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)!