Running has become a hugely popular means of fitness. More and more people are taking to the roads in an effort to get fit and shed those few pounds.

Recreational athlete spend nearly all of their time training at too high of an intensity. This can be for a number of reasons. Whether it is because you simple do not understand fully what the best way to train is. Or you are too lazy to put in the hard work that is actually required to get where you want to be.

Recreational athletes train at one single speed day in day out. You may feel you are working hard enough to get a little fitter.

really it is just junk miles!

You are spending too much time training in the one energy system or zone. The result of this is you will never see any real significant training response. You will end up running at the same speed year in year out.

This type of training doesn’t just mean that you will be stuck plodding along at the same speed. One that is too fast for recovery and too slow to develop speed. It will also make you more susceptible to overuse injury from repeated stress on the same joints.

Your running could be having negative health effects.

Steady state cardio can have huge negative energy balance that can end up disrupting hormones. For men this can mean lower testosterone and lowered libido. For women it can cause estrogen deficiency and lowered bone density. It can completely disrupt appetite disrupting hormones as well as damage glands.

You need to change how you train.

Let us look at how professional athletes develop their programs.

They use a system called polarized training. This is where 80% of their training is done in the aerobic zone and 20% in the anaerobic zone.

So the majority of their training is done at a low intensity aerobic level. They then occasionally add extremely hard bout of very high intensity.

The low intensity aerobic training develops a large and powerful aerobic engine. This is by providing just enough stress to cause a significant cardiovascular and muscular adaptation. It also helps to ingrain correct motor mechanics and efficiency of movement.

The very high bouts helps develop power. You need to be mindful of rest times and what your aim of the session is too. Dropping into lactic training is very taxing on the body and hard to recover from. So you need to be sure you only train in lactic when you need to.

This polarized training may be so effective for a number of reasons

  1. Optimizing adaptive signalling
  2. Develops effective motor skills

You have got to remember the brain and nervous system are in control of everything. If you are constantly working these too hard you will be enforcing negative patterns. You will be constantly chipping away day in and day out at the nervous system.

So the next time you feel like rolling up those sleeves and pounding a few miles on your lunch time or on your day off give a second thought to how you are going to approach it.