Running enables the body to improve the transport of blood
and oxygen to the working muscles and brings about positive changes
in the muscles' ability to produce energy. Running fits well into
any physical training program because a training effect can be
attained with only three 20-minute workouts per week.
Failure to allow recovery between hard bouts of running cannot
only lead to overtraining, but can also be a major cause of injuries.
A well-conditioned person can run five to six times a week. However,
to do this safely, he should do two things: 1) gradually buildup
to running that frequently; and, 2) vary the intensity and/or
duration of the running sessions to allow recovery between them.
Interval training works the cardiorespiratory system.
It is an advanced form of exercise training which helps a person
significantly improve his fitness level in a relatively short
time and increase his running speed.
In interval training, a person exercises by running at a
pace that is slightly faster than his race pace for short periods
of time. He does this repeatedly with
periods of recovery placed between periods of fast running. In
this way, the energy systems used are allowed to recover, and
the exerciser can do more fast-paced running in a given workout
than if he ran continuously without resting. This type of intermittent
training can also be used with activities such as cycling, swimming,
bicycling, and rowing.
Monitoring the heart-rate response during interval training
is not as important as making sure that the work intervals are
run at the proper speed. Because of the intense nature of interval
training, during the work interval the heart rate will generally
climb to 85 or 90 percent of HRR. During the recovery interval,
the heart rate usually falls to around 120 to 140 beats per minute.
Because the heart rate is not the major concern during interval
training, monitoring THR and using it as a training guide is not
As the runner becomes more conditioned, his recovery is quicker.
As a result, he should either shorten the recovery interval (jogging
time) or run the interval a few seconds faster.
After a runner has reached a good CR fitness level using
the THR method, he should be ready for interval training. As with
any other new training method, interval training should be introduced
into his training program gradually and progressively. At first,
he should do it once a week. If he responds well, he may do it
twice a week at the most, with at least one recovery day in between.
As with any workout, one should start interval workouts
with a warm-up and end them with a cool-down.
In Fartlek training, another type of CR training sometimes
called speed play, the runner varies the intensity (speed) of
the running during the workout. Instead of running at a constant
speed, he starts with very slow jogging. When ready, he runs hard
for a few minutes until he feels the need to slow down. At this
time he recovers by jogging at an easy pace. This process of alternating
fast and recovery running (both of varying distances) gives the
same results as interval training. However, neither the running
nor recovery interval is timed, and the running is not done on a track. For these reasons,
many runners prefer Fartlek training to interval training.
Cross-country running conditions the leg muscles and develops CR endurance. It consists of running a certain distance on a course
laid out across fields, over hills, through woods, or on any other
irregular terrain. The speed and distance can be increased gradually as one's
conditioning improves. At first, the distance should be one mile
or less, depending on the terrain and fitness level. It should
then be gradually increased to four miles.