How should you start running? It’s simple. You shouldn’t.

Hey Fit4Reviewers! I hope you’re all having wonderful Saturdays, and now that the night’s winding down, it’s the perfect time to sit back, relax, and get pumped by this blog… ;D

This post was inspired by my friend Sonya who asked that I write a post about running for beginners and how to build a runner’s stamina.

My answer? – DON’T RUN.

And this blog isn’t just for beginners, it’s for runners of all caliber.

Seriously. Don’t run. Running is the worst. (I’m a bit biased here, because running is one of my least favorite things in the world, buuut, still, don’t run.)

Why? You may be wondering.
What is this crazy woman getting at here? 

I’ll tell you – don’t run, because you should be SPRINTING instead.

Allow me to edumacate you…
Here’s what I’ve learned after my research. -> Everyone should be sprinting; no matter their goals, no matter their size or their age, no matter their strength or their endurance.
If this is a surprise to anyone then join the club. I was shocked by all the incredibly positive effects of sprinting, and also super stoked, because I was in desperate need of an alternative to running. (Since, you know, I hate it so much.)

Whether you’re trying to lose weight or build muscle – sprint.
If you’re looking to improve your metabolism – sprint.
If you hate distance running (me, that’s me) – sprint.
Do you want to increase your endurance? – sprint.
Do you want the same cardiovascular benefits of running without running? – sprint.
Do you need to save time but still get an effective workout? – sprint.
Do you want higher insulin sensitivity? (If you don’t know what that is, trust me, you want it.) – sprint.
Do you want increased lung function? – sprint.
How about warding off depression and boosting your mood? – sprint.

I’ve read articles that suggest 15 second sprints with 30 second rests, 100 meter sprints with a minute rest, repeating 4 times, or repeating 10 times. What does this mean? Sprinting is an incredibly versatile (and clearly beneficial) exercise that can be tailored to your specific likes/dislikes. 

So it sounds great, right? Like, maybe too good to be true…

So  I wondered, and one of the things I wondered about is how much the rest time in between each sprint really affects the performance and biology of the exercise. What I found out is that longer rests compared to shorter rests result in similar off-the-line power, but result in slower speed toward the end of the sprint. But, the overall biology of the sprints were not hugely effected by the length of the rest time. This is great to know, because it makes sprints EVEN MORE DOABLE… You don’t need to get out there and run 15 second sprints with a measly 30 second rest between each. You can take up to a minute and a half of a break and maintain the same physiological benefits. (I hope by now all your excuses are totally shot.) 😉

But, by and large, the biggest benefit of sprints is that it’s NOT 30 minutes of sitting on an elliptical… or a bike… or a stairmaster… or a treadmill. Sometimes the cardio section of the gym can be a really huge buzzkill. Am I right, or am I right?

How much more refreshing does it sound to go outside, run for a total of about three minutes, and be done within 20 minutes? (Much more. It sounds much more refreshing.)

BUT, if you’re like me and you’re either still not convinced, or you’re just really curious, TRY IT OUT FOR YOURSELF.

I’m going to.


My “Sprint Experiment”

That’s my own personal sprint experiment. (Feel free to try it with me!)
I’m going to sprint (at least) twice a week for a total of six weeks.
I’m going to eliminate all other cardio in my workouts, but maintain my lifting.
I will track each sprinting session; times of sprints, distance of sprints, total time of workout, etc.
And I will record my waist size before and after.
(This is because weight is really a poor measure of progress when you are gaining muscle, which is one of those things sprinting is supposed to aid.)

But I have to throw up this disclaimer; I’m weary of posting this experiment right now, because I live in Massachusetts and winter is coming. 😉 There’s a huge chance that I may not be able to get out and sprint 6 weeks from now when there’s snow on the ground, and I’m not sure how sprinting on a treadmill will go. But I will do my absolute best to keep up with this experiment for 6 consistent weeks. 

By now I hope you’re convinced, or slightly persuaded at the least…

Get out there and SPRINT!

– – –

But, if you’d still rather try your hand at distance running, here is where I’ll tell you how to get started.

For beginner’s here are your first two tips:

Here’s what I suggest:
– Start walking nice and slow for a minute or so, but no more than 3.
– Increase your speed so that you’re now walking more briskly, but still walking.
Keep this up for another few minutes, but no more than 3.
– Increase your speed again so that you’re on the verge of jogging, but still walking.
Keep this up for a few minutes, no more than 3.
– Increase your speed again so that you’re now jogging, and do this for a few minutes, but no more than 2.
– Now, increase your speed one last time so that you are running at whatever pace you’re comfortable with and aim to stay there for at least 1 minute.
(This, of course, can be done outside as well. Just wear a watch and time yourself.)

Now you’ve been on the treadmill for a minimum of 5 minutes, maximum of 12. AND YOU RAN FOR AT LEAST A FULL MINUTE OF IT! (Tip #1, start small.)
I’d suggest repeating this process at least twice, and no more than 4… you don’t want to over do it. (Tip #2, take it slow.)

Over the course of a few weeks you should focus on lowering the amount of time you spend walking and increasing the amount of time you spend jogging/running. Eventually the idea is that you will completely eliminate the slower walking (though it’s ALWAYS smart to warm up) and be jogging/running for the full time.

If you start out with the ultimate goal of being able to run a full mile without stopping that’s about 7-11 minutes, which for beginners (or people like me who would rather be forced to watch the Teletubies than go for a run) is a pretty solid amount of time, especially after just a few weeks.

Now, here’s your third tip:

When you’re working on building any kind of stamina, taking a two week hiatus isn’t exactly ideal for progress. Runner’s stamina is no exception.

So get out there and run (or sprint!).

Pura vida and stay strong!

– – –

Sources used for this blog:

“Eight Reasons Everyone Should Do Sprints.” Poliquin Editorial Staff. Poliquin Group. – LINK

“Maximal-Intensity Intermittent Exercise: Effect of Recovery Duration.” P. D. Balsom, J. Y. Seger, B. Sjödin, B. Ekblom. International Journal of Sports Medicine. Thieme. – LINK

“Regular Sprints Boost Metabolism.” Science Daily Editorial Staff. Science Daily. – LINK

“Extremely short duration high intensity interval training substantially improves insulin action in young healthy males.” Babraj JA, Vollaard NB, Keast C, Guppy FM, Cottrell G, Timmons JA. BMC Endocrine Disorders. PubMed Central. – LINK

“When it comes to cutting you up and promoting a nutrient-partitioning milieu conducive to building and maintaining a lean, muscular physique, sprinting simply cannot be beat. A simple look at competitive athletics demonstrates this pretty clearly.” (Part One). Loki. – LINK