Here’s where we’ve answered your need-to-know questions so you’ll feel more confident and excited on the road to weight loss.
You’ve seen them effortlessly striding down the street, their sculpted quads shining in the sun. And, now you’ve decided to join the pavement-pounders and become a runner, it will make you fitter, healthier and happier. These pages contain your head-to-heels guide that will show you how to not only help yourself keep going, but stay moving and motivated, and make running a lifelong habit.
START EASY: Walk – a lot
It’s here, at the early stages of the RYBO programme, where many new runners stumble. You may be happy with your walk, and now you think, “Today, I’m going to start running!” Then out of the door you go with the best of intentions – but maybe not the best preparation. Two minutes later your legs, lungs and even your insides hurt. Don’t despair –running takes time to break into.
“Every able-bodied person can be a runner,” says Gordon Bakoulis, a running coach and author of Cross-Training. “Just start slowly and build up gradually.” And, as we mentioned earlier in this book, most coaches agree that the best way to become a runner is with a run-walk programme. So begin by adding small segments of running to your walk programme from stage one. “Start with four to five minutes of walking,” says running coach Christine Hinton. “Then alternate with some running, always ending with a walking segment to cool down.” You’ll see the run-walk stages continue throughout the chapters of this book, forming the introductory 12-stage programme. You should aim to run at a pace where you can hold a conversation comfortably – and do it at least three days a week, with rest days in between.
Read the truth about dieting strategies and find out which will help you take the next step towards slimming down.
The myth: It’s possible to spot -reduce fat
The truth: Plenty of runners are guilty of spending far too much time down at the gym time trying to spot-reduce fat. Doing a zillion crunches in pursuit of rock-solid abs or banging out hundreds of reps on the inner and outer thigh machines to melt away stubborn fat pockets. But they are wasting their time (and efforts) – the truth is the only way you can spot-reduce is with liposuction. “When you exercise, your body taps into energy stores from everywhere, not just one place,” says running coach and exercise physiologist Pete McCall. He adds that by over-exercising one area of your body, you raise the risk of suffering an injury. “It’s good to have a strong core, but too many crunches can over-tighten abdominals and lead to back problems.” So whenever you work one muscle group, ensure you also work its opposite number with equal intensity.
The myth: Longer workouts get better results
The truth: Running for an hour straight is a great calorie burner and will undoubtedly help runners shed pounds. But you might actually accrue more fitness and fat loss by breaking that hour-long workout into two half-hours, says kinesiologist Greg McMillan. “A person may run at a harder pace if tackling two shorter runs instead of a single longer one,” says McMillan, “so the cumulative calorie burn could be greater.” This is backed up by a study in the Journal of Applied Physiology, which found that healthy men who performed two separate 30-minute aerobic sessions burned more calories after their workout compared with a single 60-minute trial.
That’s not to say that long runs don’t have their place, once you have the necessary fitness levels, it’s just good to break them up with more intense running or even strength training sessions.
Lunchtime power hour
Slot these fat-burning workouts into your busy day to torch extra calories, sidestep injury and boost running performance.
Your lunch hour is a precious opportunity to convert dead time – or worse, burger-and-fries time – into prime fat-burning minutes. If you’re looking to lose weight, consider this: ramping up your efforts during that hour can keep your metabolism revved well after your session finishes. It can take up to three days for your metabolism to return to its ‘normal’ state after an intense training session, says Victor Zammit, professor of metabolic biochemistry at Warwick University. Scientists call this excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, though we prefer the more Hollywood ‘afterburn’.
While a steady plod round the block is better than a pile of pastry at your desk, for maximum afterburn James Conci-Mitchell, lead trainer and founder of Six3Nine (six3nine.com), has created these two high-intensity circuits designed to maximise metabolic burn and trigger rapid fat loss. Both can be done in your lunch hour just about anywhere.
15 new fat-loss solutions
Unravel the mysteries of the pound-shedding puzzle with these tasty game-changing fat burners.
Secret strength: It may bring tears to your eyes but this spicy ingredient, which comes from the same family as wasabi, can help dissolve the fat inside your cells. And research at the University of Copenhagen found it also prevents you getting hunger pangs later in the day, too.
Use it: As well as smearing it across your steak sandwich, try ladling a dollop into your fish pie to net a narrower waistline.
Secret strength: Eat grapefruit daily, as part of a 12-week weight-loss plan, and you’ll shed over 3lb (1.4kg), according to research carried out at the Scripps Clinic in San Diego. “The chemical properties in this vitamin C-packed fruit reduce insulin levels, which promotes weight loss,” says lead researcher Dr Ken Fujioka.
Use it: Chop and serve with a prawn curry, or blend the juice with olive oil, coriander and pepper for a healthy seabass marinade.
Secret strength: Packed with fibre, beans help you feel full because they double your levels of the hormone cholecystokinin. “This works as a natural appetite regulator by slowing the rate at which your stomach empties,” says dietician Lyndel Costain.
Use it: Try baked beans, sprinkled with paprika, as a side with bangers and mash, or take the fatty edge off a chorizo stew with butter beans.
Secret strength: These leaves help you cull calories by smuggling appetite-suppressing proteins into your body. Researchers at Lund University in Sweden found the proteins, known as thylakoids, help to reduce the hunger hormones in your body after a meal.
Use it: Slip some leaves into a bacon and egg sandwich or serve with lighter meals to avoid the urge to snack later in the day.
Perfect your run
The best running tips ever, by everyone from beginners to world-class legends Seb Coe, Paula Radcliffe and Mo Farah.
1.Strike it right
Landind heavily on your heels can cause injury. “Fix it by reducing the forward reach of your arms. This results in a shorter reach of your stride length and therefore less likelihood of your heel striking hard. It might put more stress on your calves than you’re used to, so if you get tight during sessions, revert to heel striking until whole runs can be done more on the forefoot.”
Richard Holt, running coach
2. Body Check
“When you’re tired, your form slips, leading to injuries, wasted energy and disappointing times. Perform a head-to-toe postural check every mile of a run, starting with the feet and moving up: are you rolling through and pushing off with your big toe? Are your knees soft and relaxed? Are your hips level? Are you holding your shoulders and hands loose?”
Paula Coates, physiotherapist and author of Running Repairs
3 Hit the roof
“You don’t want up‑and‑down motion; you want forward for maximum efficiency. Bounce less by imagining a low ceiling two inches above your head. It’ll keep your gait smooth.”
David Coleman, professor of biomechanics at Brunel University
“You have to forget your last marathon before you try another. Your mind can’t know what’s coming.”
Frank Shorter, American long-distance runner and winner of the 1972 Olympic marathon
5. Panic song
“Beat pre-race jitters by humming – it helps to regulate your breathing and maintains a constant flow of oxygen to your body while your brain’s in a state of mild panic.” Carole Seheult, sport and exercise psychologist