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Run Your Butt Off!: A Breakthrough Plan to Shed Pounds and Start Running

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Shed unwanted pounds and keep them off ONCE AND FOR ALL with Run Your Butt Off!, a back-to-basics, test panel–approved weight-loss plan and beginners' running program that yields sustainable, healthy results. The Run Your Butt Off! program is founded on the simple concept that in order to lose weight, calories burned must exceed calories consumed. No gimmicks, no shortcuts, no silver bullets can circumvent that reality. With this program, you'll learn to burn fat from both sides of the weight-loss equation—the calories in and the calories out—at the same time. Run Your Butt Off! by Sarah Lorge Butler with Leslie Bonci, MPH, RD, and Budd Coates, MS will make you fitter, stronger, and leaner.

304 pages, Paperback

First published March 15, 2011

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About the author

Sarah Lorge Butler

4 books1 follower
Sarah Lorge Butler is a freelance writer and editor who covers health, fitness, parenting and personal finance for a range of national publications. Her book, Run Your Butt Off!, a beginner’s guide to running and weight loss, was published by Rodale in March, 2011. An avid runner and beginner triathlete, Sarah lives near Allentown, Pennsylvania, with her husband and two children.

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5 stars
127 (23%)
4 stars
206 (38%)
3 stars
163 (30%)
2 stars
36 (6%)
1 star
8 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 84 reviews
Profile Image for Helen.
184 reviews6 followers
June 25, 2011
I recently used www.coolrunning.com's Couch Potato to 5K plan to start jogging and have since run two 5Ks. While that plan ultimately worked for me, I so wish I had discovered Run Your Butt Off!, from Runner’s World, first. The RYBO plan addressed the things that I found most challenging and would have made my journey more pleasant.

Firstly, the authors insist that you run very slowly. I thought I had been running slowly, but discovered otherwise the first time I ran with another person. The authors describe exactly what running slowly looks like and I can tell you first hand it makes all the difference in the world for a new runner.

They also encourage readers to go at their own pace and stick to whichever stage of the plan they are on if they fall behind. It’s totally self-paced. Each chapter has an eating plan component, which brings the focus back to weight-loss (although it’s not distracting if that’s not your primary goal).

The book is interspersed with stories from a test panel, tips from a running coach, and lessons from a nutritionist. While I read the book in its entirety the format lends itself to browsing. RYBO is directed at new runner’s, and will be especially useful for the typically sedentary.
Profile Image for Jill.
142 reviews7 followers
October 23, 2011
I wish I had found this book when I took up running this summer. I had my own plan and I think having had these ideas to follow through on might have helped make it look more achievable. The plan takes you for 12 weeks, or longer if you want to spend more than one week at a level and running plan, and you go from walking for 30 minutes to running for 30 minutes. Each chapter also has some ideas to help you adapt your life to more healthy sustainable approaches like eating more fruits, vegetables and protein and reading food labels. Actual people who participated in the program are featured with achievable goals. No one lost absurd amounts of weight in the 12 weeks, but everyone made progress toward their own goals. A mother at my daughter's Brownie meeting was telling me how this book was written by someone in our area and she has applied to be one of the walkers in the next book, about Walking Your Butt Off! She encouraged me to apply, but as I have already been running I don't qualify for the the new book and I don't want to give up running to go back to walking anyway. I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking to get started with running. I checked it out of the local library, and need to get it returned as it was due today, which would be a great way to see if it what you are looking for before buying it. I loved the calculator online to find out your BMI and the logs at the back. Personally I've been using Dailymile for logging my exercise and I like that more than a paper pencil method, but I can see the merits of both.
Profile Image for Emily.
92 reviews4 followers
December 27, 2012
This is a great running book for absolute beginners.
When I read this I wasn't an absolute beginner, just starting again after pregnancy and having a baby break. Psychologically I wasn't a beginner, but physically I was. This beginning running program is very moderate. I didn't follow it although it is similar to other beginner programs I've seen or followed in the past after a long break from running. This book advocates starting to run very slowly which I think is very helpful (psychologically and physically) for new runners and the program is geared towards helping people stick with it...for life, which is great. It stresses that, especially at the start, most of your weight loss will come from diet not exercise, which I think is good for beginners to know to prevent weight loss discouragement. It's heavy on the running portion and light on eating and cross-training, but I thought it was good and would recommend it to people who would like to start run but have little or no experience. It's definitely a "You can do this" book.
Profile Image for Cynthia.
279 reviews7 followers
August 27, 2011
It worked. I am running. I still hate to run, but I run. I run and I get better at it every week. I am loosing weight SLOWLY (there's the 5th star), but my booty looks much better. Did I mention I hate to run? I do. I hate to run.
Profile Image for Jill.
40 reviews1 follower
October 30, 2011
I liked Run Your Butt Off. This book emphasizes brining into your life bite sized running into your week and then building upwards. This book isn't about losing tons of weight in a short period of time. Americans love books like Enlightenment in 7 days. Learn to mediate in 3 Minutes and so forth. This book is about learning to run and looking towards long term fitness. The plan is simple; run, count calories, reduce your intake and lose weight. No fancy diets or gimmicks. The program is geared for beginners so if you are fit already this isn't for you. Even the particiipants are normal looking folks who lost weight but don't expect these participants to show off washboard abs or dramatic weight loss. Which I think is helpful and realistic.
Profile Image for Tricia.
884 reviews16 followers
June 1, 2012
Unlike Run Like a Mother, this book is clearly aimed at beginning runners, and has a definite workout plan. That plan is very similar to Couch-to-5K, except a few weeks longer. Another good thing about this book for beginning runners is that they emphasize you can (and should) GO SLOWLY when you start running. And if you can't reach the goals for a given week, repeat it. Unfortunately, I'm not a beginning runner so that part wasn't as useful to me.

In addition to the training regimen, this book is aimed at people who want to lose weight (by running), so each chapter also has nutrition advice and goals. You work through the process of determining calorie targets, tracking food (for a week) and calories (for just one day if it's too overwhelming), then assessing what-why-when you eat. The weight loss expectations are set at a reasonable level (e.g. 2 to 4 lbs/month). The chapters are also sprinkled with vignettes from various people who participated as a "test group" for the principles in the book. They had a range of successes in terms of weight and inches lost, but most all of them achieved the running goals and were suitably pleased with the fitness results.
Profile Image for Ariel Cummins.
810 reviews14 followers
February 3, 2012
This is a solid introductory text for people who are completely sedentary (or only slightly active) and want to become runners. Each chapter includes a workout, tips to gradually and painlessly change your diet, and tons of tips and anecdotes from other beginning runners.

Now, to be clear, this book doesn't really have a ton of stuff that a person who flips through the occasional health magazine or cruises health blogs doesn't know. It's focus is on the basics: focus on what you eat, include more fruits and veggies, eat lean protein, and less packaged foods. Start with walking, add a little bit of running every week (or every two weeks, or every month -- it's very focused on adapting the program to meet your fitness levels!), and keep at it. The package of this book, though, is what really makes it shine. All the steps are laid out plainly, with plenty of backups from professionals and stories of what worked and didn't work from regular folks. There's even a food diary, workout log, and place to track your stats in the back.

Overall, this is an excellent book for anyone who thinks that they would never be able to be a runner. It demystifies the experience, makes it seem achievable, and offers plenty of encouragement along the way.
Profile Image for Summer Rosswog.
43 reviews2 followers
July 15, 2013
I am starting up running again, after taking about 2 years off, and needed a reminder of what to do right. I stopped running due to a series of running/workout injuries, the last of which left me with a herniated disc. (Who can afford to suffer 6+ weeks of pain and limited mobility--having to miss work, etc. for the first few? It really dampens the desire to work out.) I wanted to avoid being injured as I start up again, and I also needed a reminder of best practices in exercise and nutrition.

This is an excellent guide--actually the best resource that I have read for a running newbie and someone who hasn't been physically active in a while. I wish that I had read it when I started years ago. Of course, it wasn't around then. People looking for a quick start to running a solid mile and shedding multiple pounds a week will be disappointed by this book. However, those interested in adopting some healthy living and running skills for a lifetime while taking all the steps necessary to prevent injury will get a lot out of this book. It is the opposite of the "Greatest Loser," fad diets, etc. But, for the majority of people who want to get in and stay in shape and use running and good nutrition to do so (now and for the rest of their lives), this guide is as good as it gets.
Profile Image for Mimi.
104 reviews15 followers
February 9, 2012
I wish I had read this book before I Started running, It would have saved me from injuries. This book teaches you step by step what you should do everyweek in order to start running, how to create a better resistance, what you should be eating, how to calculate the calories you will be burning according to your weight, how to keep yourself motivated and the best of all... how to become a runner for life!

It's a must-read book for beginners!
Profile Image for Shelly.
591 reviews28 followers
July 18, 2013
Even though I've been running for over a year now and doing 5Ks, I still found lots of value in this book. I did couch-to-5k when I started up running last year and I think it's a good program, but I wish I'd had this book then because I think the advice it gives would have made my couch-to-5k experience even better. I'd definitely recommend this for anyone who's thinking about giving running a try (and I'd urge them to give running a try - it's great!).
Profile Image for Adrith Bicchieri.
175 reviews11 followers
October 4, 2015
I wanted this book to be the thing that finally got me off my butt and on the treadmill, but it is half diet advice, half exercise based - and the diet advice it gives has some serious conflicts with my already-restrictive food allergy situation.

I am sure this book has helped many people and will help many more, I am just not one of them.
Profile Image for Clark Goble.
Author 1 book13 followers
March 7, 2016
This book provides a beginning runner with all the knowledge they need to get started. It offers a plan that closely resembles the “Couch to 5k” running plan that I began with and completed this past summer. It dispels many myths about running and helps beginners understand it’s okay to go slow and add walking breaks to their running. This book takes it a step further however by also offering a diet and weight loss plan.

Even though I’ve already completed the Couch to 5k Program I found myself reading through this book in its entirety simply to learn more about their diet plan. Some of the most informative information involves calculations to determine a person’s daily caloric needs and how to create a healthy calorie deficit in order to lose weight.

In all fairness, most of the information in this book can be found for free on the internet if you look hard enough. But here it is compiled all in one place and offers the beginning runner everything they need to start a healthy running plan. It’s well worth the read.
Profile Image for Holly.
679 reviews24 followers
April 12, 2015
I don't like to buy many books, but this one is a keeper.
After dealing with back issues for the past year, I decided that I needed to attempt running again, but at the very beginning. Yet I didn't know how to do that and try to lose 8 pounds at the same time. This book not only outlines a slow yet what seems to be effective 12-week plan to get you running up to 30 minutes at a time, but also teaches you what you should eat to lose the weight you want and hopefully *not* be hungry. (I've always found when I'm trying to lose weight, I'm often hungry and just deal with it. But the nutritionist in this book had great examples of adding protein to make you feel fuller without adding extra calories.)

If you're looking to start running or to start running *again*, I highly recommend the RYOB (Run Your Butt Off) program.

Profile Image for Martha.
106 reviews1 follower
September 29, 2013
I bought this book not so much for the weight loss part, but for the running plan. This was a great plan for me. Not being a rank beginner, I started on stage 4 as I knew that would be doable for me. They suggest you stay at each stage 3 or 4 times before moving on. I did 3 times at each stage. Today I did the final stage, stage 12 (running 30 minutes straight), for the second time. After this, I will use their suggestions to improve my distance. I'm not so concerned about pace, I just want to be able to increase my distance. This was a great book for me.
Profile Image for Krystal.
8 reviews
September 7, 2011
I literally just finished this book. Im only on stage 2 of 12 but I will copy the stages from the book and continue the program. Growing up I always hated running even though I was one of the fastest. This book has made me enjoy running and that anyone...no matter what size you are can run. Im a whoping 208 but I didnt let that slow me down. One of the things this book has taught me other than size and experince dont matter. Was to slow down my pace. Which has really helped me enjoy doing it.
Profile Image for Kebanek.
24 reviews
December 7, 2011
I found this book both motivating and fun to read. If you want to like running, but can't get yourself started it's a great book. The book has both training and diet/nutritional advice. I found the nutritional advice to be your standard advice, but nice to have a short review. I really liked the fact that the training plan seems actually possible. Now let's see if I can actually pull it off and run!
64 reviews
July 23, 2013
A great running 101 and diet/nutrition book all in one. I'm coming back to running after many many years away and wanted a primer on the how and why of running, and this book was great. I didn't follow the workouts, which were very gradual and had too much walking for my taste, but as far as a Couch to 5K type thing, this book is great. I liked reading the testimonials about all the little ways having running in your life perks you up. Fun fact: running burns about 100 calories per mile!
Profile Image for Diane.
5 reviews
January 26, 2015
Meh. The running part is very similar to Couch to 5k. The nutrition part was not very good. Some of the recommended foods do not help keep you full very long. Dry cereals are the worst for fueling up. It seems this program follows the outdated food pyramid which is in the shape it is in thanks the food lobbyists, not for actually healthily feed yourself. Very glad I got this through the library and did not waste my money.
Profile Image for Wendy.
423 reviews
July 1, 2011
This would have been a great book to read when I started my weightloss/running journey several years ago. I didn't learn anything new, as I have been reading so much about weightloss and running while losing 50 pounds and working up to being able to run half marathons. If I was a beginning runner, I am sure I would have rated it higher.
Profile Image for Eli.
48 reviews
November 21, 2013
Great book for anyone intereste din getting into running.
Profile Image for Teena in Toronto.
2,135 reviews62 followers
May 8, 2017
I've never been a runner but have always wanted to be. I recently started a Couch to 5K program (I have the app on my phone). It's been tough but I made it to day 2/week 5 last week. I found the jump from day 2/week 5 to day 3/week 5 HUGE and couldn't do it (it meant going from running for 8 minutes twice with a walking break to running for 20 minutes straight). I got discouraged and considered quitting the whole idea of running but instead decided to read a couple books for beginner runners to find inspiration and guidance. In the meantime, I decided to repeat day 1/week 5 (which I did today) until I feel comfortable enough to move on.

This book is written by a writer who loves to run (Sarah), a director of sports nutrition at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (Leslie) and the senior director of health and fitness with the company that publishes Runner's World (Budd).

In each chapter, a stage (there are 12 stages in total) of the running plan is revealed along with information about nutrition, injuries, when and how to run, etc. It was interesting that there weren't individual chapters focused on each of the topics (like a chapter on nutrition, exercise, etc.). I thought this worked well as the information was given in bite-sized chunks and built on the information provided in the previous chapters. I read the book straight through but it would probably work better if you read a chapter a week and practiced what was discussed before moving on. Also in each chapter were results and stories from a test panel and tips and lessons from Leslie and Budd.

The running program is directed at beginners with the first week just walking. By week 12, you should be able to run for 30 minutes non-stop. This program is more gradual than the one I'm doing so I'll have to check to see if there is an app available for my phone. I thought it was interesting how they explained going from running for 9 minutes to 13 minutes (stage 9 to 10) and from running from 14 minutes to 30 minutes (stage 11 to 12) ... apparently it's a mental thing.

The chapters were:

* Get moving!
* It starts with a single step
* Timing is everything
* Sticking with it
* The race is on!
* A jog, not a sprint
* Fight the urge to sit
* Sometimes it's not about the scale
* Boredom busters
* Don't stop now

In the appendices, there is a summary of the 12 rules for weight loss success and the 12 stages of running for beginners (the running program). Keeping track of calories eaten, calories needed, exercise, etc. is encouraged. In fact, there is a link to a 65 page personal workbook pdf provided to use. Participants are also encouraged to take things slow, not to rush and to not skip any stages.

I thought this book provided a lot of good information for beginners and is a good support guide.

Blog review post: http://www.teenaintoronto.com/2017/05...
Profile Image for Kelly Lynn Thomas.
810 reviews18 followers
August 4, 2018
This is a great book for anyone who wants to start running. It includes a 12-stage workout to get you from walking for 30 minutes to running 30 minutes straight, as well as additional exercises to strengthen your core. The other thing I really liked about this book was that it had SENSIBLE, RESEARCH-PROVEN weight loss tips from an ACTUAL MEDICAL DOCTOR. There was no "NEVER EAT THIS ONE FOOD AND YOU'LL LOSE 20 LBS IN 2 WEEKS" or any of that bullshit. A lot of it is pretty simple, basic advice, but a lot of people truly aren't educated on nutrition, and will benefit from this book.
Profile Image for Jet Eloriaga.
17 reviews
May 26, 2018
I think most of us who reviewed it wished we met this book sooner. The tips and the running progression all made sense. It encourages you to take things slow and to be kinder with yourself.
I definitely recommend this for new runners.
Profile Image for Abby.
194 reviews
May 25, 2021
This book exceeded my expectations in every way. If you're looking to get back into running or whether you would like to try something new, this book is absolutely perfect. I followed the advice, and am now running over 3 miles 4 days per week!
September 9, 2019
This book was excellent! Easy to follow along, very manageable steps. Great for a novice or someone beginning their running journey again.
Profile Image for CherylR.
327 reviews1 follower
June 9, 2020
This is a good book for beginners. It is somewhat motivational also for someone wanting to lose weight.
Profile Image for Stacie.
1,377 reviews92 followers
July 30, 2012
This book is aimed at non-runners who would like to learn how to begin running. Th book featured a target group of people who tested the system. Different chapters of the book featured what things worked for that member of the test panel as well as for other beginning runners. I appreciated their honesty and the struggles, as well as, successes that they shared.

This book gives you a very clear workout plan to begin running. You start with walking for 30 minutes straight and work in more running each week, or however long it takes you to feel ready to move to the next step of the workout.

I ran/walked a 5K in June so I am obviously ahead of week 1 already, but I truly appreciated the explanation that running doesn't necessarily mean fast. I think I have been trying to push myself to run faster, but I can still get just as good of a workout in running at my walking rate or a tad faster. I am anxious to see if this extends my time that I can run.

The steps into full-on 30 minute running are gradual and at your own pace which I appreciate. The book also gives lot of websites and tracking journals for you to use. A lot of the book also includes nutrition tips and heavily encourages you to keep a food journal. As a new runner, I am not always sure what is the best to eat/drink before and after a run and this book explains all of that.

I really appreciated the tips in this book and had a few Aha! moments. I am anxious to really get started with this plan because it is one of the few that really feels manageable.

I read this book on my Kindle, but I almost wish I had this book in hand because of the workbooks and journals it includes. I can go online and print them off though, which I appreciate.

If you have never been a runner, want to get back into running, or are just curious about eating right and working out, I highly recommend this book. "Those first few steps are a leap of faith." Won't you take the leap with me?
Profile Image for Starfire.
826 reviews25 followers
July 9, 2011
All in all I liked this book, even though it was pitched at people who'd never run before and had no knowledge of nutrition.

On the downside, that meant I didn't feel as though it had a lot in it I could immediately use. On the upside, it made me feel like far less of a newbie beginner than I usually do with running, where I am very much slowpoke mcslowersons.

I did enjoy the way the book was written as it... "refreshed" knowledge I already had. It has a light-hearted, friendly, accessible style that never feels lecture-y or as though the author's talking down to her audience. I also like that where there are differences of opinion between the various experts, the author is open about it.

Mostly, though, I like the explicit recognition that everyone is a population of n=1, and that what works for one person won't necessarily do a bloody thing for someone else.

So. End result? I'd highly recommend this to any beginning runners. Or anyone who wants to lose weight and increase their confidence in themselves who never thought it would be *possible* for them to realistically run at their size/weight/age/whatever. And for those of you with more experience? You might enjoy the refresher anyway!
Profile Image for Kirsten.
2,115 reviews85 followers
March 11, 2014
This is an excellent beginning running book, and a good primer on losing weight in a gradual, healthy, and effective manner. I sort of wish it was *slightly* more focused on the other benefits of exercise, and a little bit less focused on weight loss, but I hey, it is what it says on the tin: a weight loss plan and a beginning running plan rolled into one. So I can't complain too much. Mostly I would like to be able to recommend this to people without feeling like I was saying, "And also you're fat!"

It'd be nice to see an updated edition (maybe there already is one) with references to some of the great apps and websites for calorie and activity tracking. Those were really just getting off the ground when this was published, so a lot of the calorie tracking seems super onerous when it really doesn't need to be anymore.

If you're daunted by Couch to 5k or generally want something a little more guided to help you get started running, this would be an excellent choice. It pretty much serves the same purpose that the Couch to 5k plan + several different online communities served for me.
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