What Is HIIT Running?
HIIT running or high intensity interval training for running is a type of running exercise in which you rotate between fast running and recovery walking. HIIT running is considered by some to be superior to traditional marathon style jogging in terms of health and weight loss benefits, and ability to sculpt your body.
Why You Should Try HIIT For Running
If you are skeptical about HIIT running, the best thing to do is try it out and see if it works for you. Chances are you will incorporate it into your exercise mix, or may even make it your primary exercise routine.
One of the greatest benefits of HIIT running is that it is psychologically easier to do. We will explain the exact steps below, but essentially the only hard part is the 30-second sprints you do 6 times with enough breaks in between.
And after a while, you will start to enjoy these sprints! Maybe we are made to sprint. If you see animals like lions in the wild, they usually sit around all day but then when they hunt, they run super fast. Maybe we are not so different, and our bodies are best adapted to sprint.
One of the most difficult things about incorporating exercise into our routine for most people is that the exercise feels painful. With HIIT running, you will find that it is much easier than jogging, so HIIT running would be much easier to continue and incorporate in your life.
And whatever the exercise, the best exercise is the exercise you continue!
Benefits of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) For Running
The benefits of HIIT running span from improved weight loss and health to beauty (1). Some people may have the perception that high intensity interval training is predominantly for men, but that is not true, and women would benefit tremendously from this type of work out as well. An added benefit for women is that HIIT running has beauty-enhancing effects : )
Here is a list of benefits of HIIT running:
- Burns a lot of calories in a short amount of time
- Reduces body fat
- Tones up your body with increased muscle tone
- Gives you more energy
- Increases sex drive
- Firms up your skin and reduces wrinkles
- Increases production of human growth hormones, which promotes health and longevity
- Contributes to delayed aging and looking younger
- Easy exercise to fit in for people with busy schedules
How To Do A HIIT Running Workout
If you are thinking of incorporating HIIT running outside, your neighborhood track would be the best option, since you won’t have the obstacles that you may have if you ran on sidewalks or streets.
Otherwise a treadmill will work perfectly, provided you are accustomed to treadmills. However when using a treadmill for HIIT running, you need to be very careful and alert while sprinting. Otherwise you can fall or be thrown off the machine. Just make sure to pay attention and be alert!
The idea of high intensity interval training in general is to exercise intensely for a short period, then rest, then repeat the pattern again.
In terms of HIIT running, the sequence would look like this:
- Warm up
- Run really fast
- Walk to recover
- Repeat 2 & 3 again as often as you can
- Walk to cool down
If you do a quick search on the internet, there are differences in the exact running routines suggested, but the overlapping theme is that you need to alternate intense exercise with recovery/rest periods.
Every person has a different starting point and endurance level, so you should choose a version that fits you personally and adjust it as you need. The most important thing is to make it a version that you would want to continue.
Here is our suggested HIIT running workout.
HIIT Running Workout Sequence
Do some light stretches to loosen your tight muscles
Warm up by walking at least 20 minutes, ideally 30 minutes
Run as fast as you can safely for 30 seconds*
* Don’t run so fast to a point where you may risk losing control
Walk slowly to recover for as long as you need
Repeat steps 3 and 4, five more times, resulting in a total of 6 sprints
Make sure to keep walking until you cool down
You are done!
How To Bring Up The Intensity
If you wish to get even more out of your existing HIIT running routine, it is easy.
You can bring up the intensity of HIIT running by:
1) increasing your intense running speed, in other words, run faster, and/or
2) increasing your intense running time, for example from 30 seconds to 60 seconds, and/or
3) increase the repetitions, for example from 6 repetitions to 8 repetitions
Then you will be able to get even more health benefits out of your work outs and burn more calories in the short amount of time.
How Often Should You Do HIIT Running?
You should NOT do HIIT running every day, as the affected muscle fibers will require at last 48 hours to truly recover and heal (2). Therefore, make sure there are at least 2 days of recovery period after each HIIT running workout.
Tips For High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) For Running
- Make sure to always warm up to avoid injuries
- Make sure your shoe laces are tied properly and not hanging loose close to the floor
- Do some practice rounds first, so you get accustomed to adjusting the speed while sprinting. The relatively difficult task in the beginning is slowing down the speed to end the sprinting. You will need to gradually reduce your running speed physically while adjusting the speed controls.
- Be mindful of your starting fitness level, and start small if needed
(1) (2) Dr. Mercola; Peak Fitness: Reap the Benefits of High-Intensity Interval Training: https://articles.mercola.com/peak-fitness.aspx