How long does it take to see results from running?
We all love to see progress. And the great thing with running is that it offers tangible results- progress that you can actually see.
For this article, we spoke to experts in the field on all things running results- from how long it takes to be able to run a 5k, to how long does it take to lose weight running.
Here’s what we will dive into:
- Weight loss- How long does it take to see results from running?
- How much do you need to run to see results?
- The science behind running and weight loss.
- How long does it take to feel comfortable running?
- How long does it take to reach the 5k distance?
Ready to learn about the positive change running can make in your life?
Let’s get into it!
how long does it take to lose weight running?
How long does it take to see results from running if your goal is weight loss?
You may have found yourself googling ‘how long to run to lose weight.’ You’re not alone. Many people turn to running to help them on their weight loss journey, and for good reason.
But how long does it take to see results from running if you want to lose weight?
How much do you need to run to see weight loss results?
Technically, running one mile burns around 100 calories. But the actual calorie burn can vary depending on the weight of the person, with smaller people burning slightly less, and those with more body mass burning slightly more.It can take around 3,500 calories to burn a pound of fat, so that would approximate running around 35 miles – or about 5 miles a day – to lose a pound a week.
However, weight loss can be more complicated than calories in and calories out; as a lack of the proper nutrition and hydration can also affect the result. And, the amount a person needs to eat to maintain their weight can vary quite a bit, to begin with.
To really see weight loss results, you’ve got to combine exercise with fixing your diet.
So a person really needs to experiment a bit to see what combination of diet and exercise works best to get the result they want. It’s generally recommended to lose 1-2 lbs per week, or even less if the runner is running higher mileage.
- Related: How Much Walking for Weight Loss?
Why you may gain weight when you start running
We spoke to Amie Dworecki, CEO and Head Coach of Running with Life. Amie is a multiple time Boston Marathon qualifier with 5 different running coach qualifications, NBHWC Board Certificatied qualifications in weight loss coaching, and she herself has lost over 50lbs with running.
“Some may experience weight loss right away, but a runner’s diet can also play an important role. Running can make some people more hungry, so if they aren’t being careful with their intake, they may see no weight loss (or even gain!).”
Related: Is There An Ideal Running Weight?
It is important to note that even if you do see the number on the scale go up when you start your running journey, it may not be fat that you’re gaining, it could be water weight.
“Running also uses carbohydrates to build glycogen stores in the muscles to help power runs, especially as the runs get longer. This carbohydrate storage also requires water to be stored along with it.” Amie told us.
“Therefore a runner may be losing fat, but building glycogen and water stores in their muscles. So despite melting away fat from running, some become falsely discouraged because their actual scale weight may not show a difference at first.”
“The same effect may happen if they start to build lean mass (muscle) from starting to exercise. Their lean mass gains may outweigh their fat loss, so despite making positive changes, that may not immediately show up on the scale.”
This is why it is important not to take the number on the scale too seriously when you go through your weight loss journey. Your overall health cannot be captured by a single number, and who doesn’t want to put on some lean muscle mass!
How Cutting your carbs can affect your running results
Amie decoded some low carb diet facts for us:
“Because running uses a lot of carbs, if a person goes on a low-carbohydrate diet, they may see a rapid loss at first, due to the loss of carbohydrate and the associated water storage; which then tapers off over time.”
So, if the scale isn’t a good measure for how long does it takes to see results from running, then how do we measure progress?
If you don’t feel like the work you are putting in is reflected on the scale, ditch the scale! You can instead track positive changes in your body by noticing how your body changes in the mirror, using a measuring tape, tracking how you feel or perform during your running sessions, or noticing how your clothes fit you.
how long does it take to see results from running? What the science has to say
The CDC recommends 150-minutes of moderate exercise per week, or 75-minutes of vigorous exercise (such as running) just to maintain weight. The amount needed for weight loss may be quite a bit more than that especially if you don’t make dietary changes as well.
Does the type of running you do matter?
“Some studies have shown that the type of running can matter, but the results have been mixed. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) was all the rage for revving the metabolism higher after the run, resulting in a higher overall calorie burn than just the exercise itself.” Says Amie Dworecki.
HIIT running may also burn more calories in a shorter amount of time. But due to the intensity, there is a limit to how many HIIT training sessions can be reasonably done. And so a person who does a moderately paced longer run may be able to run more miles overall and therefore more calories overall that way.
It can be very tempting to start your running journey and see the scale move and get too invested in the number and just overdo it. You also want to be careful not to take on too much of a calorie reduction to try to lose weight quickly. With running and weight loss, it is best to proceed gradually so that the results in both areas will be more sustainable over time.
- Related: Does Running Burn Fat?
How long does it take to feel comfortable running?
How long does it take to see results from running in terms of feeling comfortable? As we’ve seen, running to lose weight is more complicated than just calories in calories out. And often, we can get too caught up in the numbers.
Feeling comfortable while running is a great goal to have. It is one that’s achievable to any novice runner. Having goals that you know you will be able to hit is a fantastic motivator to keep at it.
Everyone starts at a different level, and factors such as age and previous running experience will factor into how long does it take to see results from running, but you’ll be surprised at how quickly your body adapts!
But how long does it take to see results from running in terms of your comfort levels?
Give yourself at least three months to see progress.
Typically, the first thing beginner runners want to know is precisely when running will get easier. Of course, this is different for everyone, but most people discover a turning point in their running journey once they can run for around 30 minutes consecutively.
How to feel comfortable running?
For a non-runner, feeling comfortable running can seem like a far cry. But not to worry, the run-walk method is a foolproof strategy to get you running far comfortably.
It is surprisingly common for novice runners to start out the door too fast. Doing this means that your run will inevitably quickly ground to a halt and the runner will probably end up feeling disheartened. But when it comes to distance running, going slow will make your running journey sustainable and rewarding.
By run-walking you’ll immediately be able to feel comfortable running because you’ll always be training within your fitness level.
As you train, you’ll reduce your time walking and increase your time running until you can run for your entire training session.
Just remember to keep track of your progress to remind yourself how far you’ve come!
Check out this article on the run walk method for a full rundown: The Run Walk Method: The Ultimate Running Method For Going Longer
How long does it take to reach 5k distance?
How long does it take to see results from running when it comes to how far you can run?
The 5k distance is a great goal for the newbie runner looking to see results. It is totally achievable and will give you a sense of satisfaction and motivation to keep at it once the goal is achieved.
Our USCA Certified Head Coach, Thomas, has devised FREE couch to 5k training plans that can see a complete newbie runner complete a 5k in just 8 weeks!
For someone with a more active lifestyle, in just 4 weeks, they could tick off the 5k distance.
Check it out: Couch To 5K: Complete Training Plan And Running Guide
Trust that running will get easier
When you start your running journey, you’ve got to trust the process. No one started out a great runner, they just committed to it.
Running can be a rollercoaster of emotion, some days you can’t wait to get out the door, other days it seems like the last thing you want to do. In fact, it is this mental barrier that is what’s most likely to stop you from running, not your body’s ability or lack thereof.
Studies have found that mental fatigue is actually one of the biggest roadblocks to running performance. This is because negative self-talk around your running ability has been shown to increase your rate of perceived exertion.
But the more you run, the more confidence you have around running, and the more you’ll be able to focus on your progress rather than what you think you can’t do!
One of the best ways to get better at running? Get rid of decision fatigue and follow a plan!
Check out our FREE training plans to help you achieve your running goals: