I began running as part of my efforts to lose 51lbs (3 stones) but since then, like many people, once I had lost the weight, running became part of my life and I set new goals. Taking part in the Dublin Mini Marathon was a long term goal I set myself when starting on my weight loss but then became a running goal. However, I have recently had to confront the fact that when I trained to go from 5 to 10k something unexpected happened to my body. I was getting bigger.
At first, I thought it was my imagination. I only weigh myself once a month and rely more on the way certain clothes fit as well as how I feel to know if I need to adjust my eating. My weight has now been consistent for 6 months despite knowing that I am building muscle and so I know I am still slowly reducing my body fat content. However, I have had to accept lately that my hips have got softer and that my waist has thickened.
How is this possible?? I have been running 3 to 4 times a week as well as watching my food and doing runs that burn more than 1000 calories! But the reality has been unavoidable and so I have been doing some research to find out if my increased running could actually be making me fatter, despite all the logic to the contrary.
My research has only led to me being more confused. There seems to be two distinct and opposing camps of information out there. One says that to burn fat, you need to run at a low heart rate, working aerobically so that by remaining in oxygen you can burn fat as your fuel source, widely promoted as The Fat Burning Zone and promoted by respected trainers such as Jeff Galloway as seen here http://www.jeffgalloway.com/learn/fat-burning/.
The other camp says that High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is the only way to go for fat burning as outlined here http://www.muscleforlife.com/high-intensity-interval-training-and-weight-loss/. This at least would explain why I have gained body fat despite running for longer. How is this possible though? I mean, have you seen Paula Radcliff? or Mo Farah? Body fat is definitely not an issue for them? (did I just compare myself to Paula and Mo???).
So,to summarise, running at a steady state for longer distances burns more fat and so does running shorter, much harder, faster. No, I’m still confused.
I carried on reading and finally found a voice of sense http://blog.runtastic.com/en/veras-viewpoint/how-to-burn-fat-while-running/ who basically said Do Both. Oh and strength train.
So that is what I have decided to do. Stick with my 5k interval sessions, aiming to extend some of the intervals a little but also raise the pace (intensity) of the rest twice a week and stick to my 10k Long Slow runs once a week. I will carry on with my Leg Trainer and core strength training. I hope it works.