Running for time or distance for weight loss?

I used to always run a certain route when I ran. Whenever I moved somewhere new I'd go find a great route and time myself to watch me get better.

I've changed that approach now. I'm running for time, not distance. It used to be that as I lost weight I'd actually work less when running because I got done faster. Sometimes I'd cut my time by 10-15 percent - and work that much less.

With my new approach started out running three times 35 minutes a week. Well, walk-run, really. I gained a lot of weight switching jobs, getting busy, so it was run-walk in the beginning.

I've run for time for 18 months now and I love it! Now I just run longer in the 35 minutes and it feels great. I've improved my distance greatly and I burn the same or more calories per run.


  • MobyCarp
    MobyCarp Posts: 2,927 Member
    You can run for time, you can run for distance, you can run for fun. That's all good.

    Running for weight loss is problematical. What do you do after you lose all the weight you want to?

    Disclaimer: I run for fun. Part of the fun aspect is marathon training, which has assignments that are run for distance and other assignments that are run for time. It's all good.
  • TavistockToad
    TavistockToad Posts: 35,741 Member
    I wish I could run for weight loss... the runger is real! :laugh:
  • phrobbert
    phrobbert Posts: 47 Member
    In my opinion, running for weight loss is an unnecessary stress on the joints. It's good to build up endurance if you eventually want to participate in events like races or marathons but as far as general exercise goes, once you reach a certain point it's not particularly useful unless you're keeping the pace up above your comfort level. You'll burn almost as many calories at a brisk walk, so there's not really any significant benefit to running other than getting to where you're going a bit faster.
  • BasicGreatGuy
    BasicGreatGuy Posts: 868 Member
    Weight loss happens in the kitchen. Pay more attention to your caloric intake (and quality thereof). Think of running as exercise to get fit not lose weight.
  • Naija82
    Naija82 Posts: 222 Member
    I run for fun, exercise and races. I have lost weight while running because I look at what I eat. Diet comes first and then exercise, as it's so easy to think you can eat what you want. Why don't you mix things up by running longer or shorter or adding some intervals. The person who said you'll burn almost as many calories at a brisk walk as running, I don't think so unless you are race walking.
  • Geocitiesuser
    Geocitiesuser Posts: 1,429 Member
    I say both :) I do both low intensity and high intensity cardio regularly. They both come with their own set of health benefits.
  • mads_o86
    mads_o86 Posts: 43 Member
    Thanks for all the good advice.

    I've run races (half marathons, 10 miles, 10 k) but don't any more. I find that I lose motivation when the race is done. Now I just run because I love it. Put an audiobook on and just get out there. I also run for competition - with myself. The streaks of weeks with three runs a week (currently on a short one because I got sick), the number of runs in a year, the pace getting better.

    I work in pro sports and have been a pro coach, so competition is just in me - a great motivator.

    Running for weight loss... True. But I also run for fun. You can do both :-) I'm motivated to lose weight because I can see my pace rapidly improving.

    Run vs. walk (phrobert): Your info is wrong. You burn nowhere near the calories walking as you do running. However, BasicGreatGuy is right. Weight loss happens in the kitchen. It's near impossible to burn enough calories excercising for it to make a difference. I just eat 2000 calories a day regardless of excercise. Lost close to 10 kg (22 lbs) since late March and I'm not feeling deprived of food in any way.

    I chose 2000 calories because it's a number I can eat for the rest of my life and be happy.

    Naija82, you're so very right with this: "I have lost weight while running because I look at what I eat". That's my motivation too.

    I don't run longer than 35 or 40 minutes because it tends to tire me out. I switch between 40 and 35 minutes every run and I've found that if I exceed that I gain weight. That's simply because I get tired and when I get tired the 2000 calories go out the window. Same with intervals.

    Also I have a LOT of nagging injuries from my active career, not least chronic achilles problems. I have to run in Hoka maximal cushioning shoes made for ultra marathons even if my distances don't exceed 4-5 miles.

    As far as intensity I do a four run split. Every fourth run is a 35 minute all out test to see how I progress, while in the two 40 minute and one 35 minute runs in between I just go on feel, but make sure I don't push it too hard. It's not ideal if you look at getting your VO2 max up faster, but it's what my 41 year old, tired body can process. I add core and rotator cuffs excercises 1-2 times a week (another pre-excisting injury problem) and body-weight train either legs or achilles/calf muscles after each run.

    I was inspired to write this in the first place because I'd seen a few people on here complain that they din't get the same out of their fixed distance runs as they used to before they lost the weight - and just wanted to offer a different approach.
  • scorpio516
    scorpio516 Posts: 955 Member
    Work is still work. You burn calories by moving mass over distance.

    That said, you've hit on one of the main philosophical training difference. Some coaches train by time, some by distance. Run a set of 1 mile fast repeats, or run a set of 5:00 repeats. Both methods see results.
  • mads_o86
    mads_o86 Posts: 43 Member
    Um, yeah, but the 5:00 repeats are only half a mile ;-)
  • mhwitt74
    mhwitt74 Posts: 159 Member
    MobyCarp wrote: »
    You can run for time, you can run for distance, you can run for fun. That's all good.

    Running for weight loss is problematical. What do you do after you lose all the weight you want to?

    I wouldn't say running for weight loss is problematical at all. The more you exercise the more calories you burn. Where's the problem with that?
  • DresdenSinn
    DresdenSinn Posts: 665 Member
    When running for weight loss I do HIIT for 20-30 minutes
  • acbraswell
    acbraswell Posts: 238 Member
    I run for fun/stress relief, but do run races a couple of times a year. For most of the year when I'm not training for a specific race, I really like to mix up my workouts. I'm all over the place. One day I'll run an easy 3-mile route, one day I'll say I'm running for an hour, one day I'll run with a friend and we'll chat the whole run, and have no idea how far we ran or what pace we ran. I get bored with a set running plan/schedule, which is why I only run a couple of races a year.

    @TavistockToad -- LOL, I've never heard the term 'runger' before! Love it!