Beginners advice please


I am about to re-embark on a weight loss(primarily)running plan. I have read in many articles that cross training and core exercises should or could be added after a run.
My problem is(and always has been) is that after a run I have no energy to do extra work. I feel thta if I am not shattered then my run has not been given 100%. Am I using the wrong mindset and is it ok to leave surplus energy to perform core exercises etc?

Any advice gratefully accepted.

Thanks B-I-B.

PS Due to a health problem I only use a treadmill at home for the moment.


  • the first thing you should do after a run is stretch and re-hydrate... you can combine stretching with core exercises on an exercise ball. I got one for Chrimbo and they are brilliant. If all else fails, they are comfy to sit on when watching TV!

    I would say that if you are that pooped from the run you are probably over-doing it. Train carefully and slowly and then build the intensity/speed/distance gradually - that way you will avoid injury and stay motivated.

    enjoy and take care!! Let us know how you are getting on!
  • If your aim is to lose weight, you shouldn't be giving 100% in your workouts!!! The point is to spend as much time as possible running rather than running at high intensity. If you always give 100% effort I suggest you buy a heart-rate monitor, which can tell you when you are going too hard. At this stage it's the time spent running not the distance covered that really counts.

  • I think it is maybe because I am out of shape so much that I end up tired. I managed to do 30 mins on the treadmill yesterday, all running and even some core exercises afterwards.

    Thanks for all your help and all the best to everyone.
  • One tip I would like to offer for the more portly among us, especially in the front area. I found that my stomach bounced considerably when I ran, causing problems from stitches to nausea to just being plain uncomfortable.

    I have found that wearing a belt that carries a water bottle tends to give my stomach some stability and is a great help.

    Hope this is of some use to somebody.
  • I know what you mean about the bouncing belly - can get quite painful. Lycra shorts or leggings help to hold things in place but if you are self-conscious then you might want to wear them under less tight fitting garments.

    I started running to help me lose weight (amongst other things)and found that I couldn't do much to start with because I was so unfit.

    I started at the gym and alternated between CV and weights/floor work. That way I could do my 10 minutes of running then use the time spent on the weights to recover before doing another 10 minutes on the bike or crosstrainer. I found this a better way of burning calories than to do one hard slog and end up exausted.
  • BIB, I'd do your core exercises as a seperate session and not straight after you've run. Stretch though. Working the core when you're already fatigued will not be as effective because the muscles that act as stabilisers are already tired from your run. Also you'll find more challenging core work such as the plank etc much easier when you start to lose weight and are more conditioned ;o)
  • I agree with Siance. My problem with doing longer sessions of exercise was that I got out of breath long before my muscles got tired so I still had enough energy to do the weights and floorwork correctly.

    There is no point doing exercises when shattered as you will not be able to concentrate on doing them properly and could injure yourself, as well as get little gain from them.

    Now that I am fitter I tend to split my CV from my conditioning work and do them on alternate days.
  • Hi Breathless,

    I share your problem - I tend to run until I'm worn out or have to get back to work, so I leave myself with no time or energy to do any stretching/strength exercise etc. In my case it's also about laziness. I can't count the number of times I've been running around outdoors, resolving to do some press-ups or crunches after my run, but it hardly ever happens.

    So I think it's a great question, and I'm using it for this week's new Reader To Reader article. Excellent first responses from Pit Stop, SuperCaz and Siance, but let's get loads more rolling in. I'd interested to find out if this is a common problem.

    Best wishes,

    Jane H
  • I agree with Pit Stop and Silver Shadow. If you're trying to lose weight then you ought to lower the intensity of the CV stuff in order to increase the duration. If you haven't got a heart rate monitor then a good rule of thumb is if you can't chat then you're probably over doing it. Perhaps you ought to think about a phased approach. As Siance says maybe split your running and core workouts into different sessions then when your fitness is up try combining them if you need to. It might be that you can only train a few times per week so combining CV and weights might be right for you.
  • From experience, I'd suggest the following

    a) At this early stage focus on doing a moderate amount of excercise every day or as often as your schedule allows.

    b) I'd recommend speaking to your local sports centre. Explain your objectives and they can help assess your current position, provide a training plan and support you to reach your goals.

    c) Mix your training. Spin and cross training classes will be an excellent way of improving your stamina in a controled manner. Run, cross train or do other excercises on different days to begin with.

    d) Eat a balanced diet. Many people find keeping a food diary helps.

    e) Plan to lose weight in a controlled manner. Objective goal setting is important.

  • Thanks for all your replies.

    I have recently read that increasing the intensity will burn more fat calories than low intensity. The percntage may be higher for low intensity work but overall the number of fat cals burnt at a higher intensity is greater.

    Jane H- I understand the laziness concept but from a slightly different angle. I feel lazy if I have done a workout and still ahve the eneergy to do something extra. If I am not pooped after a run then it was not a successful workout and I have been lazy. Can you understand that? I realise I have to adjust my thinking in that area.

  • I lost 4 stone last year, a large part of this was down to running (I trained and ran the Great North Run). As well as running, I maintained a calorie controlled diet - 1450 calories a day plus at least half of any calories consumed from exercise (needs to be lower for girlie types though)

    With regards to the running, I found that slow and steady, focussing on distance rather than intensity worked and lots of the research backs that up too. Between 60-70% of Max HR is the best Zone to burn fat - although there are variations and contradictions to that.

    All I can say is it worked for me. I suspect though, it is because I did something rather than nothing (which is what I did before).
  • Well done Tandemtoo. It is always inspiring to hear a success story.

  • I agree absolutely with Siance and SuperCaz. When you're tired, or even just half-tired, after a run, you aren't going to get the best out of a strength-training exercise, and mental and physical fatigue may well interfere with your posture to the extent that you end up doing the exercises with poor form and getting injured.

    The "fat-burning" low-intensity zone is a myth and, as you say, BiB, high-intensity exercise burns more total calories, and more fat, per unit of time. The most important factor is the distance you run. However, running at around 70% of MHR, or a perceived effort of "able to talk in short sentences", is easier to sustain, and less likely to lead to you becoming injured or stopping enjoying your runs, than belting out every session trying to cover the biggest distance in the time available.

    How many times a week do you run?

  • I have only just started in the New Year. I ran three times last week and plan on upping it to four maybe five times this week.

    I run for 30-35 mins and my heart rate averaged 171 which is just under 90% of my MHR. This is only at 7.4Kmh.
    I am 5' 11'' and weigh nearly 17st.

    Having just looked at this I have surprised myself that my exertion was so high. My legs tend to get heavy and tired before I become breathless.
    Maybe I need to work at a slightly lower heart rate but for longer. Any thoughts on this?

    Thanks in Advance

  • BiB

    Couple of things,

    -Your MHR - did you calculate it based on a formula? If so it may be that you don't fit the usual HR formula, my max is around 208, but according to the formula it should be 195 or something like that. There are various ways to get a more accurate HR Max, but it's best to wait until you are reasonably fit to try them out, so stick with the one you have for now.

    -The Plan - have you had a chance to have a look at the beginner training plans on this site (the grey training tab at the top)? Going straight in to 3 30 min sessiosn is quite a strong start and it's important not to get injured at this stage. There are a number of simple rules to follow for beginner runners.

    1) Good Shoes - properly fitted by a running specialist
    2) Run slowly - slower than you think you need (hence the 70% max HR target)
    3) Don't increase by more than 10% each week
    4) Don't increase both distance and intensity in the same week

    sounds like you are already beyond a normal run/walk program, but be careful... and enjoy running. also has a training log
  • BiB
    I've found a training pattern that works for me that might work for you too. I run 3 days a week and do other cardio things the other 3 days (bike, arc, stair-climber)- with one rest day (although I usually cycle to work and do abs on my rest day!). Apart from very busy days I do the cardio stuff after work and I always stretch after training.

    For resistance work I do it in the mornings before breakfast, approximately half an hour, usually on the days I'm not running.

    Might be worth a bash?
  • H & P

    Yes I shall certainly look into that. However training before breakfast is not me. I am not a morning person, so I could adjust it for some time later in the day.

    Thanks a lot

  • BIB... I understand what you mean about feeling lazy if you still have energy left!! After a good session I tend to have a good stretch and save the core stuff (when I can be bothered with it) for a seperate session.
  • I hate weights etc but am only too aware of their benefits, so when time allows, i tend to spend 10 minutes after a run doing press ups and other exercises that hit the whole body in one go. Specific exercises are great if you have the time/energy, but squats, press ups and a few core exercises after a run achieves great results without feeling too much like a chore.

    Might be worth a go and you might feel better about running slightly easier if you know you're going to do 10 mins of exercises when you finish ups to failure certainly make you feel like you've pushed yourself and as far as i know are unlikely to result in injury

    Good luck :)
  • Strangely enough I did some running today which incorporated press ups etc. I ran three mins then did 10 press ups then 3mins and did some crunches etc. I managed to get to 24 mins and was shattered. Saying that I could only run 35mins continuously at that pace anyway.


  • A few times a week, I will go straight to the gym and do some cross training and core strength exercises after a run. A lot harder to do this straight after a run, but sense of achievement afterwards is great. Also find it helps improve my running fitness as well. Split training sessions are good as well - run in the morning before work, then an hour cross training in the gym after work. Have to find a programme that works for you, keeps you motivated, challenged and interested as well!
  • First off, all power to you for tackling your weight loss issue with such determination and enthusaism. There are plenty of people out there in exactly the same situation as you in terms of their needing or wanting to lose weight who are doing precisely nothing to achieve those goals. That being the case, you shouldn't be so hard on yourself that you feel lazy if you haven't worked to exhaustion on your run.

    I won't repeat what others have (quite rightly) said about time on your feet being more important than pace, the need for a structured trining plan, a controlled diet and so on, but as far as when to do core exercises, have you tried setting aside some time before you run?

    It sounds like too simple a solution I know, but given that working the core is mostly about correct technique, it just makes more sense to me to do the exercises when your muscles are fresh rather than straight after a hard run. Also once you're out on the run you don't feel like you've got it hanging over you. It's worked for me, maybe it'll work for you.

    Good luck and keep at it.

  • I have been running on and off for some years more off than on. Resumed in May last year after a gap of 3 years. At my starting point I was 3 ST overweight and very unfit.

    Now 7 months later I have lost all excess weight and have a BMI of 21. And all thanks to running. But I did take it very very slowly, walking only for the first few weeks and building up. You must be careful not to burn out too soon. It soon gets much easier if you take it slow. At first I could barely cover 2 miles in half an hour. However I recently completed a Half Marathon in 1:48:37. OK I am no speedy gonzalez but I think that is respectable.

    Training wise I never ever cross train which I know is bad. I do 2 intensive 1 hour sessions on the treadmill a week with high speed efforts. I also run with a club once a week plus do a steady 2hour trek on Sundays off road. I do stretch properly but alas other machines in the gym are alien to me! I keep thinking I should do more but I do also swim once a week plus run around after 3 children on top of full time work. SO I think that keeps me fit enough.

    I haven't got to grips with heart rates and other technical jargon yet. Reading this thread I maybe should start.

    Sorry this is a long message but this is a subject which is of great interest. Maybe I should start to cross train in order to maximise my potential and increase my speed. A sub 1:40 half would be a fantastic achievement.

    Take care,

  • Folks

    For thoes of you (like me) who find weights and floor work a bit of a chore can i recomend kick boxing works every muscle you've got ...great for balance and co-ordination...good CV workout ...burns a ton of calories and let's face it how many fat kick boxers have you seen ? ........make sure you go for the non-contact option or you'll end up injured ......I kick and punch pads but even that inceases the injury risk so i only do it when I'm not trainning hard for a race ........In a cardio class you meet some really nice people who'll help and advice you and encourage new comers

    My core and upper body muscles are loads better than if i relied on the odd time i could be bothered to pump iron


  • Hi Breathless,

    You don't say how many days a week you are running, but is there any reason you have to do your cross training and core stability exercises on the same day(s)?

    From personal experience, the balance of running to cross training waxes and wanes depending on my fitness. I will treat aerobic cross training (e.g. elliptical trainer in the gym) as a *replacement* for a running session. I wouldn't attempt to follow up a run with another aerobic activity.

    Weights and core stability are a different matter. Have you tried doing a Pilates class or similar core stability class to learn good techniques? I would suggest doing Pilates, or perhaps an "abs" class or similar at the gym *before* your treadmill run. Or you can do as I do and do a Pilates class and possibly some weights on a rest day.

    Once you are confident with Pilates or other core stability techniques, you can incorporate some of the exercises into your post-run stretches. The beauty of Pilates exercises is that a simple routine will include stretching your muscles, articulating your spine and working your core abdominals so it's ideal for post-running. You would need to do a class/get tuition to learn the techniques though.
  • Velociraptor
    I was interested in your take on the fat burning zone. Had the same discussion yesterday after reading that the percentage of cals used from carbohydrates and fat burning changes with intensity. OK, my logic suggests that carbs (glycogen?) is easier to access so goes first and then you start on fat stores if you're at an intensity that allows quick enough conversion of fat. Afterwards, glycogen will be restored from what you eat, and then fat if you take in enough 'spare' calories. Is this right?
    If so, what happens if you exercise after glycogen is gone and at a high intensity, like racing/distances? I think I'm getting confused.
  • I run three days a week at the moment. Prteviously I have gone 'bull at a gate' and given up training very quickly. I have now accepted it needs to be a lifestyle change, rather than a fad, so I shall build on my three day week as it feels appropriate to do so.

    I never thought of doing my core work before, but I think I have assumed, as it is with stretching that you need the muscles warmed up first.

    As I understand the fat burning zone, what scriptor says is right, and in addition that fat burning requires oxygen and if the intensity becomes too high the body cannot supply enough oxygen and so the body goes anaerobic using only glycogen, as in the case of a sprinter, say.

    Thanks for all the replies, I'm finding out an awful lot.

  • I believe that a lot of people believe running is just about putting on a pair of trainers and running.I no longer agree.After taking on the services of a personal trainer I realise that its important to condition your body before you start running.Weaknesses in my body (left hip primarily )were identified and massage / exercises strengthenned it.Stretching and weight training increased muscle mass and core stabilty.Cross training is exhausting and my advice (which is my trainers advice)to get the most from it , do gym work first then run.Do 6 days cross training or 5 if race.
  • I use the aerobic equipment to warm up on.I spend 10-15mins stretching ,10min warm up ,45mins weights then 30-45min run.When training for longer than 10k I'll have to restructure.Take supplements(legal!)to help with endurance and muscle development.As I am a very lazy runner I find the running machine useful to force me to run at pace once/twice a week.
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