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Sometimes, the best answer is the simple one.
Countless people around the world are right now trying to lose weight. In fact, nearly all of us have wanted to shed a few pounds at some point in our life. It’s something that unifies pretty much everyone but it’s also a challenge that is incredibly difficult.
Just take a look online for ‘weight loss’ and you’ll quickly be inundated with different tips, advice and strategies. There are countless weight loss diets out there, 101 different workout routines and an awful lot of contradictory information out there. It’s super hard to know what the best way to start is and often the amount of commitment involves is massive: it means counting all your calories, avoiding carbs at all costs, or training every single night.
What you’ll often say is: if only it was simple.
Well, guess what? It is simple. There is one really simple answer to losing weight.
And not just losing weight either – this one simple solution will also help you to feel more energetic and alert, it will actually improve your mood and it will help you to boost your muscle mass too.
No doubt you’ve already guessed what I’m talking about: it’s in the title of the book after all!
I’m talking about running. And I’m referring to the simple fact that if you go for just two runs a week, you will lose weight. And you will feel healthier. Yes, it really is that simple.
And there are countless more benefits to running too. As you’ll learn as you read this book, the human body is literally born to run. It’s what we’re designed to do. And if you know how to run properly, then you’ll find that it quickly becomes a life-long passion that you never want to give up on! So with all that in mind, the only remaining question – the only caveat – is why everyone doesn’t run already.
If running is so great and so easy, why aren’t you already running every day?
The answer is that running has something of a PR problem. Most people seem to believe that running is gruelling, unpleasant, slow and painful.
You may well be among those people. You might well think that running is one of the last things you could possibly want to do. And if you feel that way… I don’t blame you! It doesn’t exactly look like it’s a laugh a minute.
But running doesn’t have to be hard, it doesn’t have to be unpleasant…
it doesn’t even have to be hard on the joints.
The simple fact of the matter is that if you aren’t enjoying running or you’re finding it too hard, you’re probably doing it wrong!
So read on and we’ll put an end to that. In this book, you’ll learn how to fall in love with running and how to make it work for you. Specifically, you will learn:
• Why running is SO good for you
• How to run with correct technique
• How to make running enjoyable
• How to avoid injury
• How to avoid the common mistakes of new runners
• How to stay committed
• How to increase weight loss
• How to improve your speed
• How to support running with the right food and diet
• Advanced running techniques
And much, MUCH more. So let’s get this show on the road!
Chapter 1: The Top Health Benefits of Running – It’s Not Just About Weight Loss!
So a good place to start is with why you should run in the first place. And the big reason for a lot of people reading this is going to be that whole ‘weight loss thing’ that we talked about. Simply put, running is THE number one way to lose weight…
Why Running is THE Number One Way to Lose Weight That sounds like a bold claim, so let’s back it up.
And to do that, we’ll start by assessing how anyone goes about losing weight ever. What is the key to weight loss?
Actually, there is one very simple equation when it comes to losing weight – and that is that you have to consume fewer calories than you burn.
When you eat food, your body absorbs the nutrients to help support various processes in the body and it absorbs glucose in order to provide useable energy. That glucose moves around the blood stream and when you move, breathe or run it is sent to muscles and the organs in order to give you the energy you need.
But what if you are just lying around and you’re left with energy left over? In that case, the sugar is converted into fat and is stored around the body under the skin. This is what makes us look less attractive and what can also cause numerous health problems.
On the other hand, if you need more energy that is available to you, then your body will have to look toward its existing fat stores. It will then put you in an aerobic state, meaning that oxygen will be sent to the fat stores and will break down the fat to provide you with more energy.
All this happens on a moment to moment basis but the best way for us to monitor it is to look at our daily total. That means we need to look at our daily calorie intake and our daily calorie burn in order to work out the difference.
What you’ll be left with is either a ‘calorie deficit’ or a ‘calorie surplus’. A surplus means that you have left over energy that the body is going to store as fat. A deficit means that you used more than you burned, so you’re going to have removed some of your fat. It’s a little like writing a budget but instead of trying to save money, you’re trying to lose calories.
So where does running fit in? It actually plays an important role for all kinds of reasons but the most simple and straightforward to understand is this: running burns a lot of calories. In fact, a forty minute run will help you to burn something like 500-800 calories. That’s a huge amount and more than you could probably burn with any other form of exercise.
And to put this in perspective, most people will naturally aim to consume around 2,000-2,500 calories in a day. That means that running for just one hour can burn somewhere between 1/2 and 1/3rd of your total calorie count. That’s a big difference and it’s enough to make a significant impact even just twice a week.
There are actually more efficient ways to lose weight with running specifically though. We’ll talk about that more in a future chapter but just know – you can burn through a lot of calories.
But there’s more to this as well. Because if you look online for dieting, you’ll find that there’s a lot of debate as to whether this whole ‘calorie counting’ strategy will really work. Some people say it’s too simplistic and it’s more important to focus on the type of calorie you eat and things like hormones. Their view is that you can’t accurately track calories and that some people will burn more calories than others owing to metabolic differences. Maybe you have more testosterone, maybe you have more T3, maybe you have a slow thyroid.
And this makes a lot of sense if you look at someone who uses anabolic steroids, or someone who does have hyper or hypothyroidism. Even someone with diabetes or insulin resistance. Hormones really do make a difference and calorie counting on its own doesn’t account for this. These
individuals focus on things like low carb diets because they believe they can control insulin and other hormonal responses that way.
What’s the truth here? Well, both camps have their points and again we’ll get to this in a future chapter. But what really matters is that it’s immaterial – because running helps you lose weight in this way too. When you run, your body will release a number of hormones like adrenaline and mysotatin which will help you to break down fat and tissue. What’s more, is that your body will become more energy efficient, so that even when you’re sleeping, you’ll be burning more fat. This will also be helped by the increase in muscle tone in your stomach and calves and your elevated VO2 max. We’ll get into all this later.
But basically, running has the short term effect of burning lots of calories and the long term effect of helping you to alter your metabolism and your hormonal makeup so that you will always be burning through more calories than you previously were…
The Many Other Benefits of Running
But fitness shouldn’t just be about losing weight. In fact, this is where a lot of people will go wrong. If you simply aim to lose weight, then you’ll find you can quickly become disheartened and you can make some bad choices regarding your diet and your training.
Instead, all forms of fitness and training should be aimed at feeling better and being healthier. Because when you do that, you will find it much easier to stick at what you do and you’ll find that your body changes to look the way you want it to almost as a side effect. Don’t run to look good – just enjoy the fact that it happens!
So the BIG benefit of running is what it does for your health. And it does tons for your health.
Obviously running improves your cardiovascular fitness and your energy. It’s not just your heart that improves, it’s also your mitochondria and all the other energy systems in your body. This means, quite simply, that you get tired less easily. That’s true whether you’re playing sports or you’re on a long walk. Bruce Lee used to run for miles every single day and the reason he gave for this was that you can’t expect to be a good fighter if you’re tired out after throwing just a few punches! The same is true for tennis, for football, for rugby…
And even just a busy day or stressful commute. When you can run 10 miles, suddenly everything else becomes really easy.
Wouldn’t you love it if everything was really easy?
But there are many other, much more specific and scientific benefits to running as well…
The first thing it does is to increase the size of your left ventricle. This is the part of your heart that stores oxygenated blood and then pumps it around your body. The stronger and larger this gets, the more blood you can transport around your body with the fewer heartbeats. This is a benefit that is exclusive to steady state cardio like running – it doesn’t happen with modern forms of HIIT.
What that increased left ventricle means is that you can now deliver more oxygen and nutrients to your body at any given time. That doesn’t only mean when you’re running but also when you’re sleeping and when you’re
working. This means you’ll wake up each morning feeling more energetic and you’ll be able to stay awake and alert for longer during the day. Have you ever wondered what you could accomplish with one more productive hour?
Likewise, that increased power in your heart also means your pulse doesn’t have to work so hard. Instead of going into overdrive to try and pump your blood around your body, your heart can take a much more casual approach and still provide more than enough of what you need, where you need it.
What does this mean? It means that you now have a lower resting heartrate (RHR). That is important because a low resting heartrate is correlated with low cortisol – cortisol being the stress hormone. In other words, when your heart is healthy, you are less physiologically aroused at all times of day. That means that you will feel much more refreshed and much more rested even when you’re not really doing anything. It means you’ll be able to handle stressful life events much easier and it means that you’ll sleep FAR better (your sleep quality is measured largely by how low your heartrate drops).
This also means your blood pressure will be lower (because blood pressure is a result of the viscosity of your blood and the force of your heart pumping). That in turn means you’re much less likely to suffer a heart attack, stroke or other incident associated with high blood pressure. When you combine this with a lower body weight, you become generally much less likely to become ill or to suffer any kind of serious attack. Oh and that lowered cortisol means that you’ll experience higher testosterone. For guys, this means that you’ll be able to see more muscle 1mass and more fat loss. A lot of people stay away from running because they think it will make them skinny and it will make them burn muscle. We mentioned ‘myostatin’ earlier and indeed this is a compound that causes the breakdown of muscle.