Limit Junk Nearby
Notice it says "limit" and not "remove." I think one of the benefits of being a runner is that you are burning far more calories than the average person, and there is nothing wrong with enjoying your favorite treat every once in a while. Aim to do so on your long run days, if possible.
The best way to start eating healthier is to get rid of junk food inside your house. You're not doing yourself—or your family—any favors by "hiding" this food within reach. If you crave something sweet, make it inconvenient to get some, like having to leave the house. You'll probably choose to stay home, and then you'll have an immediate improvement in your eating habits.
The human body is amazing and will always strive to be healthy and happy. When things are not this way, something has come into play to deregulate these mechanisms. While we cannot always know exactly what these are, we have a pretty good idea of some of the potential causes:
- Dieting (Famine Response)
- Fructose Overload
- Toxic Fats
- Sedentary Behavior
- Excessive Refinement/Processing of Food
- Artificial Sweeteners
- Lack of Nutrients
Be aware of all these things and start with small changes in your habits. For example, if you just love sugar (like me), set up a different reward system for when the cravings come along. Have fruit nearby and reach for that instead of processed sugar. Believe it or not, the sugars from the fruit—which are far healthier—will alleviate your sugar craving symptoms.
Be Your Own Expert
Take notice of how your body works. Just because a certain diet or way of eating works for your friend, doesn't mean it will work for you. Take notes of what you ate on the days you feel bloated. Could it have been the extra wine or refined carbs you had the day before? Also take note of the days you feel and look great. Always remember there is a big fluctuation in water weight, especially for women during certain times of the menstrual cycle.
Regarding the physical aspect, take the appropriate number of days off if something doesn't feel right. There are certain aches and pains that you can run through, but others—such as joint pains, shooting pain or a twisted ankle—should be allowed the appropriate recovery. After all, you don't want to make those things worse, requiring you to take even more time off. This would negate all the work you're putting into losing weight.
Move in Different Directions
The body has three major planes of motion: sagittal, frontal and transverse. Running only happens along one plane, and remember: The body adapts to this. For weight loss, you want to avoid body adaptation.
Incorporating exercises that allow you to move across all three planes of motion lets you build a strong base from every angle of your body.
Another bonus is that by doing activities in different planes, you're able to keep your joints strong, in order to run even more efficiently. Add cross training that requires you to move along different planar, including rollerblading, swimming, volleyball, and of course, weight training. Try squats, lunges, box step-ups, push-ups and lateral squats.
And speaking of weights...
Last, but certainly not least—and in my opinion the most important for runners—is strength training. It strengthens both major and minor muscles that support the important running joints (hips, knees and ankles). Strength training is the number one way to prevent injuries for runners, and it's also the most effective fitness element when it comes to losing weight as a runner.
When I train my runners, I prefer to do so in a circuit setting. I combine a blend of strength, core and plyometric exercises. All three types help runners activate different energy systems, and the constant movement from station to station prevents the body from hitting a plateau and adapting during the workout. All exercises also include moving in various planes of motion.
In addition, every pound of lean muscle you have helps to burn five times more calories than one pound of fat—and that's simply at rest. Strength training, when done correctly, can help build the lean muscle you need to boost your metabolism. If you don't have access to a gym, bodyweight routines can also do the trick to improve strength.
Here's a sample of a bodyweight workout:
Try to do three sets of the following bodyweight exercises with a regression of reps each round: 12 reps, 10 reps, 8 reps.
- Side-to-side "skaters" (every other jump is one rep)
- Toe reaches
- Backward lunges
- Squat jumps
- Oblique dips in side plank
My goal is for you to get faster, lose weight, avoid injuries and, ultimately, enjoy your running lifestyle even more. If you have questions, comment below.
- Why Most Runners Don't Lose Weight
- What Can a Year of Running Do For You?
- Will I Run Faster If I Lose Weight?
Find your next race.