Just because you run, or consider yourself a runner, doesn’t guarantee you will always be at your ideal weight or even in top fitness shape. In fact, I know lots of “a little on the heavy side” runners who are barely in what would qualify as peak shape. I have to admit, I have been that person off and on during my years of running, racing and just plain exercising regularly.
So, the question I hear all too often is: If I run most days of the week, why can’t just eat what I want, not gain weight and stay in top shape?
The answer is much too scientific, so let’s look at the short and simple answer. Our bodies are incredible machines that can adapt very easily to whatever we ask of them, period. For example, if you typically run a three mile distance, four days a week on a flat surface at the same pace your body will adjust very quickly this routine. Sadly, you will no longer need as many calories or energy units to get through that same workout. Therefore, your body says, “Hey, I have done this enough times, I know what is being asked of me,” and then shift to cruise control.
This is a good and bad problem simply because, if this activity never became easier you would quit, but once it does get easier you will have to make adjustments or you will hit that dreaded plateau.
To keep it short and simple here are a few tips that will help your body stay an efficient calorie-burning machine.
Tip #1: Change something up: the distance, the pace, the terrain (hills, flats, streets or trails). Your mind and spirit will thank you. Running can be boring, that is the number one excuse for those who quit so don’t fall into that rut. Try cycling, swimming or weight lifting for a change of pace.
Tip#2: Once a week try a long run. Push your body just a little out of its comfort zone. It is never a good idea to add more than 10% to your mileage each week even though your cardiovascular system can handle it, your musculoskeletal system will need time to adjust each week. So, add mileage slowly and remember not even the most elite athlete can physically handle being in peak distance mode all year long. So run smart with variety as the main goal.
Tip#3: Add some speed training into your routine. I am not saying you need to be a sprinter or Olympic athlete, but just take your pace up a notch and you will be surprised at the benefits. You may even notice that a long, slower run is more enjoyable.
By changing up your workouts, you will keep your body guessing and keep that metabolism at peak burning potential. After all this is the main goal!
If you aren’t a runner and you haven’t pushed your cardiovascular system in a while, you should check with your physician to be sure you are healthy enough to start a running program. A good rule of thumb is to start with a running/walking program before adding too many miles to your workout routine.Tweet