Caroline, founder and trainer at our residential boot camp, shares her thoughts on running and ways to effectively lose weight and gain muscle from your running routines.
Hi there, Caroline from Northern Bootcamp here!
While out running I was thinking about the questions I get asked from our clients about running.
I thought I would remind those of you who have already done a running session with me and also give my thoughts about different ways to run.
Calories and the 80/20 rule
One of the questions I get asked regularly is “I run 3-4 times a week, and I just can’t lose weight, why?”, or “Why am I not getting any fitter/faster?”
The first thing I would say to this is, unfortunately it’s down to the 80/20 rule. What we eat has more of an influence on our body shape than the exercise we do, unless we are doing extreme exercise, which not many of us are.
So firstly, look at your diet, but it’s also a lot to do with the way that we run.
High-intensity interval training and the EPOC effect
Many people will go for a run for 30-40 minutes to an hour or even longer, but they run at ‘steady state.’ Most people will run at a rate where they can hold a conversation, so around 60-70% of their maximum heart rate.
It’s still doing them good and most definitely better than doing nothing, but it’s not the most effective way to train. At that heart rate, you will hit your fat burning zone, but evidence has shown that even if you run for an hour in your fat burning zone, it is the overall calorie expenditure that really counts.
If you train for half an hour at high intensity, and you train 80/90% of your maximum heart rate for shorter periods, the overall calorie expenditure of that session is nearly always higher than the longer sessions that are just a steady state in that fat burning zone.
Not only that, but after you have finished your high intensity training session, you’ve changed your metabolism! So you’ll get what is known as the afterburn effect, or the EPOC effect (Exercise Post Oxygen Effect) and that just means your body will burn fat at a higher rate for anything up to 24 hours than it would have done if you had done nothing at all. So even though that session was much shorter, the intensity of it and the impact and the total calorie expenditure and on how much fat we burn is higher.
My other thoughts are that, if we run the same pace, along the same route and do the same thing every day then our body just gets used to it. We’ve got to mix it up and challenge ourselves.
Speed sessions are great for ramping up our pace and our heart rate – making our heart work really hard, letting it come down and recover, then taking it back up again.
There are loads of ways to do speed or interval sessions, they don’t just have to be running. They can be on a cross trainer in the gym, on a bike, or any form of cardio machine. The big benefit of this is that we don’t start eating into our muscle mass.
Also if we put in the long miles… I know lots of people and lots of clients do endurance events, which is fantastic and a totally different way to train.
It is really important to get the miles on legs, and it is important to keep a steady state if it is an endurance event. What we still don’t want to do is to start eating into our muscle mass. If we go for long periods of time without fuelling properly, we reduce the body fat and then we go to our muscle and start to break that down for energy. That is that last thing we want to do because it is important to us in our overall metabolism.
The more muscle we have the more fat we are going to burn, so we want to hold on to that muscle. These short sharp speed sessions will ensure we don’t eat into muscle mass, and we can hold onto that muscle.
Examples of speed sessions
So that is my thought of the day about running: try lots of different types of speed sessions, hill sprints are a great example and Fartlek is also good. This is where we run fast, then medium, then walk, then repeat. Another example of a speed session is with timed intervals: try two-minutes as hard as you can, then one-minute jog, two-minute sprints, and then another minute recover, and then just repeat.
This is a good way to run and it’s also great for beginners as well as experienced athletes because they can really keep pushing their speed. You can play with the time and mix it up, or just listen to your body.
So, have fun running and try an interval session instead of a standard run!