I recently completed another half marathon just 4 months after giving birth to my third baby. Besides the different HIIT workouts I incorporated in my training, I did a lot of sprints and pace runs. One of my favorite workouts was going to the track and doing sprints. I can't tell you how much this helped me with my time. Last year when I ran the same race, I was in top shape, strong, HIITing it and felt great. This year, coming off giving birth, I had to take it easy for the first 6-8 weeks and then started my 12 week training for the half. I knew to even come close to my time of 1 hour and 47 minutes that I made last year, I had to train hard. My runs started off slow, but midway thru training, I really started focusing on the sprints and bettering my pace runs. The result? I finished the half marathon this year in the exact same time, 1 hour, 47 minutes. This time though, with less training, and carrying 8 extra pounds from pregnancy.
What I also discovered, was that with the sprint and pace work, I felt it all over! I was working hard. The steady state training runs I would have during the week were fine, but never did they leave me feeling like I worked my total body. I couldn't believe how every body part played a role in my sprints. My legs and glutes were always shot, but so were my abdominals and chest from the intense runs. I could also see changes in my body and definition where I hadn't had it before, very similar to my HIIT training I had been doing prior.
So when you really get down to it, what is the difference between jogging and sprinting in terms of the effect it has on your body? Why is it that my body felt completely spent after not even 20 minutes of short sprint sessions, versus a long training run. I was working less time and had recovery periods, but my caloric burn and heart rate were thru the roof compared to my steady state run training. Not to mention the effect sprinting has had on my physical appearance and muscle tone vs. steady state running.
Let's first talk about the pros and cons of both:
JOGGING/LONG DISTANCE RUNNING
Listen if you love to jog, I completely understand why:
- It clears your head! In fact, for me it's the ONLY thing that can clear my head and put my in a zone to literally relax!
- You can do it anywhere at anytime, no equipment needed.
- You increase you endurance and ability to take in oxygen. Especially important when running long distances.
Disadvantages of jogging/long distance running:
- Lack of fueling up on runs can take it's effect on your running. I have been on 9+ mile training runs without the proper nutrition before/during and my muscles literally feel like they are shutting down.
- You burn calories and your metabolism is elevated while jogging, but NOT after like HIIT style workouts.
- All that running and pounding can take it's toll on your knees and joints. You can even develop knee injuries that can sideline you for days and/or weeks if you don't stretch properly and strength train.
[caption id="attachment_48284" align="alignright" width="441"]
Bulgarian Sprinter Ivet Lalova[/caption]
SO, there are a few pros when it comes to Sprinting…...
- The workouts are QUICK, FAST and HEART PUMPING! You can finish a good sprint workout in 10-20 minutes and you feel more spent then you do after longer runs/jogs.
- You not only burn calories during your workout, but AFTER as well! Your metabolism is revved up all day just like HIIT workouts.
- You increase lean muscle mass, which in turn lowers your body fat and allows you to burn more calories at rest.
- You can see the feel changes in your body much sooner than with long steady state jogs. LIke I said, with my half marathon training, once I started incorporating sprints/tempo runs, my speed increased on my regular runs, I could see changes in my body and my saw an overall total body tone up in a short period of time.
Disadvantages of Sprinting:
- Because sprinting is an advanced mode of high intensity training, with more stress placed on muscles and joints, it's not made for everyone.
- Adequate warm up and cool down stretching are needed so as not to pull any muscles and/or injure yourself (not really a disadvantage, but should be part of your routine!).
- Giving yourself ample recovery day(s) after an intense sprint session. As always it's just a matter of listening to your body.
Sprint your way into shape!
It took me a while to really 'want' to TRY to give sprinting a shot. I always figured sprinting was only for track athletes. Even when training for races like 5k's, 10k's and half marathons, I never really did pace runs or sprints in my training. I just figured that it would be too much for me to handle, and too much stress on my knees/joints.
What I DIDN'T realize was how incredible I would feel while doing 100 meter sprints down the track! How I would feel like I was running so fast, that my feet weren't even touching the ground. What a rush. I couldn't believe how much FASTER my mile ended up being after just a few weeks of doing sprints. In the less than 20 seconds it would take for me to complete the 100 meters, my heart rate would hit it's max. I could work effectively and efficiently in less the half the time, and burn more calories than doing my steady state jogs for 45+ minutes.
I also used sprints during my pace runs training for my half. The types of pace/tempo runs would vary, but basically I would begin and end with a 1 mile warm-up /cool-down and the in between miles I ran at a pace about 30 seconds slower than 5K pace. The tempo portion would be at an uncomfortable pace. This helps your body increase VO2Max (your body's ability to take in and utilize oxygen at the muscle layer to make energy), as well as push out your lactate threshold (that point at which you feel that burning sensation in your legs). And believe me, my legs were BURNING.
In one study conducted out of the University of New South Wales
, stated that eight-second bursts of sprinting repeated intermittently for 20 minutes helped overweight men lose 4 pounds of body fat over 12 weeks.
Importantly, there was a 17 percent reduction in the amount of fat stored around their liver, kidneys and other internal organs that is associated with an increased risk for cardiovascular disease.
Just like Tabata training
, when completing sprints, your body goes thru short bursts of explosive movement. More and more people are realizing the benefits of HIIT when it comes to sprinting and/or tabata style
workouts and jumping on board. Whether you are looking to increase your speed and performance or just torch the fat and increase your EPOC (Post-exercise oxygen consumption)
, resulting in better endurance, which leads to more energy and the ability to sustain more work for a longer period of time, SPRINTING, not jogging is the way to go! GIve it a shot! Here are a couple of track sprinting workouts to try!
Great sprint/HIIT training for the track!
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Want to see more track workouts? Stay tuned for two more coming later this week!