If you chose to start running ten miles a week – what would happen to your body? Would this routine be sustainable, and is it a safe and viable, long-term weight loss plan? Running is one of the most praised workouts and not only for its benefits for weight loss. If you are curious what may happen if you were to embark on a “running ten miles a week exercise routine”, read on to find out the benefits and risks you may come across.
Benefits Of Running 10 Miles A Week: How Running Improves Your Health
The positive side effects that may come from this type of workout are as follows:
Build Stronger Bones
Osteoporosis is an illness that causes bones to lose their density, become brittle, and more likely to fracture over simple things like everyday activities or minor accidents or falls. Throughout our lives, bodies reabsorb old bones and create new ones and replace the entire skeleton every ten years. However, due to aging, this process slows down. While there is nothing we can do to prevent this process, exercising has been shown to help slow down the process by helping build stronger bones.
According to a study by the University of Missouri, researchers have found that high-impact activities, such as running, can increase and prevent loss of bone mineral density (3). A more recent study by the Journal of Exercise Rehabilitation revealed that long-distance runners have a higher percentage of serum osteocalcin (15). Serum osteocalcin is a valid marker of the bone turnover when the resorption and formation are coupled, and it is also a specific marker of the bone formation when the formation and resorption are uncoupled (14).
Good For The Heart
Running is a form of cardio/aerobic exercise. These types of workouts use the repetitive contraction of large muscle groups to get your heart beating faster and are the most beneficial type of exercise for your cardiovascular system. A stronger heart can efficiently pump blood and oxygen throughout the body.
A review by the Journal of the American College of Cardiology showed that people who run regularly are less likely to die from cardiovascular disease than those who lead a more sedentary lifestyle (7).
Good For Mental Health
While many may link the benefits of running ten miles a week to physical benefits such as a trimmer figure or bigger leg muscles, very few know that running has incredible benefits for your mental health. According to WebMD, the hormones endorphins and serotonin are released into the body.
Endorphins are said to act on the opiate receptors in our brains, reducing pain and boosting pleasure, which results in a feeling of well-being. On the other hand, serotonin, also known as the “happy hormone”, plays a key role in staving off anxiety and depression as it helps stabilize our mood and boost the feelings of well-being and happiness.
Prevent Osteoarthritis (Especially In The Joints And Knees)
Because runners often complain about knee and joint pain, some people are convinced that this workout could trigger issues such as the runner’s knee or arthritis. However, contrary to this popular belief, running is actually not bad for the knees or joints.
A study published in 2017 by the Arthritis Care & Research Journal debunked this myth by stating that running poses no increased risk of symptomatic knee osteoarthritis (6). An older study by the Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise journal done on over 74 000 participants revealed that people who run often and even for longer distances are half as likely to suffer from knee osteoarthritis compared with those who do not (4).
Running is also a great way to lose weight since it burns a lot of calories in very little time, it’s a great way to meet people and make friends, is a great stress reliever (13, 1), and may even reduce your risk of certain types of cancer (11).
Why Am I Running 10 Miles And Not Losing Weight?
We all know it, and everyone swears by it. When you work out, you lose weight. Running is one of the most commonly known (and used) exercises and has incredible results concerning losing weight. But how come you are not seeing any results after doing your best and dedicating yourself to running ten miles a week? What could be the problem?
Although this might seem like a unique problem to you, you might be surprised to learn that many people face the confounding problem of not losing weight while working out.
Here are some reasons why this occurs:
Eating Too Much
The one cardinal rule of weight loss is to eat on a calorie deficit. Remember, you cannot outrun a bad diet, whether you run three miles a week, ten miles a week, or even as much as 20 miles in a week, as long as you are eating more calories than you are burning on your run, you will not lose weight.
To counter this, get a calorie tracker to help you keep track of how much food energy intake you are consuming and burning in a day. This helps keep you in a deficit, which when combined with working out equals fat and weight loss.
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Eating Too Little
As mentioned above, a calorie deficit is a sure-fire way to help you lose weight. However, if your deficit is too high, it counteracts your weight loss efforts. This is because a calorie deficit is a meal/eating plan where you give your body fewer calories than it burns in a day. Basically, you are giving it less fuel than what it needs to run in a day.
Once this happens, your body then turns to the stored fat in your body and burns that as fuel to keep you going and all your organs functioning in tip-top shape. However, when you cut your calories too much, your body “freaks out” and thinks that you are in danger of dying and holds on to all the fat in your body.
This is better known as starvation mode, aka metabolic damage, and it is your body’s natural physiological response to long-term calorie restriction. It is your body responding to low energy availability (reduced calorie intake) by reducing its energy expenditure (slowing down its metabolism (2).
Remember that the optimal calorie deficit for weight loss is 500 to 1000 calories a day, or 3500 to 7000 calories a week (16). A person’s daily food energy intake is determined by their age, sex, height, weight, and level of physical activity, and if you are running ten miles a week, be sure to account for this too as you calculate your perfect deficit for weight loss.
Eating All The Wrong Foods
A healthy weight loss diet consists of all five main food groups, which are namely:
- Whole-grain foods and products
- Different vegetables and legumes
- Lean meat, fish, poultry, eggs, nuts, and seeds
- Dairy and dairy products (or plant-based for lactose-intolerant persons and vegans)
If your diet lacks such foods and is filled instead with overly processed foods, sugary drinks, and other unhealthy food options, chances are, you will be running ten miles a week and not losing weight.
Not Cross-Training/Are Running Too Much
The fact that you are already running is a great nod towards your fitness and general health. However, running ten miles a week might be too much for your body, especially if you are a beginner. Doing too much cardio puts your body in a catabolic state, where instead of using glucose to fuel you, it turns to your tissues and muscles and burns them instead.
If you have just been doing cardio without lifting weights, then you will have even less muscle once your body goes into this state. Remember that:
- Muscle burns more calories than fat, and that weight lifting helps you burn calories for long periods, even when you are at rest.
- Catabolism triggers hormones, such as cortisol and glucagon, which raise levels of glucose and fatty acids in the body (8), making it harder for you to lose weight and even trigger weight gain.
To counter these issues, make sure that you dedicate some days in your running ten miles a week workout plan to cross-train, and do a workout that is not running like yoga, weight lifting, cycling, swimming, etc.
Other factors that could be contributing to the lack of weight loss even while running ten miles a week could include:
- Lacking enough sleep
- Hitting a weight loss plateau (especially if you have been on this ten miles a week plan for a while)
- Being under too much stress
- Lacking rest days on running ten miles a week workout plan
- Lying bathroom scales (bathroom scales only measure weight without taking into consideration that weight does not only come from fat but also internal organs, bone mass, water weight, blood and tissue, muscle mass, etc.)
Is Running 10 Miles A Week Good? Risks Of Running Too Much
When compared to elite and ultrarunners – who cover 120 and 150 miles a week, respectively – running ten miles a week can seem like child’s play, and you may be tempted to give it your all week after week. While this dedication is commendable, as a beginner, this constant effort might be a little much for your body, especially in the first few weeks.
The biggest risk that comes from running too much or overdoing it with any form of exercise is overtraining. Also known as overtraining syndrome, this is a problem that occurs when an athlete (or any other regular person) trains too much without rest. Those who end up overtraining are people who insist on working even while completely burned out, which has been known to lead to fatigue, a decline in performance, among other undesirable symptoms.
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- Decreased Performance. If you are constantly unable to cover your usual distance, it might be time to take a step back and evaluate your exercise practices.
- Plateaued Progress. You no longer see any gain signs or no longer lose weight even if you are keeping up with your rigorous schedule.
- Unusual Post-Workout Muscle Soreness. Especially if the pain/soreness lasts long after your run.
- Loss Of Appetite. Mostly because of overtraining, which causes a hormonal imbalance that affects your hunger and satiety hormones.
- Insomnia Or An Inability To Stay Asleep
- Lethargy, Decreased Motivation, Moodiness
Some experts also claim that running too much can be bad for your heart, as it may lead to the thickening of the heart tissue, leading to fibrosis or scarring, which can further cause atrial fibrillation or an irregular heartbeat. They further state that it may also lead to oxidative stress, which can cause the hardening plaque in the arteries, a condition known to lead to heart attacks. This caution, however, was given to people seeking to run 20 miles or more per week (5).
To avoid the risk of overtraining, make sure that your running plan/schedule has at least a day or two rest days per week. You should also pace yourself. If running ten miles a week leaves you feeling too tired, try reducing the miles, then gradually increasing the distance you cover by no more than 5 to 10 percent per week. Going any faster than this will most likely end in an injury (12).
How Much Weight Will You Lose Running 10 Miles A Week?
If you are wondering, “will only running ten miles a week lead to weight loss?” – the answer is yes. However, we cannot exactly say how much weight you can use while on this plan. Remember, because all people and bodies are unique, we all lose weight at different speeds and rates.
How Long Will It Take Me To Lose 10 Pounds Running 9 Miles A Week?
If you are running and eating at a healthy calorie deficit, it might take you anywhere between 5 to 10 weeks to lose 10 pounds. Remember that healthy weight loss means losing a pound or two a week. Anything more is most probably just water weight.
The Bottom Line: Is Running 10 Miles A Week A Good Weight Loss Plan?
Yes, it is– with enough practice, anyone can easily run ten miles a week, and coupling this workout routine with a clean diet will eventually lead to weight loss. As stated above, please remember to pace yourself as you get into this exercise routine. If you have any existing issues with your joints or any chronic illness, please consult your doctor before attempting such an exercise routine.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any medical conditions. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- A Scoping Review of the Relationship between Running and Mental Health (2020, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Adaptive thermogenesis in humans (2010, nature.com)
- Building Strong Bones: Running May Provide More Benefits Than Resistance Training, Study Finds (2009, sciencedaily.com)
- Effects of running and walking on osteoarthritis and hip replacement risk (2013, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Is Running Good Or Bad For Your Health? (2016, npr.org)
- Is There an Association Between a History of Running and Symptomatic Knee Osteoarthritis? A Cross-Sectional Study From the Osteoarthritis Initiative (2017, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Leisure-Time Running Reduces All-Cause and Cardiovascular Mortality Risk (2014, jacc.org)
- Metabolic Body States (n.d., courses.lumenlearning.com)
- Overtraining Syndrome: A Practical Guide (2012, journals.sagepub.com)
- Overtraining: What It Is, Symptoms, and Recovery (2021, hss.edu)
- Physical Activity and Cancer Prevention: Etiologic Evidence and Biological Mechanisms (2002, academic.oup.com)
- Preventing running-related injuries using evidence-based online advice: the design of a randomised-controlled trial (2017, bmjopensem.bmj.com)
- Running exercise mitigates the negative consequences of chronic stress on dorsal hippocampal long-term potentiation in male mice (2018, sciencedirect.com)
- The Association of Serum Osteocalcin with the Bone Mineral Density in Post Menopausal Women (2013, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- The effect of long-distance running on bone strength and bone biochemical markers (2019, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Time to Correctly Predict the Amount of Weight Loss with Dieting (2014, jandonline.org)