Running is an incredible way to burn calories and get in shape. If you can work yourself up to be even a medium-distance runner, there’s almost no way you’re still going to have a weight problem by the time you reach your running goal. In fact, if you want to make your weight loss really simple, do just one thing: Finish a marathon. The training alone will trim you down.
I want to start by pointing out that most people who have not been working out regularly are going to have a hard time leaping into a running practice of any significance (like 15 miles a week, for example). For you, the best “running program” would be to start walking until you feel good about moving up to doing half jogging and half walking, and then work up to a full jogging routine, and then move up to running. Exercise is great, but, like weight loss, slow sustainable changes are much, much better than big crash courses. It sucks to be injured.
So be good to yourself and just start where you are. I have written a whole article about walking for weight loss.
Alright. Now, you runners. Some of you are joggers, and that’s fine. The difference between a runner and a jogger is speed — runners cover one mile in less than 9 minutes. Joggers take longer. If you’re a jogger, that’s fine, and it doesn’t really matter too much whether you are running or jogging. What matters is getting your fanny out moving every day… the running will happen when your feet say so.
Here’s the reason running is so good for weight loss. It burns calories like crazy, and it will stoke your metabolism into high gear. The same 164 pound, 5 foot 4 inch woman from my walking to lose weight article will burn 1003 calories if she runs for one hour at exactly 9 minutes per hour, or 6.7 miles per hour. If she jogs at 5 miles per hour, or a 12 minute mile, she will burn 706 calories. That’s three times more than she would burn if she was walking 3 miles per hour. As you can see, there is a big difference between running and jogging for weight loss, but it is more important for you to not injure yourself and not burn out, so do whatever is sustainable for you.