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Let’s face it: if you’re at your ideal weight, then you’ll be able to run faster. Not only will you be carrying less weight, but you’ll be putting less stress on your bones, muscles, and joints, reducing the chance you’ll get injured from running.
To burn calories, you have to exercise in some way. But all exercise isn’t created equal – some types burn more calories than others. And some ways of doing the same exercise can burn different numbers of calories.
Let’s look at three simple (but not necessarily easy) ways of burning more calories.
Increase Your Intensity!
Too many runners run easy for every single run – it’s the same pace every day. Not only aren’t you getting as fit as you possibly could, but you’re not burning as many calories. To increase not only the number of calories you burn while running but also the “afterburn” (calories burned after your workout).
One way to increase the intensity of your workouts is by running faster (simple huh?). Try a straight-forward fartlek workout of 6 x 1 minute at your 5k race pace with a 2 minute jog recovery in between each hard effort.
Running isn’t the only way to increase the intensity of your exercise program. Lifting heavy weights – or doing body weight exercises – can give you the intensity you need to jumpstart your metabolism. The bonus of this extra calorie expenditure is that you’ll also get stronger – definitely helpful for distance runners!
Increase Your Workout’s Duration
The duration - or how long a workout is – helps you burn more calories. We all know this, but a lot of runners don’t run a significant long run every week. Not only are you losing out on one of the best tools that distance runners have to get faster, but you’re also missing out on an important weight loss mechanism.
Lots of changes happen in your body when you run for a long period of time. Changes that alter how your body uses fuel, how your muscles contract (and even which muscles contract), and how your legs go through the act of running. Running when you’re tired – like at the end of a long run – increases your running economy and boosts the number of calories you’ll burn after you finish your run..
Run More Frequently
The frequency of your workouts is the last element of exercise that will help increase your metabolic afterburn. For me personally, I don’t reach my “racing weight” (what I consider my ideal running weight) until I start running 8-10 times per week. Yes, that means I’m running twice a day a few times per week.
This will be different for everyone, but many of us get stuck in a rut of running the same 3-4 runs every week. If you’re able to run an extra day per week, that will dramatically help you burn more calories and get you closer to your ideal running weight.
Always be safe in running more – whether the number of days or the duration of your runs – and loosely follow the 10% Rule of increasing by about 10% or less per week. A better way to run more is to increase by 10% until you hit a mileage you’re comfortable at, then be more conservative past that level. It may also be helpful to remain at a certain mileage level for 2-3 weeks to allow yourself to adapt to this new stress.
When you start combining these principles of weight loss in your training, you’ll see more dramatic results in your weight loss than by just going through the same training every week. Each runner will have a different ideal weight, but achieving it will help you run faster on race day – and maybe even achieve the impossible.