Running for weight loss
It had been 6 years since Dean Sato played on his college football team’s offensive line. Football isn’t the kind of sport that people continue after they graduate, so during all of that time, he hadn’t blocked or tackled anybody. He wasn’t going to the gym. Running for weight loss was far from his mind.
By 30, he was 6’5” and 305 pounds and wanted to lose weight, a lot of weight, about 105 pounds.
He was going back to a familiar place—the gym; but this time, to run, not to get stronger. He was going to approach running the same way that football had taught him to approach all exercise—work hard. He was literally going to run off 105 pounds.
And he was going to need a good pair of shoes.
Running for weight loss requires comfortable shoes!
That’s why he came into Run Shoe Store. He asked us which shoe is the right one for him. “The pair that’s comfortable,” we replied. He asked, “That’s it?”
There are all kinds of other reasons to pick a pair of shoes, we said, the most common ones are color, price, support, stability, cushion, and gait. But the shoes that are comfortable are also the ones that people have the most success with. That’s what years of clinical experience has taught us, and that’s what the best laboratory researchers have concluded.
We asked him if he liked his current pair of shoes. He couldn’t remember because they were years old. He sat down and we placed two different shoes on his feet. “Go out to the gym and go run on the track. Come back and tell us which one is more comfortable, if either.” He ran, came back and said, “The one on the left.” We removed the one on the right and replaced it with a different shoe. Then we sent him out again. He came back and said the one on the left, still. This process continued—figuring out which shoe to try next, comparing and contrasting shoes while running, making adjustments to the shoes—until he found a pair that felt comfortable.
While all of that was going on, he mentioned that he never like running, but he was going to do it anyway, because he wanted to lose weight. We told him that he was probably doing it wrong and that if he did it differently, he would be much more likely to stick to it. “How’s that?”
Here’s what we told him:
Running for weight loss: best practices
- Use a weight loss calculator to figure out how much running you should do to lose weight.
- Running is an effective way to lose weight at any speed, so there is no need to overdo it by running too fast or too long.
- More to the point, start slowly. Really slowly. You should tell yourself, “I’m going to be slow,” before you start the run. At all points, you should be able to talk. If you speed up too much, walk until your normal breathing rate returns.
- After the first run, wait for any soreness to dissipate. The idea is to allow for complete recovery before the next run. Without that, it’s easy to do too much too soon. And if you make that mistake, you may not know it for 2-3 weeks. By that point it’s too late; you’ll probably have to stop running. Which leads to the next point….
- Only do the running that you can recover from. That amount is different for each person.
- Running overland may feel different than running on a treadmill. It depends on the wind and your running style. But it’s all running and it all burns calories.
- You may have some bonafide gifts as a runner. You may notice yourself running faster–even if you’re not trying to, that you recover pretty fast, or that you can handle a bunch of miles. Go with it! But remember that the gifted, too, can overdo it. If you’re running for weight loss, you want to do everything you can to reduce the risk of injury.