As I talk to different people about running I see a couple themes that keep coming up. One is that a lot of people run to escape. Not to escape lions, tigers or bears, but the phone, the computer and the pressure. Running is a great escape because you can get out there on your own and have time to think and just enjoy nature. The other thing that pops up even more frequent is people running to get healthier or lose weight. That is what I want to concentrate on a little more today.
The only thing I consider myself at expert at is getting into trouble with my wife. With that being said, I do have some some experience (even if I’m not an expert) with running to lose weight. I decided that I needed to lose weight and starting my diet and running routine early 2015. Since then I have logged a little over 600 miles which has helped me lose 50 pounds and maintain the loss. I definitely had to make some diet changes, but that was mostly basic stuff that everyone would know. Eat less fried foods. Eat more vegetables. Eat smaller portions. I didn’t completely cut anything out of my diet over the last year and a half, but I did eat a lot less food.
For the running it started out as getting my 30 minutes of cardio in and calling it done. Over time my pace started increasing and I was running 3 miles in well under 30 minutes. This article from FitDay helps explain why getting 30 minutes is important
The major muscle groups are often the primary focus of exercise, but it’s important to realize that your muscles aren’t the central point of emphasis when performing cardio-related activities; rather, it’s your heart. Cardiovascular activity increases your BPM (heartbeats per minute), which increases blood flow to working muscles, in addition to the heart. Even though you don’t need to perform high-intensity bouts of sprinting to improve your heart health, raising your BPM over 120, for an extended period of time, is necessary in order to enhance your body’s natural ability to burn fat.
So eventually I started doing longer run. Some where fast and some where long and slow. Just being sure that your heart rate is elevated (to a safe level) and keeping that intensity for at least 30 minutes is key. If walking gets your heart rate above 120 that is sufficient and you should be able to lose weight. As your weight drops and your overall health improves the intensity of cardio needed to sustain 120 bpm will need to go up. Soon enough it will be a walk-run-walk workout for 30 minutes. Then maybe a run-walk-run. If you stick with some healthy diet choices along with the cardio that meets your fitness level you will see improvements. Over time you will be jogging for an hour thinking back to the days that you used to think people that run are completely crazy.
Weight loss isn’t easy and there is no magic bullet. It takes lots of effort. Going out blind without any knowledge or plan will rarely get the results you want. Decide what kind of changes need to be made to your diet and figure out what it takes to get your heart rate to 120 bpm. Stick to the initial plan as much as possible and as your health changes, modify the plan. I can assure you that you can do it. I know because that because I am no different than any of you thinking you aren’t a runner. Run Richmond isn’t for “runners”. Run Richmond is a place for people to connect and build relationships. A place for people to get encouraged to become a better version of themself. I am passionate about this because this is what I needed 2 or 3 years ago when I tried running to lose weight. This type of community didn’t exist then, but now it does.
Running has transformed my body and my outlook on life. As I hope you can see in the picture above I am a much happier person now. I enjoy my family more, I enjoy relationships more and I am less worried about day to day stuff. I know that I can handle whatever is put in front of me. I know I have a loving family to support me and a community of people that will do the same. I am much healthier today than I was in the beginning of 2015 and weight only plays a small part of that.