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.
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 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.
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.
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."
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!
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