It's no secret that the path to losing weight fast is through diet and exercise -- and if running is your chosen form of exercise, you'll be happy to know that it's among the biggest calorie burners out there. Another big plus with running -- you can do it even with little ones in tow, and pushing a jogging stroller will help you burn even more calories. A healthy amount of weight to lose is 1 to 2 pounds a week, which is more than possible by sticking to your long-distance running routine.
Gear up with equipment that will help you keep running and not be forced to make frequent stops. That includes a pair of running shoes that fit well and are designed for your gait, which you can find at a specialty running store. Also invest in a running belt or hydration pack that will help you stay hydrated and allow you to stash your keys, wallet and phone. If you're a mom, invest in a quality jogging stroller with bells and whistles such as a rain shield, snack pocket and a comfy headrest, so Junior is happy while you track the miles.
Set aside about one hour each day for running. To lose weight fast, you have to burn as many calories as possible. To lose 1 pound, you need to create a 3,500-calorie deficit. A 160-pound person will burn about 606 calories in an hour running at a 5 mile-per-hour pace; that same person will burn about 861 calories per hour running at an 8-mile per-hour pace. Running six days a week then will burn 3,636 or 5,166 calories a week, respectively.
Wear a speedometer watch or install a speed monitor app on your mobile device to track how fast you're running. Since burning more calories requires more intensity and more time, the way to add more intensity is to track your speed and then work toward improving your time the next time you go out.
Avoid starving yourself. You may be tempted to cut way back on calories so you can lose weight fast -- but that could leave you with not enough fuel to complete your long-distance runs. Eat high-quality protein such as lean meats, fish or nut butters at least once or twice a day. At every meal, eat complex carbohydrates found in whole-grain breads, oatmeal, fruits and vegetables. If you need a little pick-me-up just before a run, try a quick-burning carbohydrate snack such as potatoes or cornflakes, suggests "Runner's World."
Track the foods you eat and the estimated number of calories you've burned through exercise by using an online calorie calculator to estimate the calories in foods. Then write down all of the foods you've eaten and how many calories you've consumed. If you find that you're not losing weight as fast as you want to, look back at your diet diary and seek out things you can cut out; desserts, sweets and snacks should be the first things to go. Tally up the totals at the end of the week. Ideally, you should be reducing your calorie intake by 500 to 1,000 calories each day through diet and exercise, recommends MayoClinic.com.
- If you're running for more than an hour or you're pushing yourself really hard, drink a sports drink to help replenish your electrolytes and give you the fuel you need to keep going.
- If you start to feel overly tired or crabby, you're not getting enough sleep or you've lost your appetite, it could be a sign that you're overtraining, reminds the American Council on Exercise. Always give yourself at least one day of rest during the week, during which you don't work out or only do something light such as walking. If you experience the symptoms of overtraining, talk to your doctor and take a break from running for a few days or even a week or two.
Nicole Vulcan has been a journalist since 1997, covering parenting and fitness for The Oregonian, careers for CareerAddict, and travel, gardening and fitness for Black Hills Woman and other publications. Vulcan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from the University of Minnesota. She's also a lifelong athlete and is pursuing certification as a personal trainer.