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Is Stronger and Faster Really Better In Running?

    High interval training versus long distance running: which is better? Studies say it's HIIT, so I decided to do my own study. Here's what I discovered.
    Image via: @nikerunning instagram

    Image via: @nikerunning instagram

    The trend these days is towards high interval training with studies showing it has more benefits than long distance running. I never really considered my workout to be any type of training, but instead it’s a practice I do just to do.

    See, the time spent on the jogging path is one of my favorite places to clear space in my mind + body. It’s like a moving meditation when I really get into the rhythm of my run. Of course, I like the benefits that come with this practice– faster metabolism, healthier heart, etc…but those are the by-products. It’s about the experience of running rather than training my body to be stronger, faster and better.

    And then I had an in-depth chat with  my hair stylist.

    She goes to the gym for just 20 minutes for sprints on the treadmill. She’ll start at 5.0 for 10 seconds then go down to 4.0 for 20 seconds then up to 5.5 for 10 secs and back down to 4.0 for 20 secs, and so on until her last sprint is at an intensity of 10. She said it’s the best workout ever, and totally effective.

    My interest was piqued.
    Maybe stronger and faster is better.

    I decided to try it out on my next run.

    Here’s what went down:

    1st Hurdle: How the hell am I going to keep time for the sprints? It’s one thing to be on a treadmill where the seconds are ticking away in front of my face. It’s another thing to be outside with no clock. Holding my phone felt too cumbersome.

    1st Fix: I went to the 6th street running track where they’ve got markers. Later, I found this app which becomes the voice in your earbud saying when to run and when to recover.

    2nd Hurdle: My cap — it kept blowing off my head from the extra exertion of the sprints.

    2nd Fix: A better hat with an adjustable strap, like this.

    3rd Hurdle: It’s HARD! A whole other level of endurance is required…that I don’t yet have.

    3rd Fix: Kept it simple…didn’t overexert myself. I went around the track a few times in sprinting intervals then resumed my regular running pace for the duration. Since I found it pretty difficult to get into any kind of zone from all the concentration required to keep time, I added on a joy-run at the end…one where I went at a comfortable speed that allowed me to find my favorite rhythm.

    Conclusion: It was definitely more intense than what I’m used to. I realized I’ve been humming along with my same running routine for awhile now, and maybe it’s time to switch things up a bit. I can see why some like the concentration required of keeping time, and maybe after some more practice, I mean training, I’ll get the hang of it.

    But I’ll always prefer the moving meditation that comes without so much thinking.

    What’s your experience with interval training?

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    8 thoughts on “Is Stronger and Faster Really Better In Running?”

    1. I do interval training for speed and cardio and base run for endurance. Each has its own purpose and benefits.


    2. Interesting. I never realized the distance was more important. I’m such a newbie with interval training…thank you, Terry!

    3. I do both Elysha. I am not much of a runner but at times, the rhythm and the “boredom” of it is therapeutic. Sometimes at the studio and during my workouts, doing something simple so that my mind can relax and think of other things is such a relief! Lifting heavy dumbbells and running can be nice. Since I do a lot of workouts that require a great deal of concentration (kettlebell and yoga) I do enjoy the “zoning out” at times when I can go for a walk or run and I try to keep that in mind for my clients, too 🙂 And yes – I do some intervals but they’re more Fartlek style.

    4. Susie, the unstructured quality of Fartlek is appealing. Could be a good way to get some interval training in without too much thinking. Thanks for tipping me off!

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