Speed vs Distrance :Advice?

All --

Be greatful for some perspectives/advice...I am a fairly novice runner. I am doing mostly treadmill running at present..2 to 2.5 miles per run. Takes about 25mins. My routine is usually to take it at about 5mph (according to the treadmill info) for 15 or so minutes and then go up to 6 to 6.2 mph for 5-6 mins and then back down to 5mins.

...As I progress would you reommend I focus on speed or increased distance as a next step? My goals are weight loss and overall fitness (as well as enjoyment!). How slow is what I am doing compared to other relative beginners?



  • I'd personally say distance. I recall fondly (not!) my beginner days almost 2 years ago - could not run more than 12mins - I concentrated on adding an extra couple of mins each time and did a 10k in 62mins (ie 6.2mph) within about 4 months which felt like an amazing achievement. Since then I've done more 10ks, 10miles, halfs and a full marathon 3 months ago which was the most amazing experience and one I am very proud of! I'd really recommend entering an event - maybe a 10k in the summer - there's nothing like it to keep you focussed and motivated. I'd say your speed is perfect and is about what I started at. I'd break your sessions up, maybe do one concentrating on the doing the whole distance at a slightly higher speed than your lowest speed currently, say 5.5mph (your current average over the total 25mins is 5.7mph), then another one maybe with 2 mins hard, 2 mins easy for 20 mins and another one much as you're doing now - maybe do that for a week or two, then take the distance for your "distance" session up to 3miles, maybe dropping the mph back a little and so on and keep the others at the same 20-25mins. I'd also think about running outside - it will feel harder (and vice versa, I find running on a treadmill now much harder than outside!) but I think you'll find it even more enjoyable. You never know you might turn into a complete running geek and be asking for advice on heart rate monitors and fartlekking next! The weightloss will come as your fitness improves - stay relaxed about it, I started off with weight loss as the main goal but found I loved runnign so much that it became irrelevent what I weighed (I haven't lost a pound but am much more toned)

    Happy running and good luck - running is the best thing I've ever done!
  • yes distance at this stage - long slow runs will increase you'reendurance and burn your fat slowly

    if you do get the bug you will want to do spped and the other stuff to increase your er speed

    and again I'd echo his/her furryness - about running outside - couple of years ago I went to gym on regular basis and did quite a lot - but I was never able to run very far at all outside - got unfit again until recently started running regularly Tuesday I did 13 miles and it was great - if at all possible try and do some outside running until it becomes bearable and then it will become enjoyable
  • Thanks Furryness..Great advice, much appreciated! I will certainly follow your advice to try an add a few minutes each session..and try and get up to 3miles.
    I am now running 3 times a week. Would you recommend the same type of session for each , or to make one a distance session, one less distance more speed etc.

    I am sure both you and Big Al are right about aiming for a race and running outside. I have done a couple of runs but fond it hard. Apart from anything else I missed knowing how fast and far I was going...one advantage of the treadmill.

    I have read quite a few posts about lack of weight loss..I hear what you say about toning..but this is quite worrying as I do need to lose around 28pounds and was hoping this exercise combined with my diet would do the trick.
  • The idea that slow runs are better for weight loss is controversial - whilst it may burn fat the body will convert carbohydrate to fat anyway - at the end of the day it is all broken down to produce energy whether it is fat or carbs. If you have a limited time - say 30 minutes - you are better to run at a faster pace if you can - you will burn more calories and lose more weight.

    Also whilst a slow run may burn a greater percentage of fat than a faster one - if the overall total is greater a faster run will probably burn more fat even if fat makes up a lower proportion - because 30% of a lot is more than 60% of a little if you see what I mean.

  • Hi Robert, yes, make each session different - 1 focussing on distance, one on speed and maybe an interval one which sort of combines the two. Sorry to sound negative, I don't really have much weight to lose apart from an annoying layer of fat round the middle from living too good a life probably! It's pretty likely that you'll lose weight with the running - combining exercise and diet is the key I think. If you are really serious about it I'd also try and build in 2 weights sessions a week as muscle burns energy quicker than fat even at rest, but one thing at a time! I have a friend who had tried everything in the book to shift a couple of stone but he found the big shift came when he added in weights sessions - he's lost 2 stone and kept it off for 6 months now. Good luck and let us know how it all goes!

    Happy running!
  • Agree with Furryness. Combination of running (or any aerobic exercise) together with weights will do the trick. Even better if you can do the weights immediately after running when your muscles are warm and supple (careful about the sweat though). Diet obviously helps - a friend of mine lost 11 kgs, out of 72 (sorry don't know that in stones and pounds) in a year by eating complex carbos (bread, rice, pasta) only in the morning and at lunch, and then only low fat protein, veggies and fruit for the rest of the day. Really worked and he didn't suffer at all (he was training as well). Plenty of water helps - between one and a half to two litres a day.
    One more thing - don't rely only on the weighing machine - muscle weighs more than fat - look in a mirror and be objective! Seeing fat loss rather than reading weight loss is good for self esteem.
    We're with you all the way.
  • Thanks everyone for the advice...this is a great forum..your comments really help and make me feel inspired!Tomorrow I am going to do a run and then weights straight after per the advice.

    I ran today, 2 miles...and what is strange to me is that it felt so much harder (felt it in the lungs!) than my last run 3 days ago when I did 2.5 miles and felt greater afterwards.
  • robert. don' do any speed for the next three months. when starting from scratch you HAVE to build a good aerobic base before speed. Here’s what to do.

    1) gradually increase your mileage until you can run 6 miles or more in about 10 or 11 min/mile. you will do this surprisingly quickly. make sure it's continuous. this will build stamina and raise your metabolism. more importantly it will strengthen your tendons and build the basic muscle which is vital for the speed work. if you don't build a base on distance running and suddenly start speed sessions, you will damage tendons and could break down the muscle faster than your body has then learnt to repair. YOU WOULD BECOME INJURED
    2)then phase in your speed sessions gradually. begin with your 6 mile course and varying your speed in that run, by varying amounts during it. DON'T SPRINT. you should finish the run comfortably drained and a little sore. not incapacitated. continue doing this in two runs/week for two weeks.
    3) now do some structured fartlek. this involves either distance or time regulated bursts of speed integrated into your normal route. so your 6mile route again... now set your watch for 1minute. run at a faster pace(not threshold-a 90-95% mhr- pace) for that minute and then at your normal pace for 3-5 minutes. you should include a mile warm-up at the start and a mile warm down after. doing 4miles of fartlek running will make it a good midweek 6mile run. don't do it more then twice a week and don't do these sessions consecutively. carry on like this for two to three weeks. you will feel a little pain during this time and maybe a sensation you could mistake for torn muscles. to minimise this stretch full after the run and take radox baths with light stretching after them(don't overzealously stretch after a bath as you are SOOOOO loose you can over stretch- which would give injury)
    4) now do as part (3) only find a hilly 6mile route and use this instead. it has been said that hills are speed training in disguise, so make the most of them. keep this session intense. run the 6mile hilly route once a week in place of your regular fartlek route, and the other time run the regular fartlek route. however, practice now on surging up the hills(at least maintaining your normal pace as you ascend a steep hill-10 or 12% gradient) and try to carry on that surge so you accelerate over the top of the hill of a little bit, then resume your normal running pace. do this not for a certain amount of times, but for the number of hills in your route. this will hurt more. so pay careful attention to warming down and up, and stretching down and bathing. active recovery days of AEROBIC cross training are essential following these sessions. do this for three weeks.
    5) by this sage you should have run a couple of races. if not, enter and keep the emphasis on fun and experience. races will teach you what you have to improve and where to adapt your training.
    6)this point is a contemporary with point number five. join a running club. you will by this stage be good enough to benefit from the competitive training atmosphere and the support offered from the other club members. to be in the presence of like minded individuals is a great feeling, like you really fit in doing the thing you love and enjoy doing. there will be a coach, and he or she will now be able to introduce you to track sessions and person specific training techniques. now you can start chasing those pb's and really enjoying the competitive side of the sport at the same time as the fun.

    *run on varying terrain
    *listen to your body, don’t train slavishly
    *get aches and pains checked if they are persistent and debilitating
    *find a partner of similar ability to yourself
    *take care of your shoes
    keep in touch,
  • sorry that that post looks like one ig body of text, but they sayd my posted text was too long. fiends. so cut and paste it to a word processor and it'll be easier to read.
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