The Busy Runner’s Guide to Losing Weight

Shedding pounds doesn't necessarily require endless hours of pavement pounding. The following workouts are all efficient ways to boost your metabolism and build calorie-consuming muscle.

And 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, US (

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.

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, according to Shah.

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, says Shah.

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,” says Shah.

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.

Fuel up

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

20 Minute run
Consume pre-run: Water
Consume during: Water (if necessary)
Consume post-run: Water

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

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

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