The busy runner’s guide to losing weight

Running to lose weight but don’t have the time to spend hours pounding the pavements or on the gym treadmill? Fear not, shedding pounds doesn't necessarily require endless hours jogging. The following workouts are all efficient ways to boost your metabolism and build calorie-consuming muscle.

Because they require you to run at the edge of your comfort zone, they also quickly put your body into fat-burning mode, says Kimberly Shah, an online running coach in Chicago.

Related: 8 common mistakes that can stop weight loss 

To avoid injury, says Shah, newcomers should firstly build a base level of fitness before attempting the hill and interval workouts. Begin with a 20-minute run and gradually build up to 40-minutes, then start this plan.

Related: 6 ways runners can lose weight without running


You've got 20 minutes

You should: run hill repeats

The strength required to run on inclines builds calorie-hungry muscle as much as hitting the weights does.

Here's how:

Run at one minute slower than 10K pace up a quarter-mile-long hill run halfway up the hill then back down at this pace. Repeat twice. Run to the top and down three times. Warm up for six minutes and cool down for four minutes.


You've got 30 minutes

You should: run intervals

Running fast burns more calories per minute than slow running.

Here's how:

Sprint for 20-seconds, then jog for 10-seconds. Repeat four to eight times. Walk for one minute. Repeat the sprint/jog/walk sequence two to four times. Warm up for six minutes with two lots of 30-second pick-ups. Cool down for four minutes.


You’ve got 45 minutes

You should: go for a tempo run

You’ll be working at the high end of your fat-burning zone, an effort where you can only talk in short phrases.

Here's how:

Gradually build speed to 30-seconds slower than 5K pace. Run for 25-minutes at this tempo pace. Warm up for 10-minutes, incorporating three lots of 30-second pick-ups, and cool down with a 10-minute jog.


You've got an hour (or more)

You should: go long

The longer you're on your feet, the more calories you'll burn. Plus, long runs improve base fitness so you'll reap more from high-intensity workouts, says Shah.

Here's how:

Run at conversational pace. Keep an easy pace for 40 minutes. Warm up 15 minutes. Cool down for five.


What to eat and drink before and after your run

Many runners think that they can eat whatever they want post-run," says Leslie Bonci, director of sports medicine nutrition at the Centre for Sports Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Centre. Unfortunately, this is not the case.

Related: 7 common post-run eating mistakes

The goal is to balance the energy you need to run well without sabotaging your hard work. Here's all you really need:

What to eat before, during and after a 20-minute run: 

Consume pre-run: Water

Consume during: Water (if necessary)

Consume post-run: Water

What to eat before, during and after a 30-minute run: 

Consume pre-run: Water or 300ml reduced-sugar sports drink

Consume during: Water (if necessary)

Consume post-run: Water or 230ml reduced-sugar sports drink

What to eat before, during and after a 45-minute run:

Consume pre-run: 150kcal energy bar, 300ml sports drink or a piece of fruit

Consume during: Water (if necessary)

Consume post-run: 300ml reduced-fat chocolate milk, or 170ml yoghurt with 15g high-fibre cereal

What to eat before, during and after a 60+ minute run: 

Consume pre-run: 45g cereal with 230ml skimmed milk, or 20g trail mix

Consume during: Gel or 230ml sports drink (if necessary)

Consume post-run: Half a bagel with  one tablespoon of peanut butter