Whether your gym is closed or you're trying to get fit on a budget, running can be a great option for losing weight. Running is a high intensity exercise, which is great for burning calories, but lacing up your sneakers doesn't automatically lead to weight loss. If you're looking to drop a few pounds, here are some things to look out for.
Mistake No. 1: Trying to Train at a High Level AND Lose Weight
Fix It: If you're a competitive runner, you're probably used to training for races (or at least following a schedule). It seems natural that weight loss could be integrated into your routine, but that approach can actually backfire. It's actually best to focus on one goal at a time. If you're ready to lose weight, put marathon training on pause and focus on cleaning up your diet and adding in some interval training. Many runners who continue training for races while also cutting back on calories find themselves irritable and low on energy.
Mistake No. 2: Doing the Same Run Over and Over
Fix It: Once you've found your go-to route, it's easy to run it every day, maybe at the same pace. But if you want to lose weight, it's important to mix things up. To encourage muscle adaptation and rev up your metabolism, add in some variety. For example, aim for speed intervals on Tuesdays, hilly miles on Thursday and a long, slow run on the weekend.
Mistake No. 3: Relying Only on Running for Weight Loss
Fix It: Sure, running burns a lot of calories per minute, but it's probably not a good idea to run 7 days a week. To avoid burnout and overtraining, add in some other activities. Incorporate strength training and low impact cardio (such as swimming) in addition to your weekly runs. And keep in mind that non-exercise activity can burn calories as well—take the kids for a walk, dig around in your garden or clean the house. The important thing is to get off the couch and keep moving!
Mistake No. 4: Skimping on Nutrition
Fix It: If you're trying to slim down, you might be limiting your food intake. That's generally a good idea, but it could backfire if you skimp on the post-run fuel. After exercising, try to take in a mix of carbohydrates and protein within an hour. If you're watching calories, plan your runs around mealtime rather than adding in an additional snack. Rehydrating and eating something post-run will go a long way when it comes to recovery, which is important if you want to exercise the next day!
Mistake No. 5: Drinking Too Many Calories During or After the Run
Fix It: Under fueling at the expense of muscle recovery is a problem, but it can also be easy to consume too many calories. Before you load up on coconut water or protein smoothies, decide what you actually need. For runs under 60 minutes, plain water (or a low calorie electrolyte replacement such as NUUN) should be just fine. For runs over an hour, it's OK to choose a drink with calories (e.g. Gatorade or Powerade). A good rule of thumb is to consume 30-60 grams of carbohydrate per hour of exercise. When it comes to smoothies, remember that they can have as many calories as a meal, so plan accordingly. Same goes for sweetened coffee drinks and that high ABV beer!
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