Some people want to lose a bit of weight to get into their swimsuit for the summer, while others simply want to get fit again. Both of them have one thing in common - they want to start running. So, what should you do so you don’t give up after the first attempt or suffer an injury? And is running even good for weight loss?
Running for all
A lot of people think that running is not for them. However, the opposite is true, running is for everyone regardless of age or gender. Of course, it is necessary to take into account your state of health. In addition to swimming and cycling, running is a long-term medium-intensity aerobic activity. The muscles work with a sufficient supply of oxygen and thus can go on for longer. While running, your heart rate increases, you burn fat and improve your physical condition.
The undeniable advantages of regular running include:
- burning fat
- improving your physical condition
- post-run release of “happiness hormones” (endorphins)
- stress relief
- strengthened immunity
- strengthened cardiac activity
Before you start
The first thing to do is have the right shoes. Especially in the long run. You can invest in better quality running shoes over time. Initially, try to find at least some sports shoes at home, ones that do not have a completely flat sole and will be as close as possible to running shoes in shape. A positive mood will also be a big help.
Prior to your first run, you should stretch slightly and move your joints to get your body ready for the stress. Then you can start, but not running. Start by walking at a brisker pace, which is an ideal way to warm up the body. For example, for a 30-minute workout, try walking briskly for 9 minutes and then gently running for a minute. Then repeat this two more times.
The most important thing is not to lose motivation, so keep a good record of everything. This will give you an overview of how you are doing. Try running this way regularly - ideally at least three times a week. Once you manage that, you can start gradually changing the intervals of walking and running.
After a week, you can change the interval to 8 minutes of walking and 2 minutes of running. If you manage to keep it up, next week you can move on to 7 minutes of walking and 3 minutes of running, and then gradually continue like this. Don’t feel bad if sometimes you can’t manage it. Simply change the interval. In contrast, some people will be able to change the interval quicker than after a week - just be careful not to push yourself too hard.
After a few weeks, you should be able to run for 30 minutes at a steady pace. Once you reach this goal, you can set others - increasing the pace, running for longer, a certain number of kilometres, etc.
Burn fat to lose weight
A lot of people associate weight loss with endless running, something like Forrest Gump. However, this is not the case. If you want to burn fat rather than improve your physique, you don't have to run at all. Ideally, you should combine strength training with HIIT (high intensity interval training) and adjust your calorie intake (diet) to a deficit, but we’ll get to that at another time.
For the moment, let’s talk about the activity that is the most efficient at burning fat. Surprisingly, the key factor here is heart rate, not the activity. There is a heart rate zone in which the most intense fat burning takes place. Everyone has it set a little differently according to their physical condition, gender, age, etc.
Here’s a simple example:
The fat burning zone in a physically active adult male is between 110 and 135 beats per minute. A heartbeat above 135 means this person is undergoing cardio, i.e., primarily an increase in fitness. When running for 30 minutes, the heart rate reaches 140+. In contrast, when walking briskly, the heart rate is around 120. This person will burn fat more efficiently when walking briskly, not while running.
How can you determine your heart rate? The best way is to have a smart watch. Today, most of them are paired with a smartphone by means of an app. After entering a few data, it will immediately calculate the individual zones and you can choose the activity accordingly.
Remember, however, that the greatest influence on weight loss or improving your overall condition is your diet, not only its quantity, but also its quality or regularity.
Don’t forget about regeneration
When you start running, the first thing to bear in mind is that you should allow your legs to recover. Don’t unnecessarily overburden your feet, this helps prevent some of the deformities that may arise in extreme cases. If they hurt, feel free to postpone the next run until another day.
The best recovery can be a traditional rest, literally putting your feet up - ideally while wearing Foot Alignment Socks, which will increase circulation and stretch your foot muscles and relax your legs overall. Or you can recovery actively - by stimulating the feet or through various exercises to stretch the legs. You can find out how professional marathon runner Marcela Joglová rests her legs in the article Running is a fulfilling path for me.
So, are you ready to run?