Running can be extremely effective for managing one’s weight long-term.
It’s a super passive way to keep off unwanted pounds while also being a simple and convenient way to stay fit.
The problem is there’s a lot of indecision about whether running for weight loss actually works.
Many women I’ve talked to struggle with the fact that they want to lose weight before they start running so they can feel more confident doing it.
Others insist that running just won’t work and that they’ll never be able to stick with it.
Both of these reasons aren’t good enough not to start.
The quicker you start, the more confident you’ll become as a runner and the more quickly you’ll shed weight.
Here I’ll answer the most common questions surrounding running for weight loss so you can determine if it’s a good move for you.
Many people wonder if they’re too overweight to run in a safe manner.
I’ll tell you what any other source will tell you.
You’ll ultimately have to consult your medical doctor to determine if running is safe for you with your current weight.
They can rule out any cardiovascular issues you might have and will give you an accurate answer based on your medical history.
In most cases, however, being overweight is not a reason to avoid forming a running habit.
While the extra weight can make it more challenging at first, by keeping a consistent effort it will feel easier over time.
You’ll also want to be sure to purchase the right running shoes so you can prevent injury.
If you visit a running store, a trained associate can help you choose the right shoes for your gait and body type.
I also recommend looking into a certified running coach in your area.
It can help to have an “in-person” example showing you the ropes.
Here’s where it can get tricky.
It’s obvious that running expends a ton of energy. Which is why it’s such a great workout!
But, in order to keep logging those miles, we have to give our bodies the fuel they need.
Which means we gotta eat enough to power through those runs.
So you can’t restrict food or eat less to lose weight faster.
And this doesn’t mean you can’t lose weight with running!
It just means there’s a finer line between losing weight and maintaining weight.
If you don’t eat enough, you’ll never make it through your workouts. If you overeat, you won’t lose weight.
So, be sure you’re eating to fuel your body. Don’t eat just to indulge your cravings.
Make sure you feel nourished and healthy, but also strive to create a calorie deficit over time so you’re losing weight.
By doing this your body will feel better, you’ll power through your runs and you’ll be losing weight simultaneously.
Many people who start running for weight loss struggle to see results. And it’s not because it doesn’t work!
There are a number of reasons this could be happening – which are all simple fixes.
Even if you haven’t started running yet, take in this knowledge.
Knowing this will prevent you from making the same mistakes when you start!
I see so many people wondering why they don’t lose weight with running, and then when I ask them how many times a week they run, they’ll say…
… “Well, I didn’t run this week since life was so crazy! But, I ran once last week, and twice the week before, etc.”
Running is only effective when you’re consistent.
This doesn’t mean you have to start fast.
Start slow, get comfortable with running, and move your needle forward every day.
If you do this you will see results.
Many have a mindset issue when it comes to running for weight loss.
They see running as a means to lose weight exclusively, which can oftentimes lead to frustration and self-sabotage.
With these individuals, the habit doesn’t last and they rarely maintain consistency.
This is because they’re approaching running with a “scarcity mindset.”
Which means they think their life is lacking something they need in order to be happy.
That something for these people is weight loss.
Then they are left in pain since they’re focusing on what they don’t have.
You’ll need to approach running and weight loss with an “abundant mindset.”
Which means you seek running to add further value to your life, instead of using it to fill a void you think you have.
As I mentioned, you need to start small and start slow.
Especially if you have weight to lose – you want to be sure you’re not putting too much impact on your body.
Depending on how heavy you are, you might consider following the same type of plan but walking instead.
At least until your body becomes adapted to exercising regularly.
Slowly introduce running into your schedule.
Then, you can increase distance and speed gradually.
(P.S. If you have to take walk breaks when you start running, this is more than okay! Eventually, your walk breaks will be fewer and farther between. Just start moving!)
Tough love Kat’s about to make an appearance.
You can’t expect to lose weight if you’re still eating the same foods that got you overweight.
You know what healthy foods are. Even if you don’t know how to eat them yet, you know where to start.
Don’t eat fast food and then make the excuse that you “didn’t know how to spiralize your zucchini.”
Just steer clear of the foods that got you where you are right now.
Make the effort.
You can’t outrun a bad diet. Period.
While running will help you quickly shed pounds in the beginning, cardio alone won’t get you to your dream body.
You’ll have to add a strength training regimen to your routine to see the results you want.
Not only will this help you burn fat and build muscle, but it will improve your running significantly over time.
A great way to push you out of a weight loss plateau is by incorporating speedwork into your running.
Now, I would reserve this for after you’ve built a solid running foundation.
You won’t want to worry about speed at all in the beginning.
However, this will come in handy down the line when you’re trying to shed some extra weight.
A foolproof method of doing speedwork is incorporating intervals into your regular runs.
Basically, this means that you run above your comfortable pace in for a certain period of time throughout your run.
An amazing resource for this is the Zombies, Run! App.
I swear by it and it’s been my most valuable (and fun) resource for upping my running speed.
Definitely check it out!
If you’re wondering why you haven’t lost weight and you’ve only been running for a week…
…YOU NEED TO GIVE IT MORE TIME.
Running is effective for weight loss but not in the way you might think.
It allows you to keep weight off in a passive, long-term, manageable way.
Meaning it won’t happen all in one week. It will take some time.
But once you do lose the weight, running will help you keep it off long-term.
If you can find that sweet spot where you’ve developed a running habit and are passively keeping off weight – it’s magic.
Here’s the biggest concern I get from students…and it really hits home for me.
Honestly, no matter their weight, everyone feels stupid when they start running.
It’s just a thing that happens.
And, you know what?
NO ONE IS PAYING ATTENTION!
People are too concerned with their own lives to care.
So…will you look stupid?
Maybe you will. Maybe you won’t.
Who gives a damn?
I would say transforming into the happiest, healthiest version of yourself is more important. Wouldn’t you?
I hope this article gave you some clarity as to whether running will be right for you when it comes to losing weight.
The key to succeeding at long-term weight loss is understanding that it’ll take WORK.
Forming any healthy habit to lose weight feels difficult at first.
But the benefits, not just in weight loss, but in all areas of your life, are so beyond worth it!
Hey there! I'm Kat Rentas. I’m a certified health coach for women who believes that eating healthy should feel simple and sustainable. I teach hundreds of high-performing women to change their eating habits without the overwhelm. Want to change your eating habits in a way that is aligned with your needs, preferences, and goals? You’re in the right place. You can read my full story here.