For many people, the main reason they got into running in the first place was not just for fitness’ sake or because the like to run. If you ask them, you’ll often hear that losing weight or burning calories was what got them started at running (myself included).
As time goes by though – if you stick with it and run consistently – you reason for running shifts to other motivations and it becomes something you do for more than just weight loss. However in the back of their mind, many runners still think about calorie burn for a number of reasons.
As a result, you’ll hear people talk about how running in the morning is best for calorie burn. I am often asked that in question for – something like: “Isn’t the morning when you will the biggest benefit from running; i.e. your metabolism will slowly ramp down after your run throughout the morning and you’ll burn calories for a longer period of time?”
If you read the previous posts on knowing the best time of day to run (part1 and part2), you know the answer to that is: no.
So how can you burn the most calories from running? And how do you get the longest post-run calorie burn?
The answer to the first question is this: be a regular and consistent runner and you will consistently burn calories. Time of day really doesn’t matter that much – you should find and run during what you find to be the best time for you.
About that post-run calorie burn. No matter when you run, you will burn extra calories afterwards as your metabolism ramps down – it’s just that this typically doesn’t last very long no matter what time of day you run for most people. For the average person doing the average workout there less than half an hour boost which results in some extra calorie burn, but not all that much. You will burn more calories and bring greater benefit to your metabolism by doing regular workouts – by running consistently and regularly.
There is one important exception to note however. If your workouts are very intensive you will get an extended calorie burn that can last 10 hours or more. This is vigorous, intense, extended exercise at the higher end of your ability. In controlled studies, this is running or working out to the extent that drove many of the study participants to the point of nausea -(and this was for a 45 minute duration!) – not the kind of running that most people will do, will want to do, or should do on every run. One North Carolina study documented a boosted metabolism for over 14 hours – but again, this came from a super-intense workout that you can’t repeat every day.
Is there a way to still get this benefit – even in a shorter workout? Yes, and in upcoming posts I’ll cover both how to give your metabolism an extra boost and burn more calories with a shorter workout, and how often you should run.
If you have any questions or comments, use the reply form below – I’d love to hear from you.