Thursday, 6 July 2017

Running for weight loss

running for weight loss

When I started running last year I had one goal and that was to lose weight, after a year I've learnt a lot about what works and what doesn't as well as what my expectations should be and now I have completely different goals! Here’s my running for weight loss journey.

Last June I knew I needed to make a change, I’d felt unhappy in myself for a long time and my weight was the key motivator behind that. At 5’3” I weighed 9st3lbs and whilst that just about falls into the happy BMI category I personally felt uncomfortable in myself and with the passing years had seen quite an increase in my waistline.

A few years prior I’d tried out the gym, I signed up for a year’s membership (the minimum available) and it started out well. The first couple of months I was going to two classes a week and using the equipment alone two more times. I lost a tiny bit of weight but not much and after I got a bit disheartened by it the exercise dropped off. For me the gym doesn't work, they’re expensive and end up feeling more like a prison which made exercise a chore – it didn't help that my favourite class (Aerotone) was only available in the daytime and as a 9-5 worker I never got to go.

struggling through parkrun

Last year, in a different work environment, I was surrounded by people who were much more enthusiastic about exercise many of them took part in the Manchester 10km. 
It was time to give exercise another go and this time I wasn't going to pay for it, so I decided to run.
I grabbed a cheap pair of trainers and planned out a 2.5km route.

Rookie mistake #1 – The cheapest possible trainers are not a good idea. Really. I know it’s a pain to spend money on something you might not take to and want to carry on with but a pair that fits you properly will make it a much better experience.

Rookie mistake #2 – Start with a shorter route! I used to stop about 6 times when I first started out with this and ended up walking chunks of it too!

I tried to complete this route 3 times a week and did manage to keep it up a for a while as I progressed through the summer though I again saw very little change in my weight and again got a bit disheartened.

bramhall parkrun 5km

Rookie mistake #3 – Whatever your expectations are for shedding the pounds lower them dramatically! I always heard how good running was for weight loss and definitely had an unrealistic expectations of how quick this would happen.

As the summer turned to autumn my running became much less frequent due to the mixture of bad weather, shorter nights and general life getting in the way - at the time I was studying for some accountancy exams and packing for the big house move! By the time November rolled around it was the start of a new life for both James and I as we moved into our first home together and it was a complete change in how we both used our evening time.
James is a much more dedicated runner (he’d go out in the middle of the worst storm in a century to get his weekly miles in) and with him to encourage me (although it felt more like torture at the beginning) my running finally developed into more of a consistent routine.

manchester 10km purple wave

Better Runner Tip #1 – Consistency is key, I really can’t say this enough, if you want a result you need to work at it!
We were running a 5km route twice a week and whilst I was still struggling to start with it wasn't long before I could do that 5km without even stopping.

Better Runner Tip #2 – Have goals.

lyme park night run 2017

At the end of January we’d booked ourselves onto the National Trust’s Lyme Park Night Run, a 6.8km trail run taking place in the middle of a park in the dark. Knowing I needed to be able to handle that distance pushed me to keep going through January and on the 21st I was rewarded with a finish time just over 45 minutes.

So what was next? By February our biweekly run had turned into a non-stop 7.5km route and there was a new goal in site – The Manchester 10km!

manchester 2017 10km finisher

Let’s fast forward to now. 
I'm currently feeling the best I have in years, I'm down to 8st7lbs (that’s a pre-university weight) and it’s fairly obvious that those 10lbs have gone! I'm feeling slimmer, fitter and generally a lot healthier. I would still like to shed a few more pounds but rather than focus on weight I'm more interested in feeling healthier and keeping fit.
I finished the Manchester 10km in just over 51mins and have now signed up for a 15km run with my sights set on a half marathon in February 2018!

So  what are the key things I've learnt about running for weight loss? Most importantly it takes a loooong time!
Don’t set your expectations to high.
It takes a lot of commitment and dedication to keep pushing and keep going.
Having someone alongside you is very motivating and I know I wouldn’t be at this point without James there next to me.
Don’t try and push yourself to hard at the start, it’s much better to build it up slowly!

I hope this reflection over my running journey will help and encourage people out there who want to start running to lose some weight. If you do want to start running then you can check out our beginners guide here. 

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