Guest blog post by my husband, enjoy!
Running – the often demonized fitness activity. You’re doing too much, you’re going to lose your muscle, cut it back. You’re not doing enough to keep losing weight, do more….Which is it? Well, the dirty little secret is that like many things fitness related, it depends. It depends on your goals, your attitude towards running, and your overall fitness.
Let me give you a little background on me. I played high school sports, and was in the military for 20 years. I am not a natural runner – I am a practiced runner. When I was younger, most of the people I was around ran faster and longer, so I had to work for it. While in the military, I was the person responsible for running the fitness program, and administering the fitness test, which have both fitness and body fat components. In this position, I was responsible for getting the Sailors in shape, and ensuring they passed their tests. You think you have motivation to lose weight? For the people that I trained, failing repeated tests for either reason – body fat or fitness could result in their discharge. It was my responsibility to ensure that didn’t happen, and I tried several methods to help them out.
For many years, I subscribed to the idea that the way to losing body fat was to moderately restrict calories and run longer distances. To this end, I gave out nutritional advice, and ensured most of our fitness sessions included a 2-4 mile run. This worked for most people – it ensure that they passed their test, kept them off of our remedial PT program, and ensured they could stay in the Navy. The only problem was that most of the people that needed the most help hated running. Not only did they hate it, they weren’t any good at it. Contrary to popular belief, running is just a dependent on good form as swimming, and many young people have no idea how to run. So, I had to teach them how, if they’d listen. The longer distance you run, the higher the chance for injury. As a result of this, many people wouldn’t invest the time to run longer, and several of those that did ended up with some kind of injury. So, while moderately successful, there were downsides. As for the dietary advice – well, that’s another topic. Suffice it to say, eating less will eventually bite you in the ass! Moderation is key to nutrition.
At some point, the Navy invested heavily into nutrition and fitness research, and believe it or not, came up with a revolutionary approach to fitness. Gone were the days of long formation runs, push ups and sit ups. In were short duration, more intense workouts, at least for the few PT leaders that embraced them. During this time, my own fitness philosophy evolved as well – I found I could get better results and less injuries with shorter, more intense workouts. The repetitive use injuries declined, and believe it or not, people actually liked the intense workouts better….well, most people did. Some hated it. I still made some mistakes – on occasion, I’d push people to the point of puking – not good! But the fact that they were pushing that hard was something that never happened with long runs. In fact, long runs usually ended up with the ones that needed it most walking.
The great thing about the shorter workouts is that, well, they’re shorter. Way more bang for your buck. Imagine having 200 young Sailors show up for PT at 4:30 in the morning. Do they really want to be there? Are they interested in an hour or more of PT? Nope, not at all. Hell, I wasn’t event interested in being there. But – if you’re going to be there anyways, get something out of it. Make it useful. And I wanted them to be done as soon as possible, while getting the results they needed. So – we worked hard for 20 minutes or so, and while other groups were still running, my Sailors were on their way to the showers.
A few days ago, Candace and I ran some sprint and mobility drills. I used to use these when I was in the military. They build speed, mobility, and stamina, all while torching calories. Longer runs have their place, if you enjoy them, but these type of drills are great for so many things. The changes in speed and direction enhance your mobility and agility, as well as work the entire body, especially the legs. And they work the entire leg, not just portions, as regular distance running does. Any runner who has been at it awhile and not done any other leg work will develop muscle imbalances, as normal distance running is very quad dominant. Muscle imbalances leads to knee and hip problems. Sprinting also encourages muscle growth, not muscle breakdown, as distance running does. Take a look at those marathoners – not a lot of muscle there. Not only are the muscular benefits great, it’s also good for fat loss. And guess what? There are cardiovascular benefits as well. Done properly, your heart is going to feel like it’s bursting out of your chest.
Check the video out below for a couple of the sprint drills we did ⬇️
So, back to the intro – if you have physique goals, or you don’t enjoy running long distance – run less! Run according to your goals. For fat loss, or to get some cardio in while pursuing muscular goals – run less. Just do it with intensity. The possibilities are endless for these drills – the only limit is your imagination. If you enjoy running, or just want to do it – do it. But add some of these drills to round out your training. I actually do enjoy running moderate distances – 3-5 miles, but doing it all week is at odds with the rest of my goals, and quite frankly doesn’t make my knees happy. So, I do it twice a week, and do sprints/mobility drills the other two days. Here’s what we did today:
A total of 10 drills. The first three rounds are at light to moderate intensity, as they are intended to help warm up the muscles so you don’t pull something. You can either do this in a straight line, or incorporate a change of direction with each exercise – I prefer the change of direction.
High knees 20 yards
Butt kicks 20 yards
Slow/Moderate Sprint 20-30 yards
Jog 20 yards, 90 degree turn
Moderate sprint 20-30 yards, 45 degree turn
Jog 20 yards
Full Sprint 20 yards, 45 degree right turn
Jog 20 yards, 45 degree let turn
Full Sprint 20 yards
Full Sprint 20 yards, 45 left degree turn
Jog 20 yards, 45 degree right turn
Full Sprint 20 yards
We used cones at the turning points, and actually bent down and touched the cones. This adds another aspect to the change of direction, and forces you to control your deceleration, adding an added work load to your legs. Give it a shot – if nothing else, it will add some variety to your weekly routine!
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