Is Running Good for Weight Loss?

Is Running Good For Weight Loss
Is Running Good For Weight Loss

Probably there is no other question about running than this one. In short, yes, running is an incredible way to lose weight. Not only is it a great form of exercise…you can have great fun while doing it! One of the major reasons why running is great for weight loss is that it can become addictive so you might end up running for fun while losing weight. Isn’t that the best of both worlds?

By now, we’ve all heard of the ‘’runners high’’. It’s a genuine phenomenon that happens to everyone. Before we get into all that good stuff though…

Running Is One Of The Oldest Sports In The Whole World!
The oldest recorded, in fact. For as long as humans have been alive…we’ve been running. The earliest recorded Olympic Games in ancient Greece were in 776 BC! The history of the Olympic Games is quite interesting. Whether for fun, sport or even for hunting…running has been a staple exercise for humans.

Running is an Addictive Way to Lose Weight!
Wouldn’t it be nice if you could actually be addicted to daily exercise? Running works just like that. There are several reasons why running is not only a great way to lose weight, it’s actually addictive. Here are a few reasons…

The runner’s high is a real thing. The runner’s high is when your body gets a rush of endorphins while exercising. You’ll feel a sensation of pleasure come over you as you run. It could be 15 minutes into the run…or even 30 minutes into your run, it’ll come over you and it will feel great!

Here’s another major key: When you run (if you do it outside) it’s almost like taking a trip! If you run throughout your neighborhood you’ll get a chance to explore the entire surroundings of your neighborhood. You’ll also meet a bunch of your neighbors! If you run in the wilderness it’ll be a great chance to get some fresh air and enjoy the outdoors. All while enjoying your runner’s high!

How Much Weight Can You Expect To Lose?
This can depend greatly. One thing I can assure you of though…if you run and you run often, you will see a difference in your waistline.
Average Joe’s and even world class athletes use running to lose weight. The world famous boxer, Floyd Mayweather ran on average 8 miles per day to stay fit for competition. Football players run sprints on an almost daily basis.

One thing is clear: If you are a strong runner, you won’t have problems with weight. If you make a habit of running, you will lose weight or keep un-wanted weight off.
If you are just beginning to start your journey…take a look at this article from runner’s world. The results are incredible!
That particular article highlights the dramatic weight-loss possible from running. People of all different body types and genders, with lives completely changed due to running. Check those pictures out, they’re awesome!

But, is Running a Good Idea for You?
Long story short…absolutely! Running is a great idea for anyone looking to stay in shape and lose weight. Here’s another benefit: You don’t even need a gym membership. Gym memberships are optional. You can get started right away! Running is also the cheapest sport. If you live in a warm country that’s even cheaper because all you need is a shirt, a pair of shorts and a pair of sports shoes. Lace up and run, now!

How Long Should You Run For a Day?

How long you should run for per day will depend greatly on your goals. If you want to run marathons, you’ll have to run for a long time. If you’re running to stay in shape and lose weight…you won’t have to run like you’re training for a marathon. We’ll go over both lifestyles.

Before we get into how much time you should spend running per day, let’s go over something…

What Are Your Goals?

Getting clear on your goals and why you want to run will be a major key. The reason why you lace up your shoes each morning will be what keeps you on the road. If you’re not clear on why you’re running…it’ll be that much more likely you’ll stop running. Let’s keep you healthy by keeping you on the road.

Here are a few things to consider:
• Do you want to run a marathon someday?
• Are you an athlete looking to improve performance?
• Are you looking to lose weight and stay in shape?
• Are you a hobbyist looking to have fun?

Keep all these in mind. Which one speaks the most with you? Your goal is important because this reason will be your ‘’North Star’’ when you’re out on the road. Your north star will keep you out on the road, even if it’s a bad day.

How Long Should A Hobbyist Run For?

If you’re reading this and you’re a hobbyist, your goals will be different. According to the Mayo Health clinic, the average adult should aim to exercise about 30 minutes per day. You can read that article here. Aim to run about 30 minutes per day. A high paced run for 30 minutes is plenty. If you are running at a high pace running for 30 minutes will burn your lungs out.

Keep a varied schedule. Run hills, stairs, the track keep healthy variety. Variety will keep you running long-term. It’s also a great way to build endurance and speed at the same time.
30 minutes a day is recommended for everyone. If you’re running 30 minutes per day, you’re looking good.

How Long Should Athletes Run For?
Athletes should run as long as they need to. If you’re training for a half marathon you should be running at least an hour a day.
If you’re a football player you should be on the track for at least an hour per day!

Final Thoughts
Your actions have to align with your goals. A goal without action is just a dream. If you run for health purposes only, running for 30 minutes per day is perfect. After you’re done your 30 minute run…you’re then free to do whatever you like! That could be spending time with your family or anything you like.

Athletes on the other hand, have to dedicate themselves to their craft. If you plan on compete in running, run as often as possible. It would be a good idea to run an hour per day, 6 times a week.

Is it Safe to Run Every Day?

Three Quarter Shot of an Athletic Young Man Doing an Outdoor Running Exercise at the Park
First thing, first: if you have the dedication to run every single day …you’ll be fine (eventually). With so much information available to us today, execution is what matters the most. Ideas are common, execution is rare. If you can run each and every single day, you are way ahead of the pack.

However, running every day could become hard on your body. Let’s dive into the details…

Is It A Good Idea To Run Every Day?
Running almost every day is a great idea! For a highly dedicated runner, six days a week is great. If you are an athlete, running 6 times a week is a good idea. Running every-single-day is excessive. Your body and joints need time to rest, even when you are a professional athlete. Let’s find a balance.

How Much Running Is Too Much?
It is 100% possible to over train and over exert your body. It can happen to anyone. Especially if you are a highly motivated person. I am competitive (if you’re reading this I’m sure you are as well). Over-training means that you are on the right track. But let’s not go over-board though.

Here are some major tell-tale signs that you are running too much:
• Getting sick very easily (this is a major tell)
• Chronic fatigue
• Brain fog
• Looking ‘’Grey’’ (skin complexion)
• Sore Joints

These are common signs and symptoms that you are working out too much! Do not ignore these tell-tale signs. Overtraining will not only leave you sick, it will ruin your progress on the road.
How Can We Find A Balance?

Listen to your body. It can take some time to figure out the proper balance. A good rule to live by though is have one rest day per week. One rest day gives your muscles and joints the time they need to recover.
On a rest day however, you could have what’s called an ‘’active rest day’’. Let me explain.
An active rest day is when you perform and activity like stretching or walking. This is technically speaking still exercise; however you’re not out pounding the pavement. If you’re body is feeling good and you want to work out on your off day…go for a walk!

Walking is running’s best friend. Walking is one of the biggest steps anyone can take toward a better life. It is literally the most underrated form of exercise there is. If walking is too much, stretch a little bit (if you must).

What Could You Do On A Rest Day?
Let me be clear: rest days are a great thing. Rest days are something that you earn and deserve. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. It’s vital for your body to recover.

Drink lots of water on your rest day. You’ve been exercising so much and your body needs it. Another thing is to get regular deep tissue massages. As many as you can afford, they are a major key for your health. If you’ve been spending time doing a lot of one particular thing such as running, you’ll have some muscular imbalances. Massage will help tremendously with this!
Remember that running is a tool to empower yourself, to improve. Don’t run yourself into the ground while doing it. Be safe and be smart.

I’m back at running (for some time)

I completely neglected my little online running journal so I just wanted to give some updates for that lonely user who happen to end up on my blog (most likely by a Google algorithm mistake).

First, I do quite good now, the injury went away but I still have some pain in my left leg when, I run, especially over 20 km. I guess it will never go away completely but who knows, I’m not a doctor. Hopefully it won’t bother me at all one day.

I started running longer capping a good mileage per week, a couple of days ago I even top up 77 km. Depending on how seasoned runner you are, that might not be huge in your world but it definitely is a personal record.

My commuting stays in between me and my happiness with those 4-5 hours daily but hey I found a couple of ways to run even so. One is running right after 5 on Dufferin, north of the office, then on Davenport and south back on Christie. It’s 10k and one even I even went north to Eglinton, running 17k. But running after work is hard. Anything after 10k and I feel the burn and the exhaustion.

Two nights ago I ran 24k but the plan was 27-28 and man, wasn’t that a drag to do even 24k! Again, it’s hard to run long distances after my 9 to 5 work. I’m considering doing 10k, 3-4 days a week for the after hours run and longer distances Saturdays and Sundays. Fits me better.

And one more thing, the nutrition and hydration are crucial for long runs. I used to make fun of people running with bottles around their waist, looking like Christmas trees but not anymore. I started taking with me a bottle of Gatorade or Powerade plus a Protein Builder bar and man, that makes a difference! But more on hydration and nutrition while running in a future blog post.

See you on the run!
Vic

How do I fix my IT Band?

Where is the IT band?

The Iliotibial Band is a rigid tissue that inserts up at the glutes and continues down on the leg, on the exterior side, towards the knee. It ends bellow the knee.

What Causes Iliotibial band syndrome?

iliotibial band syndrome
The lack of elasticity is the problem so stretching it during the pre-run warm up is a must. You need that because when you run there is a chance you will stretch it more than is used to and that will cause tears. Warming up will help your body be more prepared for your running.

If you get tears in the IT Band, there will be inflammation and ultimately sharp pain. That is how you know you suffer from the Iliotibial Band Syndrome. But don’t worry, your body will try patching those tears. The problem with that is that these patches, depending how many and how big they are, will rub against your knee joint so during rehab you need to be consistent with the exercises your physiotherapist recommends you.

How long does IT band take to heal?

If you do a full break with no running at all for a couple of weeks (I rested for 2 weeks), the pain will go away but when you are back at it, the pain will eventually surface depending on the distance you run, how fast you run and more importantly how big is your stride. It did flared back for me after my 2 weeks break so just resting won’t work with this injury.

I’m no doctor but for me is crystal clear that my strides are the key along with the distance. Of course is much more than just strides. Think of vibrations, torsion, running form and so on and so forth. But the strides are the key.

Big strides = big IT Band stretches = big risk of tears. Low strides = low IT Band stretches = low risk of tears.

It may take weeks or months to heal. Without proper care it might never get healed 100%. It depends on age, level of fitness, rehab workouts, how the injury occurred (if it was due to a mistake or if it came gradually in time), etc.

How do I fix my IT band?

Working the glutes so they are more active in running and stretching the superior leg, especially the IT Band side. The whole idea is to keep the IT Band as flexible as possible and get stronger glutes. IT Band is a tendon so it doesn’t have any elasticity but keeping it in good shape is crucial. When you jump of a rock or when you overtake another runners, you increase your stride. Train properly so you don’t run into issues.

This is what I do (requires an elastic band):
1. Standing sideways, leg swings with the elastic band. 12 x 3 sets.
2. On hands and knees with the elastic band around my knees: one fire hydrant, one back bent knee, one back up straight. 5 x 3 sets

You can do 3 things:
1. google IT Band stretches and follow a set of exercises
2. develop your exercises following a simple plan – whatever stretches your exterior side of the legs and gives a good workout to the glutes, that is a great warm up and will help tremendously your IT Band
3. do what I do

Aging affects it. Like any other tissue in body, the IT Band is affected by the age. I’m over 40 and while I wasn’t sold on this idea years ago, I am convinced now, runners over 40 need a proper warm up before running and races. If you run with a group and you don’t want stretching with them, arrive ahead of time and do your warm up before they show up. That’s my plan.

This is what I do to fix my IT Band so I can get back at running ASAP:

  • I run mostly alone for a while; piers pressure is not good for me as I am competitive and will try overtake anyone I run with. It’s a no-no.
  • Stretching before run and after run; 10-15 min should do it
  • running slower, currently close to 6 min per km
  • running a smaller distance, currently 3-4 km
  • lowering my strides, basically more steps per distance
  • exercising my glutes and my legs with emphasis on the IT Band whenever is possible; I found myself doing it when I watch TV, works perfect!

Whatever you do, don’t over do it. I rough warm up will cause more issues with your IT Band. Increase the warm up time and the daily exercises complexity over time. Don’t force it.

Thank god it’s fall. I would have hated myself should this have happened in the spring before the running season. But it’s time to relax and take it easy. Long cold weather ahead so for me and probably for you (except if you leave in Australia) is a great time to do some cross-fit workouts and go for slow and shorter runs. I will be back by spring at the level of running I was before my IT Band start giving me trouble. So, do you.

Good luck! See you on the trail!

I’m slowly back at running

Just finished a 7-8k run (I don’t know the exact distance as I didn’t use my Fitbit Surge and I didn’t use Strava either) and my IT band didn’t bothered me that much. It was a slow but consistent run with some walking and stops but it feels great to be back. I didn’t break any PB record but I’m happy to run again even if at much slower pace than my normal.

The weather is amazing, cold but sunny and beautiful.

The secret is running slow, staying bellow the pain threshold and avoid running uphill or downhill. I also started doing pre-run and after-run warm up and stretching. Plus, I have a set of exercises my physiotherapist recommended me which are apparently helping with my IT band issues as well.

And one more thing, I noticed I have a bad posture (well I kind of know about for a long time) and I also keep my legs at my desk all day long in a position that makes them hurt. So, I’m improving on those as well, one day at a time.

I hope is all well with you and you take fully advantage of these beautiful fall sunny days!

Pre-race checklist – 17 things to always check before your running race

There are a lot of things happening in the weeks before a running race, be it a marathon or a 5k only. Training, proper nutrition, tapering, preparing the clothes and shoes, preparing for the trip if the race is not in your city, etc. All of these might make everything seem overwhelming.

Pre-race checklist - 17 things to always check before your running race

Today I will share with you what I do to make sure every race is a success. I don’t know about you, but having everything in order helps me stay focus on the race and ultimately finish with a great time.

This is my checklist:

I make sure the BIB is attached to my running shirt.

I put on the racing clothes and I make sure I have an extra pair of shorts, t-shirt, socks and underwear in the bag for the way back from the race.

I make sure I use the same running shoes and gear I usually use.

I put in the bag a towel and a box of napkins.

I put in the bag a deodorant

I check the racing location on Google Maps one more time making sure I have the address right on my GPS.

I check on Google Maps for a parking close to the racing start and an additional one a bit further in case the closest one will be full.

I parked once by mistake on a disabled parking spot and I’ve got a $450 fine. Don’t rush when you park, take your time and make sure you pay if required and you don’t break any law. It’s easy to make mistakes when you are in a hurry and excited to get to the race start line. Believe me, you don’t want to see a yellow ticket on your windshield when you come back to your car with a big smile on your face.

I check the estimated time Google Maps is giving me to make sure I leave in time to be at the race location.

I prepare a sandwich and a couple of fruits for after the race if needed.

I make sure I put in a bottle of water in the bag.

Will check on the weather. The races are not postponing if it’s very hot, when it rains, snows or it’s very windy. However I always want to be mentally prepared if the weather worsens. I might take some extra clothing (tights under shorts) or use less clothing (tank top instead of a t-shirt) depending on the temperatures.

I will also make pace adjustments if the weather is announced to be very hot.

I check again the starting time for my race. Usually there are multiple distance races in the same event so I make sure I know exactly when mine starts.

I make sure the running watch and the phone are charged so I can track the time properly with both. It’s nothing worst than tracking with only a watch or a phone and notice at the end you either forgot to turn it on or it just failed. I rather track with 2 devices than having such surprises.

I make sure I have a pair of sunglasses with me and sunscream if the race is late in the day, when the race is mostly in the sun with no shades and more importantly when the race will go on for hours (marathons or ultra-marathons).

I don’t use Vaseline for nipples though my left nipple hurts sometimes and it even bled at a half marathon so if that’s your thing than don’t forget to put one in your bag, just in case you need it.

I make sure I have these documents with me: driver licence, the health card and a credit card. I never been asked to identify myself in any race but you never know. As a rule of thumb is great to have these always with you.

I never participated in a race in a different city but if this is the case, I would make sure I will leave in time, stay overnight if necessarily and make sure I have the flight and the hotel booked way ahead of time.

I won’t be concerned about protein bars, gels or vitamin water. The race organizers usually offer these for everyone participating in the race so you can grab a drink or something to eat at those stops. Also there are plenty of these at the end so feel free to reward yourself after or during the race.

It’s also recommended and a lot of athletes are doing it, eating plenty of carbs after the race like a burger with fries. Be generous with yourself, you’ve been though a lot of hard work to be here.

Congratulations for preparing for your race properly and for finishing! Good job!

How to prepare for a running race in 10 simple steps

No matter if you have a marathon coming up or perhaps a 5k running race, the following steps will help you get ready to kick some butt on the race day.

The week before the race:

1. The week before any race is considered tapering, meaning you take it easy, you don’t do, don’t eat and don’t drink anything unusual.
2. Low to moderate physical efforts. Keep your mind at ease and focused.
3. Try to get good sleep during the week. The sleep from 2 nights before the race counts a lot. E.g. if the race is Sat, the sleep from Thursday night will help you at the race day.

How to prepare for a running race in 10 steps

The day before the race:

4. In the morning of the day before the racing day eat some peanut butter. I like it with a toast but whatever works for you is OK. Carbing up before the race will increase the level of glycogen in your muscles so you will have more energy when on the race day.

5. The night before the race eat another peanut butter sandwich or toast around 7-8 PM and try to get in bed around 9, sleep by 10:30. If you are a morning person you should be asleep already by 11 and have no issues waking up early in the morning. We are all getting a bad sleep the day before of a race so don’t stress out if you do. The sleep from 2 nights before will help.

The day before the race try to eat and drink liquids as per usual. No alcohol because it will dehydrate you.

6. Attach the BIB on the front of the shirt.

The morning of the race:

7. If the race is at 8:30, try to wake up at 6 if not earlier and eat a peanut butter toast 2 hours before the race. 2-3 glasses of water and a banana should be enough.
8. Try to get at the race 1 hour in advance – this will give you enough time to find a parking spot, familiarize with the place, get into the mood, find the starting line, change, go to washroom and get ready to run.

9. Use the same shoes and the same clothes you usually use for running. If you’ve got a shirt from the race organizers, use it. Make sure you attached the BIB attached on the front – if you’ve been given with one. Without a BIB there will be no official time.

Before the race starts, do not eat or drink excesively or anything that you don’t usually eat or drink.

During the race:

10. Start at your normal pace as you would normally run and stay at that speed for 2-3 km. Then slowly increase towards the end. DO NOT start fast, you will burn out quick and might not have enough energy to finish the race. You want to enjoy it not feeling exhausted, not from the beginning anyway.

Good luck and moreover don’t forget to enjoy it! Being competitive can be fun but look out for injuries, don’t go nuts except if you are nuts. Alright, I guess we all are, so go nuts!

A change of pace

Two weeks ago I took a hard left turn without slowing down and my left knee didn’t feel right. I almost completely forgot about it until I went for a run two days later and I didn’t need to run more than 10k to come home limping.

I took 2 full weeks off from running and this Saturday I went to run again with the club. I was alright for the first 3-4k, then the pain started kicking in and I was all a mess after 6-7k. I still managed to get back to the starting point, running 13k but I was in a pretty bad shape at the end.

The pain is at the exterior of my left knee. I read on the internet and it seemed to be the IT Band which was actually confirmed today by the sports doctor. Next, physio and chiropractor for a couple of weeks and no running at all. I will also walk to work weather permits. Hopefully I will be back on my feet soon and do some good running afterwards.

Since I now have at hand 5-6 extra hours per week, because I’m not running, I’m looking into finding some great running shoes and I will be doing some online search and research which I will share with you soon. So, keep this web browser tab open.

Till then, lace up and run! Cheers, Vic

Knee pain when running

I hear people complaining about lower back pain when running, chest or hip pain. Some have calf or ankle pain but none of these are my thing. My problem are my knees, they hurt especially during and after my long distance runs. And man, they hurt like a bitch.

You might have heard of runner’s knee (patellofemoral syndrome). Studies say, at least half of the runners go through runner’s knee issues being also the first sports injury for runners. I think is safe to say that knee pain is the most common issue runners can experience. And believe me is not a good experience.

Talking about myself, pretty much every time I run over 15-20 kilometers my knees become painful and they will stay painful for a day or two. Since only half of the runners experiencing knee pain would have runner’s knee, it’s a 50/50 chance for me to have it too though I don’t think it’s my issue. It’s too temporary to treat it seriously so I’m not really concerned about it to consult a sports medic, not for now.

Anyway, because it’s the only thing that affects my running, I focused my attention to it over the last months and I found a couple of things that might help you as well. In my case there are four factors that appear to contribute to knee pain:

  1. Running uphill and downhill
  2. Running at a much faster than the regular pace
  3. Running consecutive days with no breaks
  4. Running over 20 kilometers or a combination of these factors

Running is hard on knees, no surprise there but you might wonder, like I do, why your knees still hurt even after hundreds of even thousands of kilometers of running? Shouldn’t be enough for your body to adapt to it? Well, apparently not.

Knee pain when running: a medical explanation

I’m not going to go into too much medical stuff since I’m not a doctor but in short the knee is a modified hinge joint also known as tibiofemoral joint. It joints together three bones, femur, tibia and patella. Simply said, the muscles from the front of your thigh called quadriceps extend your leg and control the kneecap while the muscles from the back of your thigh called hamstrings flex your leg.

Because running is a repetitive sport, bending and flexing the knee can irritate the nerves around your patella and strain your tendons causing knee pain. But the explanation I found more accurate and more specific to runners is that the leg muscles become more stronger with training than the knee articulation (basically the tendons and cartilages in your knee capsule fall behind becoming weaker than your leg muscles). This results in the kneecap being stretched more than usual being pulled by the strong muscles over the femur end which ultimately brings inflammation in the area. Add repetition to this and it’s the recipe to pretty much any sports injury.

A couple of possible fixes would be icing the area before and after long runs, doing some proper warm ups before and some stretching after running or/and using a knee sleeve.

What seems to work for me and I will continue doing it, is strengthening my knees with exercises like straight legs rises, hamstring curls and wall squats. If you go this path just be aware that the wall squats can do more harm than good if you don’t do it properly. I wouldn’t recommend any form of training if your knees are very painful for more than a day or two. Rather go see a doctor, get some checkup done and make sure you don’t aggravate your situation instead of improving it.