Running For Weight Loss: Our FREE 21-Day Challenge

Take our FREE 21-Day Running For Weight Loss Challenge!

Are you tired of trying out different weight loss diets and regimes?

Have you tried a weight loss program (or a few?) in the past – just to find the results to be temporary, and that your motivation dies off after just a few days?

Then perhaps it’s time to try running, and making it a cornerstone of your new lifestyle.

Building a running habit – even if you’ve never run before – can be a foundational key to a good weight loss regime.

When you adopt a runner’s lifestyle, you’ll find your happiness, mood, appetite, and sleep quality can all improve drastically.

It’s these kinds of changes that help propel you forward and build a healthy lifestyle, rather than simply trying for a few days then giving up.

In this post, I’m going to explain exactly why running is the perfect way to kick-start your healthy lifestyle, how to start running for weight loss, things to be aware of, and then share my free 21-Day Running Plan for Weight Loss.

Ready to build your running habit and lose those pounds?

Let’s jump in!

Running for Weight Loss – How To Start

First off, let me just start off by clarifying one important point:

Running is running.

This means that even if you can only shuffle along for a short burst before taking a walking break…you’re a runner.

When you begin running to lose weight, you shouldn’t care about the distance, time, or speed that you run.

You want to think about three things:

  • Your exertion level, you should always feel like you’re challenging yourself (without pushing too hard).
  • Your progress; you want to keep moving forward, improving each time you go running.
  • Building a sustainable running habit.

That last one might sound a bit weird….what’s sustainability got to do with running?

Everything, it turns out.

When I talk about a sustainable running habit, I’m talking about building a running practice that you can continue to grow into in the weeks, months, and years ahead.

This means you have to . . .

  • Avoid injury and physical burnout
  • Avoid mental burnout or boredom

Any of these can spell the end of your running habit.

So without further ado, let me share my 3 Rules of Running for Weight Loss!

4 rules of running for weight loss

The 3 Rules of Running for Weight Loss

Rule #1: Walk, then Run. Then Walk Again

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and people don’t go from walkers to runners in a day either.

When you first start running, it can be tempting to see how far or fast you can go. After all, you’ve commited to learning to run and you’re full of enthusiasm!

However, this isn’t a good long-term strategy; we want to develop a sustainable running habit.

Related: Is There An Ideal Running Weight?

That means we’re going to start off by mixing walking and running.

For example, try this:

Go out for your exercise along a path with lampposts.

Walk for 2 lampposts, then run for 1. And repeat for 20-30 minutes.

Mixing up walking and running means we’re very gradually getting your biomechanics used to running, without over-stressing them.

It also means your cardiovascular system is getting used to increases in intensity – but just for short bursts.

As the days and weeks progress, we’ll gradually increase the amount of running until you’re running consistently.

Once you get used to the 2:1 walk/run ratio, increase it to 2:2 . . . . walk for 2 lampposts, run for 2 lampposts.

It’s baby steps, but we’re building the foundations of a long-term running habit.

Rule #2: Run Every Other Day

When you start off, it can be easy to get addicted to running – especially when it makes you feel good.

But remember our goal: to build a sustainable running habit.

This means never over-loading the system to the point it is de-railed.

That’s why you should only run every other day.

Leaving (at least) one day between run workouts gives your body the necessary time to recover properly.

Your muscles are tired and need to recover, and your biomechanics and cardiovascular system have been stressed. That’s what your in-between day off is for.

But that doesn’t mean to say you can, or should, always be lazy on your non-running days.

In fact, they’re perfect days for … cross training!

See also: The 75 Hard Challenge: Complete Guide + How To Survive It

Rule #3: Cross Train for Strength and Longevity

Cross training means doing some exercise to help maintain or build some muscle.

Don’t worry, we’re not talking about bulking up!

We’re talking about strengthening the body where it needs it, to become a stronger and more sustainable runner (and to help keep that weight off!)

There are three big reasons to cross train when you’re running for weight loss:

1. Running Causes You To Lose Fat, and Muscle

That’s right – one of the downsides of adopting a runner’s lifestyle is that it can cause some muscle loss, along with all that fat you’re dropping.

The best way to combat this is to program in some strength training time – even one or two sessions a week are enough.

You want to focus on the upper body, hips, glutes, and core in your training sessions!

2. Strength Training Makes You Faster and Injury-Proof

That’s right, strength training makes you a faster runner!

Well actually, it makes you a more powerful runner – and more power means you can go faster using the same amount of energy.

Likewise, strength training helps you avoid injury. Most running injuries are caused by runners ramping up their mileage too quickly, and having weak leg/hip muscles causing misalignments. Strength training exercises focussing on hips and glutes can help reduce this risk considerably!

3. Strength Training Helps Burn Fat

Did you know that your body continues to burn calories after a strength training session – and that this can go on for hours?

Strength training can also be a form of HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training), wherein you perform your sets at a high rate of exertion – this type of workout helps boost your metabolism and shock your system a little…all of which leads to weight loss!!!

Related: Does Running Burn Fat?

The 21-Day Running Plan For Weight Loss

Here is my 21-Day Plan for embracing running for weight loss!

I recommend you print it out, stick it to the bathroom mirror, and cross off each day as you complete it!

Running For Weight Loss: Our FREE 21-Day Challenge 1

And some important guidance notes:

Walk/Runs: Break these up into several managable chunks. So, for example, when a workout calls for 60% walking and 40% running, you can break this into 3-minute running chunks, followed by 2-minute walking chunks.

Light Cardio means something low-impact like swimming, yoga, or stretching.

Resistance Training is another name for strength training – this can be anything from bodyweight exercises done at home, resistance band workouts, or training done at the gym with a trainer. Focus on core, glutes, hips, and upper body. Youtube has many video workouts to follow – here’s my 20-minute bodyweight workout you can do from home, no equipment necessary.

Rest days are important! Don’t work out on them even if you feel like you can – it’s important to schedule time for your body to get some rest.

Remember that good nutrition and diet are a fundamental part of any weight loss programme!

Are you following the 21-Day Running For Weight Loss Challenge?

Let me know how you’re getting on below!

Thomas Watson

Thomas Watson

Thomas Watson is an ultra-runner, UESCA-certified running coach, and the founder of His work has been featured in Runner's World,, MapMyRun, and many other running publications. He likes running interesting races and good beer. More at his bio.

6 thoughts on “Running For Weight Loss: Our FREE 21-Day Challenge”

    • Boni,
      I get it – starting can be the hardest part.

      Break it into small steps, and take the first one. Then see if you can take the second one.

      Whatever small progress you make is better than doing nothing.


  1. Loved to try this, as I trained for my 1st ever marathon (2nd attemp!) from last November, and incorporated the S&C with suspension trainer, with 2days of strength (run base) training & 2days long run back to back at the weekend. No weight loss at all. But had to stop due to got attacked by the grates on my 19th miles (managed to get 1.55miles in before the ambulance picked me up 🤦🏻‍♀️)
    So this going to be my 3rd attempt 😬😬


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