Ask a PT: How long should I run for?

Spread the love

An expert reveals whether you should focus on time or distance – and the tricks to get better at both.

Picture: Supplied. Tanya Poppett for adidas.

There is no secret that running is one of my favourite forms of exercise – not just for cardiovascular conditioning but for the mental and emotional benefits as well.

When you think cardio, you’d be forgiven for thinking you need to slog it out on the treadmill or bike for an hour. The good news is – when cardio is incorporated to a workout regime correctly, 20-30 minutes is plenty.

When it comes to how long you want to run (time or kms), it really depends on the answer to these three questions.

Ask yourself: what are your goals? What’s your personal preference when it comes to running? What’s your current fitness level? Each will have great influence on the distance you run.

There are many different ways you can start incorporating running to your routine or build up the distance, whether you’re a seasoned pro or a beginner.

Follow on of these three approaches to build up to running for a long period of time or long distance.

The walk/run combo

When you’re starting out, it’s wise to measure your run in minutes – don’t pay attention to kilometres.

Running is a high impact form of training so it’s important to take it slow, especially if you aren’t used to this kind of training. Instead adopt the walk/run strategy: do three minutes of running followed by a minute of walking, and repeat that for 20 to 25 minutes. As you begin to improve you can increase your running periods and decrease your walking.

Speed play

Speed play is an efficient and effective way to incorporate running into your routine as it isn’t about time but intensity.

To change up from my usual steady state runs, I look to hills, stairs or just flat sprints to get those fast twitch muscle fibres firing and that heart working hard.

Set a timer for 10 minutes and see how many sets of stairs or the hill you can do. Recover and rest for 5 minutes and repeat trying to beat or keep up with your original score. It’s a tough one but it definitely makes that mind a little stronger. Also – don’t forget to do a comprehensive warm up and down.

Increase endurance

Whether you’ve signed yourself up for a fun run or just want to enjoy a long run on the weekends, the key is to spend more time on your feet. It’s all about increasing the kilometres gradually, strengthening the physical and mental endurance without over-shocking the system.

One of the most the most popular methods for increasing weekly distance is the 10 percent rule. This is where you calculate your current total weekly kilometres and increase it by 10 percent each week until your hit your target.

For example: if you are currently running 4 x 5km runs each week for a total of 20km you would increase that by 2kms the next week, eg, adding 500m to each of your runs or even an extra 1km to two of your runs.

It’s not all about distance, so if you don’t count kilometres you may also increase the time you are running. For example, increasing your 20 minute run to 25 minutes one week then to 30 minutes the next.

While you will need to increase the length of your runs, your main focus is improving your endurance and getting your body and mind used to breaking through those barriers. You can do this not only through distance but through an increase in intensity as well.

My biggest trick is to break up those longer runs with some speed play to work that endurance in a different way. For example: 10 minute warm-up run, then 2 minutes fast paced run at 80 percent followed by a recovery run for 2 minutes at 50 percent – repeat for 20 minutes. Finish with a 10 minute cool down run.

Tanya Poppett is a Sydney-based personal trainer and adidas ambassador.

Former elite gymnast Lauren Hannaford takes you through the exercises to do in order to improve your flexibility fast.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

fitness | body+soul

Spread the love