Improvement and level of exertion

After a few weeks I can now run non-stop for at least ten minutes, sprinting the last six yards and leaping up the steps to make sure I'll be thoroughly out of breath when I get in. I'm always nice and hot and red, and depending on the weather, somewhat sweaty. I suspect I could be making progress faster given the effort I'm putting in. What's the ideal level of exertion you should be experiencing if you want to improve as quickly as possible, and is getting more time in possibly more effective for a beginner? I know sprint training is more effective at improving aerobic fitness in the already fit, but there's less research done on unfit (and asthmatic) people. Does anyone know of any studies indicating the ideal balance between being vigorous on the one hand and spending more time pounding the pavement on the other?



  • If you plodded, almost walked for an hour every day rather than ran flat out for 10 minutes a day, after 5 weeks you'd be substantially fitter than just doing the 10 minutes.

  • Is there anything in life that doesn't correspond to this? You work harder you get more rewards. You work more often you get more rewards. The trick is to combine the two to get the optimun benefit.
  • And of course to get the most fun out of it!!
  • Yeah, the problem is you can't combine a long time spent running with high intensity. If you can, you're just kidding yourself that it's high intensity. High intensity is when you're gasping and feel you're about to collapse or have an asthma attack. You physically can't keep that up for long. But for the highly fit, these repeated unsustainable bursts are better than plodding at a snail's pace for an hour. I just want to know whether that's also the case for beginners, or whether 'moderate intensity' exercise (I'm the sort of person who looks the word 'moderate' and  interprets it as 'half-arsed' and thinks "what, is the NHS calling me a wimp!?") for longer periods is actually superior at that stage. Most research about fitness as opposed to weight loss is focused on athletes or occasionally, overweight people, not people like me so I'm struggling to find an answer as to why I'm not improving as fast as I'd hoped.

  • You need paragraphs
  • This is my unscientific opinion, rather than based on research, but I would have thought a mixture of the two would be optimum. Mostly gentle running and gradually increasing distance, but also throw in some high intensity bursts, or do some high intensity sessions. Especially if that's what you enjoy.
  • For the improving beginner you don't need anything high intensity. Start with 10-15 easy miles per week and increase this by 10% every week.

    Your times will get faster regardless.

    When you have a good aerobic base (say 25 miles a week) then you can think about a good weekly interval session or some speedwork.

    Remember, even half decent, locally competing runners only do two or three (at most) hard sessions a week. The rest is just easy mileage.

  • Slow and steady builds strength and endurance; short and fast builds speed.  Pushing your body too much too soon increases risk of injury.

    Just my opinion image

  • Stevie  GStevie G ✭✭✭

    stinking thinking, without being a little cheeky, your username is very apt. You're making the mistake every new runner makes of thinking you have to run yourself into the ground.

    Smashing yourself with zero base will do very little for your fitness. You need to do the exact opposite, run as slow as necessary to get the mileage and time on feet up.

    You shouldn't be entertaining any thoughts of speedwork for a while just yet. After all you haven't done any normal work!

  • You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink.

  • Stevie  GStevie G ✭✭✭

    (realises i misread sinking as stinking in OP's name.... image)

    the rest still stands tho!

  • Thanks everyone, sorry to be a bit slow back. I think my concerns were unfounded. A few days ago I went the harder way round my block, which I haven't done since I started, and I was impressed by how much better I did. So I am improving afterall, it's just not easy to judge progress without a treadmill or gadgets to measure any aspect of my run except time. image

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