How to Calculate Your Caloric Burn While Running

Today, we embark on a journey to unravel the mystery of one of the most burning questions in the world of fitness – how many calories do we really burn when we hit the pavement for a thrilling run? Caloric expenditure knowledge can help in optimizing our training, proper fueling, and achieving our fitness goals. So, let’s lace up our running shoes and delve into the science behind calculating the calories burned while running.

Understanding Caloric Expenditure

Before diving into the nitty-gritty of running calorie calculation, let’s grasp the concept of caloric expenditure. Our bodies require energy to perform any physical activity, and this energy is measured in calories. The number of calories burned during exercise is influenced by various factors, such as body weight, speed, distance covered, terrain, and running efficiency.

Understanding MET -Metabolic Equivalent of Task

Metabolic Equivalent of Task (MET) is a unit used to estimate the energy expenditure of various activities, including running. It measures the rate of energy expended during an activity compared to the rate at rest. One MET is equivalent to the energy expenditure at rest, which is roughly 1 kcal per kilogram of body weight per hour. MET values for different activities enable us to gauge the intensity of our workouts and accurately calculate the calories burned during physical endeavors. This knowledge empowers us to tailor our training, set realistic fitness goals, and make informed decisions about our exercise routines.

Using MET to Calculate Calories Burned While Running

The MET value for running can vary based on the intensity of your run. Here are some general MET values for different running activities:

  • Light jogging (5.0 mph or 8.0 km/h): 6 METs
  • Running (6.0 mph or 9.7 km/h): 8 METs
  • Running (7.0 mph or 11.3 km/h): 10 METs
  • Running (8.0 mph or 12.9 km/h): 11.5 METs
  • Running (9.0 mph or 14.5 km/h): 12.8 METs

To calculate the calories burned during your running session, follow these steps:

    • Determine the MET value of your running activity based on your speed.
    • Know your body weight in kilograms.
    • Calculate the duration of your run in hours (e.g., 30 minutes is 0.5 hours).

Once you have these values, use the following formula:

    • Calories Burned = MET x Body Weight (kg) x Duration of Running (hours)
    • For example, if you weigh 65 kilograms and run at a pace of 8.0 mph for 45 minutes (0.75 hours):
    • Calories Burned = 11.5 METs x 65 kg x 0.75 hours = 563.625 kcal

Using MET to calculate calories burned during running provides a useful estimation of your energy expenditure. However, keep in mind that individual factors can influence the actual calorie burn.

Factors Affecting Caloric Expenditure During Running

Body Weight: Higher weight individuals tend to burn more calories while running as it requires more energy to move a larger mass.

Intensity and Speed: Running uphill generally increases caloric expenditure as your body works harder. Speed plays a factor as you can cover more distance the faster you run.

Terrain: Running on uneven terrain or trails demands more effort, leading to higher calorie burn.

Efficiency: Experienced runners who have better running form and technique might burn slightly fewer calories due to improved efficiency.

Wind Resistance: Running against strong winds can increase calorie burn as it creates additional resistance.

Temperature: Running in extreme heat or cold can elevate calorie expenditure as your body works to regulate its temperature.

Using Fitness Trackers and Apps

In the digital age, we are fortunate to have access to various fitness trackers and mobile applications that can estimate calorie burn based on data inputs like distance, time, and body weight. While these tools provide a good estimate, remember that they might not be 100% accurate as individual variations can play a role.

MapMy Fitness: Developed by Under Armour, MapMy Fitness offers the MapMyRun app, which is designed specifically for runners. It utilizes GPS to track your runs and provides an estimate of the calories burned during your workouts. The app also offers various training plans and workout insights to enhance your running experience.

Fitbit: Fitbit offers a range of fitness trackers and smartwatches equipped with advanced sensors to track your running activities and estimate calorie burn accurately. The Fitbit app syncs seamlessly with the devices, providing detailed insights into your performance.

Apple Watch: The Apple Watch, paired with the built-in Workout app or third-party running apps like Nike Run Club or Strava, is an excellent option for monitoring your runs and calculating your calorie expenditure.

Garmin Connect: Garmin’s range of GPS-enabled running watches, such as the Forerunner and Fenix series, are designed to track your runs with precision. The Garmin Connect app provides comprehensive data, including an estimate of the calories burned during your workouts.

Strava: Strava is a popular social fitness app that allows you to track your runs and connect with a community of runners. It uses GPS data to estimate your calorie burn, making it a valuable tool for those seeking to monitor their running performance.

There are also online calculators like the one below that you can use:


As always, keep in mind that while these fitness trackers and apps can be helpful tools, individual variations and other factors can influence the accuracy of calorie burn calculations.

Understanding how many calories you burn while running is a crucial step in tailoring your training, whether you’re looking to loose weight or optimize your performance. By factoring in variables such as body weight, intensity, and terrain, you can get a reasonable estimate of your caloric expenditure. Embrace the data but listen to your body, as the joy of running goes beyond mere numbers.