Running Amok for Weight Loss
Sally was very frustrated. She had been running for about two solid months now and she had dropped six inches off her waist and thighs, but now she was stuck. Her feet were sore and swollen. Her back had been hurting sharply since her 5K run yesterday and the side of her hip was painful and tight. Her weight loss that was quite rapid at first had begun to slow to a grinding halt with only half a pound weight loss last week.
She wasn’t quite sure what to do, but she knew she couldn’t stop. And so Sally strapped on her running shoes and went out for her little stroll.
Sally made it about 200 meters before her leg and feet started screaming at her with an intensity that made her cut her normal rapid pace into a steady plod. Angry and even more flustered, Sally stumbled on and finished her 5K at twice her usual time almost making her late for work.
Upon rapidly finishing her usual routine of hair, makeup and flashy clothes, Sally headed for work and noticed a text message flashing on her iPhone. Sally glanced casually at the phone and noticed her friend Susan had texted her about their coffee date later on in the afternoon. Sally suddenly realized that she might be able to ask her for some advice, Susan being the utmost authority on running and everything fitness.
A Bit Later On…
Sally met Susan at their local coffee joint and ordered a large coffee with light cream. After the usual fanfare and banter about work, kids and spouses, Sally finally asked…
“Susan, how do you do it?” Sally asked.
“Hmmm, what do you mean, Sally?” Susan asked setting down her coffee cup.
“Well, I’ve been running as of late and losing some of the baby weight that I put on from my first pregnancy, but now I’m struggling to lose anymore weight,” Sally said dolefully.
“Oh, yes you told me that you’d been running,” Susan said. “It’s not going so well anymore?”
“No, not at all,” Sally said. “I wake up every morning and get ready to go run, my feet are sore, my hips and ankles feel like they’re on fire about five minutes into the run and my back is achy all afterwards. I’ve been managing about 5K a day, but now it’s gotten so bad that I’m lucky to hobble for 5K in my usual time and I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong. Plus, I’ve stopped losing weight. What do I do?”
“Oh, I see,” Susan said, brushing her hair back from her eyes. “Well, I can see that you’re very motivated to lose weight and are determined to run off the weight, but you’re going about it the wrong way!”
“Really!” Sally exclaimed. “What do I need to do differently?”
“Well, for starters, why on Earth are you running 5K everyday?” Susan said.
“Because I thought that’s how everyone loses extra weight,” Sally said. “I see all the very lean ladies that go on long runs almost every day in the park and they’re superfit and lean everywhere.”
“Well, that was the key statement right there,” Susan said, “almost everyday you see them.” You see running is great for helping burn off extra calories, but what you’re probably not considering is the fact that losing weight is more than just running. In fact running can actually be counterproductive to certain people trying to lose weight.”
“How so…” Sally asked.
“Well, running isn’t severely hard on the well trained body,” Susan said, taking another sip of her coffee, “but it is very difficult to maintain a daily rhythm of running if your body isn’t ready for it, especially if you’re not taking days off in between bouts.” “Think about it, whens the last time you took a break or did something other than run in the last two months?”
“Ummm,” Sally mumbled, “I guess I haven’t really done much other than run.” “It’s just easy to throw on the shoes and shorts and go…”
“Exactly, you haven’t spent any time trying to build up your body to the point where you can actually run without causing more damage to your body,” Susan said. “Have you ever heard of cross-training?”
“Yeah, sure,” Sally said. “Isn’t that like lifting weights and stuff?”
“Yes, that’s it,” Susan said, “it’s a mix of different activities other than running that will help you lose weight.” “Cross-training is great because you can do a mix of different activities to help you get leaner, stronger and faster, all while keeping you motivated and fresh. You’re not doing the same thing every day, so your body is going to have to adapt to doing other things.”
“Now that sounds interesting,” Sally said, “But will I be able to do it in the mornings before work?”
“Oh, yes of course,” Susan remarked. “You can start with simple body weight exercises like pushups, planks and squats or you can even join a gym and get the ball rolling even faster. That’s what you’re after right, fast results?”
“Well, yeah…isn’t that what everyone wants,” Sally said, “results as fast as possible.”
“Yeah, true, but realize that this process isn’t necessarily fast, but it’s the right way to do it,” Susan said. “You can go fast, or you can do it right!” “Take most people who start off following the exact same path that you did, they start off running and at first get really awesome results. Then there progress slows and they get discouraged, injured or both. Then what happens?”
“They quit?” Sally said.
“Yeah, pretty much,” Susan said. “Or they end up getting hurt, because there is only so far you can go with running alone.” “I used to love running, it helped clear my head, felt really good and set my day up right, but it never gave me the toned physique that I really wanted.” “Then I discovered the benefits of lifting weights and metabolic conditioning, that’s truly what helped transform my physique.”
“So you’re saying that I should lift weights now?” Sally asked.
“Yes in a manner of speaking, yes,” Susan said frankly. “You need to start learning some basic resistance training movements in order to build up your body, your foundation, in order to keep on losing weight.” “It’s not that you want to discontinue running, maybe for a time while you get used to lifting and get your body stronger and fitter, but you need to switch gears.” “Running is a cardiovascular exercise, which means it targets mainly the heart and lungs. It improves your overall level of oxygen utilization, but doesn’t really train the muscles to get stronger and leaner.”
“That makes sense,” Sally said, nodding her head.
“Running is great for burning calories, but over time running becomes too easy for the body. Especially when you’re only doing a certain distance or time frame,” Susan remarked casually. “If you continue doing the same thing over and over again, how can you expect the same results?”
“Umm, I never thought of it that way,” Sally said, “I just thought that the more calories I burned, the more weight I would lose.” “Is that not right?”
“Not exactly,” Susan replied. “The body is a very malleable machine that become adapted to whatever you’re doing to it.” “It knows when you’re going for a long run in the morning and gets used to doing the same thing over and over. Pretty soon it’s not going to burn the same amount of calories that it used to, which is why you’re not losing any more weight. You have to find a way to bring up the intensity or the difficulty of the exercise, either by doing more time or more distance running.” “And at this point I don’t think you can handle more running without developing some more muscle and getting those hips more mobile.”
“Yeah, I don’t think I can run anymore than I already am; the time and length of my run in the morning allows me just enough time to get to work,” Sally said.
The Beauty of Resistance Training
“You see that’s the beauty of cross training,” Susan said, taking another sip of coffee, “You get the best of both worlds.” “Resistance training stays at the same intensity all the time, as long as you’re adding resistance or increasing the weights slowly over time, it’s always the same intensity, TOUGH!” “Not only that but it helps you build lean muscle tissue that burns more calories at rest.” “That way you don’t have to add time or distance into your workouts, you’re just keeping the intensity high for the body all the time.”
“Yeah, maybe that could help take care of these flabby arms of mine,” Sally laughed.
“Of course,” Susan said, “It’s all very manageable and easy to incorporate into your daily routine.” “Simply start off slow and steady learning a couple new movements and work to get stronger in those movements over time.”
“But what should I start with,” Sally asked. “I get the principle, but how do I know what direction to go?” “It’s all so new and I’m not sure what I’ll have time for.”
“Well, you should start with what you’re comfortable with, but it’ll be much faster if you hire a trainer or join a gym with some knowledgeable staff to give you a hand if necessary,” Susan said. “But at this point I’m sure you’d do fine with a little bit of mobility work before going on your runs and some bodyweight resistance exercises.” “Here try these exercises out first and get stronger at home first, then you can work on going to the gym to get even stronger,” Susan said, grabbing a napkin and pen from her purse.
“You don’t want me to join a gym right away,” Sally asked.
“Not if you’re not ready for it,” Susan said, “But eventually it’d be a good idea to get a membership somewhere with some knowledgeable staff who can help motivate you and teach you the right way to do things.” “The key thing is to increase your intensity over time, learn to move your body the right way and create a foundation of strength to help your body get stronger and more mobile,” Susan said, finishing her scribbling.
Susan handed Sally the napkin.
“There you go Sally,” Susan said. “I hope this helps a bit, but realize creating a foundation takes time, effort and consistency.” “Don’t get too caught up in the quick-easy-fixes, they don’t last the test of time. Proper training and nutrition will get you where you want to be.” “Alright, I have to get going now,” Susan said, finishing her last bit of coffee. “It’s been great catching up, and I’ll see you next time.”
“Thanks, Susan,” Sally said. “I appreciate the advice.”
-CPT SMASH – Remember nothing worth doing is easy and running can get pretty easy after a while, but at the same time it can lead to injuries. Try a mix of weights, long-slow cardio and sprint-type activities for better weight loss results.
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