Weighing In

Posted by Filed Under: Weight Loss

in the knowWe have a running bet—no pun intended—within my running circle. We guess how much weight we’ll gain by the time a big race rolls around. Despite always declaring we’re each going to lose 10 pounds, and this time keep it off, we never do. After reading last week’s Personal Health column by Jane Brody of The New York Times, I have a better understanding of why that is.

Quoting a recent Duke University study published in an exercise journal, Brody notes that while running burns twice as many calories as walking, not all running is equal. Heavier runners burn more calories proportionately than lighter ones. Similarly, runners with poor running form tend to kill off more calories than those far more efficient. However, the unskilled can’t last as long, mile for mile.

“Furthermore, if you walk or run on a treadmill, the aid of the machine diminishes the number of calories your body uses by about 10 to 15 percent of what the machine says you are burning,” Brody writes. On the upside, it’s easier on your body because the machine’s more forgiving than hard surfaces like concrete and asphalt.

B0000C4K01.01._AA280_SCLZZZZZZZ_.jpgHow much you eat also is an obvious factor, and this is where some runners run into trouble. We tend to richly reward our hunger after a hard workout, even after taking calorie-dense energy gels and drinks during that run. We also love our carbs, taking in more than we may need for fuel.

If you were to diet without exercise, you’d still lose weight, but you’d also lower your basic metabolic rate—which is determined largely by genetics. That makes it easier to put pounds back on. By contrast, adding running and other weight-bearing exercises to your daily regime boosts that rate.

Cross-training with conditioning activities such as cycling or swimming is needed to tone and strengthen the body, not necessarily add a lot to your overall caloric loss. These types of exercise help avoid injury from overuse and break the monotony if you’re in a rut.

Sure, you might not burn 100 calories in 10 minutes doing all those laps in the pool or gym, but you’ll look better in your clothes—both the ones you wear to work and the ones you wear to work out.

About Anne

Anne’s been running for so long that when two paths diverge in the woods, not only she does she know to go for the one with the most foreboding weeds, swarms of bees and steep, rocky climbs, but she convinces everyone else to come along. Then, before people are done cursing and nursing insect bites, bloody knees and poison oak outbreaks, she’ll again run — away. She eschews a lot of the newfangled devices that are supposed to make you a better runner because she believes it’s what you put into your body, not on it, that really matters. (Footwear is the exception.) That includes proper nourishment of the mind, which we all know is what really makes the difference on the road…and the trail…and the track. At some point she started to realize that not everyone has run into an Alaskan grizzly bear, been pegged by police as a robber, lost her shorts in a major marathon, rubbed elbows with Olympians, mistaken movie stars for beach bums and watched a wildfire consume her suburb - yes, while she was on a long run. Whether it’s these unique situations, or the universal ones every recreational runner encounters, after she lives it, she loves nothing better than to write about it at Run DMZ.

  1. Soozan on September 19th at 5:03 pm

    Richly reward is an understatement . . . ohhhh. Food.

  2. bex on September 19th at 9:16 pm

    I graze all day. Lucky for me I’m a fidgety person in addition to being a runner.