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 RUNNINGListen 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.
SPRINTING[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.