Half marathon training weight loss

It’s a well-documented fact that runners lose weight, and the more they run the more weight they lose. So setting the target of running a half marathon can be a great achievement in itself and the springboard to a lighter, healthier person.

Half marathons are a great way to get into running. They are challenging enough that they are going to require a significant commitment to training to be able to complete one. Very few people can just go out and run 13.1 miles with out doing a bit of preparation first. But it is a distance which most can achieve with the appropriate amount of training before hand.

Typically a training schedule for beginners to run their first half marathon is around 3 months. In that time they will build up from walking for 30 minutes to running 10 or more miles in one go. The total distance run is likely to be between 150 and 200 miles. This may sound incredible, but with steady effort over a few months it’s amazing how many miles you actually cover.

The total number of calories burned per mile run (including the so-called ‘after burn’) is around 160 for a relatively light (156lb, 11stone 2lb, 71kg) runner. So even a lightweight, assuming no change in diet, would expect to burn up the equivalent of about 10 pounds in pure fat.

Most people who want to lose weight don’t start at 156lb! And the amount of energy burnt is proportional to weight – so if the starting weight were 50% higher (234lb, 16 stone 10 lb, 106kg), which is not impossible, the fat loss would typically be 15 pounds, just from the running.

The exciting thing is that then, most people start to notice changes in their body, and they realise that they really can make a difference to it. They become more and more motivated and start looking at their food choices and just eating more sensibly. It only takes small changes in lifestyle, but over time nearly all runners lose weight. Scientific studies have shown a clear relationship between increased mileage run and reduced overall weight.

Surprisingly, it doesn’t end there. Running tends to suppress the appetite. Everyone assumes that after a run you’d want to eat your own weight in chocolate. The truth is the exact opposite. After a run, the last thing I feel like doing is eating anything swwet, or a large meal. A small snack maybe, and plenty of water or tea to drink, but certainly not a feast. And it seems that I’m not the only one as a reduction in appetite (aka ‘the Holy Grail of those who want to lose weight’) is widely reported as a side effect of vigorous exercise.

That is why study after study shows that running more means weighing less, even if the calculated calorie burn initially looks rather unimpressive.

Starting to train for a half marathon can be a great step forward in helping to reduce weight. It is also proven to be good for the health of the cardiovascular system, boosting the immune system and reducing the risk of many different forms of cancer. It seems that more (exercise) really is more (good for you)!

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How to start running to lose weight

Many people want to start running to lose weight. And it’s a great way to get fit and shed those extra pounds. But pushing an unfit body too far, too fast is a recipe for trouble.

Obviously most people who would like to lose weight have not exercised seriously for a considerable time. But running is one of the most vigorous forms of exercise you can get. It’s great for you heart, muscles and burning calories. But it does put a strain on the body. And if you put a strain on something weak, it will break.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t use running to burn off those extra pounds. Just that you need to start out with due care for the current condition of your body. I speak from experience. Years ago when I first thought I’d try and lose a few pounds by running I did everything wrong. Tried too hard and pulled muscles. Didn’t get the right kit and overstrained joints. Tried to reach my goals by doing one huge effort a week, with 6 days of doing nothing. The list goes on.

Remember the hare and the tortoise? In this case the hare ended up in hospital, and the tortoise lost heaps of weight, got fit and lived happily for over a hundred years!

So, what’s the best way to start? The basics are:

  1. Get in the habit of exercising. You burn a lot more calories (and hence lose more weight) by going out for a fast walk of gentle run 5 times a week, than by doing a monster effort twice a week. And apart from that you are much less likely to get strain injuries. Not to mention the fact that it’s much easier to do something by routine than by individual effort. If you always go for a run when you get home from work, it becomes a habit and you don’t need to think about it. You don’t need any will power. It’s just a habit. Easy. If you only go out occasionally, each time you need to have the willpower to get going. Each time you have a million possible excuses which you could use to have just one more day off. You end up going once a week or less. Human beings like routines. They don’t like having to think.
  2. Get the right kit. You will need proper running training shoes. Not supermarket specials. Proper running shoes from a sports shop. Only they give the cushioning that old and / or unexercised legs need to avoid damaging knees and ankles. You will also need suitable clothing to support free-hanging weights. Ladies, that means a good sports bra. Saves so many black eyes for you and anyone around you. And Gentlemen need good fitting shorts to give suitable support a little further down….
  3. Get checked out by a doctor. It’s better to find out that you might have a minor heart weakness by having an ECG in a nice warm doctors surgery, than to find out the hard way. Your doctor can also advise you, based on your medical history, if there are any things you need to take special care of. .
  4. Start slowly. If you are going to have to go out everyday after work, the level of exercise need to be something you can manage daily. Not a superhuman effort which takes you two weeks to recover from. If you can only manage to walk for 30 minutes to start with, do that. After a few days you will start to get a bit faster. Eventually you can start to jog for 2 minutes and then walk for 2 minutes, then repeat until your half hour is up. .
  5. Warm up before you start. Start out fast enough to increase your body temperature, but not fast enough to break a sweat. Try to get all of your body moving – arms, legs, neck. Don’t start increasing the speed until you are nice and warm. .
  6. Record your progress. It’s amazing how quickly we forget. After 2 months when you can manage to run for 5 miles without stopping, you will probably have forgotten that you couldn’t walk for half a mile before you started. If you keep a record of your progress you will have a personalised, highly motivating record of how successful your health kick has been, whenever you have a lack of motivation. After all, if you can make such great progress in the last 2 months, what could you achieve in the next 2 months?

Following these simple tips can enable you to transform you health and weight, without suffering from any of the setbacks that can so easily torpedo your progress. And once you’ve started running to lose weight you just won’t want to stop!

© 2011 Rob Knowles

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Walking to lose weight – even celebrities can do it!

I just read a story that Victoria Beckham will be walking to lose weight, after gaining a few pounds (ounces?) during her recent pregnancy. No matter what you may think of ‘Posh’, as she was once known, you have to say that she keeps her body in pretty good order. I speak as man of an age who should know better than to think about it!

Moving on, I did a bit of research about her fitness history. And it’s certainly difficult with any celebrity to be too sure what is true, and what is made up just to sound good. Search Google for ‘how does Victoria Beckham keep fit’ and you get 860,000 results. I can’t believe that she has said 860,000 things on the subject!

None the less there are some ‘facts’ which appear on some big name websites that make you think they must be true:

    • Clearly VB is very careful about what she eats. She is reported to like Japanese food, which is very healthy – a lot of low fat protein, and not too many carbs. No surprises so far.
    • VB is also quoted as saying that she keeps fit by ‘running after her three boys all day’. This may be a joke, but having three active young children is going to keep any mother running.
    • Finally VB is famous for not being keen on gyms (who is?). But I understand that she normally runs 4 miles a day 6 days a week.
  • No great surprises then. If you want to have a fabulous body, you just have to do the right things. Ignore all of the hype about the latest hot diets or fitness gurus. Simply keep control of what you eat, do toning exercises to get the muscles you want, and do a good slug of cardio (walking, running, cycling, swimming) to boost your fitness and burn those calories. So simple even a celebrity could manage it! Walking to lose weight really works!

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    Running to lose weight is rather like eating an elephant!


    A long time ago, I was on a training course, and the trainer asked us ‘How would you go about eating an Elephant?’. Seemed like a strange question in what was a pretty boring course. And he certainly wasn’t suggesting that any of the participants should try scoffing a pachyderm.

    After much bumbling around, one of the brighter of us (i.e. not me!) suggested ‘Start with an ear, then …’.

    The point is, if a project is so dauntingly huge as to leave you unable to decide where to start, just break it down into smaller chunks, and start on one of those. Keep on consistently working at the chunks and before you know it you’ve reached your seemingly unattainable goal. You can use exactly the same approach with running to lose weight.

    Think about how people gain weight. Most people who are, say, 50 pounds overweight did not suddenly wake up one morning having put on 50 pounds over night. They probably didn’t eat a baby elephant in one sitting. No, it all went on one Big Mac and one Pepsi at a time. Some days they probably ate healthily. They may have been out for walks or been swimming on holiday, or even cycling. But over a considerable period of time they just consistently ate too much of the wrong things, and did too little exercise.

    Running to lose weight is exactly the same in reverse.

    You don’t have to run every day. Some times you may skip a week. You might have the odd Big Mac day. But the key to success is the Elephant strategy. Try to do a little more exercise as often as you can.

    People often talk about the 5 times a week idea. And certainly running 5 times a week will really make a huge difference to your health and your waistline. But don’t get too hung up if you don’t make it every week. The main thing about the 5 times a week idea is to get into the habit of exercising. As long as you take consistent, regular action so that, on average, you eat less of the bad things and do more exercise than you did before, you WILL make progress towards your goal.

    Successful running weight loss depends on just one thing – consistent action. Not thinking about running. Not talking about running. Simply going for a run at least 3 times a week, ideally 5 times a week. What could be easier?

    No Elephants were harmed in the making of this blog!

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    Forget the Caveman diet …

    Try LIVING like a caveman if you really want to lose weight:

    • Run 5 – 10 miles a day
    • Eat as much Wildebeest as you can, whenever you can

    You’ll have that slim, sexy body you were craving before you know it!

    Alternatively if you don’t live in Manhattan, so you can’t lay your hands on fresh Wildebeest, you could try the more convenient version. All you have to do to lose weight and keep it off is run 10 miles per week. A major scientific study found that, whatever else the participants in the trial did, if they ran more than 10 miles a week they lost weight. Amazing! Even despite modern humans having a pretty sedentary life, they still only have to run less than half the amount that our predecessors did to have a sexy slim body. How good is that!

    I know from my own experience that the amount I run correlates pretty well with my weight – the more I run, the less I weigh. I mean, I’m not perfect – unlike all those irritating robots whose body is a temple, who workout 3 times a day, and eat nothing but grass-fed beef. I’m actually a real human being.

    • Sometimes I run. When I do, I really enjoy it.
    • Sometimes I miss a few days. Busy / lazy / easily distracted…. Whatever.
    • Sometimes I miss a week, or even two. Now you know I’m human.
    • Sometimes I’ve even missed some months – usually due to an unplanned visit to the hospital. Nothing to do with running – it just turns out I really should not be allowed to handle craft knives when I’m working on the house….

    Anyway, being a sad geek, I have a record of my weight and the amount that I ran for the last 12 years. It clearly shows that running more than 10 miles a week causes my weight to drop to my target level. Then, when I ‘let myself go’ and ease off the running, the pounds just start creeping back on again. Great incentive to get the running shoes on!

    Please bear in mind that I don’t really control my diet very much. The robots would be horrified! I drink alcohol when I want to. I eat pretty much what I want. Fortunately I don’t want burgers – ever. Unfortunately I do like a nice pizza sometimes. And some say I could be addicted to bread and pasta. But still running helps keep my weight in the ideal BMI range, whilst all around me are expanding at an alarming rate!

    So forget the caveman diet, or any of the latest diet nonsense. Just start running. And keep doing it. Once you are in shape 10 miles a week is not much – maybe three short (i.e. 30 minutes or less) runs per week. And you can eat pretty much what you like, and still have sexy muscular legs, and no excess flab.

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