love to run blog

Running Far vs. Running Fast

Erin Hesch March 31, 21

Whether you’re a seasoned runner or just starting your running journey, you might be wondering which is better for you: training for distance or speed? The short answer is neither! It depends on your preference as well as your running goals (are you trying to lose weight or prepare for a marathon?), and experts say a combination of far and fast will give you the most optimal results.

If you’re more of a beginner, it’s best to start by trying to increase your distance first before speed. This is because with distance running, you are improving your endurance and your overall cardiovascular health, since you’re mostly running at a steady pace for a long period of time. Additionally, if you run for distance, you have the potential to burn more calories. Consider this example: if you run at your fastest pace for 20 minutes, you could cover 3 miles and burn about 450-500 calories. Alternatively, you could comfortably cover 5-6 miles and burn about 700-800 calories if you slow down and disperse your energy over a 60-minute run instead. So, if you’re looking to burn more calories and better your endurance, steady-paced long-distance runs are for you.

Running faster for a shorter distance will burn calories at a faster rate than running steadily for a longer distance. However, because of the higher intensity, you put more strain on your muscles, joints, bones, heart, and lungs, which makes it increasingly important to give your body a break. If you’re a busy bee and only have time for a few runs per week, this works out for you! Intensely exercising just 3-4 days a week and leaving the remaining days for recovery will give your body time to heal between workouts. Additionally, with more intense exercise, you get the “afterburn effect,” which means your body still burns calories for some time after you finish exercising. So, if you want to burn calories faster, or you have a limited amount of time per week for workouts, short-distance fast runs are for you.

Clearly, there are benefits to running for distance and running for speed. Most experts agree though that a mixture of both distance training and speed training will give you the best results, whether you’re looking to lose weight or prep for a marathon. If you only do one, your body will get used to the routine and you may plateau your fitness progress, or you may hurt yourself unintentionally. When you alternate between distance days and speed days, you’ll have better long-term results!

Distance Runner

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