Running is such an important part of so many people's lives. I love to spend hours every week running around my local park, hitting the treadmill at the gym, or even just running on the streets. No doubt you love to run almost as much as I do.
But how are you running? What is your goal when you run? Are you trying to lose weight, burn fat, increase your stamina, or all of the above?
There are three ways to run:
1. Running Off the Pounds
This is probably the type of running most of us are doing. When we hit the treadmill or the running track at the park, we're trying to run those pounds away.
The goal of running should be to burn fat - not necessarily lose weight. You want to get rid of the pounds of fat, but keep that muscle intact. So how should you run?
- 60 to 70% intensity -- This means you need you keep your heart rate below 70% of your max.
- More often -- Run 4 to 6 times per week.
- Longer -- Anywhere between 30 and 60 minutes is good - but aim for closer to 60 minutes.
Jogging very slowly will get your heart rate to hit that sweet spot of 70%, but you may want to go with stationary cycling or regular cycling to ensure your heart rate doesn't crack 70%. You should be able to carry on a conversation easily while running or training to burn fat.
2. Running to Keep the Pounds Off
If you're already in decent shape, you're probably focusing on the more intense HIIT or bodybuilding workouts to improve your muscle tone, strength, and size. Running shouldn't be a major part of your daily workouts, but they are a necessary part.
You want to run to keep your cardiorespiratory endurance at a healthy level, but you shouldn't push yourself too hard. It's just for general fitness.
- 70 to 85% intensity -- Get your heart rate above 70% and keep it there.
- Often -- Run 3 to 5 times per week.
- Moderate Time -- Try to average 20 to 30 minutes each time.
You're focusing on the weight training and HIIT workouts, so just use running to keep up with your cardio.
3. Running for Improved Aerobic Performance
If you're an athlete and are trying to improve your performance, the way you run will be very different. You want to increase the intensity to as high as 95%, as that's how you'll have the endurance to run faster and longer when playing basketball, soccer, football, etc.
This type of running is also recommended for HIITers, as the high intensity workouts can be pretty rough on your lungs and heart if you're not used to them. How should you run? You have two options:
Equal Parts High and Low Intensity -- Run for 5 to 10 minutes at your top speed, and then run at a very low speed for 5 to 10 minutes. Do this two or three times in your workout, and it will increase your aerobic power and the lactate threshold of your muscles.
Maximum Intensity Bursts with Short Recovery Periods -- Run as hard as you can for 90 seconds to 3 minutes, and rest for 3 to 5 minutes. The rest periods should involve as little movement as possible. This will strengthen your heart, enabling it to pump more blood. It will also make it easier for your muscles to remove lactic acid while running.
What's your goal? Are you a Type 1 runner like me, or is your goal to stay fit or take your cardiorespiratory endurance to the next level?