”..that is a great way to describe it!

  3. Great explanation…At one point I was running to lose weight, but then it became something I truly enjoyed. However, it took a while to find the right balance between thinking I could eat whatever I wanted because I ran all the time and restricting what I ate because I wanted to lose weight and run faster. I have finally learned that I feel my best when I eat enough and when most of what I eat is healthy. I don’t weigh myself anymore either, and honestly even if I got on the scale and saw a higher number I don’t think i would care because I feel really good. I think this was a really helpful post for those who are starting to run but may be frustrated that they are not losing weight!

  4. I didn’t know until I became a runner that marathon running really doesn’t make you lose weight. A lot of times your body tries to hold on to it more. If I would have knows I probably wouldn’t have started running. I’m sure glad I didn’t know! Running had become so much more than a way to lose weight.

    • Isn’t it funny that everyone just assumes that since you run marathons that you can lose all the weight you want? Its SO true that your body tries to hold onto the weight! Running became so much more for me, too, and i’m glad it did for you too.

  5. Hey! Great post!! Very well said! Happy Friday!! Well, I definitely agree with you that there’s a fine line between weight loss increasing speed and weight loss hindering speed due to lack of nutrition, etc. I had eating/self-image problems in high school/college, so I get when you say, this topic isn’t an easy one to talk about. It can definitely get uncomfortable, hence, why I’ve never talked about my past eating troubles (maybe one day). You really did a super job posting, though!! Very informative and supportive and wonderful (just like you). I definitely think fueling your body for runs is a very important aspect, but I also know that some people are just running to run (as a form of cardio), not running races, etc., but I still think regardless of what your intent is, in general, it’s good to always eat a well balanced diet. Running can certainly be used as a method to lose weight and raise your self-esteem, but as said, there gets a certain point where running the same distance/speed no longer equates to losing weight. If you’re not running races, just running to lose weight (mostly on a treadmill), I’d mix it up: Use the rowing machine at the gym some, run on the treadmill some days, swim a few laps, do a spin class at the gym, etc. Have a fab day!! XOXO!

  6. Running, weight loss and I have a pretty long history (25 years this past February 🙂 ) so I definitely have thoughts … and like you say and Michele commented, it isn’t so simple.

    I love the saying that there is no exercise program that can outrun a poor diet.

    As for the ‘weight loss = faster’ thing, I think that is a dangerous area, as you correctly note. One study noted that a for a male who was 25 pounds overweight, losing 15 pounds might shave ~30 seconds or so off of his 5K time. Not bad, really. But then if he lose ANOTHER 15 pounds (now underweight) he would possibly gain back time, and also risk injuries and endurance and other issues related to begin underweight. Tough thing to deal with.

    Great topic!

    • The gray area of being underweight and at perfect “race weight” in runners is such an interesting thing to think about. Strange how 5lbs can change everything and now the same person is at risk for some negative issues.

      25 years is a long time and i think its great that you have been running that long. I love your weight loss story! I will never forget the post you did where you described the small bag of candy (was it peanut mnms or reeces pieces?)and how you will NOT eat it because of what it represented to you for that period of your life!!

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