If you want to achieve something it’s often a good idea to have a target. So why not have two? Running a half marathon and losing some weight are like two sides of the same coin. And having the goal of a big event in the not-too-distant future helps keep your motivation going, even when you might normally be giving in to temptation.
Running is a great way of burning calories – it’s one of the most energy intensive exercises which you can do, burning around 100 calories per mile, and with training you can build up to running long distances potentially burning thousands of calories in one training session. There have been many scientific studies that show a direct correlation between running and weight loss. The more miles you run a week, the less you weigh. And I know from my own experience that this works. Whenever my weekly running total increases, my weight decreases. And vice versa.
Half marathons are an ideal distance to use as a target, as they are sufficiently demanding to require a bit of commitment over a period of months (probably between 3 and 6 months, depending on what shape you were in to start with), but still be within the reach of most people. Full marathons, on the other hand, take so much training that beginners often give up before achieving their goal.
Don’t forget that, as well as burning calories, running will also increase your muscle mass – especially if you do some toning exercises for you upper body at the same time. This can happen even before you can start to see the difference in your body. So sometimes you do a lot of exercise in a week, and hop expectantly onto the scales at the end of the week, only to be disappointed. If this happens, don’t worry about it. It’s probably just that you’ve put on muscle mass as well as burning fat. If losing weight is the only goal this can be very frustrating. But if your real goal is to lose FAT (and incidentally greatly improve you health and fitness) you can still feel smug, and think about the longer term gains you have made.
Also, many beginners fall into the trap of overcompensating. It’s easy to think that you’ve burnt a lot of calories on that 45 minute run, so you can have a treat. Maybe a four cheese pizza or some chips, all washed down by a Coke. Sadly you will almost certainly have consumed more calories than you burnt. And if your best efforts in running have still not led to any weight loss after a few weeks, that is almost certainly what you have been doing. The only solution is to learn about better things to eat. Nutrition is GOOD, empty calories and excessive sugar and fat are BAD.
So go ahead, book up your first half marathon, and set the goal of completing it. You can also make a goal of losing a certain amount of weight. Then just start the training, building up steadily – you don’t want to get injured, do you? – and try to eat more of the right things and less of the wrong things. Before you know it you’ll be fit enough to run for 13.1 miles, crossing the finishing line to cheers from the crowd. You’ll have lost some weight. And you might just have got the running bug. Which can lead to marathons (and more weight loss) and even ultramarathons (50 or 100 miles or more) and even more weight loss!
Copyright © 2012 Rob Knowles www.erunningweightloss.com