Tuesday, April 10, 2012


Dean Karnazes ran 50 marathons in 50 consecutive days.

Whether it's here on the blog or elsewhere, I rarely discuss aerobic exercise - commonly known as cardio/energy systems work. I primarily avoid it because (1) it's overzealously used, and, (2) in my opinion, the poor handling of strength training warrants more attention.

What constitutes aerobic exercise? Usually most people think of running, cycling, and swimming. However it also includes jump rope, rowing, circuit training, the elliptical trainer, and many more activities. The focus of this post will be predominantly on running.

Running is easy. There's no cost association, virtually zero instruction, and it can be done almost anywhere by anyone. Like I said it's easy. But that's the problem in and of itself. Typical running is too easy. If you're doing exercise that's not difficult then there's no reason to call upon your energy reserves (excess body fat).

Notice I specifically wrote "typical" running. I consider this to be running where the individual moves at a slow pace and does a sort of scuttle where the feet only lift a few inches off the ground. The person is relying on high volume of a low effort movement. It's an ineffective way to exercise for performance gains.

*I'm not covering stride form in this post. Just search Youtube for sprinters and watch how their legs move.*

In weightlifting I like low volume and high intensity exercise. I feel the same applies to running and other forms of aerobic exercise. Sprints and uphill running are excellent forms of intense running. Although not every runner chooses to run short distances that are 100 meters or below. Some runners compete in sports that entail a lot of miles making high intensity runs not a suitable choice.

With that said, you can make your aerobic exercise more effective by using the following guidelines when you train:
  • Select a distance you want to complete and time yourself. In every subsequent run of equal distance aim to improve your time from the previous run.
  • Alternatively when you run cover as much distance as you possibly can in a given time. Similar to the option above, you want to improve by covering more distance than in your previous run within the same amount of time.
  • Add variety by breaking a long run into multiple smaller runs and resting between each run.
    - If your goal is to run 3 miles then divide it into six 1/2 mile runs the first week, three 1 mile runs the next week, two 1.5 miles runs the following week, and a 2 mile run plus a 1 mile run in another week.
    There's a ton of freedom in how you choose to divide and arrange your runs
These rules also work in sports that aren't distance-based such as kick boxing or jump rope. In place of distance you would account for the amount of strikes or how many times you skip rope.

And that my friends is my brief discussion on aerobic exercise - something I do very little of.

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