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Getting the most out of your running routine

Originally from Phoenix, Arizona, Mandy recently moved to Flagstaff to pursue a career in pediatric nursing. She attends Northern Arizona University and spends most of her free time with friends and family, hiking, running, and studying...

Make every stride count!

Feel like you're putting more into your cardiovascular workout than you're getting out of it? Identifying your goals and making some simple changes can make all the difference!

Woman running

Make every stride count!

Feel like you're putting more into your cardiovascular workout than you're getting out of it? Identifying your goals and making some simple changes can make all

OK, let's be realistic. I know very few people who can genuinely say they enjoy running. I mean, it's hard to breathe, you sweat, it hurts and you're normally sore for days after. Fun? Eh, not so much. What most people love is what you get out of the run: the burned calories, the weight loss, the confidence boost and that feeling of satisfaction that overwhelms you as you remove those running shoes. If you're going to invest time into a solid running regimen, it's important to make sure that you get the most out of every minute. Follow these tips and you'll be reaching your running goal in no time!

Woman running

Pace

Distance running

Looking to build endurance for a race, burn more calories or calm your mind? Distance running may be for you. Running at a slower pace for about an hour at a time can strengthen your heart and enhance your body's ability to use fat as a source of fuel.

Sprints

Unfortunately, long-distance running does not provide some of the benefits that running shorter distances has on the lungs and your metabolism. Faster, shorter runs are best for strengthening muscles and building speed.

Interval training

Interval training is where high-intensity activities are alternated with lower-intensity movements. It’s great for burning calories and fat, and it is convenient for the busy person because an effective interval workout can usually be done in less than 30 minutes, outside or on the treadmill.

In general, it is best to combine both long and short runs, with maybe an additional day of interval training per week.

Woman running on treadmill

Location

And finally, we address the great debate: Is it better to run on a treadmill or outside? Like most things involved with running, it depends.

Treadmill

Running on a treadmill is great because it provides adequate, safe terrain, does not depend on good weather and allows you to easily monitor your running progress. However, it is important to consider that running on a treadmill alters your stride when compared to running outside. Your hamstrings do not work as hard on the treadmill, so it’s best to incorporate other strengthening exercises into your workout routine if you choose this route. In addition, Daniel Littlefield argues that "in terms of preparation for competitive running events and/or soccer matches, I believe it is difficult to simulate the conditions you will experience outside or on the field on a treadmill."

Outdoors

In general, running outdoors tends to give you a better all-around workout because you are not relying on a machine to assist your movement. However, it is more difficult to monitor pace when running outside and it can be more dangerous because of unpredictable terrain and weather conditions. As long as you take accommodating measures with whichever route you choose, such as strength training in addition to treadmill use, or investing in a pace monitor if running outside, it really comes down to personal preference.

And finally, to quote Nike and provide one last note on getting started on a running routine... just do it!

More on running

Backward running: Why you should be doing it
A beginner runner's guide
Get-fit trend: Why we love to run

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