According to some reports, running to lose weight may not be the recipe for success you thought it was. Here’s why…
USA Today published a story that said endurance running won’t burn the fat. That’s because our bodies adapt to all the mileage and get more efficient at managing it. Guess what? That means we then burn fewer calories.
I’m not one to dispute the evidence of experts. But I do think there’s a bit more to it than that.
I’m an ordinary bloke trying to keep fit and healthy. I’m crap at most sport, but I try hard. And evidence is evidence, right?
I can see how the main thread of the article could be true for some people. And, from my own evidence, I can vouch for the fact that weight loss from running is not a given.
But the idea that endurance running doesn’t keep the timber off is a bit bonkers, isn’t it? Show me a fat marathoner, or a hefty ultra runner.
Now, you might be thinking that it’s not running that keeps the weight off – as the article says. Agreed, cross-training helps with strength and stamina. But it’s still the running that does most of the work. It’s hard after all, isn’t it?
There’s something else too. High mileage can result in weight gain. Because you have to eat more to sustain yourself over the long miles. I’m a big fella, so I do need the calories to keep going.
So, to argue that endurance running on its own results in less weight loss is not a complete argument.
But here’s a thing. When I first started to take on long distances, I didn’t lose any weight. But that was because I was plodding long distances.
When I altered my training to include more speed work, I toned up and lost weight. Not a huge amount, but definitely some.
So, the key to this is intensity. I’ve discovered that running a long way doesn’t only need lots of long distance running. It also needs you to be strong. And you don’t get strong from plodding around your training miles.
As it alludes to in the article, pushing your body hard is the key to losing weight. But running (or keeping fit in general) isn’t just about losing weight, is it? To me, it’s about setting ambitions and going after them. The fact that I’ve shed some timber in the process is a bonus.
As for the idea that endurance running means you stop losing weight, good. That’s a good thing in my view. Otherwise, how would we ever train to run a marathon? It’s the high-intensity stuff that has us losing the timber.
The funny thing is: I’ve lost more weight riding my bike than I did for ages, as a runner. But I do think intensity is where the real results come from.
The bottom line? Whatever exercise you choose to do, it’s going to have to hurt sometimes to help keep the fat off.