How Running Intervals Can Help You Lose Weight

by | Sep 19, 2022 | Run, BeyondWords, Training, Training "How To's"

The good news is you don’t have to put in massive amounts of mileage to see the benefits of running. In the most simple terms, weight loss requires burning more calories than you consume. Running is an easy, cost- and time-efficient form of getting a full body workout (especially if you’re trail running) and torching those calories. 

Unfortunately, many runners believe that the further and the longer they run, the more belly fat they’ll burn. While that can be true for certain body types, in broad terms long-distance runs are good for building endurance but, they’re not necessarily the best for dealing with body fat. To speed up weight loss running intervals are the key. Longer runs can trick your body into slowing its metabolism (full in-depth article on this soon) while doing shorter, faster efforts create an oxygen debt and never allows the body to adjust (and slow down).

Read on to find out why and how to see the benefits of running in the quickest way possible. 

Running Can Help You Lose Weight.
A runner during the WW XTRI held at Paul Cluver Estate near Grabouw in the Western Cape of South Africa on 20 February 2022. (c) Chris Hitchcock / Woolworths

Interval training is the gift that keeps on giving

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a much bandied about term. Many YouTube trainers have built their following on that term and with good reason. HIIT, as the name suggests, involves interval bursts of anaerobic activity followed by short recovery periods in between. Done properly it is a highly time-efficient way to work out and studies have shown that you continue to burn calories long after a HIIT workout. Hill repeats are a great way to get into interval training and, if you have only 30 minutes a day to run and don’t have a good, safe hill near you, try this: 5 minutes easy run, then run 12 x 1 minute hard followed by 1 minute easy. Cool down with 5 minutes of easy running. Learn more about that traditional ‘fartlek’ workout, here.

Running can help you lose belly fat

According to some studies, running increases the flow of oxygen to the muscles, which helps boost your metabolism and burn calories. Again, you don’t need to be running long distances and many hours to see the benefits. As outlined in point one, you can effectively burn calories through interval training. While you cannot necessarily ‘target’ where those calories disappear off of your body if you do have stubborn belly fat running will help reduce that. 

Morning runs help you lose weight

Running in a fasted state in the morning can boost your metabolism to help you lose weight. Exercise in the morning gets your blood flowing and kickstarts your metabolism for the day. Done right, it could also lead to the most effective excessive post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) – where your body continues to burn calories throughout the day. Feel that afterburn! 

Treadmill running for weight loss

No, you don’t need to get out onto the road or trail to get the calorie-burning benefits of running. Running on a treadmill can also help you lose weight. If you have limited time during the day and don’t have a safe running route near you, getting into the gym (and onto the treadmill is a great option). Running on a treadmill also allows you to very carefully control your workout, which means you can easily follow an interval program and hit those numbers. 

Running Can Help You Lose Weight.
Tim Smith on the run during the WW XTRI held at Paul Cluver Estate earlier this year. (c) Chris Hitchcock / Woolworths

Diet is crucial

Of course, exercise alone is not going to get the job done. Not only do you need to fuel correctly for your running workouts and to recover, but you need to adapt your lifestyle and eating habits toward lowering calorie intake. Don’t get caught thinking you can eat whatever you want if you exercise more.

Unsure as to how to get into running?

With its off-road triathlon series, Woolworths is on a mission to get more people outside, being active and enjoying a healthy lifestyle. At the same time, the retail brand is working to raise funds for developmental programmes and initiatives in previously disadvantaged communities. And no, you don’t need to be a triathlete to take part: The event features categories to suit all fitness and skill levels: For those just looking for a nice day in the outdoors with family, there are two options: The RUN FOR FUN, which is a 5km off-road run (that can also be walked) and the WALK FOR GOOD — a 3km nature walk suitable for all ages.

In addition, Woolworths has teamed up with three of South Africa’s most respected multi-discipline coaches to offer every participant free training plans and coaching consultations. Vicky Van Der Merwe of Stellenbosch Triathlon Squad, Jaryd Browne, founder of the PEaK Team and Embark Triathlon’s Steve Attwell will help you prepare and get the most out of your swim, MTB and trail run experience.

They each have their unique styles and philosophies and all you have to do is head over to the website to read more about each of them and then sign-up via the online platform. This will give you access to a free training program (T’s & C’s apply), access to group training sessions and a pre-event training day where you will be taught several useful tips and tricks.

Enter Now
The three events kick off at Buffelspoort in JHB on the 25th of September, before heading to the beautiful Karkloof Valley in KZN on the 30th of October and finishing off the year at the beautiful Paul Cluver Estate in Cape Town on 4 December. Enter now at

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