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Will Slow Long Cardio Melt Fat Since Marathon Runners Are Thin?

Updated on June 30, 2019
Lorra Garrick profile image

Former ACE-certified personal trainer Lorra Garrick has trained men and women for fat loss, muscle building, and more strength and fitness.

Isn’t it aggravating -- that high-level marathon runners are rail-thin -- yet here you are, jogging and jogging many miles, week after week, and you still haven’t lost much weight?

And it’s not as though you keep eating like a football player. You’re actually watching what you eat and don’t feel that you’re overdoing it much.

Besides, you’ve read that marathon runners eat tons of carbs anyways, so even if you ARE over-indulging often, why-oh-why aren’t you skinny like these athletes?

Apples to Oranges Comparison: Regular People and Marathon Runners

You can’t compare a marathon athlete’s training to what you do for 45 minutes on a treadmill or along the streets in your neighborhood.

Even if your running is for at least one hour each session, even two hours, you still cannot compare yourself to the very thin athletes you’ve seen on TV or in Google Images.

Marathon competitors run at least 10 miles most days of the week. Training schedules vary. Some go for 15 and even 20 miles. And it’s not a “for weight loss pace.” It’s at a “I’ve got to win that 26 mile race.”

How many miles are you logging weekly? Now some avid joggers and runners – who do not train for marathons – do cover 10 miles nearly every day.

That’s a LOT for the non-athlete, but even five miles a day is a generous amount of running.

So if you’re been faithfully covering at least five miles a day, rather than 10 or 15, shouldn’t you still be on the lean side rather than plus-size?

Do You Run with Pain?

If you were training to win a marathon, you wouldn’t be running the same way you would for just weight loss.

There’s a reason why marathon runners, while in competition, often look like they’re in pain. It’s because they’re pushing their bodies to the limits over a long distance.

They TRAIN this way, too, for many of their runs. It’s not about covering 15 miles. It’s about covering it in as short a time as possible. On other days, the focus might be that of covering varying terrain or meditation during the run, and not so much breaking last week’s 15-mile record.

Nevertheless, they push their limits during their training.

Is this what you’re doing to lose weight? It might seem like it, but truly pushing the limits means that you’re trying to shorten your time with each long run – and knocking yourself out in the process.

This is not how most people, who run primarily for weight loss, operate.

And nobody can blame them, because marathon training is brutal. It’s the only way to be considered an elite marathoner, let alone finish in the top three in many races.

Running IS Great for Weight Loss

But don’t give up. Many people have lost significant amounts of weight once they took up non-competitive running.

But if you want a marathon runner’s body, you’re going to have to live the lifestyle of a marathoner.

Otherwise, continue your jogging or running – but if you’re not happy with the weight or shape of your body, you’ll need to make a big change.

And that’s to switch from long-distance jogging to HIIT: high intensity interval training.

The beauty of HIIT is that it’s over in 20 minutes! This excludes a five minute warmup and cool-down. You can make it even more effective with 30 minutes.

As long as you get in eight work intervals.

If you’ve been running or even jogging all this while, your body should be ready for some true HIIT.

In fact, the actual work time, for an eight-interval HIIT session, may total only TWO MINUTES. This would be eight, 30-second, all-out sprints. That’s the key word: sprints, like you’re being chased by a lion.

Thirty seconds of maximal effort sprinting, alternating with a few minutes of slow, easy walking (one cycle), for eight total cycles.

You’ll be amazed at the changes in your body after two months of doing this twice a week, without even having to continue with the long-distance jogging.

Now if you enjoy those very lengthy runs, certainly don’t give them up, but you should stop hoping that they’ll melt the stubborn pounds away.

See how much weight you’ll lose when you do HIIT twice a week and long-distance running only once a week.

Last but not least … for losing body fat, you absolutely must include strength training.


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