Are You Running for Distance or Going for Speed?

Running is a great aerobic activity that builds aerobic endurance, stamina, and helps to tone up and burn calories. Health and wellness coach certification programs offer specific certificates for running coaches to help meet the needs of all types of runners. Runners fall into two different categories--distance or endurance runners, and speed or sprinters. Both long distance runners and sprinters are enjoying the same sport, but the training, diet, focus, and goals are very different from each other. 

A physical fitness specialist can help you determine which type of running and training style is best for you to help you meet your personal fitness goals. Do you want to run for fitness and to improve personal health or are you wanting to train for a specific event? If you want to train for a specific event such as a 5k race or a marathon, do you simply want the satisfaction of completing a race or do you want to compete in it for a podium finish? How much time are you willing to commit to training? How disciplined are you to stick with your training plan? Are you comfortable with training outside of your comfort zone? These are all questions that you must be able to answer not only to yourself, but to your running coach so that realistic goals can be created and a working training plan can be designed. When you learn about fitness training, no two training programs will be the same and no two runners will be the same. Everyone has different strengths and different reasons for why they chose to participate in running and endurance events. One thing that is certain is that runners love runners and the support and encouragement from both short distance and long distance runners creates an inspiring and motivating community of athletes.  

Distance runners run a lot of miles and long runs require extra time to get the distance in. Most long distance runners will train for six days of the week and allow only one day for active recovery or cross-training exercises such as swimming or walking. The secret to distance running is to slow your pace down so that you can build endurance and stamina. A slower pace keeps your heart rate lower in a fat burning and endurance strengthening zone longer so that you can run even further without extra effort. A slower pace also decreases your risk of sports injury. Distance runners have their own struggles that are specific to their sport such as tight hip flexors and iliotibial (IT) bands that require extra care to maintain flexibility, reduce injury, and to speed recovery times between long runs. Distance runners require a lot of calories to help fuel their runs. Complex carbs help maintain energy and stabilize the blood sugar for maximum output. Distance runners must remember to refuel approximately every four miles to maintain that energy and to prevent complete depletion of glucose levels.

Short distance runners, or sprinters, focus their workouts on speed. Pushing their bodies through training plateaus and outside their comfort zones give sprinters a much higher risk for sports injury. Exercises such as high-intensity interval training (HIIT), plyometrics, and sport specific functional workouts will be incorporated into a sprinter’s training plan for improved speed, agility, and power. Short distance runners deplete their glycogen stores quickly too and will rely on simple sugars or simple carbs to spike up their blood  sugar and give 110 percent effort in a short amount of distance and time. Shorter events are easier to train for if you have time restraints and the super intense workouts do not last as long as the distance runner’s long run.  

Ready to share your passion and experience in running with others? Click below to learn more about ASFA’s Running Coach Certification!




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