Posted on January 26, 2018 by Louisa Feary

Running and sprinting are two very different methods of training that both increase an individual’s fitness. Different running disciples require different forms of training.  A sprinter would tend to do speed and plyometric training whereas a marathon runner would do fitness training. However, let’s not talk about the athletes, let’s talk about the average Joe.

Firstly, fitness training is a very vague term as nearly anything can be classed as fitness. Running, circuit and high intensity interval training are all forms of fitness however running is one of the most popular. There are 3 types of running:

Continuous – this is where an individual just runs at a constant speed for a minimum of 20 minutes but usually tend to go longer. This method is very simple and easy and is mostly targeted at beginners.

Fartlek – this is where an induvial runs at different speeds and lengths on various terrains. For example the different speeds could be jog 100m, walk 20m and sprint 50m.  So mostly intermediate runners do this kind of method. It also changes the stimulus so it’s a bit more challenging.

Interval – this is where an individual has short bursts of fast jogging (not sprinting) with rest periods that are still dynamic. This means that when you rest you won’t be standing still panting with your hands on your knees but will be either lightly jogging or even walking.

Sprint training consists of individuals performing repeated sprints with longer rest periods. So it’s similar to high intensity interval training where someone works at a high tempo for short amounts of time with longer rest periods. For example you would do 3 sets of 30m sprints, 3 sets of 70m and 3 sets of 100m sprints.

Deciding whether or not you do fitness or speed training depends on who you are. Are you someone who has a strong mind and can run for a long time and keep the same pace for a prolonged time or are you someone who likes things done short and sharp and almost instantly? Are you someone who is new to the gym and just follows what other people do because you don’t know any better? Well it’s all about what your goals are.

Endurance fitness training benefits are:

  • Live longer – Runners live longer than those who don’t. In one Archives of Internal Medicine study, researchers followed about 1,000 adults (ages 50 and older) for 21 years. At the end of the study, 85 percent of the runners were still kicking it, while only 66 percent of the non-runners were alive. Yikes.
  • Burns a TON of calories – “An average one-hour weight-training workout at the gym burns about 300 calories. The typical hour-long run burns about twice that,” explains American Council on Exercise-certified personal trainer Tammie Dubberly, a running coach with Whole Body Fitness in Portland, Oregon.
  • Strengthens your Bones – Unlike most cardio machines at the gym such as the crosstrainer, bike and rowing, running has high impact stress through your joints and bones helping it get stronger reducing the risk of osteoporosis.
  • Improves Cardiorespiratory system – it’s an aerobic sport which mean lots and lots of oxygen is required. Training this system allows you to increase the amount of red blood cells in your body increasing your oxygen levels as well as strengthening your heart (American Journal or Cardiology)

Sprint training benefits are:

  • Can help build muscles – if you’re struggling to put on muscle then sprinting can help you put on that extra weight (good weight of course). Sprinting helps increase ribosomes counts which are molecules in one’s cells to help facilitate protein synthesis. There are studies that show sprinting can enhance protein synthesis pathways which helps in breaking down protein by as much as 230 percent. With the right nutrition and recovery, sprinting can actually promote muscle building, allowing your body to become leaner.
  • Boosts Metabolism – Sprinting burns a great deal of calories in a short time. Professor James Timmons from the Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh reports that sprinting “can boost the body’s metabolism sharply, helping to prevent weight gain and diabetes.” Sprinting not only burns calories during its duration, but greatly improves overall metabolism, allowing you to burn more calories even when not sprinting.
  • Less Time Consuming – you can burn the same amount of calories as jogging for an hour in only 15 minutes. Sprints give you quick bursts of movements thereby helping you lose weight effectively. They are just as, if not more effective, than jogging for an hour. If you are crunched for time then going for sprints is the best workout decision you can ever take. It maximizes your workout in half the time!

Deciding on whether or not each method is better than the other is difficult. They both have similar benefits. Both improve cardio-respiratory function and promote a healthier lifestyle. It all comes down to the individual and what they prefer or feel comfortable with. If for whatever reason you can’t decide which one to do I’ll tell you a little secret; I mix them together and do both!

Naweed Zaman, Beaufort Park