I read an article today that I took notice to, not only because it irritated me, but because it was just plain inaccurate. There is so much misinformation about runners by non-runners that I think it’s important I speak up.
I know the BIG thing in training today is HIIT – High Intensity Interval Training. Many trainers are convincing their clients to stop the long runs and instead to HIIT.
Speed work like intervals, tempo runs, and the like, are fine in a couple of different circumstances. They are good 1) done once a week as part of a structured running plan 2) for experienced runners who want to run faster 3) for those not interested in running distance or races and just want to tone.
Doing lots of speed work is not good for those who want to continue running for many years who are not professional runners. This is an easy way to get injured. They are especially not good for beginning runners. Sometimes my clients ask me how can they run faster. Most of them are beginning runners. I tell them not to even think about running faster until they have run for at least three months of base running, consisting slow running.
Replacing the long, slow run with interval speed work is sheer madness, and obviously advice given by a non-runner. I would only give this advice to someone who has been running for a long time, does no speed work at all and wants to be faster in races. Then ok, replace ONE of your runs with a tempo run, and certainly NOT the long run, it is the MOST IMPORTANT run a runner can do! If that one day of speed work goes well, after a couple months then you can think about adding an interval run with some sprint work. But that’s it! The long, slow runs are so important for runners!
Doing too much speed work too quickly is one of the biggest reasons for injuries. Run too fast too much too quickly and you’re setting yourself up for disappointment.
The most important building block for runners is to set a solid base of running miles. If, after a few months of good, slow running, the runner wishes to add ONE DAY A WEEK of intervals, then sure, that would be a good thing. But when non-runners try to get into the running game and give advice to runners, especially when that advice is incorrect, it is annoying.
Any non-running trainer who wishes to learn more about running should book some running sessions with a true running coach, they may learn a thing or two. And perhaps it would help them learn the best way to teach their clients how to run.