I wasn’t thrilled, when this colder weather hit, to find myself increasingly running on a treadmill rather than my favorite jogging trail. But one of the cool things about hopping on a treadmill these days is that I don’t hesitate to plug in my weight to help monitor my calorie burn. And in the process of doing that, I discovered it’s more fun to play the “calorie burn” game than to wearily watch the time or mileage elapse.
It’s really remarkable to see how many more calories you burn by increasing your speed just a little bit. At 4 mph — a 15-minute mile, which translates to either a fast walk or a really slow jog — I burn 260 calories an hour at my current weight. Increasing my speed just 1 mph to a 12-minute mile, still a fairly slow jog, burns more than twice as many calories: 555 calories an hour.
It’s weird to realize that at my starting weight, I would’ve burned 436 calories an hour at 4 mph and a startling 929 calories at 5 mph (though I wouldn‘t have been able to keep the pace). At a more manageable 3 mph, which was how I began my fitness program around this time last year, I was burning 354 calories per hour, according to my “treadmill experiments.”
Since I started playing the calorie burn game, I keep increasing my speed for short bursts to see how quickly I can burn, say, 300 calories. Now instead of watching the clock, slogging along at 11 or even 12 minutes a mile because I feel sorry for myself running on a treadmill, I spend more of my run at 6 mph or more. At 6.5 mph, my calorie burn tops 700 calories per hour — more than 11 calories for every minute I can keep up that pace.
I’m running faster and having more fun in the process. But I still can’t wait to get back outside.