Running is a great way to increase your fitness levels, build up some muscle in your legs and lose weight. Running is a popular sport, and you will get a lot out of “going for a run” whether you run just a few kilometers or a longer distance, however, if you are not training to run a marathon for the sake of running a marathon, there is no real reason to run long distances – there are many benefits to high intensity running drills, and for cardiovascular improvements, general sports training and weight loss you would be better off doing shorter distance running, but pushing the pace harder.
High intensity running is a great exercise. Hill sprints, with short rest periods where you walk at a brisk pace, can build up strength in your legs, and are great for getting your heart rate up too. They burn a lot of calories, and you experience an “after burn” period where your body’s metabolic rate is still elevated after the exercise is finished. This means that they are good for fat loss too. Performance specialist Steve Hines, who runs outdoor fitness classes on Wandsworth Common states that " The lactic acid performed with high intensity sprinting is great for fat loss. We use it all the time with our boot camp clients to help them lose weight."
High intensity interval training is less stressful on your body than traditional running; your knees take less stress and you are less likely to hurt your ankles too. In addition, it places smaller demands on your time – you can achieve a lot in 20 minutes of high intensity running training, and then be home, showered and changed while the longer-distance runners are still out in the rain.
Of course, the kind of running training that you choose will depend on your goals, but if all you want to do is lose weight or prepare for another sport then you may find that the best use of your training time is to use interval training.