Running for Weight Loss? Avoid These Common Mistakes!

People run for various reasons.  Some runners enjoy the competition that is associated with races.  Other individuals use running as a relaxation method.  It is also common for weight-loss-hopefuls to shed pounds by running.

This last reason – running for weight loss – isn’t a bad idea.  Not only does running improve heart muscles and lower our resting heart rate, it also has other health benefits.  Running is a cardiovascular activity that can burn calories and help eliminate fat.

However, you can’t just grab a pair of running shoes and expect the pounds to melt away.  You need to know how to turn your runs into calorie burning expeditions.  Plus, you need to be aware of the potential pitfalls that tend to snare weight loss runners.  Below is a list weight loss statistics associated with running and common mistakes these athletes tend to make.

Know This First:

Here is some general information you should know about running and weight loss.  To burn the most calories and get the best weight loss results, make sure you know what you are doing!

Get the Best Results

Running will burn calories.  However, you probably won’t see significant weight loss results if you only run.  You should round out your exercise regimen with strength training.  Stronger muscles will enhance your running experience; plus, muscles continue to burn calories, even when you aren’t active.

Also, you’ll want to pair your new workout plan with a healthy diet.  Design a plan that meets your nutritional needs and cuts calories in a safe way.  Remember you still need a storehouse of energy to power your runs.  For example, cutting out breakfast entirely to save calories for later in the day isn’t a good idea.  You’ll need a healthy breakfast to supply much needed energy before your run.


We can’t give you an exact length of time for your run.  There are several factors that will determine how many calories you burn – like your weight, your sex, the incline, and the speed of your run.  However, the American College of Sports Medicine gives a general rule of thumb: run 30-minutes each day to maintain your weight.  If you want to burn calories, increase the length of time you run to 60 to 90 minutes.

Heart Rate

To achieve your weight loss goals via running, you’ll want to take your heart rate into consideration.  The optimum heart rate for burning fat is 60-90 percent of your maximum heart rate.  Do some research to determine your average beats per minute (your age and sex will affect this number).  Then, do some math to determine your target heart rate for maximum calorie burn.

What to Expect

Be patient.  Weight loss won’t happen over night.  A healthy amount of weight loss is one or two pounds per week.  Research shows that people who lose a lot of weight very quickly are more likely to gain it back.

See each pound lost as a huge achievement.  Make sure you have other ways to judge your success besides numbers on the scale.  Look at how your clothes are fitting, how many inches you’ve lost and the distance you are able to traverse.

Common Mistakes:

There are several mistakes runners make while trying to lose weight.  Learn from other runners’ mistakes so you don’t struggle with these same issues!

Total Deprivation

Many weight loss hopefuls – runners or not – tend to deprive themselves of their favorite foods.  They feel this is the only way to lose weight.  While cutting calories and restricting unhealthy foods is a good idea, total deprivation is bad.

If you cut a food from your diet entirely, you are much more likely to overeat.  Some day, you will cave to your cravings and go overboard.

When you have a craving, go ahead and indulge.  However, do it wisely.  Put a single serving of potato chips into a bowl.  When the bowl is empty, your snack is done.  If you grab handfuls directly out of the bag, you are likely to eat the entire thing.

This is an especially important tip to remember right after a run.  You come home famish after a long run and crave satisfaction for your hunger pangs.  However, if you eat too much, you are likely to gain more calories than your run just burned.

Food as a Reward

After reaching a distance goal, participating in a hard race, or completing a particularly difficult run, you probably feel you have earned a reward.  And, you definitely have!  However, don’t let your reward be food.  Soon, even the smallest accomplishment will be worthy of a gooey slice of chocolate cake.

Instead, treat yourself with non-food rewards.  The next time you reach your running goal, buy some new running gear or get a pedicure.  Once you have reached your goal, set a new one.  And reward yourself again with a non-food reward.

Sports Drinks

Many runners tend to drink too many calories which will eventually derail their weight loss efforts.  They believe they need to drink lots of sports drinks because they are running so much.  This is true – with a stipulation.  You do need to replace the electrolytes you lost during long runs.  However, you don’t need to drink high calorie sports drinks all the time – only when you are actually working out.  Sports drinks are high in calories and low in nutritional benefits.  Reserve them for runs that last longer than 90 minutes.  For all other workouts (and all other beverage requirements during the day), water is the best way to stay hydrated.


Many weight loss hopefuls rely on calorie expenditure tables to determine how many calories they burn on each run.  Those tables are based on the “average” person’s stats.  The information isn’t universal for everyone and most people tend to overestimate.  Likewise, treadmills and other cardio equipment that display calorie expenditures tend to overestimate the calories burned.  One study found those machines overestimated calories burned by as much as 20%!

These numbers are fine to use as a general guideline.  However, they shouldn’t be used as an excuse to consume more calories.  If you want a more accurate reference, use a heart rate monitor to calculate calories burned.

Running is a great way to burn calories and lose weight.  If you are interested in using this workout as a weight loss method, make sure you are well educated about the process.  Don’t let pitfalls slow you down.

About the Author:
Guest author Dusty Miller has recently lost a lot of weight. He first used HCG shots and weight loss information he received from a local health professional. Then, he started running regularly to shed those last few pounds. Now, Dusty runs to maintain his current weight.

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