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BlogChallengesHere’s What Happened to My Body After Running 3 Miles a Day for a Month

Here’s What Happened to My Body After Running 3 Miles a Day for a Month

12 mins read
Mariia Roza
Written by Mariia Roza on June 03, 2022
Pavel Balezin
Fact checked by Pavel Balezin
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Dr. Olena Avdiievska, MD, RDN
Medically reviewed by Dr. Olena Avdiievska, MD, RDN
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Table of content

I have noticed that most bloggers who decide to challenge themselves with an everyday running aim to see if they can do it. That’s why I decided to take my experiment a bit further and see how much weight one can lose from running alone. As that’s what most of us thinking of, right? To see if running is worth it if your main goal is to get rid of some pounds really quickly.

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To make this experiment more legit, I decided to eat my maintenance level of calories and see how much weight I will lose solely from everyday running. 

Here are my starting stats. Let’s see how much I can improve them solely from running 3 miles a day, every day, for one month. Wish me luck!

Day 1. Things you should do before you start.

It seems like running is such a natural thing. Everyone should do that, right? In theory, yes, but in practice, you should check out some things before putting on your snickers. In the perfect world, you should consult your doctor before going for a new regimen. If not, pay attention to these three things:

  • Make sure your heart’s alright. If you’re absolutely new to sports, running might be a high-intensity exercise for you. It’s better to check your heart health before trying to increase your pace or sign in a long-distance run.
  • Check your knees. Knees and ankles are four joints that you will use a lot during runs, and it’s better to make sure they’re healthy (if not, bondages might be required).
  • Pay attention to the all-around fitness. Try out some exercises like pull-ups, plank, and squats before you go for a run. People with stronger skeletal muscles tend to get fewer injuries while running than those with weak muscle carcasses. 

Day 3. Treadmill or outdoor running?

Frankly, I’m not sure what’s better. On the one hand, the treadmill is always available. It doesn’t matter if it rains or snows outside; you don’t have to be afraid of street dogs or traffic; you can run late at night or when the temperature on the street is too low. On the other hand, looking at one point during all your run is so boring!

Personally, I prefer running outside, even if it requires a bit more attention. First and foremost, it’s easier to make a first step (which is the hardest). You close the door of your house or apartment, and that’s it: You’re working out—no need to walk or ride to the local gym.

Day 5. Music is considered dope. So use it!

That is a fact. If you’re a competing runner, you’re not allowed to listen to the music on track as it can have a dope effect. As we do not compete for Olympic gold, I offer to make your runs as fun and comfortable as possible. Make a motivating playlist and get ready to be surprised by how much your favorite artists can affect your pace!

Day 7. One week in, what are my thoughts?

It’s all about the first step you make. Sometimes you will be unmotivated, and sometimes you will have a headache; there will be days when you’re tired or busy. The thing is, if you start using good excuses, you will end up using bad ones. Today it’s about making dinner for the family or completing an important task for your work, and tomorrow it’s a new Netflix series or a damn quest in Cyberpunk you can’t get through. You choose where to put a divider between what’s important and what is not. 

With this being said, remember that the best strategy to keep on track is to stay injury-free. Don’t push yourself if you feel pains in your knees, ankles, or other bones or joints. I’ve been there; I know it. If you get an injury now, you will have to abstain from runnings for weeks or months.

Day 9. What should you eat before and after a run?

I should have thought about it before, but better later than never. I understood that during the last week, I was always tired. I wanted to sleep all the time, I had sour muscles, my mood was low. And somehow, I didn’t manage to link these changes to my new running routine. 

The Unimeal dietitian recommended I pay more attention to what I eat before and after a run. Her advice was to have a carb-loaded snack before the run and a protein-carb meal or snack after my workout. And I’ve found them! My perfect pre and post-workout meals! Cereal with nuts and milk 30 minutes before the run and cottage cheese with yogurt and fruits 10 minutes after the shower. Perfect! And coffee. Don’t underestimate the effect coffee can have on your performance.

Day 11. The worst day of my running experiment.

Life happens, and on my 12th day, I was tired, unfocused, busy with work, and not motivated. I even forgot to warm up before I went for a run. As a result, all the way I was running, I thought, “Please, let it be over!” My pace was not that bad, but I felt like a piece of human-sized shit at the end. That’s not how it should be. But sometimes, it happens.

Day 12. I need a break.

I can feel my joints, and I know what this means. It’s my body screaming, “Overtraining Alert!” If you want to keep up with your new routine, you have to stay away from injuries. Preventing injuries is much easier than healing them when they’re already there. I should listen to my body—no running for today.

Day 14. Six miles!

I’ve just run more than six miles in less than an hour! Do you know why that happened? You can read it in my next article, “Give your body a break to see the results!” It seems like yesterday’s skipped workout was for the better!

I’ve run at quite a good pace, I felt great, I’ve even caught that “running high” long-distance runners are talking about!

Day 15. Got some new gears.

I don’t know how many calories I burn during my runs anymore. The thing is, I feel like my body gets used to the new routine. I’m not as tired as I used to, I don’t have sour muscles and muscle cramps, I don’t feel exhausted or hungry after my 3-miles runs. I believe I’ve started to burn fewer calories, and to see if it’s true, I’ve bought some new gears. 

This simple, relatively cheap fitness band tracks my pulse and shows how many calories I’ve burned. Before, I was tracking my burned calories on Strava. Today, the results surprised me when I tracked my distance, pace, and calories using both the Strava app and Xiaomi band! It seems like I spent almost 100 calories less on every run than I’ve expected.

What does that mean? That I don’t have to expect a massive weight loss after this experiment is over as, apparently, I’m not in a large calorie deficit.

Day 17. I’ve signed up for a race!

Okay, I haven’t planned this, but I’ve signed up for a 10-km (almost six miles) race. This will be my first run in nearly two years. When I saw the date, I realized that it is a sign, and I have to do it! This will be the last day of my one-month experiment, and I want to finish it with an exclamation mark, not a full stop.

This means, however, that I should make slight amendments to my running plan. For example, add some high-intensity workouts, running at full speed, and four to seven miles long runs. (I will stick to my experiment goals and add extra calories on long-distance days).

Days 19-21. Fasted cardio.

Studies show no significant differences in BMI, body fat percentage, or calories consumed between people who do fasted and non-fasted aerobic exercises. However, some personal trainers state that you should do your cardio on an empty stomach. 

I decided to take runs early in the morning, before breakfast. I expected them to be hard and exhausting, but instead, they were pretty enjoyable! On days 20 and 21, I had a great pace of 8:51 and 8:48 and wasn’t tired at all after workouts. However, I overeat almost 400 calories each of these days. I can’t explain why this happens as I got proper post-workout meals to refill my glycogen stores… It seems like fasted cardio just doesn’t work for me.

Day 22. This is what I eat in a day.

At the beginning of this experiment, I mainly ate a high-protein, low-carb diet and was pretty content with it. It’s just what works best for me: I get enough fats for the hormonal system, I get my quick energy from fruits and berries, I have a lot of protein to keep me satiated. However, day 17 has demonstrated that this is not the optimal nutrition system for a runner. 

There is no comprehensive scientific data on what nutrition should be like for an average jogger, but some running communities recommend getting almost 60% of your calorie intake from carbs. I’m not sure I’ve hit that level, but I definitely eat more carbs these days.

Day 24. Now it’s a habit.

During my first day of this experiment, I relied solely on motivation and self-control. There were days when getting out for a run was a severe struggle for me. However, as running became a repetitive habit, it appears so much easier now! The thing is, unlike self-control, habits don’t require cognitive effort. You just put on your snickers, close the door behind you, and start running.

Day 30. I’m almost there!

This is the best experiment I’ve done so far. It made me love running again, and it seems like I will carry on this new habit even when the month is over.

Day 31. It’s a race day!

Today’s eating is all that’s a healthy, well-balanced diet is not. Plenty of refined carbs to get more instant energy when I need it; minimum of fiber to make sure that there will be no awkward situations during the race, and a minimum of protein to feel as light as possible.

And it worked! Today I’ve set my personal record and was running at an 8:10 pace! I’ve covered 6,5 miles in 53:30. This was my first race in almost two years, and I’m super pleased with my results. 

Numbers recap

During this month, I’ve run for 29 days (I skipped two days). I’ve run 106,5 miles which took me 16 hours and 34 minutes.

According to the Strava app, I’ve burned 12,470 calories, equivalent to 3.5 pounds of fat. 

Xiaomi fitness band counts calories differently: According to the fitness tracker, I’ve burned 7,860 calories which equals 2.3 pounds. That’s what math says. 

Final weighting

At the end of the day, what matters is how much weight I’ve lost with running 3 miles a day every day. These are tremendous five pounds! However, the body composition analysis has shown that only two of them were from fat. The analysis has also demonstrated that I’ve lost a bit of muscle mass and water along with fat. 

What does that mean? That the math works and that the fitness bands are more precise in terms of calories burned than running applications.

It also means that running might not be the best form of physical activity to get into shape. As with fat, you lose muscles and water, chances are, you won’t see better muscle definition from running alone.

Some calculators that might come in handy:

You can quickly check how many calories you need per day by using any TDEE calculator

See how many calories you burn while running at a certain pace with this calorie calculator

If you decide to track your body fat percentage and not purely the body weight, you can use the YMCA body fat percentage calculator. It gives the most precise numbers from all I’ve tried.

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Unimeal does not diagnose or suggest treatments. Any description of the diet, training plan or supplement should be discussed with your current physician or nutritionist. This article does not address specific conditions and is simply meant to provide general information on healthcare topics. Following any advice is at your own initiative and does not impose any responsibility on the blog authors for your health and safety.