Calculating Calorie Expenditure from Running

Just wondering how and what various people on here are using to track and keep a log of their calorie expenditure when running?

We are so spoilt with kj and power meters on the bike i was wondering how to keep on eye on running expenditure?

Historically i used my Garmin forerunner’s calorie calculator but any other advice or wisdom would be great to hear!

Garmin with HRM for me. Always significantly lower with HRM than the Garmin calculation without on my 920xt. It may have improved, but walking/ running/ hiking without heart rate always more.

great thanks! - do you use the watch’s optical HR or an external strap ?

920xt has no optical heart rate - it’s strap or nothing!

This isn’t specific to running, but these are my thoughts after experimenting with this whilst cycling:

Using HR alongside strava to calculate calorie burn gave me wildly low numbers compared to a power meter. I actually found stravas estimate (with no sensors used) very close to that of my power meter

Im assuming you want to track this so that you can manage your weight? My best suggestion would be to accurately log your food intake as well as your exercise for a month and see if you’re getting the results you expect. If you aren’t then adjust accordingly. The reason I suggest this is that some people, for example, don’t find Stravas calorie estimate to be as accurate as I have.

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I’m more of a fan of heart rate in general than TR*, but it will depend on having at least fairly accurate zones (i.e. not using 220 - age). With HRM and the same data/ zones, I find Garmin, Strava, Mapmyrun etc ball park to each other to be honest. Without HRM, they all over estimate in my case.

*I really can’t believe that RPE guestimates is more accuate than HR guestimates for runs/ swims and non power meter rides. But that’s just me - the only thing I use Training Peaks for now is TSS estimates when I’ve no power meter!

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I am pretty meticulous at inputting my food into myfitnesspal and am keen not to loose or gain any weight at present so i guess following your advice: i’ll just keep a track on it whilst i start to add running into my cycling programme and see how my body reacts.

I am a former runner and have long held a theory that running in general requires more calories than expected as there is so much more muscle damage and thus its better to eat slightly more to aid muscle repair etc

If you’ve no idea about calorific cost of running at all then there are online calculators that will give you a very rough estimate that you could use as your base line and adjust as you gain more experience. Chances are, given your history, following your instinct will work just fine.

The calorie burn of running is definitely higher than cycling but I’ve never run consistently enough to quantify it. Maybe, because running is more of a whole-body exercise than cycling, it varies much more from person to person depending on your technique and recruitment of muscles

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Is it higher though? I thought that it’s very pace dependent. So for instance, if you’re a strong cyclist but weak runner you could burn more per hour cycling. The same would be true in reverse.

For me a comfortable running pace is about 8:30/mile, based on my body weight of 135 lbs and the online calculators that works out to about 721 calories per hour.

For an hour of cycling, 230-240 watts is about what I can sustain comfortably, I believe that works out to about 850 calories per hour.

Likewise, I pushed for a mile as hard as I could the other day and hit 6:27. That works out to about 102 calories.

My all time PR for power at 6:27 is 315 watts which would work out to about 123 calories over that same time frame.

I’m guessing if I could get myself to run faster these numbers could flip?

In general, a 150 lb person burns 100 calories per mile is the old rule, doesn’t matter what pace. Garmin says I burn something like 60 calories per mile when I do easy pace, which could be true if my efficiency has really gotten that good, but I doubt it. Ballpark estimate for me is still around 100/mile.

I would believe that a weak runner (as myself) have got a considerably lower energy utilization when running, thus spending more calories per time unit running than cycling.
And, in running there are never coasting.

For running in the flats:

For mountain runs I look at work reported by Stryd. In the flats Stryd is pretty much aligned with the table above.

I spent quite some time looking into this relationship, e.g running vs calorie consumption. Taking into account all uncertainties I this is best estimate I believe one can come up with. And if you’re not running ultras I’d say the margin of error isn’t that important anyway.

Garmin/Strava or any other HR-based estimate: nonsense.

Well in fairness, that calculator is giving pretty much the same calorie burn as Garmin with HRM gives me for my weight based on the tables.

My n=1 study is that I pretty much used the Garmin figures the whole way through (a substantial) weight loss with diet, and hit the expected weight loss targets based on calories in (using myfitnesspal) and calories out ( including garmin with HRM for running/ outside rides).

Just out of curiosity, I used the link you provided and charted it against average power on a bicycle for one hour. I made the two lines intersect so as I could see where the cross over is between running and cycling when just looking at calories burned. I assumed a 150 lbs runner when using your link.

To me, it looks like averaging 200 watts is about the same calorie burn as running 8/min miles. For me, based on the paces I know I can do in both sports, it looks like I can burn more calories in less time cycling. I think I’d have to drop my running pace from 8:30/mile to somewhere around 6:45/mile for the two to equal out.

Very interesting.