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The FITNESS Ace Your Race Guide

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Run for a Hot Body

Want a physique that's slim and sculpted, not skinny and soft? Look no further than your own two feet. Running is the fiercest calorie burner out there, and done right, it can stoke your metabolism 24/7. "Most of my clients tell me they've signed up for an endurance event like a marathon or a half-marathon as a way to lose weight," says dietitian Kim Mueller, RD. If you've had trouble budging the pudge while pounding the pavement, read on.

Runners' Top Weight-Loss Bloopers

Mistake 1: Underfueling. You burn about two-thirds of your body weight in calories for every mile you run -- a 140-pound woman, for example, burns about 93 calories per mile, give or take a few. "Restricting calories too much -- consuming 500 or more calories less than your energy output per day -- in the thick of training can place you at greater risk for bonking, or hitting the wall, during a race," Mueller says. From a weight-loss perspective, your body shifts into survival mode, clinging to calories, which makes it tougher to shed fat.

Fix: Fill up within 30 minutes post-run with a 200- to 400-calorie snack that is mostly carbs and 10 to 20 grams of protein, such as Greek yogurt with fruit and a little granola.

Mistake 2: Cutting too many carbs. Carbs should make up 65 percent of a runner's diet. "I often find that people feel hungry when they're skimping on carbohydrates," says Priya Lawrence, RD, a cofounder of Tried and True Nutrition in New York City. "Carbs are easily turned into glucose, which fuels your muscles." Nixing them could have you quit sooner, so you miss out on extra calorie-burning mileage, she says.

Fix: Focus on complex carbs found in whole, unprocessed foods, such as brown rice, quinoa, beans, and sweet potatoes, Lawrence says.

Mistake 3: Giving yourself a free pass to snack. Studies show that running can temporarily tamp down your appetite. But that doesn't stop it from roaring back later, warns Anne Mauney, RD, a Washington, D.C.-based dietitian and runner.

Fix: Refill your tank right away, before the hunger pangs hit. "After a long run, I'll have a glass of chocolate milk -- an ideal mix of carbs and protein to restock muscles' energy stores and to short-circuit the desire to binge at breakfast," Mauney says. Keep brunch calories in check by opting for a veggie omelet and fruit.

The How of Hotness

You've tried the treadmill to nowhere; now it's time to finally drop those pounds. "You can't keep doing your usual steady run if you're aiming to build a bigger calorie deficit," says exercise-science professor Wayne Westcott. "Your body becomes efficient at doing the same pace, so you won't burn as many calories as you were able to in the beginning." Shake up your routine with these tips and you're guaranteed to kick-start your metabolism.

Hit 300. The target calorie burn for someone looking to lose weight is about 300 calories per exercise session. That's nearly a half-hour (or three-mile) run at a six-mile-per-hour pace for a 140-pound woman. Go even longer and you'll get to your weight-loss goal faster.

Get the lead out. In terms of zapping fat, slow and steady does not necessarily win the race. "Research has shown that compared with a constant pace or jog, high-intensity interval training produces a nine-times greater reduction in skin fold, which is the assessment of body fat," says Brad Schoenfeld, PhD, the director of the Human Performance Lab at Lehman College. Push your pace for one to three minutes at a time as you run.

Hit the weights. "Women who strength train two to three days a week in addition to running tend to lose more fat than those who only run," says sports scientist Paul Vanderburgh. Get a total-body routine at fitnessmagazine.com/burn500.

On Your Marks!

Start toward your 13.1-mile goal today and trim down along the way. Get the plan and use #hothalf to hashtag while you train.

 

 

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