Running for Weight Loss: What You Should Know

Running for Weight Loss: What You Should Know

So, you’d like to drop some lbs, and you’ve seen people including running as part of their workout program to lose weight, and you wonder if running for weight loss might work for you.

You might have even tried running before, but after a ¼ mile, or a ½ mile, or even a mile, you’ve decided running is NOT for you. And you might wonder, “Why do these people keep running? How do they do it? Are they just crazy?”

If you’ve had this experience before, or if you think you might want to give running a try, we wrote this blog post just for you! Read on...

Running for Weight Loss: Is It Effective?

The short answer is, “YES!” Absolutely. But why?

Running is considered to be a “high intensity” form of exercise, which means it can burn more calories than some other options since it gets your heart rate up for a sustained period of time, and the multiple muscles you use while you’re running—lower body, upper body, and core—help contribute to that calorie burn.

And here’s the cool part: Not only do you burn calories while you’re running, but you’ll continue to burn calories all day long and for up to 48 hours after you take off those running shoes!

The Benefits of Running

Besides helping you drop inches and pounds, running has so many other benefits. Take a look at this impressive list of things running can do for you:

  • Helps suppress your appetite for the rest of the day
  • Helps you feel better and more confident
  • Raises good cholesterol
  • Increases lung capacity
  • Helps you sleep better 
  • Strengthens your bones
  • Improves your mood
  • Boosts your immune system
  • Lowers your risk of developing blood clots
  • Decreases your risk of heart disease, breast cancer, and stroke, potentially adding more years to your life!
  • Lowers your blood sugar
  • Relieves stress
  • Helps with depression
  • Running outside gives you an all-important dose of vitamin D + the opportunity to enjoy nature
  • It’s family-friendly—involve the kids!

Lastly, one of the huge benefits of running is that you can do it almost anywhere: while traveling, during your lunch break at work, on the treadmill, in your neighborhood at home, on local trails...pretty much anywhere! And as far as needed equipment, all you need is a good pair of running shoes (more about that in a bit)!

So How Do You Get Started? 

Here’s YOUR running for weight loss plan!

Step #1: Get some running shoes.

tying shoes before running for weight loss

It’s time to go shopping, and you’re not going to go to the sporting goods store or a shoe store. You’re going to head to a running store.


Running stores are staffed by experienced runners who have been trained to help you find the correct shoes for your gait—how your feet land when you walk or run. Your gait might be neutral, or you might pronate or supinate, and it’s important to know your gait because if you pronate, for example, and you run in shoes meant for a neutral gait, you WILL get injured.

The salesperson will find several options for you to try on, have you run in them for a bit, and then you’ll choose which shoes feel best.

Here are some things to remember:

  1. Ask the store about their return policy. Since you really won’t know if a pair of shoes will work for you until you run in them for a few days, make sure you can return them for a full refund even after you’ve worn them. Reputable running stores will have this policy.
  2. Don’t go by brand. Just because so-and-so likes a certain brand of shoe doesn’t mean that brand will work for you. Remember, it’s all about finding the best shoe for YOUR foot.
  3. Running shoes do have a shelf life. A good rule of thumb is to get new shoes every 300-500 miles OR every 4-6 months, depending on how often and how far you run. If you run in hot, dry climates (like Arizona), you might have to get new shoes more often in those hot months since you’re literally “burning rubber” if you’re running on the road.
  4. Running shoes can be a bit pricey. However, when you divide that cost out over the months you’ll be running in those shoes, they’re a pretty affordable investment. And remember, you’re not just investing in shoes, you’re also investing in your goals and in your long-term health!

To find a running store in your area, Google, “local running stores.” Happy shopping!

Step #2: Find a Running for Weight Loss Program.

You can find numerous programs on the internet, and here are a couple we’ve put together for you so you can begin today (or as soon as you get your shoes)! We have a program for true Workout Beginners (those who are new to working out) AND for Running Rookies (those who are already working out pretty regularly but want to give running a try).

Beginner Running Program (for Those NEW to Working Out)

Running Rookie Program (for Those Who Workout)

Choose the program that’s best for you and start running! And no worries if you need to switch programs!

You’ll notice that each program takes 12 weeks, which might seem like a long time. But those 12 weeks will go by whether you begin the program now or not, right? So get started!

Remember, the first day of each new week will probably feel tough. That’s to be expected since you’re asking your body to do something new. So, if you start to struggle, just slow down a bit. You’ll get there!

And you might be hesitant to begin a new week, and think, “I just can’t do this!”

Give it a try anyway. You’ll be surprised at what you and your body can do!

Once you complete your program, then continue upping your running minutes each week. You can run “straight” (no walking intervals), or you can include walking intervals (try 1-2 minutes). Do what works best for you and your goals!

Step #3: Go running!

Before you take that first step, keep these tips and tools in mind.

Running for Weight Loss Beginners: Tips and Tools

running outside for weight loss on a path

Pacing. It’s so tempting to start out running too fast, and then after a few minutes, you’re done. Like, D.O.N.E. Done. And like we talked about above, if you find yourself struggling, slow down!

Some experts recommend a 3:2 or 4:3 breathing pattern (breathe in for 3 steps, out for 2 OR breathe in for 4 steps, out for 3), which not only balances out the impact of each step throughout your body, but counting those steps can actually keep your mind busy too.

The first 5 or so minutes will be tough. When you begin a cardio session, it takes your breathing a few minutes to catch up to the oxygen your body needs to keep doing that exercise somewhat comfortably (at least to the point that you’re not having a difficult time breathing), so that’s why pacing is so important!

And don’t be afraid to slow down things for a bit until you can breathe easier. You can always pick up your pace later.

Go for time, not distance. Some days running will go better than others, and if you’re always comparing your distance from one day to another, it can feel pretty depressing when you don’t go as far during your set running time. And we don’t need that!

So, unless you’re training for a PR for a race, run for time most of the time. If you want to know how far you’re running, maybe track your distance one day every week or two.

Cross train. Include resistance training, stretching, and other forms of cardio in your overall workout program. When you leave out one of these and/or run too many days a week, injuries (especially overuse injuries) can happen. Balance is the key to a happy life AND a happy running life.

Eat Healthy Foods. We often say, “Abs are made in the kitchen,” and the same is true for running: “Good—and even amazing—runs are made in the kitchen!”

You can find lots of nutrition programs with a simple Google search, and we recommend following one that A) doesn’t exclude any of the food groups, B) doesn’t recommend a super low daily calorie intake (1200 or less for women and 1500 or less for men), and C) includes a balance of protein, carbs, and fat—the macronutrients that are essential to healthy living, weight loss, and workout success.

Drink Your Water. We’ve said it a gazillion times before, and we’ll say it again: Drink your water! Aim for ½ your body weight in ounces every day, and even more on running days, especially when it’s hot and/or humid outside.

Learn more about the amazing benefits of water here.

Always Warm Up and Cool Down. Don’t forget to warm up for 5 minutes before running and cool down for 5 minutes after running. Be sure to include stretching in your warm up and cool down too!

Increasing Mileage. Once you finish your rookie program, don’t increase your TOTAL weekly mileage by more than 10% a week. So, if you’re running 10 miles a week, for example, then only increase your TOTAL weekly mileage by 1 mile. Increasing your mileage too quickly can lead to injuries.

Use an Interval App. The last thing you want to do when you‘re running is to be continually looking at your watch to see if you can walk yet. And just like a watched pot never boils, a watched watch moves VERY slowly.

There are free and very low-cost interval apps available that will tell you when it’s time to run or walk. If you like to listen to music or podcasts while you’re running, make sure the app you choose will work while your music/podcast is playing.

Let’s Go Running!

Now that you’ve got all the how-tos, tips and tools, a program to follow, and some brand new running shoes, it’s time for you to join the millions of people worldwide running for weight loss!

Please share your running experiences in the comments below AND on social media! Tag us when you do! #transformhqrunning

And if you ever feel overwhelmed, just take one rookie running step at a time.
You got this!

**Disclaimer: Before beginning this, or any workout program, please consult with your healthcare team first.**

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