Now, figuring out how many calories you can burn can be approximated with some degree of accuracy, but it’s highly dependent on several variables. And each person puts on and loses weight differently. Each person has a different running style, body type, and regimen.
So how many calories do YOU burn running a mile?
That’s a tough question to answer.
Why Am I Burning Calories?
You probably know that calories are the fuel of the body. That’s why breakfast is the most important meal of the day, lunch is necessary to replenish your energy, and dinner is to get you through the night. However, there are calories you don’t need immediately need–these are fat calories. They’re stored for later use. That later use comes in handy; sometimes we miss lunch, sometimes we’re trapped on a desert island. Reserves are important. However, when we don’t burn enough calories to make those fat calories useful, they, well, make us gain weight. Like Richard Gere in An Officer and the Gentlemen, they have nowhere else to go.
Extra fat causes us to glare obsessively in the mirror and informs our decision to run in the first place. Of course, some runners run for the sake of health and passion, but we all know there are plenty who have a lot of vanity issues to work through. Considering running also releases serotonin and endorphins, it’s also a great workout for those suffering from depression and anxiety, which is nice.
Seriously, Just Give Me a Number: I Just Want to Know How Many Calories I Can Burn Running a Mile
Fine, let’s just get to it.
To lose a pound, you would have to burn 3,500 calories. Of course, this not only includes running but low-fat dieting, so you’re taking in few calories that would need to be burned off. Women need a daily minimum of 1,800 calories, while men need 2,400. These numbers become a little wonky when runners get involved, as they need to take on more calories after a run to replenish their bodies, but not so much that they undo the hard work they’ve just done. After a workout, lean on carbs like vegetables and sweet potatoes. You should also consider a protein boost with some chicken or eggs to replenish and repair muscle soreness.
To determine the number of calories you need to replenish after a run depends on the length of the run. Here’s the rule of thumb: ten calories per minute of exercise. If you ran for 30 minutes, you’ll need to replenish 300 calories.
Of course, gaining calories isn’t what we’re here for. It’s the loss of those pesky stored calories.
Okay, fine. You’ll burn more calories running a mile than if you performed other exercises–weight training, cycling, and swimming included.
There are three factors that determine how many calories a runner burns in a mile: weight, distance, and speed. In general, the average person will burn 100-150 calories per mile run. However, this number is not universal.
The more you weigh, the more calories you’ll burn running a mile (it takes more energy to move larger things). That’s why established runners have to change their running patterns to keep from plateauing.
I’m sorry to have to say this, but we’re going to have to do some math. Well, lots of math. You see, there are dozens of equations that take different factors into account in order to determine how many calories you’ve burned. In the end, of course, everything is an estimate. The easiest way to determine it is to use one of the many online calorie burning calculators there are out there. However, to get an idea of how the simplified formula works (and for those who would just rather do it themselves) we’ll provide it here.
But for runners: first, multiply your weight by 0.75.
For example, let’s say you weigh 150 pounds. The formula becomes 150 x 0.75 for a total of 112.5 calories per mile run.
Let’s say, you’re 200 pounds. 200 x 0.75 = 150 calories burned per mile.
Since speed and metabolic rate are also factors, other formulas take that into account as well. This means your numbers can increase or decrease; sometimes that’s good and sometimes that’s bad. It depends on the equation. Check out the video below for a bit more on this.
What we’re trying to say is this: just run. Use less complicated methods of calculating your calorie burn if it’s important to you. Do it for the sake of your sanity. To steal/alter Dr. McCoy’s bit from Star Trek: The Original Series, “Damnit, you’re a runner–not a mathematician.
For the calorie-counters out there, we’ve listed a few calorie-burning running exercises below to help you on your runner’s journey.
Calorie Burning Running Exercises
Interval Runs: Interval runs are great for burning calories. While technically brief exercises, they shift between various speeds, keeping muscles in a state of flux, and needing to adapt. To maintain themselves, they feed on more calories, helping you complete the exercise and trim away up to 50% excess fat. Of course, these are rather strenuous runs. Despite that, both beginning and advanced runners can make them a part of their regimen. We’ve provided some examples below.
Interval Run Example (Beginner)
1-Warm-up for 10-15 minutes.
2-Run at 95% of your top speed for 30-90 seconds.
3-Return to a slower, comfortable recovery pace for 3 to 5 minutes.
4-Repeat 3 times.
5-Cooldown run at a comfortable pace for 10 minutes.
Interval Run Example (Advanced)
1-Warm-up for 10-15 minutes.
2-Run at 95% of your top speed for 5 minutes.
3-Return to a slower, comfortable recovery pace for 2 minutes.
4-Repeat 3 to 4 times.
5-Cooldown run at a comfortable pace for 10 minutes.
Long Slow Distance Running: They’re often referred to as LSD runs, but I can tell you from experience, it’s not nearly as fun as the original. As the title suggests, these are long-distance runs done at a slower pace but don’t get too excited. To burn calories this run has to last between 30 minutes and 2-hours. Keep a comfortably fast pace. In other words, you should still be able to have a conversation with little difficulty during this run. Give some friends and family a call to help you keep pace and keep from getting stir crazy.
Despite the slower speed, the exercise makes up for it in duration. The longer the run, the more your muscles need to adapt. Those muscles need to be fed to keep going, so you’re, therefore, burning more calories. Eventually, your body will have to dip into its storage of extra calories, resulting in fat loss.
Hill Training: Many runners complain about plateauing. To combat this, some may use hill training (AKA incline training). Runners find a hill or use the incline function on a treadmill to increase resistance when the run. Climbing the hill will require more exertion, and burn more calories. When choosing the right hill/incline size, make sure you’re still running at a moderate pace. If running on an actual hill, try to find one that will take between 30 and 90 seconds to clear. Repeat this process six to eight times.
If new to hill/incline running, don’t expect to be able to run at the same pace and same distance as your regular routine. This new difficulty is here for a reason. Don’t overexert yourself, or you’ll risk injury.
Weighted Sprints: Weighted sprints use weight vests to add resistance to your run. They’re also known as military sprints since they’re similar to the ones used by the military. Also, you know, the design is incredibly similar.
There is some controversy out there whether using weighted vests can make a runner faster. The prevailing theory is that you burn more calories, making you lighter in general, while also feeling lighter when running without the vest. Whatever the truth of the matter is on that, we’re here for the calories anyway.
The vests also have cardiovascular benefits, increasing heart strength and lung capacity. They can also increase muscle strength and endurance, which is important for those calorie burning distance runs.
There is, of course, a drawback. Be careful of how heavy the weight vest actually is. If the weight is too much, you can injure your back and legs.
The vests don’t come with a specific set of exercises. They’re there to supplement your runs, particularly if you sprint. Those who engage in interval runs and hill training sometimes use vests.
And that’s about all there is to it. If there’s anything else still on your mind, be sure to leave a comment below!