The Tortoise and the Hare: Long Runs vs. Speedwork


“I want to run faster, longer, more efficiently!”

We hear it daily, but how do we get the intermediate runner to effectively achieve these goals? A recent study in Australia recently examined the effects on both running economy (measured with maximal and submaximal VO2) and biomechanics (measured in stride length and step frequency) of either continuous running or interval training.

With interval training, contact time at all speeds decreased, step length and step frequency increased. With continuous training, subjects were able to maintain a submaximal VO2 that was lower, thereby displaying increased running efficiency. 

They concluded coaches seeking to improve running efficiency of their athletes should use continuous training, which is fundamental for endurance athletes. To change step length and stride frequency to improve running performance, this study indicates interval sessions close to 100% of maximum aerobic speed to be effective. Recreational athletes and coaches should consider the different adaptations produced by these two training methods to achieve their goals!

Effects of Continuous and Interval Training on Running Economy, Maximal Aerobic Speed and Gair Kinematics in Recreational Runners. Fernando et al. Sport Training Lab, Faculty of Sport Sciences, University of Castilla-La Mancha, Toledo, Spain; and School of Exercise, Biomedical and Health Sciences, Edith Cowan University, Perth, Australia

Wendy Winn, PT, OCS Director

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