AtA: Running On About Intervals

Posted July 2nd, 2010 in Ask the Author by Clint

In the “Prelude to Movement” you are against jogging for more than 30 minutes. You also speak about something that I have been incorporating into my workouts forever, interval training. I was wondering if I could kind of combine the two because I have lost about 30lbs and discovered I really like to run again.

If, I am running in a hilly area, or have a program on my treadmill that adjusts the incline automatically for me, will this give me the benefits of interval training while still using the flat/downhill areas for active recovery? Will this interfere with anything on my lifting days? (I lift on opposite days that I run/walk/jog.) I am hoping that the introduction of the hills does not allow my body to become more efficient/adapted to running.

From pg59 in Brain Over Brawn:

My take on it is this: if you really enjoy jogging, go for it. It certainly counts as general movement and in moderation and with proper preventative care, you can preserve your joint health and mobility just fine. Just don’t try and use it as some generic fat-loss or calorie-burn method; the following exercise forms will do a much more efficient job.

As I’ve said on many occasions, running for the sake of running is not the basis for my beef with cardio, steady-state or otherwise. If running is fun for you (or you do it competitively), go bananas. B A N A N A S. But for some people it’s boring drudgery and they do it because they think that’s the best (or only) way to change your body composition, and it’s not.

As far as considering it to be HIIT, I wouldn’t think so unless you are sprinting up hills (or stairs) or some exercise to the point that it’s impossible to maintain a tempo due to exertion. Treadmills especially are ill-suited, as the vast majority of machines can’t maintain enough of an incline to be a sufficient challenge without also destroying your stride (a grass hill or even stairs will provide much more joint stability than a flat plane at an angle). And most don’t go fast enough (until again, it’s a dangerous situation). I dislike treadmills in general anyway, but they’ll suffice for general movement/active recovery if it’s something you want to do.

As far as cross-country type HIIT, if you’re falling down in the dirt and pine needles like you’re about to vom your brains out, and have to force yourself through a haze to stand back up and run more (only to collapse again) sure, that can be HIIT. But most people go out to the trails and it’s this big grand process to drive there and get to running, and they don’t want it to be over in five minutes. Conversely, you could enjoy your run and then at the end just before you go back to the car or house, if you want to just sprint your brains out for a few sessions, yeah. That’ll do, pig.

As for interference, no, it won’t substantially impact your lifts provided you are getting ample recovery (which includes nutrition, General Movement, and rest). You’ll want to not do one immediately following the other, but if you put a few hours in between (ideally with a meal and a nap), you’re fine.