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Contrary to popular belief, effective running training doesn’t always have to be about clocking in long distance runs. More and more people are discovering the benefits of interval training for their running speed, power and endurance as well as their overall fitness. But what is interval training, why is it so effective and how does it work?

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Interval training, as the name suggests,  consists of bursts of high-intensity exercise followed by a low-intensity recovery period. When running is your game, this means that alternating bursts of speed are followed by an interval of slow jogging or even walking in some cases. This type of interval training has proven effective for all types of runners. From novice 5 km joggers, to professional long distance sprinters, interval training works and here’s why.

Improved performance:

Our bodies are amazing at adapting to new styles of exercising. And while this is great for many reasons, it can also be detrimental to effective training. Because the body gets used to continuous stress, such as distance running, it will reach a plateau of progress unless your regime is coupled with intervals and various training techniques. By incorporating sprints or high-intensity intervals into your training, you are increasing your aerobic capacity which means that your body will be well-prepared to run faster and stronger for longer.

Increased weight-loss:

Interval training not only improves performance and speed but it is extremely effective at helping your body shed unwanted weight. When done properly, interval running can burn up to 3 times more calories than a comfortable long distance run because you will be burning more energy at a higher speed.  And if that isn’t convincing enough, effective interval training also increases the rate at which your body burns calories after you’ve exercised. Meaning that your body will benefit from the training for hours and even days after training.

Improved strength:

It almost goes without saying that interval training, especially sprints, cultivate more strength than low-intensity running. High-speed interval training requires quick bouts of speed and power, both of which work together to build muscle and sculpt your body. And we all know that more muscle means more power, better results and improved health, overall.

So there you have it, interval training works. If you’re just starting out and your fitness levels aren’t too high, we recommend trying the lamp post to lamp post or tree to tree technique. Run hard from one lamp post to the next and then walk to the next, slow jog to the following. Repeat. After some time, you can up the distances and give the walk a miss. We’re not suggesting you cut out long distance runs completely but rather that you incorporate interval running into your regime. For more info on high-intensity interval training (HIIT) available at FITstrong, please contact us at info@fitstrong.co.za.

 

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