Can you lose belly fat by running? Tips from a runner for bikini season

A pro runner shares tips for beginners just in time for bikini season.

Can you lose belly fat by running? What safety tips should you follow when running on the road? Do you need special shoes? Running can seem like a daunting task for those looking to take it up. The good news is that it can help you feel healthier and stronger.

Kelly van Vliet, who was an amateur runner at the start of the Nedbank Runified virtual series in 2020, believes the Runified series gave her an opportunity to develop and reignite her passion for running. She joined the NRC Green Team in 2020 and competed in the Nedbank Runified: Breaking Barriers 50 km International Association of Ultrarunners world record attempt not even a year later on 23 May 2021. Now she is sharing her secrets for beginners wanting to take up running for the first time.

Here she givers her advice for people wanting to get into running:

How do you start running?

My advice for people to start running is just to start! Start slowly, it doesn’t have to be a run straight away. Running for a bit then walking, then running again is a great way to start with your fitness. Also, getting a buddy to workout with always does the trick, exercise always goes quicker when you have someone to chat with. 

Safety tips for running?

For safety, I would always recommend running in an area with people around. Beachfronts/suburbs/roads that are somewhat busy but not main roads. Running in a group, with a friend or even joining a running club and joining in on their group runs is better. 

Pepper spray is a must to keep on you and a great new initiative is a Trigger. Register and carry it on you at all time. Always let someone know when you leave for a run and when you’re back. Let someone you love know your routes. It’s just better if someone knows your movements. 

Basics to buy when you start running?

The only basics you need to start running is a pair of running shoes (try get a decent pair to support your feet, I recommend Nike) and a desire to move your body! You don’t need fancy shoes and an expensive watch. Those can come if you become more competitive. The road is free and always welcoming. 

ALSO READ: Keep fit and active on a budget

How does running help with weight loss? Can you lose belly fat?

Losing weight comes with the territory when starting running. The longer you go, the faster you go, the more weight will drop off. But I recommend eating a healthy diet, with less starchy foods, less processed foods and more whole foods. Incorporating oils/fats and fresh food to help lose, and keep off, those pesky five kgs. 

Foods to eat when training?

Food is fuel for running, so having a balanced diet higher in fats/protein with healthy carbs for energy is necessary. Eg Replace biscuits/cookies/bread with sweet potato/pumpkin/fruit for carbohydrate sources. Up your avocado/olive oils and eggs and look into a protein supplement, (I recommend Biogen Whey protein) to add in, will up your daily protein easily and help fuel and recover your body properly. 

How do you transition from running for fun to competing?

Transitioning from a basic run for fun to a competitor takes hard work. You need to change your mindset, carve out more time and focus on your goals. Add in quality sets and I suggest getting a coach to help you achieve the outcome. 

How to stay motivated when you just don’t feel like training?

Those ‘I don’t want to’ days do come, but generally, those are the days that you actually need to train. It’s hard to fight the fatigue/hard days, but I’ve never had a run that I’ve regretted. Just get yourself out the door. 2km is better than nothing. 

Where do you find a running partner?

Finding a running partner comes from finding someone who loves the sport as much as you, or has similar goals to you. Work together and you’ll reach your goals faster. My suggestion is to look within your running club, join in on some group runs and make some friends. Sports people are the best people. 

Best running routes in South Africa?

I find that everyplace you go to has beautiful run routes. We are very blessed to live in such a gorgeous country, boasting gorgeous seaside runs (Cape Town, Camps bay road) amazing trails ( St Francis lighthouse/ George Botanical Gardens) or large open roads with incredible views ( Maitlands Port Elizabeth). To me, any route that includes running, fresh air and some blue skies, is the best part of my day. 

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