Skipping Strength Training
A lot of runners tend to be one-dimensional when it comes to their workouts. While running is a great way to burn a high number of calories in a relatively short amount of time, it's not very effective for building lean muscle. For that, you need to include some strength training in your weekly routine.
A 2012 study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that, while aerobic training resulted in more fat loss than resistance training, those who also included resistance training in their regimen gained more lean muscle mass, resulting in the most favorable body composition (relative amount of lean muscle mass to body fat).
To maintain muscle mass, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends training the major muscle groups for 1 to 3 sets of between 8 and 12 repetitions two or three days per week.
You can save time by performing compound, multi-joint exercises, which work multiple muscle groups at one time. Some examples include deadlifts, squats, pull-ups, bench presses and barbell rows.
Eating Too Much
For the average runner, it takes about 30 minutes running at six miles per hour to burn about 300 calories. It takes that same runner just 30 seconds standing in her kitchen eating dark chocolate sea salt caramels to consume about 300 calories.
All of those other things—the pace you run at, avoiding injury, mixing up your training runs, strength training—they just don't matter if you overeat. Humans tend to be reward-driven creatures. Nothing begs to be rewarded more than a hard, sweaty, huffin'-and-puffin' run. The trouble is, most of us either don't bother to pay attention to the calories in/calories out equation, or we do it poorly.
Keeping a food log for a few weeks can be the single most important thing you do to lose weight. By seeing exactly how quickly and easily the calories you eat and drink add up and undo your hard work on the treadmill or the jogging path, you might stop falling into the work-reward cycle of failure that plagues so many.
A food log can also help you better manage another pitfall common among runners—the post-workout recovery meal. Runners often don't work hard enough or long enough to need to refuel. It's rare for many runners to burn more than 600 calories in a single workout, and that's only about a third of the amount of calories your body keeps in ready glycogen reserves all the time.
Much has been written about post-workout refueling (often to promote supplements and other products for sale). The truth is that these are easy calories to leave on the table, since exercise is actually a short-term appetite suppressant. Only competitive athletes really need to worry about refueling and they probably don't need to lose weight.
Here's what nobody wants to hear: Losing weight means you're going to be hungry once in a while because that's what creating a caloric deficit does. So keep running, mix up your workouts, lift weights, mind your diet, and learn to tell that reward-seeking pest on your shoulder to take a hike. You'll run much lighter if you do.
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