How many calories does running burn is a popular question asked by many. For many, including us, it should be ‘how much cake can I eat’?

Hands up if you run for cake, or to just indulge in the odd treat? Got to be honest – it’s my favourite part of training. Don’t get me wrong, I love the beautiful views, the stunning countryside, the endorphins and that after exercise feeling of having accomplished something. I like cake too though! And you have to replace those lost calories, right? Who doesn’t work out how many calories they’ve burnt after a run? Just me then? I do say this tongue in cheek. I don’t devour everything in sight but I do love cake. This got me to thinking that it might be good to answer the question “how much cake can I eat after running?”

How Many Calories Does Running Burn?

Let’s start with how much energy running burns. On average, each mile burns 80-140 calories. I tend to work it out as 100 calories per mile. 3,500 calories equals a pound of fat. If I run 35 miles per week and consume an average of about 1,500-1,800 calories per day, I will lose a pound a weight. Note – this works for me – it may not work for everyone – it depends on weight, height, lifestyle and a number of other factors.

Someone once told me that losing weight makes you faster to the tune of approximately 2 seconds per mile for each pound lost. I did actually test the theory. I lost 9 pounds and I got quicker. I was training properly with my coach, working on my core strength and I was in my 3rd year of running. I wasn’t sure if it was the weight loss that helped me to a PB until I ran another marathon with similar training half a stone heavier and didn’t PB. Still, it is not the bee all and end all. You can never be really sure how much part the weight played, nor should you make it your main focus of running.

Does running help you lose weight?

There are many scientific studies around whether running will help you lose weight. You can do the math though, Unless there are underlying health reasons that you don’t lose weight, generally if you are exercising regularly, and not overeating, you should lose weight. The trick is not to think that if you run 20 miles and Strava says you have burned 2000 calories, don’t put them all back in again. There are so many factors to consider that will vary how many calories you do actually burn including:

  • How much you weigh
  • Your metabolism – different metabolic speeds will vary the amount of calories you burn
  • How fast you run – time on feet might make a huge difference – a 12 minute mile will burn more than a 7 minute mile
  • How far you run
  • When and what you eat

3,500 calories = 1 pound of fat! remember this. Consuming your recommended calorie allowance daily and running 35 miles per week as an average should mean you lose a pound a week. Remember though that muscle is heavier than fat. If you are new to exercise, or introducing something new into your training, you may build muscle which may be heavier. Also don’t expect overnight miracles – it takes a while for your body to adapt and your efforts of a few weeks may not be seen for a further couple of weeks.

How Many Calories is Your Run Burning?

Bear in mind, all of this is based on the average person burning between 80-140 calories per mile. I have always calculated it as 100 calories per mile personally based on my height, weight etc. So how many calories does running burn when calculated over the average run distance?

  • 1 mile is 80-140 calories – why bother? It’s hardly worth lacing up your daps! You only just about deserve a packet of Walkers Square Crisps. Get back out there and make it worth it 😉
  • 5 miles – 400-700 calories – that’s a decent piece of cake by our reckoning.
  • 10 miles – 800-1400 calories – Now you’re talking!
  • 20 miles – 1,600 – 2,800 calories – Why aren’t we doing this every weekend?
  • Ultramarathon distance – 50 miles – 4000-7000 calories – just going to drop my favourite every race stat below!

how many calories does running burn


You may also find that when you are fairly new to the sport running 25-30 miles a week burns more than when your body gets used to this – your metabolism adapts to your exercise habits so while you may lose weight initially – this may not always be the case.

Remember, you don’t have to consume all the calories you eat – just saying.

And if you find yourself overdoing it on a non running day, you can always work it off the next day.

Does Trail Running Burn More Calories Than Road Running?

The good news is that trail running almost always burns more calories than road running. This is due to the undulating terrain and elevation. Muddy trails, rocky paths, uneven paths… you are using different muscles and almost certainly working harder. There is a school of thought that 10-11 miles of trail running is equivalent to a road half. Time on feet is greater on the trails. It takes longer to cover the same distance on the trails than it does on the roads. The longer you are out there, the more calories you are burning.

I tested this theory with some recent runs. 18 miles on a road run which took 2 hours and 42 minutes burned (according to Garmin) 1720 calories. 18 miles off road which took 3 hours and 2 minutes burned 1843 calories. So the difference in this instance was approximately a miles worth of calories. Now, once again, we do say this with caution as this is probably not scientifically exact and I just a rough guide based on my own personal metrics.

When You Can’t Run

The trouble is, sometimes we can’t run and then we have to watch what we eat. This is especially true when tapering, recovering after an ultra marathon or during a period of injury. don’t just carry on regardless though worrying about gaining weight – you have to do what your body needs you to do. Just be mindful of what you are consuming and don’t fret – a couple of weeks resting is not going to make you gain half a stone. It’s easy to become too obsessed with counting the calories and watching what you eat or trying to grind out extra miles when you shouldn’t to justify that heavy night you had. There are other options if you can’t run due to injury – you can try cycling. 20 miles of cycling will burn the equivalent of 8-10 miles of running and is far less impactful on the legs.


how many calories does running burn

How Much Cake Can I Eat?

This time we are actually referring to how much cake you can eat.

If you are choosing a cake in a cafe, or eating homemade cake, you are hardly likely to be able to determine the calories in it. You can only really tell the calorie content if you have the original packet. Do not fear – we have taken care of it with this! Want to know how many calories are in your favourite cake – check out this page:

Please bear in mind that all of the information in this article is based on our own experiences and not medical advice. While we do like cake, we do advise everything in moderation. A healthy nutritious diet is required, especially if you are working your body hard. You need to fuel properly and repair the muscles after exercise. If you do want that cake however, you shouldn’t feel guilty. Eating plenty of fruit and veg, carb loading when necessary, replacing those lost nutrients with the correct foods, at the right time is very important. Ending every run with cake, while this sounds good, isn’t the best way to become a finely tuned athlete. Equally don’t start calorie counting and getting obsessed with how much you are burning. It is important to fuel properly and give your body what it needs.