Running for weight loss: The most effective running workouts to help you lose weight 

  • Post last modified:July 10, 2020
  • Post comments:1 Comment
  • Reading time:5 mins read
  • Post author:


Running is one of the most accessible sports out there, no wonder more and more people are turning to it to get their daily dose of exercise. But what if you want to use running for weight loss?

Running for weight loss is possible, but not in the way you think. Slow runs at a comfortable pace are good for boosting your metabolism, but are not very effective for blasting fat.

The most important thing to remember when looking to lose weight is the negative energy balance. This is when you burn more calories than you consume. 

According to a study by the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, ‘high physical activity levels should be an integral part of any plan regardless of weight loss goals, and is associated with numerous cardiovascular benefits’.

It adds that anyone wishing to lose weight ‘should participate in physical activity and caloric restriction to improve the chances of weight loss’.

Of course, it’s not a one size fits all approach. The number of calories you burn while running will vary based on your body size, your pace and the running distance. 

As a general rule, many runners of average size estimate that they burn roughly 100 calories per mile.

In order to make the most out of your running to lose weight, your training plan needs to include workouts that torch a lot of calories without spending hours pounding the pavement. 

While there is no best way to lose weight through running, intense workouts like interval training are better for burning calories. 

In this blog post, I’d like to share the most effective running workouts to help you lose weight. 

running for weight loss

Interval training at 85-90% of your maximum sprint

You may have heard of HIIT (high intensity interval training). HIIT is described as periods of high intensity training followed by periods of low intensity or rest intervals. 

Running intervals works very much in the same way, but instead of focusing on exercises like burpees or squats, you focus on high intensity running with periods of slow running or walking in between.

Interval training is periods of high intensity running (the work phase) separated by periods of walking or jogging (the recovery phase).

The key to planning interval training when trying to lose weight is to run at a high intensity pace (at about 85-90% of your maximum sprint).

Your running pace at 85-90% should feel hard. You shouldn’t be able to hold a conversation while you run, but it shouldn’t feel so hard that you feel exhausted after a few intervals. 

Alternate between the high intensity periods of running (20 second intervals) and low intensity periods of walking or running (40 second intervals) and repeat 20 times. 

As you progress and become fitter, you can extend the time of the intervals as well as the repetitions.

Interval training at your 5k pace

In these intervals, the running and recovery periods are equal. You should run at your pace of your 5k personal best.

Run for 4 minutes then follow this with a 4 minute recovery phase consisting of either 4 minutes slow jogging or walking.

Repeat this cycle 4 times. 

running for weight loss

Continuous run at your 10k pace

This workout is slightly different in that the intervals are swapped for a continuous run, that is running at a constant pace. 

Run at the pace of your 10k personal best for 30 minutes. Don’t forget to warm up properly before your run by going for an easy run for about 10 to 15 minutes. 

Follow this with 2 to 3 short surges to get your muscles ready for the intense run coming up. 

After your run, go for another easy run for at least 10 minutes to cool down. Make sure you do some cool down stretches too.

Make sure you give yourself plenty of recovery time after the run. Check out my 5 tips for recovery after a long run for ways to optimise the recovery process.

Indoor treadmill pyramid workout

The treadmill is a great way to burn a tonne of calories. There are so many workouts you can do from the comfort of the gym.

This workout is a pyramid workout that combines running and walking and is a form of interval training like the two workouts above.

Remember to start with a warm up – either easy jogging or brisk walking on the treadmill – then do the following intervals:

  • 30 second sprint / 30 second walk
  • 1 minute sprint / 1 minute walk
  • 2 minute sprint / 2 minute walk
  • 3 minute sprint / 3 minute walk
  • 4 minute sprint / 4 minute walk
  • 3 minute sprint / 3 minute walk
  • 2 minute sprint / 2 minute walk
  • 1 minute sprint / 1 minute walk
  • 30 second sprint / 30 second walk

Finish off with a 2 minute cool down of easy jogging or brisk walking.

running for weight loss

Hill repeats

Hill repeats are one of the best ways to build strength, stamina and power as a runner. 

Although hills come in many different shapes and sizes, the basic concept of a hill repeat is to run up a hill fast then recover by jogging or walking down. 

A little word of warning though. If you’re not used to doing hill repeats, don’t start them until you have about 6 to 8 weeks of base building running under your belt.

In other words, you should be running at least three days a week and averaging about 15 miles per week before you attempt hill repeats. 

Remember to warm up and pick dynamic stretches in your warm up that target your glutes as you’ll be working those a lot during the workout. 

Try and include hill repeats in your training plan once a week. If you live somewhere that’s very flat, it’s still possible to do hill workouts on a treadmill.


Caroline Geoghegan

Caroline Geoghegan (aka Run With Caroline) helps people become faster and stronger runners. She started her blog in 2018 to share her passion for running. Caroline is a UK Athletics qualified Run Leader and Run Coach and NASM qualified Personal Trainer.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Blake Decker

    Just read this article and wanted to drop a quick note to say thank you. Very helpful!

    God bless and peace.

Leave a Reply