1. Get a hit of Matcha Green Tea
If you want to burn up to 25% more fat during your workout, have a drink of matcha green tea immediately beforehand.
Matcha green tea is already extremely popular in Japan, and is set apart from most teas because the chloropyhll-packed leaves are ground into a powder rather than steeped, so you get the full effects of its many health properties.
Drinking the tea (also available in tablet form) supercharges your metabolism (even at rest) with a powerful suite of antioxidants, fibre, amino acids and caffeine. In addition to increasing your fat-burning rate, matcha lowers bad cholesterol and combats inflammation.
Sprinting is the ultimate in fat burning. You know that feeling you get when your heart is in your mouth and you feel sick? Good, it’s working.
Find an approximate 100 metre stretch and start a timer for 15 mins. Do sprint repeats on a flat stretch where you sprint for 30 secs then recover (jog, walk) for 1 minute. Gradually increase your sprinting time and try to keep the recovery time the same at 1 minute.
This kind of training is called HIIT (High intensity interval training). It propels your fat burn and uses maximum calories and should leave you feeling physically exhausted yet energised and full of achievement. Try this 20 minute beginners' HIIT workout.
3. Do hill repeats
Hill repeats sound less fun than they are, so don't be put off. They get your heart racing, burn fat like nothing else and give a serious kick of endorphins.
To get the best results from this type of training, find a mediumly steep hill (you can do this on the treadmill too). Start by sprinting up it and slowly jogging back down and do this for 6 minutes. On the 6th minute run to another hill and this time make sure it is steeper than the previous one. Set the clock at 5 minutes this time and sprint up to the top and back down. On the 5th minute jog on and find a super steep hill. Set the clock for 4 minutes this time and sprint up and jog back down till the clock strikes 4. If this does not hurt and leave you out of breath and feeling physically drained then add another 2 minutes on the steep hill.
Do a slow jog on the flat for 10-15 minutes as a warm down and be sure to stretch out your aching muscles to enhance your recovery.
For more about hills, check out this article, Hill training explained.
4. Cross training
Cross training will offer you a little break from running. Trust me; your body will be thankful. It’s really important to mix it up, and change will shock your body into using different areas propelling your fat burn. You should try swimming, cycling, or going to the gym and using the cross trainer machine or step machine. In the long term this will improve your agility, skills and balance.
Taking a break from running will add variability into your routine, reduce exercise boredom and produce a higher level of all round body conditioning. It will give your running muscles a break, working other muscles while they rest and generally will reduce the risk of future injuries. Find out more about the benefits of cross training for runners in this article.
5. Sleep and recovery
Think of sleep as a non-negotiable 'Recovery' cycle that your body needs in order to release and stabilise hormones and repair and build new muscle.
Constantly not getting enough rest (7-9 hours) will result in a chronically elevated level of the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol is pretty much your worst enemy when it comes to getting trim, it destroys healthy muscle, shifts fat directly to the belly, negatively affects your metabolism while increasing your blood sugar and sugar cravings. Cortisol levels can be controlled by getting better quality sleep and stress management. Read more about the the importance of sleep for runners here.
Magnesium also helps your muscles relax and repair themselves, so make sure you're eating plenty of magnesium-rich foods like leafy green veggies, bananas, avocado and almonds.