We could call this blog “How Much Cake Can I Eat After Running?” but we settled for “How Many Calories Does Running Burn?” Either way, they are both relevant.

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 ultra 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 a great coach (I have to say that – he’s the other face behind this website) and I was in my 3rd year of running so not sure how much part the weight played. Anyway, I digress. Back to the calorie counting. If you want to lose weight, don’t eat your calories (not all of them anyway). If you don’t want to lose weight then eat them (remember moderation here and you still need to eat a healthy diet).

Don’t Get Injured if You Like Cake

The trouble is, this week, I’m resting due to a slight calf pull. I can already see my arse expanding before my eyes! The thigh gap is threatening to close and I’m sure I’ve gone up a dress size since Sunday! It’s Ok – I will stop eating so much. I will say no to cake and dessert and I won’t eat a whole bag of minstrels while binge watching Netflix.

Being injured sucks! Don’t get me wrong – I’m OK with not running right now as I don’t have piles of sweaty kit to wash and I’m not rushing to get out of the door. My worry is, I’m going to have to get the box of kit marked “next size up” out of I don’t stop eating!

So what’s a girl to do? I can’t stop eating, I’ve got to drop the mileage or risk a serious injury and I really want cake! This is when I find myself counting the calories. I jest of course, I know that in a week I’m not going to gain any more than a pound or two if I really go for it (puts biscuits down).

how many calories does running burn

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 trials 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.

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.

How Much Cake Can I 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 is largely tongue in cheek. 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 your 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.