Running Is Not Making You Fat

…but maybe the way you're going about it is

Running is getting a bad name. Lean body-builders are bragging about their cardio-free routines. Righteous personal trainers are telling magazines that running makes you fat. And fitness brands are selling t-shirt with slogans like “I don’t run” everywhere you look.

This is getting out of hand. Running is my oldest fitness friend. Coaching track was really my entrance into the fitness industry. Like a true friend, running has supported me through so much life stress. And running has helped me get back to the fighting weight that makes me happy. I can’t have these people talking about him this way.

People who dedicate most of their workout regime to lifting have absolutely MORE reason than anyone else to do cardio. Running DOES NOT make you fat. And I want us to understand why these “fuck running” t-shirts are kinda silly too.


The thing is, though, these “experts” are not totally wrong. Because, as my colleague Chris jokes, most girls go out and run really long, slow mileage and then go to Starbucks to order a low-fat pumpkin spice latte, eventually getting skinny-fat. Now Chris, we are not all basic bitches like that, but you’re not totally far off from the truth either. And—more truth—, I totally snorted my pumpkin spice flavored coffee(from Dean and Deluca OK!?!) out my nose in laughter after hearing this. 


He’s right! We think, hey I’d like to get into running and maybe lose those last couple of annoying pounds and our brains jump straight to long-distance running. We’ve been programmed this way! Maybe you’ll run a few slow miles the first day. And then you plan to just keep adding on distance to that same dragging pace as the weeks go by.


Well then, yeah… you’d be right. Fuck running. Because you went about it totally wrong. And you will not be successful at keeping those pounds away or being happy while you’re pounding the pavement either. It’s boring. And that voice inside your head telling you this workout sucks; we’re not seeing any results anyway? Well listen to her. She’s right.


And then listen to me. Because we can do better and we shall.


But you first need to understand a couple of things. So don’t fear: I’m going to tell you what the most important concepts are and exactly how you can apply them!

You Need to Establish a Goal

Is it fat-loss? You got reeled in to this article by the word “fat” in the title so I’m assuming it’s fat-loss. And that is perfectly valid. You need no higher purpose than whipping your body into bikini-ready shape, knowing that is not the same intention as marathon running. 


And that means that you need to be setting up high-intensity intervals with decent recovery time. Which brings me to…

Realize Intensity Rules

Intensity is the fixed variable in the equation. How far you run, well that’s whatever it turns out to be. Let go of the mileage tally. The total distance is the variable. You need to pay attention to your speed and time when training the different energy systems at play here and….

Stop Doing Too Much

There is no need to struggle through five miles off the bat. You have to build up to that kind of volume. And as we already said, intensity is the fixed. You’ll know when to stop the workout when your speed suffers. Because the goal is to practice the skill of keeping high intensity. And you’re no longer training responsibly when you're dragging your feet around the track or through the neighborhood. That’s also what we call failure. NEVER train to failure. 


See how it really all comes full circle? If you remember these three concepts, you can’t go wrong. 

Determine your fixed intensity and work and rest intervals. End the workout when you can no longer adhere to them.

OK Great, But What Do I Do Now?

You’ve got the concepts so let’s apply them! I’m going to assume here that you have some sort of cardiovascular base. And that can be from metabolic training sessions or classes that you’ve taken if you aren't training any pure cardio workouts currently. All you need here is your heart rate max[calculated here] and a monitor OR you can use perceived effort if you’ve got good intuition. 


Day 1

Long Intervals

2min work with 40 sec active recovery

Heart Rate- 80-90%

Perceived Intensity 80-90% run

Complete 8 -12 rounds*

Day 2

Short Intervals

20sec work with 180 sec active recovery

Heart Rate - 90-100%

Perceived Intensity - 90-100% sprint!

Complete 8 - 12 rounds*

Program Notes

*How many rounds you complete is dictated solely by your ability to keep the pace! Better to start fast at 8 rounds and progressively work up to 12! Active recovery choice is also up to you. If you’re familiar with my page, you know I like to #doless so I just walk and that suits me very well.

For those of you who really enjoy running and have some endurance goals in mind like a 5k or an adventure race, you can also add in a 20min speedy steady-state run for a Day 3. Keep heart rate around 70%max for this one.

And every six to eight weeks, you can get creative and change the numbers. Try 30 second sprints with a little more break. Try 15 second sprints with less break. Start back at the beginning again with eight intervals and work back up to 12 at this new interval. You get the idea here! With your sprints, you want 8-10x the rest and .5 - 1x for your longer bouts.

It’s also important to note that you can use any cardio medium you like for this program if running is not your thing. I totally get that. I love to run outside but if it’s getting too cold out there post basic-bitch season(fall), jump on the rower. Get on a bike. You could even swim!

Whatever you choose, focus on getting good at the workout and the fat loss goal becomes easy. And treat yourself to that real PSL(that’s right —FULL FAT). Because you’re gonna totally deserve it. And all that crap in the “skinny” version is way worse than a little whole milk anyway. #doless #docardio #sophisticated strength