Running Faster... It's Not Just for the Guys.

Today's post goes along with the string of themed posts about our new running program we're launching next week. Yes, that's right, a running program. But not just any ol' running program where you plod seemingly endless mile after mile. It's called RunFast... a simple name that explains exactly the purpose of this program. I strongly recommend reading the other blog posts this week, if you don't already, as they're stellar.I'm a Strength and Conditioning Specialist. Or, the title I prefer, Jedi Training Master. Either way, my job as an SAPT coach is to strengthen the bodies and minds of our trainees to support excellence in life (aka: cultivating Jedi Skillz). As SAPT athletes know, I advocate incessantly for hoisting heavy things on a regular basis and eating your vegetables. While I know the a solid strength foundation is essential for success in life, I also know that training the cardiovascular system (outside of a lifting session) is essential for across-the-board excellency. Most of you, I'm willing to bet, immediately thought of running for miles or hopping on an elliptical...

This post is specifically aimed at my ladies out there who think high intensity training for running is either a) for football players or other male athletes or b) inferior to long-distance running (eliptical-ing) for body composition changes. Both are incorrect suppositions.

*Note* I know I have a lot of distance runners who read this blog. I'm in no way advocating that you cease your running; however, I do think you'll benefit tremendously from training the other energy systems mentioned in Goose's post from Monday and cultivating a higher rate of force development.

So, convince me Kelsey, why should I step outside the cardio box and perform sprints, hill sprints, shuttles, and other such bouts of heart-pounding exercise?

1. They teach your body to produce force faster- Remember that Rate of Force Development thing? Ladies, if you want to run faster (and this means during a competitive sport, like soccer or lacrosse, too) you need to push off the ground harder (this propels your forward further) and increase your stride frequency (more steps per unit of time). There's an old adage, "Train fast to be fast." Training at a slower, continuous pace will NOT cause the adaptation in the muscles required to produce that burst of energy needed in sprinting down the field or court. What about sports that don't run much, like tennis or volleyball (only a few steps in each direction)? Training for power will make those few steps explosive and get you in contact with the ball sooner. Therefore, unless you're a cross country runner.... stop. the. slow. speed. stuff.

Excellent point.

2. It trains your phosphagen and anaerobic systems- As Goose laid out in his post, these two energy systems are responsible for the quick, explosive, and often the first movement, in sports. Every sport requires the use of these two systems to some degree; therefore, in order to maintain a high level of force output throughout a game or match, it's terribly important to keep these systems up to snuff by challenging them through training. An example to train the phosphagen system would be a short, but all-out, hill sprint lasting around 10 seconds or less. For anaerobic training, shuttles of 25-50 meters, or a burst of activity lasting 30-45 seconds or so. The cool thing is, the more developed these two systems are, the longer your body can rely on them for energy. This translates into the ability to produce high outputs of force for sustained amount of time, aka, sprinting further at higher speeds. Strong girls win right?

You'll also win lightsaber duels.

3. Higher intensity training is superior for body composition changes and maintenance- *This of course assumes you're eating a clean diet with lots of vegetables, lean proteins...* Without going into the physiology of it, high intensity exercise is a great way to raise your metabolism (even for hours after the activity is over, depending on the intensity) which leads to favorable body composition changes. Not only that, but high intensity exercise is muscle-sparing, meaning you maintain your hard-earned muscle mass (and ladies, we need all the help we can get in that department!). Long distance training tends to decrease muscle massAgain, with a solid weight training program and carefully managed physical stress levels, a long distance runner can be perfectly healthy. However, from a body composition standpoint, it's more efficient for us non-runners to perform high intensity training. Plus, it's also quicker than spending 45 minutes on the elliptical... I'd rather to hill sprints for 15 minutes.

Want a visual? Look at the difference in body types:

Marathoner vs sprinter

Also, have you ever stood at the finish line of a marathon? How many people are limping? If body composition is on your list of goals, high intensity, short duration, cardiovascular training is the way to go!

No thanks....

4. Most people don't train this way- if 99% of the people are doing something in the gym, it's a safe bet that it's not the best nor most efficient way to accomplish your fitness goals.  'Nuff said.

If a TV is involved, you're not working hard enough.

Hopefully the above reasons are enough to convince you to step outside the standard "cardio" box, both from an athletic and body composition standpoint. Even my long-distance runners, train for power and watch your times decrease!

because he employed high intensity training...