running for weight loss

Running for Weight Loss

In this post, I’m going to share my experience training clients who’ve used running for weight loss and the 3 mistakes that can lead to injury or wasted time.

If you’re trying to lose weight and considering doing so through running, I want you to have the knowledge you need for success. Because running CAN be good for weight loss. If you keep these things in mind.

The longer I spend as a personal trainer, the better I’ve become at being upfront with people.

You see, when I started training a few years ago, I was too nice. I didn’t want them to feel down about slipping up or not doing a workout. So I would focus on being encouraging and trying to motivate them.

While I of course still do that, I’ve since learned the value of being straight with people. After all, I’m the personal trainer. It’s my job to guide clients to what will help them be successful – and we won’t get anywhere if I sugarcoat everything.

So this post is me doing exactly that.

My goal is not to be a party-pooper. It’s for you to be informed, stay injury-free, and get results. So let’s get into it!

Please note: Check with your physician before starting any exercise routine or starting any particular diet. See this Disclaimer for more details. This post may contain affiliate links. For details, please visit my Disclosure page. Thank you!

running for weight loss

3 Major Mistakes People Make When Running for Weight Loss

Mistake #1: You Don’t Start with Walking

When someone is overweight, they’re carrying around more weight than is ideal for their body. While that may sound obvious, think about it from a body mechanics standpoint. For instance, it means the knees have that much more impact with each jump and the back has to work harder to support any extra abdominal fat.

For that reason, those who are overweight or obese are more likely to get injured. This is especially true with running.

Due to increased risk of pain and injury in overweight and obese individuals, low-impact aerobic exercise will be a better option than running for weight loss. Some examples of low-impact exercise include:

  • Walking
  • Cycling
  • Swimming
  • Using the elliptical

Walking is honestly such a great way to lose weight that many people overlook. By using a hilly neighborhood loop, ramping up the treadmill incline, or simply keeping your excursions at a brisk pace, you’ll still challenge yourself enough to get results – even without running. You can also complete longer durations of walking, which is ideal for weight loss.

RELATED POST: Health Benefits of Walking – Why Walking is Your Fitness Secret Weapon!

While I don’t like to discourage anyone from running, you need to take a thorough, unbiased look at yourself and your fitness level. The greater the amount of excess weight you’re carrying on your body and the less accustomed your body is to exercise, the more likely you are to get injured – which will put a stopper in your weight loss goals early on.

This is why it’s helpful to know your BMI. Using low-impact exercise is especially appropriate if your BMI is 30 or greater, meaning that you fall into the obese category.

Wait, but haven’t some people been successful using running for weight loss?

Yes, of course! Although it’s not my top choice of cardio for losing large amounts of weight, running can have a place in a weight loss program.

An intermittent walk/run workout is an excellent way to introduce your body to running without overdoing it. In fact, it’s typically how I start all of my clients who are new to running, overweight or not.

Limiting running to every other day is another good way to ease into running for weight loss.

The MOST important thing is to listen to your body. If you’re experiencing recurring pains with each step, especially across multiple runs, you need to rethink your exercise plan.

woman using running for fat loss

Mistake #2: You Expect Your Running to Improve Fast

When you get started running, it will take awhile to see an improvement in both endurance and speed.

I’ve seen new runners tackle every single run like they’re racing in the Olympics. It may seem counterintuitive, but if you’re always pushing your pace on your runs, you won’t feel much progress. Instead, you’ll end up feeling like every run is a struggle and will likely give up because your progress is so discouraging.

When you get started, know you’re in it for the long-haul. Just getting out the door for a run is such an accomplishment, you don’t need to race the clock the entire time too.

Endurance and speed come with simply lacing up your shoes and getting a run in consistently.


Mistake #3: You Think It’s All You Need to Lose Weight

This is a little more of that “give-it-to-you-straight” personal trainer talk. But it’s true: running will likely not help you lose weight on its own.

As much as it pains my little personal trainer heart to say it, what you eat is way more important than exercise when it comes to weight loss.

You absolutely need to limit your portions, focus on eating unprocessed and nutritious foods, and cut back on sugar/refined carbohydrates. There’s just no way around it. Plain and simple.

To make sure you’re not forgetting any key pieces needed for weight loss, I’ve created a weight loss checklist to use as a resource:

free weight loss checklist

Should I Use Running for Weight Loss Then?

Because I don’t know your particular exercise history or medical history, I unfortunately can’t give you a yes or no answer to this question.

If you’re desperate to begin running or get back to running, then it’s likely you can find a safe way to integrate it into your exercise program. Just be sure to pay attention to your body’s cues and see a physician if you’re concerned about anything. And clear it with your physician prior to starting, especially if you have any history of bone/joint/muscular problems.

And if you’re not hellbent on running? Maybe you just thought it was the best type of exercise out there for weight loss? Then hold off! Like I said, there are plenty of other ways to get some quality, low-impact exercise in. Just make sure you’re challenging yourself.