Mileage, or for those of us in the metric world kilometreage (doesn’t have the same ring to it does it?). That’s what stands out to me when I talk to dedicated recreational runners. They put in a lot of kilometres each week. I will never reach the numbers they do. I mentally don’t want to. I physically can’t. And with training (or at least participating in) multiple sports I don’t have the time. But does that mean that I will never improve my running? Will I ever be able to reach my goal time if I don’t commit to the long distances?
As it turns out, I actually have a pretty good chance of improving, perhaps even more so than someone who is putting in lots of time at a lower intensity. In a pretty small study, but one I’m hoping to put to my own test (if only I can stop having wrist surgeries), H∅ydal and Hareide (2016) compared two groups of runners. One group ran at 75% maximum heart rate for 75 minutes (yawn). The other group ran four 4-minute sets at 90-95% max heart rate with 3-minute active rests (70% max heart rate) in between with warm up and cool down. Both groups did their workouts three times a week for eight weeks.
Both groups improved their 3000 m time, VO2 max (how much oxygen your muscles can use), running speed, and running economy, but the high intensity group improved more (with less running).
As I said, it was a small study so it needs to be replicated and it needs to figure in how different body types might affect the results but as someone who has gotten nowhere in the past with just low intensity, high volume training I am definitely game to try some high intensity additions into my work out plan.