We are all motivated by different reasons to run, but there is one reason in particular that tends to be among the top 3 in just about every survey of why people run and it has to do with weight loss or body weight control. It is certainly a strong selling point. After all, there aren’t too many who can argue against aerobic exercise, such as long distance running, as an efficient, effective and quick way to lose weight. 

Just going to the gym, lifting some kettle balls and pushing on a few machines isn’t the answer to losing weight. It’s obvious that aerobic exercise helps you lose weight and trim some body fat, right? Well, unfortunately, very few people realize this, despite common sense reasoning. If you don’t believe this, spend some time at your neighborhood gym and watch how people do their workouts. People there are lifting, grunting and doing crunches on oversized beach balls for weeks and months, yet they don’t seem to lose a single pant size.

So why isn’t everyone who wants to lose weight running? People do know that it is one of the best forms of exercise to shed those unwanted pounds quickly, yet they continue to avoid committing themselves to running. The biggest issue is that many people have all sorts of excuses as to why they don’t run. I have heard all the common excuses. Here are some of my favorites: I have bad knees; I injured my back when I was younger; I have flat feet; I’m prone to shin splints. My favorite excuse is: I don’t run long distance because I’m better at short distance.

The average person at a young age was never taught the principle that running can feel easier and more enjoyable, but your body has to be trained consistently with few gaps of inactivity. If you were to run today and then run again 3 or 4 days later, your body would have a tough time adapting and you would feel as if you were back at day one. People in decent running shape will have their running-required muscles well developed and the ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate) sufficiently and efficiently supplied to those muscles. However, if you are out of shape (haven’t run or done endurance exercise in years), your ATP supply won’t be enough to meet the demands and your body will have a difficult time processing oxygen fast enough and that, coupled with lactic acid flooding your body, will make the experience of running feel torturous.

So here are some important tips to keep in mind as you use running to lose and control your weight:

PUT IN THE TIME – Everyone’s current fitness level or training age will be a factor, but a general rule of thumb is that your body will need 4-6 weeks to adapt and get used to running.

LIMIT YOUR BREAKS – Run at least 3 times per week with no more than 2 days in between each run.

20 MINUTES OR MORE – You must start gradually, maybe even brisk walking, but your workouts should last no less than 20 minutes. The general idea is that after 20 minutes your body begins to work in the aerobic zone, which will help you develop the endurance to go further.

PROPER NUTRITION – The good news is that as you get further into your running, your body will start to require better foods and you may find yourself hungry more often but it is important that you identify the right kinds of food that will give you sustained energy (fibrous vegetables, complex carbs, etc.) rather than quick ups and downs.

BE PATIENT AND THINK LONG TERM – Your body will burn about 100 calories per running mile, give or take a few calories depending on your weight. This may sound like a lot given that about 3,500 calories are required to be burned to lose a pound, but understand that your metabolism will speed up as you continue running, so much so that you will burn calories at a much higher rate even while resting.

By Frankie Ruiz