From personal experience and the research I’ve read on running and weight loss, I can say that it doesn’t take long for the weight loss associated with running to begin to plateau. After you’ve been running for awhile, and logging lots of miles, the caloric burn per mile gradually decreases. For example, when I first started out as a new runner, I could burn 100 calories per mile, which meant that a 4 or 5 mile steady-state run would yield a 400-500 calorie burn. Now, according to my Garmin, I burn approximately 85-90 calories per mile. While fitness technology is not always accurate, high-quality trackers can provide a good baseline for you to monitor metrics such as calorie burn and average pace over time.
According to my research and in talking with my personal trainer, the decrease in my calorie burn per mile can be attributed to the body becoming more efficient at running. The body adapts very well, and can adjust to a particular exercise that is done repeatedly, without new challenges, rather quickly. This adaptation also translates to minimal changes in body composition. My body started to look very differently after consistently dedicating time to strength-based workouts.
In my last post, I highlighted the role of strength-training in an injury prevention routine, but I also want to take some time to discuss how incorporating strength-training and resistance-training into my fitness regimen has transformed my body:
I have actual, visible muscles now. Even when I was smaller in my early college years and in high school, I didn’t have visible back muscles or toned triceps. It’s so cool to see my efforts paying off. Also, aesthetic reasons aside, the strength I’ve been building in my glutes and core by strength-training is also an improvement in that it enables me to push through harder in the last miles of a long run or race.
To start weight-training, I would recommend Jamie Eason’s LiveFit Trainer from BodyBuilding.com to learn a few basic lifts. This program limits cardio during a couple of phases, so it may be something to try if you are running very little or not preparing for any racing events.
If you do not have a gym membership, I LOVE FitnessBlender workouts for working out at home. FitnessBlender is a YouTube channel created by a husband and wife personal training team, and they are so good at what they do! Doing their workouts a couple of times a week consistently will yield great results.
I’m not where I want to be in terms of fitness, but where I am now is a dramatic difference from where I was. I can’t wait to see how my more targeted regimen will improve my performance and add more lean muscle mass over the next few months.