How Long Does It Take to Get In Shape Running?

Are you looking to get in shape by running? Whether you have already started running or not, it’s natural to wonder how long it will take to see results.

How Long Does It Take to Get In Shape Running?

Running is one of the best and most common ways to lose weight and get in shape. It’s not the only way, nor the most effective way, but it can deliver fast results if you enjoy running and incorporate it as part of an overall weight loss plan.

In this guide, we explain the main benefits of running, how to get in shape by running, and the weight loss factors involved.

By the end of this guide, you will have a good idea of how long it will take to get in shape running – and more.

Can I Get In Shape By Just Running?

The simple answer is that it depends. Running burns calories and builds leg muscle in general, but getting in shape – i.e. losing weight to achieve a personal goal – still requires that you maintain a caloric deficit.

Being in a caloric deficit is the best way to burn body fat and lose weight. Put simply, this means managing your total daily calories so that the number sits lower than your calorie maintenance – the number of daily calories you need to remain at the same weight.

This number can be found online by putting your age, gender, current weight, and how generally active you are (low, moderate, high) into a calorie maintenance calculator.

Since running burns calories, running helps to lower your daily calories – which can help you reach a caloric deficit. This is how you would get in shape by running.

However, if you are consuming a lot of calories – your calorie maintenance or a caloric surplus (going over your calorie maintenance) – you will not lose weight and may even gain weight, despite running daily.

The Factors Involved

How Long Does It Take to Get In Shape Running?

As for how long it will take to get in shape by running, there are a number of factors involved that can slow down or speed up the weight loss process.

These are worth knowing to understand how weight loss works and how long it takes.

It is possible to break these down into five main factors, which include current weight, current age, running distance and running pace, diet, and consistency.

Current Weight

It’s only natural that the more you weigh (the more body fat you have) the longer it will take, in general, to lose weight and get in shape.

Of course, taller people will weigh more as a result of having increased height. However, current weight should be considered in terms of body fat and general BMI (body mass index).

This should not be discouraging, though. It is possible to get in shape quickly, no matter your current weight, through consistent exercising and dieting.

Current Age

Unfortunately, as we age, it becomes more difficult to lose weight and gain muscle. This is natural but, again, should not be considered discouraging.

For both males and females, this process typically begins from the age of 40. This does not mean it is impossible to stay in shape; it just means that the process can be slower and/or more difficult.

Regardless, and as is commonly seen, it is more than possible to stay in shape even if you are in your 50s or 60s. 

Distance And Pace

How Long Does It Take to Get In Shape Running?

If you are running to get in shape, how far and how fast you run are important factors that can determine how long it takes to lose weight. 

Running burns calories, so it makes sense that by running farther and/or faster you will burn more calories overall. This is known as running distance and running pace.

It’s worth mentioning that both running for longer and running faster have the potential to increase the number of calories burned.

You can do either one, or both, to burn calories faster and, as a result, get in shape faster.


As mentioned above, running alone is not always enough to get in shape. To get in shape by losing weight, the aim of running is to burn calories. However, this should be done simultaneously with a diet plan that keeps you in a caloric deficit.

To expand on what was explained above (about caloric deficits), if your calorie maintenance is 2000 calories, one running session can help you to burn, for example, 500 calories.

If, however, you consume 2500 calories throughout that same day, you will still be at your calorie maintenance of 2000 calories.

This, if done consistently, would mean no weight loss at all, despite running. The key to losing weight and getting in shape, then, is to keep your daily calories below your calorie maintenance.


Last but not least, the main factor for getting in shape, overall, is consistency: consistency in running while maintaining a caloric deficit.

By staying consistent in your running program and diet plan, getting in shape will happen a lot faster with visible results.

This makes it important to maintain a running routine and diet plan, as well as constantly track your progress and set higher challenges.

Through consistent dieting and running, whether that means running five times a week or once a week, the better the chance you will have in getting in shape faster and in less time.


So, how long does it take to get in shape running?

By running and dieting consistently, it can take less than a year to get in shape, depending on your weight loss goal and current weight.

Through consistency, results will also become visible in a matter of months.

Despite this, weight loss of any kind should still be done safely.

Running should not be done to the point of overtraining, mental burnout, or injury.

For this reason, allow adequate rest and recovery between runs and always run at a distance and pace that is challenging but manageable.

As for dieting to reach a caloric deficit, it is widely recommended to not go more than 500 calories below your calorie maintenance on a daily basis.

While this can result in rapid weight loss results, it is not healthy and poses a number of side effects and health risks.

Finally, what is considered “in shape” is subjective, so you should never compare your weight or results with other people.

Focus solely on your progress and goals while celebrating every little achievement along the way.

Megan Rinzel
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